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C E Huntingdon
A Simple Thought of Sanity

Adult; Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror; (Market)

Brutus sees himself as just an average salaryman living in the City. Every day he puts on his alabaster Face and lives the life that is expected of him. He rides the train to work and files and files until it’s time to go home and repeat the day. Unbeknownst to Brutus, he has been picked to be the catalyst that changes the City and the lives of everyone in it. What was a chance occurrence at a café alters the course of his very identity, sending him down a spiral of self-discovery and sanity-inspiring events. But not all revolutionaries are heroes, and not all revolutions bring about a better age. Follow Brutus as he discovers how much more there is to living, and the violent consequences that change his world forever, and the generations that follow after. Brutus’ story is a struggle of the mind and the challenges we face in understanding a reality where madness is seen in a simple thought of sanity.

Quarter Finalist

Plot/Idea: 9 out of 10
Originality: 9 out of 10
Prose: 9 out of 10
Character/Execution: 9 out of 10
Overall: 9.00 out of 10


Plot: A slow-burn plot brings the reader into the narrative with a deft hand, steadily peeling back the monochromatic layers of character and worldbuilding to reveal a vibrant and biting commentary on modern society.

Prose/Style: Huntingdon's prose eschews flowery descriptors for a sterility that marries well to its concept, as well as a sparsity of language that is all the more powerful for being so, as it creates in its negative spaces a surprising amount of depth for which the reader to sink into and engage the work.

Originality: The union of philosophy with science fiction is far from a novel concept, but A Simple Thought of Sanity breathes a freshness into this coupling. With a powerfully-realized concept, perfectly realized through the writing, the book engages a necessary, full-force commitment to the exploration of the human psyche that will undoubtedly delight readers of high-concept science fiction and keep the pages turning until the very end.

Character Development/Execution: The characters of Huntingdon's surrealist novel come together in a pastiche of social commentaries, saying more with actions than any words spoken, and hypnotic in how they emerge from their deliberately-crafted shells as the story progresses.

Date Submitted: May 05, 2021

This impeccably written allegory, Huntingdon’s debut novel, evokes a stark, apathetic dystopia and the inevitable revolution that follows. Citizens of the City go about their lives in strict conformity, their food provided for them, every building identical. Everyone must hide their true feelings behind the mechanical white Face that each must wear, a face that displays the appropriate smile at the appropriate time. Office worker Brutus, numbed by a life spent filing forms, meets the enigmatic Lucian who lures him to a secret club filled with colored lights and dancing. After Brutus’s boss berates him for not being a team player, Brutus becomes more susceptible to Lucian’s goading to break the rules. Brutus then commits a brutal act, sparking a runaway revolution that, in the manner of revolutions, might not ultimately be for the better.

Minimalist, surreal, and graceful, this parable reveals a disposable and sterile culture on the verge of demise. Rampant capitalism promises more and better products to a population devoid of emotion, and anything out of place or deemed dangerous is removed by the Cleaners. A catalyst for change, Lucian, whom Brutus thinks is obscene for wearing a Face with the bottom half removed, takes humanity from one extreme of constraint and compliance, but he pushes it toward another extreme of immorality. True to his name, Brutus betrays his City by declaring at the revolution, “For it was a simple thought of sanity that brought about the new age.”

Readers who enjoy dystopian worlds will immerse themselves in this bleak, totalitarian society coated in an eerie tone of dread and dismay. The third act trails into despairing territory, and some events don’t logically follow the earlier premise. Nevertheless, Huntingdon (the pen name of a married couple) presents a cautionary tale of foresight and warning that some constraint is necessary for a species capable of much darkness.

Takeaway: Readers of dystopian fiction will enjoy this dark commentary on conformity and the consequences of breaking free.

Great for fans of: Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange, Yevgeny Zamyatin’s We.

Production grades
Cover: A
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A