We are some time in the near future in London which is being besieged by violence and anarchy with huge conflagrations in almost every suburb. Whatever could have gone wrong has gone wrong.
Football supporters have been banned from all grounds and soccer matches are now played only for the television cameras. Official attempts to control the mounting crime wave include secret labour camps and televised corporal punishment. The black populations in such as Brixton and Hackney are confined to walled ghettoes in a bid to control street riots and they are only let out to shop on Saturday afternoons. Packs of wild dogs roam the streets, attacking tramps and in Parliament they are debating forcible castration to all sex offenders because of the mounting rape attacks.
By night television news helicopters cruise above the ruined streets reporting on any outbreaks of violence because ‘people need to know what’s going on in their streets’. Far worse than any of that Keith Richards, the only surviving member of the Rolling Stones, is negotiating to buy Windsor Castle.
Enter (unsteadily) Binky Bines, urbane gossip columnist and bon viveur trying to wrest one last bit of fun out of a dying civilisation. But there’s plenty of time to gather together a few morsels for his column as he works his way through the best champagne vintages and is introduced to the glories of high tech sex.
Meanwhile one of his colleagues, Julian Webb, always just a call away from a headline, is on the track of some nasty Soho operators who are busy making ever more piles of money making ‘snuff’ moves involving the real murders of young people in Shoreditch.
Back in the newsroom of the Globe Ernest ‘The Mekon’ Jullick sits orchestrating the crumbling music of a society impaling itself on its own savagery. He keeps demanding stories which reflect the violence of the times but, so far, he has only come across a bow-and-arrow story in Nottingham. If this new style thuggery hasn’t yet spread it surely will.
The Electronic Harvest is an Orwellian attack on the modern media which is leading us all straight to hell. Above all this novel will throw into burning focus the whole argument of whether the media merely reflects the bad news or whether it actually creates it.