Beauty by Peter Liney

In a near-future world without beauty, a man becomes obsessed with a singular woman.

The future, as imagined here, is unremittingly nasty. Anyone walking the streets (or driving) is at risk of being killed so their organs can be sold as spare parts. People can even have transplants for cosmetic reasons, so a pretty face is a liability. The result is the wealthy prefer to be safely ugly and natural human beauty has practically died out.

When TV presenter Perry discovers his hated boss is in possession of a beautiful woman (Gloria), he becomes obsessed with her. In a desperate attempt to boost ratings, his boss shows her to the world, with predictably tragic results. Perry saves her from the mob, but now she’s his hot potato, and he also has to come to terms with her being a real human being with her own goals.

The start is rather slow, but it’s worth sticking with it because when the action kicks off, the plot is compelling. Everything crunches into an action-packed climax, satisfyingly concluded with a surprisingly happy ending.

While the formatting could be better, the writing is good throughout with few editing errors. Satire is clearly the goal, with a lot of unpleasant characters displaying the worst aspects of human nature, but the power of beauty is also evoked in a moving (and rather beautiful) way.

Expect sexual references and violence.

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