Dynamic Tension: State Tectonics by Malka Older

Malka Older’s Centenal Cycle began in 2016 with Infomocracy. Now it ends, at least for now, with State Tectonics, the third book in the sequence.

Those titles reward examination. At first glance, “infomocracy” looks like a portmanteau, a combination of “information” and “democracy,” implying a system where access to democracy is increased through greater provision of information. And as Infomocracy revolves around elections, access to information, and democratic processes (and with antagonists who attempt to subvert such processes), this reading seems to fit.

But Information is also an organisation within the world of the Centenal Cycle: a well-meaning organisation that disseminates information and validates elections, that possesses essentially a monopoly on information infrastructure within the microdemocracy system that exists within the world of the Centenal Cycle. A different reading of Infomocracy turns it into a portmanteau relating to democracy’s roots: the rule of information (or of Information).

Both, it ...