The Test

Sylvain Neuvel
The Test Cover

The Test


This is a disturbing but interesting thought experiment about a future UK where paranoia about immigrants has caused the creation of a system whereby foreign applicants are put through a virtual-reality process to determine whether their character and ethical traits warrant them being let into the country. It raises some good questions about the roots of human bias and the way it manifests in peoples' behavior, and about how we judge the relative value of the lives of others.

While an interesting idea, ultimately the story falls down on the fact that no anti-immigration country would invest massive quantities of money and resources into administering such tests (never mind the futility of trying to keep them secret) - especially when this has the ultimate self-defeating result of leaving those who "pass" the test emotionally-damaged and perhaps no longer able to be good citizens. Such countries would just disallow immigration entirely, or settle for a much less expensive triaging system.

Worth reading, but not award-worthy.