My Mazamet

Life at № 42 by E.M. Coutinho

Fascinating concept: Trepalium


I’m usually not inclined to science fiction- but having read the description I couldn’t just walk away:

“In a world where jobs are scarce, in a city where only 20% of the population is employed leaving 80% permanently out of work, a young woman, Izia, struggles to survive. She was born in what they call “the Zone”. It’s where all the jobless live, delineated by a Wall separating it from the City (where jobs still exist). Over time, tension has mounted between the two territories: some of the jobless have formed an uprising. This group, called the Activists, is stepping up acts of sabotage and pressure, and the balance of power has become tenuous. In an effort to calm things down, the Government has implemented a “Solidarity Job Act”: 10,000 inhabitants will be selected from the Zone to work in the City, and will be paid as a result. For Izia, this is the chance of a lifetime: she absolutely has to find a way to be recruited. She can finally earn some money, maybe even a lot of it, and use it to hire the services of a smuggler to help her and her son Noah escape to the “South”, where …”

I was speaking to a friend earlier this week about the economy in Spain and how the Trepalium concept isn’t as unrealistic as one first presumes. In the context of property ownership, it’s meant that the price of luxury property has gone up (despite the many difficulties in the country) while property at the lower end of the market has gone down. In some cases quite dramatically. The unemployment rate is still over 22%. That’s meant a race to the bottom for property owners in precarious financial situations who need to get their hands on some cash just to survive.

I used to joke that in Sotogrande houses weren’t priced according to square meterage but according to the owner’s net worth. I wonder if that’s the future of the world? An elite gets to arbitrarily set standards in which everything they have is worth a lot while everything other groups have is deemed worthless. Consider this beach, depending on which side you’re on your property is worth substantially more (or less) than your “neighbours.”


Same weather, same views, same public amenities, same roads, same distance from the airport, same supermarkets and pharmacies.

12 comments on “Fascinating concept: Trepalium

  1. Clare Flourish
    August 19, 2016

    Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents by Octavia Butler are set in a California where few people have jobs, where company towns are moving people into servitude, and a President for Christian America is elected, who could be like Mr Trump.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. john zande
    August 19, 2016

    Look at Rio: favellas plush up against some of the most expensive real estate in the country.

    I am worried about what industrial 3D printers (already available)and driverless cars (including delivery drones) will do to unemployment. Millions of unskilled people will be excluded from the market.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Charmaine Martin
    August 19, 2016

    I liked dystopian fiction a lot more before the world became one.

    Liked by 6 people

  4. kjennings952
    August 19, 2016

    It’s hard for me to “like” this post. Is it fiction? I’m not sure. I try to focus on the things I can influence, like teaching my boys what skills are valuable in a global economy that is changing. Skills not just in terms of education, but ability to change/adapt and persist through adversity. In their lifetimes, just being born into (relative) affluence won’t be enough.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m not sure what’s enough these days. It used to be that someone had to be competent at their job. Now they also have to be media savvy. To have an online presence, to control the image of that online presence… To be scrutinized in ways generations before us never dreamed of.


  5. Helen Devries
    August 19, 2016

    And in Costa Rica…a flat in a tower block in an ‘upmarket’ suburb of the capital at a high price…to me, I take one look and think ‘Glasgow tenement’ without the style..

    In our area, a ‘gated community’, miles from anywhere where houses fetch high prices from foreigners:…. houses in the centre owned by money launderers also fetch high prices – from other money launderers…

    We – three kilometres from the centre – were in a low price area – beauty has no monetary value – but a money launderer has just bought a large finca nearby so prices will be rising…

    Liked by 1 person

    • The insularity of it is fascinating. The people paying the high prices don’t even ask themselves why, they just go with the flow.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Helen Devries
        August 19, 2016

        It seems to be enough that it costs a lot….I suppose coughing up a mint of money reinforces their sense of identity, of self worth…


  6. MrMadWriter
    August 19, 2016

    One of the reasons why I love this type of fiction is that it draws from our world. The parallels can be scary at times. It’s why I can’t wait for Deus Ex: Mankind Divided.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. acflory
    August 19, 2016

    lol – thanks Pinky, as I am into sci-fi I may have to read this one. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  8. clubschadenfreude
    August 20, 2016

    I’ll have to say that I don’t get this story. if 80% are “out of work”, is this trying to claim that they do nothing at all and have nothing at all? This simply would not work and humans come up with economies all of the time outside of an “official” one.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


This entry was posted on August 19, 2016 by in activism and tagged , , , .
%d bloggers like this: