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Book review: Any Human Power by Manda Scott

Dream deeply. Rise up strong. Change is coming.

Bestselling Scottish author Manda Scott believes “we need Thrutopian* stories, with clear, engaging routes through to a world we’d all be proud to bequeath to future generations.”

Manda Scott’s latest book shines a light on murky corners of politics and society, illuminating the corruption and controlling forces that lock us into neoliberal, extractive and exploitative systems.

Read on for my review, followed by the book’s synopsis.

3 minute read

We’re in the decisive decade. This is a crucial period for all of us, when we need to share stories that offer hope; to find ways through the constraints and complex challenges; to spark ideas for how we can come together to create world where people and planet can flourish.

Like me, you probably avoid reading dystopian fiction (the real world is depressing enough!) and utopias can often feel too distant and far-fetched. When helping people imagine their way through to a brighter, fairer and ‘deliciously sustainable’ future, Alex Holland, creator of Solar Punk Stories, looks for a sweet spot at the intersection of two guiding axes: from happier to thrilling, and from rooted in reality to fantastical. 

The novel draws on many of the themes explored in Manda’s brilliant Accidental Gods podcast, in which art meets activism, science meets spirituality and politics meets philosophy. Manda describes herself as an eco-spiritual teacher and regenerative smallholder. Over several years, she has shared deep conversations with radical thinkers, doers and catalysts at the leading edge of global change, on a wide range of topics from alternative money systems, economics, regenerative systems, governance models, the circular economy, agroecology, the power of community and much, much more.

The story is woven around a diverse range of people trying to find a way through the messy political, cultural and economic systems we seem to be locked into, and Manda shows us the importance of finding our people, the power of building community around universal values, and how technology can be used to form alliances and co-create new approaches.

For me, even as a regular listener to Manda’s podcast, there were plenty of surprising insights, including some intriguing demands for improving our democratic political systems.   

As Rebecca Solnit says: “Authentic hope requires clarity – seeing the troubles in the world – and imagination, seeing what lies beyond these situations that are perhaps not inevitable and immutable.”[i]

This is an imaginative, hopeful story, full of twists and turns. It’s an outstanding contribution to an emerging genre: Thrutopian stories that fire people with agency and energy, that help us see the failures and downsides of the systems and worldviews we are going along with, AND to envisage a better way. 

Any Human Power by Manda Scott – synopsis

From a bestselling storyteller who brings together myths and speculative futures with a radical compassion, comes the story of a family at the heart of a political crisis and the ensuing uprising of a disenfranchised generation. A family that harnesses the skills and stories needed for real change, if they can choose the right path, before it is too late …

As Lan lies dying, she makes a promise that binds her long into the Beyond. Fifteen years later, her teenage granddaughter, Kaitlyn, triggers an international storm of outrage that unleashes the rage of a whole betrayed generation. For one shining fragment of time, the world is with her. But then the backlash begins and soon she and those closest to her find themselves facing the wrath of the old establishment, who will use every dirty trick in the book to fight them off.

Watching over the growing chaos is Lan, who taught them all to think independently, approach power sceptically and dream with clear intent. She knows more than one generation’s hopes are on the line. Nothing less than the future of humanity stands in the balance.

Grand in scope, rich in courageous characters who breathe new life into ancient wisdom, here is a dream of a better future: a world we’d be proud to leave to our children and their children and on, generations down the line.

*The concept of thrutopia was coined by Professor Rupert Read, who says: Don’t defer your dreams. We need those dreams now.

[i] Rebecca Solnit, Hope in the Dark (2016) p22

International speaker, author and strategic advisor, Catherine Weetman helps people  discover why circular, regenerative and fair solutions are better for people, planet – and prosperity.

Catherine’s award-winning A Circular Economy Handbook, published by Kogan Page, is now in its 2nd edition. Catherine also hosts the popular Circular Economy Podcast, with listeners in over 150 countries.

Catherine’s wide-ranging experience, systems-thinking perspective, and willingness to challenge business-as-usual, together with a deep understanding of circular and regenerative practices across industry sectors, means she’s uniquely qualified to help you succeed with circular. Read more about Catherine here.

To find out more about the circular economy, why not listen to Episode 1 of the Circular Economy Podcast, read our guide: What is the Circular Economy, or stay in touch to get the latest episode and insights, straight to your inbox…

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