We see this as a relay – complete with dystopian baton-passing – more than as a straight race. After all, Margaret Attwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale came many years before Gillian Phillip‘s Bad Faith; and 1984 well before both.

The theocratic premises are similar. In Bad Faith, there is a Putinesque collusion between the political leader and the One Church, which gives the book a different dimension. Perhaps foresight on Gillian Phillip’s part given that it was completed before Putin partnered with the Russian Orthodox Church to promote a reactionary agenda.

But both books must surely also owe something to George Orwell’s masterpiece, 1984, which he started writing in a hospital bed (he had TB) 100 metres from our offices. Big Brother is certainly watching in The Handmaid’s Tale, where every word is a risk. The regime in Bad Faith is a little less oppressive and a bit more familiar to us, but wayward words or looks still cost lives. And that familiarity is one of Bad Faith‘s great strengths. While The Handmaid’s Tale seems a big leap (the book is apparently sometimes misfiled under sci-fi), the world in Bad Faith feels like it could materialise next week and catch us all by surprise. No mass-casualty war; just go to sleep one day and wake up the next to find that what is acceptable has changed – that freedom of expression is no longer a right.

Depicting worlds most of us wouldn’t want to live in is one of the great things authors – in common with artists, film-makers, theatre producers and others – can do for us. We often say about book covers that we only really start to get a feel for what we do want when we see what we don’t want. Perhaps that’s also true of books and society.

Bad Faith is available in paperback and ebook from all good bookshops/online outlets including MyBookSource.com. You can view the atmospheric trailer here.