Short Story: “Mr. Goop” by Ivor Hartmann
As you might expect, Mr. Goop is someone who does not embody many human qualities. Set in a future, post-apocalyptic Zimbabwe, Hartmann (a native Zimbabwean) tells the tale of Tamuka, a 12 year-old boy who struggles with the many issues a typical boy of his age would, with a wandering attention span, school worries and potential playground bullies. However Tamuka lives in a future land that is no longer Zimbabwe, but merely a part of the United States of Africa, part of a science fiction society that is separated force fields, guarded by reactionary robots and chaperoned by humanoid Geneforms, one of which is Mr. Goop, Tamuka’s guider of sorts throughout the day.
The majority of the story follows Tamuka as he travels from school to home, and from there to visit his father at work in his industrial labor job. While traveling home from school, Tamuka inadvertently falls and gets stuck in a thorn bush on private property, only to be saved from the guards and rushed home by Mr. Goop. Despite this, Tamuka indicates resentment for Mr. Goop for him being so much larger than the Geneforms of his schoolmates, and thus sticking out like a sore thumb as an indication of his family’s low social status.
As the plot progresses, Hartmann develops several facets that mirror real life and many of the issues that we’ve discussed in class. The social class divide is extremely prevalent in how their society is structured, the types of labor available to Tamuka’s family and hatred Tamuka feels toward Mr. Goop and all things that accentuate his poverty. But at the end of the day, the story is woven well to demonstrate heartwarming instances of love and kindness that transcend most social boundaries. While Hartmann may have written the story more for a younger audience, a highly recommend this easy read for those interested in a pleasant story.
Link to the story: http://www.african-writing.com/seven/ivorhartmann.htm