The title comes from a Stafford Beer quote:
The Holocaust has shown us that the creation of hell on earth is just a matter of
engineering. The creation of an earthly paradise is an engineering problem also.
Danny, a teenage boy attending a Roman Catholic Grammar School in Belfast in the 1960s, becomes seduced into the IRA out of an interest in amateur radio and all things technical. His first girlfriend, from a Protestant family, is a precocious, beautiful and fabulously talented singer/songwriter who has embraced sexual liberation in a big way.
A spirit of revolutionary optimism is afoot. The call for change emanating from the young is unstoppable. The old order has come to an end. Human society and human relationships are about to change forever. Or are they?
Engineering Paradise is essentially a love story, set against the backdrop of the most hectic decade of social and political change in recent British history. Danny is propelled unthinkingly into a terrifying Faustian bargain from which there is no escape. The shining vision of a new Ireland and a new world is repeatedly tarnished by compromises, disappointments and deaths, both deliberate and accidental. Idealism grows sour as Danny comes to realise that the motives of those he has trusted are far from pure. Nothing is quite as simple as it appears when you’re fifteen, in love, and taking your first uncertain steps into the adult world.
The novel deals in a fictionalised form with real events that shocked the world, presenting the mindset of the bombers from the inside, neither demonising nor excusing, but shedding light on the process by which the well-intentioned become sucked into sinister organisations employing ruthless tactics in the pursuit of seemingly laudable ends. This is a chilling account of the moral compromise forced upon those who try to play a part in shaping history.