Omigod Omigod Omigod Omigod!
I finally won a First Reads giveaway book! And it's Vernor Vinge, and not some crap thing I requested because I was desperate!
God, look at how young I was, up there all happy about my First Reads win! I'm still happy - thanks for the free book! But sadly my love of free stuff did not influence my feelings towards this book. Despite being assured by reputable sources that I would find much more truly
irritating things in this book, and despite claiming that I would read another 100 pages, I have found that after another thirty I cannot continue any farther in my reading. If I had chucked it at page 78, I might have given this 2 stars, because in the Ceridwen's Unfair & Possibly Assholistic Rating System, two stars more or less means that I don't care about the subject, but someone else may. However, I am a scifi nerd – this is my water and warp drive, the genre that cools me at the oasis, and propels me forward into the long, slow chaos of my life – so when I chuck a book that is my medium, I take that shit personal-like.
I'm so pissed I think I might have to do a lazy list. To begin:
1. You kids get off my lawn.
2. I will now type three words: famous, living
. You are allowed to use any two of these words in regard to a character, but not all three. If Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, a famous living poet and I were all standing on a street corner where someone had just dropped $100, who would get the $100? I would, because the rest of these things are mythical beings. (Before someone starts shouting about people like Robert Bly or Margaret Atwood, I mean a poet who is famous only
for being a poet – professional douche-bags or novelists do not count.)
3. There's a scene where our Famous Living Poet, henceforth to be referred to as Magical Princess Unicorn, simply because my daughter would like it, reads out a poem in front of a bunch of high school students (from the future!), who of course have been made entirely stupid by technology. They are wowed! Transformed! One kid wonders how the Magical Princess Unicorn could have created such a vivid picture in his mind using only words
!!!!! Where are the ephemeral assweasels that the last kid used in his project? (To be fair, they weren't described as assweasels, but the picture in my mind is quite vivid and leans that way.) Come on
, Magical Princess Unicorn, this is monocle-popping claptrap that I've heard before about television or movies or whatever: you kids have no respect for the wooooorrrddd, and telling stories in media other than the wooooorrrrddd doesn't count and makes you stupid. Freaking bother
. I like the word. It is good. But for the love of popcorn, I also like the image, and acting out a story, displaying it in some way, does not make it less of a story, and it certainly doesn't make me stupid for liking it. More importantly to my frustration with this bother of an idea, I hate it when writers write writer-proxy characters who go around nailing a bunch of other non-writer characters for not getting how frakking brilliant they are. Fairy Princess Unicorn, you may shove it along with the assweasels.
4. The scene that killed me was the one where Fairy Princess Unicorn goes to the library on the campus where he used to teach. They're shredding the books because it's an out-moded medium! Everything is digital now! ZOMG! TO THE GUNS! I have all kinds of criticisms of the delivery method for ebooks, mostly centering on digital rights management and what a freaking disaster it is right now – you all saw the recent thing where Kindle covertly pulled an electronic version of 1984
out of the hands of people who had already purchased it in an act sure to top the list of Highly Ironic Acts of Corporate Evil, right? - but I don't believe for a second that books are important simply because they are made of paper. If they are important, and many of them are, it is because they hold IDEAS and STORIES that are important. I don't really enjoy reading books on a screen – hell, I don't even like audiobooks – but they are still books, and in some ways an electronic copy is more durable than paper, in the right format. Try this little experiment. Take an embarrassing photo of yourself, using a Polaroid. Now upload this photo onto the aetherwebs. In a day, try to destroy this image. A lighter should do the trick with the Polaroid, but the one on the Internet? Your co-workers are right now circulating an email and hanging print-outs in the break room. You will never get it back. I do not like censorship, no indeed. But people in some imaginary future wrecking all the 8-tracks and cassette tapes IS NOT THE SAME THING. Maybe this goes somewhere better in this book – I don't know – but this fetishization of medium over expression makes me freaking nuts, and simplifies the very real concerns about the ways we, as a society, manage our marketplace of ideas into to a bunch of emotionally manipulative imagery of book destruction. Not cool.
5. Again, I didn't finish this, but I sense a large looming Technological Singularity later in the plot. I'm not allergic, entirely, to the Singularity, but given how Magical Fairy Unicorn has been dealing with hot-button topics of mine already, this does not bode well.
6. Seriously, get off my lawn. And take your assweasels with you.