Saturday, July 29, 2006

Last book(s) will be fiction to ease the pain

Our last reading group meeting of the summer will take place Friday August 25 on the Terrace at 3:30. To reward ourselves for surviving yet another summer, we've decided to choose two novels that deal with information in near-future societies.

The first one is a young adult novel entitled _Feed_ by M.T. Anderson. It's a relatively quick read and very engaging. From the blurb from Amazon: "This brilliantly ironic satire is set in a future world where television and computers are connected directly into people's brains when they are babies. The result is a chillingly recognizable consumer society where empty-headed kids are driven by fashion and shopping and the avid pursuit of silly entertainment--even on trips to Mars and the moon--and by constant customized murmurs in their brains of encouragement to buy, buy, buy."

The second one is a regular adult novel entitled _Air_ by Geoff Ryman. It's a longer read than _Feed_ but covers similar ground, this time from a non-Western, subsistence culture perspective: "Life in Kizuldah, a village in Karzistan, has changed little over the centuries, though most homes have electricity. Chung Mae, the local fashion expert, earns her living by taking women into the city for makeovers and by providing teenagers with graduation dresses. Intelligent and ambitious, this wonderfully drawn character is also illiterate and too often ruled by her emotions. One day, the citizens of Kizuldah and the rest of the world are subjected to the testing of Air, a highly experimental communications system that uses quantum technology to implant an equivalent of the Internet in everyone's mind. During the brief test, Mae is accidentally trapped in the system [...] Mae soon sets out on a desperate quest to prepare her village for the impending, potentially disastrous establishment of the Air network. For all its special effects, what makes the novel particularly memorable is the detailed portrait of Kizuldah and its inhabitants. Besides being a treat for fans of highly literate SF, this intensely political book has important things to say about how developed nations take the Third World for granted."

Both books are available in paperback and you can choose to read either one or both for the August meeting.

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