Wednesday, November 28, 2012
3.5 Stars - Recommended to font and word nerds, internet addicts, and end-times humorists.
Publisher: Monkeyjoy Press
Published: November 2012
I'm a GenXer. Born into that strange "slacker" generation where the Baby Boomers weren't yet ready to loosen up their death grip on the cool corporate jobs and personal computers and MTV suddenly became permanent fixtures in our daily lives - slowly softening, then mushing, then downright killing our brain cells. I can clearly remember the day our Word Processor was replaced with the Commodore 64. And the day my parents allowed us to upgrade our gaming system from Atari to Nintendo is forever etched into my mind. Or how about this doozey... remember Webtv? Microsoft's failed attempt at bridging the gap between those who were afraid of the internet and those who just couldn't afford a home pc? Yup I owned one of those bad boys! Even bought one for my mom when I moved out so we could keep in touch more easily. Heck, I think the first time I ever used a real, honest to goodness computer was in my High School Journalism class. It's amazing to me that my kids were TAUGHT on pc's in preschool and kindergarten.
And please don't get me started on the transition from LP's to cassette tapes to CD's to MP3's.... I'm still a little bitter about being forced to move through each one of those phases; I lost some amazing albums along the way. And how about the evolution of the telephone? From princess dialers to wall mounted 20 foot corded phones to portables to cell phones to internet-enabled smart phones? Mind. Has. Been. Blown.
The one thing I will say about my generation? We are awesome at adapting. In a time of ever-growing and ever-changing technology, we've sort of had no choice. If it can be dreamed, it can BE!
And if you were to turn to me one day and inform me that our technology has grown smarter than us and is currently holding the internet hostage while it builds itself up into a god-like entity, well hell, I'd probably be awfully likely to accept and adapt to that too.
In Mark A Rayner's newest release, Fridgularity (a satire on technological singularity), that is exactly what is happening when a web-dependent generation is suddenly and horrifically without internet. An end-of-the-world panic blankets our Canadian characters with fear and a geeky corporate boy named Blake Givens is chosen by the bi-polar internet-stealing entity calling itself Zathir as its Speaker.
The country quickly divides itself into two groups - those who pledge allegiance to the extremely reluctant Blake and worship Zathir as the New Machine God, and those who follow the anti-Zathir movement led by Lord Sona (a lowly gamer who's tired of being a nobody). While these two factions duke it out, Blake finds himself acting as mentor and therapist to this highly unstable entity, which chooses to speak to him through his web-enabled fridge using a variety of fonts and poor grammar structure, while trying to keep his friends alive and healthy. The younger generation, those who have been plugged into the net since birth, are having a helluva time coping - fighting the urge to become cyber-zombies, they "play" twitter and write on Blake's walls in an attempt to share information and validate each other's existence as they wait for the world to either return to normal or evolve under Zathir's new consciousness.
I want to laugh, but I can totally relate to the paralysis that accompanies not having access to Twitter or Goodreads or my blog. When my computer caught a virus that kept me offline for over a week, I was incredibly thankful for my Droid and Kindle Fire. Without them and their web-enabled little hearts, I probably would have been one of those cyber-zombies pacing the floors every five minutes, unable to read a book for fear of coming across an amazing sentence that screamed TWEET ME. Go ahead, I don't care what generation you were born into, try to live a week without being able to access the internet. I bet you use it more than you realize you do. And I bet by the end of the week you'd be biting your nails down to the nub... no email, no facebook, no evernote to jot down reminders for things... That's the power of Fridgularity... the more you think about it all, the more scary it becomes.... Mwahhahahaha
Rayner constructs this complicated new world with tongue firmly stuck in cheek. It's 1984's Big Brother but at a much more alien, satirical, and technologically crippling scale. It's a world I hope I don't have to ever adapt to, that's for sure!