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[personal profile] helloladies
Illustration by Wesley Allsbrook showing Essie with her purple braid wearing a suit and carrying a gun

It is probably best to for us to embrace subjectivity, to withhold judgement. Let us say that the entity believing himself to be Matthew Corley feels that he regained consciousness while reading an article in the newspaper about the computer replication of personalities of the dead. He believes that it is 1994, the year of his death, that he regained consciousness after a brief nap, and that the article he was reading is nonsense. All of these beliefs are wrong.
(...)
“It’s 2064,” Essie says. “You’re a simulation of yourself. I am your biographer.”

Ana: "Sleeper" by Jo Walton is a story that presents us not only with a technologicaly advanced world where it's possible to create a AI consciousness based on your understanding of a historical figure, but also a world where the stark economic inequalities we're familiar with today have been greatly magnified. The dystopian nature of this world becomes increasingly obvious as the story progresses, thanks to passages such as this:
She finds it hard to imagine the space Matthew had, the luxury. Only the rich live like that now. Essie is thirty-five, and has student debt that she may never pay off. She cannot imagine being able to buy a house, marry, have a child. She knows Matthew wasn’t considered rich, but it was a different world.

Later on, Essie tells the simulation of Matthew that,
“The class system needs to come down again. You didn’t bring it down far enough, and it went back up. The corporations and the rich own everything. We need all the things you had—unions, and free education, and paid holidays, and a health service. And very few people know about them and fewer care.”

This is not new territory for Jo Walton. Although at first glance this story is very different from the Small Change trilogy, they also have quite a few things in common. One looks towards the future and another towards an alternate past; one is science fiction and the other alternative history interlaced with crime — but all the same, the themes and political concerns at the heart of the two works are closely linked. I wanted to start by asking you what you thought of the world depicted in "Sleeper". Do you think that despite its brevity the story manages to set up a vivid picture of the threats of uncontrolled capitalism?
Read more... )

You can read "Sleeper" for free at Tor.com.
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[personal profile] renay
cover of Zoo City by Lauren Beukes


Zinzi has a Sloth on her back, a dirty online 419 scam habit — and a talent for finding lost things. But when her latest client, a little old lady, turns up dead and the cops confiscate her lastpaycheck, she’s forced to take on her least favourite kind of job: missing persons. [source]


Zoo City is the second novel by Lauren Beukes, and tells the story of a world that's been touched with magic, where people who have committed violence against others find themselves with animal familiars. This novel had the potential to be a mess given its premise. After all, we've already had a genre-defining narrative about animals and people and I have yet to hear of another author that does what Philip Pullman does with his humans and dæmons with such grace. I was fascinated to find that Beukes not only takes on the challenge of living up to this narrative and succeeds, but also wins at paying homage to Pullman as well as making the animals and the humans they're attached to her own distinct creation. Read more... )

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