Shawn Michel de Montaigne
on May 4, 2011 :
As I read this work, I kept thinking of the Borg, that superrace of galactic cogs intent on assimilating whole planets in a neverending effort to "perfect" themselves.
I also thought of The Matrix, one of my all-time favorite movies. This novella and The Matrix play with similar themes: computer-generated dystopia, the control of artificial intelligence over human choices, the abdication of so many--most--to machines and the suburban mundanity of their unlives, and the urge for a small few to break free and to resist. Welch plays with these themes with an expert hand, gives them a twist, and offers through his trained eye the very real and scary possibilities that The Matrix can't: that is, we aren't talking about the distant future here, but today, and now: the technologies are here: perhaps in their infancy, yes; but here they are.
And we should be very wary and even afraid of some of them. Even terrified.
Welch weaves a deep, despairing tactile-deprived sense of humanity into this story, so much so that at many points it's almost too painful to read on. Personally, I'd choose suicide over the "life" offered within these pages; I'd've checked out ages ago. I have no desire to try to save cattle; and I fear that authentic humans--those few who actually think and do and feel *for themselves*--are nearing extinction here, today, in this very real world, smothered under by the bovine indifference of billions. Look around! What do you see? People endlessly texting one another; people with those idiotic phone implants stuck in their heads; Facebook junkies with thousands of false friends; real-time surveillance of everything we do, everything we are. Geo-location software stuck in devices track absolutely everything we do, everywhere we go. And what's funny is this: the great herd of humanity thinks nothing of it!
Consider that while you read this story, and then read Welch's excellent Afterword, where he answers the silly critics of The Reality Plague and, frankly, makes them look even sillier.
I am affected enough by this story to say that a light reading of it will do you no good: consider that your life right now, today, is increasingly ordered and determined by machines. If you can do *that* lightly, then you're already lost. You're already one of the Borg.
An excellent read, this. Download it today and be entertained, be enlightened, and be frightened.
(reviewed the day of purchase)