Leonardo da Vinci famously anticipated the advent of helicopters, scuba gear, and automobiles, and had well-laid plans for primitive versions of theseLeonardo da Vinci famously anticipated the advent of helicopters, scuba gear, and automobiles, and had well-laid plans for primitive versions of these things.
The revolutionary astronomer, Johannes Kepler, similarly wrote of the invention of rocket ships traveling outside of the Earth and this was in the 1620's. This can be found in his novella The Dream, which is a work that is widely regarded by literary scholars and historians as the first example of writing that fits into the science fiction genre.
Following in this tradition of ingenuity and jaw-dropping foresight, E.M. Forster's The Machine Stops ranks along side as an amazingly prophetic story. Written in 1909 Forster anticipates the television, video conferencing and the internet and its attendant Age.
On top of this impressiveness it's also a pretty decent apocalyptic adventure story. Were this written today I'd consider its attitudes towards machinery to be naïvely Luddite and a wee bit much in the fear-mongering department, but given its historical contingencies I'm capable of seeing it in a more admirable light.
It's ultimately a nightmarish vision of a world more or less drained of human warmth and meaningfulness by the totalitarian clank and clatter of steel beams and inexorably greased engines. In a slightly reaching way it's like the inverse of The Road, if that makes any sense. The world is turned upside down by functioning machines rather than their collapse. In both scenarios humans become rather powerless. Ultimately, as the title suggests, the machine does stop and since it had gradually become so highly automated and systematically complex no one even knows how to repair it. And thus the fascistic steel world of instant gratification and decadence erodes into The Roadish terrority.
(It's a quick and entertaining read. Give it a shot. It can be read online here.)...more
This book is a perfect example of how judging a book by its cover can be problematic. Had I never gathered non-cover-related compelling reasons that IThis book is a perfect example of how judging a book by its cover can be problematic. Had I never gathered non-cover-related compelling reasons that I might like this book I may've never picked it up, based on that quick, cliche judgment of the book binding's face. The cover looks, hmm, what's the word, twee. Cutesy. Quirky. Etc. Not exactly the kind of thing I like to read. But its contents, while being whimsical to some degree, are much more richly textured with moods than mere variations of quirky cutesy whimsy.
I recently described another five-star short story collection as being like, "Aimee Bender's wrist-slashing bedroom-sulking little sister," despite the fact that, "Aimee Bender, while able to dabble with the grotesque via misleadingly sunny build-ups, doesn't take it to the same heights many of the stories in this collection do." Now, it would be helpful if people had read the book I was comparing this one to, but since I only know of a very small number of people that've read Unclean Jobs For Women and Girls I'll have to try to give a better description.
It's been long enough between reading this and now that I can't conjure up many super specific rehashings of the book. Regardless, I can still recall what it was that I loved about it in general.
The stories, much like many in Ryan Boudinot's Littlest Hitler, spin yarns centered around the fantastical and the bizarre but with a straight face. This is a basic approach to books and film that I love and Ms. Bender pulls it off with a deliciously elegant precision that I find pleasurably enviable as someone who tends to veer into the overly-elaborate when writing. She homes in on that bulls-eye of 'brevity = wit' in a seemingly effortless manner; the arrow plucked and secured, the bow drawn, aimed and triggered all in one graceful, fluid motion.
These couple-of-bites-sized tales tickle the imagination sectors of the brain into lighting up the fMRI read, massage the abdominals with laughter, and gently squeeze the heart at just the right moments. A lovely experience, which momentarily pulled me out of the darkened hallway I was sitting in at the time (overnight shift at a treatment center for juvenile sex offenders) as well as the black hole my head felt like then, for reasons too personal and too raw and probably too boring to elaborate on.
(In this illustrative moving image I am James MacAvoy and The Complete Book of Zingers is the other guy.)
1. Something that zings. 2. A very rap (In this illustrative moving image I am James MacAvoy and The Complete Book of Zingers is the other guy.)
1. Something that zings. 2. A very rapidly moving object, especially one that is thrown. The pitcher threw a real zinger and struck him out. 3. A surprising or unusually pointed or telling remark. My little niece let fly with the zinger that my sister was pregnant again. 4. An event that when experienced leaves the witness dazed, either physically or metaphorically. I was still reeling from the zinger of seeing my ex on a date with my best friend.
Okay, I guess technically these are zingers, in the sense that they're one line each, but I think of zingers as like "gotchas" and humorous gotchas at that. The first one in the book:
"Every person should take some time daily to look at the road map of his ambitions."
WHAT????? Fuck you, Complete Zingers! That IS NOT a zinger!
So far, from what I'm looking at this book should be called The Complete Folksy Platitudes.