Matthew Hunter's Reviews > The Electric State

The Electric State by Simon Stålenhag
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it was amazing
bookshelves: comics-graphic-novels-manga, science-fiction, art

Wow. I've read plenty of unsettling works in my time, but Stalenhag's The Electric State might take the cake. The author uses a Wacom tablet and computer to create artwork resembling oil paintings. The dreamy, gritty photorealism of the illustrations, combined with disorienting nostalgia (?) for a past re-imagined (the post-apocalyptic landscapes littered with massive warships and goofy-faced battle drones are snapshots of life in 1996/97) makes for one creepy read.

Stalenhag gives up contextual details grudgingly through random snippets of italicized dialogue on black backgrounds and through Michelle's memories divulged unchronologically. I never knew exactly what was happening. On one level, the story can be read as a travelogue of 19-year-old Michelle and her robot companion making their way across the Mojave Desert and over the mountains to San Francisco for reasons unknown till the very end. On another level, The Electric State provides an historical account of how a type of virtual reality technology first developed for war and later re-purposed for entertainment spelled the end of American civilization. After reading about the impact of Stalenhag's "neurocaster" on the brains and bodies of people who use them, I'll think twice before trying something like the eerily-similar Google Oculus technology advertised during the recent Super Bowl. Like the neurocaster zombies in The Electric State, we're literally entertaining ourselves to death (or at least paunchiness).

I suggest using this beautiful, larger format book as a fascinating addition to your coffee table book collection. Party guests will thank or avoid you for years to come.
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Reading Progress

April 28, 2019 – Started Reading
April 28, 2019 – Shelved
April 28, 2019 – Shelved as: comics-graphic-novels-manga
April 28, 2019 – Shelved as: science-fiction
April 28, 2019 – Shelved as: art
April 29, 2019 – Finished Reading

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