Cécile C.'s Reviews > Supertoys Last All Summer Long and Other Stories of Future Time

Supertoys Last All Summer Long and Other Stories of Future Time by Brian W. Aldiss
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's review
Dec 11, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: science-fiction
Read in December, 2009

Like many other people, I picked this book for the first 3 stories, the ones that were the basis for AI. I think I hardly ever read anything this bleak. The story of the little robot boy who wants to be human so his "mother" loves him is particularly disturbing. What made it particularly efficient was the attention given to details: the absent "father", the boredom of the mother, and the picture of society at large (just one example: it is a society in which the developing countries are as starved as ever, but where at least the West has solved the problem of obesity by inventing an electronic tape worm that is inserted in the bowels and eats half of what the person is ingesting...), painted with acid, dark humour, in which the story of the little boy is merely another grim detail. Very dark, but very human, as well.

As for the other stories, they were of rather uneven qualities. Maybe that's just me getting tired of SF satire that is really about our own world... but frankly, was it really that necessary to print a story about a man making huge money by beheading himself in public while the audience is wildly satirised, just to deride the current trends in media and shows in general? Doesn't that sound a bit... well, déjà vu? The only redeeming force there is the style. At least it is properly cynical.

Other stories, especially one rewriting of The Tempest, read very well in comparison. There was poetry, style, originality. There was even that human quality that caught my eye in the three Supertoys stories. There were beatiful images, like that planet where women have wings like a peacock's tail. There was a measure of humour. Overall, that hit the mark much better than the satirical bits... which did hit, true, but what is the use when the mark has been hit so often you can't even see it anymore, except as a big fuzzy cliché?
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