Monday, 24 August 2015

The Hutt (kind of) Recommends: The Rapture of the Nerds

The Rapture of the Nerds: A Tale of the Singularity, Posthumanity, and Awkward Social Situations by Cory Doctorow and Charles Stross.

In our future post-Singularity society our main character Hew attends a party at a friend's house. It's odd, mostly because Hew is a miserable luddite of a Welshman among people who've embraced the technology brought to Earth by the uploaded consciousnesses now gathered in the Singularity (basically a huge cloud of a supercomputer encircling Earth). He wakes up in a bathtub with a vague memory of a great party and having met a wonderful leather-clad woman with a shaved head. After being violently threatened out of the house by his friend he returns home to find that he's been arbitrarily selected for jury duty to assess new technological advances to determine their possible usage for what remains of the human race.
Showing up for jury duty turns out to be the least of Hew's problems.

WARNING: some profanity ahead.
From the very first page my brain asked the question "what the fuck am I reading?" and I continued to ask that same question throughout the entirety of the novel. It's absurd, there's no other word for it, but in a very good way. Well, partly. Well, mostly. I really don't know. It's been weeks since I read the damned thing and I'm still not entirely sure.
It has a lot of references to other works of scifi, among them the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Star Wars, the Discworld series and Doctor Who so of course it intrigued me. But plenty of references to other people's good work shouldn't be the only memorable thing about a book. I remember liking our main characters Hew and Bonnie (the shaven-headed woman at the beginning of the novel) but the story itself failed to catch hold of me. Of course I turned the pages because I wanted to know what was going to happen next, but more to the point I wanted to know how and if the story could get even more absurd and how the hell one could finish a story like that.

I also remember having many short outbursts of rage over the fact that our authors seem to equate certain body parts with a certain gender. Throughout the book several characters use modern technology to change bodies; from one body with a pussy and boobs to one with a flat chest and a dick or the other way around, and even though we find out that the character in one of these cases clearly identifies as male but happens to have a body with a pussy at the time they still refer to him as 'she'. It might seem petty but it fucking irritates me. On the other hand, I'm a part of the 'feminazi mafia' so maybe I'm one of the few to react to that.

Overall, I liked the novel but also feel that it got lost in itself, got unnecessarily complicated and slowed down at some point in the last third of the book. It's worth reading the book just for the conversations between Hew and Bonnie though.
Bonnie is fucking awesome.

No comments:

Post a Comment