Tomorrow afternoon, I will make my inaugural Google+ outing as part of a book chat with fellow English major college alums concerning Ryan Boudinot’s Blueprints of the Afterlife. I’m pretty excited for this—one of the things I miss most about college is nerding out in English classes, and it’ll be great to share that with some old classmates (if I can manage to get over the crippling anxiety/flashbacks/sheer fact that they are all much better at this than I am).
In preparation for this event, I’m taking this opportunity to jot down some thoughts/potential talking points. Going into this, one of my English major friends who started the book before I did said, “I don’t think you’re going to like this… It’s really weird.” Me: “OH NO NOT LITERARY THEORY THAT IS MY LEAST FAVORITE THING IN THE UNIVERSE.” Him: “Umm. No. But it is really science-fiction-y. I don’t think you’re going to like it.”
Fair, old friend, fair. While science fiction is far behind theory on my list of things I hate, it’s true that it is also nowhere near the top. I was pleasantly surprised by BotA, however: While not something I probably would’ve picked up independently, it was a good read and definitely left a lot to think about.
First, the nuts and bolts: BotA takes place in a post-apocalyptic United States, about 100-200 years from now. Apparently, soon after present day, the U.S. entered the era of F.U.S. (eFfed-Up Sheesh, or something kind of like that), when the country was attacked by robotic newmans and everyone from Boeing to Coca-Cola started forming troops and building weapons. (Also there might have been an evil and sentient iceberg. I’m unclear on this point.) The East Coast of the country is basically destroyed, but New York is being recreated on the grounds of what was once Seattle.
All of the main characters operated under various levels of belief/understanding of what happened during the F.U.S., and what life is meant to be like post-F.U.S. The only thing they seem to have in common is Dirk Bickle, a mysterious man who pops in and out of their lives and the story, leaving instructions from “Mr. Kirkpatrick” and basically just confusing everyone.
Having read very little science fiction and retained even less, I’m not entirely sure how well my comments here can be applied to the genre as a whole. In any case, I found BotA both more interesting and more frightening than the other dystopic books I’ve read, which have been primarily of the fantasy (or, let’s Beyoncé, YA) genre. With those, as awful as things might be, there’s a definite detachment allowed, since obviously none of it is real. (Probably. Hunger Games!) Reading BotA left me with a fair amount of thoughts running along the lines of “omg what THIS COULD PROBABLY HAPPEN.” (Less of a comment on Boudinot’s book/the sci-fi genre, perhaps, and more on my own ignorance. I’m okay with it.)
P.S. Imma be back to post actual real thoughts on this after the discussion tomorrow. If you absolutely can’t wait, here’s an NYT review of BotA that I will likely be drawing from heavily in an attempt to sound intelligent.