15 November 2006

Unsuccessful Meme

I wrote this months ago for one of Memetherapy's S.F. author vox pops -- specifically their "Speculative Reviews of Imaginary Books" series.

It's overlong and, unless you're aware of one particular historic text of science fiction, needlessly obscure. This would very likely be why they didn't publish it.

Since it's based on a story idea I've had in my head for years, though, and this is the nearest I've to come to getting it down (and, to be honest, rather more than it probably deserves), I thought I might as well archive it here.

It is, as you might have gathered, a review of an imaginary S.F. book.
Dave @1i8∑π: A Romance of the Year 2006
by Noah Grubgecks

The cumbersomely-titled Dave @1i8∑π, Noah Grubgecks' early-20th-century classic of "scientifiction", has not aged well.

Rereading it in 2006, the year of its notional setting, the modern reader will scarcely be able to resist a wry smile at its outlandish technological predictions, which history has proved so laughably inaccurate.

The profession of the titular Dave -- manning an "Information Technology support help-line" for the users of "personal computers" -- may have seemed convincingly futuristic in 1911, but readers in the real 2006 will surely be unable to contain their mirth at the idea of human beings still struggling to communicate with primitive "cell telephones" and the supposedly revolutionary "inter-net".

As I will hardly need to remind the readers of this review, since the discovery and widespread exploitation of the science of ethermatics, direct brain-to-brain telepathy has become the staple of all human interaction, rendering all such clumsy "net-working" devices forever useless.

Similarly the "P.C."s -- a kind of electronic calculating machine -- which Dave is supposedly servicing would be of little use in a 2006 where every man, woman and child is taught from birth to carry out complex mathematical operations at near-instantaneous speed thanks to the rigorous application of pharmacotic drugs and transcendronic conditioning.

Grubgecks' other howlers include his suggestion that fixed-wing heavier-than-air aircraft, rather than atomonic anti-gravity platforms, might be used to transport freight and passengers across the world, and his unaccountable failure to predict the total worldwide elimination of poverty and war, the human race’s victories over the native populations of Venus, Mars and Pluto, and the conquest and colonisation of all fifteen planets of the solar system by 1952.

Nevertheless, if you can suspend your disbelief over Grubgecks' "reality television talent shows" and his sinister global "Micro-Soft Corporation", there is much to appreciate in this quaint, nostalgic journey into a whimsical world which some might fleetingly have believed to have been humanity’s 21st-century destiny... but which was never likely to remain convincing for long.
So there you go.

Whereas the surname of Hugo Gernsback's hero, Mr 124C 41+, was intended to be pronounced "One to foresee for one" (or possibly "One to foresee for one more"), Dave's is pronounced "At one I ate some pie". Which pretty much sums up the quality of the enterprise, I fear.

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