Tuesday, November 11, 2014

"The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow" by Cory Doctorow

Full Disclosure: I knew this was a novella, but I thought it'd be 140 pages, as shown on Amazon. It's actually about 100 pages with unrelated essays and interviews tacked on to it. Don't buy it unless it's cheap.

You feel like you'd know the book from the provided plot, but really it goes into different tangent. 'Disney-dominated future' is the part of the plot synopsis I most object to- there were some elements of Disney, but most of the future I glimpsed through reading this book wouldn't warrant the combination 'Disney dominated'- it felt more dysfunctional dystopia with a smattering of Disney-esque elements.

The Plot: (As Seen on Goodreads)
In a Disney-dominated future, a transhuman teenager engages in high velocity adventures until he meets the “meat girl” of his dreams and is forced to choose between immortality and sex in one of Cory Doctorow's most daring novellas.

Due to its tiny page count, this wasn't a difficult read- it was something I picked up to help me push through with my stalled reading of The Broken Eye. The future presented was rather bleak, possibly due to the main character, Jimmy's predicament- he lives in the body of a prepubescent child despite being many years older. As a kind of experimental transhuman, he doesn't have any peers to relate to, save actual humans who look their actual age. This leads to problems for him further down the line, when Jimmy moves away.

Jimmy eventually settles with a commune of people he calls the Wireheads, due to the wire in their heads that moderates their emotions by connecting them with the rest of the Wireheads' wires. Because of the commune-type format, Jimmy is also required to be wired if he wants to stay, but remains curiously immune, possibly due to his transhumanity. I found it a fascinating concept- the Wireheads can feel and negate other Wireheads emotions so they're basically emotionally numb. As a person who's very in tune with my emotions, I can't imagine I'd like to have a wire negating my feelings- I'd be frustrated to not be able to express myself.

Because it's short, I also can't fully discuss other topics without being spoilery, but I fully enjoyed the concepts explored in this novella, and it reminded me of the recent Johnny Depp film, Transcendence.

The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow may not be as Disney dominated as advertised, but remains a great look at the world around us and how far may be too far in terms of technology. While it reminded me of many dystopias I've read before, it had some interesting insights that may have been previously overlooked. I recommend this to any reader looking for a great dystopia with many future tech elements.

Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars for a novella with lots of punch.

Content: Sex scenes and violence (some of which is mental). Ages 18+

Page Count: Actual Novella Page Count is 106 pages, ebook edition.

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