Saturday, March 6, 2010

On the Human Plan

Short Story by Jay Lake, read by Mike Boris

This is a love-it-or-hate-it story, set in a post-singularity, death-of-the-sun distant future. Personally, I hate it. Hate is a strong word actually, but I couldn't stand the phrase "love-it-or-dislike-it." Anyway, none of the people I know who actually liked the story have any idea what it was about. I'm generally not one to shy away from the literary in search of plot, but nothing happens here at all. Digger gets commissioned to find something, he seems to be an archaeologist sort, but he is told to find death's door. He basically goes to a library, does some research, finds out that some ancient people thought death was a wave-function, and goes home. He doesn't really find anything, the initial question of the story isn't even sort of answered. There is a bit of meaningless patter about life without death being stasis, but that conclusion or thought doesn't work for me, as presented here, in any meaningful philosophical or artistic way. There is just nothing to it. The author asserts something semi-related that sounds philosophical, and hopes everyone thinks it is deep. I detect no actual depth.

That said, the voice of the character, the style, the imagery, and the world itself are all very well done. It is a pretty picture, with nothing to it. No story, no character, no completion, no depth. And the people I know who liked it, liked the language, but can't tell me what it was about. A meaningless 2 out of 5.

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