So after a lifetime of not quite getting around to it, I finally read Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. While it’s natural for science fiction of that age to seem somewhat anachronistic, I suspect that Dick was a bit of an anachronist even in his own time. For example, he uses “American automobiles of the 1960s” as a multiplicity sufficient to be completely incomprehensible. Also, while this is one bajillion time better than The Man in the High Castle I think I have to just face the fact that I don’t like Dick that much as a writer. He’s more interesting for ideas than execution.
But the ideas are powerful. I don’t remember them (sadly, this is pretty normal), but the night I finished it I had paranoid dreams about people around me being strange beings with motivations I didn’t understand. It was definitely creepy, creepy, creepy. In addition to the obvious source of tension, the book is full of contradictory cues about which structures ought to be trusted and which are purely manipulation.
It’s interesting to note the. . . form of these institutions. The poles represented by Buster Friendly and Mercerism are completely monolithic. At the time I suppose that made sense. Media hadn’t fragmented into a bizarre and riotous ecosystem that made the range of 1960s cars look like the range of 1960s television stations. This, ultimately, is Android’s biggest anachronism, if the reader looks closely. More than the spectre of nuclear war, more than the indefinite lifespan of the pay phone, the notion that the world’s homogenisation was going to derive from a mere handful of sources is an idea that from where I stand seems as if it must have come out of a parallel universe. Here in this universe we’ve long since learned that ephemeral displays of “you” are the key to creating monolithic norms towards which people will move without having to be persuaded.
C and I just finished The Book of the New Sun. Throughout it, and increasingly at the end, the narrator asserts that when his world’s sun is restored the vegetation will be of a darker green. Presumably this means that he’s used to leaves that are a bit washed out for lack of nutrients, but as I was gallivanting about on Mount Tabor the other day it occurred to me that it was a little odd, as we tend to associate a lighter green with renewal.
So I spent much of today on the security detail at a Kung Fu tournament. Now that sounds pretty scary, like my job is trying to keep Bolo from killing people and I’ll end up with him breaking my neck with his foot or something, but mostly it meant I had to keep the parents of the younger competitors from crowding the aisles between the rings in a somewhat ironic attempt to coddle the child they have brought here to be kicked in the face by other children.
The reason I was there helping out rather than there fighting is that my shoulder has been seriously borked for a while now. It think I just sort of slept on it wrong and due to some combination of desk jockying and Kung Fu managed to let it get pretty messed up. I am cautiously optimistic that I’m in the home stretch with it, but it has been a trial. It has also been someone illuminating. For example, when I’m sitting on the floor or out on the lawn, my habit in getting up is to simple launch my body off of the ground with my left arm (presumably so I can hold things in my right.) I also tend to lob really heavy things around when I do dishes. I suppose that in a way it’s a reminder that going forward I have to take it a bit easy on the casual displays of strength.
So I’m really sort of not putting much here. I suppose that reflects, in a way, a certain malaise, which is bad. Malaise makes one ma-lazy, and then nothing useful happens. Here’s what I’m doing:
Working, of course. Temboo is a little hectic, on account of my currently being its only QA engineer. Mostly I just look at our upcoming website release and thinking, “ooh, that’s not right.” I kind of feel as if the current pace unassisted is sort of creating a deficit against future work when I try to get the damned automation scripts back together (because they’re a mess right now.)
On the weekends I’m helping Matthew on a side project. To this end I’m trying to get it together to do Android 2d graphics stuff. The going has seemed a little slow, but enough of it is penetrating that I feel reasonably confident that I’ll be able to do useful things soon.
So that’s it for the main. Hopefully I’ll get it together to talk about it more frequently going forward.