23 April 2018

Worth My Time: A Review of Artemis by Andy Weir

Only 8 a.m. and the kid has wandered outside eager to embrace the first sunny spring day.  I can feel the smack of the soccer ball being smashed up against the fence wondering when the 20something neighbours will kindly request him to lie in a little longer.  It's been a long haul here with ice storms in mid-April and dreary winter coats decorating hooks that should be drying raincoats. The thermometer rose to a balmy 10 C degrees yesterday.  Pandemonium as people flung themselves onto sidewalks in a disarray of toques with shorts intent on feeling wind that promised not to freeze their grins in place. 

The annual hosing of the deck took place at 2. A momentous occasion in this household, topped with the first BBQ and a bevy or two, winter's last vestiges washed quietly away. Lawn chairs magically appeared as a strong desire to just sit and read until the sun slowly made it's way West settled down up on me. Summer is all about a tree, a good bench and a book. Day-dreaming of green things, I flipped through Artemis, Andy Weir's sophomore novel desperate to read one developed sentence. 

I gave up when the protagonist found it necessary to disguise herself as a prostitute. 

Jazz Bashira immigrated with her father to the Moon city of Artemis at the age of 6. She was a sweet child, quick, and full of promise to someday work along side her father as welder. That was then. Wandering the corridors of Artemis we quickly discover that her place in this small town is not favourable. Renting a single coffin bed in one of the poorer areas Jazz works as a porter, fixated on increasing her self-worth and fortune side shuffling as a smuggler. Delivering the latest contraband cigars to the richest man in town, Jazz is offered a job that would answer all her dreams.

My annoyance of this book has me stopped in my writing tracks. I could discuss the paradigm of the frontier town. It's wiliness to work outside of the law to produce a productive economy, even society. If I was bothered, I could unpack Jazz herself, unconsciously clothing herself as a tough woman running from her past mistakes into new ones, all the while simply wanting love and acceptance. I could chip away at the idea of Moon city, one of Sci-Fi’s oldest and enduring tropes. 

I won't, however the book isn't worth my time. 

15 April 2018

Rebooting My Sci-Fi Brain

Like my breakfast pairing of coffee with jellybeans my recent reading weeks have been everything but ordinary. Months of disenchantment with my book piles, I have rambled through March/April holding resolute to obscure Agatha Christie short stories. With the myriad of choice in science fiction why do I shipwreck myself on Mystery Island so frequently? 

The finalists for the The Hugo Awards rather than pique my interest has me grasping for Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland like a talisman of literary inspiration. Sorry but not sorry, American popular speculative fiction is all that I am desperate to avoid. For years my reading lists have been peppered by Clarke nominations, sprinkled on top with a few solid Canadian writers, all the while patiently waiting to see what springs from The Kitschies

Has my geeky love for science fiction finally run dry? If I am not this girl, the Mom in the playground buried deep in a space operatic adventure lost to the nuances of daily life, then who am I? There is nothing direr than a reader without a reading purpose. As a sub-species, the 'bookless' reader mopes through the hours of the day, bewildered, definitely rattled, awash in loneliness. "I have nothing to read!" bounces through the reader's soul pounding in the necessity to share the desperation to anyone in visual proximity. An annoyance of the sub-species, the lamentations serve purpose, drawing forth recommendations and driving the species to visit second-hand bookstores, library stacks and internet lists which  feed the publishing system, completing the circle of reading life.

I am everything and nothing without a book. 

So what indeed, as I lament on the beaches of Mystery Island have I succumbed to read? There was that fortuitous moment when I grabbed a second-hand copy of The Great Gatsby, acclimatizing myself to the grandeur of the American Dream, wondering if we all just stopped the pursuit what our world would become. Nick Carraway's glimpse into the privileged heart, accessible only as a second-hand friend, serving as narrator reflects to us the decadence that was post-war New-York. The Jazz Age beat continuously, striving to forget The Great War masking the depths of grief through a haze of booze, drugs and seemingly endless rising of fortunes. Through the veils of wealth, the agony of the human heart is revealed in all its petty, fragile glory.  

This is novel stimulated my reading brain, pursued me to grab non-fiction books on psychology, on parenting, led me to Lewis Carroll, willed me to read current best-selling authors found in airport magazine stands. Stranded on Mystery Island has quieted my SF genre heart, permitting me to explore and just read.