Last night I started reading Laura van den Berg’s short story collection, What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us, which became one of those books that you start reading at a reasonable hour and stop reading in the wee hours of the morning, many hours after you planned on going to sleep.
It’s not simply that it’s a good book, more that it’s fiction that’s brushed with that touch of magic that great short stories are capable – brief and delicate and surprising and altogether beautiful. Not quite fantasy stories, but certainly on that strange intersection of literary and almost-fantasy-but-mostly-weird where all sorts of interesting things happen.
It reminds me very much of reading Miranda July’s short story collection for the first time, or the peculiar rewriting of the familiar that comes from your first exposure to Kelly Link.
I may be a little scarce online this week. I’m trying not to be, of course, but the Third Edition of the Mutants and Masterminds roleplaying game landed in my mailbox over the weekend and that means the next week or so will be a frenzy of updating my old superhero campaign notes and preparing for the resumption of the superhero game I’m playing with some friend on Thursday nights (temporarily on hold due to teaching commitments).
Yes, this is quite possibly the geekiest thing I’ve ever put on my blog, but it’s not like that should come as a surprise to anyone. I am, after all, a huge freakin’ nerd and roleplaying games where I get to create my own superhero universe from scratch are my kryptonite.
If you need me, odds are I’ll be over in the corner of my office, giggling to myself while I try to figure out how many ranks of fighting and agility guys named Shadow Boxer and Archon should have while Justice League: Umlimited is on the television in the background.
I found todays post on unemployment and the creation of a perpetual youth underclass on Tiger Beatdown kind of fascinating, especially since it touches on the same issues that were brought up by an Alain de Botton talk that I saw on (I think) TED some time last year.
The gist of Botton’s talk went something like this: the idea of living in a meritocracy is actually kind of terrifying, because if you’re being rewarded for your hard work and achievements, what does that mean when you fail? The shadowy side of a merit-driven culture is that those people on the bottom have only got themselves to blame.
I gather the ideas are explored in further depth in his book , which I’m probably going to unearth from my to-read pile now that I’ve been reminded of its existence.
It’s never really been a secret that these kinds of issues were going to become a problem, culturally speaking. Graying populations, massive changes in the marketplace, the class divides growing wider and wider – this things have been occurring for the better part of my lifetime and the solutions proposed have been stop-gap at best.
For all that SF have moved away from its tropes, these kinds of issues suggest it’s still a cyberpunk kind of future we’re facing.