State Tectonics by Malka Ann Older
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Five stars for what the novel and the previous two is attempting to do. The idea behind the whole Infomocracy one-world government of democracy by self-involved special interests delineated not by geography but by ideas is a great milestone in literature.
Sure, others have done something similar in regular modes or have skirted around the idea in the past, but Older grabs hard onto the topic and runs at full speed with it.
I mean, let's face it, the idea sounds complicated but it really isn't. NRA nuts vote along NRA lines. Pro-Lifers do the same. When we have an idea that we're willing to sacrifice all other ideas upon its altar, we get together all our buds and tell them to sacrifice all the other things they believe in to focus HARD upon that one single idea.
It's insane, but it's what we do. Older's SF is a whole world full of voting blocks and, as in the second novel, Null States who refuse to take part in the grand social schema. But in this third novel, we're focused post-tragedy rebuilding, the mistrust with all the voting blocs, and a serious misgiving for the whole political process that seems oddly familiar...
So, yeah, Older is really tapping into our current political Zeitgeist and hits us hard where I suppose a lot of us are fairly weak. How do we trust information? Can we trust information? Is there any way to cut through the s*** and get the truth when the truth can be twisted 23 ways before breakfast?
Things can never be simple. Anyone who says otherwise is trying to sell you their snake-oil. And yet, that's where the problem always becomes worse. We need to be informed, so we decide to trust loved ones or personalities we think we can trust or any other illogical mode JUST BECAUSE we're so unsure. And then we roll with it for good or ill because that's what we've always done.
Older tells this story in her own way and couched a very thoroughly thought-out near-future world and I really appreciate the attempt. Truly. Much respect.
However, the actual story and plot in this one? Sigh. Not all that interesting. It had its moments and the very thing I loved most about the novel, the intricate political and information-terminology complexity, was also the most difficult thing to enjoy. The exposition dragged the tale even though the exposition was exactly what made this book (or these books) so great.
It should definitely be read and enjoyed, but a certain amount of managed expectations should be involved in the process. :)
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