Category Archives: Cyberculture

Pet Peeve #14

UntitledWho do I hate more here? Is it PayJunction, who seems to think their policy of gaming the system as a standard business practice will endear me to change Lifelong Credo #27: Never work for, or trust, a company with ‘Pay,’ ‘Quick,’ or ‘Easy’ in their name, or who thinks that redundant repetition of the same ad will somehow make a career in sales and resulting pay cut and loss of 50 IQ a viable option for me at this stage in life?  Or is it LinkedIn, who in addition to not being able to respond to complaints of phishing from multiple, identical fake accounts on their site, also can’t seem to spot multiple irrelevantly-tagged job postings. Seriously, a part time intern should be able to ensure than when I search on Project Management jobs in Indianapolis, that I don’t get flooded with over 60 copies of the same post for a “100% Commission Sales” position in every other city in central Indiana?

Update:  Worse, they apparently PayJunction RE-posts these every day, because this is now day 3 of the great flood, and my filters specifically ask only for jobs posted within the last 24 hours.

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Review: How to Mutate and Take Over the World

How to Mutate and Take Over the World
How to Mutate and Take Over the World by R.U. Sirius

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I picked this up when it was first published back in 1996 simply because the inside flaps sang to the 27-year-old-me with all kinds of words and phrases I didn’t really get:  “post-novel” … “meta-structure” … “deconstructionist-narrative” … wait … “cyberpunk!?”  Oh, I had to have it.  So I purchased it, read a few entries from it’s scrapbook like collection of articles, clippings, email texts, etc., and put it on my “to read” pile down in my office.  After Y2K, when I had to get a “real job” at a “real company,” the book pretty much stayed down in the unused home office, until I came across it while remodeling … now 20 years later.  I have since become a big fan of R.U. Sirius, having followed his writings and podcasts for years online, so now seemed a good time to finally sit down and actually read the book that I was so taken with in my youth.

I’m not sure “challenging” is the word to use … possibly “amusingly frustrating.” As mentioned, this is what the author’s term a “post-novel.”  Essentially, it is a scrapbook of emails, articles, clippings, and essays starting in the then present, and carrying forward to the early 2000’s (which were the future at the time). Thrown together, they tell sort of a detached story about a government that goes insane with censorship of the ever expanding “electronic frontier” of information that is being made available.  At the same time, their lack of understanding of technology gives rise to various movements, groups, cults, etc. who live sort of a half-real-world/half-virutal existence on message bords, chat rooms, tobacco bars (cigarettes are a controlled substance in this nightmare future), mental institutions (spolier?), and religious compunds.  Countering this narrative is a separate story made up of email exchanges between the authors and the publisher discussing the trials and tributions of writing and publishing the book you’re reading.  This seems absurd at first, they are actually discussing how contrived everything is, how you can slap “cyberpunk” on anything and people will buy it, and how they really don’t have a story or a climax worked out, but since they’ve already spent their advances, they have to come up with something.  About halfway through the book, this “author commentary” starts to take on a dramatic plot of it’s own, with elements of this realitiy becoming influences for the fictional reality of the “scrapbook” storyline, and that’s when things get a little confusing.

As both storylines became increasingly ludicrous and build towards the “meta-climax,” you tend to lose track of what happened to which manifestation of the author/characters 200 pages earlier, and everything sort of just blends together into surrealism out of lazy exhaustion– or possibly this was the intent. By the time you get to the two page climax of the “scrapbook” which I wouldn’t exactly call a deus ex machina so much as a  deus ex parachute to get out of the crashing plane, you realize that this is the only possible ending the book could have had.  Either way, it doesn’t matter, because you read this as a historical/cultural reference of the early (scary) Internet era; not because you’re looking for a gripping story. In all, if you don’t stop to study it too much, you can enjoy some really neat ideas, a few good chuckles, and get a nice little light-to-moderate workout for your thought organ.

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