Sunday, May 11, 2014
This Book Will Change Your Life - Bald New World by Peter Tieryas Liu.
What do we expect to read when we hear something is science fiction? Lasers? Star Wars? Some future world rife with spaceships, robots, and mysterious, totalitarian leaders? Or is it something more simple? Worlds we know where technology and change are slowly creeping in, altering the ebb and flow or our normal patterns, and morphing day to day activities into something confusing, and fraught with a constant fear of the unknown, and the what is, or is not, to come? Bald New World by Peter Tieryas Liu has all of that. Which is not to say it's reductive or paint by numbers, but it is to say, that Liu knows what's expected of him and he delivers it. What makes Bald New World, and by extension, Liu himself, special though, is he also knows that in great books, and this is a great book, no question about that, these set pieces and themes are also there to serve as a platform to make a statement about something larger or more personal. And while there are clearly statements here about the intersection of corporations, politics, and religion, what Liu is ultimately commenting on is family. How family scars or lifts us, and sometimes both at once. How we escape its shadows and build a life. The various forms family takes and what families do to support one another, at times to thrive, and other times merely to survive. And how sometimes, we have to build our own family, searching for the right friends and partners, building something real, and healthy, and making what we need from the world. None of which is science fictional at its core. It is life, and we don't need spaceships or dystopia to understand that and admire Liu's efforts to illustrate this. Still, it is science fiction, and when not upsetting, and even when it is, Bald New World is a fun, exciting read because of this, and sure to change your life. Luckily for the reader, Liu well understands this too.