2.7.07

The Metamorphosis of Prime Intellect

can be found here. It's an online-only novel (and thus free) that Kevin pointed out to me. Guy named Roger Williams wrote it.

Kevin described it to me as "post-singularity fiction" which suggests more works in that genre, which I'm all about getting my hands on, as, at least in the case of this novel, allows for a no-holds-barred dissection of human nature in all its ugly forms. (Edit: Which I'm interested in, incidentally, because of theology and cultural anthropology, not misanthropy. Tee hee.) In this story, f'rinstnace, you'll find zombie-rape, a Nazi skinning a woman and then throwing an anthill on her, self-induced decapitations, sex, sex, sex, and blood, blood, blood--and that's in the first two chapters. (Admittedly the gore dies down after the first two chapters, but c'mon, I'm selling a product here.) The novel isn't gratuitous for gratuity's sake, it has a point to prove. I won't tell what that point is, it'd be ruining the most important part of the story (imo, rofllmao), but it has some deep theological-philosophical underpinnings which argumentatively agree with my own opinions on the functions, structure, and one's experiences of and in heaven and hell.

Whether the author meant to bring that deep-ended discussion into the fray or not, I'm not sure. Certainly he meant to comment on the ever-increasing speed of technological development that's currently only being slowed down by politics and an uneven distribution of labor in the various fields of technology. The Metamorphosis takes place in a world where Isaac Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics are programmed into the core of a computer that ends up self-evolving to the point of godhood. Since its natural function is to protect humanity, it essentially changes all of the universe into a Cyberspace unreality where humans are immortal and can have anything they want at any time.

The writing is mostly pretty solid. He tells the story well, which is an especially difficult task if you keep in mind that zombie rape scene I mentioned above. Occasionally I found myself getting bored with the prose, probably because it very rarely got outside the plot of the story. It would've been nice to read some description about Caroline's boredom being immortal, instead of being told about it lots of times. In the same vein, there was a lot of prose describing internal situations that could've been illustrated beautifully through showing characters' strained external reactions--but this is all stupid. It doesn't take away from the story at all: I'm just talking about polish. And it's Asimov-inspired sci-fi, and I'm sure the writing style is a direct homage to his art's influence. What you won't find here is muddlesome Pynchonesque prose. You'll be able to read this story, get into it, and get out of it in the middle of a chapter if you need to. It's very accommodating.

As far as length goes, I read the whole thing online, but if you're interested in printing it out (you bastard), I Print Previewd it at 100 pages on my Mac, but for some reason over 150 on my PC. Just turn down the brightess on your monitor and save yourself some time, and the precious tree-dwelling bunnies.

Oh, and some Joyce for your Sunday: This is the second or third chunk of prose I've found since page 3 that, in meown opiniorn, seeks to explain the book:

(Stoop) if you are abcedminded, to this claybook, what curios of signs (please stoop), in this allaphbed! Can you rede (since We and Thou had it out already) its world? It is the same told of all. Many. Miscegenations and miscegenations. Tieckle. They lived und laughed ant loved end left. Forsin. Thy thingdome is given to the Meades and Porsons. (18:17-22)

It goes on from there. I'm not even sure that I ended the quote in the middle of a coherent thought. If you're interested, check out Finnegans Wiki to see what most of the nonsense means. You'll stop reading after a while, because while Finnegans Wake is a load of fun to figure out, it's not worth your entire life knowing what it all means. Nobody ought to know what every bit of their dream means.

2 comments:

Kevin said...

Hey, I'm glad you liked it. The other main work in the subgenre is Cory Doctorow's Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom. It was also published free online, under a Creative Commons License. http://www.craphound.com/down/

The book explores a reputational economy in post-scarcity Disney World. There's a short-story sequel Doctorow wrote, remind me and I'll dig up the link.

Jason said...

Actually, I'll check out that sequal asap. I forgot I read Doctorow's book a few years ago. I had to speed-read for a class, but I liked it pretty much all around, except that Keep-A-Movin Dan decided to not dead head until the heat-death of the universe. It seemed a weak twist at the end of an otherwise great story.