Wednesday, April 13, 2011

'Things We Didn't See Coming' is not a book about Zombies

Why would I even think that?  I have been a little obsessed by Zombies lately.*  But where that thought came from I don't know.  I do know asking that question got me a funny look from my Uni tutor.**  I think it may also have added to my reputation as 'that woman obsessed with science fiction'.

Possibly something I came across while googling the book before reading.***  Maybe my brain read apocalyptic as zombie apocalypse.  Easy mistake to make.

So we've discussed what 'Things We Didn't See Coming' isn't. What is it?  It straddles a lot of lines: both short story collection and novel, both science fiction and literature, post-apocalyptic and yet these apocalypses**** are never mentioned.

The book is a series of short stories in the life of (presumably) the same man.  They are told in chronological order, but with large gaps in between.  We get snippets of his life, and the catastrophes are never mentioned, just the consequences.  This technique allows Amsterdam to concentrate on high drama, high impact events, and also leads the reader (or me at least) to wonder about the catastrophes.  Which, I think, leads to greater impact.  But Things We Didn't See Coming is a story about this man, his choices (good and bad), his personality, his relationships.

Bah, sorry if the overview sounds dry.  The book certainly isn't, it's fresh and powerful, and well worth a read by any fans of genre, literary, and a good human story.

Every week I will include one book, and one IF (Interactive Fiction) game related to the topic of discussion.  Of course it goes without saying^ that I will choose only the best.

Related Book: Oryx and Crake - Margaret Atwood
Related IF Game:  Suspended - Michael Berlyn

*  I even began playing a zombie apocalypse RPG game recently (yes, I am that geeky) as me (well, an idealised, D20 version of me).  Surprisingly I survived the first day.  Unsurprisingly I lost interest in being me and my character has probably been either consumed or is wandering the apocalyptic wastes of Adelaide~ murmuring *brains* quietly to herself.  There's probably a very apt parallel with my education, and the fact that I'm procrastinating right now.  But I don't see it.

**  Yes we get to read science fiction for class.  Of course it's not called science-fiction, but given the more respectable title of 'speculative fiction'.  My vocal and somewhat derogatory opinion on this may have something to my reputation.

***  Otherwise known as procrastination.

****  There are some things that just shouldn't exist in plural form.~~  Apocalypses (apocalypti?) is one of those things.  One end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it isn't enough?


No, really?  You're footnoting your footnotes?
Yes.  You may see why I struggle so much footnoting assignments.  That little voice that tells other people 'that's enough now' - I don't have that.

~  Some may say 'what's the difference.  A barren, Adelaide full of Zombies...*insert generic Adelaide joke here*'
To them I say 'Really?  That jokes not old yet?'  *Insert witty retort here, with a scathing and insightful comment about *insert home town.*

~~  I'm sure someone wittier than me could come up with many.  Russell Brand, for one, though I think even one is really pushing the limits of allowability.

^  Okay, well, I guess it doesn't, since it appears I said it.

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