Getting to Know You: Stories Review

Getting to Know You: Stories
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Getting to Know You: Stories ReviewSimply stated every single solitary word of this book is pure gold that left me begging for more. Five of the stories in this book are reworked a bit in his first novel, Counting Heads. Collectively they tell a story that by Marusek's own words was inspired by Herbert's idea of the Butlerian Jihad. That motif is not only the central issue in one of the stories, but it hangs over them all, threatening to come at a moment's notice. Overall I would say that many of Marusek's stories are gadget/AI stories with a realistic and humanistic bent to them. One story (Cathyland, mentioned below) has clear post-human elements to it, though some will argue that the entire book is full of post human stories. Instead, I think the people in this book are on the verge of going post human, as their technology is so advanced and they have such fine control over their own internal biological processes, but they haven't quite gotten there yet.
The Wedding Album and A Boy in Cathyland tell the story of how our society goes to hell and the war that ensues after AI in all its various forms is emancipated. What is left in the dust is a society that summarily executes owners of high-tech merely for owning it, and encourages and rewards individuals who grow extra brain tissue and keep it in various appendages so that people on their own are capable of processing large amounts of information without machines. We Were Out of our Minds with Joy tells the story of two lovers in a thoroughly transformed society who are granted an extremely rare license to have a child. That story is absolutely beautiful in every detail, but ends on a very bitter note when fate and computer error throw the couple a curve ball that nobody ever saw coming. On its own its one of the best dystopian pieces I have ever read, in any form. As a matter of fact this story is so good that virtually every reviewer that looked at in 1995 swore that it was penned by some big name in SF who was writing under a pen-name. Nope! Jus' little ole' Marusek, living in a cabin in Arctic Alaska with his blind, deaf and incontinent dog.
Many of these stories were compiled yearly in 'Best of' collections (I had not heard of all of them until I bought this book), but I have to say that they really work even better when compiled together. As you can probably tell, several of them are not only set in the same universe, but in the same story line. Marusek had changed several for incorporation into Counting Heads, but this is essentially true. But even the stories like VTV, about opportunistic and amoral TV network personnel who are blindsided by opportunistic and exploitative pseudo-terrorist hunters, fit into the whole. Unlike Herbert, Marusek shows us what technological evils are going to come, and not only how, but why that lifestyle will create a conflict we cannot win: Because our numbers will be too few, and the resources stretched too thin.Getting to Know You: Stories Overview

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