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When Julia Hernandez leaves her husband, shoots a real estate developer, and then vanishes without a trace, she slips out of the world she knew and into the Simulacrum—a place where human history is both guided and thwarted by the conflict between a species of anarchist wasps and a collective of hyperintelligent spiders. When Julia's ex-husband Raymond spots her in a grocery store he doesn't usually patronize, he's soon drawn into an underworld of radical political gestures where Julia is the new media sensation ...
When Julia Hernandez leaves her husband, shoots a real estate developer, and then vanishes without a trace, she slips out of the world she knew and into the Simulacrum—a place where human history is both guided and thwarted by the conflict between a species of anarchist wasps and a collective of hyperintelligent spiders. When Julia's ex-husband Raymond spots her in a grocery store he doesn't usually patronize, he's soon drawn into an underworld of radical political gestures where Julia is the new media sensation of both this world and the Simulacrum. Told ultimately from the collective point of view of another species, this allegorical novel plays with the elements of the Simulacrum apparent in real life—media reports, business speak, blog entries, text messages, psychological-evaluation forms, and the lies lovers tell one another—and poses a fascinating idea that displaces human beings from the center of the universe and makes them simply the pawns of two warring species.
Posted September 16, 2011
There's a certain flavor of delight I feel when reading fiction that is smart, witty, cynical, and of-the-moment. The stuff that makes me laugh while being discomfited. Few works conjure this feeling for me -- books like Snow Crash, The Picture of Dorian Gray, parts of The Satanic Verses or Foucault's Pendulum. There's the fun of being in on a joke that not everyone will get. There's the pride of feeling like the author recognizes you're smart enough to get it (or sometimes the aspiration to learn more). Then the sheer delight of words being used to alter your consciousness in ways that you hadn't felt before.
After reading Sensation, I will have to add Nick Mamatas to the short list of authors who conjure this experience for me. This is a story about revolution, about how small changes can produce huge effects, and how huge effects can maintain the status quo. (Yes, a butterfly in some far-flung locale could produce a hurricane somewhere else, but your tail-pipe emissions are more likely to. Need more butterflies.)
If you love stories about suburbanites slowly losing the spark, or the profound symbolism of taupe drapery, you might not like this book. If you dislike irony, then don't read this book. If you think sarcasm is cruel, don't read this book. If you think humans are God's gift to planet earth (or vice versa), then you might not like what Sensation has to tell you. If your revolutionary cause is still precious to you, then you need to read this book even though (or because) it will piss you off. (Better to be pissed off than pissed on, I always say.)
Now I need to add more of Mamatas's bibliography to my to-read list...
Tag list: conspiracy parasitism icanhazcheeseburger internet meme penis panic wasp spider gentrification latah anarchist murder revolution sans nom amok alcatraz royal crown ballpark neuromodulating formal experiment disaffected white kids
I JUST WANT YOUR HALF
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At the risk of reviewing the author as much as the book: if you've followed the career, and perhaps more importantly, the widely varied interests of author Nick Mamatas (there's a reason some of his writings were collected as 3000 MPH In Every Direction At Once) for any substantial amount of time, you will find much that is familiar within Sensation, from Brattleboro to protest activism to virtual worlds to the Brood (just me? Fine, okay. This could easily have made this a hobo stew of a novel, but in fact Mamatas crafts a fully coherent and -- after its fashion -- plausible story so immediately prescient that it called the Occupy protests almost perfectly (how perfectly remains to be seen, I suppose.)
At the same time it is, without question, a story told by spiders about mutant wasps changing the course of human affairs. It's also a book about humans changing the course of personal affairs, and a book about social movements, and about online social networks, and about New York, and... well. It's about a lot of things. But they're things with a great deal of verisimilitude and they are strung together in an entirely enjoyable fashion, and that's what you're looking for, right?
Unless you're looking for a neat ending. In which case you've probably come to the wrong author, frankly.
Posted June 26, 2011
I was sorely dissapointed with this book. The first 1/3rd was very disjointed and seemed more like an attempt by the author to prove how clever they were and how much they were into internet subculture. But not following through and actually using real movement names (er "Sans Nom" instead of Annonymous) made the author seem like they were afraid of offending someone. The second 1/3rd of the book wasn't too bad and I was nearly ready to forgive the first pary of the book when I finally got to re last 1/3rd and the horrid writing resumed. Oh and let's not get into the bad grammer and endless spelling errors. Did they even hire a proofreader? If so, they need fired. If there was a case for getting a refund for a bad book, this book would be that case.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 28, 2011
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Posted June 29, 2011
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