The Emoticon Generation Blog Tour!

Okay, today the tour for Guy Hasson’s book The Emoticon Generation, organised by Little Red Reviewer, stops by my blog.  The EG is a book of 7 short sci fi stories.

My first point. I would probably describe these as ‘soft sci-fi’ because whist they take you on a bit of a journey into a few possible futures they’re easily accessible or user friendly.  Or, if you want to be a bit of a stickler and call a spade a spade- I can be a bit of a dunce when it comes to all the science-maths-mumbo-jumbo-magical-bits and these stories didn’t make me feel like that.  In fact I didn’t get the feeling that I wanted to throw the book against a wall at all – which is just as well because I was reading this on my laptop!

My next point.  I don’t tend to read a lot of short stories because I feel disconnected to the characters.  I usually feel that I don’t spend enough time with them to get comfy.  However that isn’t the case here – the author has a way of writing that you can’t help connecting.

Anyway, I don’t want to go into overdrive so just a few thoughts for each – more so probably for my favourites.

Generation E – the father of a young girl goes snooping on his daughter’s phone and becomes concerned when he is unable to read most of what it contains because it seems to be all made up of symbols.  Now, this might not be a mind blowing story.  It’s gentle.  But it really resounded with me.  I think the author is really insightful in this story.  He talks about the father still thinking he has his finger on the pulse, which is probably the way a lot of parents feel and yet in reality your children really don’t see you this way.  Let’s face it, at the age of 17 most teenagers think 24 year olds are passed their prime!  So, he goes a snooping – tempting I know but naughty – and let’s face it ‘what you don’t know can’t hurt you’!  Basically your children love to have something that’s theirs and that you don’t understand.  For years they’ve been using words in a different context to that originally intended.  Then words became shortened – ‘c u l*tr’ then they progressed again into initials which is the stage we’re currently at and seems to give kids a way of swearing at their parents without getting caught – brb, cba, ffs, roflmao, etc, etc.  Anyway, this just takes it a step further – the really weird thing is you can see it happening!

Hatchling.  I loved this story and totally bought into the young girl.  Hasson just has a way of making you form attachments even over a few pages.  Nothing is squandered.  His writing is to the point and almost clinical in its lack of flowery description but it still pulls you in.  The young girl in the story basically has questions about her father.  Questions her mother avoids, ignores or just downright refuses to answer.  But this niggle isn’t going away, the niggle develops into an itch which is scratched into a sore until she picks and picks and ‘whoa’ opens up a can!  This is a clever young lady.  She has a computer and isn’t afraid to use it.  Apart from all the scary ‘big brother’ type events depicted here which are enough to have you looking over your shoulder, (really, you won’t be able to scratch your head without somebody picking up on it! ) is the fact that secrets will out.  However, the grass isn’t always greener (I’m having a challenge with myself to fit in lots of little sayings)  I read this story with a mounting sense of horror like a deer caught in the headlights.  It was compelling and had an unpredictable twist.  Scary ending.

The Assassination – okay, this was my least favourite.  I don’t know why but it just didn’t hold as much appeal for me.  It’s a sort of interview scenario with a former army guy who killed and has been grilled over the sequence of events ever since.  But, we appear to have discovered some new technology that allows us to replay conversations from years back – actually don’t women already do this??  I’m just saying.  Anyway, I’m not going to elaborate on this one other than to say there’s a general unspoken rule about trying to be careful about the written word because you never know when it will come back to haunt you – well, reading this, you better be careful about the spoken word as well.

Freedom is Only a Step Away.  I enjoyed this story, particularly the ending which was very satisfying.  We have a scientist who has discovered that imagination is good for you. (well score one for all us book readers because we already knew that anyway and let our imaginations run riot on a regular basis).  Imagination though shouldn’t be suppressed.  It’s harmful to children to do so and hinders them in later life.  By the time you reach adulthood your brain is trapped in a cage.  What I really enjoyed about this story was the way it unfolded, pretty much using a typical family watching news clips and then the resulting discussion.  We see scepticism, followed by interest, happiness, anarchy and a gradual revolution of the education system as we currently know it.  The funny thing is I couldn’t wait to see what would happen or how the author would resolve things.  I veered between ‘mmm, interesting’ to ‘no way’. I really don’t want to give away the ending so I’m going to use one of my father-in-laws funny phrases (he has a whole bunch) – ‘if things don’t alter they’ll stay the same’.

All of Me.  Now, this was okay but not as entertaining for me as a few of the others.  It brings to us a revolutionary development that can copy a person’s brain and in so doing come up with formulas for – which in doing so means you can add to the formulas to jump forwards. Basically this story has a young woman buy her boyfriend an unusual gift, one which she actually becomes quite addicted to.  In this instance the grass is greener on the other side!  It definitely is a thought provoking story though.  I’m intrigued about what exactly she was thinking – well, I suppose she was seeking the perfect partner and was able to manipulate things to achieve it.

Eternity Wasted builds on the previous story and expands it further.  Eternity Wasted is about a mathematical genius who has found a bit of a cheat.  He’s using the brain copying invention from All of Me and manipulating it to his own ends.  I was really horrified by his actions – the things he was actually doing to his ‘other’ self.  Is this the way you would behave providing you didn’t think it would affect you personally.  However, his ‘other’ self is going to get it’s revenge.

The last story Her Destiny also uses the brain copying invention but in a different way.  This ends up becoming something I hadn’t expected at all and goes from being down right hairs-on-the-back-of your-neck-standing-up-creepy to making you wonder.  Really is there such a thing as destiny.  It’s an unusual and fascinating concept.  Is your perfect person out there?  If you don’t end up with him will fate intervene to change circumstances.  Very enjoyable and one of my favourite stories of the collection.

Guy Hasson is also serialising his short stories on mythology/fairy tales ‘Tickling Butterflies” on his blog.  I will definitely be checking that out!