April 14th, 2013

Book with cat 3

No faire is not a good faire, and book #14

The best laid plans... So I woke up early Saturday morning. Got ready to go to the ren faire. Packed my bag. Made sure the camera and phone were charged, bottle of water, sunscreen. Got into the car and away we went! Took about a half-hour to get to the park where it was being held (in the middle of a local major city). Circled the park... where in the world were we supposed to park? No street parking, no lots. Circled wider, found some street parking with an hour limit. Circled wider, found some parking lots, but they were gated shut and dark. What the hell?

I spent about 20 minutes circling the park looking for a likely place to park. I saw people in costumes walking, so I tried to backtrack them, but found nothing. (City streets, so I couldn't just stop and hop out to ask one.)

Eventually I gave up and left. Sad, but annoyed. The faire's website was really poor in all ways. The 'how to get there!' page was nothing more than the street address.

Since I was out and driving around, I did a bunch of errands, including a stop at the farmer's market where I unknowingly bought $8/pound cherries. Luckily I only bought a handful of them, but it cost me a boggling $3 for maybe 12 of them. I didn't see the price sign until after I was paying. (They weren't even that good. The stalls are all starting to put out the best items as samples, and so when you buy them, they're never as good.)

So, while I missed the faire, I spent about three hours in my car, almost two hours without getting out at all. I'm happy to report it was mostly comfortable! About as much as my previous car would have been. I think the initial issue was two things: I wasn't used to the new position I needed to use in the new car, and likely I had pulled a muscle while exercising and blamed the car for the pain.

Book #14 of 2013 was Harmony, by Satoshi Ito, a young adult book translated from Japanese.

This may have been the most annoying book I have read in my life, made all the more annoying because I had to keep reading to the end to find out the reason for one of the big things that annoyed me.

The more minor annoyance was the use of "ETML". Emotion Text Markup Language. So you'd be reading along and every page or so there would be code. (Pretend the square brackets are pointy, LJ wants to read pointy as real tags.)

Joe: Yeah, I wanted some milk in my coffee.
Mike: There's not any in the kitchen?

Joe: No.

Mike: Okay, want to go shopping later?
(Couple more lines.)

Joe walks into store.

[ITEM: Milk.]
[ITEM: Bread.]
[ITEM: Cat food.]

No reason for it. These were just normal humans, maybe a generation from now. There were no robots or anything else, no reason given at all for most of the entire book why this was done... until the very last page. Not only that, it was called ETML, yet half the time it wasn't even used for emotions! Like shopping lists and such!

The more annoying part of the book was the main character and her friend. The book was set in the very near future. Wars killed off large numbers of people, so everyone who remains was important to the future of humanity. Governments were replaced by something called "admedistration" -- basically government replaced by medical boards. Every disease is cured. There's no more cancer, no more head colds. Everyone is the perfect weight. Everyone has good skin. Nanonite-like tech is in everyone's body to let the medical folks know how to keep you as healthy as possible (and do things like recommend meal plans and even jobs/hobbies you might enjoy). Everything in the world is kept as peaceful and low-stress and healthy as possible.

And the main character and her friend hate it.

This book made me feel old. I could understand how young readers would likely identify with the main character and want to rebel against the society -- what do most kids know about how horrible it is to die of cancer? The harm diabetes can do to a body? Is the society a little restrictive? Yes, all your health information is made public so that you will have further reason to take good care of yourself. But the trade-off? Isn't it worth it?

The kids hate their society because it "kills them with kindness" -- their words.

Sigh. I wanted to throw the book across the room. I just boggled that the characters would rebel against something so amazing. (The main character starts off as a kid, but by the end of the book she's an adult and still rebels.)

Eventually it got to the point that the characters were comparing their society to Nazi Germany (Godwin's law...) because apparently the Nazis wanted to wipe cancer out, too. Then the book (not the character) went further beyond that and every single person in the world stopped existing as a person and lost all individuality and instead the whole species became one (literally, everyone lost conscious awareness of themselves and became no more than a cell in a larger being). All because they listened to this nanotech as to what to eat and let the tech fight infection for them and such.

By the last quarter of the book, it seemed obvious the author was speaking through the main character, and I did not like what he had to say.