We’ll start with this, I guess:
It is with a certain feeling of irony that I use my phone to get on Twitter to tell @ChuckWendig that I really liked ZER0ES.
— Luther M. Siler (@nfinitefreetime) November 15, 2015
A warning: this is going to start as a review of ZER0ES, Chuck Wendig’s new hard-to-type novel, but I suspect given the mood I’m in and some of the stuff the book did to my head that it’s going to go far afield pretty quickly. So we’ll do the tl;dr version first: my favorite Chuck Wendig book last week was The Blue Blazes. It’s not anymore. That said, I have the sequel to Blazes on my Kindle, so ZER0ES’ reign as my favorite of his books may last exactly as long as it takes to read my next Chuck Wendig book.
Right, I usually start these things with the cover:
Nicely evocative, innit? You kinda have to look at the actual cover at the right angle in the right lighting to catch the human face, but it’s a neat cover. Here’s the bare-bones plot: five hackers, unknown to each other, are kidnapped and ushered off to a secret location and forced to work together. Hilarious hijinks ensue and eventually there’s an insane NSA surveillance AI to struggle against. I said when I reviewed Star Wars: Aftermath that I didn’t feel like Wendig’s typical writing style worked for a Star Wars book all that well. Where his style does work is a tense thriller about hackers and surveillance and technology and shadowy government programs and, oh, Greek mythology. That’s in there too. This book doesn’t need to be part of a series, but man am I excited to read it.
And it’s interesting that I’m finishing it on a day, or at least on a weekend, where I find myself badly wanting to cut myself off from large chunks of the Internet for a very long time if not all of the rest of it. The book isn’t explicitly about social media, mind you; it’s more concerned with interconnectivity, where nowadays your refrigerator and your phone and the webcam on your computer and your toaster and your Xbox are all connected to the same wireless network, and a couple steps beyond that you get to the traffic lights down the street and the power grid. I was musing about Batman earlier for some reason and it hit me that any sort of real-world Batman being a real thing is impossible, not for the usual reasons but just because it would take a drone with an infrared camera about four seconds to note the big hot space underneath Wayne Manor, and good luck driving the Batmobile home, dude, because there’s no way to get away from cameras and they’re all connected to each other.
That scene in Avengers, remember it? Bruce Banner asks Nick Fury how many, hell, I don’t remember, “gamma scanners” or something SHIELD has access to, and Fury’s reaction is to shrug and ask “How many are there?”
That’s what ZER0ES is about. And while I loved the book quite a bit, it’s kinda doing stuff to my head right now. I hate Facebook. I’ve always hated Facebook. There’s not been a single second where I had an account on that site and I didn’t despise it. Fuck, everyone hates Facebook and yet none of us can cut the fucking cord. I’d lose access to a handful of people who I basically don’t interact with anywhere but Facebook because I can’t convince any of them to start their blogs back up again.
And I’m talking about my real Facebook. Luther has one too, and I have to pay at least a little bit of attention to that. Blech.
Twitter, on the other hand, a lot of the time I love, but because of the mix of people I’m connected to, there are huge chunks of time where being on Twitter is keeping my blood pressure up. I have a ton of activists on my feed, and I’m not mad at them, but, well: I can’t log into Facebook without being reminded that the world is stupid and I can’t log into Twitter without being reminded that the world is evil. Facebook’s all about putting stupid bullshit in front of my eyes: a post that basically asks people to count to 30 that for some reason has been shared three hundred thousand times, or the latest right-wing meme lie that none of my friends shared but one of the idiots tried to debunk and as a result it ended up on my page, or yet another fucking Upworthy video, or whatever moron factory’s picked up Upworthy’s banner now that I’ve managed to block them.
Twitter is for reminding me that the cops killed another nine-year-old today, and the cop that did it is going to get away with it, and that a significant chunk of “humanity” is going to try their damnedest to convince everyone that the nine-year-old deserved it. And that this was the third time it had happened this week.
I don’t know how much longer I can put up with any of this shit, honestly.
But, hey: Go read a good book. It’s analog.