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Monday, August 1, 2011

LibraryThing Early Review

The Textile Planet
by Sue Lange

It took me a while to catch up with the process of reviewing an e-book. First I found it, in iTunes. Next item on the agenda was finding it and opening it on my iPhone. Then: reading it and reviewing it. I loved the idea and hoped it worked.

A friend finally tipped me off to the real advantage of reading an e-book on an iPhone: when you stop reading (and touching the screen to turn the pages) the book, which is the light by which you read the book, TURNS ITSELF OFF! Is this  not the ideal way to read in the middle of the night?

Once I got into it, I gave this book a try, and right away it showed itself to be a kind of new category: distaff-dystopian. Shall I create a new tag in LibraryThing?? Must rummage around for that.

In the end I found that this book gave me an insight into how short the curve is in e-book publishing. It was actually like reading a promising but unedited manuscript. Lange created a fully realized future universe, but the book needed a strong hand to rein it in a make it a complete winner.

For example, the narrative voice moved smoothly between an omniscient narrator and the stream-of-consciousness of the main character. It was interesting that way, and it worked well. except for the stumbles which could have been fixed. The F-word appeared in full several times but also as "what the eff?" but neither phase of the voice demanded a euphemism.

The characters were believable, but the dialogue was naturalistic to the point of sloppiness, ("Don't try that ol' guilt trick.") with slang of exactly TODAY ("You got the shaft, didn't you?") mixed with self-conscious futurisms ("It was a faster boat, one equipped with a turbo time driver...") Huh?

And there were other glaring anachronisms, as when a character preparing merchandise for inter-galactic shipping marks them with sticky notes and a sharpie–brand-names pin-point-able to our time–while the writer also made up future trade names and marked them with an ®, in itself something that seems like it might not last 100 years let alone 1,000.

I think what could have been useful would have been a rubric to govern future-speak in all its phases–narrative, descriptive and spoken. It would be such a fun project it is almost tempting to just do as an exercise. If only time permitted...

This did turn out to be a fun try at reading an e-book, and how better to enter the immediate future than with a science fiction work on a multi-purpose hand-held device?

The marigold is wondering nervously about "distaff-dystopian".  Am I overstating it as a category? Aside from this book I can only think of The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood, yet it seems as though it should be valid as a tag. Are there others? No-one seems to be categorizing anything similar. Help!

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