Saturday, June 4, 2011

REVIEW: Genesis (Moving "Forward Toward the Past")

Beckett, B.  (2006).  Genesis.  Boston:  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

150 pages.

A few weeks ago one of my reader friends came into my office and talked about how Genesis was the best book she'd read in a looooooooong time, how I needed to read it NOW, etc.

While this friend didn't *exactly* say we couldn't be friends anymore if I failed to read it, it was implied that to be a *good* friend I would read the short dystopian novel.  And read it soon!

And so I did.

And, let me tell you, Genesis is not a book that a doctoral student should read around the oral defense of her dissertation.  I kept getting flashbacks to my general exams.  *cringes*

Appetizer:  Anax is being tested.  Set during an examination and shared predominantly as a transcript, Genesis is told almost in in real time for a period of four-ish hours as Anax, a student of The Academy who has specialized in history and in analyzing the life of a man named Adam Forde, describes the end of the world as the reader knows it, the history of The Republic and how Forde helped change everything.

I absolutely loved the way that both the world of the story and the structure of the narrative refer back to the works of Plato and other classical thought.  Genesis is kind of like a post-apocalyptic Republic, in that it takes on issues of education, class, individuality and artificial intelligence.   It's an interesting and very intelligent narrative.

Early on, I did feel like the dialogue provided a little too much convenient backstory, but overall this is a well-plotted book...that is kind of difficult to explain beyond what I've already said.

About 3/5ths of the way through the book, Anax presents her interpretation of a series of exchanges of how the focus of her work, Adam, engaged with a being of artificial intelligence named Art.  About that point, I started to pick up a major Battlestar Galactica vibe.  For reals.  I could practically hear the stacatto music in the background as Adam and Art debated humanity vs. AI much like the conversations between Gaius Baltar and Six...except less sexual...and without the skimpy red dress.

I definitely recommend checking it out (it is, after all, a pretty quick read).  As for whether it was the best book I've read in the last couple of may be my friend's, but I wouldn't say it was mine.

But then, I feel like it's been a while since a book really grabbed me.

You read that, authors and books?  That's an invitation.  Impress me!

Dinner Conversation:

"Anax moved down the long corridor.  The only sound was the gentle hiss of the air filter overhead.  The lights were down low, as demanded by the new regulations.  She remembered brighter days, but never spoke of them.  It was one of the Great Mistakes, thinking of brightness as a quality of the past.
Anax reached the end of the corridor and turned left.  She checked the time.  They would be watching her approach, or so it was rumored.  The door slid open, quiet and smooth, like everything in The Academy zone." (p. 3).

"EXAMINER:  Four hours have been allotted for your examination.  You may seek clarification, should you have trouble understanding any of our questions, but the need to do so will be taken into consideration when the final judgement is made.  Do you understand this?
EXAMINER:  Is there anything you would like to ask, before we begin?
ANAXIMANDER:  I would like to ask you what the answers are.
EXAMINER:  I'm sorry.  I don't quite understand...
ANAXIMANDER:  I was joking.
EXAMINER:  Oh.  I see. (p. 4).

"The founders of The Republic sought to deny the individual, and in doing so they ignored a simple truth.
The only thing binding individuals together is ideas.  Ideas mutate, and spread; they change their hosts as much as their hosts change them" (p. 50).

Tasty Rating:  !!!!

1 comment:

  1. i read this and the ending was such a crazy twist that you didn't expect!



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