Out Of Context – Context Book Reviews Go Sci-Fi

08 January 2013,   By ,  

We’d like to start off 2013 by doing something a bit different. Yes we will still have construction updatesamusing and hopefully, informative posts about Toronto and it’s history. But our resolution was to inject a little more…Culture into this blog.

As you’re probably aware, we at Context are avid readers – not just the classics though, we’re pretty up to date on some current books as well! Recently we got our “geek” on to check out some recent sci-fi novels. Head past the jump for Context book reviews of The Postmortal By Drew Magary and Ready, Player One by Ernest Cline.

Context Book Reviews

The Postmortal is a novel from Gawker/GQ contributor Drew Magary. The premise of the novel is that it begins in 2019, where a cure for aging has been found and subsequently outlawed. The cure is only available by referral on the black market. The protagonist, John Farrell (no, that THAT John Farrell. It’s a pretty common name, yeesh)  a New York lawyer gets the cure after being referred to a doctor by a banker friend of his. He is 29 years old at that time and will remain that age forever. However, this doesn’t mean that humanity is not entirely invincible — the cure merely provides a solution to not growing old. Anyone can still die from illness, injury or substance abuse. After a series of “pro-aging” attacks on private doctors offering the cure and citizens who had received it, the government has no choice but to legalize the “cure to aging” and regulate. From there the novel turns remarkably dystopian, as the effects of a population that doesn’t age is felt upon many nations across the world.

The novel presents the story in a “blog” format.  John’s blog is found on an old computer in 2093 and the events leading up to what they call “The correction” are well documented, as well as some of John’s personal struggles in dealing with life and family as a postmortal. The blog format  works as an easy way to navigate time skips in the narrative. This novel covers quite a significant amount of time, so its important to keep it’s pacing fast.  The blog format also allows for an interesting discussion surrounding the concept of self-curation, where one can document their entire life and leave a firsthand account of how they saw things.

This novel touches on a lot of interesting theoretical questions about life, death, religion and the effects of being able to live forever and really battles with itself to find an answer to those questions. This is a fantastic read over a couple of weekends or on the busy commute to the office.

Context Book Reviews

Did you grow up in the 80’s? Do you love video games? Then this novel is perfect for you. Ernest Cline  brings the perfect amount of action, angst and 80’s pop culture references in his debut novel Ready Player One. We read this over the holidays and couldn’t be more impressed. This is truly a novel for the digital age.

The novel begins in 2032 with Wade, a poor 17 year old kid living in rural Idaho in what they call the stacks, which are vertical trailer parks. The world is very much different then what it is today, The entire population is enamoured with an online virtual reality system known as the OASIS — a world created by eccentric billionaire programmer James Halliday. The OASIS controls the majority of the world’s economy, and people neglect reality in favour of this virtual world. As the novel begins, OASIS’ creator James Halliday passes away, leaving no heirs to his massive fortune. He creates a game within the OASIS, an easter egg hunt based off of the generation he grew up in — the 80’s. This causes a frenzy of interest in pop culture that is almost 50 years old. In fact, outside of the OASIS, pop culture comes to a screeching halt, as the population is eager to re-discover everything about the 80’s. Massive competitor corporations, as well as most of the the population strives are on the hunt to discover Halliday’s easter egg in the OASIS and through that, his fortune. As it turns out, Wade is the first one to crack the secret…

People who lived through the 80’s should recognize a lot of the references in this novel but don’t worry, if you’re not fluent in your 80’s pop culture there are footnotes. This is a fantastic read from cover to cover, and in all honesty, a whole lot of fun!

Both of these books are available on Amazon, iTunes or your friendly neighbourhood library!

So will you pick these up? Which books are you most looking forward to? What should we review next? Let us know in the comments or join the conversation on twitter!