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Estrada, Ines – Alienation

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Alienation

Would you believe that that cover actually tells you the whole story? OK, maybe not totally, but a good chunk of it. After you read it maybe you’ll agree, but I’m not going to explain why here. Oh right, the review! This is set in 2054, right as a lunar eclipse is happening in Alaska. The story is not set in Alaska, but our hero (Eliza) is able to watch it on Starbucks Live Cam. Yes, this is another story about a dystopian future that’s all too plausible based on where we are today (early 2020, future readers, assuming humanity survives that long), but Ines packs all kinds of new ideas into this formula. Most of life in 2054 is lived online, through various types of virtual reality. People do still have jobs, but they’re quickly becoming automated, with very little thought given to what happens to those workers when the jobs are fully automated. Hey, just like today! They’re able to do and see literally anything their heart desires (they have a concert in their living room, go to a rave from 1997, go see Jimi Hendrix in the 60’s, etc.), to the point that they sometimes forget to buy food. They go on like this for a bit, until eventually what she suspects to be an AI breaks through and forces her to communicate. She’s freaked out by this, especially when this keeps happening and she has no control over it, and it culminates (after she’s able to access her medical history which, horrifically, is controlled by McDonald’s) in her finding out she’s pregnant. Despite not having had sex with her boyfriend in at least a year. Things get fucking weird from there, but I’ve spoiled more than enough of this journey. I’ll just say that several parts of this have really stuck with me (I finished this a few days ago and I’ve been gathering my thoughts, which maybe makes this more coherent than usual but probably not), and this is very much worth your time. If you’re optimistic about the future somehow this should cure you, and if not you’ll feel right at home. $19.99