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Robert Charles Wilson

Affinities

As the early apocalyptic novels of the sixties and seventies were born from the advent of the nuclear age, The Affinities is a cautionary tale rooted in America's latest potentially catastrophic technological advancement. This time, rather than the development of the Atom bomb, Wilson's story considers the issues raised by our ever-growing obsession with social media and online dating. Best described as Brave New World meets social media, The Affinities is a thought-provoking piece of social science fiction that explores the dark side of an apparent utopian ideal. Its fast-paced, engaging story raises intellectually intriguing questions about the effects of social media and algorithm-driven computing on politics and interpersonal relationships. However, unlike most science fiction, The Affinities eschews broad global and interstellar narratives to focus on its protagonist's own personal relationships. As such, it is a far more intimate affair than most genre fiction. The science fiction elements of the story all occur in the background as the story unfolds through its characters' reactions to events ignited by those elements. The plausible future imagined in The Affinities will resonate with fans of more cerebral science fiction, such as the novels of Dan Brown and Cory Doctorow, as well as fans of high concept contemporary novels, such as those of Steven Gould and Robert J. Sawyer. Its strength lies in its value as a thought exercise. The Affinities would also serve very nicely as an introduction to genre fiction for fans of accessible literary fiction, such as Catch-22 and Lord of the Flies, looking to transition to science fiction but put off by those elements of hard science fiction that so often stigmatize the genre - such as clichéd plot devices, flat characters, kitschy dialog, and magical technology - all of which Wilson assiduously avoids. Finally, fans of Robert Charles Wilson's previous work will love this novel. Unlike so many other authors who fall into the trap of familiar patterns, Wilson has earned a reputation as an author who never writes the same book twice. But all of the hallmarks of Wilson's work are present: the light, well-crafted prose, the keen understanding of human nature, and the proclivity for turning tired old tropes on their head. Whatever your reason for picking up The Affinities, one thing's certain. You'll never look at your Facebook fans in quite the same way again.

Andrew
Club Reader
1 Member Credit or $17.99
Taylor Antrim

Immunity

Post-apocalyptic stories are nothing new, but in an increasingly crowded field, Immunity stands out for its singular focus on how the haves might choose to amuse themselves in a New York that’s not quite in ruins, but is crumbling just the same. Catherine used to be a have. Her mother was wealthy, and until she died in a car crash, Catherine ran with the “in” crowd. When the money dries up, Catherine finds herself at loose ends and takes a job with Pursuit, which caters to wealthy and demanding clientele. At her health screening, she agrees to have a device implanted in her lower back, which they claim gives her immunity to the flu that is still wreaking havoc on society. New York City is usually portrayed as a bustling city, and even in the aftermath of the pandemic, life goes on with a healthy dose of paranoia and safeguards in the form of mandatory health checks and even checkpoints throughout the city where people are screened on the spot. It’s very easy to picture New York teeming with people wearing face masks - and keeping with the theme of excess - some face masks are made from conspicuous, high-priced fashion brands. Safety precautions for the wealthy set. Tension starts building from the very start when Catherine begins working the phones at Pursuit. It’s a daily grind that wears her down and a boss that rarely shows his face at the office. When she’s invited to take part in a special event for a client, she goes along fueled by casual drug use and a promise of excitement amidst the crushing boredom of her days. It’s excitement she finds: shooting rubber bullets wrapped with money off the roof of a derelict motel at a desperate, grasping crowd below. This obviously exceeds the limits of common decency, and even Catherine, who’s not quite as morally bankrupt as her employer, finds herself taking a few shots. But of course, as is always the case with this type of thing, either it ramps up or it implodes spectacularly, and indeed Catherine finds herself hunted by people that want what she has: immunity. The narrative grows increasingly uncomfortable when Catherine runs to her father, who attempts to help his daughter with horrifying results. Things go bad really, really quickly, and I found myself wondering if Catherine would survive to the end. This book is a paranoiac’s dream and is a fast-paced, sly commentary on conspicuous consumption the lengths that some people will go to in order to assuage their boredom. After all, what do you give a person that literally has everything? In Immunity, Pursuit never says no, and is happy to accommodate requests that only a sociopath (perhaps even a psychopath) would love. Immunity is an atmospheric, creepy read that should appeal to post-apocalyptic junkies and thriller lovers alike.

Kristin
Club Reader
1 Member Credit or $15.99

Additional selections for this month

Saaba Tahir
1 Member Credit or $13.99
George R.R. Martin
1 Member Credit or $17.99
Kristy Logan
1 Member Credit or $16.99
Mike Mignola
1 Member Credit or $14.99
Nnedi Okorafor
1 Member Credit or $16.99
Frances Hardinge
1 Member Credit or $11.99
Neal Stephenson
1 Member Credit or $20.99
Eli K.P. William
1 Member Credit or $15.99
Joanne M. Harris
1 Member Credit or $17.99
Emily St. John Mandel
1 Member Credit or $14.99
Kit Reed
1 Member Credit or $18.99
Hugo Pratt
1 Member Credit or $17.99
Charlaine Harris
1 Member Credit or $16.99
Michael Avon Oeming
1 Member Credit or $19.99
James L. Cambias
1 Member Credit or $18.99
Lev AC Rosen
1 Member Credit or $14.99