State Tectonics bu Malka Older
If you know anything about me, you know I hate spoilers and I hate writing em even worse.
I’m drunk, and this post is about the third book in a trilogy, so…..
Spoilers III: Here There be Spoilers (for books 1 and 2):
- This is my favorite Malka Older yet.
Book 1, Infomocracy had to do some heavy lifting to flesh out a skeleton we (I, at least) hadn’t been smart enough to think of yet. Null States, the sequel, had to do some scene-setting in that brave new world and introduce some new players I could gladly root for and against. Both of them were dope af. But State Tectonics let me play with my favorite characters in high-stakes moments and inspired me to do one of my most important jobs as a citizen: to imagine a radically more equitable, more just, more efficient way to run the world. State Tectonics is a brilliant sprint across a few time zones in an identifiable, but pleasantly advanced future. It made me laugh, it made me think, and it made me hungry for foods i’ve never eaten from places i’ve never been. Read it (all), idiot.
Ok, that was aggressive. My bad. I’ll say this: I read a lot. I’ve not in my adult life (say, since Brave New World or 1984?) encountered writing and a story that was so on time, enthralling, and thought-provoking, or via the speculation it invited, encouraged me so readily to resist. Anyway,
- #Mishima is bae
If you peeped our Karaoke-Infused Hella-Sober Gorgeously-Engineered Interview with Malka Older, you know how I much I *heart-eyes* Mishima and ‘ship her and Ken. They’re wildly capable, (tragically?) flawed, and in mad love,and they’re not even the best characters the elder Older creates for us. A diverse and gorgeously diverse cast are her simulation’s engine. Their loves, quirks, and crises are subtle enough to be scary; given their dispositions for do-gooding and positions in the infrastructure of the world order, shit gets goddam existential. I grew to trust them when they move home to the boonies with their men, or have to mutually overcome insecurity. And when they were wrong (and when they FUCKING FACE STAB THEIR WAY OUT FROM KIDNAPPING), I was equally surprised. Hell, I even like the bad guys and evil geniuses.
- Power is as Power does
When @willread4booze first told be about Infomocracy, she was lighting up about it. I was clavicles deep in some fantasy something or other so I finished, waited my turn, and read the first novel in the Centenal Cycle exactly when I needed to, when my frustrations with how uninspired and predictable American political imaginations became visceral. Infomocracy was a beacon; it was fantasy for me, inasmuch as I could finally, FINALLY, envision a world that wasn’t so predatory as real life.
State Tectonics bounces from granule to granule in the powderkeg. A quarter century into the microdemocratic experiment, lots of smart, passionate people have ideas for how to “fix” it. Again and again, Older elucidates a particular, opposing position long enough for us to have to stop and think about whether any use of power like that which Information yields is actually revolutionary, especially if it’s absolute. All before alighting on an election that will determine the future of microdemocracy.
State Tectonics ends and leaves pleasantly unresolved a fun and vital thought experiment. It will be salient for any political conversation for the next half century in global politics as the world crawls its way toward what I optimistically call progress, with my dumb, drunk ass.
May the votes be ever in your favor.
Rating: 5/5 shots
Pairing: a 3-finger Dewar’s White Label, neat, on the airship my baby mama used to defend the leaders of the free world while our toddler murmurs sleepily on my chest, on the eve of transcontinental turmoil.