Friday, August 16, 2013

Love Minus Eighty by Will McIntosh

Love Minus EightyLove Minus Eighty by Will McIntosh
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Format: First paperback and then, when I had to return that to library, I bought the Kindle version.
Narrated By: N/A
Original Publication Year: 2013
Genre(s): Science Fiction
Series: None
Awards: 2010 Hugo Award for the short story “Bridesicle” that the book is based on called.

I was intrigued when I heard about this book because it was based on a very interesting short story that I had listened to through Escape Pod (ep. 247). I have a horrible memory, read a lot and have listened to hundreds of short stories but this one, “Bridesicle”, stuck with me. It was unique, provocative and evocative. In the future, humans have developed the technology to repair almost any damage to the human body but that repair comes with a hefty price tag. A corporation has figured out how to exploit this situation by making frozen desirable women, with fatal injuries, available as brides for the ultra wealthy. Men pay money to visit a "bridesicle" of their choice and the woman is revived enough to be able to speak. She must convince a wealthy man to marry her and pay to revive them fully or go through the terror of these short visits where they are aware they are dead and housed in frozen coffins. I was very interested and a little nervous about how the author would turn it into a full length novel.

Obviously Will McIntosh is not only talented at writing short stories. I was really impressed at how he took his one focused idea and expanded it to paint a realistic and rather chilling vision of the future. The world he reveals is our current world turned up by eleventy thousand – people wear electronic systems that allow them to constantly interact with others and everyone is their own reality TV show. It’s utterly believable and rarely seems forced in a “look at all these clever ideas I have” sort of way. Although seeing all the clever ideas he has as they unfold throughout the book is one of its joys.

The book stays real however because the focus is not on all the technology and gadgetry but on the human heart. How are relationships faring in this hyper-connected and highly consumerist world? There are three perspective characters: Rob, Veronika and Mira. Each one faces a different challenge to finding love and they all in one way or another are connected to the Bridesicle facility. They alternate chapters and each chapter is kept short so there is no danger in getting stuck in a less favorite storyline. There is very little danger of that anyway as each of the characters and stories is worthwhile.

The real triumph of the book for me was that it managed to tackle depressing topics and weighty moral issues while still remaining a really fun read. It managed to point out that whenever the human race achieves something great, it will almost always balance it with their ability to exploit each other mercilessly. But it also managed to be hopeful and, in the end, happy – no matter how complex and crappy our world becomes, we can still find love in the end. Nicely done Mr. McIntosh!

So if you had a choice between death or the possibility of life but married to someone who bought you which would you choose?

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