May 08 2006

China Mountain Zhang

Published by at 9:59 am under Books

by Maureen McHugh

I want to like this book, but can’t really recommend it. A nice easy to read story set in second half of the 21st century. A future in which Chinese Communist ideology triumphs, and after a revolution and subsequent travail, the US is part of a socialist world dominated by China and by Chinese people. The main character Zhang is a gay American Born Chinese (ABC) who overcomes some obstacles and makes it as an engineer with a degree from a Chinese University. There are several other strands that cross Zhang’s path but don’t add much to the narrative.

The main scifi component is related to man/machine interaction and is best exemplified by the ‘kite riders’ who provide a risky bit of entertainment that can be partly experience by watchers who ‘jack in’ to them while they race. In general, people are allowed to be integrated into machine to influence them but the reverse is generally illegal since it can be very addictive. Naturally, such interactions exist but are mainly part of an outlaw culture. Overall, I didn’t think the man/machine (cyborg) aspect was well elaborated. Nor was the Chinese dominance well explored.

So it was okay, but ‘no cigar’.

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