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flashback, oh man, that's really pathetic, dude

2014-01-18 - 9:48 a.m.

WTF did I just read? I liked Abominable and thus I stupidly picked up the next Dan Simmons book they had available at our library. Big mistake, I now know. It was Flashback, which appears to be about the fact that Simmons was pissed off that Obama won the election.

Once I realized just how awful it was, I thought about just putting it down but 1) I finish what I start, and 2)I guess I wanted to see just how terrible the racist trainwreck could get. I don't know if it's a spoiler because I don't imagine that many people who read books will read this entire screed, but the final scene -- presented as a triumph -- is self-harm/cutting which is our hero's new alternative to his drug addiction. But trust me. I didn't spoil anything by revealing that because you're not going read that far unless you're a masochist.

Did Simmons really write this, or did an assistant write it? It reads like something by a person with no experience of human nature. Here's two examples of unbelievable:

  • A sick, addicted drug addict of almost seven years' standing suddenly gets too busy to use drugs and is cured -- without any real symptoms of withdrawal.
  • Israel allows itself to be bombed out of existence without firing one shot back. Yeah, like that's gonna happen.

Evidently in this future the US has only 26 nuclear bombs that they don't know how to deliver and Israel has zero. In other words, the writer thinks the United States is the former Soviet Union...

The drug itself could have been interesting except that the ghostwriter or Simmons or whoever really wrote this doesn't know/doesn't care much about drugs and thinks addiction is something a person just shrugs off with a bit of willpower. So I think Dick's A Scanner Darkly still stands as the best SF on this topic, even though some of the language and the attitudes toward women are a little dated. Women don't even really exist in Flashback except as daughters, wives, dead fantasies etc. so really not updated there anyway...It's all about boys and their toys. It would probably make a cool movie for knuckle-dragging racists if those guys really need any more movies.

But FFS. I could tell he was getting worn down by the end and just wanted to wrap up the bullshit but honestly. Life is pain, and you might as well cut yourself with a razor to know you're alive, is not really the thrilling conclusion I expected. I can get that from a five paragraph fanfic by a teen girl -- and at least her characters will be attractive.

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