Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Feed, by M.T. Anderson, is not a pleasant read. But it’s an important read.
The are two main differences between the world of FEED and our world today. First there are flying cars and second you don’t need to use a computer, because you’ve got UNLIMITED Internet access via a feed directly to your brain. You can chat, watch movies, buy stuff, and anything else right there in your brain.
If any of that sounds good then you REALLY need to read Feed, because it’s not good, it’s hell.
Feed is a book about how bad things are going to be in the future. You’ll get everything you want and more. And if you ever stop wanting something for a second, the Feed will remind you of the many great values that are ON SALE NOW!
I think Feed deserves a place amongst the Great Dystopian Books -- 1984 and Brave New World are clearly on that list, other books arguably have a place. I like The Futurological Congress, you may like Do Androids Dream…
Feed should probably move to the front of the list, because there’s a certain urgency to it. It feels like it’s getting closer and closer to reality with every twitter tweet.
In 1984, people are ruled by a totalitarian government. Snore.
In Brave New World, people are ruled by a benevolent government which seeks to iron out all our problems by getting rid of stressful stuff like intelligence.
Feed has some similarities to Brave New World, but rather than being ruled by a government, we’re trodden down by corporations -- their only tools are the Feed and our own greed.
That’s what makes the book SO painful to read. Our “hero” can make the right choices any time he wants. There’s no Big Brother to stop him, he just has to resist the Feed a little. You’ll be begging him to resist the Feed and he’ll be busy thinking about how great it is to have access to information about the latest styles of cargo pants.
Can he resist the Feed? That may be beside the point. The real point is: can WE resist the Feed? In the book, it’s very hard to switch off the Feed. In real life we can switch it off any time we want. But we don’t.
A couple of notes:
The book is loaded with profanity, both futuristic and 2009 cussing.
I listened to the audiobook version and it is incredible. A pitch-perfect reading by David Aaron Baker and extremely abrasive excerpts from the Feed really immerse you in this horrible, horrible society.
As a novel, I don’t think Feed is as good as Anderson’s masterful “Octavian Nothing.” (Admittedly, that’s a tough book to get compared to.) However, Feed - like Brave New World -- is more than a novel; it’s a warning.