The Earnestness of Genre Fiction

I wrote a novel.

Technically, only the first draft is finished, but that just means I wrote a really shitty book. When people ask me to describe my novel (or when I try to subtly bring the subject up in conversation like an arrogant asshole), I tell them:

The book is about a lot of big themes. Part of it is about the disempowerment of young men in the modern economy. Some of it is about the mind-body problem, in particular how the body is extensible through the use of tools.

But primarily the book is about giant robots fighting each other.

Laughter normally ensues. The joke proves I have a hip, ironic detachment with my work. Giant robots cannot have thematic value.

I am a fucking coward. The ironic detachment protects me and hides the truth: I wrote a book called Mecha Americana because I love Gundam and Neon Genesis Evangelion. To this day, I wish I could pilot the Gundam Epyon or Eva Unit-01, so I wrote a story about a white dude whom appropriates Japanese culture and technology to save the day. Continue reading The Earnestness of Genre Fiction

David Foster Wallace: Severing the Internet Connection

Early humans had to hunt to survive, and evolution gave our species numerous advantages for that purpose. Our large brains and opposable thumbs provided us the ability to develop and wield tools. Socialization allowed us to pool our resources and abilities, and our social groups became greater than the sum of our parts. However, the most important tool early mankind possessed to aid their hunting efforts was the ability to run long distances. Biology professor David R. Carrier of the University of Utah explains in “The Energetic Paradox of Human Running and Hominid Evolution”:

Among cursorial mammals man is one of the best distance runners. While game animals are faster over short distances, they generally have less endurance than man…Tarahumara Indians chase deer through the mountains of northern Mexico until the animals collapse from exhaustion and then throttle them by hand.

Continue reading David Foster Wallace: Severing the Internet Connection

The Lord of the Rings: Coming Home

Like most students, Oh, The Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss was gifted to me at my high school graduation. The book was given to me by my girlfriend-at-the-time’s parents which was especially nice of them considering in a couple of weeks I would break up with their daughter via text. The Cat in the Hat and Green Eggs and Ham, great as they may be, are fundamentally books for children. On the other hand, Oh, The Places You’ll Go resonates with eighteen year olds because it touches on the limitless possibilities laid before each graduate.

However, there is another book whose central theme applies directly to grads. Giving Oh, The Places You’ll Go is a wonderful tradition, but the frequency of this gift makes it a little trite and open to be replaced by another book. Instead, the book we should be giving eighteen year olds is The Lord of The Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien Continue reading The Lord of the Rings: Coming Home