Distraction, by Bruce Sterling, Part I

218566As I continue not reading House of Leaves (sorry, Kris), I have been reading, appropriately enough, Distraction, by Bruce Sterling. It’s another book that’s set in the not too distant future in an America that has grown to resemble the last days of Rome, but without the bedsheets. It’s decadent, it’s not functioning, and the empire is about to topple.

Fun. 🙂

What Sterling has done in this book is to extrapolate the current trends in society and just follow them into a logical conclusion. While I think this scenario is entirely possible, I think that Sterling didn’t give enough time for things to get as bad as they are in Distraction. A shortened timeline seems to be common in these books. Maybe it’s because the author needs to get the plot moving or something, but I don’t think that they give enough time for scenarios like the one you find in this book to realistically develop.

But one thing I really like about this book is that it’s kind of a fictional equivalent to The Prince— a practical guide to manipulating the political landscape. The main character, Oscar Valparaiso, is the spin doctor of all spin doctors and his mind is as slick as an eel. It’s a treat to watch him work.

I’m about a third of the way through the book, but the plot still feels like it’s in its introductory phases, like everything is still getting into place and nothing much has happened yet. Hopefully, things will start to pick up soon. So far, the most interesting thing going on in this book is reading the little snippets of future history (the stuff that happened between our present and the characters’ present).


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