Monday, November 12, 2007

Review-ish thoughts: Premonition and Looking Backward

Alas, I can't figure out how to put this stuff behind a cut, so if you don't want spoilers for either, come back another time :)

Recently got Premonition from Blockbuster. Short review: didn't particularly like it. It was a lot like Next in the whole trying-to-change-the-future thing. However, it seems to take the perspective that if you've seen the future and something bad happened, you can't change it; you have to make your peace with the bad thing that happened. So my question is: why not just make the story about finding peace with the bad event? Because really, what's the POINT of seeing the future if you can't do a darn thing about it??

And I picked up Looking Backward, by Edward Bellamy, from the library. Even before I finished it, I ordered a copy form Amazon because I found myself wanting to write in the margins! (Someone else apparently didn't have my restraint... ;p )

Anyway, it's about a guy who has insomnia, and so if he goes several nights without sleep he hires a mesmerist to put him in a hypnotic trance so he can rest and doesn't kill himself from exhaustion. Well anyway, one night it works too well, his house burns down around him and seals him in his underground bedroom. And everybody thinks he died, so nobody comes to check on him.

The mesmerist was apparently SO good at what he did that the narrator's body was put into complete suspended animation, and was only discovered when someone went to build on that site and found the chamber and opened it - over a hundred years later!

So the narrator wakes up in a socialist utopia: all work is honored and rewarded equally, production and distribution has been nationalized, etc. Technology has increased efficiency and reduced workloads, allowing for general prosperity and further progress.

What makes this particularly fascinating is that the "future" is the year 2000; the book was originally written in the 1880s! It's really good. I really think the author has rather too high an opinion of human nature, and he gets a bit preachy from time to time. Still, all in all, it is a delightful story.


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