Edition: Ebook (read on my Kindle)
Where I got it: copy for review, from the author – big thanks!
The Emoticon Generation is a collection of science fiction short stories by Guy Hasson, an author, playwright and filmmaker (talk about skill sets!). You can find out more about his writing here, and as I discuss a few of the stories in this collection that I enjoyed most, you’ll find links to the ones that are also available to read online.
First though, a little overview. Reading these stories, I achieved that most desirable of results whenever I read sci-fi or fantasy – they all made me think, mostly thoughts along the lines of “wow, what if this is really possible?” If any of the fictional technologies that Hasson describes in these stories can be (or are) made real, the impact that it could have on our society boggles the mind – in both good and bad ways. Though maybe it’s fairer to simply say interesting ways …
What I like most about these stories is that they’re balanced, between positive and negative outcomes of using those technologies. I think that balance is well-demonstrated in my choice of standout stories, so without further ado, let’s get to those:
You think you know everything about today’s teenage computer-savvy generation? You don’t.
The father of a fifteen-year-old girl ‘borrows’ her iPhone to start checking up on what she’s getting up to when he’s not around, and finds more than he’d bargained for when he discovers she’s being swept up in a new craze of emoticon-based texting. But is it just another passing fad among today’s youth, or could it genuinely change the way this and next generations communicate?
I don’t know anyone who maintains an online presence and either doesn’t use or has never used emoticons. I do it all the time. Do I use them exclusively as a means of communicating? Of course not – but in Generation E that is exactly what all the kids are doing. There’s an entire system, practically a whole language, built up around them, and some seem to be taking it seriously enough to turn it into poetry. No, you read that right. Language is out. It’s for old geezers, it’s outdated and, to some, even pointless. Since I suppose “old geezers” in this context includes myself, I found this story particularly mind-boggling. A language without words? It sounds insane! Yet, somehow, Hasson makes us think that just maybe, it could actually happen. Like I said, we all use those little symbols. As a next step in a societal progression, could this be where we end up somewhere down the line?
It bears thinking about, not least because I was left, after reading this story, wondering if I shouldn’t be telling more people to get off my lawn …
A girl brought up alone by her mother in secret. What could go wrong?
Glynis Hatch has never known her father, and her mother never talks about him. So, naturally, Glynis starts to get curious – and the lack of answers from her mother to her questions only kindles that curiosity. Eventually she sets out to find out what she can on her own, by going online. Only what she finds is more shocking than she’d ever imagined…
This story achieves something of a one-two punch, in that it left me quite creeped out and genuinely surprised me, before the end. The truth that Glynis discovers about where she came from isn’t quite what I’d begun to suspect it was, and it’s that truth that gave me shivers. Saying much more than this might edge into spoiler territory, so I will leave it here and simply say I defy you to read this and not feel much the same way…
Aryeh Shamgar, a ninety-year-old war hero, sits down to be interviewed about his famous past as a soldier in a war where he single-handedly turned its tide with the assassination of a key political figure. But it turns out that the story he’s believed for most of his life about those events, and the reasons for them, aren’t what he thought they were…
This is the story that moved me most, out of all the ones in this book. The revelation that Shamgar must come to terms with clearly tears him apart before he can do so, and I couldn’t help feeling like I was right there with him. It’s this story that left me so intrigued with Hasson’s work that I can’t help wanting more of it. As with the rest of the stories, his writing style is clear and concise, while still keeping a moving lyricism about it that, altogether, make these stories well worth reading. For me, ‘The Assassination’ is the jewel in this particular crown.
In short, I’m incredibly glad I discovered this book, and I’d thoroughly recommend it to anyone who likes their science fiction to be of the thinking variety.
In other news, the Emoticon Generation Blog Tour (of which this review is a part, see the picture above) is far from over! Tomorrow I will have a guest post from the author himself right here on my blog, and there’s plenty more where it came from. Check out The Little Red Reviewer for more details, and a huge thanks must go to her and to Guy Hasson for organising the tour and generally being awesome. So, yes! Buy this book. Stay tuned. I know I will.