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Blue Skies by Matthew Mather
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Although it is one of six interlocking narratives comprising the Atopia Chronicles, this novella is also a fully rounded story capable of standing on its own.

Olympia Onassis is an advertising executive in a world struggling between riding the wave of new technology and sinking beneath it. Diagnosed with media-overload-induced stress on the eve of her greatest triumph, she agrees to trial a new technology that will edit out the very advertising that provides her livelihood.

The story is written in a breezy style reminiscent of noir, not only allowing the plot to unfold at the rapid pace suitable for a story about a data-saturated world but also invoking a layer of grime which removes the need for repeated explicit references to the seamy side of the world. This stripped-down, amped-up delivery gives Mather more room to pack in the seeds of both dystopia and sublimation.

Olympia is almost the perfect caricature of an advertising executive. Filled with extreme opinions about everything but moving onto something else so fast that her anger becomes another hollow event leading nowhere. Even her acceptance of the experimental technology is shallow and arrogant; she is more concerned with the possibility it will give her an in with the manufacturer than with the possibility it could help her do her job better.

The supporting characters are rendered with broad strokes, sometimes leaving little evidence there is depth or real individuality behind their brief appearance. Rather than weaken immersion, this adds to the reader’s understanding of how self-absorbed Olympia is.

Although the book is a full-immersion futureshock and can be read for pure enjoyment, it also raises questions of how much of our life is built from perception not reality and what unexpected impacts this might give as-good-as-life synthetic realities.

I enjoyed this novella greatly. I recommend it to readers fond of cyberpunk, the possible impact of altered realities, or powerful character sketches. ( )
  Tyrshundr | Feb 5, 2014 |
Meet Olympia. As you will soon discover, Olympia hates everything and everyone. She hates her job but uses it as self-affirmation that she has achieved something in her life. She hates her ex-boyfriend because he cared too much and got too close, and when he starts dating her friend, she kicks them both out of her life for good. She hates the advertisements on the street, plastering the walls of buildings around her. She hates the fact that her cat is very needy, knows for sure that no one is really genuine in wishing her well. She sees kindness as a threat because all people have ulterior motives. All she really wants is to be left alone, not to be bothered with anything, just some peace and quiet. And after a major panic attack she gets exactly that. Peace and quiet and not one living thing on this planet bothering her. But what do you do when you get exactly what you asked for? What do you do when you wake up being the only person on Earth? As humans we desire the things we don't have. We are never happy with what we got. So we should be careful what we ask for.

"Blue Skies" is the start of the Atopia Chronicles by Matthew Mather. It was a quick read with only about 40 something pages, and while nothing really happens in this story, with Olympia being this rather unpleasant person I can relate to for some strange reasons, the book manages to keep me interested until the end. There is no action but a lot of "think". It is the irony between advertisement and marketing working on marketing and advertising something that keeps all of this out of your life. It is about the majority of people striving for achievements that don't necessarily make you happy.

Definitely going to read the rest of this series of Sidequels, as Mather calls them. They don't follow a particular order, and I am curious what awaits me next. ( )
  J4N3 | Sep 23, 2013 |
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