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The Amateurs (2018)

by Liz Harmer

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
522439,446 (3.3)9
"Harmer takes cues from Margaret Atwood and Cormac McCarthy in this sharp debut, a cautionary tale of tech gone astray." --Toronto Life In a time and place only slightly removed from now, PINA, the world's largest tech company, has introduced society to a new product called "Port." This irresistible space-time travel device is mysteriously powered by nostalgia and longing: Step inside a Port and find yourself transported any place your heart desires, real or imagined. Earth's population plummets when many who pass through its portal don't come back--either unwilling or unable to return.             In The Amateurs, Liz Harmer has crafted a subtle, many-faceted debut novel about rapture and romance--and the strange, dark, powerful alchemy that happens when technology meets desire.… (more)
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PINA, the world’s largest tech company, has “invented” a technology dubbed “Port” that responses to people’s desires and nostalgia and allows them to go to whatever time or place, real or imaginary, they wish. However, it seems no one is willing or able to return.

“People had left in trickles. For a long time, their leaving had barely been noticeable—until things began to collapse: workers not showing up to clear debris on the highway, police not coming when called. What PINA called “the first wave” had included a flood of think pieces and blog posts and interviews and rants, and an unholy number of tweets about the merits of leaving or not, comparing the art of leaving to suicide… …One percent of the population left and you hardly knew it. But the so-called “second wave” was more frightening. The grip of society fell lank, like the hands of a patient whose anesthesia was taking effect. Even close to the PINA campus there was, along with the clicking of crickets and howls of God knew what—mountain lions? bears?—a night chorus of gunshots and squealing tires. Then came the third wave: the grid went down and the darkness expanded in every direction…. “

Set in a time that could be today, The Amateurs follows two survivors of the fad (?), The first , Marie, is an artist still living with her dog above her once thriving art shop in the Ontario area. She is one of a community of forty-two, and who meet regularly in the town’s Anglican cathedral for support, and to discuss pressing issues related to their survival. Second is Brandon, the young, Ivy-league-educated, spin doctor person for Albrecht Door, PINA’s brilliant, perpetually optimistic leader. Both Brandon and Doors are among the thousand or so survivors at the PINA campus. Both Marie and Brandon are well thought out characters who evolve over the course of the book

The Amateurs is an addictive novel, the prose is seductive, the setting so close to “now” to be uncomfortably familiar. While the idea of “Port” is science fictional, the response to it is completely recognizable. Why are some never tempted by Port and so many others are? Why does it seem that no one is willing to return? This is not your usual dark & dirty post-apocalyptic tale, (perhaps because it is set before desperation sets in?). It’s engaging, thoughtful, and wields a powerful meditation on desire and longing. (And it’s kind of fun). Once started, it is hard to put down. ( )
  avaland | Apr 8, 2019 |
A unique dystopia story set locally in Hamilton. Just about everyone has disappeared: what do the survivors do? How do they go on? As well, how did the world get to this stage? A middle section explores the silicon valley mindset that creates the tech that gets the world to this stage and how self-serving they move forward. Mad genius or earth-saving?
I did not care for the lovesick protagonist who is plucky and ridiculous simultaneously, but I loved the dilemma of a world that suddenly stops working. So many familiar cultural references as well as Biblical allusions, too. Well-crafted and thought provoking, but still easy to read. ( )
  LDVoorberg | Feb 25, 2019 |
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» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Liz Harmerprimary authorall editionscalculated
Cooper, RachelCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"Harmer takes cues from Margaret Atwood and Cormac McCarthy in this sharp debut, a cautionary tale of tech gone astray." --Toronto Life In a time and place only slightly removed from now, PINA, the world's largest tech company, has introduced society to a new product called "Port." This irresistible space-time travel device is mysteriously powered by nostalgia and longing: Step inside a Port and find yourself transported any place your heart desires, real or imagined. Earth's population plummets when many who pass through its portal don't come back--either unwilling or unable to return.             In The Amateurs, Liz Harmer has crafted a subtle, many-faceted debut novel about rapture and romance--and the strange, dark, powerful alchemy that happens when technology meets desire.

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