A DETAIL: ALL THE BIRDS IN THE SKY
So I am reading ‘All the Birds in the Sky’ by Charlie Jane Anders are the moment, because it’s a book which I suspect is going to get a lot of attention this year. I’m also reading it because it will be discussed on The Coode Street Podcast’s bookclub this month and I wanted to listen to the program more actively. I’m only about fifty pages in and I’m finding it difficult because of how inoffensive both the writing and the story have been so far.
(I don’t actually think it’s bad as such, just not my groove.)
However one small detail caught me out. Where I’m at the boy, Laurence, has just been given a Heinlein juvenile and recommended to read more Heinlein by a rocket scientist in her twenties. This strikes me as anachronistic and awkward. It’s hard to figure out why, but Heinlein was not in print when I was in my early teens and I’m not certain he had much to say to me. It feels like an awkward intrusion of skiffy nostalgia. The Ready Player One effect.
That said, my own nostalgic impulses would have had Laurence being given the triptych of Playstation Final Fantasy games (VII, VIII, IX), or even the first Kingdom Hearts game. They didn’t kindle my reading or my tastes for the speculative, but Final Fantasy VII is the game that encouraged my brother to learn to read and feel like a more universal set of cultural touchstones than Heinlein. It would skew the feels down to an audience between twenty-five and forty something. I’m not sure where the Heinlein reference is meant to aim for and it jars.
 – For those unaware the Final Fantasy games are basically slightly interactive novels which take anywhere from 30/40 hours if you blast through the game just to consume the story to well over 100 hours if you explore/collect everything.