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review 2017-07-11 09:06
Stoff für die Leinwand
Artificial - Jadah McCoy

„Artificial“ von Jadah McCoy fand seinen Weg über den Newsletter des Verlages Curiosity Quills Press zu mir. Ich erhalte schon seit letztem Jahr regelmäßig Informationen über zur Verfügung stehende Rezensionsexemplare – seit mich „Don’t Eat the Glowing Bananas“ von David D. Hammons begeisterte. Meinem Gefühl nach konzentriert sich der Verlag auf ungewöhnliche, fantasievolle Geschichten, die immer ein bisschen abseits des sogenannten Mainstreams liegen. Ich hoffte, dass „Artificial“ ähnlich unkonventionell sein würde.

 

Der Planet Kepler ist eine Einöde, das beschämende Zeugnis des verheerenden Konflikts zwischen Menschen und Maschinen. Die Menschheit ist beinahe ausgerottet; zur Beute degradiert von den Cull – riesige, an Insekten erinnernde Prädatoren, das Ergebnis der genetischen Kriegsführung der Androiden, bevor diese spurlos verschwanden. Die Cull jagen Menschen. Sie fressen Menschen. In dieser feindseligen Welt kämpft die junge Syl ums Überleben. Als sie auf einem Streifzug entführt wird, bringt man sie an einen Ort, den es eigentlich gar nicht geben dürfte: ein Labor in einer Stadt voller Androide. Dort erfährt sie am eigenen Leib, dass die Roboter skrupellos mit Menschen experimentieren. Sie muss fliehen, aber wie sie soll sie aus einer Stadt entkommen, in der sie auffällt wie ein bunter Hund? Ihre einzige Hoffnung ist der Android Bastion, der zu einer Untergrundbewegung gehört, die Menschen über die Stadtgrenze schmuggelt. Ohne zu wissen, ob sie Bastion trauen kann, lässt sie sich auf ein gefährliches Katz-und-Maus-Spiel ein, während sie eine Frage quält: ist sie nach den Experimenten überhaupt noch ein Mensch?

 

Obwohl ich „Artificial“ von Jadah McCoy insgesamt nicht unbedingt als unkonventionell bezeichnen würde, enthält dieser Reihenauftakt einige interessante, ausgefallene Ideen. Die Ausgangssituation des Krieges zwischen Menschen und Maschinen ist zwar nicht neu, doch die Gründe für diesen Krieg empfand ich als angenehm originell. Als die Erde starb, beschloss die Menschheit, den Planeten Kepler zu besiedeln. Für die Reise dorthin erfanden sie Androiden, die über die Körper der vermutlich in Kryostase versetzten Menschen wachen sollten. Doch während des langen Fluges geschah etwas mit den Androiden: sie entwickelten Gefühle. Auf Kepler angekommen, hatten die Androiden ihren Zweck erfüllt und wurden durch Menschen ersetzt. Niemand erwartete, dass dieses Verhalten die Roboter verletzen oder erzürnen könnte. Ihre Ignoranz war verhängnisvoll – die Androiden begannen den Krieg, der Kepler in das Schlachtfeld verwandelte, das er heute, im Jahr 2256, noch immer ist. Sie erschufen die Cull erfolgreich als ultimative Waffe gegen ihre ehemaligen Herren. Diese Insektoiden sind wirklich zum Fürchten. Richtig gruselig. Die Vorstellung, von diesen Wesen gejagt zu werden, verursachte mir eine Gänsehaut. Jadah McCoy bebildert ihre Geschichte heftig und extrem; sie zeigt Situationen, die mir das Gefühl vermittelten, es mit einem literarischen Horrorfilm zu tun zu haben. Deshalb weigere ich mich, das Buch als Young Adult zu kategorisieren. McCoy will schockieren. Leider konnten die blutigen, brutalen Szenen nicht verschleiern, dass „Artificial“ gravierende Defizite aufweist. Meiner Ansicht nach ist das Worldbuilding des ersten Bandes der „Kepler Chronicles“ dermaßen lückenhaft, dass es sich auf die Handlung auswirkt. McCoys futuristisches Universum erschloss sich mir nicht, wodurch ich viele inhaltliche Entwicklungen nicht verstand. Gigantische Fragezeichen schwirrten durch meinen Kopf. Wieso wussten die Menschen nichts von New Elite, der Stadt der Androiden? In welcher Beziehung stehen die Androiden und die Cull heute? Warum experimentieren sie mit Menschen? Wie kann es sein, dass moderne Androide die Fähigkeit ihrer Vorfahren, Emotionen zu empfinden, verurteilen und sogar unter Strafe stellen? Wichtige Informationen fielen unbeachtet unter den Tisch; zu viel musste ich mir selbst zusammenreimen und konnte daher kein Vertrauen zur Autorin aufbauen. Wiederholt stolperte ich über ihre Inkonsequenz und war folglich nicht in der Lage, mich an den Figuren zu orientieren, trotz der wechselnden Ich-Perspektive der menschlichen Protagonistin Syl und des Androiden Bastion. Mit Bastion kam ich ganz gut zurecht, ich fand ihn liebenswürdig und nahbar, aber Syl… Furchtbar. Es ist keine Seltenheit, dass vermeintlich taffe Hauptdarstellerinnen gemein und übertrieben aggressiv dargestellt werden, doch Syl erreicht einen neuen, traurigen Tiefpunkt. So eine rotzig unsympathische „Heldin“ habe ich selten erlebt. Wie sie mit anderen Charakteren umspringt, ist ekelhaft. Keine Ahnung, wie Bastion es schafft, Syl zu mögen. Ich konnte es nicht und halte ihre seltsame Freundschaft für unmotiviert und künstlich erzwungen. Ich hätte das Miststück ihrem Schicksal überlassen.

 

„Artificial“ bietet hervorragenden Stoff für einen actionreichen SciFi-Horrorfilm. All die logischen, inhaltlichen und strukturellen Löcher würden auf der Leinwand vielleicht gar nicht groß auffallen, wenn Spezialeffekte davon ablenken, dass die Geschichte mäßig Sinn ergibt. Als Buch funktioniert sie für mich bedauerlicherweise nicht, weshalb ich die Reihe auch nicht weiterverfolgen werde. Ich vermute, dass Jadah McCoy ihre Inspiration für „Artificial“ durch Bilder erhielt, die vor ihrem inneren Auge auftauchten, nicht durch Handlungssequenzen, die sich in ihrem Geist abspulten. Wobei ich wirklich nicht in ihrer Haut stecken möchte, sollten diese gewalttätigen Bilder sie tatsächlich mental überfallen haben. Wer möchte schon sehen, wie jemandem in einer bizarren Operation bei Bewusstsein der komplette Torso aufgeschlitzt und auseinander geklappt wird oder einer jungen Frau bei lebendigem Leib die Beine von einem insektenartigen Monster weggefressen werden? Nein, danke, mein Hirn produziert schon von allein genug Material für schillernde Albträume.

 

Vielen Dank an den Verlag Curiosity Quills Press für die Bereitstellung dieses Rezensionsexemplars im Austausch für eine ehrliche Rezension!

Source: wortmagieblog.wordpress.com/2017/07/11/jadah-mccoy-artificial
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review 2016-06-22 22:51
Thoroughly modern Bessie
Fair Labor Lawyer: The Remarkable Life of New Deal Attorney and Supreme Court Advocate Bessie Margolin (Southern Biography Series) - Marlene Trestman

Today Americans live in a country where women work as doctors, lawyers, diplomats, senators, astronauts and CEOs, none of which seem especially remarkable to us. Yet it was not that long ago that women in those professions were so unusual as to be curiosities, remarked upon as much for their novelty as for anything else. In many ways these women were trailblazers in that their careers help to normalize what we take for granted today, yet they often remain anonymous to us.

 

One of the exceptions to this is Bessie Margolin. From an orphanage in New Orleans she rose to become a career attorney with the federal government who argued over two dozen cases before the Supreme Court, nearly all of them successfully. Thanks to Marlene Trestman, we now have a biography that describes the life which she led and her achievements in living it, and the picture she paints is of a remarkably modern woman by our standards, one who carved out the ability to live a life mainly on her own terms, though not without sacrifices.

 

The daughter of immigrant Russian Jews, Margolin and her sisters were transferred to the Jewish Orphans' Home in New Orleans soon after their mother's death in 1913. There they enjoyed opportunities for education that would have been denied them had they remained with their father Harry. Margolin excelled in her studies, eventually graduating from Tulane University with her JD and winning a fellowship at Yale. As a woman, though, her opportunities were limited, and she sought out service in the federal government as one of the few places where she might be given an opportunity to exercise her talents. As a lawyer first with the Tennessee Valley Authority and then with the Department of Labor she soon distinguished herself in a wide range of litigation and earned the considerable respect of her peers. Her personal life was no less active, as she enjoyed relationships with a number of men (most of whom were married) while nonetheless retaining her independence.

 

Margolin made clear that for most of her life she sought to be judged on her ability, and for the most part she succeeded. Yet later in life she developed a growing interest in the disparity of treatment between men and women, and was one of the founders of the National Organization of Women in 1966. In this respect, while a model for women who garnered national attention, she did so for who she was rather than what she represented. Trestman relates all of this in a book that is concise yet interesting for the insights it offers into this often overlooked figure in American legal and women's history.

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review 2016-06-04 08:07
Investigating America's Vices
Reefer Madness: Sex, Drugs, and Cheap Labor in the American Black Market - Eric Schlosser

Written the author of Fast Food Nation, this book contains three case studies that each dealing with an area of the black market: marijuana, immigrant workers in the strawberry fields on California, and the hard core porn industry. As one can expect from Schlosser, it is a thoroughly researched and tries to look at these industries in an objective manner, and does not necessarily try to conclude with some left wing conspiracy.

 

Basically there are lots of books that cover the topic of marijuana in the United States and the war on drugs. Being an Australian where possession of small amounts (up to three ounces in some places) is pretty much a misdemeanor that results in a small fine, it is difficult to understand the nature of the war on drugs as it plays out in the United States. In a way the war itself is scary because it has been suggested that if you are caught with even one joint you can be classified as a dealer, locked up, and have all of your possessions confiscated, even before you have been convicted. In a way I believe that this is a really heavy handed approach, particularly since the laws date back to the 1930s, where the Dupont company pushed for the criminalisation of marijuana so that it could dominate the textile industry.

 

Another argument is also that since it is only recently that marijuana has become a popular Anglo-saxon drug (up until the sixties marijuana was predominantly a Mexican pleasure, and its narcotic purposes were only used in cure-all potions made by chemists, who in those days did not necessarily need a license to practice). Unfortunately, it is very difficult to access anything these days on the history of drugs and drug use since many of these documentaries are generally not made, or if they are, do not appear on the mainstream media (unless of course its message is 'Drugs are bad'). In a way, it feels as if marijuana did not exist prior to the sixties, and that modern drugs, such as meth-amphetamine, did not exist until the late 90s (which is not true because allegedly Hitler used it during World War II and also apparently fed it to his troops).

 

It appears however that this book is about the black market and how the black market influences all of our lives. In a way we are all exposed to the black market, whether we smoke pot, or rent dodgy videos from those dodgy video stores that have no windows. This is where the second case study comes into play: illegal immigrants. Schlosser looks at the strawberry growers, but this applies to a lot of industries across the United States (and while it happens in Australia, the fact that we do not have any land borders with poorer nations, we have a lot less illegal immigrants than do the United States). The reason illegal immigrants are so popular is because the laws do not apply to them, so they can be paid under the minimum wage, which means more profits for the business owner, and that they are not affected by the unfair dismissal laws (or any of the other laws that apply to legitimate employees).

 

While the section on the porn industry applies to the black market as well, much of this has more to do with the freedom of speech amendment than it has to do with the black market (even though while the industry was fighting the obscenity laws the profits coming from the porn industry were effectively a part of the black market). Mind you, this section surprised me because I was expecting it to deal with Hugh Heffner or Larry Flynt, but they barely made a mention in this section. I guess the reason is that we are dealing not with what is termed as soft porn (if there is such a thing) but with hard core pornography. Mind you, porn has been around as long as there have been people willing to pay for it (even though before photography, we had to pay for live shows, and then we might as well go to a brothel), however with the advent of film, television, and now the internet, access to it has become a lot easier.

Source: www.goodreads.com/review/show/510725122
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review 2016-05-12 23:49
Labor of Love: The Invention of Dating
Labor of Love: The Invention of Dating - Moira Weigel

Labor of Love: The Invention of Dating is Moira Weigel's first book. She's written for The Guardian, The Nation, The New Republic, n+1, and The New Inquiry, among other publications. She is also completing her PhD in Comparative Literature at Yale University.

 

Labor of Love delves into the emotional labor involved with dating, particularly the labor performed by women. Using over 100 years of dating culture as a basis, the differences in dating from decade to decade is highlighted.

 

From "calling" culture, where a prospective suitor would visit the home of the lady he fancied, to today's "hookup" culture, the nuances of dating has greatly changed. Chaperoned dates led into a time period where women started working outside the home, often as shop girls. Dating culture morphed into a man arranging to meet a woman for activities. Which led to women spending more on their appearance thus decreasing the small amount of spending money they earned. These women were sometimes called charity dates, due to them being dependent of the "charity" of their dates for food or other necessities.

 

There is a bit dedicated to "coming out" and the difficulty of finding dates. Which was helped along by certain codes to identify other persons who are gay. But the vast majority is dedicated to "straight" dating between men and women.

 

Various other chapters include: School, wherein dating on college campuses is discussed, Steadies, which implied serial monogamy (the technique of dating one person at a time, but not staying with that person until death), and Help, discussing the rise of dating services from video dating in the 80's to Tinder today.

 

Labor of Love was an interesting book from a cultural perspective. It's very seldom that emotional labor is discussed, especially in relation to dating. Emotional labor is unpaid, but is often more taxing than a paying job due to the emotional and mental strain it causes. It's not a particularly light read, but it was interesting enough to keep my attention. There are a number of studies, other books, and various other types of materials referenced, which has the potential to lead the reader on even more depth of learning.

 

 

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text 2016-02-09 01:48
Nope, not right
Daredevil: Loves Labor Lost TPB - Denny O'Neil

 

Matt left Heather after she begged him to stay and said she was afraid of what would happen if he left.   She said she was lonely with anyone other than him.   Keep in mind they almost got married, and he destroyed her beloved, and dead, father's business so it wouldn't be competition for her time since she was running it.   (He only did this after he put her down, telling her she couldn't run the business, and she should marry him instead in an effort to get her to resign and be his wife.   This was also right after Elektra died, so, yes, Matt was at a very, very low point.)

 

Matt was going to intervene in a domestic dispute going over to Heather's but thought she was in immediate trouble.   The woman was killed by the time Matt got back to said domestic dispute.   He lashed out at Heather when she called him again, saying that if' he'd gone to the woman's help, she'd still be alive. 

 

She calls him over and over, and then she calls Matt's business partner, Foggy.   Foggy's at Heather's, calls Matt, and tells him to come over, where it looks like she hanged herself.   He wanders around, saying if only I had then she would still be alive. 

 

He doesn't realize that things don't add up: the smell of something that shouldn't have been there.  He goes back, investigates, realizes that there are cigarette butts - Heather hated cigarette smoke - and that her safe is empty and decides she'd been murdered, so, y'know, he shouldn't have felt guilty.   Because, y'know, he didn't leave an opening for the  murder to go in by leaving her or anything.   Also, this clearly fixes the shitty way he treated her, another reason he'd been feeling guilty, because it didn't lead her to commit suicide. 

 

Also, Matt feels guilty over things he has no control over.    He'd still totally be feeling guilty even if his ex-fiancee had been murdered, no matter if he'd been on the other side of the world.   I'm starting to feel that Dennis O'Neil just doesn't get DD. 

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