Other Americas

The Norman Spinrad series continues.

Raw Feed (1988): Other Americas, Norman Spinrad, 1988.other-americas

Street Meat” — More sleazy, more disgusting, and with more violence than Spinrad’s novel Little Heroes set in the same universe. Spinrad once again uses his favorite device of multiple-viewpoint narratives (here in the third person). There is more than a little of H. G. Wells’ The Time Machine in the story what with the economic stratification of the rich above ground  and the poor, animalistic, cannibal streeties inhabiting the dark subway tunnels. The rhyming rhythm and cadence of the story seems to owe something to rap music.
The Lost Continent” — A poignant and powerful story where once again Spinrad uses multiple viewpoints this time in the first person. It works well here to not only characterize but show how each of the three cultures, African, American, and Amero-African respond to the ruins of the Space Age Americans. Once again, Spinrad uses the imagery of the New York subway to represent degeneration into bestiality. I liked the reversal of the common “they were sure primitive and/or weird” story cliché that usually occurs when future historians and archaeologists look back on our culture. Here they were not only not our descendants but technological inferiors. I liked our culture being held in great awe, and it helps to greater appreciate our immense, casual feats. However, like the characters who think of us as gods and demons with “souls not like ours” (it is a cautionary tale) the reader wonders. The story does have some dated material in the concern with smog, specifically a smog bank that persists for two centuries. Still, the story has an emotional grandeur in its portrayal of the strange insanity of Space Age America.
World War Last” — A vulgar, caustic, and occasionally quite funny satire which targeted, seemingly, the Reagan Administration. Putting whores on the U. S. Presidential cabinet was a touch worthy of the Golden Age of Satire.

La Vie Continue” — A fun story with moments of grimness and burlesque and all delightfully complicated as Spinrad spears Hollywood and superpower politics on a skewer of satire. Spinrad manages to carry off the conceit (in every sense of the word) of having himself a character in this future. Spinrad is once again fascinated by the media and the concept of enlightened self-interest, and here he shows a dear love of wheeling and dealing that comes through in his non-fiction too. The story is about sacrificing one’s own interest for friendship and love. That is the uplifting, poignant part of the story. The wheeling and dealing part was fun too.
More reviews of fantastic fiction are indexed by title and author/editor.

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