February 27, 2016

Vaughn et al: "The Private Eye" - The World Stars

I have convinced myself that there is a trilemma when it comes to science fiction writing.
Either you have a good plot, or you have a good setting, or you have interesting characters. You can have two of the three, but never all three. The action and the people can be awesome, but usually for me the setting is off, there’s a failure of world-building because the author was trying to tell an interesting story but forgot that the economy wouldn’t really work the way they described it and maybe there’s a handwave or something to make it work. This kind of thing lessens my enjoyment.

That didn’t happen here. In fact, and for the first time I can remember in my readings, in “The Private Eye” the world is the star. In this future, the world has gone analogue after the “Cloud Burst” happened which revealed everyone’s secrets and society decided as a whole to unplug and find the joy in books and records. There is a character from our present, who is by this future an aging hipster with faded tattoos who is the most interesting character in the book because he shows the tension between the world as it is now and the imagined world. Alas, he is just a side character in the larger plot which involves an unlicensed reporter (in this world, the press has combined with the police as the arm of justice) solving a mystery. In the process, the big wall holding the Pacific gets a hole blown in it. That’s what I want to see and read about. The plot, for me, lacked tension that would pull the story forward and the world was the star. I definitely want to see more of this world from Vaughn and company. I just don’t care about most of the characters that live there. It’s an odd tension I’m not entirely used to.