Sunday, February 14, 2010

Geoff Ryman's AIR and our Parallel Universe Within

"In the future, everyone will be able to talk with their dead."  AIR

I just finished reading Geoff Ryman's Air, and I could not resist this post, not so much as a review, but as some afterthought on ideas expressed that, well.. are great. Thought- provoking, gentle, clever, different. This book is great.
It takes place in a remote village in China (?), in a not so remote future, exploring the complex rural dynamics after the coming of Air. So what is Air?
In that future, scientists have discovered that the extra dimensions co-existing with our own 3, can be accessed by the human brain after some minor over-the-air modification. That in turn creates the Ultimate Internet, a technological gestalt of sorts, where people use their minds to navigate through the accumulated knowledge of humanity (albeit not always free), communicate instantly and leap through in evolution.
Don't get the wrong idea here: this is not hardcore sci-fi stuff. We learn all that by following the simple life of a peasant trying to make something of herself. We see the change through her eyes and experience her loss and heartbreak when all goes wrong, her joy when good things happen. If anything, this novel is human above all, showing us that what makes us human can only become more prominent with technology. Sounds like a contradiction, but you have to read it to see for yourselves.
Air is like the Dreaming of the Aborigines mentioned before, like the place in our heads where childhood memories and dreams reside. Air is the Past, the Present and the Future all rolled into one.
Geoff Ryman reminded me that what can be dreamt, can never be forgotten. That forgetting is dying. That all that is good in us is not lost but coexists with everything else, even the bad.
That we learn through all eternity in our dreams. 
Thank you Mr Ryman for reminding us. We need that from time to time.

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