A review of

Getting to Know You

by David Marusek

Central question: How will future technology affect our love affairs?
Format: 297 pp., cloth; Size: 8 ½" x 5 ½"; Price: $25.00; Publisher: Subterranean Press; Book designer: Gail Corss; Cover illustration: Mark A. Nelson; Most recently published story: “Osama Phone Home” in the MIT Technology Review; Author’s blog: countingheads.blogspot.com; Representative passage: “The under secretary of the Population Division called with the news and official congratulations. We were stunned by our good fortune. The under secretary instructed us to contact the National Orphanage. There was a baby in a drawer in Jersey with our names on it. We were out of our minds with joy.”

Ensconced in his cabin in Fairbanks, Alaska, David Marusek sweats out the details of the next century. He has published ten of his “everyday science fiction” stories in thirteen years, most of them an elaboration of the world that would make up his sole novel, Counting Heads (2005). It took him a year to deliver “The Wedding Album”(1999), an investigation into the future of memory and the opening salvo of Getting to Know You, a wonderful collection of his short SF work since 1993.

It begins with a marriage in the late twenty-first century. Before they take their vows, Anne and Ben cast simulacra of themselves, perfect digital copies that retain all the personality of the real Anne and Ben at the time they were made. So as the realbody Anne succumbs to her depression and the realbody Ben shuts himself off from her pain, the sims remain innocent, perpetually in anticipation of a kiss.

Marusek’s stories are stealthily devastating, secreting tragedies underneath the practical veneers of shiny new technologies. “The Wedding Album” works because of how probable it feels—he makes the leap from digital video to simulacra seem inevitable, and then pushes the story to its logical and bitter extreme, a digital memory witnessing the dissolution of her real self.

We hope you enjoy this excerpt.

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—R. Emmet Sweeney

R. Emmet Sweeney writes for IFC News and helps to maintain the film blog Termite Art (termiteart.blogspot.com).

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