I bawled. Yes, I bawled at the conclusion of the Socket Greeny saga. I even sent the author a text stating that he had made me bawl.
Everything is a lie.
Socket, Chute and Streeter are young for the kind of lives they live. Socket has to take on more responsibilities in being a symbol for the Paladin Nation. But being seen as a super-hero isn’t that big of a deal for a teenager who would rather be with his friends. Unfortunately, being seen as a super-hero is a label Socket isn’t getting away from any time soon.
Socket’s super-hero status came from being able to distinguish reality from lies. Except, what do you do when you discover that the things you thought you knew about yourself are wrong? Everything you have been told is a lie. How do you then keep yourself transcended? With age I have discovered that most things we are told about the world and ourselves are false to one degree or another. For Socket this discovery comes abruptly and at a time when he thought life was finally looking up.
Yet, Socket keeps on going. Then serious trouble comes his way. Where does the line between human and artificial intelligence go? Could an AI become truly human? Bertauski asks this question, and it is one that researchers and laypeople have asked themselves a great many times. I find myself not really caring. Perhaps that is because autists have been and still are considered as less than human. Not that I believe for a second that autists would be more welcoming of AI’s than allistics. Not at all. But I wonder if I might?
Poor Socket Greeny. He is in for “the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” and the pain that goes with that. Socket is also in for a whole lot of action and difficult choices. Not only the lies told to him by others will have to be faced but also the lies told to him by himself. Personally, I find those the most difficult ones to deal with. Somehow, being honest with myself is much more painful than being honest with others. But that honesty offers growth. Growth that aids Socket Greeny as he fights for survival against the terrifying creatures he encounters.
Definitely recommended. This is a serial, which means you will need to read the previous ones to understand The Legend of Socket Greeny.
To me The Training of Socket Greeny is, like The Discovery of Socket Greeny, about identity. But it is also very much about seeing things as they are. You know, seeing through the bullshit of the propaganda we are fed, and seeing through our expectations into reality. Which is kind of odd to me as much of the book happens in Virtual Reality (no, not for real).
And what a VR it is. Poor Socket draws out new abilities, but the cost of his new abilities is high. His trainer, Pon, puts him through a program that is enough to kill anyone. This is where VR is a good thing. Except some of the damage Socket sustains is real and he has to learn to transcend it. In fact, it seems as if that is what his training is about: transcending himself. Socket doesn’t understand what that entails and I am going to admit that I don’t either. Because how do we let go of our fears. In a sense, they are kind of comforting because we don’t have to think so much about what is going on. But there is a part of me that would love to be able to set them aside.
Socket also has to figure out if transcending himself means that he has to leave his old life and his old friends behind. When do we reach the point of not being able to give any more? Lots and lots of existential questions are being asked throughout the trilogy, questions that we sometimes forget to ask as we grow older. However, these are questions that a lot of youth ask themselves.
It wouldn’t be a Bertauski story if there wasn’t a lot of action thrown in with the deeper story. The action is excellent and probably too violent for some of you. There are also romantic bits.
Sixteen years old and ripped away from all that was familiar into a new world where his whole identity needs to be re-discovered is pretty much what The Discovery of Socket Greeny was about for me.
My son is doing a paper on tourism, and in it he mentions the possibility of replacing our corporeal experiences with virtual reality ones. In the life of Socket Greeny and his friends technology has gotten to a point where this is possible. Teaching is done this way. Although the students come to a physical school and sit in classrooms with a teacher present, most of the teaching is done in VR rooms. Gaming takes on new meaning when you get to integrate yourself so fully into the experience.
But when Socket Greeny is taken from his friends he discovers that such immersion brings its own hazards, and that he is one of the tools needed to fight the dangers of the virtual world. The world he enters is brutal. His tests are intense. I suppose people who have gone through training as CIA spies would recognize the horrible invasiveness of it all. Yet Socket endures.
Much of that endurance is due to his friend Spindle. Spindle is always there for Socket. His patience and kindness is limitless. One might almost be tempted to think that he was programmed to be that way. And perhaps he was. But then again maybe not.
I am thrilled not to be Socket Greeny, but I am thankful for having met him and his unusual world. Definitely recommended.
Tony Bertauski writes a poignant tale of loss and love with his novella Drayton. Drayton is The Taker of the last breath/spirit/soul that leaves a person when they die. Of some people that is. He has to get to them first.
Drayton is lost. He is older than he remembers and has no idea of what he is. All alone he wanders upon the Earth trying to mingle with people so he can feed. Bertauski writes Drayton’s loneliness so well. The long life he has lived has brought him around from a monster without control to someone who helps out when he can. I got a sense of quietness even in the scenes that were violent.
I loved the contrast between Young and Hal at the end of the novella. How perfectly it illustrates the complexity of Drayton’s character.