Book Review: Gary K. Wolf’s “Typical Day”
So I’ve read a lot of articles over the last three years or so about the exciting, brave new world of e-book publishing, almost all of which used the term “brave new world.” But like any new, yet-to-be-tapped technology (read: monetized) it took a while before anybody could really figure out what to do with e-books.
It’s now becoming clear: they aren’t replacing print books, nor is Amazon replacing bookstores. E-books are supplementing mainstream publishing and book retailing. That’s fantastic. For while e-books are a remarkably cheap and easy way for writers to get their stuff out there via indy or self publishing, it’s also a way to get product out there from niche and cult authors.
I’d been wanting to read Gary K. Wolf’s Who Censored Roger Rabbit? for years. For while I liked the kiddie movie they made out of it, it’s heard the original novel, released years earlier, was way different, a darkly comic novel that was both an homage to and a perfect example of classic hardboiled detective novels. It’s been out of print for years; a paperback will run you $90. Then I found it on the Kindle for $2. It was great. This is exactly how e-publishing should be used.
Wolf himself is embracing the niche e-publishing model. In December his latest novel Typical Day was released via Musa Publishing. As Roger Rabbit sent up, and showed a deep understanding and knowledge of crime fiction, so this book sends up and exemplifies weird, future-looking ’60s and ’70s sci-fi but reflecting the cultural trends and technology of today, presciently enough, and where they’re going. It’s hard to write about video games, as while they are an entrenched cultural phenomenon, they’re still regarded as a superficial diversion. But Wolf pulls it off by keeping it weird and funny and freaky. It concerns a man named Joyce who plays a Sims-like game called LifeMaster, where he lives out his ordinary life in condensed time before living out his identical life in the real world, until everything gets all mixed up; game becomes reality, reality becomes game. Sounds great! Yeah, life would be fun if it were a video game, because video games are fun, Wolf theorizes, except that you can die in video games.