I’ve started reading Counting Heads by David Marusek, with starts with the short story that garnered him much attention. And I’m, to say it mildly, perplexed. Why did people thought this was a great story? Sure, there’s some nifty world-building (but even that isn’t in the class of someone like Egan or Stross), but past that there’s nothing outstanding. The plot is minimal, guy meets girl, they marry, everything looks like happily ever after, then something mean happens to the guy. He mopes around and the story stops.
The twist that under the utopian surface teem orwellian structures wasn’t well introduced. Instead of being scared or horrified I felt like laughing. The abilities of the state agency are too powerful, too all-seeing, too over the top. Mind you, one problem might be that the main character is such a nitwit that he hasn’t realized how fucked up his future is, and how Marusek portrays the rest of this society, most others are equally clueless. Still, the whole story just didn’t work for me, and the characters weren’t outstanding or interesting enough to make it something character-driven. Some good starting points, but I hope the rest of the novel is much better than this.