This collection of stories and essays has a nice rhythm to it while reading. Non-fiction and fiction alternating and the song title from the Bad Religion album of the same title always in the back of your mind, making you wondering whether reality really is stranger than fiction or Mamatas merely playing with your fucking mind. Sure, his non-fiction seems more mundane than his fiction, but even there he deploys the high-octane word-attack that makes all pieces in this collection seem kind of restless, always on the move and as if the writer can’t relax for a minute. The title of the collection is really well chosen.
As for the fiction, this is actually the first time that I’ve read some of Mamatas fiction, despite having read his blog for years and reading various essays and his biting comments on the net for years. I wasn’t sure whether I would actually like his stories, and sure enough most of them feel overdone and just a little bit the side of meta and weird for its own sake. But every time I can walk away from a collection of stories where I really liked one that it was worth reading all the rest, is a good collection.
Here I actually liked two: Impression Sunrise about aliens stealing human art, which despite Mamatas jittery and satirical style actually gave a better reason for aliens coming to Earth than most alien invasion fiction does and on the whole was fun to read. But the real winner of the collection, which makes it worth seeking out just for that, was Time of Day.
It’s about a highly connected world (headware with countless software agents and constant net access) and a main character who has to deal with a defective mind-jack that turns out to be much more. It’s really hard to describe without giving much away. Fascinating read, though whether the ending will conform to expectation from readers of hard sf is disputable, but overall I think the story shows that Mamatas can write science fiction like the best.
I always had the idea that he was more a horror writer, but most of the pieces in this collection disabused me of that notion, possessing a clear sf bent. It’s nice to see a writer with a different set of sensibilities than most sf writers I read, who still knows how to write SF well.