reviews @

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Feed by M. T. Anderson (Candlewick, 2004)
Feed by M.T. Anderson

This young adult novel explores the consequences of a technology out of control, one that ultimately reduces the mental abilities of the humans in this future world. The feed is a technology that is implanted in every baby's head, putting a world of information at every person's mental fingertips. The novel's protagonist, Titus, describes the background and use of the feed:

            I don't know when they first had feeds. Like maybe, fifty or a hundred years ago. Before that, they had to use their hands and their eyes. Computers were all outside the body. They carried them around outside of them, in their hands, like if you carried your lungs in a briefcase and opened it to breathe.
          People were really excited when they first came out with feeds. It as all da da da, this big educational thing, da da da, your child will have the advantage, encyclopedias at their fingertips, closer than their fingertips, etc. That's one of the great things about the feed—that you can be supersmart without ever working. Everyone is supersmart now. You can look things up automatic, like science and history, like if you want to know which battles of the Civil War George Washington fought in and shit. (47)

Anderson's irony is clear here: everyone is "supersmart" now that they can instantaneously look up the "battles of the Civil War George Washington fought in." In truth, these characters have become so dependent upon the feed that their own ability to think and understand the world around them has been lost. Everything is negotiated by the feed. Titus explains further, "the braggest thing about the feed, the thing that made it really big, is that it knows everything you want and hope for, sometimes before you even know what those things are. It can tell you how to get them, and help you make buying decisions that are hard. Everything we think and feel is taken in . . . and they make a special profile, one that's keyed just to you . . . so all you have to do is want something and there's a chance it will be yours" (48).

The feed that is presented as a technology that combines the characteristics of computers, television, and radio and that provides just-in-time information keyed to the every experience of the person whose brain it resides in. The examples of the feed in the novel are extreme satire of the media onslaught that shapes life everyday on present-day earth:

  . . . attracted to its powerful T44 fermion lift with vertical rise of fifty feed per second—and if you like comfort, quality, and class, the supple upholstery and ergonomically designed dash will leave you something like hysterical. But the best thing about it is the financing—at 18.9% A.P.R . . . .

* * *


* * *

. . . month's summer styles, and the word on the street is "squeaky." . . .

Feeds like these provide suggestions throughout the story. At times, characters actively ask the feed for information; at other times, the feed simply suggests based on the character's profile and situation. More frightening than this complete control over the characters' thinking, however, is the close similarities between the feed and the broadcasts any reader might watch or hear on television or radio. Admittedly, my experience with the feed was influenced by the excellent production of the book on tape, which couples the Anderson's words with music, appropriate voice actors, and a smooth transition from the character's thoughts to the feed's suggestions.

Anderson's book is an excellent exploration of a science-fiction world that is far too close to our present-day experiences. Couple the book with the taped production for an amazing experience.


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?    Listed on BlogShares