17 July 2013

Recent Readings, Featuring Ink by Sabrina Vourvoulias

It's been a busy last little while in my reading world. I realize I've developed an obsession with the Song of Ice and Fire series - reading I started because I wanted to go through the books before Dave and I watched the television series. (Writer's pro tip: It is fascinating from a craft perspective to see how the tv writers cope with all that source material. They do, in my opinion, a wonderful job of compressing the books down to suit budgetary and length needs while maintaining the spirit of the work.) Just finished A Storm of Swords. Good times.

As part of research for a new project I'm working on, I read Autobiography of an Execution by David R. Dow, about Dow's work as a defendant for people on death row in Texas. Interesting information about the inequity of the legal system on the ground, especially for those who can't afford to hire counsel. The primary defendant Dow profiles is a man (possibly innocent) whose court-appointed lawyer literally slept through his trial.

I finally tucked into Sabrina Vourvoulias's Ink last week. According to my Kindle's tracker, I read about 20% of it in one go, and zipped through the rest of it in three days. This is high-velocity storytelling, people. Here's a brief summary from her description page:
What happens when rhetoric about immigrants escalates to an institutionalized population control system? The near-future, dark speculative novel INK opens as a biometric tattoo is approved for use to mark temporary workers, permanent residents and citizens with recent immigration history – collectively known as inks.
I expected that Ink would be a dark future story of oppression akin to 1984 - and in many ways, it is. I didn't expect that the dark science at work in the story would be balanced with gorgeous magic. Vourvoulias has chosen to tell the story from multiple POVs, one of my favourite storytelling vehicles, since it enables a book to explore a central problem while engaging with the fact that different people have different investments and difficulties arising from that problem. In a lot of ways, this book is about perspective and about sharing the experience of those who are not usually given a voice in science fiction or elsewhere.

One of the best qualities of science fiction is its ability to perform political commentary. Ink is a book in that tradition.

Given recent revelations about the intensity of government surveillance, Ink couldn't be more timely. Given recent revelations about the dinosaur-like nature of certain science fiction and fantasy institutions (*cough* SFWA *cough*), Ink couldn't be more necessary.


Andrew Leon said...

Hey, look! A comment box!
It's too bad I don't remember what my comment was.

Elizabeth Twist said...

Yeah! I'm just glad you (and presumably others) can comment now.