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This just in: Seanan McGuire is Awesome

To be fair, I should have known this. I have friends of impeccable taste who have been telling me for years that Seanan McGuire is awesome.

"The filk singer?" I asked. Filk singer, writer, generally awesome person - you should read her, they said. Sometimes I'm slow.

And I didn't connect the dots at all when a friend slipped me a paperback of Feed by Mira Grant. "It's about reporters and zombies," she said. "I thought of you." She didn't mention that Mira Grant was the pseudonym of the awesome Seanan McGuire. So it's entirely her fault that I'm far behind schedule on my latest novel. (Well, almost entirely.)

Feed is one of those rare novels that utterly captures your imagination, drawing you in so completely that you'll read until 2 a.m., until your eyelids slam shut. It wanders through the back of your mind all day and when you finally get back to it that night, you find you don't want to stop reading for as long as it takes to walk across a room. Be warned, this can cause you to walk into walls. Not that I've ever done that. Ahem.

Feed posits a post-zombie future in which every human carries the zombie virus. There are a number of ways to turn from human to zombie, and a bite is the fastest. But there are a number of other ways, and the draconian measures taken by the future U.S.A. to keep as many humans alive as possible are both plausible and frightening in a post-9/11 world.

Slightly less plausible is the devolution of the media. To a certain extent, McGuire's journalists are the modern-day equivalent of bloggers, creating first-person news accounts. There are thrill-seeking stunt journalists who provide more entertainment than fact; fiction-tellers who create fantasy worlds for those seeking escape; and Newsies, who tell the truth.

It's slightly less plausible because it generally implies a total loss of any attempt at objectivity in journalism. The main character, Georgia Mason, is a Newsie and freely editorializes in every article. Her team - which includes her thrill-seeking brother and fiction-writing best friend - is chosen to follow a promising presidential campaign even though they're bloggers.

Now, before you throw all your nonsense at me about how journalists are always editorializing and there's no such thing as objectivity, please remember that 90 percent of journalism is the day-in, day-out slog of covering the news, not the Sean Hannity-Keith Olbermann hour. Straightforward covering the news has persisted since the 17th century and it isn't going away. My day job thumbs its nose at the idea that we can be replaced by untrained bloggers. But that's a separate rant.

The fact is, Georgia herself says she's respected because she tells the truth. And it is that dedication to the truth that leads her into some dark corners. I have no problem believing that in the future, freelance mobile reporters/bloggers will play a very big role in journalism, and can follow an ethical pattern of balanced journalism. That part makes sense.

The relationship Georgia shares with her brother is close to the point of discomfort for the reader, but it is understandable that human psychology itself may change with a total change in the structure of society. Just as people are wildly uncomfortable in mass gatherings because of the potential for attacks, so two adopted children can be close in a platonic devotion that goes beyond what we think of as "normal" sibling love.

This isn't a zombie novel like the others I read; it is not out to scare you. If I had to pick a genre for it, I'd call it science fiction, or sf-mystery. Unfortunately it telegraphs the resolution of the mystery far too much in advance, and I was waiting for a twist that didn't came.

But that didn't alleviate the emotionally vicious gut-punches that came every few chapters. Every step deeper into the conspiracy cost us something, and the deeper Georgia went, the more it cost. It is a marvel of characterization that I could see and hear these people, and suffer with them as they suffered. I've often said that the true value of speculative fiction is in people, not world-building or gadgets or the vagaries of physics. It's about people, and the people in Feed will make you weep.

Just about the time I was finishing Feed, I finally got around to listening to this CD that I got for my birthday. It was Wicked Girls by Seanan McGuire. And I finally put two and two together. The woman who wrote these lyrics was absolutely the woman who wrote the story of Georgia Mason:

For we will be wicked and we will be fair
And they'll call us such names, and we really won't care,
So go, tell your Wendys, your Susans, your Janes,
There's a place they can go if they're tired of chains,
And our roads may be golden, or broken, or lost,
But we'll walk on them willingly, knowing the cost --
We won't take our place on the shelves.
It's better to fly and it's better to die
Say the wicked girls saving ourselves.

The rest of the CD is also terrific, from the exciting "Fox Hunt" to the heartstopping "Cartography," and who knew romance could be played out as a map? A fan of fairytales would adore this CD, from the after-hours "Jack's Place" to the real story of Little Red Riding Hood to "Cinderella's dustbin daughter." But it's "Wicked Girls" that plays on an endless loop in my head... and I don't mind a bit. You have to break rules if you want to break free.

Seanan McGuire is awesome. Now that Feed has been nominated for the Hugo, everyone knows that she is awesome, even someone as slow as me. If you don't mind, I'm off to find all her other books. You might want to consider doing the same.

Comments

M. Trout

"you find you don't want to stop reading for as long as it takes to walk across a room. Be warned, this can cause you to walk into walls."

My boss calls me 'Belle' because I walk to and from breaks and lunchtime reading whatever book I'm reading at the moment.

I have not run into a wall, door, or human yet. *knock wood*

BeckyZoole

I haven't read "Feed" yet, but McGuire's other series is awesome too. The first is "Rosemary and Rue"; I can loan it to you if you'd like.

Shelly

McGuire's Fae series had me hungrily watching Amazon, suprised there were not bits of drool curling from my lip... "Feed" made me cry, and growl, as the conclusion unfolded... and then she went on and did it again in "Deadline"!
I have two of her albums on top of that.
She is amazing, and I am so absolutely delighted that CDBaby introduced her to me.

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Le azioni della Georgia associazione a lei fratello è vicino lo scopo di disagio per l'amante libro, ma è comprensibile che la psicologia umana si sarebbe aggiornamento con un aggiornamento somma nella struttura di ordine sociale

CultureGeek

Perdonatemi, ma ho dovuto usare un programma di traduzione per leggere questo e rispondere. Se ho capito bene, sono d'accordo che il rapporto era scomodo da leggere con la nostra morale corrente. Ho trovato interessante il fatto che i rapporti sarebbero diverse in quel futuro. Grazie per la lettura! Spero che il mio traduttore non ha funzionato troppo male.

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I haven't perused "Feed" yet, but McGuire's alternate succession is wonderful as well. The main is "Rosemary and Rue"; I am able to advance it to you if you'd like.

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