This Future Feels Familiar…

11/11/2009 3:00 PM |

The play initially feels like it might be about the decision itself, examining all the (supposed) moral implications of lending one’s "scan card" to another so they can have your baby credit (you only get one, like in China), but it isn’t—Macy says yes quite quickly over lunch then orders a drink. Instead of a moral investigation into the desire of an author to bring her opus into the light, and the illegal acts she must commit to do so (which could have been amazingly tense), there is merely a slightly exotic story about getting a book published in the future and the fact that editors want authors to do line edits. Did I mention that it’s the last book ever to be published in print?

The manuscript in question deals with the fact that humans have been systematically divided into blue-collar and white-collar classes by the evil RSS (feed?). Or, in the world created by Healy and "the Transition," Keepers and Tradepacks—try and guess which is which. The novel-in-the-play follows the life and death of a Tradepack (trade paperback?), even though (gasp!) Macy has never even met a Tradepack. This small detail provides a little food for thought as Healy questions how an author becomes qualified to write about her subjects (is imagination enough?), but it doesn’t justify the parallel story of the Tradepack who kills her ailing mother with a knitting needle, thereby sparking a revolution.

The scenes between Laura the line editor and Macy are the most fun to watch, and perhaps say the most about the craft of writing and the publishing industry, as the two sit locked in editorial deathmatches at the office over a Makers Mark bottle (I guess whiskey will stand the test of time) and a giant laptop (I thought things were supposed to get smaller in the future?). Laura sees Macy’s book as a treatise on oppression and just what the revolution needed to goad the Tradepacks into revolt and overthrow the evil RSS regime. But Macy feels that she has merely told a story, albeit a really good one, and although it’s obvious to the audience, will not admit that she hasn’t done any research or even talked to one of those other people living across the river. Is Macy legit?

Laura then throws in the suggestion that in order for the story to really work it needs to be changed and perhaps integrated into a full body three-dimensional immersion download format, to which Macy (like any good writer) responds by getting drunk and falling asleep. The artist’s intentions are questioned and then change is suggested, and we are left asking ourselves which would be better, to reach the entire public with a multi-media bombardment (the one what will start a revolution) or stay true to form and function and put out a lame old book. Even though this will be the last book ever published, the editors have already moved on and as Laura commandeers Macy’s talk show appearance—explaining the”‘experience” of the novel to the host—we realize that in this jaded world, not unlike our own, you will most assuredly reach more people if you expand past the printed page.