Gu – Book Review

We’re always on the lookout for authors whose writing style fits the sort of optimistic mold that might appear in our magazine. Whether or not those authors ever submit or not (Mike. if you read this you can take it as a hint), it’s good to be able to spread the word. I read Gu by Mike Reeves-McMillan and found one such author.

When Callie Arnold and her team created Gu, they knew they were making the last manufactured thing. Because Gu can be anything, can take any shape. Fifteen years later, documentary maker Susan Halwaz is interviewing the team and other experts, fans and opponents of Gu about how it’s changed their lives.

Good science fiction often tackles (and some would argue SHOULD tackle) how technology changes lives. That’s why we set it in the future, right? Gu does that and in a very unique way. This book is written in second person. That’s a risky move. It could come across as a gimmick. Here it’s used to good effect. You get the whole story from the POV of someone experiencing a sort of holo documentary. The tech behind it allows the viewer to experience the movie as though they were in the mind of the people being interviewed. It worked well, though it was a bit jarring at first.

My favorite bits from this movie revolved around how Gu would effect commerce and sex. First things first, imagine you could make a duplicate of yourself and remotely control them from anywhere in the world. That brings the concept of working remotely to a whole new level. We’re experiencing the beginnings of telepresence now. This takes it to its logical conclusion. Mike goes on to show how these “guplicates” would effect tourism and manufacturing as well. Not everyone in the book is a fan of how things have turned out. His world isn’t a utopia. On balance though, the world is at least somewhat better off for the tech existing.

The sexual politics (this isn’t erotica, so he doesn’t go into any detail) are also interesting. Guplicates allow people to engage in all sorts of activities through their proxy. One of the more interesting bits is when the book talks about how hard is was to ensure that minors don’t have access to this use. It’s an ongoing battle with no clear cut solution. There’s also the fact that when you meet someone in Gu form, you don’t really know who the person is. As with the use of Gu in telepresences, not everyone “interviewed” liked what the future brought.

This fictional documentary reminded me a lot of a similar effort, World War Z. Both of them contained solid characters and showed me an interesting and varied future through their eyes. Because this is presented as a documentary, it has a more traditional story arc than WWZ did. Still, that’s the only thing traditional in here.

If any of the above sounds good to you then I recommend you check it out. I give it four and a half out of five Gupes.