Monday, November 28, 2016

It's Only Words, by Keith Ferrell

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(Cyber SF) Sem's class project explains why he rejects the Tap technology that everyone else is linked to for information. (3,832 words; Time: 12m)

Rating: ★★★☆☆ Average

"It's Only Words," by (edited by Jason Heller and Joshua Viola), appeared in (RSR review), published on by .

Mini-Review (click to view--possible spoilers)

Not till we are lost, in other words not till we have lost the world, do we begin to find ourselves, and realize where we are and the infinite extent of our relations
Henry David Thoreau, On Walden Pond, Chapter 8
This is the tale of how Sem dropped out of Tapped society. The story creates a great deal of tension at the end when we suspect he plans to murder his teacher and perhaps some classmates, but apparently he only plans to switch from keyboards to pencils.

The author presents Sem as having almost no human feelings at all. He spends no time mourning his mother. In fact, he spends her last hours reading his cards to her--and doesn't stop once she dies. The insults from his teacher and classmates don't bother him, nor does the criticism from his father.

There are other ways to interpret it, but one way to read the ending is as a condemnation of Luddites in general. If you reject the Tap, why stop there? Why not reject computers and even typewriters and just write with pencil on paper?

Con: The worst problem is that it's not clear what the story really means--the interpretation above is just a guess.

What Sem is doing makes very little sense. Using a computer text editor but paper cards for organizing seems bizarre. Sharpening pencils with a knife is bizarre.

The teacher is just as hard to believe. Trying to humiliate a student in front of the class? He had to know Sem would be handing it in on paper--at worst he might have told him to e-mail it.

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