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Things We Didn't See Coming af Steven…

Things We Didn't See Coming (original 2009; udgave 2011)

af Steven Amsterdam (Forfatter)

MedlemmerAnmeldelserPopularitetGennemsnitlig vurderingOmtaler
2661999,822 (3.54)38
"Nine connected stories set in a not-too-distant dystopian future in a landscape at once utterly fantastic and disturbingly familiar. The stories follow the narrator over three decades as he tries to survive in a world that is becoming increasingly savage as cataclysmic events unfold one after another"--Jacket.… (mere)
Titel:Things We Didn't See Coming
Forfattere:Steven Amsterdam (Forfatter)
Info:Anchor (2011), 208 pages
Samlinger:Dit bibliotek

Work Information

Things We Didn't See Coming af Steven Amsterdam (2009)


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» Se også 38 omtaler

Viser 1-5 af 19 (næste | vis alle)
Fantastic story telling that will stick with me for a long time. A very interesting little book of moments in a life. Gorgeous. ( )
  beentsy | Aug 12, 2023 |
I've had this book for ages, and I decided to read it now as part of a slow effort to clear the TBR at Library Thing. (I (haphazardly) post reviews there, but my TBR is at Goodreads, so the 213 books at LT have been there for a very long time). I've read and liked two further novels by Steven Amsterdam, What the Family Needed and The Easy Way Out, but Things We Didn't See Coming is his first novel, and it won The Age Book of the Year in 2009 and was longlisted for the Guardian's Best First Book Award in 2010.

What I was not expecting, because the cover blurb tells very little about the book, was to discover just how prescient it is, in this era of the pandemic. (I was going to write 'Year of the Pandemic', but alas, it's been more than a year). Things We Didn't See Coming is a series of nine interlinked short stories, set in an alternative future that loomed when Y2K was on the horizon. The Offspring (a computer nerd) told me not to worry, but he was at the time doing consultancy for major banks and the prison system, to protect their computer systems from doing anything untoward when the clock rolled over from 1999 to 2000. Although some people dismissed the Millennium Bug as hype, it caused considerable concern and there was a flurry of survivalists who thought that the disruption was going to be much more serious than it turned out to be.

Steven Amsterdam has imagined a world of things we didn't see coming. The first story, called 'What We Know Now' is set on New Year's Eve 1999 when many of the digital clocks in the world's computers were expected to roll back to 1900 instead of 2000 and no one knew what might happen. The unnamed narrator is a teenager with attitude. He doesn't believe all the Y2K hype:
I'd like to be in a plane over everything. We'd be flying west, going through all the New Year's Eves, looking down just as they happen. I'd have to stay awake for twenty-four hours of night time, but I'd be looking out the little window and watching ripples of fireworks below, each wave going off under us as we fly over it. I start to talk about this idea, but decide to save it for Grandma. Dad doesn't think planes are safe today either. (p.9-10)

Indeed he doesn't. The family are packing up the car to go to the countryside, and the narrator humours his father over his fears. This is the first hint that there are ethical and social dilemmas to be tested in what turns out to be an horrific future.

To read the rest of my review please visit https://anzlitlovers.com/2021/03/04/things-we-didnt-see-coming-by-steve-amsterda... ( )
  anzlitlovers | Mar 4, 2021 |
Brilliant and moving ( )
  ClareRhoden | Nov 4, 2017 |
Ten years later, the fears surrounding Y2K have faded mercifully into the recesses of our collective subconscious. The millennium bug never bit — computers didn’t fail, economies didn’t crumble, governments didn’t fall. But Steven Amsterdam’s imaginative first novel, Things We Didn’t See Coming, posits a reality in which the worst predictions came to pass. Told through a sequence of short stories chronicling the life of an unnamed narrator, the book opens on New Year’s Eve, 1999. At midnight of that momentous night, the electrical grid shuts down. Amsterdam’s child protagonist and his father stand in the cold.
This whole thing is symbolic, symbolic of a system that’s hopelessly shortsighted, a system that twenty, thirty years ago couldn’t imagine a time when we might be starting a new century. That’s how limited an animal we are. Do you get it? A whole species that didn’t think to set its clocks the right way. We are arrogant, stupid, we lack humility in the face of centuries and centuries of time before us. What we call knowledge, what you learn in school about fossils and dinosaurs, it’s all hunches. What we know now is that we didn’t think enough. We know we aren’t careful enough and that’s about all we know. That’s what I’m trying to protect us from.”

I say, “OK,” because he’s getting more upset as he talks.

“What else haven’t we been paying attention to? I worry about your life, what’s going to happen to you. We can’t think our way out of every problem. We’re not smart enough.”

“Don’t worry so much.”

This only makes him mad. “What’s the right amount of worry? In our time, in your time, there’ll be breakdowns that can’t be fixed. There will be more diseases that can’t be fixed. Water will be as valuable as oil. And you’ll be stuck taking care of a fat generation of useless parents.

Chaos and decay have infiltrated civilization. The structure of the government in Amsterdam’s unnamed country changes from story to story; physical, psychological, and moral breakdowns infest all aspects of society; starvation, plague, and corruption run rampant. To survive, the narrator ekes out an existence as a thief and government worker and, not surprisingly, sometimes both. Companionship and love comes fraught with danger:
If it were just me, I could run off now with whatever I could carry. But it’s not, and how would she find me? Besides, he’d notice if I started packing up and, even if I was able to keep him back, he’d stay and claim whatever I left behind and be here when Margo comes back and infect her in a second. So I’m guarding our spot until she decides to wander home.

Staying awake up here is not what’s tough, but staying quietly balanced is. I’ve managed to hook my legs around one branch and my arms around another and it lets me stay reasonably still while being vigilant — watching, breathing softly through my face mask, waiting for him to die.

The story moves into some surprising social and moral gray areas. Amsterdam tackles such weighty topics as polyamory, euthanasia, suicide, drugs, aging, and anarchy with insight and sensitivity. Employing a breezy, conversational style, Amsterdam blazes through his bleak tale of hope — the true heart of any good dystopia — but culminates in a too-abrupt ending that leaves the reader confused and unsatisfied. Even with this misstep, Things We Didn’t See Coming offers thought-provoking entertainment, and successfully introduces an important new writer.

This review originally appeared in the San Antonio Current, April 7, 2010. ( )
  rickklaw | Oct 13, 2017 |
So the apocalypse happened...now what? ( )
  Bricker | Jul 22, 2017 |
Viser 1-5 af 19 (næste | vis alle)
Dystopia. Breakdown. We are always imagining it because it seems impossible that the world can keep going along through bigger, faster vectors. We are blindsided even as we rush forward to meet it, like the characters in these linked stories, with open arms.

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For the first time, Dad is letting me help pack the car, but only because it's getting to be kind of an emergency.
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"Nine connected stories set in a not-too-distant dystopian future in a landscape at once utterly fantastic and disturbingly familiar. The stories follow the narrator over three decades as he tries to survive in a world that is becoming increasingly savage as cataclysmic events unfold one after another"--Jacket.

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