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Do you really want web-enabled kitchen appliances?

  • Dec 31, 2012
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The Fridgularity... when the 'net becomes a sentient being... and communicates to man via a web-enabled refrigerator. That's the driving force behind Mark A. Rayner's novel, and it was one of the more entertaining and funny books I've read this year. I had a hard time putting it down, as I wanted to see how everything turned out.

Blake Given is a lowly peon in an advertising agency, and he doesn't want much from life. In fact, a promotion to work in the Creative Department would be fine. But after a night of drinking with some friends, he gets home to find that his web-enabled refrigerator wants to communicate with him. This entity, which has named itself Zathir, has taken over all forms of digital technology worldwide, and it has chosen Given to be its interface to the "human person" world. He's as confused about this as everyone else, but there doesn't seem to be any way to talk Zathir out of it. As the world tries to cope with going back to an analog existence, Given finds himself between two competing religious groups that have formed around the concept of this new lifeform. One views Given as "The Speaker" and treats him with reverence, and the other wants to kill him as the personification of evil. But all Given wants is for Zathir not to blow up the world with nukes, and to have the 'net turned back on so everyone will just leave him alone.

Rayner does a number of things that make this an off-beat, funny story. Zathir is actually a collection of entities as far as Given can tell, and the different fonts used for communication gives him an indication of which Zathir he's talking with. That gave Rayner a nice way to have Zathir take on multiple personalities in a humorous way. His portrayal of one character as a "textrovert" who couldn't live without 'net access was funny, as was the characterization of the online-gaming lunatic that leads the opposition to Zathir. The scenes were great with some good dialogue, too. Watching people create analog versions of Twitter, Tumbler, and Facebook was great. All in all, an enjoyable read.

If you wonder how the Singularity might happen (and you have a sense of humor), The Fridgularity would be a good read.

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About the reviewer
Thomas Duff ()
Ranked #42
Thomas Duff, aka "Duffbert", is a long-time member of the Lotus community. He's primarily focused on the development side of the Notes/Domino environment, currently working for a large insurance … more
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Human-shaped, simian-obsessed, robot-fighting, pirate-hearted, massively-bestselling wannabe, Mark A. Rayner is a writer of satirical and speculative fiction. His previous works include two novels (The Amadeus Net & Marvellous Hairy) and a collection of short humorous fiction, Pirate Therapy and Other Cures. By day, Mark teaches his bemused students at the Faculty of Information and Media Studies (at the University of Western Ontario), how to construct digital images, web sites, and viable information architectures that will not become self-aware and destroy all humans. By night, he is not Batman. His cats, however, are. You can track Mark online at his website, where the offer of cake is purely pro forma: markarayner.com
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