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The City Inside (2022)

por Samit Basu

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1474189,441 (3.5)3
"The City Inside, a near-future epic by the internationally celebrated Samit Basu, pulls no punches as it comes for your anxieties about society, government, the environment, and our world at large-yet never loses sight of the hopeful potential of the future. "They'd known the end times were coming but hadn't known they'd be multiple choice." Joey is a Reality Controller in near future Delhi. Her job is to supervise the multimedia multi-reality livestreams of Indi, one of South Asia's fastest rising online celebrities-who also happens to be her college ex. Joey's job gives her considerable culture-power, but she's too caught up in day-to-day crisis-handling to see this, or to figure out what she wants from her life. Rudra is a recluse estranged from his wealthy and powerful family who fled to an impoverished immigrant neighborhood where he loses himself in video games and his neighbors' lives. When his father's death pulls him back into his family's orbit, an impulsive job offer from Joey becomes his only escape from the life he never wanted. But no good deed goes unpunished. As Joey and Rudra become enmeshed in multiple conspiracies, their lives start to spin out of control, complicated by dysfunctional relationships, corporate loyalty, and the never-ending pressures of surveillance capitalism. When a bigger picture begins to unfold around them, they must each decide how to do the right thing in a shadowy world where simply maintaining the status quo feels like an accomplishment. Ultimately, resistance will not-cannot-take the same shape for these two very different people"--… (mais)
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In authoritarian, climage-change-wracked India, it’s still possible to be in the elite and keep your head down, only worrying about water shortages and targeted sexual harassment. The main protagonist manages a Flowstar, which is like an Instagram influencer but worse, and tries to navigate family and professional challenges while not thinking too much about the structures that constrain her—until, maybe, she can’t avoid them. It’s very well done and leaves glimmers of hope. ( )
  rivkat | Mar 20, 2023 |
Over the past few years, I've read, or read of, a fair number of novels attempting to give one a vision of our coming future dealing with environmental, political, and economic collapse, while at the same time dealing with a society saturated with an overload of media exposure and surveillance paranoia. Though, if I was going to be a wise-guy about it, I've been reading such novels since John Brunner's "Shockwave Rider." That said, this is a real good example of the type, as the author does capture the struggle to remain yourself under pressure, when there's not a great deal of hope for the future being anything more than further quasi-totalitarian dreariness. I look forward to hearing more from this fellow. ( )
  Shrike58 | Oct 27, 2022 |
One of, if not the, most interesting books I have read this year. Well written, densely written. Funny, a bit tense, a good amount of dystopia with a different, uncertain, wandering protagonist.

A world full of surveillance, societal dysfunction, ever present media and social media stars in an Indian setting, but not too foreign to be lost in unknown references. ( )
  andreas.wpv | Aug 29, 2022 |
About four years ago I bought a Fitbit to track my steps and heart rate. Last year I began to resent the tyranny of the Fitbit. Was it a tool, or was it running my life? I started taking it off when I slept or was sitting quietly. I forget to wear it, or only wore it when I went on a walk. When I read about smarttatts early in The City Inside, it gave me the willies. Sure, it alerted the character to stress and suggested stress-relief techniques. But it was my nightmare come true–being enslaved to a device that wanted to run your life!

Samit Basu’s fertile mind has created a future India that seems to be just a few steps away, and it is terrifying. Smart tattoos are the least chilling part of this world. The wealthy, priviledged few live in gated communities with their own water suppliers and power source, and they hire their own guard army. The rest of humanity is lucky to get a a few buckets of water a week and may end up trafficked to an organ farm. You go inside to breath fresh, clean air. And Flowstar influencers wield power over the masses.

But isn’t that where we are going?

Joey’s parents remember the Yeats Not to Be Discussed, a tumultuous time of pandemics and uprisings and death. They haven’t adjusted to the afterworld run by oligarchs. The news is all a lie and personal privacy a thing of the past–even your house spies on you. They don’t understand the “loyalty based economy” or the Flowverse with its Flowstars and nonstop scripted stories.

Joey is a Reality Controller, the best in the business. Her old friend Rudra wants nothing to do with his rich and powerful family’s business, a chain of “family clinics.” When the family patriarch dies, his brother pressures him to join the business in “human resources.” Joey comes through with a job offer to edit flows and he gladly takes it.

Over the course of the novel, what Joey and Rudra learn is chilling; there is the city and there is the city inside the city, preparing to take over. Instead of using technology for human good, the world is controlled by human greed. The citizens of the city outside are just meat to be used and new technology threatens to end all self-determination. And at the center is Rudra’s family ‘clinics’.

Basu certainly has the ability to world create. He had my head spinning. His vision is chilling, terrifying, and too believable. The relationship between the main characters and the Flowstars are complicated and interesting. The ending of the novel open ended; don’t expect a big victory. The protection of human freedom is a continual fight in this world, as it is in ours.

I received a free regalley from the publisher through Edelweiss. My review is fair and unbiased. ( )
1 vote nancyadair | May 26, 2022 |
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Samit Basuautor principaltodas as ediçõescalculado
Foltzer, ChristineDesigner da capaautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Huang, KuriArtista da capaautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
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Sometimes Joey feels like her whole life is a montage of randomly selected, algorithm-controlled surveillance cam clips, mostly of her looking at screens or sitting glazed-eyed at meetings.
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"The City Inside, a near-future epic by the internationally celebrated Samit Basu, pulls no punches as it comes for your anxieties about society, government, the environment, and our world at large-yet never loses sight of the hopeful potential of the future. "They'd known the end times were coming but hadn't known they'd be multiple choice." Joey is a Reality Controller in near future Delhi. Her job is to supervise the multimedia multi-reality livestreams of Indi, one of South Asia's fastest rising online celebrities-who also happens to be her college ex. Joey's job gives her considerable culture-power, but she's too caught up in day-to-day crisis-handling to see this, or to figure out what she wants from her life. Rudra is a recluse estranged from his wealthy and powerful family who fled to an impoverished immigrant neighborhood where he loses himself in video games and his neighbors' lives. When his father's death pulls him back into his family's orbit, an impulsive job offer from Joey becomes his only escape from the life he never wanted. But no good deed goes unpunished. As Joey and Rudra become enmeshed in multiple conspiracies, their lives start to spin out of control, complicated by dysfunctional relationships, corporate loyalty, and the never-ending pressures of surveillance capitalism. When a bigger picture begins to unfold around them, they must each decide how to do the right thing in a shadowy world where simply maintaining the status quo feels like an accomplishment. Ultimately, resistance will not-cannot-take the same shape for these two very different people"--

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