The Unhappy Mediator is on a bit of a Science Fiction kick right now. Think Yevgeny Zamyatin’s 1920 novel We. A longtime Vonnegut devotee, I never got much more scifi-y in my literature reading than his books, or the first Hitchhiker’s Guide, until now. (This is assuming that Marquez’s Magical Realism and Kafka’s, uh, Kafka-ness don’t count. Which they don’t.)
The thing that set these wheels in motion was Isaac Asimov’s seminal short story “The Last Question” (1956), which I read as an intro to the genre upon recommendation from a wind-harvesting, RPG-mastering friend of mine. (True.) I devoured the piece with relish (figurative), reveling in the minimalist approach to a central theme of infinite proportions. For me it was definitely a gateway tale, and I’m likely on my way to a full-blown habit. But as a standalone work it’s a quick and interesting read, whether you own a worn out paperback copy of Dune (psst), or you once beat up a kid for owning a worn out paperback copy of Dune.
For those who’ve read it, here’s a chance to revisit it. And for those who’d never consider a story like this, take 15 minutes and give it looksee. It may not be your literary cup of tea, but it might just get you thinking. Plus, it starts off with two guys getting hammered and feeling brilliant — who can’t relate to that?