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The Affinities Hardcover – April 21, 2015
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Mass Market Paperback
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"Wilson’s trademark well-developed characters and understated but compelling prose are very much in evidence in this quietly believable tale of the near future."―Publishers Weekly
"An intriguing and seriously innovative attempt to grapple with some of the issues raised by the 21st century's obsession with social media."―Kirkus Reviews
About the Author
Born in California, ROBERT CHARLES WILSON grew up in Canada. He is the author of many acclaimed science fiction novels, including Darwinia, Blind Lake, Julian Comstock, Burning Paradise and the Hugo Award–winning Spin.
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This wasn't the book I thought it would be though. A lot of the focus is on the protagonist's family relations and other personal relationships. While the author focuses on the build-up to a war between the two biggest affiniaties, Tau and Het, the entire story feels like foreplay without the sex. I felt like I was waiting for something to happen for the entire read. It was enjoyable but I don't feel the author did justice to the fascinating premise.
That being said, the characters felt real and the story was still well-written, even though I would have liked the author to have done something else with it.
Theories of personality and identity abound of course and always have. The ancient Enneagram tells of several specific personality types to which each person belongs. The person "tends" toward others but is rooted in one. The psychology test Myers-Briggs identifies personality by a four letter result where the score for each may be weak or strong. Test scores can change over time due to a very big life change. Career tests identify very successfully whether you might be suited for a specific career - you don't want to be the only artistic type in an engineering company for example.
So, all of this potential complexity and ambiguity is put aside in the near-future society in favor of technology's new found ability to correlate masses of data and come up with something most people in the book, and many people in reality might accept as real. Some people might think this notion is the ultimate dumbing-down of our culture. Fortunately the author provides enough ambiguity around this topic that the book becomes a good conversation starter.
I thoroughly enjoy all of RCH's books, and his style of writing. He presents the underlying theme of the story, the technology involved, and then pursues the story through the lens of people and personal interactions, and he does an amazing job of it. I may not have enjoyed every single thing in this book, but the majority of characters are memorable, and I was a little sad at the end to say goodbye to the protagonist. For me, that's the indication of what a great and enjoyable writer RCH is. On my personal list of favorite RCH books, it would probably ran around sixth or seventh, just below Burning Paradise.
I envy RCH, and wish I could write as well as he does.