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Because I care
james_nicoll
An excerpt from David Brin's new novel.

Also posted at Dreamwidth, where there are comment count unavailable comment(s); comment here or there.

You care so no one else has to.

Would this be published if not for the author?

And why is every other Chinese woman in _anyone's_ books named "Mei Ling"?

Just once I'd like to see a "Jiang Qing" ...

"Did not do the research," which you really don't have an excuse for in the 21st Century. Of course having said that I'd advise caution using things like baby naming sites to name characters, as the names might be dated, incorrect in spelling or description of what they mean, or sometines not even actual names.

"Mei Ling" is a real name; I know two Mei Lings (or rather one Mei Ling and one Mei-Ling).

But is it as common a name in reality as it seems to be in fiction?

There's a horrible movie called The Civilization of Maxwell Bright that has the main female character named Mai Ling; at the time, I said out loud to the TV, "You have GOT to be kidding me."

Yonghi (and variations) seems to be rapidly gaining on Mei Ling recently.

I remember attending a public reading at Con-Cept a few years back by Dr. Brin of another excerpt. I may yet look forward to this.

I'm sure it's possible to do that kind of immersion well - China Mountain Zhang, of course; Diamond Age at least in places - but that really reads like a carefully-wrought example of doing it badly: who has an internal monologue about their TV channels?

I found the reference to aristocrats jarring in a China only a generation or so in the future. I anticipate that the ruling class will still be the CCP for a while, barring game-changers like revolutions and civil wars. Are there any members of the Ancient Chinese aristocracy left anywhere, now?

Also, I feel Mei Ling is terribly passive here. Hopefully she gets a bit more active later. And is it time to call time on the Magic Autist trope, yet?

The first 'aristocrat' is in a planet-wide context, and the second one could well be metaphorical ... 'red aristocracy' does seem to be a term used for China's answer to the 1%, 'princeling' is definitely used (mostly pejoratively) for people like Bo Xilai's son.

There are a couple of million registered descendants of Confucius, there is a lineal descendent living in Taipei; titles of nobility were abolished in 1912 so it's possible there are one or two centenarians who had them as tiny babies.

I found that boring and hacky. Why?

Because that's what it was? Or was that a more, "Why does this exist?"

That was more a "Why does that even exist?" Brin can do better... can't he?

For that matter, I'm beginning to suspect that James actually does not care all that much.

I thought the writing was technically okay, but I didn't get much of an impression of 21st century China from it. I got a more vivid impression from Cory Doctorow's For the Win, and he doesn't have Brin's experience.

(I think you might be right about James. ;) )

"Pixel-painted"?

You bleeding-edge silver-penned devil, you.