I almost stopped reading this novel a few different times, even though it didn’t take a lot of effort to read it. At first, I was not even clear on why I wanted to read it. I don’t actually eat meat, so at first I wanted to see about it, but then as I got into it I thought it was going to be something to the effect of “hork hork vegetarians is so dumb” kind of stuff, which isn’t really all that appealing. Vegetarians and Vegans are a lot of things, and often that includes being dumb, but they’re so powerless as a bloc that beating up on them should feel like cold comfort. And also, they’re right about a lot of things, even if their ideals don’t make a lot of sense in a worldwide setting. So whatever.
But then I kept reading and realized there’s some more Philip K Dick here than I originally considered. Otherwise there’s some JG Ballard at times and some Nick Harkaway as well.
In this novel we get a farmer, specifically a man skilled at killing animals, who finds himself becoming obsolete because animals have been more and more injected with AI chips that merge with their central nervous system and either create sentient beings or the illusion of sentience in those beings. The jury’s still out. Literally, as the court ruling as to whether these count as sentient beings is considering. Like a lot of other sci fi, once the sentience becomes too canny, then origins and realities cease to matter. And so, Graham Penhaligon is lost.
More so than this being about animals and sentience, this is a novel about a man being left behind by a society he thought held promise for him.
And it was somewhat bogged down. And so I finished it, but it was rushed. It’s conceits and several of its moments were good, but I don’t think it justified its own length.