Good News, Bad News by Charles Yu features a future world where technology has run rampant and the absurdities of today have been multiplied ten-fold. Yu alternates between heartbreaking, hilarious, and concerning, giving us a few news stories from a day in the life of the future. The stories run the gamut from climate change to conglomerates to robots. The newspaper style is unique in the collection, making this future easy to envision. Overall, Yu’s pairing of societal issues alongside technological advances creates an important conversation on the good and bad sides of progress.
A few spoilers ahead, so stay back if you want the collection to be unspoiled!
Racism is a key theme throughout the article, highlighting the ingrained societal prejudices people harbor against those who don’t look like them. Robots take on the race of their owners and have been programmed with pre-existing perceptions of other races based on their assigned race. It creates a horrifying situation in which a robot attacks a man and his family. Yu’s delivery is a punch in the gut, showing us that nothing has changed after hundreds of years.
The technology and cool future highlights are tempered by the many issues of the world. Humans live on the moon but they’re exiled refugees who have been convinced it’s an honor. Robots work as companions to people but they’re programmed with racist perceptions. The world economy is booming but it’s run by enormous conglomerates who have eaten up all competition. Unsurprisingly, climate change is still a raging debate in the United States, even after the government has been replaced by robots.
Yu’s juxtaposition of issues alongside futuristic settings highlights the very real issues we face as a species. We can have a future with advances we’ve only dreamed of, but if we don’t start to change our prejudices as a society, we’re doomed to continue repeating the same inequality for centuries to come.
Good News, Bad News is included in the brilliant anthology, A People’s Future of the United States, available for sale on February 5. Order it now!
NOTE: I was provided a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest, unbiased review.
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