Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Danger of Reading Old Books

I just completed my most recent book, Midnight by Dean Koontz. (While taking my dog for a jog, cooking dinner and doing a puzzle, audiobooks 3, nay-sayers 0)

I very much enjoyed the story. In fact, I half wish I hadn't read it yet so I would have something exciting on my way to Vegas this weekend... However when I got the book, I didn't realize it was written in 1989. I don't pay much attention to the dates on the fiction books I read. I find it much more necessary to check the dates on books about pop psychology or technology, such as "Googled" or "You are Not a Gadget". In these cases, I want to know if I can expect up to date technology and references or if I'm reading something that was relevant a few years ago, so I can put it in the proper perspective. It's similar to how you can gauge the approximate year of a "Law and Order" episode when the suspect uses MySpace or Facebook (or the tv'd versions of them).

It didn't jump out at me for a while. I don't want to ruin the story for you, because as I mentioned, it's worth reading. At one point one of the characters, Sam, picks up a telephone to a bunch of beeps and electronic noises and wonders if that's what one of the new modems would sound like communicating via a phone line. I realize that most people younger than me wouldn't recognize that sound, and I imagine people still living but very very older than me might not as well. I also realized that the average reader of 1989 probably wouldn't have recognized it. It was a bit like looking at old photos to read a story that played so much the fears of brand new techology twenty years ago. At the same time it made me wonder what someone, having just read that book, arriving in modern day would say about our technology.

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