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There is a story behind me reading this book. I had never heard of it, but then I read an article on some scifi blog or movie site, I don’t remember which one, about the most anticipated scifi movies coming out in the next year. The movie of this book was listed. I had never heard of it and was not in fact excited about it. Then I read who was making the movie. The movie is going to be directed by the team of the Wachowski Siblings and Tom Tykwer (the director of the German movie Run Lola Run). The directors make for an interesting team, but the movie is also going to have some amazing stars. Tom Hanks, Hugo Weaving, Halle Berry, Susan Sarandon, Hugh Grant and Keith David. That makes for an amazing team and several of the actors will be playing more than one role, and the reasoning for that will make sense if you know more about the book.

The book tells six interconnected stories in an interesting way. About half way through each story the story abruptly jumps, sometimes mid-sentence, into the next story. The main character in each story has an unique birthmark and it is hinted that perhaps each main character of each story is a reincarnation of the previous main character. Some of the characters are really good characters and you could say they are heroic, some of the stories are about people who are scoundrels but not outright evil. Another twist to the jumping stories, is that in each story after the first, the main character in someone hears or reads or sees the part of the previous story that just got interrupted. One character watches the first half of a movie about another character, and one reads letters and one reads the journal. Then when the last story finishes, it starts going backwards and tells the second half of the previous story and ends with the end of the first story.

Each story falls into a somewhat different genre, but collectively it is science fiction I would say.  The first story is set in the south pacific. It is about people using other people and dehumanizing them. The second story is about a musician and without honorable intentions, the third story is about a reporter that is trying to uncover a story about a dangerous conspiracy, the next story is a publisher that gets tricked into being admitted to a retirement home. After that is the first really scifi story about a GELF (genetically engineered life form) that becomes a hero to the enslaved GELF race, the last story is a pos apocalyptical survivor story.

Overall there are two obvious themes, the dehumanizing of others and the degradation of language over time. Since each story takes place a little further in the future from the previous, the language gets simplified with each story. By the last story the language is very limited, almost cave man like. Interestingly the story before that about he GELF has simple language because the GELF are not allowed to know many words. I think you could say that the story sadly laments the degradation of language and perhaps connects that change in language to perhaps the end of the world.

The moral of the story for me though is about the dehumanizing of others, from slaves and the south sea islanders to the future possibility of created slave races. I loved this book. I am now looking forward to the movie, and I will strongly suggest it to anyone else.

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