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Update on Madeline Ashby’s Company Town

We own everything.

We own everything.

I’m on page 158 of 285 and will be trying to share some thoughts on the novel without spoiling anything for other readers. Picked up this novel as part of Bryan’s online book club.

Resonant Books

Snow Crash. In terms of character, Hiro Protagonist is far more flamboyant than Hwa (the main character of Company Town); but, both share kickass martial arts skill, get sucked into an adventure / mystery bigger than they realize, and live in a nearish future dominated by corporations.

Future Casting

Gene manipulation and body augmentation are mainstream. Technology is woven into people’s bodies so that they can communicate and be monitored by devices. The internet of things meets the internet of organic. Urban engineering allows a whole city to be optimized for a desired effect in the population. Food scarcity is a theme. Dependence on fossil fuels with hope for a new energy source. Reference to the singularity and powerful AI manipulating the present. Are they from the future or in the present?


Quick pacing. The plot is engaging and picks up when a character is murdered. Character of Hwa is great. She’s an outcast and totally organic. Has no augments or gene manipulation. Distrustful of authority. Quickly takes offense. Suffers from a condition that stained the skin on one side of her body and makes video feeds unable to read her face.

Bending Tropes

I recently read Annie Proulx’s Barkskins, which starts in the 1700’s and spans into our present time. It’s about the logging industry, specifically the deforestation of North America. I enjoy how Madeline Ashby takes the concept of the company town, something I associate with the past and industries like logging and mining, and moves it out into the future. The company town is always a scam. But, in Company Town, it’s more insidious. The population feels ownership, but their entire town is purchased. And for the company, Lynch Ltd. it’s a captive market. They can sell their wares from other aspects of their empire, but they are also able to perform market research and testing. How valuable is that?

“Can we blame the child for resenting the fantasy of largeness? Big, soft arms and deep voices in the dark saying, “Tell Papa, tell Mama, and we’ll make it right.” The child, screaming for refuge, senses how feeble a shelter the twig hut of grown-up awareness is. The claim strength, these parents, and complete sanctuary, how rigid the blades of infant evil, which is unadulterated, unrestrained by the convenient cushions of age and its civilizing anesthesia.

Grownups can deal with scraped knees, dropped ice-cream cones, and lost dollies, but if they suspected the real reasons we cry they would fling us out of their arms in horrified revulsion. Yet we small and as terrified as we are terrifying in our ferocious appetites.

We need that warm adult stupidity. Even knowing the illusion, we cry and hide in their laps, speaking only of defiled lollipops or lost bears and getting a lollipop or toy bear’s worth of comfort. We make do with it rather than face alone the cavernous reaches of our skulls for which there is no remedy, no safety, no comfort at all. We survive until, by sheer stamina, we escape into the dim innocence of our own adulthood and its forgetfulness.” p. 105-196, Geek Love

First day in Barcelona

View from our apartment.

First off, S— was great. Took a three hour nap with all of us this afternoon. Slept moderately well on our laps for the flight. No one was prepared for the long lines in customs.

We’ve had part of a day exploring the neighborhood, eating tapas, and people watching. Looking forward to sleeping in tomorrow.

Landed in Barecelona and at our apartment.

Halfway into our journey and the yawns struck.

Barcelona Bound


Photo Credit: Moyan Brenn http://go.shr.lc/297QKIR CC BY 2.0

Tomorrow, we head off to Barcelona for a two-and-a-half week vacation. Highs in the 80’s and lows in the 70’s. Looking forward to family time, new experiences, tasty food and wine, and an ocean-side escape from the heat of Arkansas. How’s my Spanish and Catalan? Practically non-existent.