“Qualitylandia” – dystopia of the tenth degree – Books

“Qualitylandia” – dystopia of the tenth degree – Books
“Qualitylandia” – dystopia of the tenth degree – Books

© “Hummingbirds”

The book abounds in references to Vonnegut, Orwell, Clarke, Huxley, Asimov and perhaps most tonally to Douglas Adams

The review was republished by “Literaturen Vestnik”.

“Because in Qualitylandia one can only speak in superlatives,” this is the newest, funniest, most disturbing, and most dystopian book yet. Mark-Uwe Kling is a German writer with diverse interests in all fields of art. In addition to being a writer, he is a musician and a cabaret artist, but his great popularity came precisely with “Kachestvolandia”. After it became a bestseller, now the Bulgarian public has a chance to see this novel, stepping on all the classics in the fantasy and dystopia genre.

The book abounds in references to Vonnegut, Orwell, Clarke, Huxley, Asimov and perhaps most of all tonally to Douglas Adams. But what can actually be “seen” in Qualitylandia?

The plot can be called stereotypical. A world completely dominated and controlled by computer algorithms, in which all aspects of the “human” are absent. There are no spontaneous human relationships, no normal relationships, no friendships, no real politics, no free choice. And in this total and totalizing hell, one loser (Peter the Jobless) rebels against the system and even changes it (somewhat).

Qualitylandia

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As with any type of prognostication, however, the plot seems to take a back seat to the way the world of the work is built. Here again, the text works at its finest, presenting new and new inventions and innovations on every page. A personal personal assistant that stands constantly in the ear and speaks and instructs (dictates every thought) of its user; driverless cars, artificial intelligences, killer drones, android writers; a robot babysitter proficient in four martial arts; robots whose sole purpose is to shop, etc., etc.

Among all this high-quality technique, there is still time for social categorization, political and economic criticism, and even eugenics. It’s as if everything that could go wrong in a hyper-technological society already has. All the tropes that have become even clichés are crossed out in the “dystopian bingo” of the text, but this is somehow in its plus. The action moves quickly, the constantly accumulating new and new information does not burden, but on the contrary, helps to navigate in this world, which is still not so different from the modern world, more easily. The slogan, advertisement, flashy title, which define life in “Qualitylandia”, have given the text a tightness and humor, which makes it extremely pleasant and readable.

Kurt Vonnegut. Collected Stories (Set Volume 1 and Volume 2)

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Almost anything that comes up as a criticism or concern about our society is touched upon in the book. Turning politics into a contest that is simply won through elections, and the way to win is with cheap populism. The subjugation of any kind of relationship between people to business principles and to legal relations – through contracts for mutual benefit and possible benefits. Consumerism and making everything “disposable”. The dream of the Internet as a democratizing and decentralizing force and its realization as a system that asserts forms of control, but with more modern methods – “The Web in which we are all caught.”

The transformation of a person’s personal data into the most valuable modern commodity and, accordingly, the power of those who own the personal data. The daily widening gap between rich and poor and our economic system that seems to work only in favor of this divide. The lack of reliable information because “private concerns are not obliged to observe any objectivity” and “no one cares whether the news is real or fake”.

Foundation Collection

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What left the strongest impression on me, however, is the question of freedom and free will. The work very well shows how, subordinating decisions to algorithms working for maximum profit, a person gradually becomes a voiceless letter and does not even understand that he does not really have a choice. The ironically named “old man” asks the question: “Is it a dictatorship at all if no one notices that it is a dictatorship?”. Learning from past experience, machines absorb the mistakes it makes and reduplicate them, turning them into structure-forming ones. And while more and more programmers realize this and try to solve this problem in self-learning machines, it’s as if we forget that we are subject to the same and do not solve our problems, but only make them defining for the current paradigm.

What drives Peter and what opens his eyes is that he got something he didn’t want. So far, the system has satisfied his every desire so well that it seems to him (and to everyone around him) infallible. He realizes that the system is not perfect in its calculations, but simply models the users to fit it perfectly. The system knows what he actually wants better than he does. It has mapped out a path for him to follow, and any deviation from the data that has been gathered about his likes and dislikes is unthinkable. “The possibility of change has been taken away because the past has dictated what the future must have.”

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

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The more I think about the book, the more I am left with the feeling that this is not a gloomy prediction, but a completely relevant reflection of the world around us. Yes, hyperbolized, at times bordering on the absurd, but no less true nonetheless. We don’t live in Qualitylandia yet, but we are so close that there seems to be no going back. And we like Peter “would be happy to press Nobut only one option comes up on the screen, and it’s OK.”


The article is in bulgaria

Tags: Qualitylandia dystopia tenth degree Books

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