I’m not even slightly embarrassed to admit that I’ve got a penchant for global catastrophes. I’d happily stack tin cans in my bunker all day long listening to Godspeed You! Black Emperor on some crackly AM radio.
So I couldn’t really say no when I read the blurb of Douglas Coupland’s Player One – a real-time 5 hour ordeal between a group of strangers in an airport lounge (of all places) as civilisation collapses outside.
I like Douglas Coupland – I always have, but like so many things, I’ve worried that I might just like the idea of Douglas Coupland. He’s that cool Canadian author that cool people talk about at cool parties (I’m sure).
There was a time when I aspired to being one of those cool people, and it’s during this period that I read Generation X (the pink paperback that sticks out amid all the other titles in the “Cult Fiction” selection of your local bookshop). That was a while ago and, with the added cynicism of years, I was open to disappointment as I cracked open Player One.
Everything worked out grand in the end because the book was fantastic!
It’s about a group of flawed people trying to figure out what to do next as everything they know collapses around them. Joni Mitchell said ‘you don’t know what you got ‘til it’s gone’, and it’s the sudden absence of modernity that brings its flaws and follies into stark contrast.
Player One was actually written for the 2010 Massey Lectures (an event that’s played host to people like Noam Chomsky, Doris Lessing and Margaret Atwood) and each chapter was delivered as an hour-long lecture in different Canadian cities.
The book gets a big thumbs-up from me and I’ll probably go back and read some more of Coupland’s work. I won’t even mind too much if there isn’t a massive apocalypse in the plot.