Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The Fortunate Fall (novel)
The Fortunate Fall is a science fiction novel by Raphael Carter . It was first published in New York by Tor books in 1996 and is still in print with ISBN 031286034X . It plays with a number of literary themes and elements, but can be broadly categorized as "cyberpunk", i.e., literature dealing with the consequences of a drastically more computerized and networked society. The main character is Maya Andreyeva, a "camera" for a major news network in a near future set after the fall of an American world empire, where every nation is a third-rate power except hypertechnological Africa, which requires a blood test of aspiring immigrants.
As a "camera", Maya is heavily wired with sensory and telecommunications gear so that she can broadcast her perceptions, combining the functions of an on-location reporter and her camera crew, presenting both audiovisual data and its interpretation. (Related concepts include simstim in William Gibson's Neuromancer and its sequels, or the "gargoyles" of Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash)
Carter uses her protagonist's occupation as a focal point for analyzing the role of the media in packaging, selling, and, thus shaping history and historical truth. The reader is taken through not only the familiar slanted research and writing of a piece, but also the careful cooking of raw sense data for broadcast by a screener, the one person who experiences the camera's full sense experience, precisely so that others do not. The screeners experience high turnover because of their unfortunate tendency to identify too closely, and fall in love, with the cameras who cannot share their unidirecational intimacy. The novel begins with Maya finding herself saddled with a new and problematic screener--one who appears to her only through the net, never in person, and who is a woman, contrary to all custom in her heterocentric dystopia.
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