“Frend” by Jonathan R. Miller


I haven’t read literary fiction in a while, so about ten pages in to Frend, by Jonathan R. Miller, my eyes popped open. It’s SciFi with deep symbolism churning out questions about race, humanity, and the whole darn point of being alive.

Frend tells the story of Anomie, an African American woman who is a software engineer from the Silicon Valley. Something bad happens to her–we aren’t exactly sure what, and she is given the choice of committing her life to The Silk Road, in exchange for fabulous wealth. That’s when Anomie starts losing body parts. After a grueling transformation into human/machine, Anomie is matched with a “lumen,” who she must serve no matter what.

There’s a quote I highlighted that I think captures the heart of Frend: “You have to learn control, under all circumstances, even in the face of absolute lunacy.” That theme makes me think of Joseph Heller’s Catch-22.

How to maintain control is a big question, isn’t it? Especially for people who feel like they are treated unfairly.

When the person in charge of you is as smart as a plastic cat; when your enemies are as fierce as polar bears, when you’ve given your last limb to your office–or teacher–or boss–our whoever; when the whole world seems nuts and you don’t feel human anymore, how do you maintain control? How do you “manage imbalance?”

As Anomie might say, “It’s f—ing hard.”

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