Historical fiction

Inventing the Future by Albert Cory


I read this book a while ago, and in this duration, I have considered how to frame my review multiple times. This book represents life at Xerox, and by extension, Tech-based California in the late 1970s. I use the word ‘represents’ because the author chose to write the narrative by creating two characters who are composites of other people and himself to better show the day-to-day working at Xerox and the complications within.
To people who have had even a remotely technical education, the position of Xerox is known to some extent. The name was synonymous with booths that produce copies in India, which I continue to use now reflexively. This usage is also addressed here.
One of the main qualms I had with the reading was this style of showing two characters but going back and forth with postscripts to better understand the ‘actual’ position of things at any given time. This happens a lot, and I remember feeling very strongly that the author could have written a non-fiction narrative with a better flow. At least, that’s how it felt for a serious fiction reader. On further thought, however, I did not see how he could have given us some of the angles he addressed if it was a non-fiction book.
The writing was good and engaging, but the back and forth between the real situations detailed in the postscript was sometimes enjoyable and sometimes not. It would and should interest people who live and work in the bay area now because the story in this book is a forerunner for everything that determined the lifestyles and the choices people made then.
The author does not directly point out any mistakes or bad handling in this story. Instead, he shows two completely different viewpoints by the time the book reaches its end.
It was slow going, and I had to skim the coding discussions because I do not know enough to appreciate the conversation. Despite that, I was invested in how things would turn out the further into the narrative I went.

I do not know if I would recommend it to my friends in the broader fields of topics detailed here, primarily because of the narrative style, but if any of them see this review and think they might like it – they just might!

I received an ARC thanks to NetGalley and the publishers but the review is entirely based on my own reading experience.

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