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A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor – Book Review

A context that I need to mention here. I haven’t read the first book, ‘An Absolutely Remarkable Thing‘, which might cause me to miss small details from the previous story. I don’t feel left out nonetheless and it’s not hard to understand what is at stake.

What is in the book?

At the second page, this quote already got my interest.

As I have discovered, there’s nothing special about me, nothing that makes me particularly suited to making that kind of decision for an entire planet of people. The only reason I get to make it, it turns out, is ugly, vulgar luck.

April in ABFE

This book is written from multiple perspectives. Each voice is written distinctly. The story started with Maya, Miranda, and Andy living in post-Carl conditions. Maya actively looking for April. Miranda investigated weird stuff that has happened. Andy became a famous influencer. Not a good summary I know, but I try my best not to give spoilers. April and Carl joined in later on. Each of them has its own character with different desires, core strengths, and challenges. Like cogs, each of their action moves the main plot.

When it comes to the basic premise in this book, “what does make a human human?” comes into my mind. It gave several societal commentaries and quite relevant to what we have now. Altus illustrates really well what could happen if we have centralized power on earth. Doesn’t look good anyhow.

The plot is unexpected. As I have mentioned, every character has their own mission with their own knowledge unless they share it with each other. It is also amazing how my brain makes sense of the story from different points of view. I love how Carl is depicted. I bet science fiction readers will love them.

There are many sprinkles in the novel. A tip on having a better interview. What private equity means. Not calling Bex as ‘subway girl’. Gardening. And the best of them all, the statistic trivia about money distribution. It is lovely. A billion dollars distributed to every single person in the United States and everyone will end up with three dollars. It’s amazing, isn’t it? I’m not really surprised but when I think further about it, it became weird. It made me think why sometimes we need a reliable government. While I cannot do much with three dollars, a billion dollars to invest in a good education system seems more feasible.

I find the various medium that is used in the book is interesting. There are tweets, podcast transcripts, and articles. Even the podcaster has its own style. At least, their voice in my head is different compared to one another. Oh, and The Book of Good Times. 🙂

One thing that I would take home is a guideline to work on a problem by Miranda. Here’s my analogy of an analogy in the book. Get a bowl. Put our problem understanding there. Add our assets (including intelligence, connection, etc). Know our constraints. Either our value or explicit boundary. Mix them up and shake them. Something will be there. If it’s not what we’re looking for, we can try it again. Or give up. That is also an option.

A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor would fit those who want to get more insights about societal problems through fiction. It’s a positive procrastination activity so don’t worry about not doing your actual assignment. Don’t take my statement for granted. Science fiction lovers would love this book. There is no time-travel or space exploration though. Just humans and their anxieties but that’s the beauty in this book.