Saturday, March 18, 2023

"The Mimicking of Known Successes"

Malka Older is a writer, aid worker, and sociologist. Her science-fiction political thriller Infomocracy was named one of the best books of 2016 by Kirkus Reviews, Book Riot, and The Washington Post. She is the creator of the serial Ninth Step Station, currently running on Realm, and her short story collection And Other Disasters came out in November 2019. She is a Faculty Associate at Arizona State University’s School for the Future of Innovation in Society and teaches in the genre fiction MFA at Western Colorado University.

Older applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, The Mimicking of Known Successes, and reported the following:
Page 69 of The Mimicking of Known Successes is the beginning of a chapter and so only about half a page of text. Almost all of these words are dedicated to describing a restaurant situated on a platform orbiting Jupter. In a place where gas is the primary and extremely abundant source of fuel, this restaurant depends on a tiny cultivated wood, and meals are cooked over a wood-fire hearth. Its offerings include by-products of the wood, including "morels, or mosses, or wild ginger", as well as "cedar-infused fermented sorrel liquor" and "rich, herbed soup."

This selection barely mentions the main (or any) characters and doesn't touch at all on the murder-mystery plot, so it can't really be considered representative of the book; but it does convey an important component of The Mimicking of Known Successes, which is the importance of the setting. Because the story takes place on (or, more accurately, around) Jupiter, and in a society where people venerate the “classical” days before Earth was rendered unlivable, a lot of thinking went into both the technology to make this settlement possible and the culture that would develop there over time. The restaurant described on this page shows the aspirations for something Earth-like; that the society has developed to the point of differentiation and a kind of luxury; and that it is still constrained in ways very different from the ways we are constrained.

Also, this page includes a bit of wordplay typical of the book’s sense of humor: the name of the restaurant, where our ex-lover heroes meet for a long-awaited dinner, is The Slow Burn.
Follow Malka Older on Twitter and visit her website.

The Page 69 Test: Infomocracy.

The Page 69 Test: State Tectonics.

--Marshal Zeringue