A nice little diversion read on Libby. Very quippy and genre-y which at times veers into the slightly obnoxious Whendonesque "so THAT happened" type comedy but for a really breezy read I could more or less forgive it. Feels a little like it was written to be optioned (it was, for TV--I feel like the conception of kaiju is too expensive to pull off but writing something to be optioned isn't always the same as writing something to be made; I guess I could see it being a clever animated series?).
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"What if civil war in America" books are often very side-eye, and this one demands a fair amount of disbelief suspension (namely: no one's on social media and no one seems to have a phone, race/culture war shit plays zero role in the rhetoric of an American civil war, China provides humanitarian aid to the US and the US accepts it) but I think el Akkad's point here is more to explore the internecine quality of civil wars more generally and how conflict inculcates more conflict, and who actually benefits from these conditions (also some obvious script-flipping: there's an Arab empire funding Southern rebels to keep the US from bouncing back to superpower status, very CIA of them). It's compelling enough in any case.
Reading on Libby but might get in print. A great detail early on is when she notes that in her search for critical histories of California she abandoned one book after discovering she had been quoted in it (twice), like imagine Joan Didion saying "lol if you're citing me dum dum" and shutting a book
Reading time travel novels back to back is a bit of a trip--this one feels more like one of those fancy literary fiction novels about Relationships that happens to also have time travel, but I like the conceit of basically making time travel impossible to prove.
This took me a long time to get through mostly because it gets a bit academic prose-y in parts. The first half I found the arguments a bit more compelling than the second but all in all it's helped me think about work and energy and the valorization of both in new ways.