“Don’t Make Me Think”

He knows🤯➡️ the mirror🪞 was a tiger🐯, and he can feel it stalking him now, crouching in the tall grasses⬆️🎋 of the mind🧠👻.
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“Don’t Make Me Think” by Zero H. P. Lovecraft is better than God-Shaped Hole (my review)—if you can ignore the emoji. This is a big “if”. Every few words of the story a group of emoji (two on average) illustrates the meaning of the word it follows. Some are pretty clever visual puns, like “🧠👻” for “mind”, but most aren’t. Every word that has an emoji sequence associated with it seems to always have the same sequence. It looks as though the emoji were added with “replace all” after the story was written. There is a thematic justification for it, but, no. If at some point the emoji break the pattern and start whispering secret messages, I removed them too soon to find out.

If you follow my example (below), you will be able to read a Chinese-themed story of a boy growing up with Neuralink who finds freedom and masculinity in the criminal underworld. But what is freedom (for)? There are Borges references and an excellent Lovecraft pun. The author's usual themes return: the digital world intruding on the real, seduction, addiction, infection, cults, information filtering, neurochemistry metaphors, mirrors, markets, and eating bugs. While, as usual, the narrative makes plain its scorn for the world it depicts (one of the fake citations is The Conservative Case for State-Enforced Homosexuality), it does not turn into a pamphlet to do so. The third-person present-tense narration works surprisingly well once you read it in emoji-free diminished reality. The structure of the story fittingly reflects the main character's reality breaks. Again, the story feels too long, but not nearly to the extent God-Shaped Hole did. In the end, this is the author's strongest work after “The Gig Economy”. The concepts of digital nootropics and the Uber Micro security system stood out to me.

Overcoming authorial intent

Wait until the page loads fully and WordPress replaces emoji with images (if it does this in your browser). Open the developer tools and paste the following in the console:

Array.from(document.querySelectorAll('p img.emoji')).forEach(x => x.remove());
Array.from(document.querySelectorAll('h5, p')).forEach(x => x.innerText = x.innerText.replace(/\p{Emoji}/gu, ''));

This will remove the emoji from everything but the chapter titles and a few lists.

Real citations

Back to index: Notes.

Tags: fiction, notes.