Seven short stories examine the human condition in a technological age.
The title of the collection hints at technology entering into, or colliding with, our everyday lives and the tales loosely follow the suggested guideline—some, such as an opera singer confronted with a more perfect version of her own voice thanks to a recording, adhere; others barely touch upon the subject. “Dennis the Duck Who Looked Like a Boy,” which starts off the collection, presents a duck that emerges from an egg with the physical features of a boy who then undergoes a superficially successful, but ultimately futile, surgery to make it fully human. This tale may be read as absurdist satire, telling us that all the medical advancements in the world cannot change the essence of a living being—even after plastic surgery, a duck is still a duck. Other stories are less absurdist and more simply absurd. In “What You Don’t See,” a shy young man quite literally has his biggest secret exposed, and then finds himself on his way to a career in pornographic films. Here the work does not shy from vulgarity and features, among other things, a U.S. Army-sponsored orgy. But it lacks the incisive social critique to add poignancy to its extremes. In this and other stories, the characters dealing with such outrageous situations are considerably less complex than the situations themselves, and Mogan often describes both physical and emotional characteristics matter-of-factly, lessening the contrast between humans and their machines. Where Mogan is most successful is in “Diva Diva,” the aforementioned tale of the opera singer. There, a woman’s voice, with all its beauties and imperfections, is slowly silenced by its own recording, and the brutal crash of technology upon humanity resonates deeply.
Interesting premise delivered with inconsistent results.