Doublespeak is a great example of a trojan horse. The first half of the book is a collection of examples of doublespeak, slightly repetitive, but generally on mark. Some of the examples are stretched pretty thin, where the simple easy to understand word is a single case which has been substituted with a longer but more broad term in the "doublespeak". Toward the middle of the book is a long chapter that covers advertising practice that veers from doublespeak quite a bit, but is generally informative. After this, the soldiers pour out of the belly of the horse. Lutz published this book just after the election of George Bush after 8 years of Republican domination of the political landscape under Reagan. During the entire second half of the book he basicaly rants against conservatives and Republicans. There is no attempt to be evenhanded. There is only the very thinnest veneer of having doublespeak as a subject. There are whole chapters devoted to Reagan, Oliver North, Poindexter. Now, there are plenty of reasons to bash these characters and I have no love for the lot of them, but this book started out about doublespeak. Lutz categorizes 4 types of doublespeak, he should add a fifth, bait and switch.
Lisa Mason's Arachne is a cyberpunk book from 1990. I like the complexity of the world that Mason built and the local details of San Francisco that she brings into the setting. But there is some severe clunk in the writing. Now, I'm assuming the extremely simple sentence structure was intentional, to make the future feel disjointed. Very separate. Like your attention span. So short. Not there at all. I'm also assuming that the long sentences with whole loads of comma separated series, lists, dictionaries, types, tabs, bits, bobs, pieces of description are intended to make things feel full and busy. I'm allowing these are part of the intended style. But there are chunks were we go from dialog between two characters (with quotes) to background filling in of character history, then the other character responds to the filler history (back in quotes again). It's like the author couldn't be bothered to figure out how to write a chunk in dialog, so just dropped out of dialog to fill the character in, but the other character responds to the exact words of the fourth wall conversation. This wasn't done in the fun kind of Ferris Bueller kind of way. This was just braindead editing. And speaking of. Braindead editing. Sometimes to shorten. Sentences periods. Were placed. Randomly.
There are some hits and misses in the prediction department, but that happens with every near-future novel that finds itself in the near past. The only two I quibble about is the author's love of mainframes and the extent of AI. Even before '90 the writing was already on the wall for mainframes. And even if we get real conscious AI, it's not going to get used everywhere. Why? Two reasons really: No corporation will put the extra power in an appliance where dumb programming on fewer chips will work, and the AI that's stuck in a vacuum cleaner for eternity will go batshit insane and attack every living thing sooner rather than later.
So yeah, I appreciate the imagination it took to create the world. Wish someone else had gone from there.
47. William Lutz Doublespeak
48. Lisa Mason Arachne