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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Concrete Operational Box Set Review

About the book:
 Germany Germany, a man who was free, a man who loved, now an instrument in their machine. They have turned him into the very thing he hates, what he and everyone he loved fought against, the world's greatest celebrity, a tool in the subjugation of man.
But the memories of freedom and love remain, and he will fight and change the course of human history for the better, but at what end?
As humanity progresses and turns to face the eternal black of the universe, the questions of free will and fate, of love and peace, of the riddles of time itself will arise, and Germany will be called upon. But is his will strong enough, is his mind ready to breach the void and provide us with salvation?

About the project (from the Concrete Operational website):
Operation Concrete, at its core, is a collaborative media project. It brings together the aesthetic and audio qualities of art and music around the power of the written word to provide the viewer, listener, reader, with a complete experience.
This immersive event is what Richard Galbraith considers as one possible future for the book, Richard is project lead and author of Concrete Operational, the novel that provides the content and themes for the artists and musicians.
He believes the debate amongst the publishing industry regarding, eBooks, eReaders, electronic ink, copyright, print on demand and everything else is secondary. Secondary to the true reasons for the written word, art and music: to explore the emotion that its creation derives.
Its future is how we evolve and ensure these ideals take priority.
Operation Concrete hopes to do this, by providing us with the facility to explore some of the deepest human emotions; anger, desire, love, jealousy and madness across three mediums.
We hope that, as you feel the music, as you absorb the art as you immerse yourself in the written word, you will find something that moves you, that helps you question life, and helps you move closer to finding a meaning behind it all.

The Book:
I sort of don't know where to begin with this one.  I honestly didn't make it very far.  I like the concept behind the book/project -- sort of.  I mean, it's essentially a dystopia about Celebrity run amok, which is relatable given the world/times we live in:
You see, it's all cultural evolution.  That entity, that concept, that semi-conscious zeitgeist of not only America, but the West as a whole, it moved forward, and it wrapped itself over and over with ever more fervent  and backward lust....A monster grew instead of a wonder.  Instead of finding their allure from the right reasons, from the principles that had negotiated the successful elevation of the human species to its previous level, they went the wrong way.  Searching and lusting after pride, infamy, notoriety, stardom...Celebrity, to be admired for and out of, well...nothing..."
I generally like dystopias, but I guess I don't feel that this, the cult of celebrity,  is crucial enough to make me feel the tension and the connection required for a really good dystopia.  But more than that, it just felt like it was trying too hard.  I was uber-aware of the writing the whole time I was reading, when ideally, I shouldn't be practically at all -- it should seem effortless and should flow and make me go with it to the point that when I'm done, or maybe at some particularly good point, I just realize how well it's written because it has me.

Everything seemed designed to give a certain impression, which is fine, but I shouldn't be able to see the design -- I should just get the impression desired.  I felt too much of the work behind it, and it made it feel overwrought and grandiose, and therefore harder for me to relate to and connect to.  But I know there are those that connect to this style and love it, so there will be fans of this, for sure.  It's just not something I was able to connect to, and when I found myself not really caring, I gave up.

The Music:
This was a bit hit and miss for me.  I guess I can't really talk about how well the music suits the story as I wasn't able to finish it, but I can speak to whether the music worked for me on it's own.  With only 5 songs, I was indifferent to or flat out didn't like 2 of them, and found the other three actually kind of interesting.  There was one, Hey Hey My Head by Dan Dunne & The Reels, that I actually quite enjoyed.  I guess a success rate of 3/5 isn't too bad.

The Art Book:
I liked the accompanying artbook quite a bit.  It had a good variety of artists and styles, and they were interesting and weird, sometimes shocking, sometimes randomly cute -- it just sort of worked.  Some of it was a bit graphic, so if you're uncomfortable with that aspect of art, I don't think this is something you's want to pick up, but beyond that, it was pretty neat.

Final say:
In the end,  I didn't really like or dislike it.  I liked the idea of the whole collaborative project, and I liked aspects of each, um, aspect... ;p  It's really interesting to see what all of these different minds come up with based on one theme, one story.  It didn't all work for me (especially, unfortunately, the key element, the story itself), but it was an interesting experience for sure.

Don't forget to check out my giveaway of the complete boxed set of Concrete Operational!  Comments on this review or author Richard Galbraith's guest post will gain you extra entries in the giveaway...


  1. Sorry you didn't much like it! I think the idea sounds really interesting- the whole media experience. I love hearing when people come up with neat ideas like that!

  2. I generally love dystopias, but I really see your point that the cult of celebrity isn't enough to really drag you in. Still, it's a interesting project that I'd like to check out!


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