I received this book for free from the publisher or author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Monkey Talk by T. Lucas Earle
Published by Amazon on July 15th 2013
Genres: Science fiction
Source: ARC from publisher
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Monkey Talk is loosely based on the Chinese myth, the Monkey King, a timeless story about who belongs, and who doesn’t. In a future in which Chimps can give lectures on cybernetics, Mr. Towry is a Chimp with an attitude. Unfortunately, the rules are still “No shirt, no shoes, no service.”
The main idea here, I believe, is that humans shouldn’t be superior to other animals just because we don’t all communicate in the same way. In the story, Mr. Towry makes a point about not eating meat because we are all animals, and just because cows and other creatures cannot tell us to stop eating them does not mean we should go right ahead. This story provides a very convincing argument for vegetarianism, although I hope you’ll forgive me if I do not succumb.
There are also various subtleties and not-so-subtle digs at racism and judgment based on background in our culture. For instance, there is the part where he takes a taxi and immediately notes the driver’s ethnicity (actually, he does this with everyone, and can’t be blamed for doing so), and considers asking him why someone with an East Texas accent was in Boston. He decides against it when he realizes the driver could ask him the same sort of question. Is it just people (or apes) accustomed to being judged who automatically (and perhaps subconsciously) judge other people in this way, or is it everyone? I myself as a person of color am not especially sensitive to these things, but then again, I have not been harshly judged either. Food for thought.
There is also the major issue about Mr. Towry being denied entrance to a restaurant because of his lack of shoes. Now, the point in this story is that this is considered prejudice against him, for being an ape and not even having feet, but would the maitre d’s reaction be any different if he were a human? A homeless person, perhaps, who could not afford shoes (never mind that a homeless person wouldn’t be able to afford eating at the restaurant anyhow)? It would not. And I doubt a homeless person would be able to take down two men either. (Honestly, did he have to get so mad about that? Why not just go find some gloves? Oh, perhaps because you’re taking it a bit too personally because you’re used to being treated differently? Goodness, sir, the man’s just doing his job. Well, his first real mistake was thinking he could force an ape to do something.) I’m not taking sides here, just providing things to think about.
Another point is the acculturation of apes into human culture. He may not wear shoes, but he wears clothes and carries a cane, yes? These are human things. Also, riding in lifts and taxis. Eating food at restaurants. Talking. Lecturing about cybernetics. Basically everything he does. (Not to mention his horrible disease, or, well, intermarriage.) Perhaps out of convenience to him, he acts this way, or perhaps he prefers it, but still the humans do not treat him the same as one of them. You can dress a wolf in sheep’s clothing, but he is still a wolf, I suppose. Just another point about racism and how it takes people a long time to get used to such things- even racism in this time is not cleared up, so how about the future, when it applies to animals as well? Is it even possible for equality to be believed? Accepted? Sure, the future has fancy digital overlays, but the moral issues are the same.
I love all the issues this story talks about and the sides that are presented. It almost seems not enough; if this were a book, I would read it, several times.
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