Impressions of “Kitten Clone,” by Douglas Coupland

Kitten-Clone by Douglas Coupland

Depending on your age and interests, you may know Douglas Coupland for

popularizing the term “Generation X” (1991)
his detailed, and thinly fictionalized, novel of Microsoft two decades ago (1996)
his detailed, and thinly fictionalized, novel of EA Sports Vancouver last decade (2007)
His gallery show, Everywhere is Anywhere is Anything is Everything

Kitten Clone combines Generation X’s feeling of being alive after the major events happened, Microsofters & jPod tech sensibility, and Everything’s pop sensibility.

“Kitten Clone” is also interesting, because it completes the histories of Bell Lab’s I’ve written.

Crystal Fire, which I reviewed in 2009, took place in an era where Bell Labs was a scientiifc powerhouse
Life in the Crown Jewel, which I also reviewed in 2009, the first-person account of a corporate official who helped implement many disasterous reforms
and Optical Illusions, which I reviewed in 2010, about the acquisition by the French

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But the wheel keeps turning. Alcatel-Lucent, the purchaser of Bell Labs, has been purchased by Nokia for $16 billion.

And this knowledge, that Kitten Clone is a snapshot of life after Bell Lab’s greatest but not in the after-after Nokia era, is what makes the book moving.

Oddly, near the end, are two paragraphs that relate strongly to Pope Francis’s Laudato Si. Coupland has a gift of writing about right now, whether right now has just happened or is just about to happen:

After leaving Chen’s office, I experienced time sickness as though I really have wormholed into the future. A few hours later, I’m at a dinner in a glass tower above the Bund [in Shanghai], a trillion dollars worth of real estate and LED lighting that blows Tokyo into the weeds. The steaks are from Argentina and cost $100 apiece. There are thirty different kinds of single-malt scotch. The restaurant’s air is cool and fragrant, but the air outside the window is boiling and muggy and has that slightly damaged feeling, like when you see a big car with a large dent in it that makes you wince and say, “Ow.”

“As I sip my drink, I look out the windows toward the power plants that are burning the coal from British Columbia that fuels the air conditioners and elevators and routers and switching devices and laptops and mainframes and hard drives and cell rechargers of Shanghai. The sky is chalked white from particulates, but the glowing skyscraper walls make the sky look like pink water milk.

kitten clone true by coupland

Kitten Clone is high detailed, impressionist, echoing with nostalgia, echoing with the future, echoing with the now.

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