I've been spending a few days getting acclimated to my new surroundings. The city I'm in is something like Philly, but completely different at the same time. I'm seeing their world in kaleidoscope blue-green-red designs. This must be attributable to their different sunlight.
It's a more authoritarian society. Ours can't possibly be this bad. In trying to get one of the few marginalized jobs on this affluent planet for which I qualify, I've been prodded, poked, and examined; given drug tests; requests sent back to earth for my criminal record, or lack of same. These Zytronians are quite superior in their regimentation-- not at all like laid-back human beings, on the Earth I remember fondly.
I'm dwelling in a tiny room in the midst of the Zytronian city, unsure how long I'll be able to stay. There remain pockets of a relaxed, grungier, more real environment-- these are swiftly being eliminated. The Zytronians have an urban renewal project in force called Antiseptification. Whole blocks-- no, entire neighborhoods-- are suddenly "cleansed" of disagreeable social elements; prostitutes and vagrants removed; independent ethnic businesses taken over by government decree; "criminal" (not properly socialized) individuals locked away. Then, suddenly, within weeks, sweeps in bland corporate chain businesses and hordes of yuppie members of Zytron's version of the gentry's "Clean and the Saved." They affect a type of bohemia-- a cynical pose which even they know is fake. (I guess why the Cult of McSweeney's fits in here so ably.) I've gone to a couple Zytronian literary affairs out of curiosity. I'm immediately marked as an alien. Zytronian writing isn't very good but the writers believe they're great, reflecting glows of pretension off one another; literature a matter of wearing the right jeans and proper labelled expensive leather jacket to pose in while reading their meaningless writing. (In quiet Zytronian voices.) The narcissism is palpable; mirrors everywhere in their minds.
"Graduates of the Zytronian Academy," a person next to me informs the obvious visitor. "It produces all the cool people. Aren't they great?"
I'm told the graduates are kept in antiseptic capsules their entire childhoods, schooling pumped into them electronically. They can't be blamed for the narrow corridors in which their brains dwell. They've not been allowed alternatives-- have never seen the genuine article. The apparent stupidity of Zytronian literary creations may simply be due to my unfamiliarity with the language. (The footnotes they append to everything don't help.) The preciousness of it seeps through all the same. No passion-- as if their words themselves were put through Antiseptification refining. No force to any of it. No thunder! Though maybe the potent Zytronian beer is affecting me, distorting my view of things.
I stumble back to my room through confusing Zytronian streets. Tomorrow I'll make another try at understanding this planet. Out here.