A few thoughts on the book, and upcoming television series of Douglas Coupland's "JPod"
Douglas Coupland has had a love affair with Vancouver throughout much of his writing. As conceived in many of his stories, the fact that Vancouver is a young city (almost entirely a product of the 20th century) is a cause for celebration. It is a "city of glass" emerging from it's adolescence and coming of age in the early 21st century, being defined and shaped before our eyes.
In the case of JPod it is populated by an assortment individuals who themselves are shaped by this reality. They are caricatures that mirror this accelerated and globalized world; video game programmers, smugglers of Chinese goods, corporate marketing executives and suburban "empty nesters" all seeking fulfillment in the context of a world where the rules are being redefined on a daily basis.In usual Couplandesque fashion there is a super-sized portion of pop culture references and enough irony to keep you going for a while. There is also implicitly a keenly observed understanding of how our early 21st century global economy is radically reshaping how people's personal and work lives are formed. No one actually "makes" something in the traditional sense, rather we see time spent with the mostly intangible; lines of code entered on a computer, pyramid schemes, imported goods and marijuana grow-ops hidden away in suburban basements.
For better or worse, it reflects a very contemporary reality, and I am curious to see if the spirit of this is captured by the show in the same way it was in the novel. Hopefully it will be a fine and humorous little slice of this manic and strange time we live in. From my vantage point the book was about renegotiating and understanding our humanity in a completely unparalleled new context defined by rapid social change. Needless to say, the journey will have strange outcomes.
The TV show begins airing in Canada on Tuesday, January 8th on the CBC, and I am looking forward to seeing my wonderful little Pacific Northwest glass city finally featured as itself for a change (rather than Vancouver disguised as some other place as it is with over 90% of all film or TV shows that are filmed here). Besides, with the writer's strike in full swing in the U.S. this will be a welcome respite from the glut of reality shows dominating the airwaves, and that's a version of "reality" I can live without.