Different Worlds

I am reading two books at the moment: Tony Judt's Post War: A History of Europe Since 1945 which was ranked one of the New York Times top five books of 2005; and Douglas Coupland's JPod which hasn't been ranked anything . . . yet.

The contrast between the two couldn't be greater.

It's almost impossible to imagine the situation facing people in Europe after World War Two. The numbers tell only part of the story: Of course, there were the 6 million Jews who died in concentration camps. But " German soldiers captured some 3.5 million Soviet soldiers in the course of the war . . . of these 3.3 million died from starvation, exposure and mistreatment in German camps." Here is another number: "87,000 women in Vienna were reported by clinics and doctors to have been raped by Soviet soldiers in the three weeks following the Red Army's arrival in the city."

Then there are the lives of the six tech workers who are in the bureaucratic Siberia that is the eponymous 'Jpod' of a Vancouver gaming company. The challenges they face include finding ways not to work without being caught, hiding the young lover of one of their fathers and integrating a turtle into a skateboarding game because the boss' son -- you guessed it -- likes turtles.

The contrast puts into perspective what we have today, as tough as this can be for some. That's why I love great fiction and non-fiction -- for the point of view each brings.

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