A Beautifully Foolish Endeavour by Hank Green and why we aspire to be the perfect build
This is not a nerd way of saying complete.
At least I think it is not.
What I mean to say is that, as opposed to the permanent state of perfection, I think that people all around the world aspire to be a perfect build of their own software, because at any point of time we have a lot of ideas of bugs we could fix and new features we could introduce that would hit that sweet spot, and then we would be the best.
Conflate that with the standard what if I won the lottery plan that’s sitting in your head and you basically know what it feels like to experience A Beautifully Foolish Endeavour by Hank Green’s central points of view.
An Absolutely Remarkable Thing and the imperfect wet dream of a science-fiction stan.
We interrupt your regularly scheduled topical rant to investigate the first novel’s wildly enrapturing story.
When I first read it, I tried to elevator-pitch it to my best friend – as we do when we each read great books the other doesn’t know about. Her tactic is just forceful coercion, constantly cursing and harassing me until I read and finish the books she needs me to read. Mine is an elevator pitch customized to her interests.
And what I said to her about this book was, “You need to read this book, it’s about aliens. And the protagonist is such a bitch and so terribly like us that you’ll hate her.”
Rest assured, she read it, we discussed it. And she read the sequel before me and chided me for not reading fast enough and making her wait.
The reason, for my friend and me, is simple.
We imagine ourselves doing things, and it is not perfect until things have the same obstacles as we actually would face, on account of our personalities.
The Carls duology’s protagonist, April May, is so close to who we are as people that it is perfect in that infuriating way where you know why she is making those mistakes and yet you cannot argue about it, because you would do the same fucking thing.
From a fantasy of first contact to a fantasy of aftermath
Sobutand, the sequel begins with a lot of expository monologues from the secondary characters in An Absolutely Remarkable Thing, mostly discussing what they had been up to since the events of the book.
And the things they were up to since the events of the book, were so natural and human and perfect that it made me feel the same way a YouTube video of, like, closet organization feels. Hank Green knew his characters so well that his narration of their lives and their inner thoughts and their anguish felt so fitting and in it’s place, that the chapters went by in a flash.
The main character I want to focus on is Andy. Because he, as I mentioned in my overly flowery intro, got to live that adventure and then win that lottery. He got to enact a self-insert fanfic, and in A Beautifully Foolish Endeavour, his main problem was how he can use what he had suddenly gained in the best way. When the adventure and intrigue picked back up, things got tense for Andy, but this time he had his past self in his rear-view mirror, so he perfected those bugs, and he did things differently. He was the conscience. He was not perfect, but his actions were.
And so on, for Andy, and Miranda, and Maya, and even Carl. A Beautifully Foolish Endeavour was a story about recursive improvement, ending on a rather emotional but hopeful note. That more releases will help, and that’s our race to achieve the perfect build is valid.
I don’t know if this makes any sense, but that’s all I could think about as I finished this book.
I don’t know, but I know how it made me feel, reading about a bunch of people who got their perfect builds. Peace, is what every action-adventure story should close on. Because when people fight—when they struggle and they battle and they conquer and when all is won. I believe that the only way they can call it a day is when it brings peace. Not love, though it may be the same thing for some people. But peace. The knowledge that things went well. And that they will probably continue to go well, and they don’t have to worry about it anymore.
So I guess I’m saying that I believe we chase our perfect selves just because we want to stop looking.