The novel by Zhan Kopzhanov, a contemporary Kazakh writer, is built on transitions from an intellectual interpretation of death to a romantic retrospective of life. It is modern as a reflection of the gadget generation and at the same time immerses the reader in the past. Memory runs a red thread through the whole book, as well as the search for oneself after death, while artificial intelligence teaches you to love, which means to live.
The work is warm, together with the author we plunge into a carefree childhood, then into a romantic youth, and later we find ourselves in a harsh adult life. In any case, it does not leave us indifferent, it causes emotion, anxiety, and sadness in certain places.
At the beginning of the book, the main character Dauren, or Daur (the way he wants to be called), at the age of nearly forty, found himself in an unusual space. The surroundings were as follows: white walls, ceiling, and floor, which merged into one space. After a while, he was able to move.
The main character got into the reboot system, where all the memories of his life were stored, while any moment of it could be reproduced or relived.
When the download was completed, a stunning world of new technologies opened up before the hero Daur. The interface was exquisite, it had various charts and numbers. But what those numbers meant was unknown.
The next moment, the voice of the instructor appeared, who introduced the user No. 2610, or the main character to the capabilities of the reboot system, saying that his life statistics were displayed on the screen, and only the hero had full access to information processing.
An important attribute of the dive was a special helmet, which the hero wore to immerse himself in the chosen memory with the help of information technology and artificial intelligence, to which the name Jarvis was given. Why? Because it was the only artificial intelligence, albeit fictional, that Daur from the Marvel movie series knew.
As for the upload to the system, it was made on December 29, 2023, and the moment of the conversation with the program fell on January 1, 2024.
The book consists of eight chapters, among which: If It Were Not Friday Evening, The World is a Playground, A Time of Hope, If There Is Wind in the Tower, Zulmat, Hot Snow, Blizzard, The Best Moments of Life.
In the chapters, the main character takes the reader through different stages of his life, even those that were before the birth of the main character, during the famine, using the example of a married couple who lost their daughter. There was nothing to eat, thus, the family boiled animal skin, which was their food at that time. There was a bright moment when a man, a father of that family with a gun in his hand, went to rescue a girl who was being carried by one of two men with cruel hungry eyes. Unfortunately, he could not save the girl, he lost sight of her, as he fell exhausted from hunger to the ground. Further, he could not know what happened to that girl. She was supposedly 90 years old and she survived hunger, war, stagnation, perestroika, and the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Daur’s very first memories were of childhood playing with brothers and friends, school years during the preparation for examinations and making fun of each other with classmates, meeting friends in the city of Almaty, and getting to know girls.
In the “People” section with the names of people who were with the hero at that time, among whom were Elmira B., Khamit K., and Zhuldyz R. When he alternately opened folders with names, surprising information came out, such as the amount of time spent, the time of the last meeting, the joint distance, common acquaintances, as well as an associative phrase, for example, with Elmira B. was the following: “In a loved one, even the flaws are liked, and in an unloved one, even the virtues are annoying”.
The moment of acquaintance of Daur and his friend Khamit with the mentioned above girls Elmira and Zhuldyz, was colorfully described. Daur fancied Elmira, who was wearing a dark gray coat and had a black headband on her head, elegantly sitting on her luxurious long curls.
The hero was overwhelmed with various emotions from nostalgia to awareness of missed opportunities. Those feelings were replaced by indifference, which developed over time, but after immersion, sympathy, and primary feelings received a new breath, but Elmira was no longer there, time and the opportunity were lost.
Daur also immersed himself in pleasant memories of meetings and conversations with his aunts and aunts, relatives, and family celebrations including wedding anniversaries and jubilees.
In addition, there were not very pleasant memories from the hero’s personal life, when he caught his girlfriend in a lie and treason. A peculiar attribute of that farewell meeting with the girl was the cookbook of the hero’s mother, who asked him to give a special girl, that is, his future life partner, so that book with recipes was especially dear to the hero and he took it back, because the girl betrayed him, his bright feelings, hopes, and dreams.
Besides, the hero was immersed in the period of World War II, and the author colorfully describes the situations and characters in those memories. Daur also immersed himself in the December events of 1986, he was indignant about what was happening at that time, and especially he was very upset about an innocent young girl who died suddenly during the uprising.
At the end of the book, the author immerses the reader in the best memories of the hero Daur, which include a trip to the author’s favorite city of Almaty, spending time with the hero’s parents on the road and talking about his father who carried onions from the southern city of Taraz to Russia for sale in the nineties, then everyone was surviving as best they could, as well as about former nuclear mines in the area of Targap and Samsy villages, in which there were ballistic intercontinental missiles of the USSR.
In the meantime, Daur’s best memories were complemented by a date with a cute and shy girl with a view of Almaty, from which the girl took her breath away. The author describes the romantic atmosphere and tender feelings of the young couple.
The year 2035 was very interesting – a reference to the future, when the hero came home, where his beloved wife and two young sons were waiting for him, the latter ran to meet him gleefully. The author describes in detail the scenes of the meeting of the father of the family with children and his wife, life, and conversations with his wife, thus, family life was filled with happiness.
Daur realized that he had already lived 9931 days, but he did not know for sure whether he had died or not.
Overall, statistics were interesting, such as how much blood was pumped by the heart, the total length of grown hair, the number of accidentally eaten insects, including spiders, flies, and cockroaches, as well as the weight of the heart, the work of the respiratory system, the total length of blood vessels in the body.
No less interesting were some statements and data. For instance, the author highlights the idea that having lost money, a person does not lose anything, having lost health, a person loses a lot, and having lost character, a person loses everything.
The author also tells us about a beautiful idea of death among the ancient Egyptians depicting that when meeting people in front of the gates of paradise, the gods asked them if they had found joy in life and if their life had brought joy to others. Indeed, there is a deep existential meaning in those two questions.
Not a small part is devoted to the dialogue between Daur and Jarvis, who being a robot was not deprived of a subtle sense of humor, which in turn added some spice to the whole narrative.
According to the book, the author’s love for Kazakh city of Almaty is immediately felt. Together with the author, the reader drives through the streets of the country’s cultural capital and sees the mesmerizing beauty of buildings and nature. The author paints the city in bright colors, particularly at the end of the book.
The book is filled with philosophical meaning, the author talks a lot about the themes of being, the justice of life, and the way of life in general.
The idea of the real values of life, which are far from the material world and imply the health and well-being of relatives and friends, family happiness, peace of mind, comfort, and tranquility in homes, is paramount. A very important thought for a modern human as a reminder of the true values and the real meaning of life.
In the epilogue, as readers, we learned that the hero Daur was on the operating table in the hospital, for whose life a number of doctors were fighting.
The very signs of life, about which the title of this book is manifested, were his memories of the years lived, moments, and loved ones, while they were not always from the past or present, sometimes the author takes the reader into the future, the dream of many of a quiet, peaceful life with their families in a cozy home.
The book is close in content to modern middle-aged Kazakh people, who experienced everything that the hero did with a reference to the past and a bright future, both in personal and social terms. The inner optimism and pure thoughts of the young author can be traced, while the book is written in plain language, which makes it easy to read and perceive. It is gratifying that the shelves of bookstores in Kazakhstan are replenished with the works of contemporary authors, which will leave an indelible mark on the overall development of domestic literature and the people’s memory in the country with an emphasis on the period from the nineties to the current time and, of course, with a mandatory reference to the historical past of the Kazakh people.
Сover picture: from open sources
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