Sunday, April 27, 2008

More on Halting State

In late March, I posted this entry on Charles Stross' Halting State and I wasn't sure at the time what the title meant -- I was still awaiting my copy. Now that I've read the book, I get the clever play on words. It is only one of hundreds of clever twists and turns in the Halting State ride.

Stross' books are new to me. Unlike the speculative fiction superstars on the dust cover -- William Gibson, Vernor Vinge -- I hadn't checked out Stross' work before. Now that I finished his latest opus, more of his books are now on my reading list.

Although I enjoyed Stross' latest book, I should impart a few cautions:

  • If you don't enjoy techie slang, he may not be for you. There is a good amount of computer geek content in Halting State so if it's not your bag I'd avoid it
  • Points of view shift around and tracking on the storyline can be challenging. So, if you're after a low-attention-span novel, this won't fit
  • Stross is a Scotsman and he uses the sassy, crass vernacular for some characters. Those seeking "clean" language in their books can't recommend this to their students or groups

My next Stross read will be Glasshouse and I'm expecting the same fun yet intellectually challenging story from it. From all accounts, that should be the case.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Earth Day reading

Our friends at the New York Times keep us abreast of interesting books. When I saw the term Ecotopia in a recent post, my earth week eyebrows crowned.

Ernest Callenbach doesn't get much press in the article but interesting reads fitting this week's theme do. The article mainly reflects on The Maple Sugar Book from years ago. It's an interesting reflection.

Taking Jennifer Schuessler's advice, we should all seek a solid earthbound tome this week. Feel free to comment here with your favorites.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Antonio Hopson's blog and World Changing

I've got this post linked up to Antonio Hopson's blog for a good reason. He's a local guy in the Seattle area that has an enjoyable take on speculative fiction. Check out his blog...the man knows how to entertain with the written word.

I've also got World Changing mentioned here. They've also recently been added to my blogroll. Alex Steffen is sending new wake up calls every week on sustainability. Is that a big deal, you may ask? This IS earth week...which, incidentally, happens to be my birthday week. So, due to feelings of connectivity, I pay loads of attention to the latest needs mother earth may have. Alex articulates her needs quite well.

So, whether you want to plug into earth day or week...or read some creative stream-of-consciousness from Mr. Hopson, check out the latest additions to the blogroll.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

How real is your fiction?

An article in Illinois State's student newspaper has some interesting quotes from physicist Michio Kaku. You may wonder how far fetched speculative fiction concepts really are at times. Kaku puts them into tidy categories for you.

The technologies he considers are lumped into:
1) within the next century
2) within the next millenia
3) never

To dig really deeply, you'll have to buy Kaku's book The Physics of the Impossible. For a few quick insights though, read the Daily Vidette article. One interesting assessment from Kaku is that teleportation is possible in the next century. This was indeed a surprise.

Beam me up Scotty!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

An interesting chat with Chris Carlsson

Check out this San Francisco Bay Guardian post from their Pixel Vision blog. Author Chris Carlsson has a new book coming out on May 1 called Nowtopia. Continuing in Carlsson's body of alternative lifestyle lit, this newest opus should expand the way we look at the world around us.

Yet another "topia" book, I plan to check it out and report opinions here. I revisited Ecotopia by Ernest Callenbach this past year, so now it's time for Nowtopia.

Check out the Pixel Vision exchange. It should trigger a drive to read the book...although all indications are that it's social commentary and not speculative fiction like his After the Deluge. If you like to stick to speculative fiction, I can't blame's my book of choice as well. However, Carlsson's got me intrigued.

I spent a few years in San Francisco...the swirling vortex that is Carlsson's world. Back in the 80's I used to read The Guardian before there was an online version of anything. So, I guess history as well as interest is driving me to check it out. If you visit me again in a month or so, I'll let you know what I learn.