Book Review: Autonomous by Annalee Newitz

 

IMG_5624

Note the cream bedsheets; yes, I read it with class. Not pictured: infuser with sexy lavender oil.

I haven’t sat down and read an entire novel, in one sitting, in a really, really long time. I’m thinking since Peter Watts’s Starfish, back in 2005.

Autonomous took that prize.

I’ll give a non-spoiler version, and then after the read more tag, I’ll go quite a bit more in-depth with what I loved about this book. Also a few spoilers. BECAUSE HOLY SHIT. #professional

Quick overview: Autonomous takes place roughly 150 years from now, and centers on two groups of people: a drug pirate named Jack and her associates Threezed, Krish, Med, and those at Free Lab, and the IPC (Intellectual Property Commission? I think) duo of Eliasz and Paladin–an indentured robot–along with their support infrastructure.

A Big Pharma company creates a work efficiency drug that is intended to be marketed only to the wealthy. Jack reverse engineers it to be sold to the less fortunate, finds out it is highly addictive and damaging, and the pharma company wants to keep it under wraps. In turn, it sends its personal police to hunt down the terrorist (Jack) and keep the information secret/safe/profitable.

Overclocked with tech evolution, smart characters and smarter digital communications, and relationships that melded into the complexity of the story with clarity and power, Autonomous was just as interesting to read for the story as it was for the insight and depth of understanding for tech.

It covers themes of humanity, personhood, gender relations, technology relations, the complex nature of AI, patent law, Big Pharma, lawful vs. moral vs. ethical, security, and community (along with, I’m certain, lots I overlooked in the meantime).

I could be wrong, but I know of nobody else writing like this. And it is beautiful. If I had to give number score out of ten, I’d give it 9/10. It’s really, really, really that good. If you’re a tech nerd, if you’re a gamer, if you’re a digital humanities person, if you love science fiction, if you want a great read, get this book. It is a harmony of stories.

I’m getting a second copy just to share with a friend.  Continue reading

Advertisements

Quick Book Review: The Rim of Morning by William Sloane

productimage-picture-the-rim-of-morning-531_2048x2048

I took a break from research on Corpus (Aerial views of Herculaneum, MO anyone?) to finish one of two novels contained in The Rim of Morning by William Sloane: To Walk the Night.

I almost passed this up. I purchased on a whim (And King’s recommendation), and I am not let down by it.

Stephen King introduces this reprint of a 1937 novel with a disclaimer, and so will I: writing in the late 30’s was not very PC, and there were repeated references to people as “idiots” and “not people” when referencing a person with mental illness. For the sake of this story, I’ll also state the “snappy dialogue” also included personal opinions of one of the two white MCs that non “American” names were cockeyed and women should have a “mysterious composure” to them so they don’t get too headstrong.

This novel bends genre; it’s a story covering early football, university studies, detective whodunnit, science quandaries concerning infinity, questions concerning humanity and insight, all framed through a Lovecraftian lens of “strange science” and otherworldly “madness.” The story itself is so very low key, so very rhythmic in its flow and discourse, I found reading it almost calming in effect, despite the topics being covered.

I agree with Mr. King, though: this is horror. A slow, building, jump-scare free, chauvinistic pursuit of information that ultimately climaxes not with a scream and a fade to black, but with a baleful understanding.

That being said, this story, to me, was about the “Antagonist,” Selena. Without spoiling too much of the short, amiable read, Mr. Sloane did not agree with his protagonists’ opinions of womanly composure, or otherwise sought to create a powerful character with whom I was thoroughly impressed. While Mr. Lister the son was interesting and all the characters rounded and plausible, all were ultimately forgettable save Selena. I believe that was the intent in the novel: to serenade an air of power around one character so sublime and deep-reaching and hardly discernible that one was apt to overlook it entirely.

I loved this read for her. If she wasn’t a part of this story, I’d’ve forgotten the book in entirety. If you’re in the mind to read something simple, straightforward, and not lacking in subtle build, read this.

Chris

Ready Player One

Hey! Nice of you to stop by. I’ll give a short review of this surprisingly concise book.

ready-player-one-book-coverWarning: Spoilers. Also warning: if you aren’t a gamer, and aren’t interested in gamer culture, you might not get a lot out of this book. On the other hand, even if you aren’t, I see a lot of value in this book due to the way the technology is portrayed. That being said, this is fun literature that brought a lot of nostalgia and gamer humor to my reading, which initially pulled me in and kept me interested throughout.

Continue reading

Books: Morgenstern, Mieville, Jung, Cline, Enright

Or… New Classic? (Exhibit A)

jung-redbook-5

The books I’ll be looking at are:
Erin Morgenstern’s Night Circus,
China Mieville’s Perdido Street Station,
Carl Jung’s Red Book (There are cheaper versions out there; this one is full-size),
Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One,
Anne Enright’s The Gathering.
As a note: I have only finished Night Circus and The Gathering.

Another aspect in a writer’s dedication to improve on his (since I’m referring to myself) writing ability is the importance of reading. I’ll be the first to say that between my bouts of college, I didn’t read much. When I was younger, I simply wrote what I wanted to read. I went on grand adventures, and for some reason all my characters started to sound the same: little me’s running around doing me things as magical people, as witches, as generals, as parents, orphans. You get the drift. Before that, in grade school and high school and college try 1, I read voraciously.

I have to force myself to read now. I don’t like the writing styles of a lot of writers, I don’t enjoy the shortsightedness of storytelling arcs, I have to force myself to read a lot of recommended reading. Nothing against anyone, but I don’t pleasure read. I don’t know if I can ever go back to it either. But I’m trying.

So! I have a short list of books I’m reading, books I’ve finished reading over the past semester/year, and I want to talk about them. If you’re interested, please come along.

#amreading #amwriting Continue reading

The Great Hunt, Leviathan Wakes, and Six-Gun Tarot

Twainlineup

I’ve been reading a lot more of late. Having begun Mark Twain’s Autobiography, Leviathan Wakes (Now A Major Syfy TV Series, The Expanse), The Six-Gun Tarot and the second of the Wheel of Time Series, The Great Hunt, I’ve had ample opportunity to cross check the writing styles.

For me, great writing stands alone. Back when Tolkien’s LOTR novels were being made into movies, there was an outpouring of novels with the phrase “Like Middle Earth but better!” on the backs, or “Greatest fantasy adventure since Tolkien!” The spinoff books–some very successful–all playing off the idea of his works (Like Terry Brooks’s Sword of Shannara series and Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth series) had the same feel of Tolkien, only light. In fact, I’d call them Tolkien Lite. As a disrespectful term.

Now I see “Think Game of Thrones with Bocci Ball!” or “John Doe, and his family, has a coolness factor so high, it’s like Harry Potter had John McClane as a father, AND THEY WERE ALL LANNISTERS!” While this isn’t exactly what I’m reading on the back of boring old fantasy novels, I’m not being hyperbolic. I did see a similar phrase somewhere.

These people, while possibly successful, are not great writers. You can’t take a powerful writer and say, “This writer is JUST LIKE another writer, ONLY BETTER,” and get any respect. If ever I get picked up by a big publisher, and they say anything of the sort on the back of my work, I will straight-up drop the publisher. One of the books I’ll discuss today is touted as a Martin Lite, even though he’s nothing of the sort.

Continue reading

Book Review: The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss

The-Slow-Regard-of-Silent-Things-Destacada

I’d like to think everyone’s talking about this book. It’s probably not the case, but from the writing sphere of this world, this book is a very, very important read. It’s short, sweet, and most avid readers can finish it in, oh, two hours. If you read slow, like me, it’ll take you around four. With breaks to run to Facebook and quote random bits. Because it’s awesome.

Patrick Rothfuss is known for his hugely popular Kingkiller Chronicle, which follows the great gypsy bard/mage Kvothe as he brazenly fights through childhood trauma, homeless street-urchining, magical college, girls, royalty, and (hopefully) the Chandrian blue-flame demons with his own style of cleverness and stupidity, in turn. The books are brilliant.

But this isn’t that story. Continue reading