It’s November, and that means it is Desert Bus for Hope time. Those of you who are old enough to remember life before the web might remember the phenomenon known as the charity telethon. Not-for-profit TV stations, or various charity organizations, would host fundraising drives. You could watch people perform on TV and make a pitch for donations, then you could phone in, and an operator would take down your name and your money. Desert Bus for Hope is kind of like that.
Well, it’s happened. The leaves have changed colour. They are starting to fall. That chill is in the air again. Autumn is here. I’m lucky enough to live in a part of Canada that (usually) experiences all four seasons to a good extent. And I am especially anticipating winter this year, of course, because I “missed” it last year.
I don’t get a great deal of spam, and Gmail does protect me from the most obvious—from a machine’s point of view. Gmail has dropped the ball, however, on detecting spam that is clearly spam to a human but cleverly disguised as legitimate. Here’s a message I received on Wednesday: Dear owner of Tachyondecay.net, I’m sure you have been contacted in this matter many times before but our value proposition is much different.
I feel the need to make note on this blog that I’m 25 now. Since Saturday. I started a blog post last week about how I felt to be 25. Essentially it boiled down to “I don’t feel like an adult yet still” and then digressed into morose ruminations on the cognitive dissonance of being Facebook friends with people from high school I never talk to. It was entirely too serious and lugubrious considering that, on the whole, I’m feeling like I’m in a good place with my life right now.
Chatter about police wearing cameras while on duty has been picking up over the past year. The recent shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson has only amplified such calls. Really, as more and more ordinary citizens undertake lifelogging seriously, police wearing cameras will be inevitable. For an example from some recent and near-future fiction, look no further than Halting State, by Charles Stross.
I’m home. I’m sitting in my bedroom, in my slightly-too-short-for-this-desk rolling chair, a cup of tea in my big blue Eeyore mug to my right, and my fabulous bookshelves to my left. Oh, and my room is a mess. My suitcases lie on the floor in front of the bookshelves and TV, bulging and gravid with my life in England. I haven’t even attempted to unpack yet. I need to tidy the room first, for it has become mired in the accumulated kipple of two years’ near-continuous absence.
“The year is 1871. You are French and you are about to fondle a kitten.” Douglas Coupland has a talent for opening lines that are both funny and contextual. Kitten Clone: Inside Alcatel-Lucent opens with a whimsical story about a Frenchman going to work for the engineering company that eventually contributes some “corporate DNA” to one of the largest telecommunications company on Earth. As the technical first sentence of this book (in its introduction) asserts, you probably haven’t heard of Alcatel…
Guys, Pocket is back!
I heard about this book ages ago, then promptly forgot it existed, and rediscovered it at my library. (Libraries are awesome that way.) My first reaction was, “Ooh, a Christopher Moore novel I haven’t read.” My second reaction was, “Bloody hell, it’s a semi-sequel to Fool!” (No English accent though. Two years in England and I still can’t do a decent English accent. *sigh*)
Fool was the first Christopher Moore book I read and in many ways one I consider the funniest. That’s…
Last year around this time, I read Adam Bede, George Eliot’s first novel. It’s fitting that when I was rummaging around my to-read box, I found Daniel Deronda, Eliot’s last novel. I wanted a meaty, socially-conscious novel with a diverse cast of well-realized characters. Eliot does not disappoint, and Daniel Deronda captivated me to the point that I began scribbling some notes in the margins of my lovely used copy.
I love George Eliot so much. Sooooo much. Let me make this clear: George Eliot is a…
, Madeline Ashby provides a refreshing take on the idea of robots on the run. She tries to bottle lightning a second time in iD—and she succeeds. The second Machine Dynasty novel raises the stakes and allows Ashby a chance to explore both the backstory and future of this world where Asimovian robots have been reified. It’s not quite a full on apocalypse, but the world appears to be holding its breath.
I’m going to assert that you needn’t have read vN to read iD; and, if you read this one…
That spoiler warning is live, people. I am not joking around here. I am going to talk about the twist that, though fairly early in the book, is unmentioned or unhinted at in any of the cover copy or introduction. Because Darwinia is a far deeper rabbithole than its simple alternative-history wrapper promises. I understand why it got the Hugo nomination (and also why it didn’t win). With Darwinia, Robert Charles Wilson has written perhaps the alternativest history of all.
So don’t say I didn’t warn…
So, there are monkeys in South America and in Africa. How did they get there? That’s essentially what Alan de Queiroz wants to answer in The Monkey’s Voyage: How Improbable Journeys Shaped the History of Life, albeit in a roundabout way.
If you’re a creationist, especially a young-Earth creationist, you don’t have to worry too much about this. The answer is “God did it!” (Or possibly, “God did it, praise Jesus!” if you are feeling particularly devout at the moment.)
Alas, I am not a creationist, so…