Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Fine, lovely, brilliant folks (and for contrast, one gargantuan douchebaggy dissappointment)

You may notice that I've added to a few new links to my side bar. In all honesty I think I'm the only person who uses my links. It collects a few of the sites I like visiting in one place, but let's pretend my massive public following also uses it as their portal to the internet. This adoring following would have noticed most recently that I finally added Kung Fu Monkey, on whom I've long had the biggest blog crush in the world. Honestly, if I got to pick one web site that I'd feel honored to be amongst their links, this is probably it.

Enough fanboy bullshit (actually I am just getting started), the second one you would notice is a link to Charles Stross's blog. I found it because Kung Fu Monkey links to him. I cared and recognized the name because I read Singularity Sky earlier this year.

In Hawaii, in the office, there were books that were free for anyone to grab to read while out at sea. A significant portion of our job was simply not going batshit crazy while cut off from society, so taking lots of books out on trips is more than encouraged. I picked up Singularity Sky by Mr. Stross on a whim. In the last couple of years, with all the time away at sea trapped in various floating prisons under the pretexts of 'science' and 'employment', I've plowed through a shit-ton of books; and out of those books, Singularity Sky would easily be in the top three and probably number one if asked off the top of my head to make a recommendation for a fun and compelling read. It is perhaps one of those few great sci-fi adventures which stretches plausability in a challenging but believable way, forcing you to wrap your head in different ways than you are used to. All science fiction writer like to believe this is what they do, but few of them fully succeed. I've only read the one of his books so far, but I'd put him in a catagory with William Gibson. And like Mr. Gibson, his online writing show him to be a nimble thinker, playfully tinkering about with various problems our world presents us with and our imaginations can conjur.

The polar opposite to the two of them is orson scott card. This hurts to acknowledge, as Ender's Game was brilliant, also a compelling and fun read, even if you'd have to be dense as a brick not to figure out the ending well in advance. I read it and wanted more, but while Speaker For the Dead was well written, it wasn't as enjoyable. I actually found it outright irritating. Part of this will be because I'm a biologist and much of the plot of the book depends on him butchering science beyond the edge of plausibility. I'm fine for playing fast and loose with the limits of the material world, but make it somehow believable. Beyond the irritation of not being able to believe in the story or much about the characters, there was an obvious and irritating preachiness to the book that pissed me off. Again, a compelling and kind of fun read, but also nagging to the point that I was thankful when I finished reading it and passed on picking up any of his other books. I can't say that it is exactly surprising to find that he is a right-wing batshit crazy douche-bag. Dissappointing, but I'm completely willing to divorce beautiful works of art from their creators. I'd still recommend Ender's Game to friends, but I'd also recommend they borrow a copy rather than buy it new.

And also notice Mr. Gibson's blog also now residing in the side bar. This is long belated, particularly as I have linked to him before in specific posts. His blog posts don't tend to be so lengthy, but there are gems of insight and guidance to be found within. I just finished Pattern Recognition(absolutely fucking brilliant); now I've got to get my hands on more of his books before I cast out to sea again.

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