Things I read in April 📚
- Man-Computer Symbiosis, JCR Licklider, 1960. That link is to the text, @MIT. Not really a “book,” but I wanted to remember that I read it, so I put it in Goodreads. “The 15 [years until AI is sufficiently advanced] may be 10 or 500, but those years should be intellectually the most creative and exciting in the history of mankind.”
- I, Partridge and Nomad, Alan Partridge, Rob Gibbons, Neil Gibbons, Armando Iannucci, Steve Coogan. After going on a binge of all the Alan Partridge shows last year, I queued these up and they finally came around. Surprised at how well A.P.s mannerisms translate from show to text. Also now binging on the new show (I think we’re on the 3rd watch-through now, after acquiring the series 2 weeks ago.) These seemed longer than I expected; part of the reason I only read a few books this month. Well, that and the fact that I read another big Alastair Reynolds book.
- Elysium Fire, Alastair Reynolds. I like this Prefect series a lot. The Glitter Band has so much more story-telling potential than the Rust Belt. (Open it up to other writers, maybe?) I was worried at first that the plot was going to be too-much an allegory for 2016 politics, but it snaked away from that stuff. For the record I don’t buy the deep premise of the voting machines and the Prefects, as “really” politically workable, but it’s a fun idea to chew on.
- Binti, Nnedi Okorafor. A little thin on plot but a refreshing character, part of sci-fi’s general widening in the last decade or two. I have the next two queued up; I hope Binti keeps being interesting.
Last month I said, “now at the end of the month I’m stuck in another long sci-fi novel that I’m not even enjoying. I may give up on it.” And I did! It was a time-travel concept, and at one point the traveller got “dropped off” in the past. He found the digital macguffin and “sent it forward” to his own time, acknowledging that the transmission speed for that process was a matter of hours. Then a few pages later he’s having a real-time full-duplex conversation with his “handler” up there in the future where his document is headed. If you can have a live chat, you should be able to send your email in a flash. Claude Shannon and whatnot. C’mon.
Anyway at the end of April I got 10% of the way through an absolute doorstop of a fantasy novel. I like it well enough but it may be something I read in bits and pieces over the course of a year. Feels like a broad pastiche of Arthur & Merlin/Fairies/Chronicles of Prydain/D&D/etc. Comfort food of a sort.
So, coming up: more Binti, a Claude Shannon bio (speaking of), another Alastair Reynolds paperweight, maybe more of this fantasy stuff…