Archive for August, 2010

The stack – defeat imminent!

Monday, August 30th, 2010

A few posts back there is a image of my bedside stack of used books. I come with good news. It is almost at a close.

How did it go? A little something like this:

Vagabond – as always, fantastic. Cornwell provides a good alternative to my SciFi grind and always manages to captivate my imagination. I thought we might be steering a little close to religion with the ‘Holy Grail’ theme but I was surprised at the delivery. Great in short. If you enjoy this – you will love “Azincourt”.

Foundation – ahhh Asimov. How old you are! I love reading a classic Asimov SciFi. The language is so different and the themes… dated. I always find it interesting to see how we have developed since his age. If only he could see us now. Decent read – interesting use of time (presented on a massive scale). Good intro to the ‘foundation’ series and I think I’ll hunt down the rest. Short and sweet so perfect little pickup.

Judas Unchained – Hardcore. SciFi. Its why I love you Hamilton. This turned out to be a 1300 behemoth (more pages than ‘Cryptonomicon’ but content not as dense{read confusing}). I keep coming back to Hamilton because the universe he presents does nothing but interest me. Immortality. Technology. Sentient Machines. Sex. Oh and action. Plenty of action here – good follow up to Pandoras Star and closes off the series. Recommended to all who like a bit of space opera.

Knife Of Never Letting go – I promoted this in the stack and read it here because I needed a SciFi go between. Hamilton to Banks would blow my fragile little mind. Hrmmmm what to say here – let me start with “Its a teenagers book”. I didn’t know this. Now you do, you are warned. Its clearly marketed towards them and at times I wanted to stop reading because of this (Mum told me to throw it out but I wanted to persist – just like a whingy teenager). I’m glad I read it to the end as it matured significantly in the last 50 odd pages… almost bare-able. Will I read the next? Maybe. I’m interested in where the plot will go but didn’t enjoy the writing style.

Excession – Read this before ‘Use Of Weapons’ as it was written first (thats how I am!). I had only read later Banks (Matter and Algebrist – both I enjoyed). Decent reading an early culture novel and a lot of content covered. The exploration of sentient tech always grabs my attention and the comedy Banks ties in is refreshing. High on my list of SciFi reads.

I had intended to read Heaven’s Net is Wide here… turns out it isn’t book two of the Otori Clan tales. Alas, it is a prequel. So I couldn’t touch it (prequels are for reading AFTER the other books…. it makes sense in my mind – ok, I read following the timeline they were written). This meant one thing though….

Use of Weapons – Oh god. A Banks back up. One straight after the other. At first I thought this was a bad call. Banks is sometimes a bit tough on my head. I really enjoyed Excession though so I thought I would just follow it up. I am about mid way through this one and so far it is rather enjoyable. Presented in a very different manner to Excession – a bit of time jumping… but the SciFi themes are there. Work in progress so I can’t comment on the finished product.

Pretty much burnt through the stack in the order they presented. A lot of train time has given me a lot of reading.

Imminent visit to second hand book store detected.

The End of History – for furry animals.

Saturday, August 28th, 2010

That is a real picture. I kid you not. I am not ‘joshing’.

This my friends – is the end of history. Another link I’ve sat on for a few months and only now getting round to share.

Presentation is everything they say.

Only 12 bottles have been made and each comes with its own certificate and is presented in a stuffed stoat or grey squirrel. The striking packaging was created by a very talented taxidermist and all the animals used were road kill. This release is a limited run of 11 bottles, 7 stoats and 4 grey squirrels. Each ones comes with its own certificate of authenticity.

Don’t feel bad – its roadkill. A 55% beer. Poison I say. Apart from the obvious attraction of the bottle – the name “The End Of History” is almost as alluring.

The End of History: The name derives from the famous work of philosopher Francis Fukuyama, this is to beer what democracy is to history. Fukuyama defined history as the evolution of the political system and traced this through the ages until we got the Western Democratic paradigm. For Fukuyama this was the end point of man’s political evolution and consequently the end of history. The beer is the last high abv beer we are going to brew, the end point of our research into how far the can push the boundaries of extreme brewing, the end of beer.

RoadKillStand

The Brewdog guys seem to have this down to somewhat of an art – for me, its less about the final beer product and more about the naming scheme. How can you go wrong with a beer titled “Tactical Nuclear Penguin” – 32% if you were wondering.

A standard schooner at 5% is enough for my taste buds – I imagine a penguin named after a weapon of mass destruction would not be my friend. I would have to mount a somewhat large scale war to reclaim my liver and determine there are no more WMDs located within.

Infoquake, MultiReal and GeoSynchron

Friday, August 27th, 2010

Ah yes – Science Fiction. How I pine for your sweet embrace.

I kicked up this post a while back – 2 months maybe – when I finished the last book in the ‘Jump 225′ trilogy. The intention was to provide a lengthy and insightful review of the three books and how the trilogy came together. That fell apart and I didn’t write anything. Let me try to put something together now while I sit at the data center waiting.

Funnily enough, I came upon this trilogy via a post on io9 celebrating the best new-release Sci-Fi. It was rather odd though as the third book ‘GeoSynchron’ was hailed as one of the best/brightest entries. My interest was piqued. Even more so when many referred to the series as a “Neuromancer” hybrid. My eyes lit up. A friend attempted to crush my hopes and dreams pointing out it was written by a ‘web developer’ and therefore was tainted. Bah! Professional racism!

Alas, me being me I couldn’t simply buy and read book 3. I needed the foundation.. the back story… to be able to fully immerse myself in the characters. I did what any normal person would do and scoured the intertubes for the cheapest version of ‘Infoquake’ available. Sadly, it wasn’t meant to be – even amazon was waiting on a reprint. Low and behold I found a copy of book 1 ‘Infoquake’ and immediately ordered it. Fast forward 2 months (and I had to force the company to pony up!)

InfoQuake was an interesting book in my list of SciFi reads. Intriguing to say the least. Centered largely around corporate espionage and financial procurement you follow Natch (yes, that is his name, I kid you not) a self proclaimed ‘entrepreneur’. InfoQuake does a pretty decent job of setting the scene for the trilogy. Deep insight is provided on the culture of the universe and explanations of the certain themes and undercurrents…. the essential premise is self gain and improvement through systems run on OCHREs (Nano bots anyone?). Developers sell products to interface with users to provide a number of improvements on the human form – zoom functions, eye color changes etc. This was pretty cool and I liked the setup of ‘fiefcorps’ (companies) Vs single developers. InfoQuake also introduces the core characters and dabs a little on their past. I wasn’t really feeling InfoQuake but persisted for the holy grail of GeoSynchron (… or so I thought it would be?) Anyway. The story wrapped up with… what I guess some would call a cliff hanger but I wasn’t really longing for the next installment.

MultiReal.. its name is derived from the main program of the trilogy (quick digression – ‘The Jump 225 trilogy’… not much of the Jump Version 225 program in this….. a few mentions here and there but I was expecting a greater focus) and pretty much picks up where InfoQuake leaves off. Memory is a bit hazy here but the basic premise extends and new plot shards are created. A few new characters are introduced and you get more of a sense of how the ‘council’ works. Deceptions are introduced. Ploys developed. A lot of talking. Yea… there is a lot of talking. Metaphysical kinda stuff. I really struggled at first to get my head around the applications of ‘MultiReal’ but by the end of this book I think I was on the same page as the author (HA! Page.. Pun. See cause its a book right?).

Should it take me two books to understand the core premise of where a trilogy is headed? I’d hope not.

Wrapped up MultiReal and arrived at the grand daddy – GeoSynchron. I had high hopes – I mean.. this was the reason I had read the first two books. The further in I delved the more involved I was. GeoSyncron really is the best of the three – pity you have to read the first two to really understand the core of what is going on (this ain’t some stand alone read here folks). There is a lot more of everything in the third installment. More action. More themes. More talking. I also felt it was much better laid out and the plot more defined. Slowly I was wondering – er.. 100 pages left. Where are we going? How will this wrap up? It manages to. Not a massive ending – interesting. Plays on a pretty interesting concept but my mind wasn’t blown. I think I had a single point of confusion that caused me to read a few paragraphs over.

I don’t read authors notes. I tend to steer clear. I don’t want to know anything about the person who is stoking my imagination… it always tends to back fire. If I am reading a Bernard Cornwell I might read his historical notes… just to give me an insight of where he used creative license. But SciFi – its all creative. So I don’t want to hear which characters are based on real people or whether the author cried while writing the last page.

BUT.

I did read the authors note after GeoSynchron. Maybe because I was slightly confused. Maybe because I did want to know where this stuff came from. I must admit – it was pretty intriguing. Edelman had some pretty interesting comments and I was impressed in how he evolved the story from MultiReal to GeoSyncron. There were some rather interesting remarks on his past as well. If you read the trilogy – get in there and read this as well.

Essentially, if you have spare time and don’t mind science fiction that makes you think – give it a chance. Push through InfoQuake and MultiReal isn’t bad. Make it past MultiReal and GeoSyncron is bit of a pay off. It felt good to close of this rather obscure trilogy.

Another notch on the bed head. (Thats what the notches are for right?)