I just finished reading Ian McDonald's latest novel, River of Gods
," and my mind is whirling. River is the story of India's 100th birthday, when the great nation has fractured into warring subnations on caste, religious and cultural lines. Like McDonald's other great novels, the story is beyond epic, with an enormous cast of richly realised characters and a vivid, luminous vision of techno-Hinduism that beggars the imagination. Take, for example, Town and Country
, a soap-opera acted out by AIs (or "aeais") who lead double-lives -- each AI character has another role, as the actor who plays the character
, in a "meta-soap" where their squabbling, indiscretions and marriages are tabloid fodder for the soapi magazines that dote upon them.
This is just one of dozens of conceits in a novel that combines the best themes from books like Out on Blue Six and Desolation Road, handles them with the masterful hand visible in Scissors Cut Paper Wrap Stone and the Sturgeon-award-winning Tendeleo's Story, and folds in all the contemporary themes in sf like the Singularity and the cratering of cyberpunk memes and spits out a 575-page epic that I couldn't put down until I'd finished it.
Ian McDonald has been one of my favourite writers for some 15 years now, and the amazing thing is, he's getting even better.
Neglected public payphones in New York City are being turned into “GuyFi” stations: a place where one can rub one out for the sake of “stress relief.” Annalee Newitz reports on the wank booths from a company named “Hot Octopus”… The company reported that at least 100 men used the booth on its opening day […]
You’d be forgiven for thinking the videocassette format long-dead, but it turns out that Betamax is still around. Sony is finally going to withdraw tapes from sale, bringing a 40-year story to an end. The last recorders were sold in 2002. ベータビデオカセットおよびマイクロMVカセットテープ出荷終了のお知らせ [Sony; via The Verge]
A leaked Comcast memo discloses that the company’s consumer data caps have nothing to do with network congestion, contrary to its public claims. The internet service provider has often complained (such as when lobbying against net neutrality) that it must impose limits on service to prevent network congestion. The argument suggests that these measures are […]
Plastic is so 2013. You don’t want to buy something only to throw it away or lose it and barely care. You like nice things and want to hang onto them. The Plazmatic lighter here is a high quality, high tech alternative to the typical cheap, plastic lighter you get at the old gas station. […]
Real engineers build things. Super cool engineers build things with their hands and fingers, like our engineering forefathers did. No idea where to even begin to do that? This step by step Arduino course is now 92% off and is going to get you up and running, from zero to hero, in no time. So […]
How do Google and YouTube really work? It turns out, Python kind of runs things around those parts. And with this bootcamp, you’ll get whipped into shape and ready to start programming yourself. Whether you’re a Python pro and just want to sharpen your skills, or a total tech newbie with little or no coding […]