Ian McDonald's Desolation Road
is one of my most personally influential novels. It's an epic tale of the terraforming of Mars, whose sweep captures the birth and death of mythologies, economics, art, revolution, politics. Its publication preceded Kim Stanley Robinson's brilliant Red/Blue/Green Mars
books by years, but the two are very good companions, in that McDonald captures almost everything Robinson got (in a third of the number of pages), and adds the poetry and spirituality of Mars in the bargain.
Desolation Road pays homage to David Byrne's Catherine Wheel, to Ray Bradbury's entire canon and to Jack Vance, blending all these disparate creators in a way that surprises, delights, then surprises and delights again. Spanning centuries, the book includes transcendent math, alternate realities, corporate dystopias, travelling carnivals, post-singularity godlike AIs, geoengineering, and mechanical hobos, each integral to the plot.
Pyr Books has done us all the service of bringing this remarkable volume back into print after too long a hiatus (the equally delightful sequel, Ares Express, is out of print and pricey). They sent me a copy that I picked up from the post-box an hour ago, and I've been flipping through it ever since, getting reacquainted with this old and dear friend.
By Happy Toast, from the B3ta Brexit Challenge.
Ethan Zuckerman — formerly of Global Voices, now at the MIT Center for Civic Media — has spent his career trying to find thoughtful, effective ways to use technology as a lever to make positive social change (previously), but that means that he also spends a lot of time in the company of people making […]
If you’re a student journalist and want to attend HOPE XI, the Eleventh Hackers on Planet Earth conference (July 22-24, NYC) you can win free admission (and an interview with me!) by submitting an article about any of the topics come up at HOPE conferences! Get writing!
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Some people say magic tricks are nerdy and best left to your 12-year-old asthmatic cousin. But others see value in perfecting the slight of hand and showmanship associated with a perfectly executed routine. We’re firmly in the latter camp. And now, we’re giving you the ability to put a few parlor tricks up your sleeve with the Penguin […]