Empress of the Sun: return to Ian McDonald's wonderful Everness
Ian McDonald's Everness young adult books are everything you want in YA: adventure, romance, wild ideas and tense victories that make you pump your fist at the sky. In Empress of the Sun, McDonald takes the series up about four notches and show's the sky's the limit. Cory Doctorow raves about Empress of the Sun.
There are very few writers I have more time for than Ian McDonald, who is everything a science fiction writer should be: adventurous, nimble, playful, poetic and shamelessly sticky-fingered with the ideas and themes of the field, filing off their serial numbers and putting them to work in ways their creators never imagined.
McDonald's multiverse has everything: ancient, sentient godlike evolved dinosaurs; rakish airship pirates from an electropunk world where there was never any oil; ruthless, sentient alien nanotech that devours whole planets -- I mean, everything. The multiverse conceit gives McDonald's prodigious imagination free rein like none of his other projects has ever managed to, and McDonald takes the idea further than just about anyone.
But while you're whooping with wonder at the imaginative coaster-ride, there's never a moment when you forget that this is a story, full of pathos and suspense, full of romance and realistic teen problems that make you squirm with sympathy. There's never a moment when the plot lets up with its relentless action, stakes that only get higher and higher by the page, whole worlds and universes at stake and danger lurking behind danger. And there's never a moment when his characters are anything less than brilliantly flawed and complex, villains and heroes alike, and especially the female leads, who are smart and central to the story.
In Empress, the airship Everness has jumped to a diskworld constructed by a 65-million-year-old dinosaur civilization from the bones of all the solar system's planets, and its only the dinos' inability to stop warring with one another that has prevented them from taking over the galaxy. Believe it or not, things only get more exciting and more improbable and more voraciously readable from there!
The first two Everness books are Planesrunner and Be My Enemy and yes, lucky you, you really need to read them first. You won't be disappointed.
Empress of the Sun [US]
Empress of the Sun [UK]
Libretaxi is an open source project that lets anyone become a rideshare driver in less than a minute; it has more than 20,000 users worldwide, and is maintained by Roman Pushkin, who started the project in December 2016 and is now planning to quit his job and work on it full time.
Mister Alphabet is an action-figure designed to cleverly bend and contort into every letter of the Latin alphabet; the website is long on trademark warnings and arty Instagram photos, but short on details, like, “Is this an object of commerce?” and “If so, where does one buy it?” (via Kottke)
Desperate John Deere tractor owners are downloading illegal Ukrainian firmware hacks to get the crops in
John Deere is notorious for arguing that farmers who buy its tractors actually “license” them because Deere still owns the copyright to the tractors’ software; in 2015, the US Copyright Office affirmed that farmers were allowed to jailbreak their tractors to effect repairs and modifications.
The Lightning port has thus far resisted the cruel fate that befell the headphone jack, and despite rumors that it may be disappearing come iPhone 8, for the present and foreseeable future, Lightning cables are a hot commodity for iPhone users. As such, we must make do in this strange time in which long, glorified […]
All the filters in the world won’t save your smartphone pics from a shaky hand. To really step up your mobile photography game, you’ll need some kind of mount to hold it steady. You could buy a smartphone attachment for a conventional camera tripod, but who wants to carry that kind of gear everywhere they […]
The forced transition from analog to digital TV signals was probably met with relative indifference from people with Netflix subscriptions and the “I don’t even own a TV” snoots. But anyone living in the vast swaths of the country that don’t have guaranteed high-speed internet, broadcast TV is a perfectly valid (and 100% free) way […]