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.
It's been months since Xi Jinping secured another five years in office and got his second five-year plan through Chinese Communist Party, and he's cleaning house: last week, the Chinese state news agency announced that Lu Wei, one of the most powerful internet policymakers in the world, had been fired, purged from the Party, and […]
When Facebook was desperately trying to game the Indian regulatory process to get approval for its "zero-rating" system (where it would bribe Indian ISPs to give it the power to decide which services would be free to access, and which would be capped and metered), one of the frequent arguments in favor of this "poor […]
VLC 3.0 is out and the world's greatest video-playback app includes many long-awaited features, including stable Chromecast support, native support for browsing LAN drives to find your videos, and adaptive streaming to improve playback.
Trains may not be the most popular means of conveyance nowadays, but chances are you grew up playing with toy trains or building a model set to wrap around the Christmas tree. In either case, it’s safe to say that locomotives have long carried a unique sense of awe and scale, especially when they’re hundreds […]
When it comes to redesigning or renovating a living space, envisioning changes before they occur can be tricky for most. Thankfully, the web is home to tools that can remove some of the guesswork, like Live Home 3D Pro for Mac. This app lets you create detailed and furnished floor plans for everything from sheds and […]
For many startups and fledgling businesses, web hosting — and the fees associated with it — can take a sizeable chunk out of the company budget and limit growth down the road. But, that’s not to say there aren’t hosts out there who can get your site online while staying within your budget. Arch Hosting is a […]