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.
I’m making the final(ish*) stop of my Walkaway tour at Defcon this weekend in Las Vegas, giving a speech on Saturday in Track 2 at 10AM called $BIGNUM steps forward, $TRUMPNUM steps back: how can we tell if we’re winning?, followed by a book-signing at the No Starch Press table in the exhibitors’ hall.
In Paper Girls, the celebrated comics creator Brian K Vaughan (Saga, Y: The Last Man, etc) teams up with Cliff Chiang to tell a story that’s like an all-girl Stranger Things, with time-travel.
Ladder lockdown is a metal tray with super-grippy patches on its underside; set it down on any surface (including ice!) and then set your ladder’s feet in the tray and cinch it in place and the ladder won’t “kick out” and injure you and your loved ones.
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