Mark and I have rounded up some of our favorite items from our 2009 Boing Boing reviews for the second-annual Boing Boing gift guide. We'll do one a day for the next six days, covering media (music/games/DVDs), gadgets and stuff, kids' books, novels, nonfiction, and comics/graphic novels/art books. Today, it's novels!
Makers (Cory Doctorow):
Technology lets low-cost providers take market share away from established companies, as Detroit auto makers and Paris fashion house designers have seen. Even high-tech companies have a hard time building sustainable businesses now that good ideas are copied so quickly that they become commodities.
In a time of great change, fiction can sometimes provide better understanding than facts alone. "As the pace of technological change accelerates, the job of the science fiction writer becomes not harder, but easier--and more necessary," he writes. "After all, the more confused we are by our contemporary technology, the more opportunities there are to tell stories that lessen that confusion."
L. Gordon Crovitz, Wall Street Journal
Full review | Purchase
The Strain: Book One
of The Strain Trilogy Someone said The Strain is a
combination of The Stand, Invasion of the Body
Snatchers, and I am Legend, which I'd say is a pretty
fair way of describing it. The first chapter is about an airplane that
lands at JFK from Germany and goes completely dark on the runway. It's
so creepy that when I told my wife and daughter about it *they* got
creeped out just from my description. Read the rest
David Marusek is one of the best-kept secrets of science fiction, a wild talent with a Gibson-grade imagination and marvelous prose, and a keen sense of human drama that makes it all go. Science fiction editors nurture short story writers -- many sf insiders keep track of the short fiction markets and watch with keen interest the writers who are doing good work there, but until those writers manage to get a novel out, it's rare for the field at large to take note of them. Writers like Ben Rosenbaum and Ted Chiang do incredible, brilliant work in short lengths, and the field does yeoman duty recognizing them with awards and approbation, but ultimately, the audience for short fiction is regrettably small.
Marusek's amazing story "The Wedding Album" floored me when I read it in 1999, was a finalist on the Nebula ballot, won the Sturgeon and Asimov's Reader's Choice Awards, placed in the Locus, Seiun and HOMer awards, and left all who read it gob-smacked. It was the story of the AI avatars cast as a sort of wedding photo of a couple on their big day; the story traces the avatars' lives through thousands of years of technical evolution, through the Singularity, and out the other side. The story reels from heartbreaking to mind-bending like a poet on a magnificent drunk bouncing from lamp-post to lamp-post.
I have a gigantic backlog of reading that I've promised to do, but when the galleys for Marusek's first novel, Counting Heads, came to my mailbox, it went into my shoulder-bag and has stayed there ever since, while I read it in sips and draughts, stealing every possible moment to read more of it, wanting to see what happens next and not wanting it to end. Read the rest
When I was working on Eastern Standard Tribe, my editor Patrick Nielsen Hayden told me that he thought that the electric light was a kind of drug, the kind of thing it takes a civilization a century to absorb, a hundred-year-long interregnum like the industrial century that Russian staggered through under the influence of vodka, or the lowlanders' gin-soaked hallucinogenic century. The ability to work when the sun was down, to ignore the seasons' rhythm that we'd been guided by since we were photosynthesizing single-celled organisms -- it's the kind of thing that can and does drive us all mad. (David Marusek, a brilliant sf writer who lives in Alaska, once described whole towns of people from away that would crop up during the summer season -- hoteliers and waiters and loggers and gas-station attendants -- none of whom had ever seen the midnight sun, staying awake for days on end, brawling and hallucinating and screwing their brains out, like a Bosch illustration).
Now there's a theory that breast cancer is related to hormone imbalances caused by artificial lighting. Our ability to best our meat and bend it to our will is overstated, I think -- the meat always gets its own back.
Read the rest
Their theory that artificial light can cause breast cancer is simple. Prolonged periods of exposure to artificial light disrupt the body's circadian rhythms - the inner biological clocks honed over thousands of years of evolution to regulate behaviors such as sleep and wakefulness. The disruption affects levels of hormones such as melatonin and the workings of cellular machinery, which can trigger the onset of cancer, Stevens theorizes.
Dave Winer's proposing adding a <ttl> element to RSS as a means of making it easier to insert RSS items into Gnutellanet. I love the idea of people working hard to augment the noninfringing uses of Gnutella -- earlier today in one of the comments, someone mentioned that "98 percent of Kazaa users are engaged in infringement," and my houseguest, David Marusek, mentioned to me last night that he was under the impression that P2P networks were only used to infringe. This is not the case, of course -- no more than the idea that chat-rooms are only used for cybersex or that personal websites are only used to post pictures of people's pets. RSS-over-Gnutella would be a nifty and substantial new use for Gnutellanet, IMO.
(Thanks, Dave!) Read the rest