I finished Blood Music by Greg Bear. It was published twenty years ago and, because it's a "near future" story, some parts are a bit dated. Still, it holds up fairly well.

Blood Music is one of those "hey, it was a great novella (Hugo and Nebula Award winner, in fact), let's expand it into a novel!" books you see every so often. Because I haven't read the original I don't have anything to compare the book to, but I can say that the story works well as a book-length one. Thankfully, it doesn't suffer from the common fate of many expanded stories--it doesn't have any jarring transition that screams out "this is where the original ended, isn't it?". I'm sure Bear, being the pro he is, rewrote it all from scratch rather than taking the lazy way out.

This book fills you with the fear/awe associated with The Singularity. It's very much a bittersweet "what the hell have we done now and what are we in for?" story. It's a bit like reading Childhood's End without the aliens. I'd recommend it.

I'm about halfway through Neuromancer. I know it's bad form to discuss a book I haven't even finished yet, but right now I'm remembering why I stopped reading on page ten when it first came out. In fact, I've avoided anything labeled "cyberpunk" ever since tossing my first copy of this book in the bin. It's engaging and all, and I can see how it was amazing and groundbreaking in the 80s, but I never really liked gritty fiction. Throwing truckloads of tough sounding street slang into the mix only distracts and slows me down while I try to puzzle out what's being said in English. "Punk." Yeah. Whatever.

Still, I'll slog through it. Maybe somewhere in the last half of the book there's a scene which takes place in a clean room, with intact furniture (but no chrome), where undrugged people hug each other just because they feel warm inside. Here's hoping.

Besides, my other books haven't arrived yet so there's nothing else to read.


Conservatives don't like The Singularity?

I'm shocked. Just shocked. Even so, The National Review is the last place I'd expect to see linking to Wikipedia's Singularity entry. (Are we mainstream yet?)

Then again, the link is in a John Derbyshire column. Most conservatives just skip his articles.



Sometimes I forget things.

I've spent the last few weeks taking a Technological Singularity refresher course, soaking up everything that's been written on the topic in the past five years that I could cram into my brain. I've missed a lot of progress. Most significantly, I think, I missed learning about the Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence until a few days ago. If you give any weight to the Singularity concept you really ought to give the site a hard look. A seriously hard look. Maybe spend a week or two, find the wiki, skim through the SL4 archives, and decide whether you think SIAI is run by a bunch of nuts or if they're onto something. If the latter, please try to help out.

I'll probably write more about that topic later, as it's a favorite of mine, but this post is about books. Uh... oh yeah. Forgetting things. While reading about the Singularity my mind naturally was drawn to Vernor Vinge, and it occured to me, in a panic, that I'd only read four of his novels. How could I be so lax? I raced to his bibliography to see what I'd missed, only to discover that he isn't nearly as prolific as I'd imagined. Damn. There's not a lot of catching up to do.

Still, I remembered that The Peace War was on my To-Read list, so I bumped it to the top and got the library to bring in a copy. While I was at it, I also asked for: Blood music by Greg Bear and Robot: Mere Machine to Transcendent Mind by Hans Moravec. Now all three are sitting on my desk, competing for my attention, taunting me.

I hate that.

I'm also waiting for The Age of Spiritual Machines and The Singularity is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology, both by Ray Kurzweil, and Neuromancer by William Gibson. No, I actually haven't read that last one. It amazes me. But, given the other titles, I sort of feel like I have to.

What the-- Right! "Forgetting things" was the topic. Sorry, I rambled.

20+ years ago I read a book that moved me deeply at the time. I remember sitting there after finishing it, more slack-jawed than normal, and vowing to read more books by that same author. Of course, school and sex and music and partying got in the way and I eventually forgot all about it. Later, my books got boxed up and sold, as things sometimes do once you have kids and landlords to feed.

I like to revisit old favorite books, and last year I got it into my head to revisit this one. The trouble was that I forgot both the title and the author's name! All I knew was that it was the only book I'd read by this author, it was science fiction, it might have been written by a woman, and there were eagles.


Do you know how many women write SF? Lots, that's how many! Okay, narrowing it down some, I was pretty sure I found the book in a chain store. That cuts out a lot of lesser-selling authors, but still leaves a daunting number of names. I tried to narrow it down more by picking authors that were fairly popular in the 80s, but even that's a longish list.

Picture me at Google, hoping like hell I remembered right and it was a woman, typing "Lois McMaster Bujold" eagles (nope, damn), "C. J. Cherryh" eagles (nope, damn), "Vonda McIntyre" eagles (nope, damn), until finally giving up in frustration, only to go back a few months later to try again with a different list of names. And again after that.

Well, it took me a year, but I finally found the book. Welcome, Chaos by Kate Wilhelm. Yay! Add another book to the library list. I sure hope my rose-colored memories haven't made a so-so book seem better in hindsight than it really was. The mind does that, sometimes. +coughRamacough+ We'll see.

Anyway, I have a lot of reading ahead of me. I think I'll start with Peace War, 'cause I'm a fanboy.


Drawings of Muhammad

I'm founding a new religion. You can sign up here.

One of its doctrines will be that followers must declare holy war on anyone who doesn't mock Muhammad. Not all of us, mind you, just the radical ones. Followers who die for the cause of mockery will be guaranteed a place in heaven.

That is all.

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