Too much scifi not enough MCs30 Sep 2015
Once again, it's the end of the month, and I did not manage to keep my promise to myself, and write my blog posts earlier than last month. So, in order to not lose my bet with @jhthorsen, I will tell you about the last four books I finished. It just so happens they are all scifi, and they are all set in the near future, even if their themes are quite different.
By Neal Stephenson
I've been following Neal Stephenson for a long time, after he hooked me with the magnificent Snow Crash and The Diamond Age. Although he almost lost me with the sometimes long winded Baroque cycle, I feel like he's returning to old form lately, with REAMDE, which I enjoyed very much, and now Seveneves.
A meteorite has hit the moon, and shattered it into pieces. In itself this is a huge event, but earth scientists soon calculate that it will spell the end of most life on earth, and start exploring alternatives for survival. This book follows one of the most promising plans, making the international space station into an Ark where mankind can survive until earth once more is inhabitable.
As you can imagine, life in space is not without peril, and I found myself turning the pages quite quickly as we approached the climax. The somewhat cryptic title of this book is related to the ending, but I won't say more than that. Definitely worth checking out.
By Andy Weir
I first heard about this book through the trailer for the blockbuster movie adoption coming out this fall. The concept of a astronaut stranded on Mars seemed very interesting, so both me and the spouse decided to read the book first.
While not as far reaching as Seveneves, the survival story is quite strong, and the writing is witty, and sprinkled with scientific tidbits that keep you interested throughout the book. Some of the drama in the book seemed a little forced, and I didn't enjoy the bits going on at Houston as much as the space survival parts. Still had a good time, and we will be getting a baby sitter to see this one in the cinema.
By William Gibson
Gibson was one of my favorite writers growing up. Books like Neuromancer, The Difference Engine and Mona Lisa overdrive shaped my views on the near future. While I also enjoyed his contemporary works, I have to say that even more than with Neal Stephenson, this book represents an explosive return to old form.
The book is set in two different time lines. One is a bleak near future, with sprawls and cyborg warriors, quite similar to his older books. In the other timeline we are quite a bit further into the future. Humanity has survived near extinction, and have developed quite advanced telemetry and genetic technology which allows them to create remotely controlled "meat puppets". These two timelines start to converge as a mysterious worm hole is formed between them.
I enjoyed all of this book, and I think you will too. It didn't hurt that autonomous quadcopters played an important role either.
By Ernst Cline
This is the second book from Cline, after the very popular Ready a Player One, which tapped into pop culture nostalgia around 80s arcade gaming, together with a pervasive virtual world, to make a very popular and entertaining book.
I have tried very hard not to judge this book based on his debut novel. The story is a bit similar to Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game, with a young boy fighting aliens. however I think the writing is not nearly as good.
I was also bored with a lot of the fpv multiplayer references. I don't really enjoy these kinds of games, so I guess a lot of the pop references was lost on me. Still, it's a decent youth novella, but not in the same class as the previous three.