I love that rush when life is changing, but you’re learning; when the future is facing you, stepping on your toes, but it isn’t alarming.
Getting to that pleasurable point, for me, meant uprooting my 20th century self and replanting myself in this century. Embracing the 21st.
It’s led me to try new digital experiences, to listen to new sources of knowledge, and to read even more books.
by Donna Mazza
Sometimes I don’t love a particular book but still find it interesting and worth recommending. Fauna is one of those. It is a science fiction novel about an IVF mother expecting an unusual child.
Donna Mazza does a fabulous job evoking the near edge of the future and the lifecycle of 21st century corporations. And I related to the experience of reading contracts without the words settling in any meaningful way in my head.
On the negative side…
Perhaps there wasn’t one. I was irritated by the main character but I think I was meant to be irritated. I wished I’d been given a more concrete outcome but maybe you don’t need one when the outcome is obvious.
Fauna was shortlisted in the Best Science Fiction Novel category for a 2020 Aurealis Award.
The City We Became
by N. K. Jemisin
N. K. Jemisin writes speculative fiction and is the first writer to win three consecutive Best Novel Hugo Awards (the Broken Earth trilogy).
I loved the Broken Earth trilogy but I was glad it was published after The Light Heart of Stone* because we share many motifs and I would have fretted endlessly (as writers tend to do) if my book had arrived after hers.
The City We Became is a very different kind of story. It’s a novel about New York that feels almost documentary in tone but is full of gritty gods.
If recent cultural shifts have got you wondering what fiction is like when whiteness is de-centred, this is a good place to begin reading.
(*The Light Heart of Stone is going to become a free ebook in a couple of months so don’t go and buy it now if you’re feeling curious – I’ll let you know when it’s available for free)
Bring Up the Bodies
by Hilary Mantel
I am late to this series about Thomas Cromwell in Tudor England so you may have read this book and Wolf Hall, which was the first volume. And perhaps you’ve also read the third book, The Mirror & the Light, which I’m yet to read.
I really enjoyed both Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies but I’m curious about the why and how of it. The narration is so dry, dusty, and slow. And Mantel writes endlessly of, ‘He, Cromwell…’ in her curious present tense narration. It’s odd.
Perhaps it’s the odd voicing that works because it is different. We don’t write like that today. Perhaps it’s the unusual lack of moral sentiment that’s appealing. Most contemporary books have their hand on the back of readers’ heads to steer their moral judgement.
And the story itself is fascinating even though you’re reading about one ruthless man helping another ruthless man kill his wife.
Listening & Watching
Machine Learning – Lecture
I know nothing about machine learning but it’s something I want to understand. I listened to this MIT online lecture and found it useful and not too hard to follow. I think it’s a good starting point. If you end up joining me on this journey please let me know (via FB or Insta) what you’re listening to and watching.
Punk Rock – A Sit Com
I loved We Are Lady Parts, which is streaming on Stan (if you’re in Australia). It’s a British teen comedy about a band but it’s pretty different. Here is the trailer.
Patrick Bonello and I are loving the process of making fortnightly episodes of our podcast, OK Smart-ass.
If you haven’t listened, please do. It’s all about tech and culture.
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