Sunday Status Update: November 21, 2021

Kat:  I continue to listen to Marissa Meyer’s LUNAR CHRONICLES with my daughter. We finished the third book, Cress, last night. We’ll be starting the fourth one, Winter, today. I’m also reading Poul Anderson’s The Boat of a Million Years. It’s long, so it will probably take me a while.

Bill: We’re into the first stage of final papers now, so not a lot of reading this week or coming up beyond those. The only finished book was via audio, the excellent Some Assembly Required by Neil Shubin, a look at the evolution of life.  The rest was all video.  Both of us absolutely loved Shang-Chi and are already looking forward to watching it again when our son returns home from college.  I watched the first three episodes of Wheel of Time and was generally unimpressed (review coming). Meanwhile, Star Trek: Prodigy is quickly becoming one of my favorite Star Trek incarnations even as the first episode  of the new season of Discovery reminded me why it’s my least favorite.

Marion: I finished Stephen Graham Jones’s  novella Night of the Mannequins, a horror-comedy. Once again, Jones delivers us directly into the mind of a very troubled person, a young man who has chosen a hard, numerical road to heroism. The comic aspects fade pretty quickly as Sawyer’s efforts to save his town from the killer mannequin get more drastic. On the heels of that I read Sara Gailey’s The Echo Wife. Am I the only one at Fanlit who thinks this is a horror story? Right now I’m ⅔ of the way through Kij Johnson’s The Dream Quest of Vellit Boe, a beautiful pastiche of a Lovecraft favorite–and I’m stunned as usual by the power and clarity of Johnson’s prose.

Tim: As the new Wheel of Time series began on Amazon Prime this last week, I’ve been listening to Robert Jordan‘s The Eye of the World again to brush up. It’s a strange feeling to reread early WHEEL OF TIME at this point – this is a book that I loved in my teens, so I feel that lingering nostalgic warmth for it, but time and changing interests have also reduced some of its effect. It’s like pulling on a favorite sweater rediscovered at the back of the closet – you remember how cozy and pleasant it used to be, but you’ve changed weight since then and worn lots of other things, and all of a sudden you can’t remember exactly why this particular sweater was your favorite. Oh, it’s still a good old sweater, but you kind of lament that the special luster is gone.


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TIM SCHEIDLER, who's been with us since June 2011, holds a Master's Degree in Popular Literature from Trinity College Dublin. Tim enjoys many authors, but particularly loves J.R.R. Tolkien, Robin Hobb, George R.R. Martin, Neil Gaiman, and Susanna Clarke. When he’s not reading, Tim enjoys traveling, playing music, writing in any shape or form, and pretending he's an athlete.

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3 comments

  1. Paul Connelly /

    It feels a little like stepping into a time machine, but The Road Ahead is not science fictional. It’s a 1995 book by Bill Gates predicting the future of the “information superhighway” that everyone was expecting to arrive within the decade. Gates is a smart guy and gets many things right about the future of networks and what ordinary people would get by connecting into one worldwide network. But there are misfires too.

    Like most experts at the time, Gates wasn’t sure the existing internet was anything more than a trial run for what the “real” information highway would be. He gives credence to what was then a popular tech press idea that people would be connecting via an interactive TV with a computerized “set-top box” in their living room…since most people in 1995 sat in front of their living room TV for many of their non-work hours. And he predicts the form factor of a “wallet-sized” portable computer, but doesn’t envision that sneaking in the back door as a super-powered cell phone. Most tellingly, he mentions some problems like hacking, trolls, viruses and misinformation, but seems to minimize how seriously they would affect the interactive experience of typical users. It’s an interesting trip to the last century and to what now seems like an era of innocence forever lost.

    • “Futurists” usually don’t get the details exactly right, do they? I think they’re good at capturing the zeitgeist, and the general direction–but details, whether nonfiction or fiction, are sometimes so wrong they’re funny.

      • Paul Connelly /

        Yes, and often multiple futurists seem to be wrong in the same way in the same time period. Gates is not quite as utopian as technophiles like George Gilder (on the right wing) and Stewart Brand (on the left libertarian side), but they all downplay the issue of how bad actors (whether governments, companies or individuals) will be highly motivated to take advantage of new technology. Many longstanding human problems get wished away when we envision the future.

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