Saturday, November 28, 2009

Memory, a blog of past and future

A legend of Past and future. By Mike Resnick
My wife picked this up at a book sale, and introduced me to a great new author.

Mike Resnick really has a talent for storytelling. This one is told in 12 parts, each taking place in a different time or place in the past and future. Each section starts with a monologue from the mind of a Kilimanjaro elephant, the largest land mammal. It follows his journey at the end of his life to Mount Kilimanjaro, the African mountain of god, to his death. Each segment of the book shares the elephant as its common theme, and more importantly for the title, the Ivory Tusks of this, the greatest of elephants.

The elephant is called by many names throughout the book, Malimba Temboz, (the mountain that walks), Tembo Laibon, (King of the Elephants) Mrefu Kulika Twiga (Taller than Giraffes) Bwana Mutaro (Master Furrow). The tusks of the Kilimanjaro Elephant, which are currently in the Museum of Natural History, locked in a vault in London, are lost to the ages by 6303 AD but the last member of the Maasai tribe commissions a search for them. Without ruining the story, the search takes Duncan Rojas, the senior researcher of “Braxton’s Records of Big Game” through the history of the Ivory all the way back to the death of the elephant and the reason why the last of a forgotten race is spending millions just to find this elephant’s tusks.
The depth of the detail of the African veldt seamlessly blends with the fantastic starscapes of the future. Each character is painted with depth and richness that refreshing to see.

I feel more in touch with Africa after reading this novel. My parents were missionaries to South Africa from 1986-1990. I turned 6 immediately after we arrived back in the states. I was very young, but my impressionable young mind has vivid memories of the complex blends of culture, animism, and connection to the land that the people have. I found myself reliving my past, remembering things and places that I had not thought of for a long time.

This story has a profound power to draw in the reader, each segment of the story pulling toward the end, the solution to the mystery, the culmination of the story.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.

This is the opening line of Neuromancer, By William Gibson.

This book has been called the bible of cyberpunk, a fascinating blend of high technology and low life crime and culture.

Whatever it has been called, I call it intense, penetrating, thought provoking, disturbing, enticing, and depressing.

for a brief overview, Case, I forget his first name, because he's not called by it after the first chapter, is a down on his luck cyber cowboy. that is potentially the greatest understatement ever.... What actually is his predicament is this: Super talented hacker, manipulator of cyberspace, computers, and code. Steals from his employers, who then give him a mycotoxin, basically an organic compound that fries his brain just enough to prevent him from ever jacking into cyperspace again. So, basically, take the one thing you're good at, and sizzle it away.

the start of the book finds Case in a bar, high on whatever he can find, paranoid about his dealings with the scum of this seamy underworld in a city called Chiba in Japan. From technical wonderboy to petty low level hustler, Case is basically treading the edge, hoping that this life will kill him, even as he strives to continue to make a buck, score his next hit, and not piss off the wrong people.

Enter Armitage, who (spoiler alert) is not who he seems to be, and is being heavily influenced by a character introduced later. Armitage offers Case a job, and has some black market doctors perform a procedure that reverses the nerve damage in Case's brain. Oh and he also tells Case after he wakes up that he also had them put tiny sacs of the toxin in his blood that will break down in a few weeks, so he better stay in line...

Well maybe I won't spoil the ending. Read the book, it's worth it.

now for the response: Reading this book 26 years after it is written, I'm floored by the accuracy of detail that Gibson used so long ago to describe the realm of cyberspace, this "collective, voluntary hallucination". And even if we all don't run around in cyberspace in a 3D virtual reality, how much of our world is digital, and full of hackers, cyber cowboys, and hustlers? How long will it be before we create an A.I. capable of transcending the boundary of sentience? Maybe never, and maybe soon. 26 years ago, William Gibson compared the use of cyberspace to a drug. now we have facebook. Science fiction: crazy imagination, or predictive prehistory?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The adjectives of headaches

Pounding, splitting, terrible, bad, migraine, sinus, stress, sugar, tension.

I think it's dumb that heads hurt. Mine does, so the post today will be colored ( or coloured) by a dull ache that started sometime last night in my cerebellum. I suppose it could be something tragic like a life threatening illness, but I'm fairly certain it's just your average garden variety headache.

Today's post is not happening in the hours between 11 pm and 1 am, so that is something notable.

I've thought a lot recently about what to do with my life, and where to send my resume. There are many options open to me, regardless of the struggling economic conditions. I will graduate in less than seven months, and will join the minority of American college graduates. And the skill set that I have is particularly versatile, in that I can work in any mass medium. I could do news sales, outdoor marketing, public relations, political communication, radio or TV broadcasting, not for profit organization promotion, or anything I want to.

But how do I decide? I've been recently struck by the state of the current generation and the generation following us. Suicide, addiction, promiscuity, eating disorders, bullying, sex-ting, iPhones giving us up to the minute information about who's betraying who, iPods tuning out real world interactions, iTunes giving us a way to organize our pirated music, and the list goes on.

We really are in trouble, or will be soon. and I want to do something with my life that will hold back a few people from plummeting over the precipice into this consuming consumerism that is the USA. Maybe non-profit is the way I need to look.

But then I wouldn't make any money.
And then I wouldn't have my 8 car, 3 person family.
And my 52 bedroom house.
Or my 25 bedroom summer cottage.
Or my lear jet.
or my 1000$ shoes.

After all, what really matters is who makes the most money, right?

Saturday, October 3, 2009

On Time

Our lives are scheduled in so many ways. In our current culture, the clock governs so much. The calendar marches onward, and the tragedy of wasted time is the worst act that one can commit.

But we are hemmed in more by our concept of time than actual time itself. Time goes no slower for one than it does for another. The snail has just as many hours as the roadrunner. The roadrunner has just as few hours as the snail. our days have been measured out like grains of sand in an hourglass.

So, Senior projects, internships, college, career, deadlines, due dates, all of these are constructs of our mind. Fabrications of our united effort to stress each other out, to make us so busy that we miss the timelessness of life.

In the big picture, there are few real issues that are constrained by time.

We really cannot abandon the tracks of time, but perhaps we can evaluate how hard we try to adhere to an imagined concept. If the whole culture is imagining the same thing, does it really make it true? Do we really believe the world will end, or our carriage will turn into a pumpkin if the clock strikes midnight and we are still at the ball?

We do, and we shouldn't.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Halo O.D.S.T. (Orbital Drop Shock Trooper) came out yesterday... kind of want to play it, because I've played all the other Halo games... I'm wondering at the name though, why don't you just call it Halo T.G.W.T.R.L.A. (The Game With The Really Long Acronym) but maybe that was already taken...

In other news I'm starting to get a little behind in school... or at least I feel like it.. When I look over my syllabi, I'm doing ok... could be paranoia.

Which brings me to my paranoia. I'm pretty much paranoid about lots. Government, Media, etc. I wonder sometimes if I've got my own little version of the Truman show... but then I realize that's not realistic. but it could happen. says my brain. and they are out there. they know.
I don't know exactly who "they" are.

This is not very interesting as a whole, but if you think about how much information this gives about my life and psyche, then it is. psyche....

That reminds me of this book that I read once. actually I think i read it twice....
Till we have faces, by C.S. Lewis. a tragedy, a myth retold. How can the gods meet us face to face til we have faces?

How can we tell people who we are til we know who we are? How can we understand the world around us until we understand ourselves?

I should maybe read that again. I think i have it....
I'll get a pen and paper one day and write down my total life reading list, as best i can remember. mostly I'll go through our bookshelves and write down the ones I have and have read.... would that be an interesting blog?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Why Sci Fi?

I'm so clever... or something.

Science fiction has a bad rap I think... The Star.... Trek.. talking in spurts.... must save.... the universe... that didn't help, and neither did the sci fi horror genre, with puppets and goo representing our greatest fears.

But sci fi is so much more than that. Maybe later I will elaborate some on the variety inside the sci fi umbrella, but for now, I'll just call it all sci fi.

In all science fiction, the world that the author creates is based, however loosely, on our own. The characters, however alien, came from a human mind. So, now whether there is a space invasion of a poor defenseless planet, a vicious space battle between dreadnoughts and battleships, with lasers and photon/neutron/proton torpedoes, the world that spans galaxies has roots in our own.

which brings me to the answer to the question: we can understand where we are, where we have come from, and where we are going in the context of science fiction. the farther we try to deviate from our reality, the more we define what that reality is. the more we set forth what "alien" is, we define what it means to be human. Science Fiction sets us free from the chains of how things have to be, and pushes us into a realm where anything is possible, because in the future, we have (insert futuristic, vaguely scientific device name here) which means we can go farther, live longer, fight better, learn more.

So of all the various genres, Science Fiction is my preference, for the aforesaid reasons.

More later.

Friday, September 11, 2009

How will this look?

I'm wondering if this should be a: a place whereI unleash my random, useless knowledge, b:a blistering social/political commentary, c: a book review (primarily science fiction, but other genres sometimes) d: an emo blog, full of musings about the hardships of life, and poetry, or e:a nerdy game/technology review.

thoughts from my few followers will be considered.... I may just do all 5 of these, randomly and without pattern. That was repetitive, and redundant.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Long overdue

I've been meaning to blog for quite some time. And now that I've created one, I don't exactly have an earth shattering post to start it off. But the blog is begun, and my thoughts will now have another forum to be received, ignored, criticized, lauded or whatever.

Stay tuned.