Books of Jan.

This month I managed to work my way through 4 books. The goal for this year is to read 50 books this 2016, so anything 4 or  above is all good.

Mr.Penumbra’s 24 hour bookstore – 2.5 / 5

A cool story about a young graduate going through the usual motions of debt, unemployment and relationship woes with some groovy twists and turns. The two main characters are programmers and there is a cool code-breaking thread in the book to accompany the general tech vibe. Throw in a trip to google, a super cool best friend character, well timed nerd references and the book trots along nicely. Great chill read with some nerdy content.

Ready Player One – Ernest Cline – 2.5 / 5

A real fun book mostly set in the VR world, The Oasis. The creator of the Oasis, Almanac, leaves behind a quest for his hidden easter egg inside the Oasis, the prize, his entire fortune and consequently, control of the Oasis.

The book turned out to be more of a young adult read than I expected. Which probably would’ve deterred me from reading it if I had known. But, thankfully I didn’t because I had a fun time reading it. You often feel that same excitement you feel when watching a mate play a video. It does a nifty job of bringing up the theme of ultimate reality as you bounce from the VR world to the real world, all the while the two begin to merge, until the line is blurred completely.

A gamers read. Fun. Here is my favorite part of the book.

“I wish someone had just told me the truth right up front, as soon as I was old enough to understand it. I wish someone had just said: “Here’s the deal, Wade. You’re something called a ‘human being.’ That’s a really smart kind of animal. Like every other animal on this planet, we’re descended from a single-celled organism that lived millions of years ago. This happened by a process called evolution, and you’ll learn more about it But trust me, that’s really how we all got here. There’s proof of it everywhere, buried in the rocks. That story you heard? About how we were all created by a super-powerful dude named God who lives up in the sky? Total bullshit. The whole God thing is actually an ancient fairy tale that people have been telling one another for thousands of years. We made it all up. Like Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. “Oh, and by the way … there’s no Santa Claus or Easter Bunny. Also bullshit. Sorry, kid Deal with it.”

You’re probably wondering what happened before you got here.  An awful lot of stuff, actually.  Once we evolved into humans, things got pretty interesting.  We figured out how to grow food and domesticate animals so we didn’t have to spend all of our time hunting.  Our tribes got much bigger, and we spread across the entire planet like an unstoppable virus.  Then, after fighting a bunch of wars with each other over land, resources, and our made-up gods, we eventually got all of our tribes organized, or civilized, and we continued to fight a lot of wars with each other.  But we also figured out how to do science, which helped us develop technology.  For a bunch of hairless apes, we’ve actually managed to invent some pretty incredible things.  Computers.  Medicine.  Lasers.  Microwave ovens.  Artificial hearts.  Atomic bombs.  We even sent a few guys to the moon and brought them back.  We also created a global communications network that lets us all talk to each other, all around the world, all the time.  Pretty, impressive, right?’‘But that’s where the bad news comes in.  Our global civilization came at a huge cost.  We needed a whole bunch of energy to build it, and we got that energy by burning fossil fuels…  We used up most of this fuel before you got here, and now it’s pretty much all gone.  This means that we no longer have enough energy to keep our civilization running like it was before.  So we’ve had to cut back.  Big-time.  We call this the Global Energy Crisis, and it’s been going on for a while now.’

‘To be honest, the future doesn’t look to bright.  You were born at a pretty crappy time in history.  And it looks like things are only gonna get worse from here on out.  Human civilization is in ‘decline.’  Some people even say it’s ‘collapsing.”

 

We are anonymous – Parmy Olson

full review found here.

Seveneves – Neal Stephenson

Yeh,  reading this was a smooth kinda fun, a clearly written story divided into three parts. Earth goes boom – Exodus and wondering in space – Living the dream in space, back to Earth for ol’ times sake.

The three parts are almost seperate stories, with distinct timelines, themes and characters. This was my first Stephenson, and I loved it. I loved the characters, and the rad plot. There is a cool strain that runs through the book of epigenetics, cloning and the moral complexities and face-muddling conundrums that roll with it. The obvious other theme is that of physics, space and time. The Richard Feynman / Bill Nye character of Doc Dubois is straight up loveable, fantastic and sometimes frustrating.

All in all a long read that leaves you not quite wanting more but pretty darn satisfied with the just masticated tome. I’ll be checking out more Stephenson for sure.

In the Plex – Stephen Levy (incomplete)

The first few chapters cover the beginning of the internet followed by introducing the founders of Google, Brin and Paige. Once the story of Google startup is over you move on to the early challenges of Google and search. But, once that’s over, class gets a bit boring. I got quagmired in “the monetization of search ; Advertising”. I didn’t put down in a fit of disappointment and search engine fury but just never returned.  I blame myself for picking this book mainly because of residual Google fascination from Kat in Mr.Penumbra’s 24 Hour Store. No hard feelings, shelved accordingly.

My February to-read list looks like this :

Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury

This Machine Kills Secrets – Andy Greenberg

The Idealist – Justin Peters

The Sellout – Paul Beatty

Code – Charles Petzold

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