Cool art, OK story. What pushed this well into two-star territory for me was Rocket's tedious warcry: "Blam! Murdered you." (Guess I have a problem wiCool art, OK story. What pushed this well into two-star territory for me was Rocket's tedious warcry: "Blam! Murdered you." (Guess I have a problem with heroes who are cool with murdering folks, even if those folks are war-prone extraterrestrials intent on world domination.) That won't stop me from reading the subsequent volumes, of course....more
The quality of the narrations and of the stories varies. Fun and interesting at times, but probably most meaningful to someone whose had the chance toThe quality of the narrations and of the stories varies. Fun and interesting at times, but probably most meaningful to someone whose had the chance to experience the places, or the storytellers, firsthand....more
Imagine a space opera with the worldbuilding detail of Dune, but one whose first volume (of three) is itself the length of The Lord of the Rings aImagine a space opera with the worldbuilding detail of Dune, but one whose first volume (of three) is itself the length of The Lord of the Rings and which involves an invasion from another dimension that is vaguely described as "hell" or the "afterlife," and you have this novel. Lots of exposition, like Herbert or Tolkien, with enough plot and characterization (and mysterious antagonists) to keep me turning pages. (It didn't hurt that I paid $1 for this monster at a used book sale; that's one of the best bucks I've ever spent!)...more
First, I have to note the amazingly ironic context in which I first heard of this book. In the C-Realm podcast #451, after John Michael Greer mentioneFirst, I have to note the amazingly ironic context in which I first heard of this book. In the C-Realm podcast #451, after John Michael Greer mentioned that his recent science fiction novel Star's Reach is the first to his knowledge that explicitly incorporates science fiction and science fiction fandom, the show's host KMO mentioned this title as another example of science fiction about science fiction. The irony is that the interview (and Greer's work in general) is about the very themes—concern for the environment, climate change, approporiate technology, etc.—that are satirized in this novel.
All of that said, this book is a fun, silly tale about a near-future world in which the "pro-science" folks (i.e., the Angels) live aboard two space stations in virtual exile while the world, or at least the U.S., has been taken over by a ludicrously unbelievable cabal of Christian fundamentalists, New Agers, liberal humanist academics, and radical environmentalists. (Ironically, this last group, in its attempt to stave off global warming by reducing pollution and embracing appropriate technologies, has instead created the next ice age. It's satire, got it?) The plot revolves around two "Angels" who crash on the North Dakota ice sheet in an aborted attempt to harvest a bit of Earth's air and the cadre of science fiction fans who rescue them and plan to send them back into space.
The book is unapologetic in its "libertarian" (more accurately anarcho-capitalist) techno-triumphalist bent, which can be either laudable, laughable, or lamentable, depending on the reader's predilections. I vacillated between the latter two as I made my way through the book.
The book satirizes "anti-science" folks, a broad, uncritical category that includes, among others: religious people; the Moral Majority; New Agers; academics, particularly in the humanities and social sciences; Greens and other environmentalists; ecologists, who apparently aren't "real" scientists; and people who don't want to spend tax money on space exploration. This satire is occasionally funny, always heavy-handed, and oftentimes frustrating, because the authors apparently know as little about the groups they satirize as these groups ostensibly know about science and technology. (Big example: the notion of "appropriate technology," articulated rationally and clearly by E.F. Schumacher, among others, is reduced to a caricature where "appropriate" no longer means "optimal in a given context" but instead is a touchy-feely buzzword implying little more than "inoffensive.")
The authors' portrayal of all these disparate groups as monolithically "anti-science" reduces actual concerns, always serious and oftentimes clearly articulated and well-reasoned, to simplistic anti-science, anti-technology whinging. It also reduces "science" to a simple proposition that one either affirms (wisely, of course) or denies (foolishly, of course). The conspiratorial tone that pervades the novel also does little to explain why, a quarter-century after this novel's publication, the engineering end of my campus has all the enrollments, construction projects, and money, while the liberal arts and humanities continue to languish, even as people become more and more like the gadgets they cannot bear to part with.
The portrayal of the protagonists, the con-crazed science fiction fanatics who live as outcasts and political prisoners in a world where science fiction is outlawed (see note on satire above), is equally heavy-handed and annoying. I have been a lifelong reader and lover of science fiction, and I would never be caught dead hanging out with this crew of monomaniacal, arrogant dorks (they come packed full of "hard science" and overbearing "rational" opinions while utterly lacking any exposure to nuance or subtlety). If this were my introduction to science fiction fandom, I would probably never read science fiction again, just to avoid guilt by association.
It was the end of the Digital Age and the beginning of something new. Society percolated like a river city settling down from a flood. People were ple
It was the end of the Digital Age and the beginning of something new. Society percolated like a river city settling down from a flood. People were pleased with the new order; they'd reclaimed their lives from the machines. Good-humoredly they implemented the necessary changes, working together, fixing one problem at a time. (p. 320)
God's Debris is a slight, mildly provocative pseudo-dialogue between the protagonist—a delivery van driver—and Mr. Avatar, a mystical know-it-all whoGod's Debris is a slight, mildly provocative pseudo-dialogue between the protagonist—a delivery van driver—and Mr. Avatar, a mystical know-it-all who explains the nature of the universe and of humanity's role within it, all in 130 pages.
The book as a whole was OK. Much of it, including the stuff about quantum mechanics and probability, didn't make a whole lot of sense other than to reiterate similar points made in other books on "quantum mysticism," and I am sure it earned the book some one-star reviews from the Angry Atheists.
That said, the general argument propounded by Avatar, that God created the universe by means of God's self-destruction (hence the book's title) and that the evolution of self-aware human beings is the process of creation rebuilding itself from the debris of creation into God one piece of debris at a time, is surprisingly reminiscent of the Kabbalistic cosmology of Isaac Luria, one of the more internally consistent cosmologies with which I am familiar and one which puts some sort of ethical imperative directly at the heart of creation.
Adams makes some interesting observations about people-oriented versus idea-oriented relationships, and I found myself bridging the gap between the two positions in my own relationships, valuing the tactic of asking small questions about others' lives not only to engage in interesting conversations and to build my relationships with those people but also to learn new ideas and perspectives from them.
I also appreciate the skepticism of Skepticism advocated by the book, and its critique of Occam's razor, a useful tool for constructing parsimonious explanations but not the best, perhaps, at deriving rich meaning for life. At this point in my life (a life filled with crazy coincidences) it should come as no surprise that Scott Adams shared his thoughts on why Americans don't trust science at around the same time that I was reading this book, that I found out about that post because of a post on The Archdruid Report, and that this book echoes (however slightly) a great book I recently read and which I was inspired to read because of comments made by the Archdruid John Michael Greer in yet another of his books. And, of course, Adams approaches this very topic of meaningful coincidence in the context of affirmations and paying attention:
"Most people believe they have goals when, in fact, they have only wishes....Such people are unlikely to write affirmations daily because it would be too much effort. And they are unlikely to be successful in any big way."
"So the affirmations are unnecessary?"
"They have a purpose. Writing your goals every day gives you a higher level of focus. It tunes your mind to better recognize opportunities in your environment."
"What do you mean by tuning your mind?"
"Have you ever had the experience where you hear a strange word for the first time, and then soon afterward you hear the same word again?...A person who does affirmations takes mental tuning to a higher level. The process of concentrating on the goal every day greatly increases the likelihood of noticing an opportunity in the environment. The coincidence will create the illusion that writing down the goal causes the environment to produce opportunities. But in reality the only thing that changes is the person's ability to notice the opportunities. I don't mean to minimize that advantage because the ability to recognize opportunities is essential to success." (116, 118)
Four hundred or so years from now, the landscape of North America has changed dramatically. Memfis, a port city on the Gulf of Meyco, is the largest cFour hundred or so years from now, the landscape of North America has changed dramatically. Memfis, a port city on the Gulf of Meyco, is the largest city in Meriga, if not in the world; ruinmen and their guilds combine urban exploration with resource mining, turning rebar and I-beams from decrepit structures into much needed raw materials; and people still remember stories about the times a half-millennium before when their ancestors not only spoke with beings from other worlds, but landed on a few of those worlds themselves.
In this setting, Greer tells the story (in a voice at times reminiscent of Huck Finn's) of one of these ruinmen, Trey sunna Gwen; the ancient map he discovered in the hands of a mummified corpse deep in a ruin in Shanuga, Tinisi; Star's Reach, the place the map took him and his friends, where earlier human beings had indeed communicated with extraterrestrials; and the larger world in which this voyage of discovery unfolds. Greer includes a painfully ironic comment on the role of today's science fiction in perpetuating what he calls the Myth of Progress, and his acceptance of the reality of intelligent extraterrestrial life is tempered by a sobering revelation from the galactic community (view spoiler)[: that all technologically advanced species out there have experienced similar resource overdrafts and civilizational collapses as those facing 21st century H. sapiens, and that, in spite of all of the advances of all of these species, FTL interstellar travel remains an impossibility. What does exist could be described as an interstellar community of ham radio enthusiasts who endure lifetime-long lags between broadcasts. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>...more
If you want to play in Creative Mode, you really don't need this book. If you plan to play in Survival Mode and don't have your teenager around to ansIf you want to play in Creative Mode, you really don't need this book. If you plan to play in Survival Mode and don't have your teenager around to answer your questions, this is a good volume to have on hand.
The tag line says it all: "What if you had a magical superpower and it hated your guts?" In this surprisingly funny and entertaining comic, an objectThe tag line says it all: "What if you had a magical superpower and it hated your guts?" In this surprisingly funny and entertaining comic, an object of power akin to Thor's hammer Mjölnir inadvertently seeks out as its wielder a 30-something loser who still lives in his mother's basement whilst inexplicably bedding a bookishly sexy girlfriend. And this loser kicks some serious ass; the dude takes on a lich, for fecksake! ...more