This book is one of the best, most eye-opening books I've read in a long time. It illuminates for me one of the mysteries that has long puzzled me - tThis book is one of the best, most eye-opening books I've read in a long time. It illuminates for me one of the mysteries that has long puzzled me - the assassination of Julius Caesar. His death never really made sense to me in the context of the civil fighting that went on before and after him. Most people will say Caesar was killed because he was acting like a king, too big for his britches, made the wrong enemies, trusted his rivals too much, blah, blah, blah.
This book encouraged the reader to follow the money, and it described a Rome where the rich Romans were exploiting the crap out the populace - stealing their land, charging rents and interest rates that would make a loan shark blush, screwing over their veterans . . . basically the same shenanigans that American bankers and our elite are up to today.
Caesar tried to slow down this theft, just a little bit, and was assassinated, just one in a long line of popular Roman reformers before him. I don't know if we would call him a Democrat by today's standards, but his political faction, the populares, were met with violence and death by the plutocrats in the optimates party.
The book is an astounding rebuke not only of the rich kleptocrats who fought against Caesar, and the Gracchus brothers, and all of the other reformers who came before and were killed, but of the generations of historians that have come after and have basically taken the side of Cicero, Brutus, Cato, and Crassus against the people of Rome. Parenti exposes the subtle and extremely unsubtle bias towards these rich schemers in the writings of historians down the ages. For good measure, he exposes Cicero as a cowardly over-reactor, and the "Cataline Conspiracy" as the nothing-burger it seems to have been.
History echoes and rhymes, and being able to put Caesar's struggle and death in the context of the class struggle brings extraordinary explanatory power to bear. This is a well written, and important, book. ...more
I guess I can see roughly what the big deal was when these books came out in the eighties. Cyberspace, filled with avatars for pockets of data, hackerI guess I can see roughly what the big deal was when these books came out in the eighties. Cyberspace, filled with avatars for pockets of data, hackers, artificial intelligences, money. Drugs, the intersection of the fabulously wealthy and the poor, and SHAPE. Gibson is big into the SHAPE of things, and this obsession with form (on further display in Pattern Recognition) shows in the way he describes his characters.
The novel follows four story lines that eventually converge. People meet for the first time, are reunited, are killed, are drugged, are subsumed into the matrix of the network. Cyberaliens, AIs, the entertainment industry, and organized crime get thrown into the mix for good measure. It isn't clear what any of it is supposed to amount to. Still, it is an entertaining read, and Gibson is one of the better writers in science fiction - he can create memorable images with a precise turn of phrase in a way that many others cannot. ...more
Rogues is an excellent anthology of short stories that for the most part feature protagonists that are a bit outside of social norms and law. The storRogues is an excellent anthology of short stories that for the most part feature protagonists that are a bit outside of social norms and law. The stories come from every genre, but have been apparently been chosen for their level of fun and mischief. Thoroughly enjoyable. ...more
It is sad to realize that someone whose work you had admired in the past has had their intellect eaten away by watching too much Fox News. In FlashbacIt is sad to realize that someone whose work you had admired in the past has had their intellect eaten away by watching too much Fox News. In Flashback, Simmons basically channels all of his old white guy fear into a future of the United States that incorporates all of the conservative boogiemen, no matter how nonsensical or even contradictory they are. Let's see how many ways we can think of that the scary foreigners can sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids, shall we?
The inscrutable Japanese, of course, who have all the money and are too disciplined to get hooked on drugs, the way we decadent Westerners do, take over most of the United States except for
the Reconquista of the fecund Mexicans, who carve out an Aztlan in the Southwest, except for
the Caliphate of scary Muslims who control everything else, except for
the dirty hippies of Boulder, Colorado, who somehow manage to be both liberal and fascist, of course, and
the Texans, who despite having no concept of government, what it's for, and how to manage it, have the only working piece of 'Merica! left.
Oh, what else? Global warming a laughable joke. Electric cars geld everyone. The youth are violent and drug-addled. Civilization is in a handbasket, riding swiftly on the down escalator.
Our protagonist is an aging, white, drug-addicted widower, who overcomes his drug addiction long enough to rescue his misguided son and fight against all of the awful foreigners and liberals and solve mysteries and get off my lawn!!!
Basically, this is Bill O'Reilly's nightmare, and you'd think Dan Simmons, who pulled off one of the major modern science fictions coups with the Hyperion books, would be smarter than this. I'd love to believe this is a satire, but this book doesn't display the wit and humor such a satire would require. Buy this book for your conservative uncle, he'll love it. ...more