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Thanks as always CR for hosting the Ménage! It is always a pleasure to discuss books here. I will most certainly recommend both Technocreep and Old Man’s War to others. In fact, my Dad saw me reading Technocreep and already expressed an interest in borrowing it. I also will probably read more Scalzi in the future, but I would prefer to try a standalone book. I don’t think I will continue with the OMW series unless someone is able to convince me otherwise. I do see the connection between the two books and why you put them together and that quote is just perfect! But I still feel that the technology in OMW is light years beyond what Keenan is suggesting in Technocreep. However, the idea of technology first seeming strange and then commonplace has to be as old as the advent of discovering fire, no? There will probably always be a portion of the population who are early adopters and another portion who will hold back (“I don’t use the internet, I only use facebook”) until the technology is either obsoleted (betamax, the telegraph, steam engines etc.) or absorbed in to our everyday life (automobiles, microwaves, the telephone, etc.).
Toggle Commented Aug 7, 2015 on Book Menage Day Four: Wrap-up at Citizen Reader
1. What did you think of the premise of this book (old people reconfigured to fight wars away from planet Earth)? Technocreep didn’t discuss the sort of bioengineering such as cloning or mixing human DNA with animal or “alien” DNA, which is a huge premise of OMW. As I am aware, this is not yet possible because despite the fact for example that pigs’ hearts are similar to human hearts, you can’t just stick a human heart in a pig and expect it to work or vice versa. Even the transplant of human organs to other human’s is difficult and not always possible. So. the premise of OMW for me was totally out there because as of yet, humans have not yet (a) encountered alien life; (b) figured out how to send humans beyond our solar system in a timely fashion that won’t kill them; (c)figured out how to successfully clone and/or bioengineer humans; or (d) successfully implant technology (such as brain pal) into humans. That said, were this all possible, I guess it makes sense to reconfigure the aged to make expendable soldiers. I mean, I have a problem with considering humans (or even animals) as expendable, cloned or not cloned. I also think that OMW presents a fairly bleak view of the future: Same shit, just somewhere else. But to sort of get into question 3, I think this bleak “human nature will never change” attitude is not atypical of a lot of science fiction. I think that there are a lot of moral/ethical issues that are raised in OMW but not really addressed. I don’t think Scalzi wanted to write a “thinking person’s” science fiction novel exploring the ethics of reconfiguring senior citizens to fight in alien wars, just a kick ass one where lots of stuff gets blown up and soldiers do “cool” and heroic things. You know what gets me? I honestly cannot imagine many grandmothers at age 75 agreeing to say good bye to their children and grandchildren like that. Maybe if they had never had children or if their children and grandchildren had pre-deceased them. 2. How would you feel about someone using your DNA to create clones/future soldiers? If I am dead, I don’t care if anyone uses my DNA to clone a replica of me. She would look like me, but would not be “me” and I presume that the clone would have her own free will. If I am alive, however, this would not be OK. I don’t want to live forever and I don’t think that humans should try to. 3. I don't read a lot of SF. Would you consider this a well-done example of the genre? Did you like it? I also don’t read a lot of SF but I do know that Scalzi is very popular among those who do and the OMW series in particular. However, compared to the other plain old fiction books that I enjoy, I did not think this book was all that great. It was entertaining, but fairly flat in terms of characterizations. When Thomas bites it about half way through, I had to remind myself who he was and why I should care about him. I liked Red Shirts by Scalzi more, but mostly because of the Star Trek angle. The first half of it really took me back to thinking about what I loved about the T.V. show(s). The science fiction books I have really loved thus far have been books that really make the me ponder not the future but the present: books like Slaughter House 5 by Kurt Vonnegut, The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. le Guin or Kindred by Octavia Butler. And I love The Hitchhiker’s Guide books, but mostly because they are silly.
1. I would describe Technocreep as a brief overview of what certain computer based technologies can do now, which might surprise some readers, and what such technologies might be developed to do in the future, for better or worse; this book might be a gentle wake up call for some or a blaring trumpet for others, depending upon one’s familiarity and comfort level with certain technologies (and belief in human kindness!). 2. The potential of using a 3-D printer to perfectly match limbs to provide better prosthetics was one of the more heartening ideas in Technocreep. I think the most disturbing thing about the internet which is alluded to in the book (but I was aware of its existence previously) is the distribution of child pornography in the “dark web”. I don’t understand how everyone can know of its existence and yet law enforcement cannot pursue the people who produce it and prosecute them? Personally, I think that should be a priority. Other than that, I wasn’t too freaked out…or let’s say not any more freaked out that I was already! Don't get me wrong. I don't like the idea of identity theft or anyone spying on me any more than the next guy. It is just that these fears were not new to me. 3. I don't think that Technocreed made me think all too differently about technology, surveillance, the future, and/or privacy. I did, however, take a good look at some of the suggestions in the last chapter for reducing one’s risk. Some of this I do already, but there were a few other good tips, such as using a prepaid credit card for certain transactions, that I had not thought of.
Hi CR, I heard about a NF book on the Reading Envy Podcast titled "The Victorian Internet: The Remarkable Story of the Telegraph and the Nineteenth Century's On-line Pioneers" written by Tom Standage. In the course of the podcast, the person discussing the Standage book (which he liked very much) mentioned that there were plenty of people in the 1800s who were sure that the Telegraph would destroy civilization or they were sure that it was the answer to world peace, etc… So humans haven’t really changed much, it’s the technology we use that has changed. Knowing things like that helps me puts some of the fear into perspective for me. And the tradeoff is that now maybe you will die of cancer caused indirectly by frakking or emissions from your cell phone or whatever, but you probably will not die of puerperal fever (to reference a previous Menage).
1. I would have potentially read Old Man’s War on my own eventually. I am trying to read more sci-fi/fantasy this year, in particular the more “canonical works”. I just finished Heinlein’s Starship Troopers earlier in July and Old Man’s War definitely has echoes of Heinlein’s work. Plus, I read Scalzi’s Red Shirts a couple of years ago and liked it, so he was a modern sci-fi writer who was already on my radar. I probably would not have picked up Technocreep were it not for the Menage. I don’t read much non-fiction at all and if I do, it is typically memoir or history. Rightly or wrongly, I am just not that interested in technology. 2. How did you feel about "the future," after reading one or both of these books? Honestly I don’t think there is any change in my feelings. I haven’t finished Technocreep yet, I have about 100 pages to go. But so far nothing in it has really weirded me out… it is either behavior that I am already aware of or it seems plausible as the next step. The future depicted in Old Man’s War still seems very far apart from what Thomas Keenan is prognosticating. I see some overlap, like contact lenses that can work as cameras, 3-D printing of limbs, etc. But what Scalzi imagines seems to me to still be way, way beyond what Keenan is envisioning.
I mean "library copy".
Toggle Commented Jul 24, 2015 on Book Menage 2015: Reminder at Citizen Reader
I think if I had been asked 15 years ago if I liked thrillers, I would have said YES. Now I don’t think I could state that so unequivocally. I do like plots that surprise me, and thrillers often fit this bill, however sometimes genre books can be too formulaic for me to enjoy. I think there is some rational in their histories for why Amy and Nick are the way they are in Gone Girl (Nick’s relationship with his father, Amy’s parents using her as fodder for their books)…but I also think they both might be undiagnosed sociopaths or narcissists. I do like explanations (or hints) in books as to why characters behave the way they do as long as it isn’t too neat; a hard childhood does not always equal a murderous adult.
I checked this out from the library and then could not for the life of me remember where I had read the recommendation. It was you CR! It was this very post. I liked this book, but I liked Gone Girl more, because the plot was crazier and darker, or maybe more overtly crazy and dark. I would say, however, that Amy and Nick Dunn are just as uninteresting and unlikable as Jodie and Todd, but I liked reading about them.
I also recently read this for the first time a couple of weeks ago and wasn’t super impressed. I think I would have found it more profound had I read it at 12 or 13. I agree that there are some logical leaps that are there only to serve the plot and I generally found it to be less than subtle with its message of conformity = bad, diversity=good. However, I think this is probably a great book for tweens and teens because that transition from childhood to adulthood is exactly when one begins to become cognitive of the fact that life isn’t fair, that everyone can’t be a winner, that s**t happens even to good people. I am also with hapax in liking the ambiguity of the end.
Toggle Commented Apr 7, 2014 on A disappointing YA read. at Citizen Reader
I have never read any Robin Cook, but I do remember the movie trailer for Coma with Michael Douglas. I think thrillers have to be read quickly. If I read them slowly, I start seeing plot contrivances that begin to bother me. I do love getting lost in a book that is almost pure plot, however, regardless of whether it is thriller, mystery, sci-fi...well, anything but romance.
Oh, you can count me as a Stacy Horn convert too. I bought and read "Waiting for my Cats to Die". I loved it. Use your power wisely CR. :)
Toggle Commented Feb 21, 2014 on Another Helene Hanff stunner. at Citizen Reader
I read in Wikipedia that in the second edition of Underfoot in Show Business “Moss Hart” was changed to “Noel Coward”. Would that have made any difference to you CR? I loved 84, Charing Cross Road, but I was less enamored of her two follow ups. Still, I agree, Hanff was a remarkable character. Thanks for the link, that was fun. Awww, Stacy dedicated the video to you! I read the book because of you too. I wonder how many converts are due to you?
Toggle Commented Feb 20, 2014 on Another Helene Hanff stunner. at Citizen Reader
I loved The Warden and hope you enjoy it as much as I do. I have managed since to read Barchester Towers (a favorite of many, but the first book still has the number 1 place in my heart) and Dr. Thorne. The “new to me” author for this year is going to be Sheridan Le Faneau. I have Uncle Silas on schedule to be read soon. I like Dickens and Wilkie Collins, so I hope this will be as good.
Toggle Commented Jan 16, 2014 on This year ... at Cornflower Books
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I love spreadsheets and I hate math. I have been using goodreads to track my reading for a few years, but I also keep a spreadsheet of what I read and books I want to read. I put in the titles, author, year of publication, nationality and gender of the author, fiction or non-fiction, if I own the book or if it is a library copy and where I got the recommendation, if any. Totally nerdy, but I love looking at it and seeing the ratio of owned vs borrowed books (about 50%) and stuff like that.
I am also reading the Ivan Morris translation. I had vaguely heard of The Pillow Book before, but I thought it was fiction, I didn’t realize it was a memoir of sorts and I had no idea it was so old. I haven’t finished yet, but since there is no plot, I am in no hurry and am reading it in small doses like Susie. I am not that keen on the lists of mountains and bodies of water, since I have no point of reference, but I do like the insight to a culture so far removed by both time and location from my own. And yet, there are so many times when Shonagon writes something that absolutely feels contemporary – plus ca change, I guess. The edition I am reading has a whole second volume of notes, but even with this, I can’t make heads or tails of the complicated social hierarchy described. I think it is interesting that in this strict upper class structure where men and women were physically separated most of the time that affairs between men and women were seemingly encouraged and tolerated. It sort of reminds me of the licentious behavior of the aristocracy during the Restoration Period in England that I have read about. I am also fascinated by the influence of China on Japan that the notes reveal. I also keep thinking of the story of Cinderella which apparently originated in China. It seems fitting that such a story would come from a culture where so much of the feminine is hidden, where only a glimpse of a sleeve arouses speculation about the woman behind the screen. This is only the second Japanese book I have ever read, the first being the Makioka Sisters by Jun’ichiro. But I would like to read The Tale of the Geinji someday.
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Sometimes it is nice to take direction. :)
Toggle Commented Nov 14, 2013 on The therapeutic triumvirate. at Citizen Reader
OMG! This is what happens when I step away from reading blogs for a while. Congratulations on your newest little reader. Can we call him CR3?
Toggle Commented Nov 14, 2013 on She got me through again. at Citizen Reader
This was a re-read for me too. It is a slow book despite its length and I found that it was much easier to read the second time around. There is a lot of tension when you don’t know who is going to die which dissipates when the reader is aware of the outcome. Removing that sense of foreboding and a familiarity with the characters really enabled me to savor the details and admire how Colgate packs so much in in so few pages. In answer to Cornflower’s question, I would say the book is both slow and studied AND a perfect portrait of time and place. I think the undercurrent of WWI looming on the horizon is deftly done, since only the reader is aware of it, not the characters. The war surely only hastened the demise of that way of life. I have obtained a copy of the film, but haven’t watched it yet. Time ran away from me. But I will get to it. As much as I admire this book, I haven’t given any thought to seeking out any further books by Colgate, however. I am not sure why that is. Especially when last month’s pick by Jane Gardam inspired me to delve into her back catalogue post-haste.
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I liked A River Runs Through It. What I most appreciated about it was you had to read it quite slowly and carefully because what was not written is as important as what is written, if that makes any sense. I read it along with the other two MacLean stories in the library copy I checked out. I think, however, my expectations were pretty high. All three stories gave off a whiff of "manly men". You know, men fish and fight and booze and whore and don't talk about much and women stay home and clean up the mess or are whores and don't count for much. I had a hard time reconciling the picture of the old guy on the back cover with someone who would get in a fist fight or fight a forest fire or whatever...but apparently all three stories are fairly autobiographical.
Toggle Commented Oct 1, 2013 on A to Z Bookish Survey. at Citizen Reader
I love this meme. Care at also did it last week. I am with you on the Reading Regret. I think I could have answered the One Book You Have Read Multiple Times for you (I have yet to get to that one!). I knew that you liked Norman Maclean, but I didn't know your reason was so personal. I am glad you were able to find solace in that book. I read it myself earlier this year.
Toggle Commented Oct 1, 2013 on A to Z Bookish Survey. at Citizen Reader
I also really enjoyed Crusoe’s Daughter. I have not read Robinson Crusoe, so I am intrigued by Laura’s comment above that familiarity with the Stevenson book adds an extra layer to the Gardam novel. I have Old Filth on my TBR since I heard a number of glowing reviews from various bloggers a couple of years ago. I just haven’t gotten around to reading it yet. But I need to obviously move it up in the pile because I was very impressed with the writing and the story telling in Crusoe’s daughter. In some ways, the story was Dickensian, but at a quarter of the length of a typical Victorian novel! I agree also with Cornflower that it was both moving and funny and was also a bit reminded in Lady Celia of Mrs. Fischer from The Enchanted April. One particular bit I found very thoughtful and thought provoking, was part of Polly’s ambitious lesson plan as she is approaching the boy’s school to teach her first class. She thinks “Every serious novel must in some degree and unnoticeably carry the form further. Novel must be ‘novel’. To survive – like the blob in the ocean, the seed, it must hold in itself some fibrous strength, some seemingly preposterous new quality, catch some unnoticed angle of light-and unselfconsciously. It may fail- but better to be sorry than safe. All the time it must entertain. No polemics. No camouflaged sermons.” What did the others think about the dialogue at the very end? That was the only bit that I didn’t love. It was a bit startling.
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As I teenager, I remember reading Stephan King’s The Shining in my room and screaming in fright when my sister opened the door to tell me dinner was ready. As an adult, this type of immersion is certainly less common. I used to live in a city where I could take a commuter train to work and I usually read on the train. I never missed my stop in 8 or 9 years of commuting because of reading. The back of my mind was always aware of where I was and when I needed to look up.
Toggle Commented Sep 24, 2013 on Lost in a book at Cornflower Books
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You know, I say I love Kurt Vonnegut, but I honestly cannot remember the plot of many of his books that I know I read. Guess it is time for a re-read of them all. My favorite has to be Slaughterhouse 5 and Galapagos, because I do remember (most) of those two.
Toggle Commented Sep 23, 2013 on Two for two on Drew Magary. at Citizen Reader
Your description of the plot of "Postmortal" reminds me of a short story by Kurt Vonnegut I once read.
Toggle Commented Sep 20, 2013 on Two for two on Drew Magary. at Citizen Reader
Well, the ringing endorsement comes from the bit about her best writing comes from sections about reading and writing! I love reading about reading.