Warning: Declaration of TarskiCommentWalker::start_lvl(&$output, $depth, $args) should be compatible with Walker_Comment::start_lvl(&$output, $depth = 0, $args = Array) in /hsphere/local/home/ackerfors/snigel.nu/wp-content/themes/tarski/library/classes/comment_walker.php on line 0 Warning: Declaration of TarskiCommentWalker::start_el(&$output, $comment, $depth, $args) should be compatible with Walker_Comment::start_el(&$output, $comment, $depth = 0, $args = Array, $id = 0) in /hsphere/local/home/ackerfors/snigel.nu/wp-content/themes/tarski/library/classes/comment_walker.php on line 0 Olle Linge - Languages, literature and the pursuit of dreams · Search results for william gibson

Search Results

Your search for william gibson returned the following results.

Titel: Virtual Light
Författare: William Gibson
Utgivningsår: 1993
Recenserad: 2007-01-24
Status:
N/A

Anledningen till att jag läste Virtual Light är egentligen rätt slumpartad. I helgen hjälpte jag Caroline och Hannes att flytta och bland annat flyttades det kassar med böcker. Överst i en av dessa låg William Gibsons bok Virtual Light. Jag har alltid gillat Gibson och det inspirerade mig att få tag på boken själv.

Virtual Light är den första boken i en ganska löst sammanhängande trilogi, följd av Idoru och Al Tomorrows Parties. Jag har sedan tidigare läst Idoru och jag måste säga att böckerna är lite väl lika varandra. Vi får följa ex-polisen Rydell och kuriren Chevette i ett från början ganska splittrat pussel, som dock läggs ihop till en fin helhet efter en stund. Chevette stjäl, utan att riktigt veta varför, ett föremål under ett arbetspass. Det visar sig snart att ganska många och mäktiga personer är ute efter de märkliga solglasögon hon tagit och på ett hisnande osannolikt sätt, förs Chevette och Rydell samman.

Gibson är ju känd som cyberpunkens fader, men det är inte alls därför jag gillar honom. Istället är det för att han är väldigt duktig på att beskriva karaktärer och det vardagliga (nåväl) live i ett samhälle ganska olikt vårt eget. Det handlar om små detaljer, dialog och mycket annat, men lyckas bra gör han i varje fall. Intrigen är betydligt svagare, även om den kryddas av rätt intressanta platser.

Det är nu ganska många år sedan jag läste Idoru (som alltså är uppföljaren till den här), men mitt intryck av den här boken är betydligt bättre. Egentligen tycker jag nog att det allra bästa att börja läsa Gibsons andra trilogi (den med Neuromancer, Count Zero och Mona Lisa Overdrive). Gillar man Gibson rekommenderar jag att även kika på Virtual Light, men det är inget jag rekommenderar till er som inte stött på honom tidigare.

Tags: , , , ,

Titel: Mona Lisa Overdrive
Författare: William Gibson
Utgivningsår: 1988 (2001)
Recenserad: 2004-05-08
Status: I bokhyllan

Först ett tips: läs inte baksidestexten. I den version jag har avslöjas saker som inte är uppenbara förens 50 sidor från slutet. Det sabbade spänningen en aning. Mona Lisa Overdrive är tredje boken i denna serie av William Gibson och också den sista. Jag tycker att man borde ha läst både Neuromancer och Count Zero för att få ut mesta möjliga av läsningen.

Vi får följa flera olika personer: Mona, en prostituerad vars pojkvän och hallick drar in henne i en affär så mycket större än vad de själva begriper. Kumiko, dotter till en mäktig Yakuzaboss, sänd till London för att hållas utanför de stridigheter som rasar i hemlandet inom Yakuzan. Angela, simstimstjärna med ett mycket speciellt förhållande till cyberspace. Slick, en underlig man som bygger på sina mekaniska konstverk i en övergiven fabrik.

Jag är delad i min syn på upplägget av den här boken. På samma sätt som Count Zero, var början ganska tråkigt och ointressant, men sedan drog det igång på allvar. Å ena sidan tycker jag att det är för många olika handlingar och för uppdelat, men å andra sidan lyckas han knyta ihop alla band från boken väldigt bra. Ytterligare en sak som gör det ännu bättre är att han med slutet i den här boken också för ihop lösa trådar från de båda tidigare böckerna och får allting att passa ihop.

I vanlig ordning gillar jag skarpt Gibsons språkbruk och Mona Lisa Overdrive är inget undantag. Persongalleriet är om möjligt ännu mer varierat än i de tidigare böckerna, men eftersom bokens drygt 300 sidor är fördelade över så många olika människor, blir det inte riktigt så bra som det annars kunde ha blivit. Jag vill också säga att jag tycker att resultatet av upplösningen var aningen lamt, även om sättet att komma dit var ruskigt bra. Rekommenderar jag den här till er? Ja, definitivt om ni tyckte Neuromancer och Count Zero var bra.

Tags: , , ,

Titel: Count Zero
Författare: William Gibson
Utgivningsår: 1986 (2002)
Recenserad: 2004-05-01
Status: I bokhyllan

Så snart jag läst ut Neuromancer, tyckte jag det var dags att läsa de böcker som kommer efter den, nämligen Count Zero och Mona Lisa Overdrive. Det är inte så att de hänger ihop i den meningen att man måste ha läst de innan för att få ut något av boken, men Count Zero återkopplar till Neoromancer på ganska många stället. Den utspelar sig ungefär tio år efter den tidigare boken och delvis får man följa effekterna av det som händer i slutet av Neuromancer. Jag köpte Count Zero i samma veva som Neuromancer och började läsa den dagen efter jag läst ut den.

Handlingen är indelad i tre delar. I den första får man följa Bobby, även känd som Count Zero. Han är, som det står på baksidan: ?Just a kid from Barrytown? och helt oförberedd på den konflikt han dras in i, både i verkligheten och i cyberrymdens nät. Med voodoo och underliga människor omkring honom är han osäker på vad han ska tro på och vad hans roll i det hela är.

Turner står för en annan tredjedel av storyn, nyligen uppvaknad i en ny kropp i ett hotellrum, bredvid en vacker kvinna. Efter några dagar kommer dock minnena tillbaka till honom och han dras åter ut på fältet som den legosoldat han är. Hans uppdrag är att leda en operation för att hjälpa en forskare på Maas Biolabs att hoppa av.

I Paris får Marly ett underligt uppdrag av den stenrike och värdsberömde Virek. Han vill att hon ska undersöka härkomsten av några mystiska lådor konstsamlaren lyckats få tag på. Utvecklingen går dock inte riktigt som hon har tänkt sig och det verkar mer och mer som om hon själv får mindre och mindre att säga till om.

De första 150 sidorna i Count Zero var inte speciellt bra och hade det inte varit för att det är beskrivet på ett bra sätt så hade det varit rent ut sagt dåligt. Den enda handlingen som är intressant redan från början är den då man får följa Bobby och jag såg fram emot varje kapitel som handlade om honom och såg de andra mer som nödvändiga transporter. Turners planering och utförande av uppdraget är både händelselöst, tråkigt och utdraget och inte heller Marlys del är intressant.

Efter ungefär halva boken ändras plötsligt allting, saker och ting börjar hända och det som såg ut att vara säkert, visar sig vara något helt annat. Från och med nu håller boken minst lika hög klass som Neuromancer, nästan bättre till och med. För till skillnad från Neuromancer, är upplösningen på Count Zero spännande och lite av en pusselläggning där man inte får det att sitta ihop på rätt sätt förens precis i slutet. Boken stil är i princip den samma som den i Neuromancer och Gibson fortsätter att imponera på mig. Det enda som talar emot boken är den sega inledninge, men som man säger: den som väntar på något gott, väntar aldrig för länge.

Tags: , , ,

Titel: Neuromancer
Författare: William Gibson
Utgivningsår: 1984(2002)
Recenserad: 2004-04-25
Status: I bokhyllan

William Gibson är cyberrymdens fader och har författat många böcker som utspelar sig i en mer eller mindre teknikorienterad framtid med de problem som medföljder. Han har alltid varit en sådan där författare jag vet att jag kommer att tycka om när jag läser och när jag väl gjorde det, blev jag inte besviken. Neuromancer är väl kanske det mest klassiska av Gibsons böcker, men trots detta är det inte den först jag läste. Det finns många saker som imponerar på mig i Gibsons författande, men ingen av dem var något jag väntade mig när jag öppnade den första boken.

För det första använder han sig av ett mycket effektivt och målande bildspråk och använder många och bra ord för att beskriva vad som händer och hur saker och ting ser ut. Jag tycker också att han lyckas undvika fällan att beskriva saker för beskrivandets skull, det blir inget frosseri i långa miljöbeskrivningar, men han lämnar inte heller så stora luckor att jag inte begriper vad han menar. Lagom är bäst, som det heter.

För det andra använder Gibson slang och talspråk när karaktärerna i boken väl säger någonting och han gör det på ett bra sätt. Deras tankar och tal känns mycket trovärdiga och steget att tänka sig in i handlingen blir betydligt kortare på grund av just detta. Det finns en vardaglighet som Gibson skildrar med en sådan skicklighet att den gör boken läsvärd även för dem som inte är jätteförtjusta i själva miljön. Även om miljön osar av åttiotal, är den på något sätt fortfarande charmig med sin rosa plast och cyberrymdens möjligheter till rikedom och äventyr.

Sist och förmodligen minst, lyckas Gibson presentera en bra och intressant handling, även om just det här inte är bokens starka sida och då speciellt inte slutet. Detta känns som lite av ett anti-klimax, men tack vare att handlingen var låst vid en huvudperson, blev det ändå läsvärt. I korthet går det ut på att cyberrymdscowboyen Case får en andra chans efter att ha fått förmågan att koppla upp sig mot den virtuella verkligheten utraderad. Han kastas fram och tillbaka från det ena till det andra stället, utan att veta riktigt vem det är han jobbar för eller vilket det slutgiltiga målet är. Så småningom kommer han närmare och närmare sanningen om vad som egentligen pågår, ett försök att ta bort de spärrar som låser den tvådelade AIn Wintermute/Neuromancer.

Det totala intrycket av Neuromancer är inte alls det jag hade förväntat mig innan jag läste boken. Istället för att bli imponerad av framtidsvisionen i sig, blev jag imponerad av sättet den framfördes på och framförallt av de personer som boken handlar om. Jag vet inte hur Gibson ser ut i översatt format, men det engelska språkbruket är en fröjd. Jag vill dock inte rekommendera Neuromancer till dem som är helt ointresserade av den här typen av böcker, men för dem som har det minsta lilla intresset kan jag direkt säga att Neuromancer med lätthet är värd både pengarna det kostar att köpa den och tiden det går åt för att läsa den.

Tags: , , , ,

I haven’t updated this site in a while, which is a pity, especially since I actually write things I could post here. To remedy this problem, here’s a round-up of all the novels I read up to this summer, excluding any novels that were nominated for the Hugo award since I’m going to write a separate post about that shortly. Without further ado, here’s what I’ve read recently (in chronological order):

Ann Leckie – Ancillary Sword
Ann Leckie – Ancillary Justice
Ann Leckie – Ancillary Mercy

I have now finished Ancillary Justice, Ancillary Sword and Ancillary Mercy by Ann Leckie. Overall, the books are competently written and worthwhile to read. The first book is significantly better than the following two, but far from awesome. To be honest, this feels much like Lois McMaster Bujold, just slightly worse and not as funny (there are some good parts though; I loved the translators). They might be fairly bad for non-initiated readers, so I only recommend the first book to people who already like reading space opera. For the rest of you, there are better books in this genre.

Mira Grant – Feed

I’ve now finished Feed by Mira Grant. It’s a well-written and fast-paced book about political intriguing in a zombie-ridden future version of the US, as observed by a team of bloggers covering the presidential race. I don’t really like zombies and I could get better intrigues elsewhere, so this isn’t my cup of tea, but if you do like zombies, this might be a good read. All three books in this series were nominated for Hugo awards, but none (rightfully in my opinion) won. I Am Legend remains the only zombie book I really like (or vampire book, or whatever).

Katherine Addison – The Goblin Emperor

I have now finished The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison. It was a long time a go I read a “normal” fantasy novel (China Miéville doesn’t count as normal) and I sort of know why. Even though the book is fairly well written and carefully thought out, it simply didn’t appeal to me all that much. I do appreciate the fact that this is one novel, though, not a series, which is, sadly, rare nowadays.

The setting was well-depicted but not terribly interesting. The only thing that made the novel worthwhile was the fact that it was well executed. The characters were also rather good (as in realistic and interesting), except for the main character which was a little bit too good (as in not evil). I found the names almost impossible to keep up with, though, and the book just has too much made up language (including formality levels which don’t exist in English, but that were sort of covered by using old English pronouns).

So, overall, well-written, but not my cup of tea.

Kim Stanley Robinson – 2312

Some thoughts after reading 2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson:

In general, I admire the author’s ability to mix science and fiction into novels that are surprisingly interesting to read. The Mars trilogy is a good example of this. I also think he’s pretty good at creating interesting characters and stories about them, as for example in The Years of Rice and Salt.

Therefore, I’m a bit disappointed with 2312. It contains a lot of science and a lot of fiction, but they feel disconnected. While interesting on their own, this feels more like a half-hearted novel interspersed with small speculative science essays. Even though the book is almost 600 pages long, it still feels like I didn’t get to know either the characters or the setting. The story feels much like an excuse to introduce the setting and is in itself rather boring.

I should perhaps say a few words about the book. The story takes place in 2312 as the title suggests, in a world where most of our solar system has terraformed or is in the process of being so. The plot focuses on a conspiracy that threatens mankind’s fragile existence outside Earth, and the efforts to reveal and thwart the conspirators. This sounds reasonably interesting, but the novel feels disconnected and therefore not very interesting.

Ian McDonald – River of Gods

I have now finished River of Gods by Ian McDonald. In short, it’s a science-fiction novel set in India one century after its independence from Great Britain. The story combines elements of a futuristic society (AI, nano technology, genetic engineering) with traditional Indian themes. The character gallery is diverse and interesting. The story appears fragmentary at first, but is tied together rather neatly. I liked this book a lot and I’m definitely going to read more by Ian McDonald. He’s very good at both describing society and the people living in it, not seldom making it both fun and interesting. If I were to liken him to other authors, I would choose William Gibson, Neal Stephenson and John Brunner.

Ian McDonald – Desolation Road

I decided to start reading Ian McDonald’s novels from the beginning, which means Desolation Road (1989). This is after being rather impressed by both River of Gods and Luna: New Moon (scroll down for my earlier ramblings). The novel starts with a certain Dr. Alimantando, student of the intricacies of time and space, who gets lost in the red deserts of terraformed Mars and founds a new settlement: Desolation Road.

Strange people get drawn to, arrive in or escape to or otherwise arrive in the settlement. The narrative quickly spirals out of control, including side stories about the world’s best snooker player, a guitarist capable of channelling demonic forces through his electric guitar, a corporate worker slowly advancing through the ranks of his company by replacing everyone under him with robots, a little green man who may or may not be real, and, for some reason, Glenn Miller. It all tied together in the end, somehow, so it’s not really a short story collection, but could have been.

This is magic realism on Mars, probably with a seasoning of some hallucinogenic drug. On the whole, it’s very entertaining, quite chaotic and a bit too long. Desolation Road didn’t feel similar to either River of Gods or Luna: New Moon. It’s not the best book I’ve read, but it was entertaining throughout. Next on the list: Out on Blue Six.

Ian McDonald – Out on Blue Six

More Ian McDonald! Out on Blue Six is the weirdest book I’ve read in a while and reading it felt a little bit like reading Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon. It has the same I-have-no-idea-what-the-hell-is-going-on-but-I-sort-of-like-it feeling.

The story is set in a distant future in the Compassionate Society, where computers force everybody to be happy by pairing them up with the right partner, shepherding them into the right career (one that makes you happy, that is) and so on. It’s just that not everybody is happy. Some people want a little bit of anarchy, some people want to break the rules. This is what the story is about, or at least where it starts. Then down the rabbit hole it goes and it’s extremely hard to summarise what happens next, but it contains the King of Nebraska, angels, a teleporting woman with a cybernetic cat, judgement day (literally) and lots of raccoons.

Unfortunately, the book suffers from the same problem as Gravity’s Rainbow does: I don’t really care about what happens, neither with the main characters nor with the plot. Since Pynchon’s language is extremely entertaining to read, I still liked Gravity’s Rainbow, but while this book is entertaining, it fails to be anything more than that. I have a feeling that I won’t remember anything about this book five years from now, whereas many parts of Gravity’s Rainbow are still with me, even though it was seven years ago I read it.

Ian McDonald – Chaga

I’ve now finished Chaga by Ian McDonald (Evolution’s Shore in the US). After having read a couple of his earlier, rather bizarre novels, this one is much more serious and feels comparable to the later novels that I liked a lot.

This novel is the first in a trilogy focusing on Kenya and the impact on the country and its people when alien life starts spreading from a crash site on Kilimanjaro.

In short, the novel is fairly interesting and rather brutal, but not as sophisticated as his later novels. One thing I didn’t like in particular was that the book almost felt like it could have ended after about two thirds, and the remaining third didn’t feel interesting enough.

While I don’t regret that I read the novel, it’s still not as good as either the later novels written in a similar style, also about emerging economies (India, Brazil, the Moon) or the earlier, more freaked out ones. I will probably not read the remaining two books in the trilogy. I am, however, looking forward to the sequel of Luna: New Moon, which is projected for a release later this year.

Charles Stross – Neptune’s Brood

I’m done with Neptune’s Brood by Charles Stross, having previously read Saturn’s Children (which is completely unrelated story-wise, but takes place in the same universe). Neptune’s Brood is actually far better than the previous one, so I recommend anyone interested in Charles Stross to read this one instead.

The story is complex and revolves around an interstellar banking fraud of epic proportions. The main character is drawn into the intrigue, first mostly as a scholar of interstellar banking frauds, but as the plot thickens, she turns out to have a much more involved role than that of a random bystander. The novel contains a few really entertaining characters, is generally well-written and overall a better story than Saturn’s Children.

The setting is post-human space where androids and other life-forms have supplanted mankind, but where things still work much the way they would if humans were still around, except on a bigger scale. While interesting, the setting is not the main attraction here, the characters, the storytelling and the plot are. The novel was shortlisted for the Hugo Award in 2014.

James S.A. Corey – Leviathan’s Wake

I just finished James S.A. Corey’s book Leviathan Wakes, a novel that felt very interesting while immersed in it, but which does appear a bit bleak in retrospect. I think this might be at least partly because the book has some appealing points, such as great characters and dialogue, but lack something that makes it interesting in the long-term.

I don’t feel like summarizing the plot, but we’re talking about fairly realistic and sometimes brutal interplanetary science fiction with lots of space ships and stations. The book is character-focused and with interesting characters in general, this makes it a good read. However, I don’t feel it’s good enough to continue reading the series (this is the first book in a series called The Expanse).

James S.A. Corey – Abaddon’s Gate
James S.A. Corey – Caliban’s War

Against better judgement (see my previous review), I have now read two more books in The Expanse series, which brings me to a total of three. I decided to keep reading after I watched the TV series, which was better than expected.

However, I must say my initial judgement was accurate. While there are entertaining characters and sometimes interesting plot elements and a well-written setting, the overall story lacks something. I’m still not sure what it is, but the overall story just feels unsatisfactory to me. I probably need to think about this, but it seems the plot is too superficial and works mostly like an action movie.

I would give the latter two books perhaps 3/5, so they might still be worth reading if you really liked the first book. If you found the first book fairly good but not excellent, then that’s probably enough. Do watch the TV series though! Looking forward to season two. But I’ve read enough in this series. Any suggestions for what to read next? More Charles Stross is high on my list.

Charles Stross – The Family Trade

After having read two books by Charles Stross (Saturn’s Children and Neptune’s Brood; I highly recommend the latter), he has established himself as a very intelligent author capable of writing intriguing stories populated by interesting characters. I selected The Family Trade as my third book more or less randomly, which might have been a mistake.

The book is parallel-worlds fantasy (modern US with some kind of medieval alternate history were the Vikings has colonised America). While he does some interesting things with the “world walking” itself, as well as some interesting things with the settings, I’m not impressed at all. As is the case in Neptune’s Brood, economics plays a certain role, but ignoring that and some of the violence, this novel feels like something Stross would have written when he was 20 (he was 40 when the book was published). It’s also the first book in a long series and there’s very little chance I will continue with it. Definitely not my cup of tea!

Charles Stross – Accelerando

Accelerando by Charles Stross is one of those books that it’s really hard to wrap your head around to write a review. It’s a chaotic collection of short stories that are sometimes hard to follow but great at least some of the time. They describe the transition from a modern society (or a parallel version of it at least) to a post-human technological singularity through the eyes of three generations (before, during and after the singularity).

After the first few pages, my expectations for the rest of the book sky-rocketed, but I must say that the rest didn’t really impress as much. While some concepts and the language never become boring, the book simply isn’t coherent enough to work well as a whole.

One criteria I think is interesting to evaluate when reviewing books is if, in theory, I could have written the book myself. Accelerando places itself very firmly in the “no way what so ever” category, much more so that most other science fiction I read. It’s not only the way Stross writes (which is probably the main reason for reading the book), but the audacity and scope of the imagination on display here.

If you’ve read this far and think this sounds cool, you should give this book a try. I expect people who won’t like the book stopped reading after the first paragraph, so no reason to tell them to avoid it.

Tags: , , ,

William Gibson – Zero History

This is the last book in the trilogy about Blue Ant which started with Pattern Recognition. While the first two books were only loosely connected, this final and third book is more like a continuation of Spook Country, with mostly the same characters. Gibson is very reliable and this book is as good as the others in this trilogy. If you’ve read the others and like the style, read this one too.

James Blish – A Case of Conscience

I had a project a few years ago to read all novels that have won the Hugo Award, but it failed because I couldn’t find two of the older books that were out of print. I finally got my hands on this novel by James Blish, which turned out to be a bit disappointing. I never really understood the case of conscience that gives the book its title, or I did understand it but simply didn’t find it interesting enough. Still well-written and interesting for other reasons, but perhaps a deeper knowledge of theology is a prerequisite to really like the book. Apparently, it was first published as a novella and later extended to a novel, perhaps it ought to have stayed in its shorter form.

William Gibson – Virtual Light
William Gibson – Idoru
William Gibson – All Tomorrow’s Parties

Having finished Zero History, I didn’t feel that I had read enough of William Gibson just yet. His style is refreshing, the characters interesting, the setting fascinating and… well, I could go on, but let’s just say I wanted more of Gibson. The setting of this trilogy is the San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge after a devastating earthquake. The bridge has been abandoned by the authorities and replaced by a anarchic society of ordinary people, criminals and outcasts.

Chevette Washington, a bicycle messenger living on the Bridge, who gets into a lot of trouble for stealing a strange pair of high-tech googles (the young messenger girl feels very similar to Y.T. in Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson, which was published two years before Virtual Light). Rent-a-cop Berry Rydell is at the same time hired to retrieve the very same glasses, but of course it turns out that much more powerful elements are involved.

In Idoru, the story moves on to the virtual (digital) Japanese superstar Rei Toei, who has recently made the headlines because rock star Rez wants to marry her. This doesn’t go down too well with the Rez fan club and Chia is sent to Japan to find out the truth about her idol.

The bigger plot is then wrapped up in All Tomorrow’s Parties as the story returns to the Bridge and Chevette and Rydell. Most of the loose threads are tied together, including the idoru (Rei Toei) and a Taoist philosopher-assassin.

Throughout the trilogy, Gibson shows that he was a competent writer two decades ago as well, even though I must say I think that he has developed a lot as an author and his later novels are better. This trilogy is still a great read, though. Gibson is really, really good at creating great settings and populate them with interesting characters. He’s also witty and a joy to read in general.

The only novels left now are The Difference Engine (1990) and The Peripheral (2014).

Tags: ,

William Gibson – Pattern Recognition

This is the first book I read by William Gibson since reading Neuromancer and its two sequels more than ten years ago. Pattern Recognition is the first book in a trilogy which isn’t really science fiction, but more like a tech-oriented modern thriller. In any case, Gibson is a great author who possesses the rare combination of interesting ideas and the ability to write. While it seems he’s best known for his futuristic ideas, at least in earlier novels, I’m more impressed by his way of writing. Continued below.

William Gibson – Spook Country

This is the sequel to Pattern Recognition and is similar in many ways. That means that I also liked it a lot. The story is perhaps slightly more interesting, but the main benefit of reading this book is still Gibson’s way of writing. He’s really good at capturing both characters and scenes in just a few words, vividly and often in an obliquely humorous way. I have read few authors in recent years where I envy the author’s ability to write more than I do when reading Gibson.

Michael E. Gerber – The E-myth Revisited

I picked this book up mostly by whim, but felt that reading something business related would be interesting. The main lesson I learnt from this book is about the triple roles anyone who runs his own business plays (creation, marketing and business). This has actually helped me rethink my current situation (I run a small business), but I didn’t like the book in general. It feels way too American and has a number of ideas that are taken for granted that I don’t really agree with.

Tags: ,

Title: Science Fiction, the Literature of Technological Imagination
Lecturer: Eric S. Rabkin
Producer: The Teaching Company
Duration: 8 x 45 minutes
Media: Audio only

This fairly short lecture series by Michigan University professor of literature, Eric S. Rabkin, is an attempt at covering the entire science-fiction genre in roughly six hours, from its dimmest origins when no one knew about science fiction, to the modern film industry. As you will have noticed, I quite enjoy good science fiction, at least when it comes to novels (there are good movies too, but not that many), so some academic scrutiny of the genre feels appropriate, especially since I, for various reasons, missed the Science fictions classics course being run this semester.

The series starts out very strongly, discussing Shelley’s Frankenstein, various works by H.G. Wells (such as The Time Machine) and Jules Verne. Since I have never encountered these works from a literary point of view, the first three lectures are extremely interesting, shedding new light with almost every word. He then goes on to discuss pulp novels of the earl 20th century, which, to be honest, is of only academic interest to me, since pulp is not my preferred type of literature.

He then covers the expansion of the genre beyond what was published early on, mentioning authors I am very well acquainted with, spending much time on especially Robert A. Heinlein, but moving on to Ray Bradbury and Ursula K. Le Guin, authors who in various ways did things no one had done before, and, in Le Guin’s case, in a way which was appreciated by non-afficionados. After a lecture on modern science-fiction film, he finishes with a brief review of what he calls New Wave and Cyberpunk (discussing Philip K. Dick, William Gibson and others), again authors who expanded the genre.

Let me start by praising the lecturer by saying that his technique is absolutely brilliant. Again, I marvel at the skill of The Teaching Company’s chosen professors. Indeed they are claimed to be picked not only on the grounds of academic merit, but also based on teaching excellency, and in my experience, this is more than just advertising. It is actually true for most lecturers.

That being said, I am not that fond of the contents of the series. As I have said, the beginning was very good, but the series gradually degraded into being quick summaries and reviews of books I have already read. Sure, here and there he mentions ways of interpreting things I was unaware of, but a more general discussion of the genre would have been much more interesting. I do not know how this is perceived by those who have not read the books he talks about, but I assume that the problem is even worse for them. I am also a bit disappointed that he mentions only a few authors active today, largely leaving out the two last decades seems somewhat inappropriate to an overview.

I also feel that this is not good because he leaves out much of what modern (meaning what is published now) science fiction is about. His definition of the genre proposed early on in the series is not only to my disliking, but it also feels old and very narrow. Wikipedia has a fairly good article on subject and I recommend it. I think the most important thing is that science fiction is a means by which the author can say something relevant to us now by using things that do do not exist (yet, in some cases), which would have been very difficult to say otherwise. In this I agree with the professor, but his demands on science fiction being epic (in the sense of saving-the-world epic) is just not true today. His idea of plausibility holds true, but using mumbo jumbo language is not plausibility to my mind (he argues that it makes it sound plausible, which somehow would render it science-fiction, something I strongly disagree with).

I have gained something important from this lecture series, though, and that is the urge to read more analytically when it comes to books published in a context unfamiliar to me. For instance, I have realised that I have often missed the point of novels because I was too uneducated about the zeitgeist out of which they came, H.G. Wells and Jules Verne being the obvious examples. It is difficult to appreciate Joe Haldeman’s The Forever War if one does not connect it with the Vietnam War and Robert A. Heinlein’s Starship Troopers. Even if the connections might be obvious, feeling them when reading is a different matter from realising it in hindsight.

Conclusively, since it is a fairly brief series of lectures, I recommend it to those of you who either do not know very much about science fiction or to those very interested who would like to get a bit more background. Those of you in between are better off investing your time elsewhere.

Tags: , , ,

Note: This is my old 101-in-1001 list that was started in 2005. I launched another one in 2010, so the old list has been moved to this post to make room for the new one. I finished about three fourths of this list and some of the things I accomplished I’m still proud of today. A handful of unfinished tasks on this list also made their way to the new list.

Click here to go to the new 101-in-1001 list launched in September 2010!

The 101-in-1001 list

This project was started by Triplux and I came to know about it via Kendoka.se and Yasylum. At first I thought it was rather silly, but I soonI started compiling my own list. For various reasons, this project was put on ice at the end of 2008 and its fate is as yet undetermined, even though it seems likely I will eventually complete, if not all, then most tasks on the list.

The mission

Complete 101 preset tasks in a period of 1001 days. My mission will end on New Year’s Eve 2008. The tasks should me as unambiguous as possible, although I have diverted from this in some cases where it is utterly impossible to assess a clear goal. 1001 days is long enough to accomplish some of the more demanding tasks on the list and 101 tasks seems to be about as many good ideas as I can come up with. My intention is to give each task a solid try and I my goal is to complete all of them, make no mistake about that.

I also intend update the list and write about the projects (a list of published articles can be found here). By doing this, I put pressure on my self but I also hope that I can inspire other people to do things they want to.

– A task that I have not started

– A task that I have started but not completed

– A task that I have completed

– A task that I have failed with

Personal development

001 – Attend a first-aid course
002 – Spend 25 hours studying anatomy (16/25)
003 – Find out what is wrong with my back
004 – Learn to drive a car (I’m not allowed a license due to poor eye-sight)
005 – Create a character sheet describing myself in detail
006 – Send a photo of myself to random people and ask them to describe what kind of person I am
007 – Meditate 25 times (2/25)
008 – Write 25 private diary entries (12/25))
009 – Spend 50 hours learning to draw (12/50)
010 – Identify 100 things that make me happy
011 – Spend 25 hours researching sleeping and dreaming (15/25)
012 – Write an article about sleeping
013 – Have unscathed fingers for a month (started 08/08/10)

Professional development

014 – Record an audio book in English (Stardust chosen)
015 – Learn and write about the five top origins of migration to sweden
016 – Get the three remaining points from my psychology education
017 – Write five serious articles in English

1. Listening to audio books
2. Why I dislike long novels
3. The illusory choice of postponement
4. Relieving a burdened mind
5. Quo vadis, Taiwan?

018 – Make a list of 1001 words in English and learn them (list compiled)
019 – Make a list of 1001 Chinese characters and learn them
020 – Finish “SprÃ¥ket i mittens rike” by Jonas Björklund
021 – Learn Zhuyin fuhao
022 – Get 2.0 on the Swedish Scholastic Aptitude Test (need not to be formal due to the cost)

Physical development and activities

023 – Swim 10 000 metres in 4 hours
024 – Do one-and-a-half forward somersaults with one twist
025 – Run 42 kilometres
026 – Submit myself to a health examination
027 – Complete one serious exercise program (at least one month)
028 – Manage a free handstand for one minute
029 – Do 25 chin-ups
030 – Hike 50 kilometres with a 10-kilo rucksack in one day
031 – Walk 100 metres on my hands (63 record)
032 – Learn to orient
033 – Stretch after all physical activity for a month
034 – Buy a high-quality rucksack for hiking
035 – Try 5 different new sporting activities

1. Trampoline
2. Diving
3. Scuba diving
4. Unicycling
5. Volleyball

Reading

036 – Have read a total of 10 books by Philip K. Dick

1. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
2. The Man in the High Castle
3. A Scanner Darkly
4. Ubik
5. Galactic Pot-healer
6. Martian Time-Slip
7. Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said
8. A Maze of Death
9. The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch
10. The Father-thing

037 – Have read a total of 5 books by Ray Bradbury

1. Fahrenheit 451
2. The Day it Rained Forever
3. S is for Space
4. Something Wicked This Way Comes
5. From the Dust Returned

038 – Have read a total of 5 books by Neil Gaiman

1. American Gods
2. Coraline
3. Good Omens
4. Stardust
5. Neverwhere

039 – Read 10 works by Nobel Prize winners

1. Harry Martinson – Aniara
2. George Bernard Shaw – Pygmalion
3. Gabriel Garcia Marquez РHundra ̴r av ensamhet
4. Albert Camus – L’étranger
5. Ernest Hemingway – The Sun Also Rises
6. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn – One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
7. Gao Xingjian – One Man’s Bible
8. Eyvind Johnson РDr̦mmar om rosor och eld
9. Orhan Pamuk – Snow
10. Doris Lessing – The Grass is Singing

040 – Read 10 books in Swedish

1. Harry Martinson – Aniara
2. Gabriel Garcia Marquez РHundra ̴r av ensamhet
3. Albert Camus – FrÀmlingen
4. Tove Janson – Pappan och havet
5. Catharina Lillieh̦̦k РMei wenti!
6. Wu Chen’en – FÀrden till VÀstern, del 1, Den gyllene cikadan
7. Hjalmar Șderberg РDoktor Glas
8. Michail Bulgakov – MÀstaren och Margarita
9. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn – En dag i Ivan Denisovitjs liv
10. Vilhelm Moberg – Rid i natt!

041 – Read ten different comics

1. The Sandman
2. Hellboy
3. Watchmen
4. The Authority
5. WE3
6. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
7. Sleeper – Out in the Cold
8. The Books of Magic
9. Kid Eternity
10. The Filth

042 – Read a book in French
043 – Read all Hugo Award winning novels (47/55)

2008. Michael Chabon – The Yiddish Policemen’s Union.
2007. Vernor Vinge – Rainbows End
2006. Robert Charles Wilson – Spin
2005. Susanna Clarke – Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrel
2004. Lois McMaster Bujold – Paladin of Souls
2003. Robert J. Sawyer – Hominids
2002. Neil Gaiman – American Gods
2001. J.K. Rowling – Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
2000. Vernor Vinge – A Deepness in the Sky
1999. Connie Willis – To Say Nothing of the Dog
1998. Joe Haldeman – Forever Peace
1997. Kim Stanley Robinson – Blue Mars
1996. Neal Stephenson – The Diamond Age
1995. Lois McMaster Bujold – Mirror Dance
1994. Kim Stanley Robinson – Green Mars
1993 a. Vernor Vinge – A Fire Upon the Deep
1993 b. Connie Willis – Doomsday Book
1992. Lois McMaster Bujold – Barrayar
1991. Lois McMaster Bujold – The Vor Game
1990. Dan Simmons – Hyperion
1989. C.J. Cherryh – Cyteen
1988. David Brin – The Uplift War
1987. Orson Scott Card – Speaker for the Dead
1986. Orson Scott Card – Ender’s Game
1985. William Gibson – Neuromancer
1984. David Brin – Startide Rising
1983. Isaac Asimov – Foundation’s Edge
1982. C.J. Cherryh – Downbelow Station
1981. Joan D. Vinge – The Snow Queen
1980. Arthur C. Clarke – The Fountains of Paradise
1979. Vonda McIntyre – Dreamsnake
1978. Fredrik Pohl – Gateway
1977. Kate Wilhelm – Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang
1976. Joe Haldeman – The Forever War
1975. Ursula K. Le Guin – The Dispossessed
1974. Arthur C. Clarke – Rendez-vous With Rama
1973. Isaac Asimov – The Gods Themselves
1972. Philip Jos Farmer – To Your Scattered Bodies Go
1971. Larry Niven – Ringworld
1970. Ursula K. Le Guin – The Left Hand of Darkness
1969. John Brunner – Stand on Zanzibar
1968. Roger Zelazny – Lord of Light
1967 a). Frank Herbert – Dune
1967 b). Robert A. Heinlein – The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
1966. Roger Zelazny – This Imortal
1965. Fritz Leiber – The Wanderer
1964. Clifford D. Simak – Way Station
1963. Philip K. Dick – The Man in the High Castle
1962. Robert A. Heinlein – Stranger in a Strange Land
1961. Walter M. Miller, Jr. – A Canticle for Leibowitz
1960. Robert A. Heinlein – Starship Troopers
1959. James Blish – A Case of Conscience
1958. Fritz Leiber – The Big Time
1957. No Hugo Award
1956. Robert A. Heinlein – Double Star
1955. Mark Clifton, Frank Riley – They’d Rather Be Right
1954. No Hugo Award
1953. Alfred Bester – The Demolished Man

044 – Buy a really good book and pass it on to someone, so that he or she can pass it on when they have read it
045 – Read the Bible
046 – Read the Quran
047 – Read John Milton’s Paradise Lost

Writing

048 – Finish my RPG Magneter och mirakel
049 – Finish my freelancing project “Tornet mot Stjrnorna”
050 – Write a novel (first chapter written)
051 – Write fiction in English
052 – Write an article on the strategy of Carcassonne
053 – Write an article about one-eyed vision
054 – Write an article about audio books
055 – Write five short stories (1)

Computer activity

056 – Reorganise www.snigel.nu
057 – Complete the missing sections on Snigel.nu
058 – Get detailed statistics working for Snigel.nu
059 – Review all books read and all movies watched during the period
060 – Make my contribution to the new Rollspel.nu version
061 – Change and organise passwords and logins
062 – Go through and sort all personal files
063 – 500 characters per minute for two minutes
064 – Make someone change from Qwerty to Dvorak
065 – Buy a scanner
066 – One week without using a computer

Media consumption

067 – Watch the top 100 movies on IMDB (33/100
068 – Watch 5 movies from each continent

Africa
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
Asia
1. Cowboy Bebop: The Movie
2. Kiki’s Delivery Service
3. NausicaÀ of the Valley of the Wind
4. Grave of the Fireflies
5. Howl’s Moving Castle
Europe
1. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
2. Asterix tolv stordåd
3. Snatch
4. Educating Rita
5. A Clockwork Orange
North America
1. Gattaca
2. Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines
3. I, Robot
4. The Shawshank Redemption
5. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest
Oceania
1. Whale Rider
2. Mad Max
3.
4.
5.
South America
1. City of God
2.
3.
4.
5.

069 – Watch 10 movies by Hayao Miyazaki

1. Spirited Away
2. My Neighbor Totoro
3. Princess Mononoke
4. Laputa: Castle in the Sky
5. Kiki’s Delivery Service
6. Nausicaaa of the Valley of the Wind
7. Howl’s Moving Castle
8. The Castle of Cagliostro
9. Porco Rosso
10. Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea

070 – Watch 5 movies in Mandarin Chinese

1. The Emperor and the Assassin
2. Warriors of Heaven and Earth
3. Raise the Red Lantern
4. Curse of the Golden Flower
5. Cape No. 7

071 – Buy something from Hans-Werner Sahm
072 – Compile a “best of Snigel” CD and trade it with 10 others for their favourite music
073 – Watch a movie at the cinema

Everyday life

074 – Change one aspect of my appearance
075 – Manage my economy without borrowing any money (looking good)
076 – Cook 50 new dishes (25/50)
077 – Analyse what I eat for a week
078 – Use dental floss every day for a month (2007-09-24)
079 – Throw, give away or store everything I do not need
080 – Assemble a digital address book
081 – Actually get up when the alarm sounds in the morning for one month
082 – Learn to sleep comfortably on my back
083 – Donate blood
084 – Exercise Nei Kung in the morning before breakfast for one month
085 – Collect images, quotes or scraps and put them on display (44/100)
086 – Organise and catalogue all my books
087 – Backup, sort and reorganise all my audio books
088 – Backup, sort and reorganise all my music
089 – Get some fancy business cards
090 – Buy a pair of high-quality boots

Experience and play

091 – Spend a week alone away from civilization
092 – Watch a full sunrise or sunset
093 – Spend one day blindfolded
094 – Solve Rubik’s Cube in one minute
095 – Build and fly a kite
096 – Watch a candle burn down
097 – Play marbles
098 – Participate in a total of 250 sessions of Antioch

Meta

099 – Publish something about each task on the list
100 – Get someone to start a list of their own
101 – Write a concluding essay on the subject of this list

My project will end on New Year’s Eve (December 31st) 2008.
It is left.

I have 27 more things to do.

Braveheart



Title: Braveheart
Directed by:
Mel Gibson
Written by:
Randall Wallace
Year: 1995

This film is too long! Sorry, but it had to be said, because that was the thought running through my mind again and again. 175 minutes. More than three hours. And no, this is not a film to which all these minutes were essential. The story of the Scottish rebellion led by William Wallace in the 13th century could have been about the same, but at least an hour shorter with some careful editing. Who knows, such an editing would perhaps have made the film worthwhile.

The beginning is horrible. It takes an hour to say “William Wallace had a tragic background and loved a girl named Murron”. The worst part is that it is almost insultingly obvious that this is just an attempt to kindle empathy for the main character when Murron is killed and Wallace launches his rebellion against the English. Knowing a bit about the film (which is very hard to escape), it becomes even more pointless. I can go on like this for an hour or so, but I will only take one more example. This is a study of short scenes of how to kill Englishmen. I mean, seriously, these are among the lousiest scenes of battle I have ever seen. I get absolutely nothing from watching a hundred soldiers being killed in one second cuts without context. Especially not when it happens in every singe battle (and there are some of those, too).

Let me focus for a second on aspects of the film I do not dislike. It seems to wildly anachronistic and has made enormous sacrifices on this area to benefit the epic adventure. This is fine with me, go Mel Gibson! Furthermore, there is actually one thing about Braveheart I truly adore and that is the portrayal of the antagonist King Edward 1 of England. Patrick McGoohan is excellent in this role and really manages to highlight the extravagantly tyrannical King’s characteristics.

Conclusively, Braveheart is a huge disappointment. It fails in almost every regard and offers only minor glimpses of quality and all of those have been presented much better in other films. Because I seldom watch films this bad, I have difficulties pinpointing exactly where on the scale Braveheart belongs, but after reviewing my definitions of the various grades, I have decided to give it one snail.

Tags: ,