Book Review: Altered Carbon

Altered Carbon cover courtesy of Amazon
Altered Carbon cover courtesy of Amazon

I finished Altered Carbon, the first book by Richard Morgan, Sci-fi, a couple of days ago. It’s taken a few days for my ideas upon it to crystalise..

It’s a complex weaving book, very, very good for his first. The plot moves thick and fast, set in an ugly futuristic society. The technology of the sci-fi not that new, but its a novel implementation.. what happens when humans can be digitally stored, but set in a plot. My most stringent criticism would be that the primary character shows borderline superhero syndrome, or of being a “superhero” in a world that should have none. Mostly explained in the story well, but borderline. If I want to read a superhero story, I’ll go read a superman or batman comic 😉

The book touches on our societies current quest for immortality, and it’s something I’ve thought of recently as well. Our society is broken, and still reeling from the changes that computers have brought upon it. We can now communicate a lot further a lot faster than ever before. It is unlikely, that had I been writing this 20 years ago, that this post would have been able to exist, let alone be able to be read by people living almost anywhere in the world. We seem fixated with our human needs; you just have to go on google, and be a little careless to bring up an example of rule 34 1 .

Believing as I do in a world beyond this, seeing everyone so fixated on their needs now, rarely thinking about others, rarely thinking about the future beyond their deaths hurts. Some humanists are changing this, and I am probably using too big a brush in some cases, but still.. worth thinking about possibly.

  1. Internet axiom created by the 4chan community. If it exists, there is porn of it (normally on the internet).

Day 1: NaBloPoMo

What a strange name for an event. Anyway, yes, this is my second attempt at the interesting experiment, of posting once a day, every day during this month.1 I expect quite a few of these posts will be small, random and useless. Sorry about that, just to warn you!

Anyway, onto more interesting things. Book review 🙂

Completed the “The Business” By Iain Banks the other week. Good book, though not one of his best… Gripping read from about ~60-70% of the way through. Predictable up to that point.
All about a large, democratic company, and the machinations and politics within it, as it looks to buy a small country, to attain a seat on the UN council.

Interesting and enjoyable enough read, but not spectacular by any stretch. I’ll not keep it for my book collection 🙂

Some other thoughts I had whilst talking to someone at church today… Working with the people I do, it’s easy to forget the fear and lack of knowledge a lot people have with computers. For me, they’re simple, far easier to understand than a human by any stretch of the imagination!

If you are ever afraid of a computer, the best thing you can do is to make a backup of all your files onto a USB stick, and then just play with your computer. Don’t be afraid of breaking anything, let your fear go. Just explore all the menus, options and settings, see what happens when you change things around. Right click on everything!

Books going free!

Hello all. I seem to be gaining books at an alarming rate, what with my current commute. So, I am going to give you first refusal (before I put these up on Bookmooch) on two sets of Elizabeth Moon books. Both of which I would love to be able to keep, but which I don’t have the space to.

So without further ado, I am offering these books to the first person who emails/comments for them. Full postal addresses if you please, UK preferred, but I will send to the US if asked.

The Serrano Legacy – 3 compendiums (paperback)

Vatta’s War – 5 books (paperback)

I also have Kevin J Anderson’s the Saga of the Seven suns, collection or close only (All 7 books. Its big. I live near London. Email for more info)

James Patterson’s Four Blind Mice. As this came from the US, I’d be quite happy to ship it back there.

My Email address is: kirrus@kirrus.co.uk

In unrelated stuff, I let my 5-a-day launchpad group subscription expire this weekend. Boy, it doesn’t half nag you! I got an email every day for _7_ days, saying “you’ll get one more email, when its expired”. Annoying by half. Unfortionatly with my nasty commute, I’ve not got the energy required for triage 🙁

Irony

Now, this is what I call irony.

Currently, I’m going past this poster every time I go through a certain underground station.

(Cookie for the first person who guesses which station *).

As you can see, its an advert for the John Twelve Hawks book “The Dark River”, which apart from being a good read, contains a insightful set of images about our current existence in a surveillance state.


Almost directly opposite this poster, almost staring at it, is this delightful example of exactly that surveillance state:

In other news, I still think that Daviey (of  Ubuntu-UK Podcast, amongst other achievements, fame) sounds almost like one of the London Victoria Tube station announcers. Something in the inflection of the voice…

Work is going well. I’m quite tired and haven’t had much time spare to do much I like. I’m coming to realise that I can’t afford to run a car, and live close to work. Great. Sell the car, or put up with 2 to 2 and a half hour commute. Wonderful.

Lazyweb, whats your advice?

* Note, cookie is entirely virtual and is a figment of our collective imaginations.
As long as you don't actually want to look at it, feel it or eat it, its exists and can be won...

Reading

I’ve been reading a lot of novels (on my commute) recently, so I thought it was probably about time I reviewed a couple of them.

Elizabeth Moon

I’ve been reading a lot by Elizabeth Moon recently. She mostly writes Space-Opera/Sci-Fi, athough she has one fantasy trilogy and one Autism related book.

Vatta’s War is a series of 5 books, set in a well-described universe. Some themes and technologies are reminicient of her earlier works, mainly the Serrano Legacy, but it is different enough to be a good read.

Her autism book is called The Speed of Dark, and it has to be one of the best books I’ve ever read. Its very emotional, but based on the authors own knowlegde of Autism. (Her son is Autistic.) If you want to know more about what makes autism different (and why it is part of a sufferers’ [for lack of a better term] identity), read this. Well… just read it anyway. Excellent book.

James Patterson – Four Blind Mice

This is a murder mystery, with a number of twists. A continuation of his “Alex Cross” series… A good read. Not something to shout from the rooftops about, but a good read. Hard to guess the ending 🙂

John Twelve Hawks – The Dark River

The second book in his trilogy. Preceded by “The Traveller“. Awesome book. He has quite a lot of knowledge about surveillance technologies. He’s made a couple of mistakes (one, for example, relating to the technical bits of “ip addresses”, but the only reason I picked that up is because I’m a computer geek, who understands the some of the basics behind the internet.) But, nothing too serious. Most of this technology exists, or is in final stage of development. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/7433128.stm < scary.

For a book (and the series) its quite interesting, a mixture of sci-fi and reality. Makes you think deeply, so its true sci-fi.

Round-up

I’d recommend reading Elizabeth Moon‘s The Speed of DarkJohn Twelve HawksThe Traveller and The Dark River, to actually get something from the books. The others are just pure pleasure reading, but none the less enjoyable 🙂

I’ll stop rambling here, as my mind is swiming somewhat, and this screen seems to be filling my vison. Its been a long few weeks….