Wednesday, 26 February 2020

This week The Two John's have reviews of "Maniac" starring Jonah Hill and Emma Stone. Also "Flora" an independent science fiction/horror film.



This is the second time in as many months that we are sharing something by Rudy Rucker.  But what can we say about one of our favorite Cyberpunk authors?  He's a great guy and loves to share his stuff for free.  I will say that these works are also offered for sale on Kindle and other electronic formats as well as paper formats.  If you like the works, or even if you don't we think you should support the artist and buy it.  We are sure Mr. Rucker would appreciate it and if you like Cyberpunk it would be hard not to find something of his that you do like.  This week we are offering "Postsingular".  As its title suggests, the story takes place after a singularity event.  Or after a period where machines achieve some modicum of awareness if not complete awareness.  It is told in the style of Rucker's "Transreal" method, which many who don't understand what it is, become frustrated with it.  In other words, it is told from the perspective of, as Cory Doctorow puts it, : "...a dope-addled exploration of the way-out fringes of string theory and the quantum universe...".  

I'm going to take the time to explain something about my feelings about Rucker.  Ever since the "Ware Tetraology" I have viewed him as my "Steve Jobs".  Steve was this so-called hippy who was, in part, responsible for the advent of the modern age of computing.  He was a high priest of the oncoming digital age.  Rucker has always been that for me.  He didn't just extoll the virtues of technological advancements.  He tries to tell stories that surround those advancements and from the point of view of some very improbable characters.  He wasn't just some hippy selling computers (sorry Jobs fans), he was a person with an intimate knowledge of the topics his stories encompassed. If transrealism is confusing to you, it's only because you haven't bothered to step into the character and the story.  Not unlike being swept into an undertow, reading a book like this will take you off your feet and leave you disoriented for a time.  As it should.  

Included below is a link to the book and as a bonus, a link to Mr. Rucker's writing notes for all those who want to geek out over his process a bit.

Postsingular (mobi)

Postsingular Notes (pdf)







Most of the things I write in here have some nostalgic component to them.  If you know me in real life, you will see how much of my life has been colored by Sci-Fi.  It isn't a tale of desperation, grievance, anger, or even drama.  It is a tale of a young man whose dreams transcended the technology of the day.  A person who is Earthbound and trapped in a fragile coil that harbors neither superpowers or the technological capacity to build a starship.  I once had someone tell me that fiction was escapism.  And for the longest time, that sentiment angered me.  Until one I realized I simply felt sorry for that person.  How small must a person be to lash out with someone for imagining or dreaming a time beyond their own?  How devoid of dreams must they be?  But it wasn't until the advent of the Cyberpunk age that I began to find the true expression of what was in my geeky little hear.  It took two of the things I loved the most Punk culture and near-futuristic machines and dynamics and joined them together.
It started for me with "Neuromancer" by William Gibson, and "Street Lethal" by Steven Barnes.  And over the next fifteen or so years, I diligently mined the local bookstores for new releases in the sub-genre.  

In truth William Gibson had no idea what he was writing was "Cyberpunk". He asserted in an interesting interview with Mark Dery some years later that it was a name given to his work by publishing houses.  I'm ok with that.  Giving it a name; giving it that name, associated my own voice and my own dreams with the things GIbson wrote.  I loved Gibson, Williams, Barnes.  But I couldn't love them forever.  The books simply weren't coming fast enough for me to stay in love with them.  And as the years wore on, they went in directions I simply became less interested in.  (One of the problems of co-dependency).  I stopped reading those authors for a while.  I came across "Halo" by Tom Maddox which was free online for a while and an unexpectedly pleasant injection of Cyberpunk-esque writing and aesthetic.    But it wasn't until around 2010 (I know, I was slow) that a former Professor of mine, and mentor, mentioned Charles Stross to me.  He just said "Accelerando" and "You gotta read it.".

I went and bought the book that day.  It was lengthy.  But I read it in a weekend, not bothering to do anything else like shower or go out with my girlfriend.  It was more than I expected, and in fact, the term "Cyberpunk" seemed far too small a word for it.  Certainly, it had many of the trappings of what we call Cyberpunk, but it was far smarter than the word, far more nuanced than the genre.  But somehow it seemed a natural inheritor of that legacy.  Perhaps Cyberpunk is dead and this is some evolutionary descendant; a mutation that is smarter and stronger than its ancestors.  I was pleasantly surprised to see that Mr. Stross has made this book and other works of fiction available for free on his website.  Please go there and download it and read it.  Also please observe the copyright information he has provided regarding Creative Commons and abide by them.  Mr. Stross also has a comments section which he appears to respond and engage with his readers.  We hope you enjoy this one.  I did! You can download the books by going here.  They are available in multiple digital formats.  And if you enjoy the book you should purchase any one of the several books Mr. Stross has written.  Even if you don't enjoy "Accelerando" it is highly likely you will find something by him that you will.  And what better way to support an author than buying his or her books!

Here is a brief synopsis of the book:

"The book is a collection of nine short stories telling the tale of three generations of a highly dysfunctional family before, during, and after a technological singularity. It was originally written as a series of novelettes and novellas, all published in Asimov's Science Fiction magazine in the period 2001 to 2004. The first three stories follow the character of "venture altruist" Manfred Macx starting in the early 21st Century, the second three stories follow his daughter Amber, and the final three focus largely on her son Sirhan in the completely transformed world at the end of the century. "