Tuesday, November 29, 2005

October Musings and Reading Recommendations

October Musings:

October 21st -- I very much enjoyed attending a talk by Ray Kurzweil early this month. He is a brilliant fire hose of information. A positive futurist, a successful inventor...

I'm working my through his new book, THE SINGULARITY IS NEAR. It's a wonder of statistics and leaps of imagination. I recommend reading it, but I also recommend reading it with some caution -- I'm sure Ray is right on many points, but I'm feeling a little nervous about how far he is reaching in this book -- there is an aura of "we are it, and we will populate the universe," that reminds me of the America settler idea of manifest destiny. I'm not suggesting that he's wrong at this point, just that I'm a little chary of the tone of the book. But the book is worth reading. It will make you think.

I spoke to the Kruse Way Economic Forum in Lake Oswego, Oregon, wearing my futurist hat. A very enjoyable audience full of smart business people. I left feeling more positive than I arrived: the group was well-read and thoughtful, and I had to reach to stay ahead of them - if I even managed to! Generally, a group of leaders that seemed to have earned it.

October Reading Recommendation:

I'm half-way through writing a new novel, so I haven't had much reading time. I did finish Karl Schroeder's LADY OF MAZES. A very delightful read. LADY OF MAZES is a thought-problem, a sort of fantastic unfolding shell of ideas. The characters are not particularly well-drawn, but the book is so full of ideas it doesn't much matter. If you like hard SF, Charles Stross or Larry Niven, you'll probably like LADY OF MAZES a lot. It is NOT a fast read - it does grab your attention' the challenge is that it is so dense and full of information that I had to take it in regular bites and think about. This was not bad - I may have enjoyed it more than anything I've read in the last year. Karl is worth watching. I've also read and recommended a previous book of his, VENTUS, which is lightly linked to this novel.


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