Wednesday, January 23, 2008


I've got a new favorite Sci Fi author. Not THE favorite, but A favorite, by the name of Charles Stross. Accelerando was the one I read first, because I was onon a kick of SingularityFi books (a book by Ian McDonald and another by the name of Light).

Singularity is one of those ideas, which fascinates me, but is generally pretty damn boring to read about (with the previous exception of Vernor Vinge's Marooned in Realtime). Mainly because it dips into revolutionary events beyond the ken and caring of this reader. Stross's Accelerando while dipping into revolutionary and massive change remains grounded throughout the book through the lives of one family and their generational differences (similarly Vinge's book is about one person who witnesses the singularity in quite a different way).

But what is really brilliant about Stross is that his ideas, although tremendously wacky on some level, make a lot of sense. The best part of Accelerando is in the beginning of the book in the near future, where one of the main characters is living in a gift economy, trying to stay apace of a rapidly changing world. Economics are topsy turvy to what they are today (the book in some ways is EconoFi, in a similar way to Neal Stephenson's Baroque Cycle).

Halting State is another of Stross' works. It takes place in the near future in Scotland, where a online game's bank is knocked over by a band of orcs. The collection of people who gather to investigate it find themselves in deeper waters than they expect. There is no singularity here, and no revolutions.

The odd gambit of telling the story in the second person is annoying at first, but you get used to it. Partly because Stross is a pretty engaging writer (a little like Stephenson again at least from his earlier books). Again with this book there are brilliant little ideas waiting here and there, my favorite from this book is

SPOILER ... (not a huge one, but still)

user generated spying. National spy agencies co-opting gamers who think they are just playing a game into agents carrying out small tasks without having any clue as to what they are accomplishing.


Friday, January 04, 2008


Today I went to my weekly volunteer gig and then to work in a blustering, wet tempest that sat over San Francisco much of the day. Umbrellas were snapping inside out, people were leaning into the wind, seeking shelter from the drenching rain. The wind was moaning through the wires above, and pushing the rain in every direction.

I loved it. Something about a big storm that makes me practically giddy. My blood sings. Maybe I should have been a storm chaser.

Downtown during the day was probably the quietest I'd ever seen it outside of late evenings and weekends.