Pete (pjc50) wrote,

Reading on the bus

I keep meaning to write something about distributed social network software, and the set of social and administrative problems getting in the way of the "why don't we host our own data" ideal. In some ways the work I did 15 years ago with the SRCF is a precursor to this.

Recent things I have read on the bus:

  • The Star Fraction, by noted Scottish Trotskyite Ken MacLeod. I mostly enjoyed it, although I felt it came unglued at the ending. Like a lot of cyberpunk, it's interesting to see how the future of 20 years ago looks now that we're living in it. There is a *lot* of politics in this novel, and I could have done with a better grounding in Marxism in order to tell what was historical, what was projected-historical, and what was projected-future-fictional. The franchise based fragmented political system reminded me of Snow Crash, which predates this book by a few years. There's a bit of Stafford Beer in the concept of technologically assisted/AI central planning. I had some specific thoughts about its ideas which I should probably have written down as I've now forgotten them :(

  • Ancilliary Justice, cutdown Hugo packet version. Prose is a bit stark and functional for my taste, but the setting and characters are fascinating. I can see why this is a frontrunner for the Hugo. It does very well at expanding a world in the memories of a character, and the slow building of trouble in paradise.

  • Thief of Time, Pratchett. A good reminder of just how good Pratchett is; humane characters, tone-perfect subverted pastiche, lovable world, spectacular drama, compelling fun.

Current bus reading is ; finding it a bit turgid. The whole Amber series is very popular but I suspect it's not my thing. Should probably work out what my favourite fantasy novel is outside of the obvious Pratchett and Tolkein.

Edit: also in the pile of unfleshed-out thoughts is the politics of the HRA. Why it's so unpopular in UK politics, and relating this to the rushed through omnisurveillance. Also relating the surveillance to civil service "target" culture.

And perhaps a "gaming made me" style about Colonization, and some thoughts about "victory by compound interest" in games.
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