SkyFi :: April 2019 :: Waning Dune into Ancillary Justice
Dear Future Readers,
It was great to have such a big turnout last night for Alpna's farewell book tour. It has been a rich eon spanning journey for the last eight years here at Sky-Fi and your critical reviews, insistence on hard scifi, and a unique perspective that will me missed. Hopefully you can start an LA chapter and once we get our field trip act together we can bring the future of science to both coasts.
Speaking of field trips. Rachel has proposed an intriguing possibility for a little upstate getaway coming up soon, perhaps somewhere around the 17th. I will let Rachel provide some details.
This months meeting was more of a social check in and a chance to catch up around the slow burn of Dune for some of us and the leap into deep space with Ancillary Justice. Since many had not made significant progress with AJ, we will postpone major discussion until next meeting. Based on, our special guest's, Kutan, analysis, it seems that the biggest mystery is trying to wrap our heads around how a massive ship scale AI with thousands of distributed interconnected human computation nodes could possibly fit into the brain of a single zombie body. And would we be able to classify this organic-digital hybrid as a Soft Robot or some kind of transcendent state of being to spark a new trajectory of human-machine consciousness. For those just getting started, enjoy the detail, layered word building, and gender shattering pronoun comedy. This one really challenges assumptions of characters in a written work, forcing a deep look inside how we construct our social perceptions. If you have ready AJ, then you may want to move onto AM and AS (Ancillary Mercy and Ancillary Sword) to continue the adventure.
What would an evening of literary review be without our profusion of pop-and-alt-culture references, tangents and parallel realities in film, games, and architecture.
Dune (by Frank Herbert) kicked things off, there is a recent article in SYFYwire looking at the 1960's sky-fi classic from a 2019 perspective of cultural/religious appropriations vs social extrapolation. https://www.syfy.com/syfywire/dune-and-religious-appropriation. My take was that more was focused on the casting and buzz around the new film, but it was a quick interesting read. Outside of Dune's profound ecological perspective and massive world narrative, many of the threads present a somewhat sad multi-millennium evolution of humans into a feudal oligarchy spreading across the galaxy. Could we be somewhere else in 10,000 years, will is be a co-evolution into conscious code as seen in the The Quantum Thief, The Fractal Prince, and The Causal Angel by Hannu Rajaniemi,
or distinct biological differentiation to meet new environments as a hybrid of terrestrial evolution and vacuum mutation like Stevenson's SEVENEVES,
or a body swapping cybernetically enhanced noir on the cusp of discovering our infancy and insignificance in the face or immortality in Altered Carbon, Broken Angels, and Woken Furies by Richard Morgan?
Howard (welcome to the club) asked if many of the books we read present an optimistic or more dystopian image of the future through technology and biology. To my recollection, outside of a few Asimov tales and some Goosebumps episodes, SkyFi tends toward the unsettling uncertainty of humanities future, or possibility that we may become something much different than could ever be imagined on this little blue ball.
Speaking of Richard Morgan, I picked up several of his other titles at a book store recently. I just started reading Th1rte3n for anyone interested in an interim book.
We brought several films and series to the table.
High Life by Claire Denis, presenting the end of earth and a journey into space.
Paul: " High Life is a colossal trip to the void. Highly recommended. "
Love Death and Robots - visual shorts
Electric Dreams, re-imaginings from the mind of Philip K Dick
Naked Lunch, Cronenberg's bizarre take on William Burroughs novel. Perhaps we could toss this one into the reading/watching cycle in the near future, even paired with Cronenberg's own novel, CONSUMED.
" Consumed is heavy on the Ballard influence, cold and calculated. I enjoyed it - but not as much as his films. "
I Heart Huckabees
Elle + Gretta
I overheard some deep dives into Ian M. Banks Culture series, starting off with Consider Pholebas, a fun read that commences with the protagonist trapped in a sewer dungeon flooded with the excrement of excesses. I think Rachel and Seth have done a little homework here, but there could be some future side reading for all you over achievers.
Nate threw a couple more possible future reads into the hat:
Black Leopard Red Wolf - Marlon James
" Coincidentally I started reading "Black Leopard, Red Wolf" a few weeks ago. Its strong - Heard a great interview with Marlon James on the New Yorker Radio hour where he mentions listening to Can as musical inspiration. Future Days indeed. There's also a good review in Bookforum penned by Victor Lavalle, who wrote one of my favorite books of last year "The Changeling" https://www.bookforum.com/inprint/025_05/20622"
Strange Stars - Jason Heller,
this one comes with an RPG companion:
Seems I have droned on long enough to take us all a little further into that future. Ill get back to the work now, real fictions of space and time.
Keep looking up,