“Spectacular cases are usually simpler, and less interesting, than they initially appear.”
Rich people show their appreciation through favors. When everyone you know has more money than they know what to do with, money stops being a useful transactional tool. So instead you offer favors. Deals. Quid pro quos. Things that involve personal involvement rather than money. Because when you’re that rich, your personal time is your limiting factor.
Lock In by John Scalzi is a procedural crime thriller with a science-fiction aspect. In the near future, a disease has caused a significant number of people to have locked-in syndrome. Money was spent and research was performed such that “now” people affected by the disease can participate in the larger society. One of those people is a rookie FBI agent, the protagonist of this story.
I’ve read some of John Scalzi’s stuff before: Redshirts, Old Man’s War, Miniatures, and Collapsing Empire. You don’t need to have read any of that in order to appreciate this book, though. as Lock In is the first book in a series. I tried it out because (1) it’s pretty popular, (2) I liked those other books I read by the author and (3) there’s a sequel coming out next month so I figured now’s as good a time as any to read it. From my admittedly limited experience with his work, Scalzi books tend to be heavy on dialogue, fast-paced, easy-to-read, and fun, with a slightly goofy “middle age liberal white guy” sense of humor. Lock In does not significantly deviate from that style.
How much did a degree and a neat resume really prepare someone for a job? The Alan Turings and Claude Shannons of the world had been eccentric, inventive, forceful people. Rule breakers. The people at Bletchley Park and Room 40 didn’t stop to check boxes; they got the job done no matter what the cost.
The Genius Plague by David Walton is a geopolitical science-fiction thriller about a fungus plague that threatens humanity.
A bunch of books get published every year. A large percentage of those books are bad. I don’t review a lot of those because I don’t bother finishing them. Some small percentage of the books that are published perfectly express the human experience, beautifully/accurately describe the nature of the world, or are so well-written, original, or just so super-fun that they are called “good.”
The Genius Plague is not bad, but it’s not really “good” either. It’s the literary equivalent of a Saturday afternoon movie or a prime time CBS television series that has a title that’s just a bunch of letters. You know the type: full of well-meaning, earnest, too-young-for-what-they-are-doing characters who speak in paragraphs, trying to save the world while dealing with a messy private life. It’s a book to read on an airplane. It’s a forgettable bit of entertainment. There isn’t going to be an epic fandom popping up for the characters of this book. Book clubs are not going to get together and analyze it (but if I’m wrong and they do, I’d suggest comparing and contrasting the United States intelligence agencies with the fungus as a discussion topic). It’s not beautifully written, with about the same level of sophistication as an Ernest Cline or Pierce Brown book.
All that being said, the book doesn’t suck. It’s a well-paced, easy-to-read page-turner. I was able to read about 100 pages of the book per day, and not only could I manage that pace, I wanted to maintain it because I wanted to know what happened next. It’s apparent that a lot of research went into the book. I also appreciated that the author took the time to explain things that other, lesser books, might gloss over. What I mean is that sometimes I would have a reaction like, “Wait, but what about x?” The author, anticipating this inquiry by readers, would usually address x in the very next sentence or paragraph. Since the book is a “present day” science fiction story – such that stuff really shouldn’t be explained by “magic science,” I really appreciated that effort by the author. Don’t get me wrong, there are some really goofy “sciencey” things in this book, but it works so hard to justify them, I just can’t hold them against it.
The Genius Plague is a fun, pretty ok book. I feel like the concept of the book had a lot more potential than what was ultimately utilized, but it is by no means a “bad read.”
My rating: 3 stars
Alice thinks of the stuttering history of AI, the intoxication of the early days when a few leaps in progress made people believe this was the beginning of an exponential acceleration. In fact, the sum of what those leaps achieved was merely to educate scientists as to the true complexity of what they were trying to comprehend.
I created a NetGalley account. While searching that site for my very first ARC, I came across this description for Places in the Darkness by Chris Brookmyre:
A propulsive science fiction tale of murder and memory, all set on a futuristic space station.
Hundreds of miles above Earth, the space station Ciudad de Cielo–The City in the Sky–is a beacon of hope for humanity’s expansion into the stars. But not everyone aboard shares such noble ideals.
Bootlegging, booze, and prostitution form a lucrative underground economy for rival gangs, which the authorities are happy to turn a blind eye to until a disassembled corpse is found dancing in the micro-gravity.
Tight! While I can be a little snobby, I like fun stuff, too. And this looked fun! I had found my first ARC.
“They needed something to inspire people,” Harry explained, “for the citizens to really behind and believe in. Something which could be the base for their whole idea of a fledgling nation. And Benjamin Franklin came up with the idea of forging a dream.”
Shout out to PageHabit’s new subscription box, specializing in new Science Fiction stories! Paradox Bound was featured in their first month’s box, and it was a great inclusion. Check out what they have to offer: www.pagehabit.com (They have not endorsed me in any way and this link is just a link.)
I recently finished reading a new novel from Peter Clines – Paradox Bound. If you’re a fan of classic cars, old diners, and traditional Americana, this book is for you! It has all these things and more, and will leave you thinking about the American Dream in ways I bet you’ve never thought before.
The more we tell ourselves that we should always be happy, that happiness is an end in itself, the worse it gets.
While browsing in my local bookstore, I came upon I’m Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid. The cover intrigued me:
I read the blurbs on the back. At the top, it said:
You will be scared. But you won’t know why…
Neat. After finishing the epic Pillars of the Earth, I was in the mood for a relatively short book. I grabbed this one, curled up on my couch in my darkened living room, and began to read it by lamplight (because scary stories are better when they’re read in the dark).
“‘A bad fairy tale has some simple goddamn moral. A great fairy tale tells the truth.'”
The Changeling by Victor LaValle is a self-described (dark) fairy tale set in present-day New York City. I have always loved fairy tales — Hans Christian Andersen, the Brothers Grimm, Mother Goose, Neil Gaiman, the comic book Fables — so I snatched this book up when it was released.
“May Lynn’s daddy was someone who only came home when he got tired of being any other place. We didn’t even know if he knew his daughter was missing. May Lynn used to say after her mama drowned herself her daddy was never the same. Said she figured it was because the laundry around her mother’s head had been his favorite snap-pocket shirt. That’s true love for you. Worse, her brother, Jake, who she was close to, was dead as of a short time back, and there wasn’t even a family dog to miss her.”
Edge of Dark Water by Joe R. Lansdale is about a teenage girl in East Texas during the Depression who finds a body, finds some money, and travels towards Hollywood on a raft with her friends, while being pursued by family, acquaintances, corrupt cops, and maybe an urban legend. You could call it a coming-of-age story, an adventure story, a period piece, hillbilly noir (Joe Hill called it that), or a murder mystery, and you’d be right.