January 13, 2008

Digital Dystopia

Posted in sci fi at 11:23 pm by Mike Milinkovich

I’ve been slacking off on the sci-fi updates, but the reading itself has been coming along pretty well. In fact, I’ve read through two authors since my last post on the topic.

Charles Stross just rocks. Singularity Sky and Iron Sunrise are two of the best sci-fi books I have ever read. Well written, great plots, character development aplenty, and an alternative future that is truly compelling. The weird thing is that I was disappointed with Accelerando, which I had heard such great things about. I found a lot of the cyberpunk imagery feeling overly familiar, and the ending (to me) simply felt like he ran out out of gas. Ya, I know its a set of short stories, but I still think the conclusion could have been better.

Reading Richard Morgan was an interesting experience. I literally could not put the books (Altered Carbon, Broken Angels and Woken Furies) down. The pace was fantastic, equal to the very best detective or military novels out there. Morgan’s alternative future is a well constructed and nuanced dystopia where humanity has created a form of digital immortality that is just (yet?) another mechanism for the powerful to exploit the proletariat.

But I have to admit that after a couple of novels focused on a psychopathic killer slaughtering his way through Morgan’s vision of relentless class warfare I was tired. I mean seriously, I find dialectical materialism as amusing as the next guy but the politics of Morgan’s books are about as subtle as a Chomsky polemic.

That said, as I understand it, at least Altered Carbon has been optioned for a movie. The action film possibilities for these plot lines could really be cool. Cool as in even better than Blade Runner, as hard as that might be to believe.


1 Comment »

  1. Erigami said,

    Altered Carbon is a fine book – the writing is fantastic, the sci-fi concepts are well thought out, and the main character is likable. Broken Angels felt like a repeat of AC, but Woken Furies moves the plot a little further along.

    I can’t agree about Charles Stross, however. Iron Sunrise was fun, but having a minor-deity on the side of the protagonist is a little too helpful, and the baddies just aren’t evil enough.

    If you haven’t already read them, you may enjoy Verner Vinge’s “A Deepness in the sky” and “A fire upon the deep.”

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