Reading List 2022

(Pssst… check out my books on Amazon)

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Fiction

Children of Men by P.D. James

The 2006 film is one of my favorite movies ever, so naturally I wanted to read the original source material. P.D. James is a wonderfully poetic writer who can deliver incredible depth in her characters, as well as tense, nail-biting action. The plot, characters and themes are slightly different than the movie version, but are as equally dark and dystopian as what you seen on screen. There are scenes, quotes and ideas from this novel that have stuck with me for weeks after finishing it. I especially liked this monologue from a character who evidently finds little disappointment at the idea of humanity becoming sterile and having not future to look forward to:

For the last sixty years we have sycophantically pandered to the most ignorant, the most criminal and the most selfish section of society. Now, for the rest of our lives, we’re going to be spared the intrusive barbarism of the young, their noise, their pounding, repetitive, computer-produced so-called music, their violence, their egotism disguised as idealism. My God, we might even succeed in getting rid of Christmas, that annual celebration of parental guilt and juvenile greed. I intend that my life shall be comfortable, and, when it no longer is, then I shall wash down my final pill with a bottle of claret.

The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson

I am very interested in nanotechnology and very much enjoyed Snowcrash, so it was a no brainer for me that I should read The Diamond Age. This is a long book filled with no shortage of creativity, weirdness, wit and 90s-style cyberpunk (one popular mode of city transportation is “power skates”). I really liked the concept of “The Feed,” a utility for supplying raw matter to businesses and households so that devices call “matter compilers” can make things on demand. I also liked the idea that the air, water and even our bodies are filled with millions of “mites,” tiny nano-machines engaged in an ongoing war for control over the nanoscale world. And central to the story is The Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer, a book that is part paperback, part video game, part audiobook, part artificially-intelligent computer—all coming to life in a miracle of science fiction engineering to help make unique and ambitious people out of those who read it. Apart from these super cool creations, The Diamond Age is touching story about a young girl growing up in a crazy world where only her intelligence, diligence and perseverance can keep her alive.

Eaters of the Dead by Michael Crichton

This is one of the more unique of Michael Crichton’s books in that it presents itself as a true historical account written by Ahmad ibn Fadlan that tells the story of his journey north into Viking country. This is only the case for the first few chapters, after which Crichton very cleverly mimics ibn Fadlan’s voice in a retelling of the epic poem Beowulf. It’s sublimely clever and the writing is interesting, creative, witty and filled with exiting and bloody combat. The illusion that you are reading a real historical account, with its footnotes and passages explaining why some parts of the original text are missing, is so convincing that Crichton even fooled himself, as he explains in the afterword:

…I could no longer be certain which passages were real, and which were made up; at one point I found myself in a research library trying to locate certain references in my bibliography, and finally concluding, after hours of frustrating effort, that however convincing they appeared, they must be fictitious. I was furious to have wasted my time, but I had only myself to blame.

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If you liked this article, you might also like my fiction work available on Amazon.

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Writing on history, science, politics, war, technology, the future and more. Check out my science fiction books on Amazon: http://tiny.cc/28mpuz

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Patrick D. Lynch

Patrick D. Lynch

Writing on history, science, politics, war, technology, the future and more. Check out my science fiction books on Amazon: http://tiny.cc/28mpuz

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