Sunday, January 15, 2012

More Reading

After my last post, I had that nagging feeling I had forgotten something. And I had: "Postsingular", by Rudy Rucker. I missed it because the paperback had been on my shelf for a while, and so didn't show up in my Kindle downloads listing. I really feel like, given his normal subject matter and background (computer science professor and Louisville native), I should like his stuff, but, he is just not a very good writer. "Postsingular" winds up being "Jack and the Beanstalk" anchored in quantum mechanics??? I really can't recommend it. I still have a reissue of his Ware tetralogy, of which I think I have read the first two, "Software" and "Wetware", on my to-read shelf. That will definitely be saved for a rainy day.

More recently, I read "Twenty Palaces: A Prequel", by Harry Connolly. This is apparently the last book in this series -- I think I read on Connolly's blog or twitter feed that his publisher was not going to publish any more of these. Too bad, I have enjoyed them. The protagonist, an ex-con who works as a thug for a mystical society that ruthlessly wipes out magic users, is a great noir character, a cheap detective of the old school.

Finally, I read "The Quantum Thief", the first novel of Hannu Rajaniemi. I tweeted: "80s: Neuromancer; 90s: Snow Crash; 00s: Accelerando; 10s: The Quantum Thief." I was really impressed. Just when you think that visions of future computing, cyberspace, and virtual reality are totally passe, here comes a new vision that blows you away. Rataniemi jumps on the privacy issues that are now coming to the forefront in social media with both feet. Highly recommended.

I also yesterday bought my first ebooks from a local bookstore: Carmichael's, Louisville's Oldest Independent Bookstore, owned by my old friend Michael Boggs and his wife Carol Bosse. I knew Michael from the Louisville computing scene in the mid-80s. Had a very pleasant lunch with him a few Sundays ago. Anyway, he told me I could buy Google eBooks from their website, same price as Amazon. You download them to the IndieBound Reader app on the iPad or iPhone. The books in this app look more like real books in their page layout than either the Apple or Kindle readers. The only downside so far is that I can't figure out how to get books from within the app, I have to go to the Carmichael's website, purchase and download. They have told me that I can designate Carmichael's as my store within the app, and then work from within the app, but I haven't figured out how yet.

Meanwhile tho, I would rather give business to local bookstores than to sweatshop master Amazon. The people who work in their warehouses (there is a large one in Lexington) are all hired as temps, minimal benefits, get sick and you're fired. Definitely a workforce that needs to unionize.

I have loved the convenience of buying from Amazon, but if the low prices come as a result of worker abuse, I will take my business elsewhere (whenever possible). Now I need a good alternative for buying music.

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