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January 7, 2008

Why We Love Bruce Sterling
Posted by Patrick at 11:38 PM *

To me, “sustainability” means a situation in which your descendants are able to confront their own problems, rather than the ones you exported to them. If people a hundred years from now are soberly engaged with phenomena we have no nouns and verbs for, I think that’s a victory condition.

On the other hand, if they’re thumbing through 1960s Small World paperbacks and saying “thank goodness we’ve finally managed to pare our lives back exclusively to soybeans and bamboo,” well, that’s not the end of the world, but it’s about as appealing as a future global takeover by the Amish.


As you accumulate more history you get more interested in history, but the great benefit of youth is that you don’t have to forget that stuff is impossible.

The past is gone, and our attempts to interpret it are retrodiction. The 1960s of the 1970s is not the same as the 1960s of 2008, and it won’t be the same as the 1960s of the 2040s.


People who talk about the failings of Boomers always talk about hippie leftie druggie Boomers, but Bush is a Boomer, so is Gingrich, so is Rove. Most of the NeoCons are Boomers, except a few of their gray emininences. When it comes to seizing power and enforcing radical change on society, Neoconservativism has pretty much gotta be the Boomer philosophy par excellence. Except maybe for Al Qaeda, because Bin Laden’s a Boomer, too.


Science fiction writers are not as bad as apocalyptic conspiracy theorists (except for the ones who ARE apocalyptic conspiracy theorists), but they’re not the kinds of personalities you actually want in positions of power and authority. Science fiction writers like amazing and wonderful and freaky and dreadful stuff. They get bored with the dull stuff, like making sure your kids have shoes and plumbing and your population has civil rights.


It’s stupefying to be always conscientious. That is not how alternative technologies and new ways of life are successfully generated. It’s certainly not how good design happens. Mindful design bears the relationship to actual design that a socialist allocation depot bears to a laboratory.

If you’re serious about design, you can’t quote Ruskin and try to build Gothic cathedrals in your tiny arts and crafts atelier. You’ve gotta prototype stuff, fail early, fail often, and build scalability into it so that, if you have a hit, you can actually have a big hit. A success as large as the problem.


The EU is a multinational regulatory trade bureaucracy. It’s pretty damn far from an “ad hocracy” because its glacial reactions and lack of spontaneity are legendary. Its politics are weak, its statecraft is weaker and its popular legitimacy is close to nonexistent, but as a bureau, man that thing is second to none. It’s the only empire in the history of the world that people clamor to join.

More here.
Comments on Why We Love Bruce Sterling:
#1 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2008, 01:42 AM:


#2 ::: Wakboth ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2008, 04:31 AM:

"It’s the only empire in the history of the world that people clamor to join."

As an European and a fan of the idea of an unified Europe, despite the many flaws of the EU, all I can say is "Hell yeah!"

#3 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2008, 06:01 AM:

Its politics are weak, its statecraft is weaker and its popular legitimacy is close to nonexistent

It's a sad old world where weak politics, weaker statecraft and a lack of popular legitmacy is a good thing. But for all that, the EU manages it. I think it's the contrast with intensely politicised national affairs, Valdez-level statecraft, and populism shading into demagoguery. Instead, the EU has been quietly, undramatically opening borders, causing historic enemies to work together and advancing the cause of human rights. It provides, in both its strengths and its weaknesses, an interesting counterweight to the United States as a paradigm of Western culture.

I find a nice, boring slow-moving bureaucracy pleasantly refreshing. If it's going nowhere fast, at least it's going nowhere wrong fast.

#4 ::: Alex ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2008, 08:25 AM:

We are the Borg: you *will* be assimilated. Join!

#5 ::: BSD ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2008, 08:58 AM:

I love bureaucracy, and believe it is the future.

#6 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2008, 09:49 AM:

The major advantage of the inertia of bureacracy is that it rarely engages in Red Queen's Races. I can't, for instance, see an EU standardization committee mandating ever larger "spoilers" on the backs of cars. LZZI

#7 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2008, 09:54 AM:

Mindful design bears the relationship to actual design that a socialist allocation depot bears to a laboratory.

It's not that design should be mindful. It's that design should be done mindfully. Trying to cram as much mindfulness as possible into something isn't being mindful, it's being obsessively compulsive. Mindfulness is about how you do things, not what you end up with from the doing. Just because the term's been hijacked by Amishfascist fundamentalists doesn't mean we can't use it in its original sense.

#8 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2008, 10:09 AM:

Who else would name a world-saving concept a "spime"? The man's got whimsy, that's for sure.

#9 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2008, 10:26 AM:

I like this one:

"If there's hope, it's in the facts. It's not in faith."

And this:

"I admit cheerily that I was conflating, while s-mcfarlane there was disambiguating... Kinda the systole and diastole of historical analysis, really."

#10 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2008, 10:54 AM:

I'm sorry, but Bruce Sterling is just plain wrong about modern music:

"I never imagined I'd be the kinda guy who says "kids these days have music that sucks." In fact pretty much ALL AND EVERY aspect of popular culture has suffered under the Bush Administration, but music, especially so."

This is based on his analysis of the top ten selling records of 2007. But that's completely the wrong way to look at the success of music--the top ten records of the year have exactly nothing to do with what's happening in music right now.

The exciting story about music these days is that "pop" itself is losing traction--the very existence of widely popular music is being challenged. Instead of having a few megabands who every one listens to by default, there are dozens if not hundreds of bands with much smaller, but much more enthusiastic audiences. More musicians are making more different music than ever before, and getting heard. Sure, you're not getting any Elvises or Beatles, but who cares? Multi-platinum artists existed because they were really profitable for the record industry, not because they represented some innate desire among the people of the world to all listen to the same music. People today have a literally unprecedented variety of music to listen to, and as it turns out, they mostly like different stuff. If Bruce doesn't like the music in the top ten, then nothing is stopping him from going out and finding a few of the several zillion artists recording that he does like.

This is all especially ironic, given that the heart of his vision for the future is the idea of "learn[ing] to generate lots of prototypes, throw 'em at the wall, search them, sort them, rank them, critique them, and blow the best ones into global-scale proportions at high speed." That's basically what's happening with music right now.

#11 ::: Martin Wisse ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2008, 12:10 PM:

Yes, music is going to be like literature already is, in that nobody reads the same novels and even people reading in the same genre (like say science fiction) are not that likely to have read the same books in any given year.

(My 2007 sf books were Making Money, Halting State and Brasyl: what were yours?)

#12 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2008, 02:08 PM:

From last night:

'If there's an American equivalent to these cerebral Russians -- I dunno. Maybe Ron Paul enthusiasts. I never met two of 'em who wanted to vote for Ron Paul for the same reason. Paulists are brimming over with heartfelt conviction at the same moment that they lack any practical plan for governance.

I mean, Ron Paul is a Texan crank extremist who makes even Mike Huckabee, a Baptist preacher from Arkansas, look with-it and street-level. Ron Paul is the kind of utterly unworldly guy whom, if you found him drunk in a Russian bar, you'd try to help him home because he was so likely to freeze to death.

These Paulunteers are way Russian because they are Internet hacker trivia freaks. They're incredibly "well-informed," yet they're so poorly-socialized that their lack of common-sense inspires pity.'

#13 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2008, 02:25 PM:

BSD #5 -- You are Hermes Conrad, and I claim my five pounds!

#14 ::: Michael R. Bernstein ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2008, 03:27 PM:

heresiarch @ #9: Like Jonathan Coulton! Gotta love the JoCo.

#15 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2008, 03:26 AM:

Martin Wisse, #11, in 2007 I read (bg = bookgroup):

Obernewtyn & The Farseekers by Isobelle Carmody
Chanur's Homecoming by C.J. Cherryh (bg)
The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror, Thirteenth Annual Collection edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling
Greywalker by Kat Richardson
Hammered by Elizabeth Bear (bg)
Scardown by Elizabeth Bear
Worldwired by Elizabeth Bear
The Legend That Was Earth by James Hogan (bg)
Carnival by Elizabeth Bear
Glorifying Terrorism edited by Farah Mendlesohn
The Last Hot Time by John M. Ford (bg)
The Consciousness Plague by Paul Levinson
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (bg)
Heat of Fusion and other stories by John M. Ford
The Silk Code by Paul Levinson
The Pixel Eye by Paul Levinson
Basilisk by N.M. Browne (bg)
Perdido Street Station by China Mieville (quit after 113 pages)
The Edges of Things by Lewis Shiner
Night Train to Rigel by Timothy Zahn (bg)
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
Neuromancer by William Gibson (bg)
The Magic books by Edward Eager
Eater by Gregory Benford (bg)
Coyote by Allen Steele
Coyote Rising by Allen M. Steele
Obernewtyn by Isobelle Carmody (bg)
Coyote Frontier by Allen M. Steele
Spindrift by Allen M. Steele
The True Game by Sheri Tepper (bg)
Hunter's Run - Survival Is the Only Law by George R.R. Martin, Gardner Dozois, Daniel Abraham
Only You Can Save Mankind by Terry Pratchett (bg - I also reread the two sequels before our meeting)
The Chronicles of Mavin Manyshaped by Sherri Tepper

I also read all the Asimov's for the year and two non-fiction.

#16 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2008, 04:05 AM:

Martin, #11 and Marilee, #15: I didn't keep a list of my reading for 2007, but I can say that I haven't read any of Martin's books, and only 3 of Marilee's.

The Librarything community on LiveJournal seems to have a year-end tradition of posting one's reading list for the year in poll format, so that other people can mark what they've read in common with you. After looking at about 3 dozen of them, I could only conclude that my tastes don't overlap much with anyone else's. There were about a dozen books that seemed to be on everyone's list, only one or two of which I've read, and then it went off in all different directions.

OTOH, it's also true that I don't read books just because everyone else is reading them. And it's a lot less true than it used to be that I'll finish a book just because I started it; these days, if it's not holding my interest, I'm more inclined to just put it aside and pick up something else. I don't have enough time to read all the books I want to read -- damned if I'll waste reading-time on something I don't even like!

#17 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2008, 09:00 AM:

I haven't read any of the books on Martin's list, although I'm planning to read Making Money this year.

Of Marilee's list, I read The Last Hot Time and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in 2007, along with 45 other new sf books and 11 re-reads; I had already read, in previous years, Obernewtyn, The True Game, and The Chronicles of Mavin Manyshaped. (The Song of Mavin Manyshaped is one of the treasured books of my childhood.)

#18 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2008, 09:44 AM:

The published-in-2007 SF books I read last year were as follows ahem:
HARM, Brian Aldiss
The Yiddish Policemen's Union, Michael Chabon
Sixty Days and Counting, Kim Stanley Robinson
Brasyl, Ian McDonald
Spook Country, William Gibson
Ha'penny, Jo Walton
Making Money, Terry Pratchett
Postsingular, Rudy Rucker
and various short stories. That's actually more than I thought.

#19 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2008, 10:26 AM:

I can't do my own 2007 reading list justice from memory, but I can hit some of the high spots, certainly. Not a lot of new books: I was discovering new authors last year, usually by wandering the shelves at Powells and grabbing up used copies of older books.

Blindsight - Peter Watts

(thank you for the recommendation, Kathryn)

Hammered - Elizbeth Bear
Carnival - Elizabeth Bear
Entangled World - Jürgen Audretsch
Twisty Little Passages - Nick Montfort
Jhereg - Steve Brust
and 4 other Vlad Taltos books as well

Farthing - Jo Walton
I Am a Strange Loop - Douglas Hofstadter
Glasshouse - Charles Stross
The Jennifer Morgue - Charles Stross
Halting State - Charles Stross
The Merchants' War - Charles Stross
Dreaming in Code - Scott Rosenberg
James Tiptree, Jr.: The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon - Julie Phillips
The Algebraist - Iain Banks
State of the Art - Iain Banks
Galactic North - Alistair Reynolds

#20 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2008, 02:07 PM:

LibraryThing sez:

Weird and Wonderful Words, Simon Winchester
Slightly chipped, Lawrence Goldstone
Jirel of Joiry, C. L. Moore
Unquenchable Fire, Rachel Pollack
Kidnapped, Robert Louis Stevenson
Word mysteries & histories : from quiche to humble pie
A Transatlantic Tunnel, Hurrah!, Harry Harrison
His Share of Glory, C. M. Kornbluth
Song of Solomon, Toni Morrison
About writing, Samuel R. Delany
Lust, Geoff Ryman
Briefing for a Descent into Hell, Doris Lessing
The Quark and the Jaguar, Murray Gell-Mann
Leave It to Psmith, P.G. Wodehouse
Eternity, Greg Bear
Eon, Greg Bear
On SF, Thomas M. Disch
Pavane, Keith Roberts
The Brothel in Rosenstrasse, Michael Moorcock
Tales of Ten Worlds, Arthur C. Clarke
The Book of the Dun Cow, Walter Wangerin
The Island of Dr. Death and Other Stories and Other Stories, Gene Wolfe
Valley of the Flame, Henry Kuttner
Feeling Very Strange: The Slipstream Anthology
The Human Factor, Graham Greene
A Legacy, Sybille Bedford
Michael Tolliver Lives, Armistead Maupin
Freddy's book, John Gardner
Michaelmas, Algis J Budrys
The white company, Arthur Conan Doyle
Perfume, Patrick Suskind
At the Mountains of Madness and Other Tales of Terror, H. P. Lovecraft
Dracula, Bram Stoker
The Furies, Suzy McKee Charnas
Suldrun's garden, Jack Vance
Madouc (Lyonesse Book 3), Jack Vance
Green Pearl, Jack Vance
America the beautiful, Moon Unit Zappa
The Secret History, Procopius
White Bicycles: Making Music in the 1960s, Joe Boyd
The amber spyglass, Philip Pullman
The Subtle Knife, Philip Pullman
The Golden Compass, Philip Pullman
Binary: Leningrad Nights, Graham Joyce; How the Other Half Lives, James Lovegrove
Prelude to Mars, Arthur C. Clarke
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Anonymous
Lord of the Trees, Philip Jose Farmer
A Feast Unknown, Philip Jose Farmer
The Goblin Reservation, Clifford D Simak
Kai Lung Unrolls His Mat, Ernest Bramah
The Catcher in the Rye, J. D. Salinger
Who?, Algis J. Budrys
Brokedown Palace, Steven Brust
The adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Arthur Conan Doyle
The Last Days of Socrates, Plato
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (Bantam Classics), Jules Verne
The Last Defender of Camelot, Roger Zelazny
The Etruscans, Michael Grant
Soldier of Sidon, Gene Wolfe
Soldier of Arete, Gene Wolfe
Soldier of the mist, Gene Wolfe
Vietnam, Stanley Karnow
Their eyes were watching God, Zora Neale Hurston
Worlds of wonder, Olaf Stapledon
A Handbook of Greek Mythology (University Paperbacks), H.J. Rose
The Postman Always Rings Twice, James M. Cain
Cannery Row, John Steinbeck

#21 ::: rillian ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2008, 05:43 PM:

Books from 2007, looking at the shelves:

Permanence, Karl Schroeder
Violin, Anne Rice
The Varieties of Scientific Experience, Carl Sagan
The Prefect, Alastair Reynolds
Lady of Mazes, Karl Schroeder (again)
Missile Gap, Charles Stross
The Atrocity Archives, Charles Stross (again)
Ventus, Karl Schroeder
Sun of Suns, Karl Schroeder (again)
Queen of Candesce, Karl Schroeder
Mainspring, Jay Lake
Hyperion, Dan Simmons
Halting State, Charles Stross
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, L. Frank Baum (aloud)
Charlotte's Web, E.B. White (aloud)
Rainbow's End, Vernor Vinge
Memnoch the Devil, Anne Rice (again)

Hey, read more than I thought. But definitely in support of the "no overlap" thesis.

#22 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2008, 06:58 PM:

Just looking at the SF hardcovers and trade, read for the first time in 2007:

Kage Baker, Gods and Pawns
Kage Baker, The Sons of Heaven
Kage Baker, Dark Mondays
Kage Baker, Rude Mechanicals
Elizabeth Bear, New Amsterdam
Glen Cook, A Cruel Wind (Dread Empire omnibus)
Pamela Dean, Tam Lin
Gaiman and Reaves, Interworld
Mary Gentle, Ilario Part I (Part II is waiting for a slot)
Matthew Hughes, Majestrum
Guy Kay, Ysabel
Patricia McKillip, Alphabet of Thorn
Patricia McKillip, In the Forests of Serre
Elizabeth Moon, Command Decision
Vera Nazarian, Dreams of the Compass Rose
Kat Richardson, Greywalker
Kat Richardson, Poltergeist
J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Maria V. Snyder, Poison Study
Maria V. Snyder, Magic Study
Charles Stross, Jennifer Morgue
Charles Stross, Glasshouse
David Weber, Armageddon Reef
Liz Williams, Snake Agent
Connie Willis, D.A.

There were others I got becalmed in, and a bunch of mmpbs, as well as some mystery and a very small bit of general fiction

#23 ::: Jim Henry ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2008, 08:38 PM:

These are all the new-in-2007 books I read in 2007:

Missile Gap by Charles Stross
The End by Lemony Snicket
Sixty Days and Counting (actually the whole Science in the Capital trilogy) by Kim Stanley Robinson
Titans of Chaos (actually the whole trilogy ending with this) by John C. Wright
Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows by J.K Rowling
Brasyl by Ian McDonald
The Bible Repairman by Tim Powers
The Mislaid Magician by Wrede & Stevermer
The Spiral Labyrinth by Matthew Hughes
Making Money by Terry Pratchett
Halting State by Charles Stross

And these are the best of the older books I read or reread:

Galveston by Sean Stewart
the Zimiamvia trilogy by E.R. Eddison
the Sandman series by Neil Gaiman
Cloud Atlas by David MItchell
Farthing by Jo Walton
Eifelheim by Michael Flynn
Glasshouse by Charles Stross
Villette by Charlotte Brontë
The Portrait of Mrs. Charbuque by Jeffrey Ford
Blindsight by Peter Watts
The Dream-quest of Unknown Kadath by H.P. Lovecraft
Bleak House by Charles Dickens
We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
Memories of the Future 1915-1972 by Ronald Knox
Zeitgeist by Bruce Sterling
Four and Twenty Blackbirds by Cherie Priest
Trent's Last Case by Edmund Clerihew Bentley
Helena by Evelyn Waugh
The Art of Arrow Cutting by Stephen Dedman
Manalive by G.K. Chesterton
Stardust by Neil Gaiman
Set this House in Order by Matt Ruff
The Judgment of Eve by Edgar Pangborn
Sister Alice by Robert Reed
No Name by Wilkie Collins
Spin by Robert Charles Wilson
The Dictionary of the Khazars by Milorad Pavic
The One Before by Barry Pain
Declare by Tim Powers
Jennifer Government by Max Barry
Resurrection Man by Sean Stewart
Life During Wartime by Lucius Shepard
Beowulf, tr. Seamus Heaney
The Necessary Beggar by Susan Palwick
Armadale by Wilkie Collins
Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie
Sewer, Gas & Electric by Matt Ruff
Love in the Ruins by Walker Percy

So: a fair bit of overlap with other people's lists in the new stuff, very little overlap in the older stuff.

#24 ::: Alberto ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2008, 09:46 PM:

Here's my tally for 2007, not counting things I reread or put down (for whatever reasons):

White Night, Jim Butcher
Four and Twenty Blackbirds, Cherie Priest
Lamb, Christopher Moore
His Majesty's Dragon, Naomi Novik
Point of Honour, Madeleine E. Robins
Night Watch, Terry Pratchett
Monstrous Regiment, Terry Pratchett
Going Postal, Terry Pratchett
Thud!, Terry Pratchett
Night Watch, Sergei Lukyanenko
Day Watch, Sergei Lukyanenko
Snake Agent, Liz Williams
Soldier of Arete, Gene Wolfe
Ysabel, Guy Gavriel Kay
The Privilege of the Sword, Ellen Kushner
Cabal, Clive Barker
Magic Lessons, Justine Larbalestier
Anansi Boys, Neil Gaiman
Mistral's Kiss, Laurell K. Hamilton
Throne of Jade, Naomi Novik
Black Powder War, Naomi Novik
Blindsight, Peter Watts
Kushiel's Justice, Jacqueline Carey
Farthing, Jo Walton
Mélusine, Sarah Monette
The Virtu, Sarah Monette
The Harlequin, Laurell K. Hamilton
A Dirty Job, Christopher Moore
Twilight Watch, Sergei Lukyanenko
Petty Treason, Madeleine E. Robins
Expendable, James Alan Gardner
Hellblazer: All His Engines, Mike Carey
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, J. K. Rowling
The Clan Corporate, Charles Stross
The Lathe of Heaven, Ursula K. LeGuin
The Bird in the Owl Suit, Meredith Broome
The Mirador, Sarah Monette
The Atrocity Archives, Charles Stross
Vincalis the Agitator, Holly Lisle
Spin, Robert Charles Wilson
Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, Susanna Clarke
Lean Mean Thirteen, Janet Evanovich
The Jennifer Morgue, Charles Stross
The Lies of Locke Lamora, Scott Lynch
Butcher Bird, Richard Kadrey
Promises to Keep, Charles de Lint
Vellum, by Hal Duncan
The Bone Key, Sarah Monette
A Lick of Frost, Laurell K. Hamilton
Land of Mist and Snow, Debra Doyle and James D. Macdonald
Dragonhaven, Robin McKinley
The Death of the Necromancer, Martha Wells
The Wizard Hunters, Martha Wells
The Ships of Air, Martha Wells
The Gate of Gods, Martha Wells
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Long Way Home, Joss Whedon
Transmetropolitan: Word on the Street, Warren Ellis
Transmetropolitan: Lust for Life, Warren Ellis
Empire of Ivory, Naomi Novik

#25 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2008, 05:45 AM:

As I have for the last few years, I posted my reading for the past year on my LJ.

Here's the books that are at least arguably SF or fantasy. Some of them were beta reads, especially for people active on rec.arts.sf.composition:

The Family Trade, Charles Stross
The Spriggan Mirror, Lawrence Watt-Evans
The Hidden Family, Charles Stross
The Clan Corporate, Charles Stross
Seraglio, Bill Swears
The Mislaid Magician, Patricia Wrede & Caroline Stevermer
On Stranger Tides, Tim Powers
It's Superman!, Tom De Haven
The Merchants' War, Charles Stross
The Atrocity Archives, Charles Stross
The Jennifer Morgue, Charles Stross
The Vondish Ambassador, Lawrence Watt-Evans (serialized online first-draft)
Mindswap, Robert Sheckley
Salamander, David D. Friedman
The Pinhoe Egg, Diana Wynne Jones
Self-Made Man, Norah Vincent
Babylon 5: The Scripts of J. Michael Straczynski, vol. 10
The Alchemist's Apprentice, Dave Duncan
God Stalk, P.C. Hodgell
Babylon 5: The Scripts of J. Michael Straczynski, vol. 11
Dark of the Moon, P.C. Hodgell
Seeker's Mask, P.C. Hodgell
To Ride a Rathorn, P.C. Hodgell
The Ghost Brigades, John Scalzi
Doctor Who: Human Nature, Paul Cornell
Od Magic, Patricia McKillip
Blindsight, Peter Watts
Eifelheim, Michael F. Flynn
The Devil You Know, Mike Carey
The Sharing Knife: Legacy, Lois McMaster Bujold
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, J.K. Rowling
Half a Crown, Jo Walton
The Bacchae, Euripides
Giant Lizards From Another Star, Ken MacLeod
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, J.K. Rowling
Interworld, Neil Gaiman & Michael Reaves
Sixty Days and Counting, Kim Stanley Robinson
Stardust, Neil Gaiman & Charles Vess
Saturn's Children, Charles Stross
The Lies of Locke Lamora, Scott Lynch
Ilium, Dan Simmons
The Prestige, Christopher Priest
Olympos, Dan Simmons
Overclocked, Cory Doctorow
The Name of the Wind, Patrick Rothfuss
Ha'Penny, Jo Walton
The Odyssey, Homer
The Babylon 5 Scripts of J. Michael Straczynski, vol. 12
Halting State, Charles Stross
Blood and Ivory, P.C. Hodgell
The Sun in Shadow, Mary K. Kuhner
Territory, Emma Bull
Return of the Bridge Philosopher, James Kauder
The Deed of Katy Elflocks, Graham Woodland
The Android's Dream, John Scalzi

Also, like Marilee, every issue of Asimov's.

#26 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2008, 09:52 AM:

Anyone who sees Locus regularly will know what I read last year, in terms of fiction, and next month's issue will have my column about faves -- lots this time. [/end shameless self-promotion] But some of the lists on this thread are much more impressive, ranging in time and genres more freely than I can (or *think* I can). Bravo to all obsessive readers!

The other component of reading is magazines. Though I don't see the genre fiction ones as much as I should, I can't resist things like Discover, Smithsonian, National Geographic (gift sub from my mother-in-law), and Mom's New Yorkers, along with a few of the big newspapers online, etc. Again, I know a lot of people here read far more than that, and well beyond my level of pop sci. Would anyone like to mention favorite magazines, or is that straying too far off topic?

#27 ::: Jen Birren ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2008, 10:00 AM:

David @25, where did you get the book by Graham Woodland? I've been wanting to read something of his since seeing some of his extracts-for-comments on rasfc, but I didn't realise he had anything out.

#28 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2008, 01:49 AM:

I have a lot of the new books other people read, but I'm about seven years behind now. I should have noted that Hunter's Run was an ARC that came to the bookgroup, but it's out now, anyway. FWIW, I thought it was "Ehn".

Jen Birren, #27, that's one of David's beta reads.

#29 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2008, 04:43 AM:

"Katy Elflocks" is actually only about a third of a novel, but it was so good that I couldn't leave it off the list. If he can make the two other panels of the triptych as skilfully, I really believe he'll have a new classic of modern fantasy.

If you hunt up his email address (on Google Groups if nowhere else) and ask him nicely, I bet he'll let you read it.

#30 ::: Jen Birren ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2008, 06:53 AM:

Thanks, Marilee and David!

#31 ::: Nix ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2008, 08:02 AM:

abi said:

"I find a nice, boring slow-moving bureaucracy pleasantly refreshing. If it's going nowhere fast, at least it's going nowhere wrong fast."

Yes, and it's interesting that Sterling spends so much time harping on his peculiar belief that the nation-state is dying, as are all higher-level bodies, and that accumulations of city-states (like, what, medieval Italy?) are the future.

I note that Sterling's been predicting this and writing books set pretty much in such a universe for at least a decade, while the world has pretty much entirely failed to follow his prediction: if anything it's going in the opposite direction, with state power increasing to dangerous levels in many free countries. (Italy has *always* had a thriving black market, for instance: Sterling's just noticing it now because he lives there. Notably a new taxation push is threatening to shut large parts of it down, because the Italian government is borrowing money to such an extent that the EU is getting tetchy.)

In my eyes Sterling's record of coming up with reasonably accurate or even halfway *plausible* predictions is pretty much zero. Yes, his ideas are cool, but that's all they are. They're not pleasant, or sensible, or remotely likely to come to pass. I have no idea why people consider him a futurist. (John Barnes is better at that, for all that he says he's no good at it. At least he uses actual models, albeit crude ones, to try to come up with answers rather than relentlessly gunning for whatever sounds coolest or most counterintuitive.)

(But I think he's right in one area: the future *will* be green in the sense of 'sustainable', either because we make it so or because we don't and civilization mostly implodes and we nearly all die.)

#32 ::: clew ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2008, 04:05 PM:

"I can't, for instance, see an EU standardization committee mandating ever larger "spoilers" on the backs of cars. LZZI"

I've been told, by a British citizen, that EU trade standards were ruining the market for russeted apples; I don't know if he was correct, but he was planting an orchard to preserve them.

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