I love year end lists. I always end up finding new things that I didn’t know about.
io9.com recently posted their best science fiction books of the year and I found a few books that I want to read from that list. I haven’t read a good SciFi book in a while so this should be entertaining. I think the last book I read that could be considered scifi was…Soon I Will Be Invincible, which merits its own blog post so wait for that.
Book number one: Ted Chiang’s The Life Cycle of Software Objects
The cover alone draws me in. It’s so beautiful in what it’s trying to depict – a robotic embryo. I’ve been fascinated with robots and AI for a while, as evidenced by a previous blog post . In this novella, Ted Chiang attempts to depict the development of artificial intelligence and based on the review from io9.com, it looks like he’s taking a different approach to it. Rather than treat AI as something that can be created and then developed into intelligence overnight, he acknowledges that intelligence is developed and nurtured over time. A few scifi works have referenced this idea, and many have even referred to AI as something that they nurtured then let loose on the world, but I think this work takes it to a whole nother level. I can’t wait to read it and it’s apparently available fully online here.
Book number two: Charles Yu’s How To Life Safely in a Science Fictional Universe
I’ve actually been meaning to read this book for a while. From what I’ve seen of it (from the reviews and perusing the book on the shelves), it’s a very meta type of novel. I love the idea of meta, self referential crap like that. Especially in terms of novels, I think having a meta narrative is interesting because it shows the author is capable of writing something intelligent and creative and still acknowledge their flaws. I love it. This book looks to be a fun adventure into science fiction tropes that everyone is familiar with, but taken from a different perspective. I should definitely check this out, as it is just sitting on the shelves at work. I’m pretty sure no one has checked it out yet, so I’m going to do it and enjoy the heck out of it.
Book number three: Ian McEwan’s Solar
I must confess: I haven’t seen nor read Atonement, Ian McEwan’s other famous work. However, this book kind of drew me in. The idea behind it anyway. It just sounds like such a departure from Atonement that I have to read it. It’s about a scientist who comes up with one great idea and coasts on that one idea for as long as he can. Then, he discovers a new use for it and it somehow makes him famous again…I don’t quite know the plot, but all I know is that is speculative science, mixed with possibly a good depiction of human relationships. (let’s get serious, most SciFi writers can’t write relationships well..so let’s hope a literary author dabbling in scifi can do better) I’m in. I love books in which actual human relationships are depicted and they just make SENSE. Nothing is fake about the relationships and they just work.
I hope I have the time to read these books. I’m still working on Steven Johnson’s Where Good Ideas Come From . It’s very good so far, and I’ll probably post about it as I read it. I liked his other works and his ideas, so I’m sure I’ll enjoy this book as well.