Neal Stephenson

Long Novels Are Painful

In this digital age with so many other entertainment options besides reading, will people keep tolerating books greater than 100,000 words in length?

17 Favorite Science Fiction Works

Image source: Aumanack Diversão sem limite

After reading last week’s post on science fiction, Erin Feldman asked me to suggest a few books in the genre. Of course, I was delighted. So here are my favorite science fiction books (and trilogies) of all time. You’ll see they span sub genre and era.

1) The Diamond Age (Or, a Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer) by Neal Stephenson. If you gave three young girls with different backgrounds a primer based on the the ultimate algorithm-based artificial intelligence, their lives would still end up completely different. And those with the most advantages may have the largest handicaps. Simply brilliant analysis of semantic technologies, and quite a dystopian look at nano-technology, too. Check it out.

2) Altered Carbon by Richard Morgan. Imagine if your soul could be backed up and stored in the cloud. You’d need a chip in your cordial stack to access motor functions, and to identify your soul if the physical body should fail. Assassins could forever wipe you from the face of the earth by destroying your cordial stack chip. This premise drives one of the most bloody and violent books in the cyberpunk genre. I loved it!

3) The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkein: Do I need to say anything about this cornerstone of fantasy and science fiction (the trilogy was originally one long book). I’ve read the stories of Middle Earth well over ten times in my life, and loved the movies, too. The compelling battle of good versus evil painted in a dire light still grips me every time.

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The Murky Nature of Internet Vigilantes

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Image by Frank Tellez

Freedom allows many things, good and bad. The rationalization of justified Internet vigilantes arguably falls in both camps, depending on your perspective.

We love the archetype of the vigilante, the person who goes out and meters justice when authorities fail to do so. In a romantic sense, it makes sense. Consider our pop culture heros; Batman, Iron Man, Jack Reacher (in spite of Tom Cruise), Clint Eastwood’s many tough guy characters, and on and on. We worship their ability to right wrong in the spite of flawed protection mechanisms.

Thanks to the Internet, practicing vigilantism has never been easier. Social media empowers anyone to speak out for justice, and successful acts are met with attention and notoriety.

That’s unfortunate. Vigilantism (or “digilantism” online) is dangerous because the actor may not be well grounded in their ideas of right or wrong.

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SciFi Nerd Dream Come True

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Since this weekend marks the unofficial beginning of summer, and I already know how my summer will end, let’s talk science fiction.

I registered for the 71st World Science Fiction Convention this coming Labor Day weekend. It will be a nerd dream come true on a few levels.

First, the prestigious Hugo Awards are given out at the event. I plan on reading the five nominees and submitting a ballot by July 31. It will be awesome to see the program, meet science fiction authors, and talk about the craft.

Then there is the costume contest. I went to the Emerald City ComicCon last year during a layover in Seattle. What a crazy event! The costumes were wild and fun, and, well, nerdy! The science fiction convention costumes may be even crazier!

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Help People Understand

Smart Has the Brains

“I don’t know the rules of grammar… If you’re trying to persuade people to do something, or buy something, it seems to me you should use their language, the language they use every day, the language in which they think. We try to write in the vernacular.” David Ogilvy

If there’s one consistent mistake I’ve made over the years, it’s trying to be too smart.

How does “great” thought or complicated writing help anyone if they can’t understand it?

See, I believe in original thought, and want to make marketing and communications a better profession. I told Valeria Maltoni years ago that I can help businesses and nonprofits become better global citizens by improving communications.

Unless my concepts and ideas are too complicated for the general practitioner.
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