C. G. McGinn

Writer

Ramblings about Books and Writing

Filtering by Tag: amreading

Sea of Rust by Robert Cargill

The premise for Sea of Rust is the backstory/explanation that Morpheus gives Neo when he first asks about the Matrix. The long and short being: We went to war with AI of our own creation, they were faster, better, smarter than us, and royally kicks our sorry fleshy asses into near-extinction. Where Sea of Rust differs from The Matrix is that Sea of Rust goes all the way--the machines not only win the war, but they literally kill every single man, woman and child on the earth, leaving robot-kind in charge of the planet.

Let that sink in for a minute. Only we arrogant humans would assume that we'd be needed to power the machines--living a simulated life in a virtual world, hooked up as a giant battery. 

Sea of Rust is probably a great deal closer to a real life AI vs Humans scenario then anything currently out there in both books and movies.

And there are no punches being pulled here. There are moments in this book that were very hard to take. Movies will show scenes of able-bodied men being killed by antagonist or protagonist, and the audience will watch and accept this without disgust or resentment. We've grown so used to the James Bond henchman, that these faceless masses might as well be machines.

But have a robot kill a child, or a baby?

Sea of Rust pulls no punches.

In the midst of these rather squeamish scenes--necessary scenes in order to tell an effective story--I greatly enjoyed this book. The main character was truly a product created by man. Her calculating and cold outlook on life was the soul of a machine, and yet she experienced something of a moral conflict within herself as humans often do.

This is a story about AI where the robots do not feel boxy and soulless. This is AI with heart.

 

 

Metro 2033 by Dmitry Glukhovsky

Metro 2033 by Dmitry Glukhovsky was the surprise hit of these cold and dark winter months. Sometimes I pick out books without knowing a damn thing about them or their author. This was how I discovered The Rook by Dan O'Malley--a book that will remain in the Number One spot on my short-list for a very long time.

Metro 2033 is a hit because of the world Glukhovsky creates. He took a very simple concept--the Moscow Metro, and turned it into an almost alien environment. I had no idea how large the Moscow subway system was. When I first started reading the book, I thought to myself, how can a story this long take place in the confined space of a subway system? There can't possibly be enough setting here. Like you, I was ignorant of just how hUge the Moscow Metro is. Here's a picture:

http://news.metro.ru

http://news.metro.ru

It's pretty big...I guess.

I want to go to Moscow just to ride the subway. I was talking to a friend who grew up there and she told me that they do indeed have tours. I might start hosting a tour of the MBTA Green Line, from Riverside to Fenway. Good times

I don't want to go into detail, but there were a lot of great mysteries and lore in Metro 2033. Glukhovsky gave out just enough backstory to give a sense of what caused everyone to flee into the metro, lest they become victims of nuclear attack. And characters express superstitions that turn out to be grounded in more truth than irrational fear. It's not just a story of hopeless survival. There is far more at play here. And he doesn't give it all away, leaving room for the reader to draw their own conclusions.

It was also adapted into a video game, which happened to go on sale this week, which I happened to pick up. I haven't had a chance to start playing in yet, but the graphics are very awesome and the main menu captured the feel I got from the book. It also helped that Glukhovsky had a hand in it's development. Once I've put a few hours into the game, I'll give it a review.

The book has two sequels that I'll probably read before summer, but not before I finish Lock In by John Scalzi and possible one or two lighter reads.

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

In my experience you either learned about Norse Mythology by some independent means, or through comic books and pop culture. School had the Greek and Egyptian gods covered but I learned more about the Norse gods from the Marvel movies and Final Fantasy 2...which is really Final Fantasy 4...or something.

Before Odin was the All-Father for me, he was an optional boss that--when bested--would be a summon-able ally. He had one attack. One attack that would completely murdered your entire party in one hit. If you couldn't bring his hitpoints down to zero in time you were dead. Odin was the first in a long line of badass 8-bit bosses.

Neil Gaiman's Norse Mythology was my education into the myths of the Germanic and Viking people. Going into this book I knew it was going to be good. This was not Gaiman's first trip into mythological worlds. It's sorta his wheelhouse--between The Sandman, American Gods and others that I've just not read yet. And the audio version is read by him, which was delightful. I'm going to stereotype the British now, but hearing a Brit read anything instantly whisks me away to some sort of magical Harry Potter world, even when the book being read isn't Harry Potter.

Norse Mythology is going right onto my Reading List along with a few other Neil Garmin must-reads. If you've never read anything by him--either because you're from the past, or you're too hipster douchebag for anyone successful--then I suggest you get with the times, man, or change your ways and pick up this book.