Friday, July 23, 2010

neuromancer

Yeah! Neuromancer was great! William Gibson's iconic SciFi novel from the 80's is loaded with imagery, and ideas that seem to have been ripped off, wholesale, by all kinds of cyberpunk and science fiction movies, books and TV shows. Gibson is know for his cyberpunk stories, and comes early into this tradition in the 80's--along with others--and helped to create a new sub-genre. The Disney movie Tron was one of the earlier in cyberpunk stories, in 1980. But who knows, Gibson and some of the others could have been well into their stories by then. I'm sure someone knows more about this than me.

Cyperpunk was first coined by Bruce Bethke, in his 1980 short story of the same name, originally published in AMAZING Science Fiction Stories. AMAZING had a good run, but after dying a number of times, it died again in 2004. No word yet on whether it will be revived. Yet again. [Sounds like the makings of a story.]

This book has been published/re-printed over and over again, with new covers to meet the style needs of the day. This was one of the books featured in an article about the history of SciFi in book covers, which I wrote about here. There may be making a movie in the works according to the online hum. Rumors include Hayden Christensen for a role, but who knows. And Disney has announced a remake of Tron called Tron: Legacy for Christmas this year.

So as you can imagine, if you've read any cyberpunk or seen Tron, a chunk of this story takes place in cyberspace, but not too much. The main characters are very real, live in a real place, and deal with real problems. What our main protagonist would call 'meat'; shorthand for issues of the flesh rather than the clean, neural interface with the net. What so great is: he can't escape the meat, and its what gives him the most trouble really. Internet use is like a drug, an addiction that he needs to survive, and he'll do almost anything for the next fix. The addictiveness of the behavior seems to be a sub-theme of the story, and given when it was written, seems to me remarkably foresighted.

This story asks lots of interesting questions about what the future of technology, computing and artificial intelligence will mean for mankind. Some of those we're dealing with right now, and others aren't too far off. I can see why this story has had such holding power for nearly 30 years; It seems very current.

Read this book.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

hopkinton bookmark

That's Hop-kin-ton, without the 'king'. I know, right? I spelled it wrong the first 5 or 6 times I wrote it. The Hopkinton Pubic Library is a beautiful old stone building from 1895, on Main Street. The design is simple and elegant, and is surprisingly small. The building looks bigger on the outside I think because its set up on a raised grade, and the windows are small. So small, that the building looks big by comparison. We have some old postcards of this one in our postcard collection.

Along about 1965, the library was out of space and bought the little church next door, built a link and expanded into the sanctuary. The church is of a similar vintage, 1897, made of stone, altho field stone, as opposed to the coursed and dressed rubble of the library. Both roofs are clay tile however, and contrary to the red tint on one of the colorized postcard images, the tiles are shale colored. According to Hopkinton Pubic Library: A Brief History, available on the library's site, the library was:

"established by the Young Men’s Christian Association in 1867. Seven members served as the Trustees, incorporated the Library and adopted by-laws for the government of the Library in 1890."

This bookmark is printed on glossy card stock and is two color, with a full bleed and printed front and back. The reverse has the hours, contact numbers, and other helpful info, like the library's website.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

gone, baby, gone

Gone, Baby, Gone was my first Dennis Lehane novel. Lehane came recommended to me this way, and I'm paraphrasing, Lehane writes about South Boston and Dorchester; its where his stories take place, and his character's come from. The stories are great, well written and fast. That's a pretty good description of the book I just finished. They made some movies from some of his books too, he told me, like, well... like, I don't remember.

I picked this book up used at a book sale/fund raiser in a library for 50 cents, or something. The author's name caught my eye. If I had been more thoughtful about it, I might have figured out what order the books were written in, as I got the distinct feeling that these were reoccurring characters very quickly, and that was confirmed when some of the details of older escapades crept into the narrative later on, and I found myself thinking: well, I know how that one ends, now don't I?

The paperback copy I have is published by Avon Books, and they list 4 other titles in the front matter by Lehane. Now I don't know anything about Lehane other than what my friend told me, but it seems to me that there should be more than 4 books, and none of the titles listed sounded like a movie I'd heard about, so I looked him up on my LibraryThing account. So yes, now I know who this guy is. Mystic River, right, that sounds like a movie. And Gone, Baby, Gone, as you probably already know, is also a movie (maybe I don't get out enough.) Shutter Island, yes, movie. I haven't seen any of these, but I have vague recollections of hearing they were good. So now I have a loose plan which includes reading some of the other things Lehane has written, and maybe checking out some movies too.

Gone, Baby, Gone
was a fast read, tightly written, with bits of humor, and horror, sprinkled liberally throughout. A chapter or two were hard to read. Lehane seems like a guy who can read about the worst things that can happen in life, hear the most depraved stories of cruel and inhuman behavior that people are capable of, and write about it with clarity and simplicity such that the rawness of it reaches down below your conscience mind and pokes at that primal part of your brain where the animal still lives. I warned my wife about the emotions this book creates.