Uneven. The company profiles are interesting, if sometimes sparse on details, and present views into a more democratic form of corporation.
They’re constantly broken up by vague premonitions of disaster, though, a new kind of Malthusian faith that we’re stretching the Earth to its limits.
No evidence is marshaled in support of this belief, and the effect is to weaken the author’s otherwise well-made argument: that the current way of organizing corporations is not the only way, and some of the alternatives are better.
Despite the hand-wavy references to mysticism and quantum physics, I learned:
- The John Lewis Partnership in the UK is its largest department store chain, and is entirely employee-owned, with an elected employees’ council that governs the company alongside the Board of Directors
- The Bank of North Dakota is state-owned (!), the only one in the US
- Elinor Ostrom won the Nobel Prize in Economics for her work proving that the “tragedy of the commons” is not inevitable, and can be avoided while preserving the commons as community property.
Brilliant. Wallace’s writing is as lean and focused as ever, keeping the action moving and the laughs coming.
Three things I learned about writing:
- Background action can be sped up, to keep focus on foreground.
- It’s ok to stand up and cheer for your characters once in a while. It gives readers permission to cheer for them, as well.
- Seeing the consequences of a weird event (transformation, spell effect, etc) before seeing the event itself can make its eventual description less confusing and more interesting.
Wife and I are heading off to WorldCon today!
It’s in Kansas City this year, which is only a 4.5 hour drive for us. For once, no plane tickets to buy 🙂
This’ll be our first WorldCon, so I’m both excited and nervous. A lot of our friends will be there, but so will many — ye gods, so many — of the authors I admire. I’m going to try to keep my squee to an acceptable level.
Also, thanks to the efforts of Tanya Washburn and the Accessibility Committee, there’s going to be multiple ASL-interpreted events! The Masquerade, all Business Meetings, the Hugo Awards Ceremony, and the Paul and Storm Concert will all be accessible for the deaf and hard of hearing.
They’ve even arranged for a personal interpreter for my wife for one day of the Con, so she can enjoy that day’s panels as much as anyone else.
It’s going to make a huge difference in my wife’s independence during, and participation in, the Con. The Accessibility Committee has been very responsive and welcoming, and I’m quite thankful for their efforts.
Eye-opening. Brings two hundred years of Central Asian history to life through a series of vignettes, describing individual lives spent among the cities and caravans of the Silk Road. That technique lets the author pack of a lot of detail into a slim book.
Three of the many things I learned:
- 9th century Buddhist monks would setup stalls in the monastery, offering spells for healing or insight into the future or advice for what to do
- Chinese histories of the time portray surrounding empires as vassal states, when in truth China often paid tribute to those empires to stave off war.
- Even in the eighth century, you could come across ruins and abandoned towns in the Tarim Basin. People had been living there for 2,000 years, and with water so precarious, often had to pick up and move as the climate shifted
Biggest three flaws in the novel are fixed!
Or, at least, I think they are? Hard to tell without getting another round of beta reader feedback.
In any case, I’ve made edits to fix the largest plot holes.
Moving on to problems with world-building. Those range from big things like: does the background for the two main characters make sense? Is it treated consistently? Does the behavior of the villain at the start of the book hold with what we learn about them by the end? To smaller pieces, like making sure the monetary system used holds up and the curses the characters utter fit the world.
It’s a little more scattershot than the first editing pass. Almost wish I’d made notes as I wrote the first draft, breadcrumbs for me to follow back so I’d know exactly which sections of the text would need to be checked later. Maybe something to try with my next novel?
Disappointing. Starts out strong, with several good chapters covering how the replicator enables Star Trek’s cashless society, and what could motivate competition and work in such a society.
Starting with the middle of the book, though, the author indulges in multiple digressions, ranging from a chapter covering how Isaac Asimov’s work influenced Star Trek (true, but way off-topic) to one listing all the ways the Ferengi represent 20th-century humanity (also true, but obvious).
Ends with a chapter claiming that interstellar travel is an economic dead-end, a fantasy, and the only way to get there will be to enable a Star Trek-like society beforehand. Not exactly a perspective to inspire exploration and discovery.
Still, I did learn a few things:
- Currency-less society wasn’t part of original Star Trek; the idea was introduced in Star Trek IV, and fleshed out in Star Trek: The Next Generation (and later series, like Deep Space 9)
- President Reagan opened up GPS to the public because the Soviets shot down a Korean airliner in 1983
- In the US, from 1970 to 2012, GDP per capita doubled, while energy use dropped from 2,700 gallons of gasoline (equivalent) to 2,500