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Walter Jon Williams' The Green Leopard Plague, which is also part of an anthology of the same name. The anthology includes several other stories that build up the world that GLP takes place in. Some interesting ideas about identity and consciousness in a society with extremely advanced bioengineering.


Umberto Eco's Prague Cemetery which expands greatly on a tiny section of Foucault's Pendulum. Eco's writing is extremely dense. Similar to Neal Stephenson, but with more of a literary flavor than a technogeek flavor. A nice way to balance out your reading if you find you are a bit too focused on modern technology.

I finally read Robert Anton Wilson's Illuminatus! trilogy. Early Internet and web culture was so deeply infused with RAW's ideas that the trilogy felt like one long déjà vu session. Lots of fun. RAW + Eco are a great antidote to taking conspiracy theories seriously, while having a ton of fun at the same time.

Gibson's Sprawl trilogy. Wow. Since the release of the Blue Ant books, I've been telling people that Blue Ant is the place to start, as it updates a lot of the underlying themes of Sprawl for this decade. But Sprawl is still very current and relevant. If you read Sprawl during or before the dot-com bubble like I did, you probably focused on the prophetic internet stuff. If you read it again, you will find out that there is plenty more interesting stuff to feed your brain in Gibson's early novels.

I loved Neuromancer and Burning Chrome, to a lesser extent count zero and mona lisa overdrive.

But, the blue ant books are so boring! I am so genuinely perplexed whenever anybody recommends them. Honestly I can't say anything after Pattern Recognition is any good or not as I never gave it a shot.

I guess I just struggle with what exactly and who exactly I'm supposed to be paying attention to in Pattern Recognition. Too many asides that I only found distracting and not amusing or even interesting.

But I loved the sprawl series so much, I keep trying to pick up Gibson again. I'm just left mystified what anyone sees in his recent 5 or 6 books.

I did read the Sprawl books pretty much as they were published, or within a couple years. I think I was in 6th grade when I read Neuromancer the first time.

I think it is easy to see the Sprawl books as being technology-oriented with cyberpunk window dressing. If that is your perspective going in to Blue Ant, then I can see how you might be disappointed. The Blue Ant series makes it clear that Gibson is interested in contemporary humans and their culture. Technology informs these topics, but isn't the primary focus.

Going back to Sprawl after reading Blue Ant, new layers of detail became apparent to me. There is a lot more than just an AI-driven singularity story going on. If anything, the [Spoiler!] Neuromancer-Wintermute union is a McGuffin made too explicit, distracting many readers from the rest of the interesting content. Like Space Rastas. How awesome are Space Rastas?!

I found it easy to follow the Cayce Pollard thread in Pattern Recognition. Everything seems to develop around her or eventually relate back to her. In some sense, Cayce is a hybrid of Case from Neuromancer and Marly Krushkova in Count Zero. Bigend is a hybrid of Josef Virek (Count Zero) and perhaps the physical aspects of Armitage (Neuromancer).

All of Gibson's books deal with characters that operate with relatively little wealth and power on the fringe of society and their interactions with figures of extraordinary wealth and power who have ambiguous locations within society. But these characters aren't just computer hackers / programmers. They can be marketing advisors, children, fashion designers, linguists, artists or mercenaries.

It is worth giving the Blue Ant* series a second change, there is more in common with Sprawl than first appears.

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