Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Hieroglyph: Stories and Visions for A Better Future

Usually, I like the "about the book" introductory material even better than the book. Hieroglyph is the exception. The intro goes on much too long and pontificates so much, I was about to stop reading the book. However, once it was through, the stories were fairly good. The first story was about building a 20 kilometer tall tower. There are plenty of engineering problems. However navigating the politics of it proves to be just as challenging. Other stories talk about a border wall controlled by corporate security, a solar powered machine for fabricating building materials in the desert (and the moon), a "biological city", a criminal that "becomes" his victims and a hotel in Antarctica. The stories ran the gamut of "storyness". The one about building materials from sand was a true story that happened to have an interesting premise. The "biological city" was essentially an essay that tried to wrap itself in a story. Overall, the emphasis was more on the "science" than the fiction. The stories tend to feel a little too full of themselves. They want to provide profound insights on the future of technology. However, that often makes them come across as week science fiction stories. The best stories spend a lot of time on the human and less time on trying to provide insights. The result is something in between essays and stories. They are more insightful than dry essays on the subject, but not as entertaining as true stories.

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