Monthly book roundup – 2015 August

Books finished in August:
(Warning: reviews are unpolished and quickly written.)

Apex: Nexus Arc Book 3 (2015) by Ramez Naam. Action-filled conclusion to Naam’s Nexus trilogy (Nexus, Crux, Apex). Against a backdrop of geopolitics, drug policy, fear of the unknown, development policy, and human rights, transhumans, AI, and humans clash. The first book (Nexus) provided the basic “science fictional” elements, here we see how these play out on the political scene, with its many actors with different motivations. Recommended.

How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World (2014) by Steven Johnson. Popular history of six innovations: Glass, cold (refrigeration), sound (recorded), clean (hygiene), time, light (artificial). Ideas that went through several phases and continually changed societies and opened up new possibilities and unintended consequences. A wealth of stuff to learn, but pay attention, otherwise things will go past you, as happened to me on this reading. Nevertheless recommended. Apparently also a TV series, favorably reviewed by Cory Doctorow.

Between the World and Me (2015) by Ta-Nehisi Coates. A long letter from the writer Ta-Nehisi Coates to his teenage son about being black in the United States. From slavery to today’s frequent killing of black men, by other blacks, police, and others, “black bodies” have been or been in the danger of being “taken”. Coates is pessimistic and despairing, even though the US of today is surely an improvement from slavery, and from even 50 years ago. However, his aim is neither to count the successes, nor discuss policy, but to emotionally tell (his son) how bad he thinks the situation still is, and how he sees today’s wrongs as a continuation of the past’s. Recommended.

Ratings and old books are in the library.

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