Read Together: The Evolving Self Edition

A while back, I offered up a “taster flight” of dystopic visions of our future. I still intend to post some more taster flights, but today I have something a little different, more akin to a wine and cheese pairing. I have two short ebooks to recommend, both good reads on their own, but that when read together make something even better.

The common theme of these two books is technology that connects directly to- and is directly controlled by- a human brain.

The Stir of Waters: Radiation, Risk, and the Radon Spa of Jachymov

I love non-fiction that pulls together information from disparate disciplines to give the reader a more complete picture, and this ebook does that well. It mixes scientific information on the effects of radiation and the assessment of the risk of exposure to low doses with historical information about a radon spa in eastern Europe, and the result is a short ebook that left me feeling like I'd really learned something.

Author: 

Paul Voosen

Reading for Understanding

One of the most disturbing things I have seen in the aftermath of the shooting of Michael Brown and the protests in Ferguson was a Pew survey that indicated that only 37% of white people think that the shooting of Michael Brown raises issues of race. On one hand, I can’t comprehend what the other 63% are thinking. On the other hand, I understand all too well.

Murder on the Mekong

This is a gripping and well-told story about an incident in the Golden Triangle area of Thailand that turned out not to be what it seemed and sparked an international confrontation. It takes the reader to a part of Thailand that most tourists avoid, and shows us not just the mystery that unfolded there but also a little bit abou the people who live in the area, and what this incident did to their lives.

Author: 

Jeff Howe

The Electric Mind: One Woman's Battle Against Paralysis at the Frontiers of Science

This book intertwines the story of Cathy Hutchinson, a stroke patient who can only communicate by moving her eyes, and the story of research underway to try to allow her and other patients like her to control robotic limbs directly with their minds. The story is thoughtfully told, and left me impressed with both the research and the strength of the human spirit.

Author: 

Jessica Benko

AfroSF: Science Fiction by African Authors

This is a large and enjoyable collection of sci-fi short stories from African authors. The stories span the continent and the various sub-genres of sci-fi, presenting interesting and thought-provoking visions of the future from an African point of view. All are thoroughly readable and well-written, and some are truly wonderful.

The Last Black Man

This is a gripping and harrowing story about a successful British man attending his first polo match. No, really, it is- because the successful man is the black son of working class parents whose sacrifices he is only now understanding, and whose life is not at all as secure and idyllic as it seems. The action in this masterfully told story is primarily in the protagonist's head, and the result is a story I will not soon forget.

Author: 

M. B. Munroe

Boom and Disrupted Business Models

A while back, I was browsing through Amazon, looking for new short ebooks to read, and I landed on Boom, by Tony Horwitz. As often happens when I go browsing, I bought more than I could immediately read, so Boom sat on my reader for a little bit. When I finally go to it, I loved it. I loved the fact that while it explained the political arguments about the Keystone XL pipeline, its focus was on the people along its proposed path. I loved how it showed the way different people can look at a proposed development and see different outcomes.

Unlocked

This is an invented oral history of the appearance of a terrible new disease, and how one nation (the United States) responded to the crisis. It is the back story for an upcoming novel, but it stands on its own as an interesting, engrossing, and all too believable story. Although the events are more than a little horrifying- the disease leaves an unpredictable subset of its victims "locked in" (conscious but unable to move)- the story is ultimately hopeful, as the nation manages to move past the usual political bickering and rise to the challenge.

Author: 

John Scalzi

Jamaica Dreams

This book beautifully and evocatively describes a series of episodes from the author's childhood in Jamaica. Each episode stands alone, and yet informs the others, as chapters in a single, if loosely bound, story.

Author: 

Rosemarie Robotham

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