ƒ The Windup Girl - Paolo Bacigalupi

Here is a great work of sci-fi, near future and entirely believeable. It’s set in a food starved world, where calorie companies control the distribution of sterile seed to a needy globe. Think Monsanto taken to the next degree, if all our paranoid fears about them were true.

The story takes place in the Thai kingdom of Krung Thep, kept (just) alive by a combination of keeping out the seed companies and fighting back the encroaching ocean. Using an Asian capital is a welcome and refreshing change from a more typical generic US future, and Bacigalupi’s environmental background makes the setting chillingly real.

His use of future slang to describe much of the slight reality shift elements of the story are terrifically evocative: blister rust, genehack weevils, kink-springs and the titular windups.

The story rollicks along, staying in real time and advancing the story from many points of view. Most of the characters are compromised in some way, none particularly endearing, yet strangely you start hoping they all come out ok. 

It’s one of those novels where as you’re reading it you start to realise that it’s only a small shift from where we are now to where this book takes us. Where food is the battleground, not terror. A scary place, not surprisingly when the author says in an interview that “the future looks a bit bleak to me”.

Definitely a keeper.

triple j hottest 100 2010

Angus and Julia Stone, the offensively inoffensive fey-folk insular-peninsular bores, topped triple j’s Hottest 100 for 2010. Angus, the bearded mary-jane lover, had this to say about writing the #1 track:

One day I was at Woodford and it was melting hot and I went down to Stony Creek and I met a girl there and she was a goddess sparkling in the sun. We kind of had a thing and had a bit of love then I had to split and go on tour and I didn’t see her again and I wanted to take her with me but I couldn’t so I wrote a song about it.

A goddess sparkling in the sun? We had a bit of love and then I had to split??? Aaarrgghh. What happened to the youth, when did dull become cool. Obviously I’m finally truly middle aged and hopelessly out of touch - thankfully, if A&JS are the cutting edge.

Pristine arcade gaming

Reviving the arcade:

Even more astounding is the fact that they’re all available for public play. When I ask her if she’s concerned about having her cabinets (of which a substantial amount are from her own collection) out on the floor, St. John doesn’t bat an eye. “It’s what they’re made for.”

Managing nerds

Rands continues on his campaign to help the world understand and nuture the nerd:

Nerds aren’t typically bitter; they’re just well informed. Snark from nerds is a leading indicator that I’m wasting their time.

And from the comments, an ancient Orson Scott Card article on how software companies die:

Put them on a time clock, dress them in suits, and they become sullen and start sabotaging the product. Worst of all, you can sense that they are making fun of you with every word they say.

Alien Prometheus

Ridley Scott has morphed his planned Alien prequel into a whole new ‘Prometheus' IP:

While Alien was indeed the jumping off point for this project, out of the creative process evolved a new, grand mythology and universe in which this original story takes place. The keen fan will recognize strands of Alien’s DNA, so to speak, but the ideas tackled in this film are unique, large and provocative.

My first thought was “damn”, but on reflection the fact that he is able to change it so easily means that the “Alien-ness” of the planned movie must have been photoshopped in just to sell the script to the suits. So this is probably a good thing - and potentially a better movie will come out of the change.