Re: BOOKS: Recommendations

Damien Broderick (
Fri, 02 May 1997 12:47:05 +0000

At 10:08 PM 4/30/97 +0000, Kathryn wrote:

>Science fiction in general is going through a dismal period

Indeed. THE NEW YORK REVIEW OF SCIENCE FICTION has been running sorrowful
editorials and discussions about the `death of science fiction' - and this
is a very insiderly source, run by cutting-edge editors.

On the other hand, there are some wonderful books still appearing, in many
ways deeper and richer and with far more literary density than has ever
appeared in the genre (or adjacent to it) before. I've just read, and
strongly recommend, Richard Powers' 1995 novel GALATEA 2.2 [hope I'm not
repeating myself here; with e-lists one tends to forget what one posted
last week, or even last night]. It's a novel about a fucked-up and blocked
writer (yawn) who returns home to Urbana-Champaign and visits the AI labs
(where HAL was activated, you'll recall). There he gets dragged into a bet
between contending AI factions, and spends many months teaching a massive
neural net, through various instantiations, to use English As She Is Spoke.
Does the machine come alive? Is it a Stanislaw Lem-style Golem by the
end, or Heinlein's Mike? It's amazing stuff, beautifully written, and as
far as I can see pretty well informed with up-to-date AI theory.

Damien Broderick