Finished By Light Alone, recent SF novel by Adam Roberts.
Has an intriguing premise: in the future a genetically-engineered Bug allows people to photosynthesize from their hair, leaving them with little need to eat.
Roberts sometimes treats SF elements as just a pretty background for ugly characters, but here he's put some effort into thinking things through. Without the need to eat, the population of the world's poor, the Longhairs, has exploded. The rich minority trim their hair and eat conspicuous luxury foods as a status symbol, keeping the poor away from their enclaves with brutal repression. The lack of need for food has apparently depressed wages allowing for cheaper production. Women are particularly exploited as they need hard food to produce babies.
So, it's an interesting idea, possibly intended as an allegory for increasing inequality. Roberts also switches between narrators to show us different aspects of the world. As usual for Roberts, the initial character is unsympathetically self-absorbed, but the others are more differentiated.
The plot isn't particularly compelling, and leaves things a little bit unresolved, but the quality of the writing and world-building keep you interested.
Overall, decent book, worth a read if you like his stuff.
Went to see Girl B's amateur choir do an unrehearsed performance of Verdi's Requiem. Very good: surprised they held it together despite everyone just turning up and doing it from the score. The Dies Irae was particularly impressive (that's not them, that's another group).
What I'm Watching
Saw Shadow of a Doubt on DVD. 1943 Hitchcock movie about a wanderer who returns to his sister's family with secrets in tow.
A little bit dated, especially the portentous soundtrack. Seems oddly slow for a Forties movie too. But does eventually generate quite a bit of suspense, with a nicely glib/menacing performance from the lead.
Thanks to Girl B I seem to have been seeing a lot of fairly cerebral movies lately. I must go for something with explosions pretty soon. Was seriously tempted to see Ghost Rider 2: Spirit of Vengeance despite its abysmal 14% rating on Rottentomatoes.
Socioeconomics. Women randomly assigned to single-sex groups gradually show less risk-aversion. Independent invention should be a defence against patent infringement. What should investors do if Greece leaves the Euro.
Culture. Musicians Wage War Against Evil Robots Biblical literalists used not to think the Bible teaches that human life begins at conception. Oscar Academy demographics, via. Homer. A Canadian Citizen's Guide to the War of 1812. BBC nuclear war script, via. WikiHow: How to persuade an atheist to become a Christian.
If in the year 2000 the U.S. president had told the American people that the government would soon begin using robot planes to track people, including U.S. citizens, all over the world, and would reserve to itself the right to kill them without trial, it is safe to say there would have been an enormous uproar.Video. Every Face Punch in Road House. Nobody listens to Worf. Cassetteboy vs. The News.
The question Donald Rumsfeld, of all people, asked about Iraq is still the central one: Is our dirty war creating more terrorists than it’s killing? And there is every reason to believe that it is.
For Americans, “fighting terrorists” on a permanent basis by blowing people up here and there across the globe is just something a responsible country does, the same way that a good dog owner remembers to give his pooch his flea medicine.
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