Nobody, IMHO, does near future military science fiction better than Linda Nagata. In her Red trilogy and in her newest book, The Last Good Man, Nagata extrapolates from technologies currently in development (or even in use) and paints a vivid picture of war in the latter part of the 21st century. But more than just the tech and exciting story, she writes characters you care about while exploring issues in a way that makes you think. This book is good for action junkies and futurists. Publishers Weekly wrote “Nebula-winner Nagata (Going Dark) explores incredible AI weaponry in a thrilling novel that lays bare the imminent future of warfare. Seattle-based Requisite Operations, a private military company, agrees to rescue captive doctor Fatima Atwan from the gangster El-Hashem. ReqOp’s director of operations, True Brighton, is stunned when the mission unexpectedly uncovers connections to her soldier son Diego’s death by torture eight years before. True is soon at odds with ReqOp’s owner, Lincoln Han, over how to bring the culprits to justice, but both want the truth. Meanwhile, True’s husband struggles to believe that anything they learn from further investigation will ease the pain of Diego’s death. Autonomous helicopters, animal-shaped biomimetic robots, and True’s insectile “origami army” are integral to her quest and provide a mesmerizing glimpse of the probable forthcoming roles-or obsolescence-of human soldiers.”
From the foreword: “Sometimes, when a concept or institution reaches its logical conclusion, the world looks at the results and cries: “Never again.” For really bad ideas – from totalitarianism to fossil fuel dependence – saying “never again” isn’t enough. Humanity needs other, better ideas to take their place. That’s where we are today. We know we can’t avoid the cataclysmic impacts of global warming by only focusing on achieving net zero carbon emissions; we must also rapidly re-sequester carbon. Drawdown – by identifying and researching dynamic, innovative solutions – creates the playbook for this urgent goal.” Drawdown presents one hundred techniques and practices, many of which already exist, are economically viable and are being used by a variety of communities throughout the world. Climate change is an overwhelming problem and it’s all too easy to despair. Drawdown is a powerfully hopeful book, full of things that individuals can act on. Just looking at it for this blog post has made me feel better and inspired to do something!
Recently, I read an article in the Washington Post summarizing a study that involved modeling the number of spiders in the world and the amount they eat each year. What the scientists found was a bit, ah, disturbing. Average global density of spiders? 131 per square meter. Combined weight of the world’s spider population? 29 million tons. Annual consumption of prey? 400 to 800 million tons. By way of reference, the estimated combined weight of all adult humans on Earth is roughly 287 million tons. So spiders could eat all the adults on Earth and still be hungry. Which brings me to The Hatching. Look at the book cover to the left. Think about what I just wrote above. If you decide you’re ready to read what you know is in there, set aside a good block of time. Trust me, you are not going to be able to put this one down unfinished. And be prepared to jump every time you feel the slightest tickle on your skin.