Ten Day Book Challenge: Day Five

Ten Day Book Challenge: Day Five

Okay, I admit it. I’ve been completely derelict when it comes to this challenge. But I hope to amend that by finishing it things up and acknowledging all the books that have inspired me in the past.

Okay, so as usual, here are the rules of this challenge:

  • Thank whoever nominated you with big, bold print. If they have a blog, link to the post where you got tagged there.
  • Explain the rules.
  • Post the cover of a book that was influential on you or that you love dearly.
  • Explain why it was so influential to you.
  • Tag someone else to do the challenge, and let them know they’ve been tagged.

Thanks once again to RAMI UNGAR for the nomination, and you can find him at ramiungarthewriter.com. And for this latest entry, I would like to select the Singularity-themed sci-fi classic Accelerando, by Charles Stross.

Have you ever read a book that felt it came along at exactly the right time? Or one that spoke to you and your particular interests at the time? Well, this was one such book for me. Rather than being a single story, this book is actually a collection of shorts that Stross wrote during the early 2000s, but which were all connected by a common theme. Essentially, the six shorts tell the story of three generations of the Macx family, and take place before, during and after the Technological Singularity.

What I loved about this book is how it takes a look at the near-future and how the accelerated pace of technological innovation will make life very interesting (and complicated). It also speaks about several key innovations that are expected, ranging from AI, additive manufacturing (3-D printing), nanotechnology, neural uploads, and commercial space travel.

Looking at the more distant future, it shows how these trends will lead to a breakneck pace of change that will leave most of humanity struggling to remain human. It also throws is some truly interesting and entertaining bits about extra-terrestrial intelligence, a possible answer to the Fermi Paradox, and humanity’s long-term destiny among the stars.

Basically, this book covered all the bases that I was voraciously trying to learn about at the time for the sake of my own writing. It made predictions, both realistic and fantastical, that just spoke to me. And what especially impressed was the way that Stross, writing these stories at a least decade prior to me reading them, predicted so many trends that were slowly coming true. As such, I consider this book to be both inspirational and quintessential to my more recent education as a science fiction writer.

Next up, I nominate Joachim Boaz and his blog, Science Fiction and Other Suspect Ruminations!

Ten Day Book Challenge: Day Four

Ten Day Book Challenge: Day Four

And I’m back with another entry in the Ten Day Book Challenge. I’ve been very bad at keeping up with these, but I am determined to share my choices for the top ten most influential books I’ve ever read. So what I lack in punctuality, I hope to make up in sincerity and selection :).

Okay, so as usual, here are the rules of this challenge:

  • Thank whoever nominated you with big, bold print. If they have a blog, link to the post where you got tagged there.
  • Explain the rules.
  • Post the cover of a book that was influential on you or that you love dearly.
  • Explain why it was so influential to you.
  • Tag someone else to do the challenge, and let them know they’ve been tagged.

Thanks once again to RAMI UNGAR for the nomination, and you can find him at ramiungarthewriter.com. And here’s my third selection for the challenge, the post-cyberpunk classic The Diamond Age!

This book takes place in the 21st century after the world has been fundamentally changed by the introduction of nanotechnology. If Eric K. Drexler’s book The Engine of Creation was the authoritative treatise on how nanotechnology would change our lives, The Diamond Age was definitely the fictional counterpart. In this novel, Stephenson treated fans to his usual mix of weirdness, genius, historical and social commentary, education and growth.

For me, this book remains immensely influential, not because it introduced me to the concept of nanotechnology, but because it did so in a way that had such depth. Anyone who reads this is sure to feel that this book came along at exactly the right time to offer commentary on a concept that was slowly moving from the realm of science-fiction to science fact. And as this concept becomes more and more realized, I feel that this book will become required reading for people looking to understand the evolution of nanotechnology.

But, as I said, this book went beyond mere technological commentary, and contained some very interesting thoughts on social change, historical patterns, and the role of culture in development. While I didn’t agree with everything he asserted, it was interesting to see Stephenson detail how specific cultures may go about embracing technology differently, and how the pendulum of history can swing back and forth depending on the time and place and what means are available to people.

If nothing else, it got me thinking in a very serious way, like most of his works. And it was also delightfully fun to read and inspired me as a science fiction writer to take more risks and tackle issues I felt were previously inaccessible to me. Again, I highly recommend this book.

Okay, now for my nomination. This time around, I nominate the Tousled Apostle herself and a long-time friend and colleague of mine, Jamie A. Hughes!

 

Ten Day Book Challenge: Day Three

Ten Day Book Challenge: Day Three

In an effort to catch up on this challenge, I am making my third post on the heels of my second. Hope no one minds! Anyhoo, here’s my third selection for the books that have inspired me the most.

But first, a little book keeping. Here are the rules of this challenge!

  • Thank whoever nominated you with big, bold print. If they have a blog, link to the post where you got tagged there.
  • Explain the rules.
  • Post the cover of a book that was influential on you or that you love dearly.
  • Explain why it was so influential to you.
  • Tag someone else to do the challenge, and let them know they’ve been tagged.

Thanks again to RAMI UNGAR for the nomination, and you can find him at ramiungarthewriter.com. And here’s my second selection for the challenge, the cyberpunk classic Neuromancer!

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This book, which was published in 1982, is the first book in the Sprawl Trilogy – so named because all three take place predominantly in the Boston-Atlanta Metropolitan Axis (BAMA). Also known as the Sprawl, this mega-city extends along the entire eastern seaboard and is contained by geodesic domes. The story takes place in a semi-dystopian 21st century where the world is controlled by multinational corporations, the Cold War continues, their is a massive divide between the rich and the poor, and the criminal underworld consists of cyberjockeys, cyberninjas and Yakuza assasins.

This book was immensely influential on me because it introduced me to the world of cyberpunk, with its combination of high tech and low life! I got an introduction to these elements from movies like Akira and Johnny Mnemonic (which is based on a short story by William Gibson, btw), but it was not until I read this book that I really got what it was all about. It also illustrated for me what Gibson brilliantly said (I’m paraphrasing): “All science fiction novels are about the period in which they are written.”

Also, interesting fact, William Gibson coined the term cyberspace in this novel. Yes, roughly a decade before the internet became a reality, Gibson predicted what a global network of free-flowing information would look like. And his vision was incredibly influential, as exemplified by the countless movies that pictured the internet as some massive virtual environment filled with neon icons and streaming lines of code (think Hackers, the Matrix, and any movie involving internet crime combined). As he described it in the story:

“Cyberspace. A consensual hallucination experienced daily by billions of legitimate operators, in every nation, by children being taught mathematical concepts… A graphic representation of data abstracted from banks of every computer in the human system. Unthinkable complexity. Lines of light ranged in the nonspace of the mind, clusters and constellations of data. Like city lights, receding…”

I strongly recommend this book for anyone who would like to learn where many of the concepts that have become a staple of science fiction came from. And now for my nomination, I choose you, Phyllis Moore, aka. the MythRider!

The Ten Day Book Challenge: Day Two

The Ten Day Book Challenge: Day Two

Hello again, all. First, please forgive my tardiness in posting this. It’s been a busy weekend and an even busier year! I shall try to catch up over the next few days, though I can’t imagine life is going to get any less busy in the near future. Even so, I got plenty more books to talk about that have had a profound effect on me and influenced my decision to become a writer.

But first, here are the rules of this challenge again!

  • Thank whoever nominated you with big, bold print. If they have a blog, link to the post where you got tagged there.
  • Explain the rules.
  • Post the cover of a book that was influential on you or that you love dearly.
  • Explain why it was so influential to you.
  • Tag someone else to do the challenge, and let them know they’ve been tagged.

Again, I would like to thank RAMI UNGAR for the nomination, and you can find him at ramiungarthewriter.com. And for day two of the challenge, I would like to select the book that taught people to take science fiction seriously – Dune!

dune

Much like Lord of the Rings, this timeless classic was one I learned about growing up, but didn’t get around to reading until my 20s. And just like with LOTR, once I did read it, I could see why its influence has been so pervasive. While Frank Herbert wrote many science fiction novels during his lifetime, none have had the same impact as the first installment in his six-book Dune series. And while I myself read all six twice, the first book is arguably the best.

For starters, the story involved one of the richest, most-inspired and most-detailed universes ever created in the history science fiction. Based on the concept of a galactic empire where politics, the economy and all social norms are essentially combination of the futuristic and medieval, the setting of Dune would go on to inspire Lucas’ Star Wars universe. What’s more, many of the planets in the novel have been formally adopted by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) as place names for features on the Moon and Saturn’s largest moon, Titan.

But it was the complex interweaving of real history, religion, environmentalism, resource dependency, and cultural and social commentary that blew me away and has ensured that this book is likely to be included in any top ten lists of science fiction books that you can find – not to mention one of the top ten books people pretend to have read. And to round it all out, it has a very deep plot that examines the enduring mystery of prophets and messiahs in human history, and the paradox of prescience. As Frank Herbert himself wrote, “to know the future is to become trapped by it.”

I could go on and on, but I’ve already reviewed this book more than once and don’t want to spoil it for anyone who hasn’t read it yet. And if you’re one of those people who haven’t, get on it!

And now it’s time for me to nominate someone new. And so I call upon Lady Muse herself, Khaalidah Mohammed Ali!

The Ten Day Book Challenge: Day One

The Ten Day Book Challenge: Day One

Well, it seems that I have been roped into another challenge. Somehow, I thought these days were behind me the moment I began using this site strictly for professional reasons – you know, like book releases and promotions. However, when a friend and colleague nominates you, you got to step up! And hey, this challenge seems kind of fun and it is a way for writers (and aspiring writers) to share their influences.

Okay, so here are the rules of this challenge!

  • Thank whoever nominated you with big, bold print. If they have a blog, link to the post where you got tagged there.
  • Explain the rules.
  • Post the cover of a book that was influential on you or that you love dearly.
  • Explain why it was so influential to you.
  • Tag someone else to do the challenge, and let them know they’ve been tagged.

Okay, so my first act is to say thanks to RAMI UNGAR for the nomination, and you can find him at ramiungarthewriter.com. And here’s my selection for the challenge, the time-honored classic 1984.

1984_cover

I know, I know, everybody claims that 1984 is their favorite book, and apparently it is the novel that people lie about having read the most. But I actually have read it, three times now, and I can say without hesitation or doubt that it is one of the most influential books I’ve ever read.

The book was initially recommended to me by one of my high-school English teachers (Mr. David Gamble). He taught us Post-Colonial Literature and 1984 wasn’t on our syllabus, nor was it part of the senior English curriculum that year. But as he put it, this was a book that we all needed to read before we went off to college, university or whatever else we were doing with our lives. It would change the way we saw the world, he said.

That summer, I borrowed a copy from my mother and began digging into it. At first, I was only able to read a few pages at a time since I typically read before bed and had an early morning job that summer (like most summers when I was a student, I was working construction). However, I took the book camping with me and managed to finish reading it in a few sittings. I was so engrossed that I stayed up late just so I could finish it. And when I was done, I felt haunted, moved, inspired, and terrified all at once!

Needless to say, Mr. Gamble had been right, it DID change the way I saw the world! And twice more since University I’ve gone back to the book to re-read it with more appreciative and mature eyes. I even keep a list of quotes from the book that have had an enduring impact on me. All of them are taken from the Goldstein Manifesto, which (lesser-known fact) was the part of the novel Orwell wrote first. In this respect, the Manifesto is the part of the novel where Orwell is speaking directly to his audience, conveying his thoughts on history, politics, and human evolution:

“From the moment when the machine first made its appearance it was clear to all thinking people that the need for human drudgery, and therefore to a great extent human inequality, had disappeared. If the machine were used deliberately for that end, hunger, over-work, dirt, illiteracy and disease could be eliminated within a few generations.”

“But it was also clear that an all-round increase in wealth threatened the destruction – indeed, in some sense was the destruction – of a hierarchical society.”

“In earlier ages, class distinctions has not only been inevitable but desirable. Inequality was the price of civilization. With the development of machine production, however, the case was altered.Even if it was still necessary for human beings to do different kinds of work, it was no longer necessary for them to live at different social or economic levels. Therefore, from the point of view of the new groups who were on the point of seizing power, human equality was no longer an ideal to be striven after, but a danger to be averted.”

“In more primitive ages, when a just and peaceful society was in fact not possible, it had been fairly easy to believe it… But by the fourth decade of the twentieth century all the main currents of political thought were authoritarian. The earthly paradise had been discredited at exactly the moment when it became realizable.”

See? Still holds up even after all these years!

Okay, now it’s my turn to nominate someone, and I choose Fallacious Rose from butimbeautiful.com! I’ve always found her to be a very interesting woman and would like to hear what books have spoken to her over the years.

 

 

 

The Jovian Manifesto’s First Five Star Review!

The Jovian Manifesto is available for purchase on kindle and iPad. Get it now for the low price of $0.99!

Good news! The Jovian Manifesto, which was released a little more than a week ago, has just got its first review. And it was quite positive. And just so you know, the book is on sale for one more day. So if you still want a copy, get it while it’s still just $0.99, or grab the first and second book for the bundle price of $3.98!

The commenter, let’s just call them CWG, had the following to say:

I can’t wait for the next one!

I don’t think I’ve been so involved in a science fiction series since I read the Honor Harrington books by David Weber. I snapped up a copy of The Jovian Manifesto as soon as possible, having immensely enjoyed The Cronian Incident when it first came out.

What’s so good about it? Everything! But to be a bit more specific:
– believable science. This is a relatively near future series, Man has settlements pretty much all over the Solar System but hasn’t ventured past that yet. Nano technology is imaginative but not crazy. It makes sense.
– believable politics. Corporations and governments vie for power and most are just as corrupt as we have today. A long period of peace threatens to erupt into war, incidents are staged to trigger conflict, each situation pits several agendas against each other… it’s complicated but this too makes sense.
– likable characters. Williams has created multi-faceted characters whose lives are skillfully woven together to create a fantastic tapestry.
– fast-paced plot. It’s hard to put this one down, each chapter pulls you into the next until suddenly you’re all done and wanting more.

Last Chance to Get the Jovian Manifesto on Sale!

Good news and bad, everyone. Bad news first, tomorrow is the last day to buy my recently-published second book, The Jovian Manifesto, for the low price of $0.99 (£0.99 in the UK). The good news is, if you missed the first installment (The Cronian Incident), you can get them in a bundle deal for $3.98. Also, The Cronian Incident goes on sale after tomorrow for the low price of $0.99 (£0.99), so there’s still deals to be had.

Follow the links to get your copies. And thanks again to everyone who made this possible and who has provided support along the way!

Bundle Deal Cronian Incident & Jovian Manifesto Matthew Williams.jpg