Book Briefs

Geektastic: Tales from the Nerd Herd Edited by Holly Black & Cecil Castellucci

A wide variety of stories that embrace the geek lifestyle.

As with any short story collection, there are some stories you’ll like more than others, but for the most part the collection holds up well and if you’re a geek of any kind you’ll find something in here to smile about.

Whether its the quiz bowl contestant with a crush on his fellow quiz bowl participant or the story of what happens when a Klingon and a Jedi become romantically entangled, the stories hit close to home in a loving and not pandering way.  This is clearly geeks poking fun at themselves and their fellow geeks and not people looking down on the geek lifestyle.

There are a few stories that didn’t necessarily work for me, but part of that could be my lack of context for getting some of the jokes and in-jokes.

Genesis by Bernard Beckett

An interesting short novel that sets up a fascinating situation in the near future and then slowly undermines all of the reader’s assumptions about things.

There’s a minor twist at the end, that upon reflection is very much in line with the original version of “Planet of the Apes” (book, not the movie).

Makers by Cory Doctorow

Cory Doctorow’s latest novel is a near future story, taking the concept of open source coding to the next level.  By taking ideas and pieces left over from previous devices, “Makers” tracks the rise and fall of a group of a guys who take existing technology and modify it with interesting and profitable (at least for a while) results.   The story follows a journalist, who gives up life in the newsroom for the more lucrative opportunity of following the trend.

“Makers” works because it not only celebrates the idea of open source building but also examines the unintended consequences of such thing.  It’s portrayal of our near future can be at times bleak, but there are also twinges of hope thrown in there as well.

And while the novel can be fascinating at times, there are moments when the story bogs down for long diatribes or explanations of the technology and why open source is so vitally important.  I get that Doctorow comes to this story from a unique prospective and as an advocate of openness and transparency.  But there are still some times in the story where you’ll find yourself wishing for less instead of the more Doctorow gives us.

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