There's been too much technology on here recently, and not enough frivolity. Ironically, this has been one of my least busy periods for a while, and I've had about 6 weeks of free evenings. So my main activities have been reading and watching DVDs. So why the heck not enjoy a list of my recent entertainments?
DVDs (and quality drama):
- Heroes. Everyone says it, but it is bloody ace.
- Battlestar Galactica. Don't laugh. I mean the new series, not the ropey old one. I'm half way through series one, and think it is possibly the best science fiction series I've ever seen. I particularly like the idea of a religious android.
- The West Wing. I'm a latecomer to this one, but can see what the fuss is about. Fantastic, zippy writing, great characters, moral dilemmas, humour, what more could you want?
- House of Cards. The BBC series from the early 90s, starring Ian Richardson. Marvellous, and Ian Richardson is completely convincing, horrible yet somehow sympathetic. Get it.
- Firefly. The short-lived science fiction series by Josh Whedon, of Buffy fame. Really good. Funny, interesting, quirky, good characters. Shame they didn't make more.
As for books:
- The Cogwheel Brain by Doron Swade is a great biography of Charles Babbage, written by one of the blokes who recently built a working difference engine. Vivid, thorough, and does a good job of placing Babbage (and Ada Lovelace - who apparently wasn't really the first programmer) in the context of computing history.
- Rendezvous with Rama by good old Arthur C. Clarke was one of the first science fiction books I ever read, when I was about 10. It blew me away when I was that age. I got a new copy cheap recently, and have started reading it again in a fit of nostalgia. It's grand-scale hard sf, brilliantly done.
- The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil by George Saunders is one of the best books I've read for ages. I'm convinced this guy is one of the funniest and potentially most significant writers of our time. I reckon his books will eventually gain the reputation of a Pynchon or Kafka, in terms of how well he satirises and captures the spirit of his age. Not heavy like those writers, which I suppose reflects the culture which produced him, but utterly brilliant, laugh-out-loud hilarious, and piercingly perceptive.