Pros: Lovely prose. Fabulous world building. Engaging plot with mystery, peril and hope. Deep themes including population control, religious hypocrisy and societal constraints, the human-animal connection. Fine characterizations including a portrayal of a failed marriage, and an intriguing protagonist. Characters act from in response to well-depicted psychological motivations. Possible cons: Anti-organized religion theme may trouble some readers. Third act drags and occasionally becomes preachy. Fair bit of emotional tell. Continue reading Grass by Sheri Tepper, a Review
(Marginalized humans undermine the dominance of machines with the help of a sentient breadmaker and a hair salon.)
Pros: Clever set up, an interesting character, brilliant machine-world psychology. Possible Cons: Probably not the book for those unable to suspend disbelief or those who like their dystopias grim and sincere.
A successful character reads like a complete person with particular thought patterns and reactions, habits and tics. The best characters are consistent and believable, a person one might encounter in real life, for better or worse. How does an author fashion the mental world of diverse but credible characters? Continue reading Sensors and Intuitives in Neal Stephenson’s Novel, Anathem
Pros: Clever set up, interesting characters, timely topics Possible Cons: Video game style climax and villain-tells-all scene. Roving point of view and a fair bit of “tell.”
The Echo Chamber is in part a tale of tech-corporate malfeasance, involving a rogue AI, a blender and ruthless Silicon Valley executives who build a social media “echo chamber.” This hypnotic virtual reality seduces most of the world’s population, trapping people in their own memories or with a personalized preconceived-worldview-comfort-zone. This shadow world is a paradise for pundits who spew, to put it politely, “non-evidence-based ideas about people and the environment.” The company dodges moral responsibility, citing freedom of access, acceptance and inclusion. Moral blinders allow massive corporate expansion with “no constraints, no thought of consequences.” Continue reading A Review of The Echo Chamber by Rhett J. Evans
I stumbled upon this monumental artwork in the American Art Museum many years ago. It’s staggeringly peculiar for a number of reasons. First, it’s rather obviously constructed of tin foil and light bulbs. Second, it’s large, occupying it’s own room sized exhibition space. But best is it’s story. Continue reading Suitability of the One
Sternbert and Lubart (1999) defined creativity as the production of responses both novel (original, rare or unexpected) and suitable. Suitability depends on the venue: compelling in the arts, marketable in business, useful in science and technology or adaptive personally or socially.
This two component (production and suitability) definition changes creativity from a trait to a process in which a new idea is transformed into a compelling, marketable, useful or adaptive product. Given the number of steps involved, that nifty idea better fall on fertile ground. Continue reading Two-Part Creativity