These days, events on the order of a human lifetime are outside the scope of thought for this time and generation. The concept of seeing things in the context of a few years seems odd and even a year is difficult to approach. We in this world and time have accustomed ourselves to a life composed of moment to moment instantaneous experience. People follow one event to the next as if to blindly follow steps in the sequence without stepping back to consider the sequence itself.
This Fall found me working my way through Neal Stephenson’s Anathem, which is another fantastic success from an author who understands this message. He and a growing community of similarly minded thinkers have come together to contribute to the Long Now Foundation. The foundation describes its purpose thus:
The Long Now Foundation was established in 01996* to develop the Clock and Library projects, as well as to become the seed of a very long term cultural institution. The Long Now Foundation hopes to provide counterpoint to today’s “faster/cheaper” mind set and promote “slower/better” thinking. We hope to creatively foster responsibility in the framework of the next 10,000 years.
The foundation aims to further its goal through seminars, essays and projects serving to redirect attention towards more significant and deserving ends. Check out some of the plans, discussion, and images of the 10,000 year clock and take a minute to think about some of the ideas behind it.
Enough with the cliche terrorist/save the world plots and enough with the literary fluff. Here are a few top-notch choices with real redeeming value:
- Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson
- Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson
- Foundation by Isaac Asimov
- Memoirs of a Young Lighthouse Keeper by Peter Hill
- The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff
- Enders Game by Orson Scott Card
- Sailing Around the Room by Billy Collins
- Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follet
- Ilium by Dan Simmons
- The Giver by Lois Lowry
- Codex by Lev Grossman
I just stumbled across this Top 20 list of the most popular “geek novels” out there. Looking through the list, there are a bunch of classics that line up pretty well with my experience. These are a bunch of good books. Looking for new reading material, I get turned off pretty quickly from the cliche “action hero running around fighting terrorist/catholic plots to take over the country/world”.
So if you’re looking for something a little bit different, you may find these books refreshing.
GuardianUnlimited: Top 20 Geek Novels
1. The HitchHiker’s Guide to the Galaxy — Douglas Adams 85% (102)
2. Nineteen Eighty-Four — George Orwell 79% (92)
3. Brave New World — Aldous Huxley 69% (77)
4. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? — Philip Dick 64% (67)
5. Neuromancer — William Gibson 59% (66)
6. Dune — Frank Herbert 53% (54)
7. I, Robot — Isaac Asimov 52% (54)
8. Foundation — Isaac Asimov 47% (47)
9. The Colour of Magic — Terry Pratchett 46% (46)
10. Microserfs — Douglas Coupland 43% (44)
11. Snow Crash — Neal Stephenson 37% (37)
12. Watchmen — Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons 38% (37)
13. Cryptonomicon — Neal Stephenson 36% (36)
14. Consider Phlebas — Iain M Banks 34% (35)
15. Stranger in a Strange Land — Robert Heinlein 33% (33)
16. The Man in the High Castle — Philip K Dick 34% (32)
17. American Gods — Neil Gaiman 31% (29)
18. The Diamond Age — Neal Stephenson 27% (27)
19. The Illuminatus! Trilogy — Robert Shea & Robert Anton Wilson 23% (21)
20. Trouble with Lichen – John Wyndham 21% (19)