Only fans of science fiction could create the sub-sub-genre. In the taxonomy of literature, the niche of niches is steampunk. Speculative fiction set in the Victorian era, steampunk creates a world where the adoption of electricity was delayed and steam-powered devices, on a personal scale, are abundant. In this realm, one of my favorite books is The Difference Engine by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling. It’s cyberpunk of the steam age, hence the moniker “steampunk.”
But the inspiration of steampunk surely can be seen in gothic science fiction like Frankenstein, which happened to be one of the books in Coursera’s Fantasy and Science Fiction course. This was the fourth book and although I had read it before, re-reading it twenty years later is a completely different experience. Books seem to age better with time than movies. Of course, reading Frankenstein brought great nostalgia for Mel Brook’s Young Frankenstein.
Here’s the deal, I liked the premise of Hunger Games. I liked the setting, I liked the back-story, and I especially liked the science-fiction aspects like the Tracker Jackers and Muttations. I really just wish it wasn’t written for young adults. For those that have read 1Q84 you will appreciate this thought: I really just want to give this book to another author and have it re-written. It’s not that the writing was bad, it’s just that I feel characterization and setting development were exchanged for action and teen-angst. I had a hard time dealing with the classic teenager “does he/she like me” tone of the book. I can appreciate the appeal and success and like I said, it’s not a bad book. I’m just not ready to be a teenager again 🙂
Moving on, I’ve started my quarter of Networks with my Computer Networks and Network Security class, so expect appropriately themed posts. For those that just groaned, this isn’t a threat! But I do tend to write what’s on my mind… I’m hoping to
analyze the Bitcoin protocol a bit more specifically in my networks class and hopefully get more into depth into SSL/TLS and software exploits in my security class. It should be fun!
To complement these classes, I’m reading Liars and Outliers by Bruce Schneier which should not only be relevant my security class, but will round off my personal Game Theory investigations. Each book by Schneier seems to take a step back from the technical security problem and focus on a grander scale. Here he takes on societal trust issues and among other things, he shows why society needs defectors (those who don’t play by the rules).
Lastly, after attempts of finding a private German tutor where I’m currently living haven’t worked out, I broke down and bought a one-year subscription to Rosetta Stone online. I was very reluctant until I saw and tried one feature: online studio sessions with a fluent speaker. I sat through my first 50 minute session 1-on-1 yesterday and it was great. The tutor was very friendly and helpful and we spoke entirely in German. Amazingly, these are included in the price and one can perform the sessions over and over. For those studying less popular languages, with limited access to speakers, this is a great find! I wish I would have found it earlier.