I wasn't reading too much before, but I've been dealing with COVID this week, so I had some time to finish a few books while I'm riding out the two week lockdown.
I finished The Future of Humanity: Our Destiny in the Universe by Michio Kaku before awhile ago and I found it informative, though there were few sections where I wished the author would have been more technical. However, the book is a decent primer of the current state of space exploration in addition to giving insight into what transhumanism could look like in the relatively near future and beyond. The most interesting section was on what the the manned mission to Mars will look like, with accurate detailing of the systems Boeing will use to get us there.
The book next I read was The Employees: A workplace novel of the 22nd century by Danish author Olga Ravn, which is an epistolary novel mostly composed of the fictional statements of the crew members aboard the The Six Thousand Ship, a starship in orbit around the alien world New Discovery. The statements chronicle the growing discontentment among the crew with their expeditionary mission amidst tensions between the human and android crew members, while alien objects the expedition brought onboard The Six Thousand Ship affect the behavior of the crew in strange ways.
The prose of the book is simple, but evocative; I found myself highlighting entire passages that stuck with me, which is notable since the book has been translated. If you're looking for a quick yet memorable read, this is it.
Shall Machines Bites the Sun by Benjanun Sriduangkaew is the final book in her Machine Mandate series. It follows Thannarat, a former cyborg detective who once save her homeworld with the help of her AI wife Daji. Except for the odd assassination attempt by her homeworld's former occupiers, a Greek spacefaring empire known as the Javelins of Hellenes, Thannarat lives a relatively idyllic with Daji until the AI is forced by the machine government she is a citizen of to return the fold and abandon her wife. Thannarat embarks on a quest to find her wife that will make her confront hard realities and her recently resurrected ex-wife.
On the whole, I've enjoyed this series and some of the author's other work.
The Blunder by Mutt-Lon is a satirical historical novel about the eponymous blunder during French military surgeon Eugene Jamot's humanitarian mission to Cameroon in 1929 to fight sleeping sickness, which left seven hundred local villagers permanently blind. Worried that this tragedy might spark a massive rebellion across the region, Jamot dispatches Damienne Bourdin, young medical official attached to mission who is looking to save her reputation and running from her past in France, to quixotically search for a nurse named Edoa who happens to be a Camerooian princess in the hope that she can forestall the brewing conflict.
The novel has a low-key humor about it that doesn't trivialize the tragedy of what happened and novel plays certain stereotypes straight while also shattering them. It subtly criticizes the "white savior"trope that enabled a blunder that left hundreds blind while showing the insidiousness of colonialism plainly. It lays bare to evils of racism while showing a sympathetic side to most characters. The novel flies by quickly, but leaves you thinking.
The last novel I read was Ymir by Rich Larson, the first full-length novel I've read by the author. I've clicked with all of his work I've read so far, so I decided to give this novel a try and I wasn't disappointed. The story is billed as being a far future retelling of Beowulf, but it is a very loose retelling, following a corporate bounty hunter named Yorick Metu who has sent by the interstellar company he works for to terminate an alien war machine known as a grendel that has emerged in a company mine on Ymir, Yorick's former homeworld. Yorick is less than enthused to be back on Ymir since he is hated by the colonists on the planet for fighting for the company when it subjugated their world and he had his jaw shot off in an altercation with his brother. As Yorick begins his hunt of the grendel, he becomes embroiled in a conspiracy that will upend everything he knows and believes.
I have to say this was another satisfying sci-fi novel, made more enjoyable by the Audible narration, which I'd recommend getting; it add so much to the storytelling.
Anyway, yeah, that's what I've been reading. I'm currently working through The High Frontier: Human Colonies in Space by Gerard K. O'Neill.