I had thought there would be no more Murderbot stories, as the last one seemed to come to an end. But this longer book makes an interesting jump, using a side branch from an earlier installment, as well as breaking out of having just the one Murderbot’s internal contemplations towards contemplating how constructs might come to terms with socialisation and group forming. In a sense this one was more about depression and recovering mental health, where the previous stories used the protagonist’s robotic mental health more like a prop or source of irony.

This is a collection of short stories by N.K. Jemisin (I’ve been reading her work in the past weeks, similar to how I read all books by other authors when I encounter something I liked.). The title attracted me, and I didn’t know it was a collection of short stories. Jemisin says she started writing short stories as stepping stones towards novel writing. She didn’t want to at first, did it following advice, but came to enjoy it.
Some of the stories are recognisable from her novels, where elements got re-used, or entire worlds flowed from the short story. There are many other stories in there, which allows one to hope for more novels ๐Ÿ™‚

I also read Emergency Skin, a story not in this collection.

E gave me this book for my birthday last May, to nudge me to stay playful now I’ve turned 50 ๐Ÿ™‚

Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul is from 2009.
I thought the first third had the most useful substance for me. The discussion of play ‘archetypes’ was helpful. What I realised reading it, is that the types of play that generally stand out to me are the ones I dislike (the joker that tells jokes, the director where it gets manipulative, the competitor), and that the things I generally enjoy (the explorer, the creator, the storyteller) I don’t think of as play mostly.
It mentions ‘play history’ but doesn’t really help you explore your own.

A key claim is that staying playful is a way of staying flexible and adaptable in the face of a changing environment. It posits that the opposite of play isn’t serious work, but depression.

Most of the rest was about evolution as well. That is interesting, and some elements did jump out to remember, but I at least didn’t get what point it was meant to make, other than seemingly repeating the claim above multiple times.

Een uiterst leesbaar boek, over wit privilege, systeem zien, ons cultureel verleden en de hedendaagse expressie ervan. Over hoe kleine wijzigingen in taalgebruik en iets meer reflectie een hoop kleine agressie schelen. Over luisteren en horen, over ruimte maken. In complexiteit zijn menselijke ervaringsverhalen, met ieder hun eigen waarheid en duiding, de meetlat voor sturing en verandering. Dat is ook als het om racisme gaat het recept. En dat is wat Nzume hier doet, menselijke ervaringen en systeemdenken uiteenzetten.

Dat het boek door anderen wordt gezien als haat, als individuele aanval, en ‘het is ook nooit goed’, ondanks dat Nzume dat nadrukkelijk en bij herhaling anders stelt, is exact het soort simplistische karikatuur waartoe het boek oproept dat nu eindelijk eens overboord te zetten. Om de complexiteit van het menselijk leven te omarmen voor wat het is, zodat we gezamenlijk vooruit kunnen. In plaats van in de opgehouden spiegel te kijken en je boze en vetrokken reflectie voor het gezicht van de ander te houden.

I’m reading N.K. Jemisin’s The City We Became, and I am thoroughly enjoying it. Currently about half way through. It’s set in New York City, and the city is coming alive as a sentient entity. It builds on how cities can feel like there’s something to them that’s bigger than its parts, that constitutes some sort of character, personhood. Berlin does that for me, which attracts and repulses me at the same time. Copenhagen does too, like a comfortable coat during a beautifully glowing, but unexpectedly chilly sunset. London, yes, inspiring and gritty. And NYC, indeed. The image below is from my first visit to NYC, in ’93. With two friends we drove our car from up near Albany to Yonkers and then down the entire Manhattan peninsula taking in our surroundings, right down to Times Square, and exploring from there on foot. It was a grimy city then I felt. Another visit, just weeks after 9/11 it was a griefing city, putting everything into sharper focus, oddly clear sounds in the city’s overall din, more saturated colors, right along side the stench wafting over it all from its deep smouldering wound at ground zero.

Looking at the images, listening to Jay-Z and Alicia Keys’ Empire State of Mind.

NYC in 1993, from Empire State Building, looking down E34th and E33th towards Lexington Av