This book picks up a month after Escapology, and forms a whole with it. Virology is a cyberpunk novel in which your avators turn out to be created from essential parts of your identity, so when someone locks them all up in the Slip, a VR internet, you feel amputated. The protagonist has a biological piece of software taking over its implanted harddrive and then his brain and body, while chasing down the antagonists with his gang. All ends well, just knee deep in gore. There’s something in Warom’s writing, an edginess and friction that keeps me reading.

So I bought her other published work and read that too.
Ren Warom hasn’t maintained her own online presence, other than Twitter, after 2018 it seems, and her Instagram account since the spring of 2019 (though I did take a few reading tips from the book images she posted there before).

Space exploration of exoplanets with life. Not with space navies and guns blazing, but crowdsourced and ethical by design. To Be Taught, If Fortunate is a fun novella. Very different from the previous work by Becky Chambers that I read, the also very enjoyable Wayfarers series (The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet, A Closed and Common Orbit, Record of a Spaceborn Few)

This (Dutch language) book ‘Fables about China‘, discussing ‘persistent western misconceptions about the new world power’ was published early Ocotber last year, and I picked it up in a local bookstore that same month.

Written by veteran journalist Jan van der Putten (41), this was a good read, critically discussing China starting from its internal and self-perspective, not from the unexpressed or faulty assumptions of the past 7 decades that informed western responses. The tone of the book felt a bit odd every now and then. After reading I realised the author is from 1941 so this book was published last fall when he was 79, meaning he watched most of it unfold in real time. Reading this book also resurfaced for me why my primary school teacher in the early eighties impressed on me the lesson that China would over time become a world power when he did. It was right when Deng Xiaoping initiated the economic reforms that allowed foreign investments and private entrepreneurship, starting the economic rise of China. The book also contextualises very well the work on the ‘new silk road’ and ‘digital silk road’ I witnessed across Cenrtal Asia in recent years.

It was published just 2 months before the Covid-19 pandemic started in China. Internal and external repsonse and actions by China closely match too what Van der Putten writes.

Kehlmann is a German novelist whose books I quite enjoy. His language appeals to me a lot. Previously I read his book Die Vermessung der Welt (Measuring the World) putting Von Humboldt and Gauss side by side in their quest to measure the world, and last year Tyll, a newly and beautifully imagined retelling of Till Eulenspiegel.

A few weeks ago, in our book case I found Kehlmann’s book Ruhm (Fame), a small collection of 9 stories that turn out to be connected and form a novel as a whole. I couldn’t remember buying it, nor if I had already read it, and started in the past days. Probably I read about a third because that is where I encountered the receipt from the bookstore: The Balmer Buchhaus in Zug Switzerland, dated 27 November 2010.

Me, in Zug in November? That sounded not quite right. We visit friends there regularly, but usually around New Year and at some point during the summer. Did I or we really visit there in November a decade ago? My Flickr photo stream provided immediate proof we did indeed.

Walchwil SunriseLake Zug at sunrise in late November snow, 2010

Checking my calendar from 2010 I found out the reason for our trip. We helped my sister move house that month (which I do remember). She lived in the neighbouring part of Austria, and had been recently widowed, and moved into a new apartment right on the Swiss border (now she lives in Brussels with her new husband, and is about to retire to Portugal). On our way back we stopped at dear friends near Zug (which I also remember). And visited the local bookstore (which I forgot).
There’s also photographic proof of it, as I snapped an image of books I wanted to maybe research online after our visit.

Browsing Swiss Bookshop

The one on the left I think we decided to buy after I took the photo, because I think it is in the bookcase somewhere too.