Swiss author and playwright, picked the book up in Zurich in 2024. I thoroughly enjoyed Die Erfindung des Ungehorsams (2021), the invention of disobedience, and read it in one sitting. Well told, many beautiful sentences. Three women in NYC, China and England are followed as they try to understand the world. Their stories are interwoven through the emergence of AI driven automatons grasping their true autonomy. One because she sees the future in Babbage’s machinery and determines how to program them, one making sex dolls in China that get fitted with AI, one hosting Manhattan dinner parties where she tells, invents?, a story and only the others eat. All three finding a way to break their constraints, and become disobedient to their surroundings. A multilayered work, as one critic Daniela Janser wrote, a poetic homage to the oldest programming language of all, imagination. I will probably buy her more recent work Vor aller Augen, before all eyes, soon.

An island in China where the global e-waste gets processed is at the center of the book, and where an old experiment emerges into a new consciousness. Really enjoyed this one, weaving western and Chinese perspectives on SF together. Took me a long time, about a year, to finish, because I read it on paper and I had long stretches without opportunity to comfortably read a paper book so it just sat there on a side table. Read the last half in the last few days making time for it early evening.

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.

Some links I thought worth reading the past few days

Some links I think worth reading today.