Kotler: Last Tango in Cyberspace

cover of Last Tango in CyberspaceLast Tango in Cyberspace

Steven Kotler, 2019

Last Tango In Cyberspace is near-future hard SF. Its protagonist, Lion Zorn, freelances as a trend-spotter, looking for ‘the next big thing’ for industry. His contract with a pharmaceutical company seems to be about designer drugs but a deeper agenda gradually emerges, and it is one which aligns the novel with Green Path’s concerns about wildlife conservation and animal rights.

That could easily make it over-serious but in fact it’s very smart, fast-moving and often funny. It’s hard to say much more without giving away spoilers, so I’m merely going to recommend the book, especially to those who enjoy William Gibson’s work.

Kotler was new to me but has a decent record as a journalist and nonfiction author, and this is his second novel. His first seems to have owed too much to The Da Vinci Code to be worth tracking down, but his third should be worth looking out for.

People in Australia before the Europeans arrived

In the middle of last year I compiled Where Did We Come From?,  a  sequence of articles and links about the evolution of our own species from the time we diverged from other apes up to the last few tens of thousands of years.

The last few articles in that sequence focused on Australia, and later additions crept ever closer to our own time. In the interests of making all the material more manageable, this post is its Australian content with some further additions. As before, it is arranged chronologically.

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Colly Campbell – The Capricorn Sky

book coverThe Capricorn Sky

Colly Campbell (author page)

Stringybark, 2020

There’s a lot to like in The Capricorn Sky but unfortunately there’s more than a little to dislike, too. Let’s get the negatives out of the way first.

It’s Campbell’s first novel (nothing wrong with that) and it’s self-published. The book’s unpolished design (fonts, text spacing, margins, etc) sends up the first warning signals and suggests immediately that it has missed out on the benefit of experienced editorial eyes and hands. Furthermore, Campbell has chosen to write in an invented future English in which hyphenated words are replaced by camelCase, “qu” by “qw” (qwite, qwiet, etc), and there are other neologisms and re-spellings. He probably intended that it would help place the action where it’s set, at the end of this century. It’s a tactic which can work well in the hands of an experienced writer (Burgess’s Clockwork Orange and Hoban’s Riddley Walker come to mind) but this reader, for one, found it merely distracting.

And that’s a pity, because Campbell has set a good story in a worryingly plausible future North Queensland.

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The story of Plastic Free July

Plastic Free coverPlastic Free is a warmly personal narrative by the founder of Plastic Free July, a sustainability initiative which began less than ten years ago, almost by accident, in Perth.

Prince-Ruiz was working at the time as a community educator in waste management so she was well equipped to support the programme when it unexpectedly took off – and that was all it needed.

Her emphasis was always on community, on shared learning, and on doing what’s possible right now rather than aiming higher and missing the goal. It made Plastic Free July an achievable and therefore engaging challenge, which then became a gateway to engagement with other sustainability issues – avoiding other single-use products, reducing food waste, joining food co-ops, and so on.
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A sister site for Green Path

Green Path now has a sibling, companion, doppelganger or whatever you like to call it, which is the home for my non-environmental interests – primarily books and photography, so I have called it ‘words & images’. It’s a blog very like this one and I have been setting it up during the last couple of weeks.

It already has twenty-odd posts, mostly older book reviews republished from elsewhere; the first new post on it is an introduction to Discworld for those unfortunate enough to have missed that very special fantasy series.

Normal service on Green Path can now resume.