I read a lot of books when I was in college. I wish I had kept better records and wrote more about what I liked about them, what I learned, how they made me feel, alas. However, I did come across some notes in a bunch of old files that I have copied from old computer to new computer at least three times. I can’‘t call these reviews but they are all I wrote at the time. These were mostly library books (dead tree, not digital, denizens of the 21st century), so I have no Kindle highlights or annotations to look up. If you want to remember something 20 years from now, write it down!


by William Gibson

The Cyberpunk book that started it all. Gibson’s 1984 version of the future is anarchistic and gothic and exhilirating. The AI issue receives treatment as basically, if the AI’s smart enough to think, it’s smart enough to get Out of Control (Kevin Kelly) and does just that.

Out of Control

by Kevin Kelly

A must-read book, even if all you read is the bibliography, which contains tons of books that consider the issues of AI, Complexity, Science, etc. Kevin Kelly asks a lot of good questions that still have me thinking. Read it again.

note: I did not read it again. However, the issues he raised are now in our daily news feeds. -tgbates, 2016


by William Gibson Is the 2nd book in the trilogy (I guess it’s a trilogy). Looks at the Projects in the future, has a neato little hacker punk who dresses very hackishly, but doesn’t know what’s going on. I liked the Samurai more by the end than I did at first. He finally decided he was tired of getting shot up and settled down with his dead brother’s girlfriend.

The Difference Engine

by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling Book concerns England in the 1850’s and on to 1905. Sybil Gerard, daughter of Walter Gerard, who started a revolutionary movement but was killed, starts off as the main character, a typical cyberpunk character. She doesn’t know much about the Engines or Kinotropes, but has a mentor in Mick Ralley, who does. Unfortunately, he is killed by a Texas Ranger sent out to kill Sam Houston. Things switch to Edward Mallory, a scientist digging up dinosaur bones. He shows the reader a scientist with integrity, who can kick butt, too. He’s the most awesome scientist I’ve ever seen in a book. Maybe that game with the scientist fighting the space marines isn’t so far-out. Of course, Mallory has been in Wyoming with the savages, not in a lab. TDE covers topics similar to Out of Control. The Science of Complexity is covered. Examples:

  • p.183 Flocking is discussed
  • p.211 The use of engines for simulations to observe how things work, etc.
  • p.223-224 Chaos theory explored
  • p.243-245 Vivid picture of London in anarchy
  • p.302 View of history as progress opposed by the Catastrophe theory

In the book, Inspector Ebenezer Fraser is an awesome guy, working in the special services (your typical secret govt agency) There are some Japanese there, ready to reject their language in favor of English so that they can be like the English. When the evil antagonist disrupts their sister’s wedding, Mallory and 2 of his brothers, along with Fraser, decide to take matters into their own hands, there being a general state of anarchy in London.

The Hacker Crackdown:

by Bruce Sterling

Looks at several sides of hacking, including law enforcement, hackers, and civil liberties. Makes me side with civil liberties when I think about people busting in and taking my computer, disks, everything away and never giving them back, never going to trial, anything.

The Cuckoo’s Egg

by Clifford Stoll

His story of catching the cracker who broke in to many different computers from Germany. He calls him all kinds of nasty names, talks about how these people are destroying the openness of the net, but also recounts how he stole monitors and printers and everything else to try to catch the guy, how he got the FBI and everybody worked up to do something about it instead of handling it himself, etc. Plus he was a hippy type, cozying up with the feds. Even his own friends would be worried about what he was doing.

The Meaning Of It All: Thoughts of a Citizen-Scientist

by Richard P. Feynman

A short book consisting of 3 lectures he gave in 1963. I’d say a must-read. Talks about how science is never certain. If it is certain, then it is prejudiced about new breakthroughs, etc. A scientist can say, this is probably what happens, but he isn’t 100% certain.

note: I had a note to finish this review but never did. -tgbates, 2016