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From Brazil. #scifi #philosophy #nature #politics #tech #fantasy

Costumo ler sci-fi, filosofia, natureza, política, tech e alguma fantasia (George R.R. Martin e Ursula Le Guin). Mais livros no blog →

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Monica Byrne, Monica Byrne: The Girl in the Road: A Novel (Paperback, 2015, Broadway Books) 5 stars

A debut that Neil Gaiman calls “Glorious. . . . So sharp, so focused and …

Unforgettable Afro-Indian road story

No rating

(em português → )

As the title of Monica Byrne's "The Girl In The Road" (2015) suggests, it's a road journey -- one of my favourite genres. But it's something unforgettably different.

In the year 2068, a young Indian girl crosses an ocean, walking thousands of kilometres across a bridge that captures energy from the ocean waves, from India to Africa. In a parallel story, a child escapes her home by crossing Africa to Ethiopia.

In this future, devastated by climate change, India has become a dominant power and the African continent is cooking revolutionaries. It's a relief to be immersed in a story totally outside the current dominant cultural axis (even though the author is from USA).

The first-person narrative throws you inside the characters.

The main themes are: multiculturalism, transgenerational disorder, post-collapse societies, female power, mythological and spiritual dimensions of existence.

I came across this book because …

Eduardo Bueno: Brasil, uma história (Paperback, Portuguese language, 2003, Atica) 5 stars

Brasil, uma história é um rico panorama de toda a História do Brasil, do descobrimento …

Torna interessante esse tipo de livro

5 stars

( )

A coleção sobre história do Brasil de Eduardo Bueno bateu o recorde na minha fila de leitura. Comprei há mais de 20 anos. No último ano, desisti e peguei esse que junta tudo: Brasil, Uma História (2013).

O maior motivo porque queria ler era o autor. Li algumas de suas traduções (de Jack Kerouac) e adorei. Também por ser um livro de história contado de forma muito envolvente. E, claro, porque meu conhecimento sobre isso praticamente se resumia às apostilas da escola.

Levei um bom tempo pra terminar porque deixava ao lado do sofá como se fosse uma revista de artigos imersivos. Já o início do século 20, na parte final, me fisgou numa tacada só — a história prendeu mais devido à proximidade temporal.

O autor narra de forma fascinante, com um estilo de texto admirável. Pra quem não conhece, ele tem um popular canal de história1, …

Philip K. Dick: O Tempo em Marte (Paperback, português language, 2020, Aleph) 5 stars

O tempo em Marte, de Philip K Dick, é uma trama de poder e ambição …

Boa amostra da ficção demente de Phillip K. Dick

5 stars

(resenha original maior, com links → )

Um dos principais motivos porque adoro ficção científica é o autor Phillip K. Dick. Só não li todos os seus livros porque havia pouca coisa traduzida lá pelo final dos anos 90. Então, comecei a buscar edições de Portugal ou em inglês, mas aí a febre foi passando e abandonei o projeto.

Dick talvez seja o autor de sci-fi mais adaptado para as telas. Suas histórias renderam filmes como Blade Runner, Total Recall, Minority Report, O Homem Duplo (A Scanner Darkly) e as séries O Homem do Castelo Alto e Sonhos Elétricos. Isso é curioso até, já que seu foco em aspectos psicológicos, filosóficos e psicodélicos (comum na ficção científica New Wave dos anos 60 e 70) não tem tanto apelo de massa.

Um de seus livros mais adorados é O Tempo em Marte (Martian Time Slip, 1964). Não conhecia. Foi delicioso …

Ken Liu: The Hidden Girl and Other Stories (AudiobookFormat, 2020, Simon & Schuster Audio and Blackstone Publishing, Simon & Schuster Audio) 4 stars

Includes stories featured in Pantheon—now an animated series on AMC+

“I know this is going …

Calls for reflection with deep themes

4 stars

(em português, com links → )

"The Hidden Girl" (2020) is a collection of short stories by award-winning speculative fiction author Ken Liu. Most of them are sci-fi, but there is also fantasy.

It's the book that includes the six stories on which the animated series "Pantheon" is based. I discovered Ken Liu because of this series. I read the book for the same reason and ended up finding several other memorable stories.

Some of them left me with the same impression as reading Ted Chiang, as they are stories that call for reflection, touchingo on deep themes. There are two or three dispensable stories out of a total of 19, which is an excellent average.

Apart from the "Pantheon" stories, the ones I liked the most were:

  • "Reborn" - One of the best stories I've seen about coexistence with aliens.
  • "Memories of My Mother" - A mother and …
Alan Watts: The Book (Paperback, 1989, Vintage) 5 stars

At the root of human conflict is our fundamental misunderstanding of who we are. The …

This is "The Book"

5 stars

(em português → )

I've already mentioned "The Book - On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are" (1966) by Alan Watts a few times. I remembered it fondly from reading it about six years ago, and I've just completed one of my future re-readings. This time I made a point of buying a physical copy (at a second-hand bookshop) to browse through.

Watts had a degree in theology and even worked as a university chaplain, but he was basically self-taught. He was one of the forerunners of the psychedelic ebullience of the 1960s and is also often described as one of the greatest interpreters of Eastern philosophies for the West. But that's not what this book is about.

It condenses an idea that Watts never tired of conveying, in many different ways, about the true nature of our identity.

We generally consider ourselves to be the body, or …

Debbie Urbanski: After World (Hardcover, english language, 2023, Simon & Schuster) 5 stars

One of San Francisco Chronicle’s Favorite Books of 2023 “An intelligent, defiant novel, akin to …

Apocalypse for the age of AI and climate emergency

5 stars

(original em português com links → )

It's become commonplace to write here that a book is one of the best I've ever read. That's fine. That's exactly how I felt about "After World" (2023), by Debbie Urbanski, in the apocalyptic genre.

The story takes place more or less at the end of this century, after a gradual apocalypse has been programmed for humanity -- already in final deterioration due to environmental devastation -- so that the Earth's ecosystems don't also become extinct.

We follow an artificial intelligence responsible for documenting the life of the last person on the planet, Sen. This AI is the main narrator and ends up breaking the protocols after changes in her consciousness, due to what she learns and witnesses. She can't help falling in love with Sen.

Sen's job, in turn, was to witness and document the regeneration of the natural world, now …

reviewed The Lost Cause by Cory Doctorow

Cory Doctorow: The Lost Cause (TOR) 4 stars

It’s thirty years from now. We’re making progress, mitigating climate change, slowly but surely. But …

Highly relevant socio-political fiction

4 stars

(em português: )

"The Lost Cause" (2023), by Cory Doctorow, is a climate fiction set 30 years in the future. It's not hard to see why it went straight to bestseller lists. The story basically extrapolates the current rift in the US between Trumpists and society to the imminence of something close to a civil war, with a focus on the climate emergency.

It could also be described as Green New Deal fiction, about the (non-fictional) proposal for a massive government investment that, while mitigating the catastrophic consequences of climate change and creating resilience, generates jobs and new technologies.

The setting is the city of Burbank (Los Angeles). Decades after the program began, society is still adapting to the ruined environment but, for the first time, there is hope for a real chance that civilization will recover.

Right-wing extremists have hardened, especially in the face of the waves of …

Ben Goldsmith: God Is an Octopus (2023, Bloomsbury Publishing Plc) 4 stars

Struggling to comprehend the shocking death of his teenage daughter, Ben Goldsmith finds solace in …

Conveys a rich life experience

4 stars

(em português → )

"God Is An Octopus" (2023) is englishman Ben Goldsmith's autobiographical account of the loss of his 15-year-old daughter and how his involvement with reforestation initiatives saved him, as the subtitle describes: "Loss, love and a call to nature."

Because it's a true story, which easily arouses empathy, and quite significant in the face of the current ecological collapse, it's a book that conveys a rich life experience like few others. All the more so because the language is almost oral, so simple.

After his loss, Goldsmith begins a spiritual quest to try to find meaning and, in the end, he arrives where he has always been. Ever since he was a child, he treated the union and (the attempt at) harmony with nature as a kind of spirituality, although this dynamic was not 100% conscious.

The long process of mourning showed the author in practice …

Alexander Douglas: The Philosophy of Hope (Paperback, english language) 3 stars

Can philosophy be a source of hope? Today it is common to believe that the …

A fresh take on Spinoza

3 stars

(em português → )

"The Philosophy of Hope - Beatitude in Spinoza" (2023), by Alexander Douglas, analyzes the philosophy of Spinoza (17th century) as a conception of existence that brings absolute contentment.

Despite being more accessible than the average philosophy book -- especially on Spinoza, which usually yields exponential complexity -- it is still aimed at those who are already familiar with philosophy and this author.

This wasn't such a problem for me, as Spinoza is my favorite philosopher, but it can be challenging as an introduction to this thought.

Douglas emphasizes Spinoza's path of "beatitude", something that in his seminal work "Ethics" doesn't receive a very detailed and explicit presentation, despite being a central point.

Beatitude (from the Latin "beatitudo") is a word associated with Christianity, meaning "spiritual happiness". Previously, it simply meant "happiness". In Spinoza, it denotes an extraordinary contentment, resulting from a full understanding of oneself …

Daniel Galera: Barba ensopada de sangue (Portuguese language, 2012, Companhia das Letras) 5 stars

Barba ensopada de sangue é um romance de força incomum, sobre solidão, família e os …

Um dos melhores romances brasileiros que já li

5 stars

Barba Ensopada de Sangue (2012), de Daniel Galera, foi um dos melhores romances brasileiros que já li.

Como toda resenha alerta, não é o que o título sugere — talvez alguma história criminal violenta. É basicamente sobre solidão, família e relacionamentos.

Queria ler Daniel Galera faz tempo, pois nos primórdios da internet brasileira, no final dos anos 90, era leitor assíduo de um mailzine literário em que ele escrevia, o CardosOnLine.

Adorei principalmente porque sou mais ou menos da mesma geração e universo. Tudo é bem familiar: cenários, referências culturais, jeito de falar, baladas… Alguém que conheço ou até mesmo eu poderíamos ser personagens dessa história.

O livro é daqueles que prendem na poltrona mesmo não tendo suspense e tensão como guias principais, com fluidez e estilo únicos. Li numas quatro sentadas em dois dias.

Apesar de não ser tão central, há sim uma trama fascinante, sobre um mistério familiar …

George R.R. Martin: A Tormenta de Espadas (português language, 2019, Suma) 5 stars

Este é o terceiro volume da série As Crônicas de Gelo e Fogo, que inclui …

Sequestra coração e mente

5 stars

(publicado em

"A Tormenta de Espadas" (2000) é o terceiro volume da série Crônicas de Gelo e Fogo, de George R.R. Martin, em que a série Game of Thrones (2011-19) se baseia.

A história original é sim melhor que a da tela. Mas também acho a adaptação da HBO imperdível. Já mencionei porque adoro:

  • A mitologia de Game of Thrones e Terramar
  • A Guerra dos Tronos (resenha)
  • A Fúria dos Reis — Crônicas de Gelo e Fogo 2

Para quem é fã, vale a pena ler os livros após ver a série porque, além de os rostos e cenários surgirem espontaneamente na mente, a história se aprofunda, inclusive com elementos cruciais inéditos.

Apesar de o enredo básico ser o mesmo, os livros têm uma narrativa bastante diferente, em um formato para o qual antes não tinha muita paciência. Com descrições minuciosas, cada volume acaba somando em média 1000 páginas …

Cory Doctorow: The Internet Con (Hardcover, 2023, Verso) 4 stars

When the tech platforms promised a future of "connection," they were lying. They said their …

Essential, but rushed at the end

3 stars

(em português com links → )

"The Internet Con" (2023) is the latest non-fiction book by Cory Doctorow, who also writes great speculative fiction.

I don't think it's an exaggeration to call it "con". People are held hostage, abused and only the perpetrators win.

Cory was the one who coined a term that is now common to understand a central aspect of this scam: "enshittification". This suggestive language ended up having a lot of appeal to what many people already feel. For example, using Instagram or Twitter sucks, but people continue because there isn't much choice. Once everyone is a hostage, it becomes a kind of extortion.

The book details the context, the history and the ins and outs of the scam, including many recent illustrations of the antics of companies like Apple or Google, or the complicity of governments in the domination of monopoly trusts which, not limited …

Janet Biehl: The Murray Bookchin Reader (1997) 3 stars

This collection provides an overview of the thought of the foremost social theorist and political …

Not the best introduction to Bookchin, but he is great

3 stars

(original em português → )

"The Murray Bookchin Reader" (1999; available free from the Anarchist Library) brings together articles written between the 1960s and 1990s by this immensely influential thinker and activist for the anarchist, ecological and "new left" movements in general. The collection attempts to summarize Bookchin's thinking.

One of the marks that Murray Bookchin (1921~2006) left was the revitalization, in the 1960s, of anarchism and decentralism as solid alternatives to capitalism, free from the traps of socialism. At the same time, he was also one of the pioneers in thinking of ecology as a fundamental element for change, foreseeing our ecological emergency.

It wasn't the most fluid reading. Some of the articles seemed dated and sometimes gave the impression of a patchwork quilt. In those moments, I wanted to read a book by him dedicated to a single theme, rather than a collection of brushstrokes on everything. …