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11-Oct-2019 17:13

So Brunner's musings on the concept of freedom of information and related topics seem relevant to me - but if you just want energy news, the time to stop reading is now - come back again tomorrow.

I will mention energy and global warming a few times along the way though.

A while ago I included a review of a couple of John Brunner books ("Stand on Zanzibar" and "The Sheep Look Up") that aligned closely with some of the issues that the peak oil world tends to obsess about (primarily population growth and environmental degradation for those books).

During my February reading break I found myself re-reading his other classic work "The Shockwave Rider" as a way of further procrastinating the reading of various (unread) heavyweight tomes I have sullenly eyeing me from the bookshelves.

While the book is probably only known today in hardcore geek circles, it also covered a range of other interesting ideas, such as:- "ecofast" (energy efficient / sustainable) housing- the destruction of an american city by a natural disaster and the inhabitants being left to fend for themselves by the government in "paid avoidance zones"- a post oil world - public and electric transport rather than fossil fueled cars- "the plug in lifestyle" - a highly mobile population (at least amongst the professional classes) that frequently moves houses and jobs- alienation leading to widespread use of tranquillizers and other mood altering drugs - the value of slowing down in order to make more progress- the emergence of complete information transparency (for government and some corporate data) - the breakdown of societal cohesiveness and the division of society into tribes - the replacement of the "arms race" with the "brain race"- the value of wisdom vs the combination of knowledge and greed- delphi pools - using the "wisdom of crowds" by allowing the population to bet on a large range of important issues and the government then adjusting policy based on the results (well sometimes - the other tactic is to rig the market to adjust public perceptions)- corporations which are favoured by the government (particularly in terms of access to information) based on their contribution to "national advantage"- widespread paranoia caused by people knowing that others have access to more information than they do- government being taken over by organised crime I'll quote a few other reviews of the book from around the net and then launch into a rather long winded survey of recent news relevant to some of the ideas Brunner explored as well as indulging in some 1980's cyberpunk and cypherpunk era nostalgia (while science fiction isn't meant to be predictive of the future, its interesting to see just how well the book did as futurism rather than an extrapolation of existing trends).

First up, from Mac Tonnies "Utopian / Dystopian book reviews" : John Brunner's "The Shockwave Rider," published in 1976, is a fast-forward glimpse of a 21st century that -- unlike the vast majority of SF written in that distant era -- predicts some of our worst fears and reasons for hope.

"The Shockwave Rider" is perhaps best known for its eerily prescient rendering of a government-controlled Internet alive with "tapeworms": Brunner's equivalent to computer viruses.

It's too bad, because this is a compelling story of a future world tied together by a universal data network, a world that could be our tomorrow.

It's a tense place filled with information overload and corporate domination, and nearly everything is known about everybody.And his portrayal of a society enmeshed in data overload could, as the saying goes, be taken out of today's headlines.

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