3 book recommendations for April, 2022
After years of work, it’s hard to believe that Reap3r comes out in just a few weeks (May 18th!). I finished narrating the audiobook a few days ago. We’re fixing some final typos (there are always typos). Advance readers are sharing their takes, posting reviews, etc. Blurbs are rolling in—here’s one from Hannu Rajaniemi, author of The Quantum Thief and CEO at HelixNano: “Addictively readable with as much momentum as a multi-stage rocket, fueled by a high octane cocktail of super cool concepts that should really become reality.” Preorder your seat on the rocket for priority boarding!
If you want to do something together for Reap3r (come on your podcast, speak at your event, option it for film/tv adaption, etc.), shoot me an email and I’ll do my best to make it work.
And now, books I love that you might too:
Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler is the most profoundly optimistic apocalyptic novel I’ve ever read. Poetic, moving, wise—a masterpiece that seems impossible until you experience it. Butler wrangles utopia from dystopia.
Liar’s Poker by Michael Lewis follows the author as he joins a leading investment bank in the midst of the financial engineering excesses of the 1980s. A memoir that reads like a thriller, this story sneaks you into the opaque world of high finance and shows you how decisions made by Wall Street traders ripple across the global economy.
How to Write One Song by Jeff Tweedy uses the lens of songwriting to offer a unique, compelling perspective on creativity. A beautiful and empowering little book for anyone making anything—fuel for your creative endeavors.
Bonus recommendation: I recently watched Tenet and started enjoying the movie as soon as I decided to stop identifying inconsistencies in the logic of its imagined world—having granted admin access to my suspension of disbelief, it was quite entertaining.
Things worth sharing:
I went on Mary Kay Magistad’s COAL+ICE Podcast to discuss the art of writing climate fiction. Imagining a better future is the first step toward building one.
Neil Gaiman likes to say that fairy tales are truer than true, not because dragons are real, but because dragons can be beaten. By showing us heroes who manage to overcome darkness, fiction arms us to face darkness in our own lives.
Interintellect brought salons to life on the internet—the thoughtful, generous conversations they foster are the perfect antidote to scrolling an endless, shallow feed. So I’m delighted to be doing a special salon with them on May 24th about the power of speculative fiction to celebrate Reap3r’s release. Mariel Rošić is hosting. We will go way deeper than a typical interview, and it’ll be very interactive, so bring your best questions. Get your ticket today.
A good hack for asking better questions is to start from the premise that nobody really knows what they’re doing, even if they think they do. From there, it’s easy to ask the kind of simple, crucial questions that many people skip for fear of sounding unsophisticated.
One thing I love about physical books is that glancing at their spines on the shelf reminds me of the ideas and feelings each book inspired—a souvenir from the reading experience.
A few brave subscribers to this humble newsletter are releasing new books of their own: Andrew Dana Hudson’s Our Shared Storm weaves together five narratives exploring climate futures, Sarah E. Brown’s Lead Upwards shows you how to excel as an early employee at a tech startup, Aidan Moher’s Fight, Magic, Items is a history of Final Fantasy and Japanese RPGs in the West, Eric Ball’s Silicon Galaxy uses science fiction to riff on his IRL experiences in Silicon Valley, and Andrew Liptak’s Cosplay examines the meteoric rise of its titular phenomenon (incidentally, Andrew’s newsletter, Transfer Orbit, is how I track all things science fiction). Y’all inspire me every day.
When you're trying to do something hard, it's easy to respond to problems with complex solutions, but most important things are simple and difficult, so adding complexity just creates drag. Acting on simple principles is powerful precisely because the world is so complex.
On May 25th I’ll be joining Malka Older (Infomocracy), Christopher Brown (Tropic of Kansas), and Andrew Dana Hudson (Our Shared Storm) for a Zoom conversation on politics and speculative fiction. It’s always a special joy to get to talk to fellow practitioners about craft. Register here.
Being good at things is fun, so it took me a while to realize how important it is to learn how to have fun being bad at things—sucking for a long time is how you ultimately excel, so those who enjoy sucking are more likely to edge closer and closer to the asymptote of mastery.
From my conversation with William Gibson about writing Agency: “We seem to be losing our sense of a capital-F Future. Few phrases were as common throughout the 20th Century as ‘the 21st Century,’ yet how often do we see ‘the 22nd Century’? Effectively, never.”
When I write a novel, I start by tossing balls in the air: people/events/ideas/etc. Then I recombine those elements like a juggler linking tricks to create complex patterns. Finally, I (try to) catch the balls, arriving with the reader at a surprising yet inevitable conclusion.
Thanks for reading. If you enjoy my writing and want to support it, invest in my creative process so I can do more of it. Oh, and tell your friends. We all find our next favorite book because someone we trust recommends it. Culture is a collective project in which we all have a stake and a voice.
Eliot Peper is the author of Reap3r, Veil, Breach, Borderless, Bandwidth, Neon Fever Dream, Cumulus, Exit Strategy, Power Play, and Version 1.0. He publishes a blog, tweets more than he probably should, and lives in Oakland, CA.
"Every story about the future is a story about the present—and Reap3r is a rip-roaring cable-car tour of the San Francisco tech weltanschauung. If that world feels familiar, you need to read this book. And if that world feels alien to you, then you really need to read it."
-Nicholas Paul Brysiewicz, director of strategy at The Long Now Foundation
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