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Book Notes

I picked this book up on BenCody's recommendation. I had it in my inbox for I don't know how many months (quite possibly a year), before I started reading it.

Entertainingly enough, Cal recommended it to me as I was about half way through. "What was it about again? I read it years ago." "Vampires in space?" "??? OH, yeah!"

Except, it wasn't really about vampires in space. Vampires are a small part of the book, mostly there to give plausibility to plot, but also to add a number of critical plot twists. I probably shouldn't have mentioned the vampire part, because that wasn't anywhere near the interesting part of the book, where we begin to ponder what it is that makes us human, to ponder what exists in the gaps of our perception, to ponder where the self ends when there are multiple selves, and wow, just what defines the self.

The end of the book was all O_O.

That the main character's name is Siri, and the book came out before the Siri of talking fame, cracked me up. The book is available under a generous Creative Commons license. Said license did what I believe it should do, it rewarded the author: I bought the book, even though I could read it for free. I want to support the author. A book I recommend.

You needed someone real at your side, someone to hold on to, someone to share your airspace along with your fear and hope and uncertainty.
Page 27

I am not an entirely new breed. My roots reach back to the dawn of civilization but those precursors served a different function, a less honorable one. They only greased the wheels of social stability; they would sugarcoat unpleasant truths, or inflate imaginary bogeymen for political expedience. They were vital enough in their way. Not even the most heavily-armed police state can exert brute force on all of its citizens all of the time. Meme management is so much subtler; the rose-tinted refraction of perceived reality, the contagious fear of threatening alternatives. There have always been those tasked with the rotation of informational topologies, but throughout most of history they had little to do with increasing its clarity.
Page 35

I'm just fatalistically cheerful. We all come into the story halfway through, we all catch up as best we can, and we're all gonna die before it ends.
Page 104

Humans didn't really fight over skin tone or ideology; those were just handy cues for kin-selection purposes. Ultimately it always came down to bloodlines and limited resources.
Page 107

There was a model of the world, and we didn't look outward at all; our conscious selves saw only the simulation in our heads, an interpretation of reality, endlessly refreshed by input from the senses. What happens when those senses go dark, but the model—thrown off-kilter by some trauma or tumor—fails to refresh? How long do we stare in at that obsolete rendering, recycling and massaging the same old data in a desperate, subconscious act of utterly honest denial? How long before it dawns on us that the world we see no longer reflects the world we inhabit, that we are blind.
Page 160

It had been my mistake, all along. I'd been so focused on modelling other systems that I'd forgotten about the one doing the modelling. Bad eyes are only one bane of clear vision: bad assumptions can be just as blinding...
Page 234

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