A World in Black and White

For the users of social media platform (we’re talking billions!), it looks like that we collectively took a huge step back. Almost everything is divisive, and every possible argument is oversimplified until it reaches the yes-or-nay stage. It’s like to take a look at a Mondrian picture, with spaces well delimited and vivid colors to mark every part of the said picture. No, it’s even better: there are only black or white parts, no shades of grey allowed.

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The Milkshake Theory

Nowadays the politic dissent literally flies. Until it splashes in a cloud of flavored milk, for the amusement of the bystanders and for the generation of a wave of memes in the social media arena. Throw a milkshake against a politician, and you will get yourself in the news, not a little result for a minimal investment in a nearby cafeteria. Even if the splashed politician will sue you, it’s likely that you’ll get a free pass from the judge (or a little fine).

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Brian Pinkerton – The Gemini Experiment

Author: Brian Pinkerton

Title: The Gemini Experiment

Publisher: Flame Tree Press

[ARC copy, the book will be published in May 2019]

 

Synopsis:

Tom Nolan has just learned he is going to die. The young father is terminally ill and coming to grips with his fate until he is recruited into a privately funded, covert experiment. In a secret lab, Tom’s physical appearance is immaculately duplicated into a sophisticated robot. The robot will host the digitized consciousness of him. But when Tom’s replica escapes before the transfer can take place, he is faced with the horrors of an alter ego bent on death and destruction. As the experiment draws the attraction of spies, Tom is caught up in an international crisis with a showdown that could change the course of the world.

Review: 

The concept of a robot replica of a human being, perfect in every detail and equipped with a digital version of a human mind, is a long-standing trope in the science fiction narrative and a tough subject to approach given all the technical aspects and, more important, the ethics involved in such a project. It is also one of the most fascinating ideas of the modern era, suspended between the paradise of eternal youth and the hell of a possible Skynet-style future.

Brian Pinkerton chooses a narrow path, conceding little or nothing to the technical mumbo-jumbo and skipping most of the ethical questions. This book is about action, about the struggle of the main character to survive and squeezing out the good old “normal man in big troubles” pulp concept until the last drop. To say the least, it’s a bold move. The results are somewhat mixed. The plot runs smoothly, the rhythm is always fast, but there are some issues (see below, “cons”) that somewhat take me out of the book.

The pros of this novel are about a very well-conceived plot, its successful delivery to the reader and the action-oriented approach. We get a light science fiction/action thriller, with excellent management of plot twists. The Nolan family is well portrayed, the same can be said for many supporting characters.

The cons of this novel are basically three; the first is about the general feeling of being inside an ‘80s movie, that could be enjoyable but doesn’t work with the science fiction premise. The second is about the villains, that share the same ‘90s taste (to shout it out loud, USSR and modern-day Russia are very different!). The last is about action scenes, those are straight out a rerun of some Chuck Norris ‘80s movie. I love that stuff, but it’s totally outdated.

Where to find it: Flame Tree Pressamazon.com

Vote: 06,50 / 10,00.

The AfPak riddle

The news about a new round of official peace talks between Taliban, the Afghan national government and US envoys are opening the door for some serious considerations about the future in one of the most troubled areas of the world. The Trump administration wants to get out of the country, without the American presence all the allies will withdraw as well, leaving the Afghan government on its own. By all means, Afghan armed forces aren’t ready to stand against the Taliban, nor they could be able to take back control from the warlords in the north.

A few days ago I was thinking about the worst case situation; a full reverse to 2001, with Taliban in control of most part of the country, with ISIS ready to set up shop in Kabul and Pakistan in the role of the unofficial nuclear-powered protector. By all means, it will be a nightmare.  Then I made up my mind, realizing that a significant number of changes had occurred in the last 18 years.

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