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The Rapture of the Nerds by Cory Doctorow

The Rapture of the Nerds (edition 2013)

by Cory Doctorow (Author)

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5753226,957 (3.33)14
A tale set at the end of the twenty-first century finds the planet's divided hominid population subjected to the forces of a splintery metaconsciousness that inundates networks with plans for cataclysmic technologies, prompting an unwitting jury member to participate in a grueling decision.
Title:The Rapture of the Nerds
Authors:Cory Doctorow (Author)
Info:Titan Books (2013), 336 pages
Collections:Read but unowned

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The Rapture of the Nerds by Cory Doctorow

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English (30)  Italian (1)  French (1)  All languages (32)
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Doctorow, Cory e Charles Stross (2012). The Rapture of the Nerds. A Tale of the Singularity, Posthumanity, and Awkward Social Situations. New York: Tom Doherty Associates. 2012. ISBN 9781429944915. Pagine 352. 13,77 €

Il primo romanzo (o uno dei primi, e comunque il primo che ho letto io) sulla Singularity, o meglio – come recita il sottotitolo – sull’umanità della post-singularity.

La Singularity, o Singolarità tecnologica come la traduce in italiano Wikipedia, è legata all’idea che il progresso tecnologico acceleri fina a raggiungere un punto oltre la capacità di comprendere e prevedere degli esseri umani, aprendo il campo all’avvento di una intelligenza superiore a quella umana biologica e all’incremento artificiale e sintetico delle facoltà intellettive e delle capacità vitali di ciascuno. Se volete saperne di più, vi consiglio di leggere la voce di Wikipedia Singolarità tecnologica e i link che vi trovate. Quello che so io sull’argomento, che non è moltissimo ma nemmeno poco, l’ho imparato leggendo un imponente librone di Ray Kurzweil, famoso soprattutto per i suoi sintetizzatori ma in realtà inventaore dall’ingegno quasi rinascimentale, The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology.

Kurzweil, un visionario al limite della follia che fa più soldi di quelli che riesce a sperperare, ne ha fatto anche un film, che però non ho visto. Questo il trailer:

Naturalmente, tentare di immaginare come saranno la vita, la società, i rapporti e le dinamiche interpersonali dopo un cambiamento così radicale, su cui ovviamente neppure i futurologi sono d’accordo non è per niente facile. È la freccia del tempo, ricordate? anche se il passato è uno solo i futuri sono infiniti:

There are many futures and only one status quo. This is why conservatives mostly agree and radicals always argue. [Brian Eno, A Year with Swollen Appendices. London Faber & Faber. 1996, p. 133]

Inventarsi una storia che sia altrettanto fantasticamente strana come la prospettiva stessa della singolarità, poi, è impresa quasi impossibile. Ma è quello che sia aspettano gli acquirenti e i lettori del vostro romanzo, cari autori. We won’t settle for less.

Purtroppo non ce l’avete fatta. A meno che vogliate proprio farci credere che l’incredibile attesa per la singolarità, che io per parte mia aspetto con più ansietà del ritorno di Cristo in terra, sfocerà in dopo in cui non solo la natura umana resterà sostanzialmente immutata (e questo non faccio troppa fatica ad accettarlo, anche se mi sembra che i grandi cambiamenti tecnologici abbiano anche cambiato radicalmente il nostro modo di pensare e di agire, come argomenta efficacemente Steven Pinker a proposito della violenza: The Better Angels of Our Nature), ma si porterà dietro tutti i guai di un American way of life da satira se non da barzelletta: un sistema giudiziario capriccioso e incomprensibile, i fondamentalisti cristiani, i padri assenti e le madri invadenti. Tutto troppo già letto e già visto.

Un’altra cosa, come diceva il compianto Steve Jobs: non è un romanzo solo, sono tre tenuti insieme da una tenue cornice, come i Classici di Topolino o più nobilmente, il Decamerone o i Racconti di Canterbury. O come una commedia all’italiana degli anni Settanta.

* * *

Però gli autori hanno intelligenza e arguzia da vendere, e il romanzo ha più di un passo memorabile. Di seguito le mie annotazioni, con i riferimenti numerici all’edizione Kindle.

“Of course it’s organic—nothing but carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, and a bit of phosphorous and sulfur.” [66]

“’Ello!” he says around a mouthful of Huw’s sandwich. “You look interesting. Let’s have a conversation!”
“You don’t look interesting to me,” Huw says, plunking the rest of his food in the backpacker’s lap. “Let’s not.” [190]

[…] a twenty-first-century situationist artist or politician called Sarah Palin. [761]

Boy, you can snap your fingers and before you know what’s happening, there’s a flash conspiracy in action—not your real good old-fashioned secret new world order, nobody can be arsed tracking those things these days, but the next best thing. A self-propagating teleology meme. Goal-seeking Neat Ideas are the most dangerous kind. [955]

[…] Don’t get up to anything I wouldn’t.” [985]

[…] thick gubernatorial Austro-Californian accent. [1172]

[…] neverglades […] [1259]

[…] a very Grimm fairy tale […] [1311]

[…] trash-transcential-transcendental […] [1454]

Yesterday, all his troubles, so far away. [1469]

[…] “It’s the gnostic sexual underground,” […] [1521]

[…] First Church of the Teledildonic […] [1568]

[…] No skin, no sin […] [1582]

“You don’t need to know,” Sam says calmly, “’cuz if you knew, I’d have to edit your memories, and the only way I know to do that these days is by killing you.” [1760]

He’s Asperger’s. Me, I’m just poorly socialized with a recursive introspective agnosia and a deficient situational relationship model. [1788]

[…] from sodomy to simony by way of barratry and antimony. [1904]

Hyperspace bypasses, Vogon poetry, the heat death of the universe: none of these things feature in the extraordinary situation now pertaining to the end of the world as Huw knows it. [2458]

But love is blind, and love that mourns for loss is blinder still, and Huw loved Bonnie, and nothing would change that. [2498]

There is no invisible sky daddy to give us immortal life and a harp and wings when we die. If we want an afterlife, we have to work hard and make it for ourselves. [2684]

“Conspiracy theories are even more tedious than identity politics. You have beliefs and I have logfiles. Which one of us is more likely to be right?” [2744]

“You are the reductionist in this particular moment, I’m afraid. You wanted to feel happy, so you took steps that you correctly predicted would change your mental state to approach this feeling. How is that any different from wanting to be happy and eating a pint of ice cream to attain it? Apart from the calories and the reliability, that is. If you had practiced meditation for decades, you would have acquired the same capacity, only you would have smugly congratulated yourself for achieving emotional mastery. Ascribing virtue to doing things the hard, unsystematic, inefficient way is self-rationalizing bullshit that lets stupid people feel superior to the rest of the world. Trust me, I’m a djinni: There’s no shame in taking a shortcut or two in life.” [2889]

Different governments all tended to blur at the edges anyway, into a weird molten glob of Trilateralist Davos Bilderberger paranoia, feuding and backbiting in pursuit of the biggest office and the flashiest VIP jet. [2945]

“You just don’t want me to put metal in the microwave, because then I’d have as much power as you,” Huw says, quoting a memorable bit of propaganda from the contentious era of the uplifting, a quote from Saint Larson, one of the period’s many canonized funnybeings. [3005]

[…] there but for random luck go I […] [3241]

[…] “On the basis of a sample size of one,” […] [3829]

[…] borderline-aspie nerd […] [3837]

He’s a really smart high-functioning Asperger’s case who deals with social interaction by emulating it in his head, running a set of social heuristics, and looking for positive-sum outcomes. [3911]

[…] when confronted with limitless possibility and potential, the only legitimate response is to voluntarily assume constraint. Free jazz has its place, but it’s interesting only in contrast to the rigid structures in which it is embedded. [4115]

There’s an old saying about never attributing to a conspiracy that which can be explained by incompetence. [4323: la massima sarebbe addirittura di origine napoleonica: Hanlon's razor] ( )
  Boris.Limpopo | Apr 29, 2019 |
Gibberish: multitude of ideas - but a quite boring book. ( )
  andreas.wpv | Dec 20, 2018 |
I like Doctorow's bits in Make magazine but haven't read any of his fiction. I had never heard of Stross until I read in Vintage Tommorows that he wrote a piece slamming steampunk for not being real science. What kind of idiot thanks that anyone takes steampunk for "real science"? Everyone knows that what drives steampunk is impossible, so the question is moot. I did read his blog post and realized he was talking about the fiction, not the genre, but I still shake my head that he felt threatened by something that is simply fun. (For the record, I'm less than impressed with steampunk fiction.)

Anyway...I checked out the collaboration. I don't like present tense but I got over it. I read one review that said it was full of technobabble...babble is right and I generally find it annoying (I could never finish Neuromancer for that reason and I hate not finishing books). This is not a good book. It's not funny, but I did chuckle once. Interesting experiment...but these aren't the droids I was looking for.

I didn't like it, but it doesn't deserve one star. ( )
  Razinha | May 23, 2017 |
Set in a post-singularity world where much of humanity has uploaded to a solar-system wide computational cloud. Earth is split between societies of extremes, with religious fundamentalists reigning in much of what is left of a post-nuclear USA. Our protagonist is Huw, an avowed technophobe whose parents uploaded to the cloud some years ago. Baffling and sometimes dangerous technology is sometimes made available through the cloud net back to the earth-dwelling; Huw is offered the chance to serve on a jury which is to decide whether to allow one item of this to be used. But the system is both corrupt and ineffective and Huw is drawn into an increasingly perilous series of scrapes in which, amongst many other things, he must again encounter his parents.

This is unashamed techno-fiction which moves at a relentless pace and it was only partly effective for me. I've read quite a lot of Stross's solo work but none of Doctorow's and I certainly wasn't able to recognise how the writing had been split between them. In style, it felt something like Stross on steroids and wasn't the better for it. Enjoyable but certainly not amongst my favourite Stross works. ( )
  kevinashley | Jan 4, 2017 |
I really couldn't get on with this. It was just too strange, so I abandoned it. ( )
  paulmorriss | Dec 22, 2016 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Doctorow, Coryprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Stross, Charlesmain authorall editionsconfirmed
Wirth, MaryDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Cory: For Alice. I renew my vow not to fork any new instances without your permission.

Charlie: For Feorag. Just because!
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Huw awakens, dazed and confused.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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The novel is a fixup of two novellas, "Jury Duty" and "Appeals Court", along with a new third section, "Parole Board".
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