For someone (i.e. me) who hasn’t read any of the Culture series, or even any Iain Banks, Player of Games is a real eye-opener. Banks is a deft and imaginative writer. This is a series I’m eager to explore further.
But as a commentary on games from thirty years ago, it doesn’t have much to offer. Continue reading →
Republican Congressman Mike Bost invoked something called “struggle sessions” last month. While talking to journalists, he explained why he wasn’t holding any town hall meetings, which have provided angry constituents a forum to make themselves heard by their Republican representatives. Bost felt holding such a meeting wasn’t a good use of his time. He compared it to “the cleansing that the Orientals used to do where you’d put one person out in front and 900 people yell at them.” That’s how I learned about “struggle sessions”, a form of public humiliation used in Communist Russia and China. Bost later apologized for using the word “Oriental”, but not for shirking his duty as a representative.
The Three-Body Problem, an award-winning “Oriental” science fiction novel, begins with a struggle session during China’s Cultural Revolution. It is the catalyst for everything that happens in the book, which might include the end of the world. It is also an example of the novel’s uniquely Chinese cultural identity.
You’d never know from its beginnings that despite this identity, The Three-Body Problem is literally universal. Continue reading →