So here’s what I read in May:
Bloom County: The Complete Collection, Volume Two: 1982-1984 by Berke Breathed. See this post for volume one. The second volume brings us Bloom County as I first encountered it, as it settles into its big silly prime: Oliver’s computer hacking and Binkley’s anxiety closet (replete with Giant Purple Snorklewacker) make regular appearances, and Bill the Cat dies. Ack!
Little Fuzzy by H. Beam Piper. Classic science fiction now in the public domain and available as an e-book in many formats; I read it on my iPad. Light and engaging, on a par with the best Heinlein juveniles (which we’ve been reading a lot of lately), the plot hinges on whether the little fuzzy inhabitants of a colony world are sentient or not. Highly recommended.
Blindsight by Peter Watts also deals with the question of sentience and intelligence but in a far more sophisticated manner. It asks whether it’s possible to be intelligent without being conscious by taking people on the outskirts of human intelligence — including a resurrected vampire able to outthink regular humans by several orders of magnitude, a “zombie” with half a brain, a person who’s deliberately subdivided her brain into four personalities and a person whose brain is not limited to the meat inside his skull — and throwing them into a first-contact situation with an alien intelligence for which inscrutable is an understatement. Not an easy book by any means, but a profoundly thought-provoking one with a strong theme. No surprise it made the Hugo ballot after Watts, fighting obscurity, threw it online for free.