BizPunkMitch Lasky's blog

Sometimes, you see an idea and suddenly you start seeing it everywhere. Sometimes that synchronicity is so sharp, it’s kind of uncanny.

While I was on vacation, I finally got around to reading a couple of books that had been sitting on my nightstand for a while. The first was a remarkable near-future science fiction novel called The Windup Girl, by Paolo Bacigalupi. This wildly imaginative and original book is set in Thailand in a future where the earth is depopulated by plagues, where food and energy are so scarce that calorie efficiency is a constant concern. Like the best speculative fiction, you finish this one with a lingering fear that this could really happen. It’s an impressive first novel by Bacigalupi, well-paced and literary.

I’d been struggling for a while to get through Deleuze and Guattari’s two volume Capitalism & Schizophrenia, when a friend suggested Manuel De Landa’s A Thousand Years of Nonlinear History as kind of an introduction/distillation of the ideas.

It is an incredibly thought-provoking book on its own, but read immediately after Bacigalupi’s, it’s a revelation. De Landa offers a materialist re-interpretation of modern history as the movement, trade and governance of matter and energy that provides a philosophical Rosetta Stone for The Windup Girl’s imagined world. These two books are like a great art-house double feature — each one informs and enhances the other. Worth a look.

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