Showing posts from September, 2023

Terry Pratchett: A Life With Footnotes by Rob Wilkins

[This post previously appeared, in slightly altered form, in Lawyers, Guns & Money .] Terry Pratchett died of complications of Alzheimer's in 2015. His death sent shockwaves through a broad community that had long admired Pratchett for his humor, his inventiveness, his indelible characters, and the deeply-felt humanist philosophy that ran through all his writing. Rob Wilkins, author of A Life With Footnotes , was Pratchett's personal assistant from 2000 to his death, and continues to manage his literary estate, and his production company Narrativia, with Pratchett's daughter Rhianna. The book can therefore only be taken as an "authorized" biography, part of a project—which also includes new adaptations of Pratchett's work and a star-studded array of audiobook productions—to keep Pratchett's name and his work in the public consciousness. In this, it seems to have been successful. Earlier this year, the book won the BSFA award for best nonfiction, and—ba

A Political History of the Future: The Tech Billionaire at Lawyers, Guns & Money

It's been a long hiatus for A Political History of the Future, my LGM series about how science fiction depicts shifts in political, social, and economic systems. But the post that I finally got around to publishing today has been in the works for more than a year, and part of the reason that I took so long to put it together is that there kept being new material to incorporate and discuss. My topic is the figure of the tech billionaire, the internet-based successor to inventor-entrepreneurs like Thomas Edison and Henry Ford, and how he's been depicted in fiction--and especially science fiction--in the last few decades. By the 2000s, as personal computing and the internet became the new frontier of technological development, the entrepreneur-inventor had completed his transformation, from the more materially-grounded industrialist of Edison and Ford's type, to a prophet of cyberspace. Even when he was selling us physical gadgets—as Jobs did with the iPod and iPhone—what he