A tech geek reads into the future, and also into the past…
“Right now I’m reading the latest novel in the extremely popular science fiction ‘Expanse’ series. This one is called Babylon’s Ashes. The Expanse has also been made into a TV series and interestingly is produced by the authors of the books. It takes place several hundred years in the future and posits technology that can be extrapolated from our current tech, meaning there’s no transporters and no faster-than-light spaceships. Everything (well, almost, but no spoilers) takes place within our solar system and travel takes a long time between planets. The world the authors build posits an Earth that has become complacent and wealthy, with most people living on a basic income provided by the government; a Mars that is wealthy and strong and driven by a frontier spirit to terraform the planet; and the Belt, a series of space stations and mining colonies in the asteroid belt and around Saturn and Jupiter that feel like today’s Third World nations, exploited by the inner planets and building resentment against them. It’s a fascinating and sometimes unsettling look at where our society could go culturally, technologically, and politically.”
Lest anyone take Bettinelli, who is Executive Director at SQPN Catholic media, as an exclusive purveyor of tech-geek literature, he also reads up on the past. “I’ve recently finished reading the first book of a duology about the American Revolution, called Rise to Rebellion, by Jeff Shaara. It’s a fictionalized but accurate account of the Revolution, and the first book starts with the Boston Massacre and ends with the retreat of the British from Boston.”
Being a civic-minded sort himself (Bettinelli is Community Engagement Director for Massachusetts Citizens for Life), he is impressed with the book. “Shaara treats the Founding Fathers with respect and care, using their own words where possible, and avoids the trap of imposing modern standards and anachronistic depictions of them (as if they were 21st-century men in an 18th-century setting). In the first book, we primarily follow John Adams, Ben Franklin, and British general Thomas Gage. As a novel it’s more accessible than a dry history tome would be and in our new Hamilton-crazy era, it should be more popular than ever. Shaara provides a nuanced look at the Revolution, showing us that there was far from unanimous support for a complete break from England, and that the colonists expressed a wide range of desired outcomes at first, from simply more representation in Britain’s decision-making about them to Sam Adams’ radical independence.”
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