Monday, January 31, 2011

Fraternal Optimist

Irritatingly, a friend of mine has written a book.

This is mostly irritating because, like a lot of egocentric bloggetteers, I would like to write one myself.

I could say that the only reason I haven't written one is patently because I haven't possibly got the time, so if you do write one then you're obviously very lucky to have such a surfeit of the stuff to scribe it in. Hard work, talent and some sort of organisational ability don't come into it at all, deary me no.

So we can conclude that my friend, whom we shall call Mark because that's on his birth certificate, must have had nothing better to do. Possibly sits around in his pants all day, playing fightin' on a games console and eating cake.

Unfortunately not. He's got a full time consultancy job, and he's a part time stand-up comedian as well as being a musician and songwriter.


So, I got hold of a copy of his book, which is essentially about what might happen to human society in the near future, should advancements in technology continue apace, and proceeded to read it.

I was all ready to have a quick snigger at what I presumed would most likely be a hastily cut-and-pasted effort, maybe filled with photocopied pages out of the phone book to pad it out, some drawings his nephew did of a robot , and an interview with some old dear at a bus stop on whether she knew if the 'i' in iPad didn't stand for incontinence.

And, even more irritatingly, it's really good.

This is it:

It's so good I even wrote a review of it on Amazon, which is a successful online shop that sells books and trinkets for about the same price as a real shop.

Of course, the main thing about Mark's book is that it is a thought provoker. I mean a proper, deep, profound provoker of thoughts on society, your place in it, and what might happen to you and/or your offspring in the not-too-distant future.

Stuff like whether or not it will be possible to put off death for a half decent amount of time? Will we be able to make any material thing we want in the comfort of our own homes? Will we be able to generate energy independently of any infrastructure and it's associated hassles? Will machines have human rights? Will anyone discover what's actually in a Pepperami?

The big ones.

He also got to travel the world, interview a plethora of leading experts in their fields, drink some booze and do some diving in the Maldives with the President.

I, in comparison, went to Sainsbury's a lot. Also the library.

Mark obviously enjoyed talking to a large number of geniuses (Genii? Geniusies? Genies?), and revelled in picking their bulbous brains about what they thought would happen to the rest of us as a result of advancements in their chosen fields. Their answers are quite fascinating.

I wonder what the collective term for a group of genii is?

Maybe a cortex? Or an academy? Maybe a perspicacity? Ooh, a flange.

I hope it's a flange of genii.

Anyway I thought I would, in the hope of getting a free pint, drop a shameless plug for his book here. If you're thinking of purchasing something which discusses nanotechnology, robotics, genetics and environmental concerns in a well-written, understandable and light-hearted manner, as well as having an educated guess at what comes next, then this could be just what you're looking for.

Mark also informed  me that if I bought it from the official website, he would get an extra 30p as the author.

I got mine from Amazon.


  1. Don't worry, I had judged the fuck out of him the moment I read "full time consultancy job", to the extent where there was nothing left in the tank to be envious of the trip to the Maldives.

  2. Ha, yes, although when he once explained it to me, it seemed like quite a lot of work. I thought you became a consultant in your field to coast for a bit, not graft.

  3. That was're a good friend! Dont worry, you'll get time to about 17 years when your new bub grows sick of you and leaves home.

  4. Tempo - I'll just struggle through the next couple of decades, then I'll be past it. More past it, I mean.

  5. I once read that a consultant is somebody who is paid to tell you what time is on your own watch.

  6. HA! to SkylersDad. :-) As I work with a number of consultants, I can only say "you are correct, sir".

    I'm off to buy the book. From his official site, from which I hope the additional 30p (how much is that, anyway?) will be enough for the downpayment on the beer I hope he buys me.


  7. Pearl - I will suggest he gets a beer in for everyone who buys his book, for all eternity. In fact books should, from now on, come with beer tokens, redeemable at any drinkery throughout the world.

    I'll put it forward.

  8. This reminds me of a very profound thinker named Terrence Mckenna who wrote about the future of technology in symbiosis with the teachings of shamanic hallucinogen using cultures. He has a few really interesting books. Props to your friend, he probably consulted someone on how to write a book.

  9. Mark is apparently one curious man. It says so right on his book cover.

  10. Does the book have nice pictures in it? I need plenty of nice pictures.

  11. Rob - Don't really know much about Terence McKenna, but I shall keep an eye out.

    Eric - You know it's true then!

    Mdme DeF - Not really, and that's a shame because he would've saved at least a thousand words. I'll suggest it to him. Maybe a graphic novel (comic) next time.

  12. Jules, off topic, with reference to your previous post Build 'em high, I have just posted a story of similar ilk on:
    Not sure if you know that blog...


  13. As an aside, I believe the collective noun for genii is a quiver of genii


  14. AV - Nice post! a find like a Lockheed would be priceless to kids then and now, I reckon.

    And are you sure it's not a flange?

  15. Jules, just received the book and HOLY SHIT this guys is a great writer!

    Almost as good as you. (My beer, the one you'll buy me some day, is still safe, yes?)

    Tell him he has a fan in Minneapolis.


  16. Pearl - So glad you like it. Always a bit of a worry when someone you respect buys something you've recommended, in case they hate it.

    I'll pass on your compliment!

    Your beer is always safe with me, Pearl! Unless you're late, in which case it wouldn't be.


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