There’s a lot of Sci-Fi out there and a lot of it is boring, or kind of lame. One of the problems with the genre is that when technology progresses IRL, it makes the technology from old Sci-Fi books seem out of date. Unless, the author was able to guess right about what was going to happen in the future, which is very rare. The gimmick of a pretend new tech that doesn’t exist and will never exist, since it’s already been superseded, can leave a reader feeling like they are reading an instructional manual for an 8 track player.
Another reason Sci-Fi can be a bore is that the genre is used to hide weak storytelling ability: an author uses future gadgets and other gimmicks of the genre to hide lame characters and weak plots. Actually, the latter reason is what most of the Sci-Fi genre seems to be. That’s why it’s so great when you can find a truly sick, Sci-Fi book. Below are 5 examples of well written and entertaining entries into the Sci-Fi cannon.
1. The Stars My Destination – Alfred Bester
Set in a future where people have learned that by just focusing hard enough on a physical place, you can transport yourself there. This book is FULL of amazing ideas executed brilliantly. His underlying premise on the power of will is brilliant and inspired by Aleister Crowley. This book goes beyond the genre into the realm of great fiction.
2. Ender’s Game – Orson Scott Card
Based on a kid that is chosen out of billions to train as a pilot to fight against a race of insectoid aliens. This book has a 36 Chambers of Shaolin charm: lots of fascinating technical training and character development/interaction. The story itself is original and fast-paced plus it’s so good, the author made a zillion sequels.
3. Neuromancer – William Gibson
The Granddaddy of Cyberpunk is also the king of the sub-genre. Apparently, re-written dozens of times rendering the writing hyper-polished and blindingly fast; it can leave your comprehension in the dust. That’s not to say this book is too challenging, its denseness manages to add to the excitement. Lots of weird techs, gnarly drugs, A.I. Philosophy and tons of violence.
4. Altered Carbon – Richard K. Morgan
A modern cyberpunk noir entry where peoples’ minds can be transmitted through space and then “sleeved” into new bodies. In true cyberpunk fashion, the future is not bright and when you don’t have enough money, it’s bleaker still. From an A.I. concierge with a high-velocity machine gun to cut-rate bodies that lack senses and taste discernment, the feeling this book gives you is grimy in the best possible way. The show Netflix made for this book is OK at first and the main dude in it is cool to watch but overall the show fails to capture the pumping neo-noir vibe that pervades the novel. The show is weak; the novel is strong.
5. Dune – Frank Herbert
An absolute classic. Extremely entertaining epic full of great characters and a complex universe that would make Tolkien jealous. Anyone who reads this always wishes it would never end. Too bad the sequels are so lackluster. Truly one of the most entertaining books ever written.
Early into 2018, we’ve seen a resurgence of disco music across the dance floors of the world, particularly in Berlin, London, Seoul, LA, and Vancouver. Mix in Frank Ocean’s cover of Steve Monite’s 1984 Afro-Boogie gem “Only You” on his latest tour, and this conversation is making its way into the mainstream. DJ’s are digging for those gems your handsome papa used to listen to cruising the Big Sur in a vinyl roof Cadillac. And unlike the herd of Hypebeast sheep looking for that latest Supreme drop, disco and dance music fans are looking to the past.
The 70’s and 80’s were one of the greatest eras for American music, putting out some absolute bangers during that time period. Yet across the seas and out to the east, Japan put out some incredible music that resists easy classification. The genre combines Disco, Funk and Boogie into what the Japanese refer to as City Pop.
“Hey, do you want to hear something new? No, show me something old I’ve never heard before.” Here are 5 tracks to get you started with the goldmine of Japanese music spanning the 70s & the 80s.
Hiroshi Satoh – Say Goodbye 1982
Satoh’s production has aged extremely well. It sounds contemporary even in 2018. With vocoder vocals, you’d think they were paying homage to the legendary French duo Daft Punk but considering this came out 11 years before they’d even formed, that is impossible. Satoh’s able to create an extremely original sound blending the funky synths and jazz piano melodies to compliment the summertime beach vibes of the vocal.
Shigeo Sekito- The Word II 1975
This song came to the attention of Mac Demarco fans after he sampled this on “Chamber of Reflection” and later for fans of Quavo & Travis Scott on “How U Feel”. The original consists of a dreamy melody that would even assuage the nerves of my Jewish grandmother.
Tomoko Aran- I’m In Love 1983
The soft vocals of Tomoko overtop the funky basslines, electric keys and guitar solos all come together for a simply classic love song of the boogie era in Japan.
Tatsuro Yamashita – Sparkle
This list wouldn’t be complete without at least one track from Tatsuro Yamashita. Yamashita was a massive star in his home country and had also experienced some success abroad. He was a prolific artist and this tune is a testament to why. Hooking you in with an uplifting guitar rift, Yamashita adds punchy synths to get you moving. Certified banger.
Seaside Lovers- Evening Shadows
If Marvin Gaye, a Rhodes Piano, and an Elevator had a psychedelic orgy this down-tempo dream-pop track would be the product of that completely abstract and impossible love triangle. Like all things the Japanese do, they have the dedication to perfect their craft. Whether its food, tech, music or art, they just get it. Speaking of Japanese Ingenuity, Tatsuro Yamashita actually invented the Soy Sauce bottle. What a perfect invention, the sauce comes out one side and the air comes out the other, creating a perfect pour every time. You’re my boy, Yamashita! Full disclosure I have no fucking idea who invented the soy sauce bottle.
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