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Two New Books
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I started reading two new books yesterday:

The Book of Illusions (on audio) by Paul Auster


Kiln People by David Brin

Auster is a writer I found when I was in college. My first movie review for The Daily Texan was for a film called The Music of Chance, based on an Auster novel. That film was a meditation on probability and fate, in which two men are endebted into servitude by losing a high-stakes poker game. I then read the novel, enjoyed it, and read Auster's City of Glass. I've since read about half a dozen of his books.

Book of Illusions starts out with a literature professor whose wife and two young sons are killed in an airplane crash. He descends into drunken grief over the following months, staying away from his job, just sitting in his house, drinking, and watching TV. Late one night he comes across a documentary on silent film comedians, and while watching a segment on Hector Mann, he laughs for the first time in months.

He decides he wants to see more of Mann's films, available only in film archives in universities spread over thousands of miles. So he sets out, eventually writing a book about Mann (who he thinks is dead), until one day he receives a letter from a woman claiming to Mann's wife. The letter says that Mann, who would be near 100 now, is alive and well in Arizona and wants to meet him.

Well, the synopsis didn't really grab me all that much, but Auster can take a seemingly inert subject and make it incredibly interesting. I'm just a couple of chapters into this one and I'm enjoying it quite a bit.

In print, I started David Brin's Kiln People, a futuristic look at a society where you anybody can make cheap, temporary copies of themselves ("dittos"). You wake up, make a green ditto (the dittos are color-coded for specific functions), and while your temporary self goes to work, you stay home and stuff your face with potato chips while you watch Oprah. When your ditto gets home, you "inload" (dunno why Brin just didn't use "upload", but whatever) the ditto's memories and the temporary body basically falls apart.

The story revolves around a private detective who sends his dittos on various dangerous sorties while investigating a case involving bootleg dittos of a famous actress. So far it's good stuff.

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