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Showing posts from 2014

It has to get better eventually

2014 was not a good year.  Almost as a common experience, the year was rough for most people I interact with regularly.  Emotionally, 2014 broke something in me, and I'm trying to hold the pieces together long enough to heal.

There's no real short way to summarize the events of the past year beyond overwhelming and chaotic.

I started the year newly unemployed, after a brief tenure in a fantastic new job before the position was suddenly eliminated a week before Christmas.  The library employment market, particularly for a technology focused librarian, is limited.  Even non-professional library employment postings receive 70-100 applications, many from MLS graduates.  On the bright side, I started securing bits of variable employment here and there, and if push came to shove, I could live off my savings for some period of time.

Then my partner's grandfather was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and in February my parent's home suffered from a chimney fire.  I started tem…

[Book Review] Liesmith

Liesmith : Book One of The Wyrd / Alis Franklin

Working low-level IT support is far from a glamorous job, no matter how prestigious the company.  But it's a job that pays well, offers regular hours, doesn't require much navigation of social niceties, and allows Sigmund the time to enjoy the games that he loves.  What he doesn't expect is the chain of events set off when he fails to recognize the company CEO and shows him the Norse-inspired game he's been creating.  Then the the charming, witty, and incredibly cute Lain shows up as the new guy in IT, and of everyone there, he attaches himself to Sigmund.

Things start changing for Sigmund, and some of them good.  He's surprised at his attraction to Lain, and even more that it's returned.  But other changes are a bit weird.  Or perhaps it's more all "wyrd" as things start going down in an old god sort of way.


At first blush Liesmith strikes me as a queer YA (and Australian) spin on American Gods.  It…

[Book Review] We Are All Completely Fine

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We Are All Completely Fine / Daryl Gregory (Powell's Books)

What happens to the surviving victims after the monsters have been thwarted?  Life in shambles, friends dead, and scars from an experience that no one would believe.  How do you go on knowing that the monsters are real?

Dr. Jan Sayer seeks out the survivors for reasons of her own.  Stan, once a minor celebrity after his rescue from cannibals, now a maimed old man treated as a nuisance.  Harrison's experiences in Dunnsmouth were immortalized in books about a child monster killer.  Barbara is haunted by a message literally etched on to her bones.  Martin only ever views the world through his sunglasses, a filtered augmented reality.  Greta's entire body is a canvas of symbols carved into her skin.

There is something almost painfully intimate about this story.  We're learning about these deeply damaged individuals not through their life or as they surmount challenges, but largely through a series of group therapy…

[Book Review] Revealing Ruby

Revealing Ruby / Lavinia Kent

I previously reviewed Mastering the Marquess by Lavinia Kent, so I had a fair idea of what to expect in terms of how hot and heavy the story would get.


Madame Rouge runs a discreet, high-end brothel for customers of discerning tastes and needs.  She takes care of the women in her employ, and tolerates no mistreatment by her patrons.  One of the rules of the brothel is that as its proprietress, she is not on the menu, lest the power dynamic she holds is disrupted.  That doesn't mean Madame Rouge never has interest in the men who come calling at her establishment.  And Captain Derek Price definitely whets her appetite.

The attraction between the two is palpable, but Madame Rogue does not take customers.  However, maybe he's worth being herself with for once.


I will admit, in some ways Revealing Ruby was tamer than I expected.  Mastering the Marquess is full of longing and passionate kinky sex.  Revealing Ruby stays on the vanilla end of the spectrum…

Guest spot on Letters to a Young Librarian

I reworked an earlier post/presentation for the Letters to a Young Librarian guest post, "Adventures in turning it off and back on again."

What's a weekend without a little madness?

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I've written before about LARPing.  It's loads of fun and a great way to meet new people.

My first LARP occurred two years ago, and myself and three of my friends played a group of experts from the Vatican (well, I was there as medical support) searching for holy relics rumored to be hiding in Hungary (in particular the original top of the Holy Crown of Hungary).


So it was that we, along with nearly 40 others, were traveling in December of 1935, only to be trapped in a mountain valley when sabotage knocked the train off the rails.  A valley scheduled to for flooding in two mornings.  Over the next 36 hours we found strange artifacts, encountered cultists and ghouls, were decimated by horrifying creatures from another dimension, and desperately tried to find what we needed to repair the damage to the rails in order to escape.

Ten of the original forty escaped, including one of ours.  All with scars and terrors haunting them.

Then this past October (the weekend after my weddin…

[Book Revew] A SEAL Wolf Christmas

A SEAL Wolf Christmas / Terry Spear

To start off, this is exactly the sort of romance novel (paranormal or not) I'm embarrassed to be caught reading.  I wouldn't have picked this up on my own, and really only did so as it was a book club pick.  If you are into books that have titles like A SEAL in Wolf's Clothing (admit it, you probably read it as "a seal in wolf's clothing" and giggled), A Highland Wolf Christmas (kilts AND werewolves), Call of the Cougar (were-cougars, not older women chasing significantly younger men), Jaguar Fever, and the like, you will probably like this book (and other titles by Terry Spear).

I didn't.  But then, I'm not someone who generally sees a book like this and says "hot damn, I have got to read this."  Exceptions standing for books involving Librarians for amusement reasons and review copies requested at 3AM.  I really can't defend many of my 3AM review choices.

Official teaser text for A SEAL in Wolf'…

[Book Review] Dust

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Dust / Elizabeth Bear (Powell's Books)

I don't even really know where to start when summarizing this book.  I find it a fantastic blending of fantasy and science fiction.  To me the story starts out reading like high fantasy and then slides it way into high technology speculative fiction.  The story explores concepts of humanity, gender, religion, belief, society, and science.

I cannot think of a single way to review or summarize the book without any spoilers.
"Can an angel be imperfectly honest?"

"An angel can be whatever it is created to be," Samuel said, with perfect frankness.  "Humans are the only animals that intentionally, methodically change themselves."Dust takes place on a generation ship, stranded in space for centuries.  Launched from Earth by fanatical Darwinists seeking to push the bounds of extreme, forced evolution using the ship as an petri dish.  Society is split into Means and Exalts, Engine and Comm.  The ship is the World.  Th…

Link Smorgasbord, November 2014

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Reading Privacy Enables Reader Sharing
On privacy and e-reading.

If your website still uses HTTP, the X-UIDH header has turned you into a snitch
About privacy, HTTP/HTTPS, and online tracking.

Preventing Digital Decay
A lot of people are shocked that as a relatively technology savvy person and as someone under 30 that I think microfilm is awesome.  The reason I think microfilm is awesome is for all of its limitations it is a stable method for archiving.

I'm really glad that the challenges of digital preservation are getting more attention.  The fact that you cannot rely on just shoving a photo somewhere on your hard drive and expect it to be readable in 10 years is really important for people to be aware of.

Internet Speculative Fiction Databse
A FANTASTIC resource for fans of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and other related genres that fall under the Speculative Fiction umbrella.

War Ink : See Their Ink.  Hear Their Stories
"The War Ink virtual exhibit is a partnership between the C…

[Book Review] Otherworld Nights

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Otherworld Nights / Kelley Armstrong (Powell's Books)

While I read a lot of urban fantasy/paranormal there are few series in the genre that I enjoy as much as Kelley Armstrong's Otherworld novels.  I stumbled across Bitten by chance when browsing for something new to read in the Science Fiction/Fantasy section of a used book store over a decade ago.  First I met Elena Michaels and the Pack, then Paige Winterbourne, and others, eagerly waiting for the next title in the series to come out.

The challenge of loving this world is the number of short stories and novellas, the former scattered through genre anthologies and the latter often published in limited runs through specialty imprints.

Otherworld Nights is a fantastic collection of stories enriching the world of the Otherworld.  They take place over the whole span of the novels, and across the entire cast of characters. I highly recommend this for fans of the series.  If you haven't read any of the novels but like urban fant…

Going to Arisia? Come hear me talk about books!

Or at least come see me try to sound intelligent while on a panel with some really amazing people.  Schedule just came out today and holy fuck I'm on a panel with N.K. Jemisin.

My reading list for the next two months just grew hugely.  In some cases it's to increase awareness of specifically named titles by other panelists so that I'm able to converse intelligently.  In other cases its because I'm the only member of the panel who is not a published author or professional editor.  No stress, right?

Panel Schedule:

Speculative Fiction : The Year in Review
Friday 10:00PM-1:15AM
What books, short stories, and poetry have we read this year? What trends and patterns have emerged in the genre?
With Gillian Daniels (moderator) and Morgan Crooks

Orgasmatron: The Erotic & Not So Erotic in SF/F
Saturday 10:00PM-1:15AM
Not every SF/F story fades to black when the sexy times start. Let’s talk about our favorite erotic SF/F stories and some that just AREN’T RIGHT. 
With JoSelle Vander…

[Book Review] Strong Female Protagonist : Book One

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Strong Female Protagonist : Book One / Mulligan, Brennan Lee and Osterta, Molly

What happens when the "super heroes" and "arch villains" step back from their battles and ask "what am I doing?"  Who is damaged in the fall out of the crimes the heroes stop?  Are they actually making the world a better place?

For years, teenaged Alison Green fought crime as Mega Girl. Super speed and strength, flying, and impervious to damage.  Then a villain showed her a possible conspiracy, eliminating the nascent "biodynamics" with powers to literally make the world a better place, while leaving others.  How does the ability to beat up a giant robot matter in the larger scheme of things?  Alison is now trying to learn who she is beyond a "super hero," try to find a way to actually make the world a better place, and to figure out what it means to do the right thing.


Strong Female Protagonist started out as a webcomic, and recently the artists published …

[Book Review] Spellwright

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Spellwright / Blake Chalton (Powell's Books)

Nicodemus Weal was once thought to be the prophesied Halycon, a powerful spellwright essential to mankind in the apocalypse known as the Disjunction.  But while Nicodemus can read and power magical text, his touch disorders runes and his his prose is inevitably misspelled.  Considered crippled, but still literate, he lives among wizards as still an apprentice.  Then a wizard is murdered with a powerful misspell, inflating the fear and distrust of cacographers such as Nicodemus, and his life is caught up in the machinations of factions wanting Nicodemus as their prophesied tool.


One thing I absolutely love about Spellwright is the concept of how dyslexia would affect a magic user.  Charlton executes this idea fantastically, along with some very clever wordplay.  This is the first book in a trilogy, and reads as such.  It tells a full story arc, and introduces us to the world, setting, and characters, but you can tell that there is more st…

[Book Review] Witch Lights

Witch Lights / Michael M. Hughes

In the fallout of the Blackwater incident, Ellen and her son, William, are presumed dead, with Ray as the prime suspect for their deaths in addition to the fallen cultists.  In return for their help in the Blackwater incident, and in hope of harnessing Ray's abilities for themselves, the Brotherhood is helping shelter the trio in South America.  They have more to fear than just discovery and extradition to the United States.  Lily, with her financial and occult power, is on the hunt.

But there are other players in this game.  Mantu, their protector since Blackwater, has grown uneasy with the changes in the Brotherhood's leaders.  And Ellen attracts the eye of a very powerful drug lord who offers protection from Lily, but is less than human or benign himself.


Witch Lights follows on the heels of Blackwater Lights, and suffers from the all too common middle book slump.  There is threat, tension, danger, and secrets, but the entire book failed to d…

[Book Review] Blackwater Lights

Blackwater Lights / Michael M. Hughes

Ray Simon has no interest in returning to Blackwater, West Virginia, a small town connected to a part of his childhood that people say doesn't exist, and that he'd rather not remember.  But when a desperate call from a friend and fellow survivor brings Ray back to Blackwater, memories and secrets start surfacing.  Secrets that threaten the life and sanity of Ray and of those he befriend in town.


While I'm not sure if Blackwater Lights pulls from the C'thulhu mythos directly, the story embodies the consuming desperation, confusion, and dark madness of the mythos in a contemporary thriller setting.  An engaging, twisted read.

Advanced Reader Copy copy courtesy of Netgalley; differences may exist between uncorrected galley text and the final edition.

[Book Review] Dark Triumph

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Dark Triumph (His Fair Assassin #2) / Robin LeFevers (Powell's Books)
Sybella arrives at the convent’s doorstep half mad with grief and despair. Those that serve Death are only too happy to offer her refuge—but at a price. The convent views Sybella, naturally skilled in the arts of both death and seduction, as one of their most dangerous weapons. But those assassin's skills are little comfort when the convent returns her to a life that nearly drove her mad. And while Sybella is a weapon of justice wrought by the god of Death himself, He must give her a reason to live. When she discovers an unexpected ally imprisoned in the dungeons, will a daughter of Death find something other than vengeance to live for? Earlier this week I reviewed Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin #1), and was left with the general feeling of while it wasn't a bad book it wasn't what I wanted.  Dark Triumph made up for my disappointment.  I was far more engaged as a reader and less inclined to put the …

[Book Review] Accelerando

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Accelerando / Charles Stross (Powell's Books)

Manfred Macx lives on the cutting edge of future thought, and the future is coming at us whether we want it or not.  The whole concept of humanity and sentience is changing. A singularity of human existence.  Only as we become the aliens we learn there may be something else out there, and it might not have our best interests in mind.  Accelerando is a multi-generational story of post-singularity humanity and evolution.

Accelerando was the July (yes, I know, it's November, this has been a difficult few months) pick for Virtual Speculation.  I find Charles Stross' Science Fiction intelligent, witty, and fascinating, with the added bonus of the author's strong information technology knowledge set.  His near future (or alternative current day) science fiction explores the what-ifs of technology and culture.

The book is curious and quirky.  An idea seeded from the experiences working in IT during the late 90's.  The what-if o…

[Book Review] Grave Mercy

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Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin #1) / Robin LaFevers (Powell's Books)
Why be the sheep when you can be the wolf?

Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts—and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others.

Ismae’s most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany—where she finds herself woefully under prepared—not only for the deadly games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart? I might have liked this book more were I not inadvertently comparing it to Kushiel's …

Link Smorgasbord, October 2014

After Some Victories, the Time Has Come to Legally Define ‘Fair Use’
About libraries, lending, fair use, and the wonderful world of "try it and hope you don't get sued" in testing the realm of fair use.

Adobe, Privacy and the Big Yellow Taxi
Good read on privacy, ebooks, and the displeasing data situation with Adobe.

Librarians Are Dedicated to User Privacy. The Tech They Have to Use Is Not.
The title nails it.  It's one of the thing that drives myself (and many of my professional colleagues) crazy.  But we're trying to find ways to address it.

Isaac Asimov Asks, “How Do People Get New Ideas?”
Neat read

3 Ridiculous Misconceptions About Dating a Librarian
Actually, buying me book is a pretty safe bet... if I don't already own it.

Terms of Service : understanding our role in the world of Big Data
A great graphic novel exploration of privacy and data collection.

The politeness of librarians

“Librarians, Dusty, possess a vast store of politeness. These are people who get asked regularly the dumbest questions on God's green earth. These people tolerate every kind of crank and eccentric and mouth breather there is.”

-Garrison Keillor, Dusty and Lefty: The Lives of the Cowboys

[Book Review] An Oath Taken

An Oath Taken / Diana Cosby

Sir Nicholas Beringar has come to Ravenmoore Castle with the task of rebuilding the neglected castle and repairing the abused relations with the locals.  Acting on a whim he brings the desperate lad who tries to rob him in instead as a squire.  He sees a young boy, too thin, too secretive, and too scared, but his mind isn't sure what to make of young Thomas, who is actually the Lady Elizabet Armstrong seeking to free her wrongly imprisoned family.  The only way out is to trust each other, but can they?


Overall, I'd say this is an about average romance novel.  Neither horrible nor amazing.  There was lust aplenty, but it left me wanting (and not in a hot and heavy way).  I don't expect high accuracy in historical romance, since, lets be honest, its more there as a backdrop, but some things still bother me, and I'm not a fan of certain tropes.

First off, I'm not so sure the author understands the size of a claymore, and how fighting with o…

[Book Review] Protecting His Witch

Protecting His Witch / Zoe Forward

Kat Ramsey is happy living a normal life and working as a veterinarian, but life just isn't quite normal for her.  She can pick up on thoughts and has this unwanted (and uncontrolled) tendency to dimension shift.  Most of the time, however, she keeps things under control.  But one night she ends up dimension hopping right into a high-end benefit dinner, that just happens to be hosted by a one-night stand from college that she can't forget.  Unfortunately she also can't forget how things ended, with his screaming girlfriend showing up and her ending up in the hallway of the dorm, naked.

Matthew Ryan has money, power, and looks.  But ever since the disastrous end to the best night of his life, he's had this curse hanging over his love life.  When Kat stumbles into his life again his first thought is to get out of the curse... an intent largely subsumed by his attraction to her.  Now he has to keep her safe and help her learn what she is…

[Book Review] Dresden Files: War Cry

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Jim Butcher's Dresden Files : War Cry / Jim Butcher & Carlos Gomez (Powell's Books)

For fans of the Dresden File this is a great addition, but probably should be read slightly outside of the chronological order of the books unless you don't mind a spoiler for Turn Coat.  We all know that Harry gets up to all sorts of things between books, sometimes these other adventures are even referenced, but it takes short stories and comic book arcs to fill in the details.

War Cry features a story of Dresden on a mission as a Warden during the war with the Red Court, something we don't get to see much in the novels.  We also really don't get to see Dresden often in the role of group leader and mentor to a group of powerful young wizards, something that has a slightly different dynamic than when he works with Murphy, Michael, the Alphas, or even Molly.  Even better than all of that for me is that we get more about the Outsiders, and it turns out that they are explicitly Lovec…

Link Smorgasbord, September 2014

Rupert Giles, MLS
A class listing for how to be as awesome as Giles.

Radical Librarianship: how ninja librarians are ensuring patrons' electronic privacy
On what fellow librarians have been getting up to in this state.  Makes me miss being in a position to actually have some say over efforts like this.

5 Ways Colorado Libraries Are Going Beyond Books
From streaming content to skulls, libraries are more than books.

Analysis of Privacy Leakage on a Library Catalog Webpage
Something I think we need to be watching out for as librarians.  We try to protect privacy, but we need to make sure we're doing what we can across all of our services.

Sign-Up Selfies: How Patrons #GetCarded at Escondido Public Library
Fun (and simple) library sign-up activity that doubles as community connection and outreach.

Libraries Balk at OverDrive Changes
Of course we balk, because we don't know if it's actually an improvement (privacy speaking) over the old system.  Now, there are issues with the…

[Book Review] Lovecraft's Monsters

Lovecraft's Monsters / Ellen Datlow (ed)
H. P. Lovecraft made famous beings from fever dreams and hallucinatory nightmares.  These monsters in turn have grown as they catch our imagination and create new additions to the mythos.  Lovecraft's Monsters is an excellently curated collection of Lovecraftian tales set largely in the now or in the cthonian aftermath.  Renowned authors have created enhancing and unsettling tales. Further enhancing this collection each story starts with its own eerie illustration, and the book closes with an informative appendix for each of the monsters and their literary birth.
Advanced Reader Copy copy courtesy of Netgalley; differences may exist between uncorrected galley text and the final edition.
Update: review featured by the publisher.

[Book Review] Unexpected Stories

Unexpected Stories / Octavia E. Butler

Unexpected Stories is a short book containing intriguing stories by Butler.  In "A Necessary Being" the reader falls into the culture of utterly alien 'others', yet immersive enough to make the unfamiliar familiar.  "Childfinder" delves into a what-if of telepathy and control.  Both stories delve into explorations of ethics, culture, will, and loneliness.  Perhaps an aptly named book, as the stories themselves are unexpected.

One thing that does confuse me is the cover art - it has no relevance that I can tell to the stories, and while pretty, the bird is very poorly edited onto the open hands.

Advanced Reader Copy copy courtesy of Netgalley; differences may exist between uncorrected galley text and the final edition.

Romance Novels & Tall Tales

So, there are many troupes that pop up in romance novels that I'm not a big fan of (though sometimes I find them amusing), but one that is standing out to me more of late is in an aspect of the physical descriptions of the male lead.

Often (but admittedly not always) we have a female lead who is of average height who doesn't see herself as a great beauty who finds some manly stud who finds her irresistibly sexy and after lots of lusting they eventually end up together.  Mr. McStudly, more often than not, is tall.  And not just tall as in "taller than the average woman," but tall enough that they tower over normal men.  I recently read a historical fantasy romance where the male lead was "six and a half feet tall, maybe more."

Now, all things being proportional, how tall you are doesn't make a face more beautiful or what not, but height often is equated with manliness.  I've been a bit of a tomboy most of my life, and as I have always been on the sho…

Boldly exploring...

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Today's awesome find:


We have the earlier edition as well, but I figured I might as well go with the 2007 updated version.

[Book Review] Scandalous Summer Nights

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Scandalous Summer Nights / Anne Barton (Powell's Books)

Lady Olivia Sherbourne knows her mind, and is known for it, on top of being stubborn, direct, and the sister of the protective and sometimes intimidating Lord Sherbourne.  James Averill works as a solicitor and is childhood friend of Lord Sherbourne, putting Olivia out of bounds.  Oliva doesn't much care for James' concept of "out of bounds," and when she learns that he is bound for a two-year expedition in Egypt, she decides to throw away lady-like convention and not only make her intentions known but follows him to the countryside.


Scandalous Summer Nights is an apt description, in the setting Olivia and James do behave in a shamelessly scandalous manner.  I have to hand it to Olivia, for a relatively innocent maid, she's got chutzpah.  James may try to stand on propriety, but she identified his returned interest and played dirty.  Too bad for overprotective brothers barging in, assuming the worst, and t…

[Book Review] Hotter than Helltown

Hotter than Helltown / S. M. Reine

A killer is mutilating bodies in Los Angeles. Agent Cèsar Hawke is on the case, but the murderer is ahead of him – way ahead of him.

Wiping the memories of the dead so that the team’s resident necrocognitive can’t talk to them? Done. Preventing magical reconstruction of crime scenes? Oh yeah. And the murders keep getting worse while Cèsar struggles to catch up.

The best way to heat up a cold case is to go to Helltown, where LA’s most powerful evil hides out, but even those demons are afraid of the murderer. Their fear adds one more question to the growing pile of unknowns:

What kind of bad guy is too hot for Helltown? Hotter than Helltown is the 3rd book in the Preternatural Affairs series by S. M. Reine.  I read the first book, Witch Hunt, back in January, and apparently need to dig up the middle book.
Cèsar seems like a nice guy, dedicated and stubborn to be sure, but definitely seems like he'd be happier with a laid back life with a family of his …

Will the singularity happen?

In the Programming for Everyone (Python) class I took over the summer we had a few short written assignments.  I posted my first response during the summer, and then forgot that this post was wallowing as a draft.  Whoops.  I had fun with these open ended questions, and in both cases received good feedback from my classmates who peer-reviewed my submission.

Assignment:
You are now nearly through a first programming class (congratulations). There are many people that feel that at some point in the future, computer intelligence will surpass human intelligence. The word for this moment is called the "singularity". There are endless movies and books about the time where technology will become the master of the human race. What do you think about the singularity? Is it coming soon? What will life be like after the singularity? Will the singularity never happen? Is there a point in time where the impact of technology on our lives will be reduced as shown in alternate fut…