Welcome to the XION Book Club

“Cyberspace. A consensual hallucination experienced daily by billions of legitimate operators, in every nation, by children being taught mathematical concepts… A graphic representation of data abstracted from the banks of every computer in the human system. Unthinkable complexity. Lines of light ranged in the nonspace of the mind, clusters and constellations of data. Like city lights, receding…” — William Gibson, Neuromancer

Before we had digital computing, books were perhaps our only gateway to a consensual hallucination. Symbols inked onto a page are able to conjure wildly vivid imaginations of past and future worlds, human-like characters with visceral desires and struggles, and technological concepts that only seem impossible on the surface. Despite the rapid advancement of augmented and virtual reality experiences, the imaginative powers of the written word have hardly been matched. When the omniscient artificial general intelligence is finally born in this universe, books will be the way to learn what it means to be human. (And hopefully be convincing enough to avoid the complete eradication of humanity itself.)

This is a book club hosted by the cyberpunks at XION, a hackerspace/video arcade based in San Francisco, California. The club primarily focuses on genres such as science fiction (hard and soft), fantasy, cyberpunk, as well as various non-fiction topics like cryptography and social engineering. However, reading recommendations are welcome from everyone irrespective of genre, and all participants are encouraged to discuss whatever they may be reading at any point in time.

A meeting in meatspace is generally scheduled about once per month on location at XION. Attendance is open to everyone, but the location of XION is currently confidential. Please contact a XION administrator for more information about attending book club meetings in person.

This Month’s Book

True Names: the Opening of the Cyberspace Frontier

Vernor Vinge

April 2019

Once in a great while a science fiction story is so visionary, yet so close to impending scientific developments that it becomes not only an accurate predictor, but itself the locus for new discoveries and development. True Names by Vernor Vinge, first published in 1981, is such a work.

XION Book Club admin recommends that readers buy the paperback edition because Richard Stallman did not want his essay published in the ebook version.

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