Westworld: 15 Books and Movies for the Western Android Fan

HBO’s new series, Westworld, is a big sprawling story set in a future where humans have begun imbuing robots with sentience in order to make a large, corporately owned theme park, more immersive for its rich clientele. It is based on the 1970s Michael Crichton movie of the same name where Androids in a Western based theme park become murderous and start to terrorize its patrons. Unlike the movie, the show seems to be developing some bigger questions, such as how is consciousness developed and what is a creators ethical responsibility for its creation as well as examining what is entertainment and what will immersive game playing experiences look like in the future. Overall, it is a great viewing experience, that balances a fun story while still letting its audience delve into references such as Shakespeare, Da VinciAlice in Wonderland, Hieronymus Bosch, and Julian Jaynes’ theory of the Bicameral Mind.

If you have been enjoying the show or are just interested in some some of the themes or genres it presents, then try out some of these titles we have at the Prairie State College Library.

Blood meridian: or, The evening redness in the West
by Cormac McCarthy
FIC MCC

Based on incidents that took place in the southwestern United States and Mexico around 1850, this novel chronicles the crimes of a band of desperados, with a particular focus on one, “the kid,” a boy of fourteen. An epic novel of the violence and depravity that attended America’s westward expansion, Blood Meridian brilliantly subverts the conventions of the Western novel and the mythology of the “wild west.” Based on historical events that took place on the Texas-Mexico border in the 1850s, it traces the fortunes of the Kid, a fourteen-year-old Tennesseean who stumbles into the nightmarish world where Indians are being murdered and the market for their scalps is thriving.


Do androids dream of electric sheep?
by Philip K. Dick
FIC DIC

It was January 2021, and Rick Deckard had a license to kill. Somewhere among the hordes of humans out there, lurked several rogue androids. Deckard’s assignment–find them and then…”retire” them. Trouble was, the androids all looked exactly like humans, and they didn’t want to be found!


What to think about machines that think : today’s leading thinkers on the age of machine intelligence
Q335 .W445 2015

Weighing in from the cutting-edge frontiers of science, today’s most forward-thinking minds explore the rise of “machines that think.”
Stephen Hawking recently made headlines by noting, “The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race.” Others, conversely, have trumpeted a new age of “superintelligence” in which smart devices will exponentially extend human capacities. No longer just a matter of science-fiction fantasy (2001, Blade Runner, The Terminator, Her, etc.), it is time to seriously consider the reality of intelligent technology, many forms of which are already being integrated into our daily lives. In that spirit, John Brockman, publisher of Edge. org (“the world’s smartest website” – The Guardian), asked the world’s most influential scientists, philosophers, and artists one of today’s most consequential questions: What do you think about machines that think?


The Ox-bow Incident
by Walter Van Tilburg Clark
FIC CLA

Set in 1885, The Ox-Bow Incident is a searing and realistic portrait of frontier life and mob violence in the American West. First published in 1940, it focuses on the lynching of three innocent men and the tragedy that ensues when law and order are abandoned. The result is an emotionally powerful, vivid, and unforgettable re-creation of the Western novel, which Clark transmuted into a universal story about good and evil, individual and community, justice and human nature.


The complete stories of J.G. Ballard
by J.G. Ballard
FIC BAL

Short story, ‘The Largest Theme Park in the World’, describes a Europe of the near future, ‘the first totalitarian system based on leisure’. Former pilot Paul Sinclair drives his young doctor wife Jane to the French Riviera when she takes up a post at the exclusive high-tech community of Eden-Olympia. The multinational corporations behind the business park are conducting a psychological laboratory there, a huge experiment in how to ‘hot-house the future’. They become aware of the violence and paranoia under the project’s glossy surfaces and its increasingly sinister undercurrents: sado-masochistic sex, robberies and racist attacks, unexplained murders. Jane falls into promiscuity and drug addiction, while Paul investigates the death of the former medical director of this ‘Alcatraz-sur-Mer’ in a deranged shooting spree.


Continue reading “Westworld: 15 Books and Movies for the Western Android Fan”

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President Obama’s Reading Lists

Getty Images

As we come closer to the end of President Obama’s term, I thought it would interesting to take a look through his reading lists  over the years. So if you want to read the books that the President did check out one or more of them from the Prairie State College Library.

Between the World and Me
Ta-Nehisi Coates
E185.615 .C6335 2015
Link to Ebook

In a profound work that pivots from the biggest questions about American history and ideals to the most intimate concerns of a father for his son, Ta-Nehisi Coates offers a powerful new framework for understanding our nation’s history and current crisis. Americans have built an empire on the idea of “race,” a falsehood that damages us all but falls most heavily on the bodies of black women and men—bodies exploited through slavery and segregation, and, today, threatened, locked up, and murdered out of all proportion. What is it like to inhabit a black body and find a way to live within it? And how can we all honestly reckon with this fraught history and free ourselves from its burden?


The Sixth Extinction
Elizabeth Kolbert
QE721.2.E97 K65 2014

Provides a moving account of the disappearances occurring all around us and traces the evolution of extinction as concept, from its first articulation by Georges Cuvier in revolutionary Paris up through the present day. The sixth extinction is likely to be mankind’s most lasting legacy, compelling us to rethink the fundamental question of what it means to be human.

All the Light We Cannot See
Anthony Doerr
Fic DOE

Marie-Laure lives with her father in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where he works as the master of its thousands of locks. When she is six, Marie-Laure goes blind and her father builds a perfect miniature of their neighborhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great-uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.
In a mining town in Germany, the orphan Werner grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments, a talent that wins him a place at a brutal academy for Hitler Youth, then a special assignment to track the resistance. More and more aware of the human cost of his intelligence, Werner travels through the heart of the war and, finally, into Saint-Malo, where his story and Marie-Laure’s converge.


Washington: A Life
Ron Chernow
E312 .C495 2011

Celebrated biographer Ron Chernow provides a richly nuanced portrait of the father of our nation and the first president of the United States. With a breadth and depth matched by no other one volume biography of George Washington, this crisply paced narrative carries the reader through his adventurous early years, his heroic exploits with the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War, his presiding over the Constitutional Convention, and his magnificent performance as America’s first president. In this groundbreaking work, based on massive research, Chernow shatters forever the stereotype of George Washington as a stolid, unemotional figure and brings to vivid life a dashing, passionate man of fiery opinions and many moods.


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No Man’s Sky: 12 Books for the Space Traveler

The new video game No Man’s Sky allow players to traverse the galaxy and explore algorithmically generated planets teaming with various environments, lifeforms and materials. For the people who are interested in space travel check out any of these 12 books on the topic. If it is not enough to quell your exploration wants, stop by and talk to a librarian who will happily help you find more materials on the topic.

Space chronicles : facing the ultimate frontier by Neil deGrasse Tyson
TL789.8.U5 T97 2012

Neil deGrasse Tyson is a rare breed of astrophysicist, one who can speak as easily and brilliantly with popular audiences as with professional scientists. This book represents the best of Tyson’s commentary, including a candid new introductory essay on NASA and partisan politics, giving us an eye-opening manifesto on the importance of space exploration for America’s economy, security, and morale. Thanks to Tyson’s fresh voice and trademark humor, his insights are as delightful as they are provocative, on topics that range from the missteps that shaped our recent history of space travel to how aliens, if they existed, might go about finding us.


Beyond : our future in space by Chris Impey
TL793 .I468 2015

A dazzling and propulsive voyage through space and time, Beyond reveals how centuries of space explorers–from the earliest stargazers to today’s cutting-edge researchers–all draw inspiration from an innate human emotion: wanderlust. This urge to explore led us to multiply around the globe, and it can be traced in our DNA.

Combining expert knowledge of astronomy and avant-garde technology, Chris Impey guides us through the heady possibilities for the next century of exploration. In twenty years, a vibrant commercial space industry will be operating. In thirty years, there will be small but viable colonies on the Moon and Mars. In fifty years, mining technology will have advanced enough to harvest resources from asteroids. In a hundred years, a cohort of humans born off-Earth will come of age without ever visiting humanity’s home planet. This is not the stuff of science fiction but rather the logical extension of already available technologies.


Time travel and warp drives : a scientific guide to shortcuts through time and space by Allen Everett and Thomas A. Roman
QC173.59.S65 E94 2012

In Time Travel and Warp Drives , Allen Everett and Thomas A. Roman take readers on a clear, concise tour of our current understanding of the nature of time and space–and whether or not we might be able to bend them to our will. Using no math beyond high school algebra, the authors lay out an approachable explanation of Einstein’s special relativity, then move through the fundamental differences between traveling forward and backward in time and the surprising theoretical connection between going back in time and traveling faster than the speed of light. They survey a variety of possible time machines and warp drives, including wormholes and warp bubbles, and, in a dizzyingly creative chapter, imagine the paradoxes that could plague a world where time travel was possible–killing your own grandfather is only one of them!


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Olympics Reads | The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936

The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 (Ebook)
by Daniel James Brown

Are you getting excited for the Summer Olympics in Rio this summer? If so you should check The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown, which was also covered in a documentary by PBS’s American Experience (you can watch the documentary on PBS’s website).

Both the book and the documentary tell the story of nine working-class young men from the University of Washington who took the rowing world and America by storm when they captured the gold medal at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin. Their unexpected victory, against not only the Ivy League teams of the East Coast but Adolf Hitler’s elite German rowers, gave hope to a nation struggling to emerge from the depths of the Great Depression.

Find the Boys in the Boat along with these other great Olympic titles at the Prairie State College Library!

Print Books

Ebooks

Stranger Things @ PSC Library

In a small Indiana town, a boy, Will Byers, vanishes. The search for Will pulls together his friends and family and the town sheriff. They find themselves up against a secret corporation, sinister government scientists, and a girl with other-worldly powers. This is Stranger Things, Netflix’s newest original series.

Rooted in nostalgia for the 1980s, Stranger Things also finds kinship with government conspiracies and a truth that may be hard to believe. (Very minor spoilers ahead.) Our series heroes find themselves up against a government scientist, who was principle investigator in Project MKULTRA before working at Hawkins National Laboratory (the secret corporation). This is where fiction fades into reality. Launched in 1953, during the early stages of Cold War, Project MKULTRA was a CIA-led investigation into mind control. The intelligence agency concern was on the ability to manipulate and extract information from subjects through the use of drug and physical influences. The CIA wanted control and tap into the minds of Soviet agents and were worried about the Russians doing the same. Over the course of MKULTRA, the CIA gave LSD to college students without consent, attempted to hypnosis subjects, and experimented with electro-shock therapy. Ultimately, Project MKULTRA provided no conclusive medical advancement and continues to be a black mark for the US government.

Thanks to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), a federal law “establishing the right of access to government information and agency records as essential to a free and open society,” the wrong doings of the government agency were made public. In 2001, all remaining MKULTRA records were made public. These can be freely accessed through archive.org.

What are the stranger things you can find at the Prairie State Library?

Library Mixtape: New Books on Music

Whether your interest is country, rap, gospel, rock, jazz, or any other genre, you can find a book that will let explore all types of music at the Prairie State College Library.

Maybe you want to read up on its theory, learn more about the industry and how to make music, or take a look at its history. If so you can find the Library’s music section in the ML call range or check out some of these new books we added this year.

 The story of music : from Babylon to the Beatles : how music has shaped civilization

TV Shows: Based off of Books

The new AMC show, Preacher, created by Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen, starts up May 22nd. It stars Dominic Cooper, as a Texas preacher, who decides to seek out God after witnessing a supernatural event. I’m excited about this because it will be based off of one of my very favorite comic series of the same name from the 90s by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillion (which the Library own all of the volumes of).  It also got me thinking about what other TV series that are based of books which the library owns.

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Mountain Man Hugh Glass: The History of the Revenant

The Revenant: A Novel of Revenge by Michael Punke
Book / Ebook

revenant
noun rev·e·nant \ˈre-və-ˌnän, -nənt\

: one that returns after death or a long absence
-Miriam Webster

The Revenant, staring Leo DiCaprio and directed by Alejandro G. Iñárritu, tells the story of a frontiersman on a fur trading expedition in the 1820s who must fight for survival after being mauled by a bear and left for dead by members of his own hunting team. It is based on the book The Revenant by Michael Punke, which itself is based on the story of an actual man named Hugh Glass.

There is very little about Hugh Glass that actually known outside of the fact that he was one of the “mountain men” who, during the turn of the 19th century were drawn out west in pursuit of the lucrative business of fur-trapping. Now, when Europeans came over from the new world, they found themselves awash in animals which they could use for fur trade (mainly beavers). From the boom in resources was developed a new trade of people named “mountain men”. The mountain man was a rare bred (there was usually only about 200-300 total) of person who braved the wild, hostile Native Americans, and the elements for months at a time before they returned to civilization. They even had their own system of medicine, called “frontier medicine, to deal with any injuries that may occur. Sure enough, though, by the 1800s they had hunted the beaver population in the Eastern portion of the country to near extinction. But luckily the United States had just invested in the Louisiana Purchase, which opened up St. Louis to the Rocky Mountains to these trappers. Hugh Glass was one of the men who ventured west to seek his fortune.

The Story of the Revenant (do not continue reading if you want to avoid spoilers …. of American History)

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New Movies to Check Out and Borrow!

Stop by the Library this semester and check out some of the new movies we got in this semester. One of my personal favorite movies this year was Mad Max: Fury Road but you may also want to check out Dope, where a chance encounter at an underground party leads high school senior, Malcolm and his friends on an adventure in Los Angeles. Other notable movies include the HBO documentaries The Jinx, which reexamined the  strange life of Robert Durst or Going Clear which scrutinized the organization of Scientology. If these aren’t enough for you, you might want to try out some of their book companions listed below.

Movies

Books

What’s Your Name, Man?

How does a bastard, orphan, son of a whore and a
Scotsman, dropped in the middle of a
Forgotten spot in the Caribbean by providence
Impoverished, in squalor
Grow up to be a hero and a scholar?

This is the question asked at the very beginning of the current Broadway show, Hamilton. Written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, the musical tells the story of “the ten dollar founding father without a father,” Alexander Hamilton, through hip-hop, R&B, and jazz.

Click on the above image to see the Hamilton show’s Twitter account!

The show has been selling-out since it opened in August, and audience members include Beyonce, Julie Andrews, and the Obama family. It was just announced today that the original cast recording is up for a Grammy award, and theater insiders are certain that it will sweep the Tony Awards next year.

Before I discovered Hamilton (the musical), which I’ve been listening to on endless repeat since it was released in September, I had no idea this man’s life was so fascinating. Here was someone whose face is printed on our money and I couldn’t even have started to describe some of his accomplishments.

So just what is it about this musical that’s so captivating? The music and the writing are stellar, with catchy hooks and internal rhyme sequences that boggle the mind. But at its heart, it’s the story of one of the most ambitious men in American history. Often considered to be America’s first immigrant, Alexander Hamilton arrived in New York at the age of 17 to attend college, and began making waves almost immediately. During his life, he fought in the Revolutionary War, was an aide to George Washington, wrote countless papers and treatises, and was the first secretary of the treasury. His views were often considered controversial, and political powers played out such that in 1795, he resigned his position. Less than 10 years later, he was killed in a duel with Aaron Burr.

Miranda found the inspiration for the musical in Ron Chernow’s biography, Alexander Hamilton, and eventually asked Chernow to be the historical advisor for the show.

Have you discovered Hamilton yet? If not, we can get the CD from another library for you! And if you have, here are some more A dot Ham resources for you.