BooksNonfictionReviews

Richard Kadrey – Covert Culture 2.0 (book review)

There is never enough of review/reference books and Richard Kadrey knew it. Therefore he’s brought also the sequel of sorts to his Covert Culture book from 1993, fittingly named Covert Culture 2.0, and it was out in 1994. Yep, it’s also outdated, but also a real treat.

Some categories from the previous book remain, some are new, but all of them are exciting, especially stuff about ezines (which, of course, it’s a total back-in-time travel) and other computer related categories. Yeah, I am old enough to remember that stuff, so it’s like opening a long forgotten dusty cabinet from your childhood to find all those goodies you certainly have forgotten about. And that’s always good thing – unless you’ve hidden some unpleasant things there 🙂

Anyway, Books category remained and it’s proudly the first one, with subsections Fiction, Biographies, The Body, Conspiracies, Death, Media, Mind, The Other, Religion, Books on Disc and Book Sources.

I have to admit the fiction section didn’t impress me at all, but I rarely read fiction nowadays (unless it’s old fashioned sword & sorcery in Conan style) so I beg your pardon, but I am sure many people would be delighted by the sampling Richard provides.

Well, Biographies fare much better and I’ve marked down already some books I need to acquire for my personal library.

The Body, well, I would need to delve into this for a little more time, but as of time of this writing, I’d be hard-pressed to read books on this subject, unlike good Conspiracy section. I love conspiracy theories and the book provides examples of some nice books to get.

Death. It awaits us all, so why not to read about it and books with titles like Final Exit (The Practicalities of Self-Deliverance and Assisted Suicide for the Dying) is provocative enough title to arouse my interest (although for purely informative reasons), or The Art and Science of Embalming, the medical text about, well, embaling process.

Goodies from Media section! Some really interesting titles there like Textual Poachers by Henry Jenkins, for example, Radiotext(e), or Chomsky’s Media Control booklet.

The Mind, a category for stuff beyond our usual perception, and the books about shamanism or lucid dreaming. Sign me up!

The Other – that’s the category for some unexpectedly interesting titles, and while I might pass some of them, I’ve marked down the title of The Mole People, as the topic of is fascinating, albeit also tragic at the same time.

Religion is always a book category to browse through and with stuff like Thee Psychick Bible, Smile Prety and Say Jesus or Chick Tracts, you have a plenty of food for thought. Or not. It’s up to you.

Books on disc is outdated, but provides a nice glimpse of the beginnings of the audio-visual computer experience of reading books and zines. Yep, I remember that too.

Book sources is a welcome list of some publishers, majority of which I have never heard about, but I definitely want and will check out. That’s something of a journey itself, to find all those interesting outlets, not to mention the titles they have produced/published.

Comics section is pretty large and I am always fascinated by the medium. Unfortunately, as a kid in then commie Czechoslovakia we’ve had only very limited opportunities to read comics, therefore they are not ingrained in our collective consciousness as they are in the US or other western world societies. Still, I like many of them, and more so the books about the comics, their histories and their authors, so titles like A History of Underground Comics is right down my alley.

As mentioned, Ezines are nice look at the things as they were 25 years ago. It would appeal to us, older folks, I doubt you would expect millenials to know how to connect to FTP and read the text files. You know, stuff with ASCII pictograms, no colors, pics… 🙂 but if you remember how big knowledge base FTPs and Gopher provided (and basically, still provides), this section is a nice walk through one’s younger years.

Music? Music!! Of course, there is Music section again! Everything from instruments (wanna buy a digeridoo?) to music books, new music, independent music to world music and music zines. Still valid stuff, I’d say. Although I’m not buying a digeridoo.

The Net, the good companion to Ezines, nah, even better! Stuff from the beginning of the WWW, URLs no longer in existence, stuff you haven’t thought it had existed, books with now ridiculous topics, but boy, it’s just fantastic! That’s well worth any reader’s time!

Video section deals with HK cinema and Japanimation, and good things is most of the titles can be found on DVDs or Blu Rays nowadays. And, of course, some of the movies mentioned would be totally unknown back then, while now, they are household names for many of movie fans. That’s how knowledge and the availability rises.

Obviously, as a bookworm, I appreciate Video Books subsection, and I proudly own some of them already, but Video Sources, I guess most of them are out of business now. At least I use different sources, but one never knows – you can find some nice stuff browsing through there.

Tools category – my interest was aroused by Pirate Radio stuff (I used to read a lot about that, but never got to do something with it) and, of course, UFOs, but you can find stuff like Sex Tools, CD-ROMs and other interesting stuff plus addresses for some pretty cool catalogs.

Well, would I recommend this book? You bet I would. And being available through second-book dealers, you can find it for a pretty penny, so there is no reason not to get it. If for anything else, you can spend some nice time contemplating about things as they were (and maybe, as they still should be). And find something new, which is always a plus.

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Rudolf Schütz

A father to two little perpetuum mobiles called kids, Rudolf is a main force behind The Rubber Axe webzine, a bookworm, musick lover and a movie fan - not to mention his virgin forays into the comics and board/card games.

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