‘Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow’ by Yuval Noah Harari

homodeus

Yuval Noah Harari’s controversial — often startling — tome, “Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow,” will jar most of its readers. “Man God” seems at first to be a paean to humanity, a glowing description of where we may be headed — to divinity — but that god-ness is nowhere near as lovely as it sounds.

The entire piece is a treasure trove of scientific observations about homo sapiens, a unique analysis of the eras of our history, an objective view of the movements and religions of the twentieth century, and a daring prediction, thought not a prophecy, of what life may look like by the end of the twenty-first century.

Even now, Harari declares, we have basically overcome the old threats to our survival: plagues, famine, and war. He does not hold that those horrors have disappeared; rather, he asserts, they are no longer a threat to destroy our species. So we are now free to explore the roads to our most lofty goals: immortality, happiness, and divinity. Ergo Homo Deus.

But as we come closer and closer to achieving those goals == and we are certainly moving inextricably in that direction — a terrible and frightening paradox begins to emerge: reaching those heights will probably mean the end of homo sapiens.

Consider the conclusions of modern science: human beings are simply a set of biochemical algorithms. There is no external god or power that shapes or gives meaning to our lives. Intelligence, knowledge, and ultimately, power, depend solely on the collection of data/information and the processing of that data. Our machines, our computers, are far more capable of collecting data and processing it quickly and efficiently than homo sapiens alone can ever be. So as we advance, we must necessarily merge with those machines. That merging will result in super beings who will rule the universe and likely will treat plain old people in a manner very much like the way we treat our pets. Farewell homo sapiens.

A summary like the one above does not, of course, do justice to the plethora of information, factoids, histories, theories, and fascinating but scary — almost eerie — conclusions that Harari reaches here. But it’s all presented so logically, carefully, and convincingly that he makes it difficult to even begin to argue with him or his conclusions. And that’s scary, too.

Please note: This review is based on the final, hardcover book provided by Harper, the publisher, for review purposes. Review by Jack Kramer.

‘In the Shadow of the Sun’ by Ann Sibley O’Brien Is an Action-Packed Middle Grade Novel

shadowofsun

“In the Shadow of the Sun” by Anne Sibley O’Brien has a most unusual setting — North Korea. There aren’t many children’s books that take place in this forbidding, remote and unfriendly country. And in this action-filled novel, O’Brien shows that North Korea is indeed a forbidding and unfriendly country, but also that North Korea is made of people who, like people the world over, can be kind and generous.

Mia Andrews was adopted from South Korea. Her father works getting food to starving people in North Korea. When he plans a trip to North Korea for Mia, her brother Simon, and both parents, it’s billed as a chance to see what he is working for. Or is it?

Continue reading

‘I Found You’ by Lisa Jewell: A Novel Rich with Suspense and Atmosphere

ifoundyou

“I Found You” by Lisa Jewell is a mystery that will keep readers reading, turning pages, and loving the various intertwining stories right to the end. The mystery begins on the second page with a strange man who has appeared on the beach outside Alice Lake’s rather rundown, small cottage.

A man sitting on the sand would not be notable, except for the fact that it’s pouring rain and he’s been there for hours. Alice is the type who takes on stray dogs and others, so she brings him a jacket and some hot tea. Later, she invites him to stay in her shed. The man does not know who he is or why he is in the small oceanside town of Ridinghouse Bay.

Continue reading

‘A Million Junes’ by Emily Henry is a Magical Young Adult Novel

millionjunes

“A Million Junes” by Emily Henry is a tender young adult story about a girl and a boy who fall in love. But their romance is marred by family friction. This “Romeo and Juliet” family feud goes back generations, and no one knows exactly what started it.

The magic, though, begins on the first page in the very first sentence when the main character, June, says, “From my bedroom window, I watch the ghost flutter.” And this ghost is not the only ghost who lives within the pages of the story. Feather, as this pink, benign ghost is called, has a more sinister counterpart. Nameless is the dark ghost with no name who haunts both June’s family and their neighboring enemy – Saul Angert’s family.

Continue reading