Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Who Reads My Books? Mark Dennehy.


Mark Dennehy started his career as a delivery boy at Don Corleone's pizza parlour until the day he used a pizza knife to carve up an irate customer ... no no, stop it Neal. Over to Mark: 

I mostly do network programming on unix these days for a pre-startup company, though I spent a few years before now working on website stuff for various companies (PHP programming, database stuff and lots of sysadmin work). Before that it was a PhD (which remains unfinished) on applying nonlinear mathematics to localisation and mapping in robotics. Before that I was working on a PhD on teleautonomous control of bomb disposal robots, but a german group (their equivalent of the US NEST group) beat me to publication and then proceeded to publish all over me :D I also lecture in embedded systems.

For hobbies, I do a lot of Olympic target shooting, I cook, and I fool about writing code and at the moment I'm mulling over whether or not to build another micromouse robot after watching this one solve a maze in under five seconds in last year's all-japan championships.

I tend to read pretty much everything - as far as I know, I'm the youngest person to have read every book in the library in the town I grew up in, and I did that again when we moved towns. I've been reading science fiction since I was ten, starting with authors like Asimov and Clarke and Niven and progressing over the years to KSR, Banks, yourself, Haldeman, Brin, Reynolds, Stross and so on. Of late I've been reading more and more UK based hard scifi (I have far more fun reading it when the math works) because the UK stuff has a far more ingrained trend of looking at human behaviour pessimistically. In US hard scifi, the scientific math works; in the better UK stuff, both the scientific math and the economic math works, and there are far fewer idealistic characters (which is not the same thing as characters who have ideals). It's a bit muckier, basicly. I don't tend to read too much outside of science fiction anymore, and with the sole exception of Pratchett, never really found the fantasy genre to be able to hold my interest at all (likewise with crime, horror, and pretty much all the general fiction out there at the moment).

Personal favorites have changed over the years, but some have stayed in the top ten for years now. Stross's riff on the lovecraftian universe with the Laundry, as well as Accelerando; Bank's Culture novels especially The Player of Games; the Polity novels; KSR's Red Mars (once the colony's established, it gets a bit tedious); Vinge's A Fire upon the Deep and A Deepness in the Sky; Cherryh's Union/Alliance novels, especially Cyteen (I'm in the middle of its sequel Regenesis right now), and a few others.

Non-fiction works are about all I read outside of SF these days, whether they be general nonfiction (the latest include The Whale and the Reactor which I heartily recommend you not waste money buying and which is the first book in many years that I threw in the bin, as well as Big Brain which is a bit basic but is one of the few books out there that covers the Boskops and if you've never heard of them, go google them now for a bit of a braintwist -- at least until you read the mainstream anthropological view), or cookery books (Blumenthal and Brown are worth reading even if you don't like to cook), or professional development stuff (The Pragmatic Programmer, GUI development with PyQT, and the like).

9 comments:

Claire Sils said...

Seems like a fantastic young man. Is he married?

vaudeviewgalor raandisisraisins said...

man, wish i was smart instead of annoying.

reading the whole library. how........how...novel.

Sparks said...

It wasn't exactly a *big* town library vaudeview, it was only Tralee's :D Couple of hundred books was all (which isn't much over a year or four).

And it ticked off my parents a lot because they kept having to drive me there every few days. So I was more annoying than smart ;)


(And not yet Claire, I still have six months to fake my own death and run away to Mexico :D )

Claire Sils said...

No, Mark, *I* still have six months to arrange your death and run away to Mexico!

(Sorry about this Mr. Asher.)

Neal Asher said...

Please, don't mind me - you two just carry on.

Michael Stone said...

I dunno...a man in suit and tie that carries a bloody big rifle... Kinda scary, don't ya think? :)

NMM1AFan said...

Dude, it's just an air rifle.

Still waiting on Orbus in the U.S.

vaudeviewgalor raandisisraisins said...

that library looks like my old bedroom!! i feel grea nowt!
i mean now! great!!

this is how i bypassed going to the library so much since i lived kinda far from it pre high school: befriend every bookstore owner in town. offer to mow lawns and do dishes. when that falls thru raid the goodwill dumpster and do some trades.


by the way Subminds is not letting me do anything. the administrator is not ansering my call either.

i know it's a bad toupee, but jeez. dont stare.

XiXiDu said...

^Phew, just wow. Sounds like a great life with lots of excitement.