S.B. Divya shares the 5 best books on realistic near-future science fiction. Have you read Autonomous?
By S.B. Divya
Who am I?
Back in college, I switched from being an astrophysics major to computational neuroscience. The reasons are complicated, but suffice it to say that I found the human brain to be as big of a mystery as black holes. I’ve worked as an engineer for two decades on applications ranging from medical devices, to digital music recognition, to high speed chip design. Writing science fiction is the second act of my life, and I love drawing on my science background to inform my stories. I especially love taking cutting-edge technology and thinking about how it could impact future society, from the global to the individual.
It’s 2095, and humanity is entirely dependent on pills that not only help them stay alive but allow them to compete with artificial intelligence in a ubiquitous gig economy. Welga Ramirez, executive bodyguard and ex-special forces, is about to retire early when her client is killed by the Machinehood, a new and mysterious terrorist group. Their operatives seem to be part human, part machine, something the world has never seen. They issue an ultimatum: stop all pill production in one week.
Welga, determined to take down the Machinehood, is pulled back into intelligence work by the government that betrayed her. But who are the Machinehood, and what do they really want? A thrilling and thought-provoking novel that asks: if we won’t see machines as human, will we instead see humans as machines?
Annalee Newitz is the founding editor of io9 and a science writer who knows their stuff. In Autonomous, they’ve created a believable world that’s neither dystopian nor utopian. This is the book I might’ve written had I set Machinehood another 50 years in the future. Autonomous came out two years before my book, and when I started reading it, I got worried that my novel (in progress at the time) was obsolete. Luckily, we take some different twists and turns, and this book focuses more on biotech and less on A.I., while my novel does the inverse. It’s a fun, fast-paced thriller that asks questions about sentience, free will, humanity, and identity – everything I love in a story.
Infomocracy has one of the most original science fiction concepts that I’ve read in in a very long time. It’s set in a grounded near future with a radically different, but still democratic, global governance system. The story and characters are engaging, but what really stood out for me is how well Older has thought through this new form of geopolitics. It’s a fascinating read, and if you’re like me, you’ll be thinking about whether this is a good and workable solution long after you’ve finished the book.
I love pretty much anything that Sarah Pinsker writes. We Are Satellites is no exception. Her prose goes down like butter – simple but smooth and rich in flavor. Her characters are engaging and very real. They’re ordinary folks dealing with small problems that sometimes grow into having wider repercussions. This novel presents a near future with a believable core technology (a brain implant), and follows a family as it deals with the ramifications of acquiring this new device. It’s a slice of life story that has some fun turns and a heartwarming conclusion. If there was a subgenre called “cozy sci-fi,” this book would qualify.
Nexus explores the idea of collective consciousness via technology in a way that has similarities to my own writing and ideas. For one, people use drugs to modify their brains, which I find is the most likely way to get people to accept biotech. Surgery is fraught with perils, but pills are easy to swallow. The plot features plenty of action, geeks, and technology, all of which I love, and the story incorporates elements of eastern philosophy that crop up in my own work, as well.
First Light is another interesting exploration of artificial intelligence and brain/body modification. The story focuses on a soldier and has a good amount of techno-thriller type action. It keeps the pace nice and quick, and I found the main character and his squad to be full of fun, sympathetic characters. Nagata has written some excellent far-future worlds (e.g. The Bohr Maker), but in this novel, she sticks to the upcoming decades, and along the way, she raises some great questions about morality and humanity.
Pumpkin spiced lattes are out, which means fall is here. They aren’t the healthiest, but pumpkins are! Here’s how to spice up your fall with pumpkins and 6 other foods.
Pumpkin spiced lattes are out, which means fall is here. But most, if not all, of those sugary, syrupy drinks are ironically missing one important ingredient: actual pumpkins.
“The sugar content of one grande pumpkin spiced latte is 12 teaspoons, more than the recommended daily amount for one day, which is six teaspoons for women and 9 for men,” said Nicole Hahn, a registered dietitian at Banner Health. “Although you can doctor them up to make them a bit healthier, they aren’t as good as having the real thing.”
So instead of reaching for that latte, why not try to ratchet up your fall with the real thing? Pumpkins are just one of many seasonal fruits and vegetables you can add to your shopping cart and plate this fall.
Why change your diet with the weather? There are several benefits for choosing seasonal and more local fruits and vegetables:
Flavor: Picked at peak of ripeness, they are packed with flavor. And with little distance to travel, you can enjoy them right away.
Cost: Because they are in season, you can also save a pretty penny.
Nutrients: When produce is picked before it’s ripe, the nutrients do not fully develop in the flesh of the fruit. Seasonal produce is generally harvested at its peak, so it retains its full nutrient and vitamin content.
Pumpkins and 6 Other Fall Foods to Try
Alright, enough about the perks. Grab your scarf, boots and shopping bag. Here are some fruits and vegetables to get in the fall vibe.
While you can adjust that pumpkin spiced latte to make it a bit healthier, there’s nothing like having the real thing. There’s more to them than just the carved pumpkin you set out on Halloween too.
“Pumpkins are very versatile and can take on a sweet dessert-style dish as well as being enjoyed as a savory side or main dish,” Hahn said. “You can even roast the seeds. Throw some cumin, garlic, turmeric, curry or lime in – get adventurous!”
Like tomatoes, pumpkins are scientifically a fruit, but nutritionally they are more similar to vegetables. This orange type of squash is rich in fiber (7 grams per cup!), relatively low in calories and filling. They also may help your eyes and skin too.
“Its orange color comes from beta-carotene, a precursor for vitamin A, which promotes healthy eyes, skin and the immune system,” Hahn said. “Additionally, antioxidants in pumpkin may help prevent cataracts, skin damage and lower the risk of cancer.”
Pumpkins are also available pre-cut or canned, giving you flexibility with your recipes and preparation. “Be sure to read labels carefully and look for items with no added salt or items packed in natural juice or water to avoid excess salt and calories,” Hahn said. Canned can last a while and be cost-effective if you are on a limited or fixed income.
What’s inside: Seeds of a pumpkin contain B-vitamins, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, iron, copper and are a good source of fiber. They can also help keep your GI tract healthy. Pumpkin flesh contains vitamins A (beta-carotene) and C, potassium, copper, iron, are rich in fiber and contain small amounts of magnesium, phosphorus, zinc and B-vitamins.
Whether acorn, yellow, spaghetti, bitter or butternut, don’t put the kybosh on squash. Like its cousin the pumpkin, squash is low-calorie, high in fiber and packed with vitamins. Once you get past the peeling, these vegetables are incredibly easy to cook.
What’s inside: Vitamins A, C, E, B6, some B-vitamins, calcium, iron, magnesium, copper, potassium and antioxidants, which help neutralize free-radicals that can cause cell damage and inflammation.
Whatever you do, don’t knock beets. They really can’t be beat. This vegetable is not only versatile, but it offers some impressive health benefits, are low calorie and a great source of nutrients.
“Beets contain nitrates, which may reduce blood pressure and some emerging research shows it may improve athletic performance,” Hahn said. “But monitor consuming in excess if you are prone to low blood pressure or are working with your doctor for blood pressure control.”
Although named after its home of cultivation in Belgium, you don’t have to travel abroad to enjoy this cruciferous vegetable. Although they may be one of the most loathed vegetables out there, Brussels sprouts are packed with antioxidants, fiber and are low in calories.
If boiled sprouts make you gag, one delicious way to enjoy them is roasted in the oven.
What’s inside: Vitamins K (aids bone health and blood clotting), C, A, some B6, folate, potassium, magnesium and phosphorus, antioxidants (particularly kaempferol, which may reduce cancer cell growth and decrease inflammation), alpha-lipoic acid (may help with blood sugar control and insulin sensitivity), and some Omega-3 and fib
This fruit has rich history. Native Americans first used them not only for food but in medicine and to dye clothes as early as the 1500s. Today, Americans consume about 400 million pounds of cranberries each year.
Many consider cranberries a superfood because of their health-boosting benefits. A versatile fruit, you can best enjoy them raw, dried, baked or juiced.
What’s inside: Vitamins B and C, iron, calcium, potassium and fiber
Closely related to carrots, parsnips bring a unique flavor to dishes and offer some health benefits too. They are a great source of soluble and insoluble fiber, high in antioxidants and easy to add to your diet. You can enjoy them mashed, roasted, sautéed, boiled, baked, stewed—the ways to enjoy them are endless.
Did you know there are more than 3,000 known pear varieties grown around the world? Holy cow! And what makes it an even cooler fruit is its versatility. This mild, sweet fruit is great alone, baked or as part of a salad. Not only is it delicious, but it’s also rich in essential antioxidants and fiber.
What’s inside: Vitamins C and E, fiber, pectin, antioxidants, copper and folate.
When people who have ADHD get together with those who don't, problems can arise.
ADHD can generate difficult relational patterns between romantic partners.
The ADHD partner can feel burdened or inadequate, while the non-ADHD partner may feel ignored or neglected.
To restore harmony, learn to recognize the ways the disorder interacts with your personalities, and your connection to each other.
The effects of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder on children and adults are pretty well-known: distractibility, impulsivity, lack of attention to important details, disorganization, forgetfulness, and more. It’s clear that these qualities can make it difficult to thrive in an academic context, or to do your job as well as you can.
But the challenge of living with ADHD can extend beyond school and the workplace to the social and relational world as well. Specifically, ADHD can deeply affect one’s participation in a romantic relationship, in ways that can often be overlooked or misinterpreted.
How It Feels
Dating someone with ADHD can be emotionally difficult. After all, relationships thrive when both partners feel valued and appreciated, but a partner with ADHD is somewhat more likely to leave you feeling neglected.
When your partner forgets a significant date (like an anniversary or a birthday), for example, or gets distracted when you’ve made time to focus on each other, you might start to see them as self-absorbed—too focused on things that don’t matter, rather than on you.
The truth is, though, that it’s not how much they care. It’s the difficulty your partner has in regulating attention and reserving their moments of deep focus for what’s essential.
The same feeling may crop up when your partner’s time management skills turn out to be less than perfect, or they don’t seem capable of getting important tasks done on time. Why didn’t they listen when I asked them to get this done? you may find yourself wondering. Why can’t they just pay attention to the clock?
Typical household tasks may also not get done on time, or be left only halfway completed. This could make it seem like your partner has only put forth half an effort to do the job, when in reality, they may have inadvertently moved on from the task without noticing that it hasn’t been completed.
Relational problems caused by ADHD also affect the people who have the disorder. Being an adult with improperly managed ADHD often means constantly struggling to stay on top of what seems like a slippery avalanche of times, dates, and responsibilities. Under these circumstances it’s easy to have trouble remaining attentive to your partner’s needs—or even, sometimes, to hold a simple conversation without getting diverted into a subject that distracts you or suddenly dominates your interest. Chronic forgetfulness can make it very hard to be considerate, even if your intentions are good.
If you’re a person with ADHD, you may also have trouble reining in your emotions. Many are seen as having a “short fuse,” as they can be impulsive or easily frustrated. They may regret their quickness to anger, which can fade as quickly as it sparks to life.
Finding ways to stay on top of their own disorganization may feel like a constant burden, especially when others—such as one’s partner—keep drawing attention to what seem like your failures. This may leave you feeling alienated, isolated, or poorly understood, even in a close one-to-one relationship.
This makes sense; it’s hard to feel well-understood if your partner assumes that your disorganized behavior is due to a lack of motivation. Many adults with ADHD feel as though their partners see them as lazy, as if they could make a deep change to the way their brains work if they only wanted it badly enough. This often leaves the ADHD partner feeling ashamed, with their significant other’s standards set too high for them to measure up.
Patterns of Relating
Relational dynamics between an ADHD partner and one without ADHD frequently take one of two forms: neglect and guilt or nagging and resentment.
In the first relational pattern, the ADHD partner lavishes attention on the other during the getting-to-know-you phase of dating. As usual, something that powerfully attracts the attention of an ADHD adult will nearly dominate their lives, as though there’s not much else worth doing. This means the other partner can be swept off their feet, believing that the ADHD partner will always be deeply attentive and thoughtful.
But after a commitment has been made, the ADHD partner may begin to pursue other interests with some of the same hyper-focus they once brought to the courtship. The non-ADHD partner can be left feeling neglected, and the change in attention can be interpreted as a lack of caring (rather than as ADHD-based distractibility).
When this generates a conflict, the ADHD partner may be left with the lion’s share of the blame, as well as the guilt that comes with it. In effect, they may feel as though they’ve let their partner down just by being themselves.
Alternately, a pattern of nagging and resentment may emerge in a formerly fair-minded, good-tempered romantic partnership. Quite often, a non-ADHD partner will end up taking on more than their fair share of household responsibilities (such as parenting, meal planning, or overall decision-making). This can lead to the need for repeated reminders to the ADHD partner, who may struggle to keep up. In turn, the ADHD partner may withdraw into resentment or frustration with what feels like a constant barrage of criticism or nagging. Bitterness may build up as time goes by, and they may come to feel as though their partner’s expectations will always be out of reach.
In a similar fashion, the partners may enter into a pattern of serious, reciprocal blame when each one assumes that the relationship’s problems are caused by the other. To one, it feels as though the pair would be able to get along much better if the other could be less angry; to the other, the problems are easily attributable to their partner’s apparent ditziness or lack of reliability. (I’ve heard ADHD adults referred to as “space cadets” or “absent-minded professors” by their loved ones.) In this scenario, neither partner can gain enough perspective to recognize that the problem truly derives from the interaction between them.
Lastly, possibly the most pernicious result of a conflictual ADHD/non-ADHD relationship is the unwonted parent-child dynamic. The non-ADHD partner absorbs more and more responsibility for the couple’s needs—well above their personal comfort level—to the point of assuming that they must take charge at all times.
This can create a feeling of becoming a parent to their relationship partner; consequently, the ADHD partner begins to feel like a child. This can drive a deeper wedge between the two, as the parentified partner pulls away, assuming that they must handle everything themselves, leaving the infantilized partner fewer opportunities to behave as an equal. Both parties become resentful, and the parent-child dynamic becomes more rigid as time goes by.
In situations like these, both partners are making a significant and similar mistake: failing to differentiate their partners from their behavior. People with ADHD may think and behave in familiar ways; this doesn’t mean that they are all alike, or that their behavior always means what it might seem to mean. And people without ADHD living with those who have it are in a difficult spot as well.
The holidays can be tough for many, including those recovering from eating disorders. Here are eight tips for navigating this time of year from a psychologist.
A clinical psychologist shares 8 tips for navigating ‘very food-centric holidays’ if you’re in recovery from an eating disorder
While the holidays are a joyful time for many, they can also be difficult for those recovering from eating disorders (ED).
“They’re very food-centric holidays,” says Marshall Beauchamp, assistant professor in the Applied Psychological Science Program at Pacific University and a licensed psychologist who researches eating disorders and their treatments, “So much revolves around food.”
Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah and even Halloween are all occasions with a major food component, which can be triggering for people who’ve recently stopped harmful eating behaviors, Beauchamp tells CNBC Make It.
But, that doesn’t mean that if you’re recovering from an ED that you can’t have a wonderful holiday season with the people you care about, he says.
Here are some tips for approaching the holidays while in recovery and resources to keep in your back pocket.
8 tips for navigating the holidays while recovering from an eating disorder
Acknowledge that the holidays may be stressful for you
Schedule a session specifically to talk to your therapist or mental health professional about any anxieties you have about this time of the year, and develop strategies to address those fears
Identify the trigger foods that may be present. Depending on where you are in recovery, you can either make a plan to limit exposure to those foods or see this as an opportunity to challenge yourself to try them.
Find a purpose for the holiday that’s specific to you and is shifted away from food. Maybe look forward to playing games, watching movies or building a snowman
Think about how you’ll address loved ones who have food-based or weight-based conversations often
Recognize what’s true versus what the negative voice in your head is telling you, and write down positive statements to respond to any negative thoughts that may appear.
Focus on self-care like reading, meditating and spending time with friends
Have a safety buddy to talk to about your stressors
“The big thing to keep in mind is sometimes it’s not going to be a one-size-fits-all type of situation, or that one particular strategy is going to be working,” says Beauchamp.
“We don’t want to be so rigid with our plans or rules that it kind of sets you up for failure. You want to set some realistic goals and expectations for yourself, and recognize that it’s okay if you have a setback or if you struggle.”
Resources to use, if you need them
Beauchamp advises seeking the help of a health provider if you’re having a tough time this holiday season.
Here are a few you can consider:
“The National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) has a lot of great resources, not just for individuals experiencing disordered eating, but also for family and friends so they can learn how to better support individuals who may be experiencing these types of struggles.”
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