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CNET Book Club, Episode 1: Borne by Jeff VanderMeer

In our new podcast we talk about books we think you'll like, from science and technology to sci-fi and thrillers. In this episode, author Jeff VanderMeer calls in to talk about his new post-apocalyptic novel, Borne.

Dan Ackerman Editorial Director / Computers and Gaming
Dan Ackerman leads CNET's coverage of computers and gaming hardware. A New York native and former radio DJ, he's also a regular TV talking head and the author of "The Tetris Effect" (Hachette/PublicAffairs), a non-fiction gaming and business history book that has earned rave reviews from the New York Times, Fortune, LA Review of Books, and many other publications. "Upends the standard Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs/Mark Zuckerberg technology-creation myth... the story shines." -- The New York Times
Expertise I've been testing and reviewing computer and gaming hardware for over 20 years, covering every console launch since the Dreamcast and every MacBook...ever. Credentials
  • Author of the award-winning, NY Times-reviewed nonfiction book The Tetris Effect; Longtime consumer technology expert for CBS Mornings
Scott Stein Editor at Large
I started with CNET reviewing laptops in 2009. Now I explore wearable tech, VR/AR, tablets, gaming and future/emerging trends in our changing world. Other obsessions include magic, immersive theater, puzzles, board games, cooking, improv and the New York Jets. My background includes an MFA in theater which I apply to thinking about immersive experiences of the future.
Expertise VR and AR, gaming, metaverse technologies, wearable tech, tablets Credentials
  • Nearly 20 years writing about tech, and over a decade reviewing wearable tech, VR, and AR products and apps
Dan Ackerman
Scott Stein
2 min read

No matter how many digital distractions come our way, the halls of CNET are still filled with a surprising amount of chatter about that oldest of media, the book. 

Some of us prefer traditional hardcover books, some ebooks via the Amazon Kindle or other readers, and others have a taste for kitschy vintage paperbacks. But we've found we all tend to gravitate towards the same types of books, from smart speculative fiction to nonfiction takes on the cultural impact of science and technology. 

Thus was born the idea of a CNET Book Club, where we could share our latest literary obsessions, and discuss books of interest to CNET readers.

The first selection for our book club is Borne, the new novel from Jeff VanderMeer. It tells the story of Rachel, a scavenger in a post-apocalyptic city who finds an unusual shapeshifting creature that she names Borne. There's also a giant floating bear. It's weird. You've been warned. 


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VanderMeer is best known for his Southern Reach Trilogy, which covers some similar science vs. nature ground (and is getting a big-budget movie treatment next year). 


Tune in to the audio podcast above for an extensive discussion of Borne's secrets and mysteries. We're also joined via Skype by the author, who answers (almost) all our pressing questions about the world of Borne.

Other books we discuss include Frederik Pohl's The Space MerchantsWalkaway by Cory Doctorow, Mockingbird by Walter Tevis, and we hear about Dan's visit to LA's amazing The Last Bookstore.

Note that there are some moderate spoilers in this podcast, as this is a book club and we assume you've read the book. But even if you haven't, Borne is so unusual and mysterious as to be practically spoiler-proof, and this discussion should make you want to read the book even more. If you have read it and you're looking for more, VanderMeer has a new companion novella available as an ebook, called The Strange Bird.

The Book Club is hosted by a couple of self-proclaimed book experts: Dan Ackerman, himself an author (of the 2016 nonfiction book The Tetris Effect), and Scott Stein, who has been both a playwright and screenwriter. We'll be announcing our next Book Club selection soon, so send us your suggestions and keep an eye out for the announcement on Twitter at @danackerman and @jetscott

Find Borne at: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | Google Play

Find The Strange Bird at: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | Google Play