Clarke can, at times, write with a good deal of literary flair, even poetry. But some aspects felt derivative - having just read Foundation, there werClarke can, at times, write with a good deal of literary flair, even poetry. But some aspects felt derivative - having just read Foundation, there were a few big data type ideas laced throughout - and at other times it felt like Clarke was trying to explore too much in one book - alien "invasion", collective thought, human evolution, a sort of singularity, the relationship between artistic / scientific / mystical thinking, political systems, origins of mythology, the nature of extraterrestrial life. ...more
Goofily enjoyable alternative history ... but having read pretty extensively about all the scientists involved - Feynman, Einstein, Von Braun, OppenheGoofily enjoyable alternative history ... but having read pretty extensively about all the scientists involved - Feynman, Einstein, Von Braun, Oppenheimer - I got annoyed at parts with the lack of truth in his characters. Feynman's relationship with his father, for example, was not one of lashings. I appreciate gonzo history when more when the research is solid. Tune out of known facts and it's a fun read though. ...more
I struggled with this. It checked many boxes on my "ohh ahh" list, but failed to resonate. I've found his other work to have a prose-poetry quality thI struggled with this. It checked many boxes on my "ohh ahh" list, but failed to resonate. I've found his other work to have a prose-poetry quality that I admire, The Age of Wire and String in particular. The references to Walser, Kafka, McCarthy, Beckett in reviews hit many of my favorite authors. But the complexity of boredom and failure you see in Beckett, to take one example, is absent. (And I won't dwell on his inclusion of a Murphy character than burrows into the earth; references that don't enrich abound). There's a resigned anger that I dislike ... a ritualistic approach to struggle that seems to different to what Beckett offers. There is no light, no hope of light, and not even a sense that the narrator wants it. He's not waiting for Godot; he's just waiting. ...more
Not among my favorite PKD novels. Something just failed to cohere for me. The themes were all familiar so perhaps it suffered from such deep exposureNot among my favorite PKD novels. Something just failed to cohere for me. The themes were all familiar so perhaps it suffered from such deep exposure to his oeuvre....more
With all the hype, quite a disappointment. The neologisms, the sprawling attempt at world building / space opera in the confined space of 300 pages, tWith all the hype, quite a disappointment. The neologisms, the sprawling attempt at world building / space opera in the confined space of 300 pages, the more or less deus ex machina ending (literally) ... led to the impression that this is more a sketchbook of ideas. A good book in need of sharpening, strong editorial direction. Particularly when looked at through the genre lens (pun!) of the classic detective novel, which Rajaniemi invites, it lacks the careful placement of clues and and the shocking clarity that comes with mystery's resolution.
Plotting aside, I can't even admire the prose which, for some odd reason, received great recognition ("Many an anglophone author would kill to turn out prose half as good as this" - Financial Times U.K.) Passages such as the following abound, a clunky collection of awkward words masquerading as ideas / concepts: "The virscape wavers as Chen passes the Engineer a memory: for a moment, he sees the Founder gogol as he truly is, the voice of trillions of Chens, stretching across all the vast guberniyas and oblasts and raions of the Sobornost, not so much a person but a limb. Then he is holding a frozen gogol that he recognizes as his own handiwork instantly, a little experiment with games and obsessions he had almost forgotten about. An Archon, he called it, made to hold the mad ones and bad ones of Sobornost somewhere far away." Beautiful, compelling prose, no? Eight foreign words packed in a short paragraph at the end of the book, two of which are completely new (with no explanation) and several others which have played roles across the book but still remain ill defined. Even the metaphor - not a person but a *limb* - is weak; does "limb" capture the idea of a trillion Chens stretching across the vast guberniyas / oblasts /raions (assuming we have ANY idea what that means)? Limb sounds partial, finite, a fragment; not an uncountable multiplicity.
So much for my dabbling in the best new sci-fi ... time to return to the classics for a palette cleanser....more
Besides his wit, his facility with (neologistic) slang, what hit me was that Shteyngart is a sentence lover. You can imagine him spitting out some ofBesides his wit, his facility with (neologistic) slang, what hit me was that Shteyngart is a sentence lover. You can imagine him spitting out some of these sentences off-hand and marveling at their newborn awkward beauty, chortling joyously; others, you see him laboring over, replicating in innumerable word orders as if unraveling, or further en-raveling, Linear B. But they don't come across as mere acrobatics, wordplay, a hollow shell of humor and cynicism. He has a unique talent for bringing his satire and meaningful tenderness together.
One of many examples that made me smile: "The love I felt for her on that train ride had a capital and provinces, parishes and a Vatican, an orange planet and many sullen moons - it was systemic and it was complete."
My expectations of Shteyngart were too low. ...more
Shaw does some interesting things with the form here, some of which is very rigorous and well thought out and some of which strikes me as completely aShaw does some interesting things with the form here, some of which is very rigorous and well thought out and some of which strikes me as completely arbitrary. I don't have a problem with arbitrary, per se, but the two in combination irritate me a bit. For example, the changes in how he uses the page as the community becomes more like a superorganism is subtle, but eventually striking - segmentation and schematics decay and the page becomes freer. Ties in beautifully with the story. But then take something rather minor like the way he letters sounds (cash registers go "BoOp"); that makes it look like cash register's make the sound "boe-OP". And they don't. And why the hell are there cash registers in the year 2060? It's a quaintness and affected "loopiness" that I don't appreciate.
Regardless, he's doing some pleasant and thought provoking things. But "the future of comics", as the cover copy claims? I'd say still too rooted in the indie past. That said, this is a nice companion to other tales of sickness like Burns' Black Hole. ...more