Deep geekery. Let's build logic from its component parts. And then after by-hand fabricating that nomenclature, we'll use it to talk about intelligenc...moreDeep geekery. Let's build logic from its component parts. And then after by-hand fabricating that nomenclature, we'll use it to talk about intelligence, problem-solving, heuristics, etc. building up to general intelligence (generally) and artificial intelligence (specifically). Deep, heavy, at times extremely fun. Took me five years to read it.
And so somewhat in the spirit of the text:
GEB is like this incredibly attractive, incredibly smart, incredibly funny/witty woman that you meet through a friend. The early part of the relationship is a little tentative—what with both of you trying to get a feel for each other, and both of you not quite knowing what to make of each other—but the time you spend together is lots and lots of fun. And after a little while, you're both very comfortable with each other and the time passes quickly. Perhaps too quickly. You just can't get over how lovely she is, how funny, how brilliant... But then out of the blue she gets heavy. Even your light-hearted conversations end with your head spinning. What happened to the woman you thought you were falling in love with? So you walk away. But she doesn't seem heart-broken in the least. You walk away, and you stay away for a while. Until one night you realize that even if she was getting into deep and heavy subjects that it was YOU who was afraid; she'd asked nothing of you but to listen. And like a coward you walked away. But when you return to her, she takes you back—like nothing ever happened. And before you know it, you really have come to the end of your journey together. But you feel so enriched for it.
And yes that's a terrible and cloying analogy that takes it way too far. But I couldn't help myself.(less)
The book that launched Gibson into the scifi pantheon -- and not without good reason.
This seminal work of speculative fiction captures the futureshock...moreThe book that launched Gibson into the scifi pantheon -- and not without good reason.
This seminal work of speculative fiction captures the futureshock of its era (c. 1984) in such boldly present and startlingly prescient ways that it's almost hard to imagine literature of the late-80s and onward without this book.
Though Gibson's later work is more mature and more well-rounded, Neuromancer captures the thirst of the scifi authors of its time -- yearning to break-free of the space operas and get all PKD on the rest of our futures. It's a sordid, unique dystopia  that Gibson penned for us here: two parts pulp, one part hallucinogenic head-trip, a dash of political poison.
I wish I was old enough to appreciate it (well, read it at all) when it came out but I don't regret my temporal misplacement. Reading it now, you get a quaint Cold War nostalgia and still shudder in fear at how we were a stronger wall in Berlin away from this kind of story as a reality.
---  Though Gibson has been quoted as saying that his work is only dystopian "if you’re some middle-class person from the Midwest." (interview in Paris Review No. 197, link)
--- SIDE NOTE: Has anyone else stopped to consider how the opening line is changed by the advent of digital television broadcasting?(less)
Original off-the-cuff review from when I first joined Goodreads:
Imagine (if you will) an attempt to capture the whole of human experience in a semi-pl...moreOriginal off-the-cuff review from when I first joined Goodreads:
Imagine (if you will) an attempt to capture the whole of human experience in a semi-plausible all-too-near future North America. Now imagine that the attempt works. And it does a pretty good job of getting a good cross-section and eviscerating it (it is a cross-section, after all) in all of its banal humanity.
The physical weight of this novel can be a bit intimidating. Most folks don't feel this ambitious when it comes to their pleasure reading. Which is too bad, really. Because if you just take your time, you'll find yourself well-rewarded.
But yeah, you've got to be prepared to take a joke.
**spoiler alert** Quote: ...I think I'd probably tell you that it's easier to desire and pursue the attention of tens of millions of total strangers t...more**spoiler alert** Quote: ...I think I'd probably tell you that it's easier to desire and pursue the attention of tens of millions of total strangers than it is to accept the love and loyalty of the people closest to us.
There is an odd surface tension here; some readers may approach Idoru from the wrong bias, through the lens of Neuromancer and the Sprawl trilogy. Those readers will expect the traditional cyberpunk romp of amphetamine-fueled Yakuza battles and twisted violent sex in coffin hotels; those readers will be disappointed and may not be able to penetrate the skin of this charged, deeply emotional book. Idoru is William Gibson's Through the Looking Glass.
In typical Gibson style, the dueling narratives follow two distinctly melancholy characters: there is the starry-eyed teenaged angst of Chia Pet McKenzie and the existential, nearly Phildickian dread of Colin Laney. The novel opens on Laney, recently terminated under dubious circumstances from his "quantitative analyst" position for a tv program called Slitscan; Laney has a rare gift that enables him to tease patterns out of seemingly random data and he is recruited by a Japanese company to come to Tokyo and perform some research on their most valuable asset -- a rock star named Rez. Meanwhile, Chia is sent to Tokyo by her friends in Rez's Seattle-based fan club to discover the truth about The Rumor -- that Rez intends to marry a software construct, an idoru called Rei Toei.
Without a close inspection of the text, the novel might appear energetic but thematically trite. The plot moves along at a brisk pace: trans-Pacific flights whisk our protagonists into a Japanese Wonderland, quick-cut flashbacks fill in their respective histories, malicious and unseen maneuvering keeps every last character on his or her toes. Gibson drops his customary tropes: seedy back-alley deals gone awry, a detailed but ultimately vague send-up of "cyberspace", a mischievous and emergent AI...
But this book has nothing to do with AI or cyberspace or seedy back-alley deals.
At its core, Idoru explores the proposition that intimacy is a function of immersion, of experience, of fully surrendering to the risks of engagement and that knowledge or facts or data by any name and in any quantity cannot bring affinity. The narrative contains a relatively early scene wherein Laney is subject to a monologue by Kathy Torrance (his boss at Slitscan); she goes on at length about "celebrity" as a natural resource, about how media and tabloids like Slitscan have corralled "celebrity" into a commodity that can be controlled and brokered. Taken out of context, the monologue appears to be a provocative and unambiguous statement about celebrity in and of itself. Examining the scene with the novel's thesis in mind, we begin to see what lies at the kernel of Kathy Torrance's soliloquy: how "celebrity" is a focal point for a broad knowledge about a person (or other object of affection/attention) that by definition cannot be fully experienced. "Celebrity" is data presented as intimacy -- the fine-grained details of some person's life presented to you in all their banal urgency, more fantasy than reality, ever out of reach, inevitably unable to satisfy your need to share and experience.
Consider Kathy Torrance's rant about celebrity as a mirror to Alison Shires and Laney's own back-story. As Laney reflects on Alison Shires' suicide, we begin to see these themes take shape. In her original context, Alison is presented to Laney as "all data"; she is little more than some fulcrum of collapsed transactions that swing back onto some celebrity target of Slitscan's. But as her imminent suicide becomes obvious to Laney through his "nodal apprehension", he becomes concerned about, even attached to her; he breaks through his own Fourth Wall and allows himself to become involved, to experience her face-to-face. He is there in her apartment for the shot that kills her. We can hear echoes of his investment, how the experience created an instantly intimate moment which he capsulizes as: "...the whole thing would settle to the sea floor, silting over almost instantly with the world's steady accretion of data." The experience would be lost, buried under the steady stream of celebrity's telemetry, and he wonders how he can live with that outcome.
The novel is peppered with examples to underscore this proposition about intimacy: * Consider that every bar, cafe, restaurant, etc. featured in the text is somehow themed and each theme is just data, each motif is hollow and empty -- the impression of something, its image, a copy or facsimile or interpretation but not the thing itself; * Consider how Chia's story about her Sandbenders computer resonates on this chord, how she descrives the disposable shells of modern electronics as insufficient for people to make a connection with them, and how a "tribe" in Oregon humanized each computer through their artisanal cases; * Consider Masahiko's tales of Walled City and how he continually asserts to Chia that it is "real" and not just a MUD, not just a website; * Consider Blackwell's final affirmation to Laney, that Kathy Torrance will no longer threaten him, how they will "carve out this deep and meaningful and bloody unforgettable episode of mutual face-time", how they will have reached "very personal terms" -- the data, the facts are discarded, meaningless -- only the experience matters.
Throughout the narrative, there is a very keen sense that each character is desperately seeking something "real", something with which he or she can truly and intimately connect. Rez at one point blurts out: "Nothing like it [...] That physical thing." It is on those sentiments that the novel opens and again where it closes. We open on Laney in the aftershocks of just such a "physical thing" and Chia striking out to Tokyo in search of same. And we close on Rez and Rei Toei -- both symbolic of Kathy Torrance's "celebrity", different sides of that same coin -- discovering that their union cannot be completed without it, and daring to forge just such a path.(less)
Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time is a truly remarkable book that has already taken a high place in my literary pantheon...moreMark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time is a truly remarkable book that has already taken a high place in my literary pantheon of Sheer Genius. What starts out as a young detective’s murder mystery (with a nice hook) quickly turns into a far more sensitive and provocative tale than I can really do justice to here. (At least not without some substantial spoilers…)
Lucid and compelling, Haddon’s prose is a bit of Vonnegut (circa Breakfast of Champions) and a bit of David Foster Wallace (but DFW as Infinite Jest’s Mario channelling Chuck Palahniuk).
It’s really quite the read and I heartily recommend it.(less)
This is not a review: A mind-bending read that I cannot recommend enough. Stunningly creative, brilliantly executed; bone-chilling, soul-touching. Pil...moreThis is not a review: A mind-bending read that I cannot recommend enough. Stunningly creative, brilliantly executed; bone-chilling, soul-touching. Pile on the superlatives.(less)
When I first read Snow Crash, I thought to myself: "This thing is paced like a comic." Funny then to later discover that the novel was written after a...moreWhen I first read Snow Crash, I thought to myself: "This thing is paced like a comic." Funny then to later discover that the novel was written after a comic book attempt at the same story fell apart.
Snow Crash is the paradigmatic Stephenson novel. Grabs you quickly, thrusts you head long into world that's so preposterous that he can't possibly be making it up, and the drags you along kicking and screaming until you're left startled and somewhat confused at a precipitous ending.
But don't let that fool you. This is probably Stephenson's best, most memorable work. It's certainly my favorite and it's certainly the one that's the most fun. (Which is probably why I've read it ten times.)
Though Snow Crash will probably remain my all-time favorite Neal Stephenson novel, Cryptonomicon might take the crown as his best.[†:] As I write thi...moreThough Snow Crash will probably remain my all-time favorite Neal Stephenson novel, Cryptonomicon might take the crown as his best.[†:] As I write this review, I wrapping up my third reading of this novel.
BRIEF ASIDE REGARDING THE TIMING OF THIS THIRD READING: It is probably worth noting my mental state when I cracked the spine on this one for the third time. Stephenson's Anathem had just come out and I could not quite bring myself to drop the cash on the hardcover. But I was overwhelmed with the urge to read some Stephenson. Given the the brutalizing that the U.S. economy was taking (according to the news) right about this time, it therefore seemed apropos to read something that involved economics, crypto, currency, libertarianism (and flaws of same), and safety/security.
END OF ASIDE AND RETURN TO REVIEW THAT IS REALLY MORE LIKE A BUNCH OF RANDOM DISCONNECTED OBSERVATIONS:Cryptonomicon manages to do a good job of not feeling terribly dated even nine years after its release. The cutting-edge laptops in the narrative still seem pretty fancy; the issues all continue to feel pertinent and relevant; the only thing that seems to set it in a particular time is an off-hand reference to "the Power Rangers" pretty late in the story.
It holds together well all these years later and is a great exemplar of Stephenson's hyperbolic style and how well he wields that style for explanatory power as well as humor.
What Stephenson does masterfully here is to create an interesting story for nerds (esp. crypto nerds) that has a thinly veiled coming-of-age sub-text lathered onto a character that we (at first) don't think needs any maturation.
I am talking (of course) about Randy.
If you don't figure this out by the time you get to the "Pulse" chapter then you have some explaining to do. We (the readers, the nerds) are thinking that Randy is a grown-up because we (1; as grown-ups) identify with him at the outset and (2) he has all the trappings of a grown-up such as (a) a beard, (b) a girlfriend of 10 years, (c) a business plan, etc. But the Randy we start with is little more than a bearded child running away from his commitments (i.e., his career as a university sysadmin and his relationship with Charlene (though, given the circumstances described in the prose, citing the latter is probably not fair to Randy) to play with his friends (e.g., Avi, Tom Howard) and their toys (e.g., high-tech laptops, GPS receivers). We get the first hint that this late-stage coming-of-age is going on when Randy shaves off his beard to discover a grown-ups face underneath. From there it's a pretty steady sleight-of-hand unfolding through the narrative which is really quite rewarding. (Hence taking the crown as Stephenson's best.)
Granted, there's so much more going on in the novel than just Randy; we could also consider Lawrence Pritchard Waterhouse, Bobby Shaftoe, Goto Dengo, or Enoch Root[‡:]. But Randy is probably the best place to center.
------ † = At the time of this writing, there is a pretty broad swath of Stephenson unread by Y.T., namely all three in the Baroque Cycle and the brand new Anathem.
‡ = Root in particular fascinates me because (if what I've heard is true an he does in fact appear in Stephenson's Baroque Cycle) he seems to share a few traits in common with Tolkien's Gandalf (doubly interesting because Stephenson's Randy calls Root a "Wizard" in the Tolkien sense), Weis/Hickman's Fizban, Arthur Miller's "Old Jew", etc. I'm thinking that there is a whole taxonomy of characters to explore here of which Root is one.
Having just completed my reading of Michael Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, I am profoundly impressed with how stunningly exce...moreHaving just completed my reading of Michael Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, I am profoundly impressed with how stunningly excellent this novel is. I was floored in just about every way. To say that this novel had the same effect on me as Infinite Jest or House of Leaves would not be true but that said, it also does not diminish how expertly written, how masterfully crafted this fine piece of literary genius is. I feel ashamed that I had not heard of it until quite recently.
Chabon’s epic romp through the Golden Age of Comics is a true stand-out that I’m not certain how to characterize other than (please pardon the oblique pun) marvelous. The prose is alive with brilliant imagery and metaphor, following his two protagonists through two decades of youthful intrigue and into middle-aged rebirths. I was captivated by how the prose evolves along with the characters as well, watching its sophistication increase and mutate as they matured within the novel.
There are too many stand-out moments to attempt to capture them all here. I will say this, however: the story brings so much to the table and (like any good novel) it forces you to confront and question your beliefs and values.
To Brin's credit: this book moves along quickly, follows a nice formula, and goes roughly where you expect it to go with just enough twists to keep it...moreTo Brin's credit: this book moves along quickly, follows a nice formula, and goes roughly where you expect it to go with just enough twists to keep it engaging along the way.
That said, this is also an exemplar of a very average novel about a "post-apocalyptic America". It makes me want to see the film with Costner. Just to compare.
Also: Brin's attempt at being sympathetic to a woman's plight in this post-apocalyptic scenario? Fell way short. Trust me bro, these broads would be way tougher than you've painted them here. Even with a bunch of survivalist ex-soldiers with rampant genes and hormones.(less)
Judging from the title, I went into this thinking: This is Hesse's take on the life of Siddhartha Gautama.... You know, the Buddha? Instead we get thi...moreJudging from the title, I went into this thinking: This is Hesse's take on the life of Siddhartha Gautama.... You know, the Buddha? Instead we get this thin parallel of Hesse's "Siddhartha" rubbed up tangentially against Gautama's life and acts.
I suppose that this prejudice tainted my overall read.
That said, I did not find Hesse's Siddhartha to be a particularly mature or captivating work. It was well-crafted and (at times) thought-provoking but not particularly imaginative. Between this and Demian, I found myself thinking of Hesse as a watered-down, optimistic Kafka.
Oooo.... Now there's an idea. The Buddha in Metamorphosis. (Hey you! Come back here with my idea!)(less)
...It was OK. I found the novel slow to start, difficult to deliver its theme, and a bit pale in the spectrum of existentialist literature. I have a f...more...It was OK. I found the novel slow to start, difficult to deliver its theme, and a bit pale in the spectrum of existentialist literature. I have a feeling that I may have enjoyed it more at age 17 but it held no new revelations for me nor did I find the style particularly captivating. That said, I was intrigued by one particular passage:
"Always, you must think of these things in evolutionary, in historical terms! When the upheavals of the earth’s surface flung the creatures of the sea onto the land and the land creatures into the sea, the specimens of the various orders that were ready to follow their destiny were the ones that accomplished the new and unprecedented; by making new biological adjustments they were able to save their species from destruction. We do not know whether these were the same speciments that had previously distinguished themselves among their fellows as conservative, upholders of the status quo, or rather as eccentrics, revolutionaries; but we do know they were ready, and could therefore lead their species into new phases of evolution. That is why we want to be ready."
...Hesse as a pre-Kurzweillian proto-Singularity transhumanist? Or Hesse attempting to appeal to us that we are otherwise base, animal creatures that seem capable only of destruction?
What is there to say about THGttG that hasn't already been said by thousands of scifi nerds? We wind up devouring this book because it lampoons scifi...moreWhat is there to say about THGttG that hasn't already been said by thousands of scifi nerds? We wind up devouring this book because it lampoons scifi without doing so in a way that derides it.(less)
I keep this book on my nightstand at all times. Every essay in here is a true gem, a work of art. This collection is testament enough that David Sedar...moreI keep this book on my nightstand at all times. Every essay in here is a true gem, a work of art. This collection is testament enough that David Sedaris is a true genius of American literature. Even if he's living in France. Not that he's an "ex-pat" or anything.(less)
I'm between 4 and 5 stars on this one... There are a couple of stories that don't "do it" for me, stories that I more/less regard as filler for the bi...moreI'm between 4 and 5 stars on this one... There are a couple of stories that don't "do it" for me, stories that I more/less regard as filler for the binding. And then there are the rest of the stories in here which are (all of them) blisteringly, timelessly, laugh-out-loud funny.
Maybe it helps that before this came out, we saw him read several selections from the collection. For that, I'll err on the side of five starts.
"Yes, I am talking about boat trailers. But also, I am dying."(less)
A couple of gems in here though it's not nearly as stellar as Me Talk Pretty One Day. Still, I keep this one handy for those nights between novels.
In...moreA couple of gems in here though it's not nearly as stellar as Me Talk Pretty One Day. Still, I keep this one handy for those nights between novels.
In a way, I would describe this as Sedaris' most cynical work. Example: the take-home message of the short story that shares the collection's title. We find out something about ourselves when we bear all, eh? But we'll just as soon retreat to the comfort of our coverings. And those that don't be damned; you don't want to associate yourself with those shameless folks anyway.(less)
Bloody terrifying. Bone-chilling. Atwood's best known work for no shortage of obvious reasons. If you don't vote, if you don't get out into your commu...moreBloody terrifying. Bone-chilling. Atwood's best known work for no shortage of obvious reasons. If you don't vote, if you don't get out into your community, if you don't participate: this is your future.
A little predictable (esp. if you're familiar w/ Moore's work) but overall an amusing read. There are a couple of elements that seem to come out of no...moreA little predictable (esp. if you're familiar w/ Moore's work) but overall an amusing read. There are a couple of elements that seem to come out of nowhere but ultimately it all ties together nicely. It's also nice to see Moore re-using His Highness (hey, as long as we're setting the story in his San Francisco, right?). That said, parts of this story feel like warmed-up left-overs from Blood Sucking Fiends.
Get it from your library for some light reading.(less)
Mildly entertaining but not particularly inspired. The premise wore a bit thin on me quite quickly and the stereotyped romantic injection that Moore i...moreMildly entertaining but not particularly inspired. The premise wore a bit thin on me quite quickly and the stereotyped romantic injection that Moore includes seemed hard to get behind.
Upon a second reading... It's maybe a little better than I think I originally gave it credit for. But still a 2-star deal. (3 if I wasn't so harsh?) Moore has a thing for messianic treatments, I think. And I still think that Island of the Sequined Love Nun and Lamb are both better books. But this one is at least serviceable.(less)
If you compute the arithmetic mean of Christopher Moore's work, you will arrive at this book. (I mean that in the best possible way.) The cargo cult a...moreIf you compute the arithmetic mean of Christopher Moore's work, you will arrive at this book. (I mean that in the best possible way.) The cargo cult aspect of it is what makes this novel memorable and I like to compare it as the complete opposite take on that phenomenon (i.e., cargo cults) as Gibson's approach in "Hinterlands".
Anyway: good beach read. Or for on the plane. (Well, maybe not the plane.)(less)
Burning Chrome is a solid representation of Gibson's early work ("the Sprawl period") and while its most often represented with references to Neuromancer, his finest, most poignant prose is in this collection of short stories.
Perhaps most utterly fascinating is the late-stage Cold War mentality that we had ourselves a nuclear armageddon just around the corner but that after we got there, we would discover it just wasn't nearly as bad as we'd hoped. A few feeble bomb exchanges are overshadowed by black ops infiltration both physical and digital. Our wars are over in days rather than years and then we all go back to normal with re-drawn borders that mean anything only to cartographers anyway.
Even in the shorts where a near-term memory of war is noticeably absent (e.g., "The Gernsback Continuum"), the emphasis still seems to lie on epoch-altering events that are so feeble in their moment but so far-reaching in their wake.
All that said: "Hinterlands" is the most gut-wrenchingly emotional story in science fiction; if nothing else, it alone makes this collection a must-have.
Rated Individually: • "Johnny Mnemonic" ★★★★ • "The Gernsback Continuum" ★★★★★ • "Fragments of a Hologram Rose" ★★★ • "The Belonging Kind" (with John Shirley) ★★★★ • "Hinterlands" ★★★★★ • "Red Star, Winter Orbit" (with Bruce Sterling) ★★★★ • "New Rose Hotel" ★★★★ • "The Winter Market" ★★★ • "Dogfight" (with Michael Swanwick) ★★★★ • "Burning Chrome" ★★★★
Update 8/14/2011: Now more than ever, the imagery shows its age. Talk of slamming cartridges into consoles like kids slamming quarters into arcades? How much more late-20th century can you get? But rather than feel worn-out and dated, it conjures up its own special nostalgia. But who knows... maybe it's only my generation of scifi reader that is going to look at early-to-mid-80s cyberpunk literature (with all its now-kitschy references to the Soviet Union and cybernetically-controlled aircraft fighting for air superiority over South America) with this kind of fondness. But I'm not ashamed of that even remotely.(less)
(Finally?) William Gibson’s latest: Pattern Recognition - - an interesting slant out of his usual sci-fi w/o losing that distinct Gibsonian sci-fi edg...more(Finally?) William Gibson’s latest: Pattern Recognition - - an interesting slant out of his usual sci-fi w/o losing that distinct Gibsonian sci-fi edge. (The future is now?) I just finished this one and it’s definitely going to take some time to wrap my mind around all that happened in between those covers. Maybe a missed a crucial moment or else something subtle slipped by me the first time around. That said, I was amused and intrigued by the Case/Cayce reprisal and the return(?) of the Russians. I have a sneaking suspicion that Gibson shares my sick Cold War nostalgia…(less)
A battered copy lives in my nightstand at all times. Between novels, I always come back to this, flipping through the pages until a word catches my ey...moreA battered copy lives in my nightstand at all times. Between novels, I always come back to this, flipping through the pages until a word catches my eye. Such a diversity of talent, mixed together quite well here.
Rated Individually: • "The Gernsback Continuum" (William Gibson) ★★★★★ • "Snake-Eyes" (Tom Maddox) ★★★★ • "Rock On" (Pat Cadigan) ★★★★ • "Tales of Houdini" (Rudy Rucker) ★★★★★ • "400 Boys" (Marc Laidlaw) ★★★★★ • "Solstice" (James Patrick Kelly) ★★★★ • "Petra" (Greg Bear) ★★★★★ • "Till Human Voices Wake Us" (Lewis Shiner) ★★★★ • "Freezone" (John Shirley) ★★★ • "Stone Lives" (Paul Di Filippo) ★★★★ • "Red Star, Winter Orbit" (Bruce Sterling & William Gibson) ★★★★ • "Mozart in Mirrorshades" (Bruce Sterling & Lewis Shiner) ★★★★(less)
**spoiler alert** In lieu of an actual review (short version: it was good but a little challenging and took at least 2 reads to "get it"), a couple of...more**spoiler alert** In lieu of an actual review (short version: it was good but a little challenging and took at least 2 reads to "get it"), a couple of observations:
(1) On the appeal of steampunk: I remain convinced (and in large part because of this book) that the big appeal of "steampunk" as a genre has to do with the archetypal Inventor/Tinkerer. Here we get this in Miéville's Isaac. In many ways he's an unlikely protagonist: a little hefty[†:], nerdy, self-aggrandizing, cowardly, and a bit of a pervert[††:]; but incredibly brilliant. He occupies a mental space with our real-world Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla and (perhaps more so?) Benjamin Franklin. Our modern (20th/21st century) concepts of science are so laden with litigation and patent applications and funding cuts and notions of proprietary information... It makes sense to cast Isaac as a radical; it's as if he can see through the veil of the page into our own world, can see how science is encumbered by business and process, can see how disconnected the individual is from his work. There is no more Lone Tinkerer puttering about his basement workshop assembling the next great innovation. And something in our cultural consciousness years for that.
(2) On protagonists: Though I've (above) alluded to Isaac as the protagonist, Miéville's Yagharek serves as our narrator and by extension of convention this grants him a kind of protagonist emeritus status[†††:]. But in Yagharek we're given an interesting bridge between the novel and the reader. Yagharek is, in so many ways, the opposite experience of what I imagine a "typical" fantasy reader is after in his narrators: Yagharek is not heroic either; he is a rapist and a cripple and he is in many ways frustrated and impotent. Our vehicle into the story is hardly a vehicle for escape, hardly a means of escaping our own "real world" anxieties and limitations. What's more, Yagharek's ultimate fate (i.e., to desplumarate himself and "go as a man" into New Crobuzon) is a way of turning to the reader and saying: "Now get back to your life just as Yagharek has done."
--- [†:] = The references to "his bulk" being a little bit mixed in that regard; but for the sake of argument, he could (in the parlance of our time) stand to lose a few pounds, for sure.
[††:] = Though let us not judge him here since his "perversion" is really just analogous to an interracial relationship (though that comparison is on par with calling the space shuttle an airplane).
[†††:] = To be honest though, Yagharek is enough of a protagonist to not need the "emeritus".
This book is incredible. It's easy to read and full of useful tips. As a novice gardener, it helped to make the planting/sowing process a lot less int...moreThis book is incredible. It's easy to read and full of useful tips. As a novice gardener, it helped to make the planting/sowing process a lot less intimidating and has helped me to actually yield some fruits. Having shown the book to some more experienced gardeners and getting their feedback as well, this really does seem to be the best overall book for organic gardening.(less)