The curious thing about this book is that it still sounds somewhat plausible even at this late date. Somehow I want to think it's an analogy for BitcoThe curious thing about this book is that it still sounds somewhat plausible even at this late date. Somehow I want to think it's an analogy for Bitcoin, but whatever, it's a first rate thriller. Even though I've read his newer books first, this is an entirely fabulous and entertaining kick in the pants.
What is actually more prescient than I think anybody wants to admit is the extent to which young people and a lot of folks will find a Daemonic subculture to be an attractive alternative, whether or not its run by ... well.. read the book. ...more
**spoiler alert** Probably the best book of the series. Stross makes a daring move by changing the protagonist, Bob Howard, but pulls it off with grac**spoiler alert** Probably the best book of the series. Stross makes a daring move by changing the protagonist, Bob Howard, but pulls it off with grace. Pinky and Brain step up as well as the new hero, Alex Schwartz, who gets up to his vampiric eyeballs in danger, and love! But what's even better is that the general fear of gibbering horrors from Dimension X are fleshed out in the persons of ... drumroll... the Unseelie Fey. OMG. Are you kidding me? Stross crosses the streams!
Of course this is what we've all been waiting for, the actual call of Case Nightmare Red and the deployment of Scorpion Stare / Maginot Blue Stars. It's human war tech vs elfin magic. heat seeking missiles vs actual basilisks. All led up to by the engagement of star crossed lovers in a double double cross.
Ladies and Gentlemen, witness the spectacle when cosplay gets real. You can't get your hands on this soon enough....more
Imagine if you gave John McPhee some depressants and hallucinogens and told him to write a story about the Old West. But first you made him watch a buImagine if you gave John McPhee some depressants and hallucinogens and told him to write a story about the Old West. But first you made him watch a bunch of David Cronenberg films and listen to Ol Dirty Bastard. This is what you'd get, but only if he had been reading a bit of John DosPassos. ...more
This is the astronaut guy we all wanted to be when we were kids. Badass, smartass, and clever as all get out. Who knew a novel about getting rid of COThis is the astronaut guy we all wanted to be when we were kids. Badass, smartass, and clever as all get out. Who knew a novel about getting rid of CO2 could be so interesting?...more
I'd give this book far fewer stars if I had read it myself rather than listening to Wil Wheaton perform it audibly. Why? Because the prose is insipidI'd give this book far fewer stars if I had read it myself rather than listening to Wil Wheaton perform it audibly. Why? Because the prose is insipid and juvenile. However it's a marvelous entertainment and cannot be excluded from any exhaustive reference to 1980s American popular culture for science fiction fans, geeks, nerds and fanboys. In fact this is the ultimate fanboy book about a kid who gets to become heir to a zillionaire computer geek's videogame fortune by essentially gamifying the life he's already a fan about. It's several game within a game book with the pimply protagonist finding love and a way to get out of his virtual world, but only after mastering a set of disturbingly impossible tasks which essentially involve singlehandedly destroying the most evil corporation in existence which actually owns the virtual world in which the game exists. One must simply suspend a Golden Gate Bridge bumper to bumper traffics' worth of disbelief to see an 18 year old kid do this. Then again, it's young adult fiction and this is what young adults fantasize about. Getting out from their virtual worlds (created by 80s billionaires) and finding true passion and love.
Remember 'Romancing the Stone'? There is a matchup like that in this book in which the protagonist reads the riot act to an intriguing yet naively optRemember 'Romancing the Stone'? There is a matchup like that in this book in which the protagonist reads the riot act to an intriguing yet naively optimistic woman trying to try genocidal Sudanese without a Leviathan. For that alone, the book is priceless, and yet with a lovely twisty ending, this becomes a much more satisfying book than the first. Is Gentry doomed to be an outsider forever? It seems so. And yet you can't just like him....more
PB seems to have mastered an understanding of the desperate nature of humanity faced with its own folly, brutality and deception. Reading the Water KnPB seems to have mastered an understanding of the desperate nature of humanity faced with its own folly, brutality and deception. Reading the Water Knife, you almost forget that it's science fiction because the human element is so strong, so smelly, so vivid, so gut wrenching. What makes his work so distinct from what we typically read is that he never forgets that this harsh reality drastically affects children as well as adult fictional characters. It borders on Dickensian. He's in the head of a girl fearing for her life in the worst of all situations, a girl so abused that she doesn't recognize what love is, as if it were a stupid thing her dead father used to do before he died so many years ago.
The Water Knife is the story of extreme opportunism and the brutal ethics of machinations of water wars escalated to violent conflict in the American Southwest. States are barely restrained in a Machiavellian contest for acquiring and enforcing water rights in the Colorado River watershed. It's Texas vs Nevada vs Arizona in a winner take all contest, looming in the background is mighty California. It's a story of the destitute and the dominating, a foolproof plan that goes horribly wrong; a pre-apocalpytic tale of people on the edge.
If we forget sometimes that science fiction serves humanity by painting portraits of humans in drastically altered realities and illustrates what we remain, then PB's Water Knife stands well in his portfolio to remind us once again. ...more
A very slim moral thread keeps the Gray Man on track. He parses through a trainwreck world and emerges with more scars than Bruce Willis' John McCainA very slim moral thread keeps the Gray Man on track. He parses through a trainwreck world and emerges with more scars than Bruce Willis' John McCain and yet is more deadly and capable than Jason Bourne. He is unsophisticated deadly and merely surviving a Lovecraftian tangle of human deception in a world where people must be killed. ...more
Stephenson does it again with a little less flair than Reamde but no less drama and heroism. And in this epic he produces a character you truly hate wStephenson does it again with a little less flair than Reamde but no less drama and heroism. And in this epic he produces a character you truly hate with a passion. The premise of the book is problematic in that in a certain way you have to know that the human race survives and with about 600 plus pages to ramp up you realize something has to go right. There are no aliens in this hard science fiction, so somehow humanity must inevitably be saved. And yet there is plenty of suspense and twisty enough circumstances to keep you on your toes. This is a compelling book that you must get through quickly and it's probably the quickest 800 pager I've ever read, without quite as much density as the Baroque Series, and yet quite enough scope to be satisfying.
Interestingly enough it is a book that does cry out, in many ways for a 'mid-quel' as well as a sequel. Yet one can hardly blame Stephenson for moving at the pace he does for the meat of the book describing the machinations and cooperation and personalities of those recruited to save the world. I can't think of a better narration of the end of the world than what NS has provided. You really want to know how this humanity turns out in many more ways, because where they end up is a very fascinating place which explores a very different kind of convergence than much of science fiction I'm aware of has delivered.
Without revealing too much, NS builds something of an interesting twist on the idea of human phyles he started in The Diamond Age, but he starts with a 21st Century that is very familiar to ours, complete with a very contemporary and comprehensible English, (which makes it a bit less fun than Anathem). Like Reamde, this is a more mass-market book than Anathem but nowhere near as glib as Reamde. It's a serious meditation on human behavior facing calamity. Makes you worry, and not worry about the future. All men must die, but facing extinction, what would we actually try? Some pretty damned interesting things to be sure.
There is enough realpolitik and intrigue added to the mix of righteous heroism and hard bitten logic and emotional resonance in the cast of Seveneves. NS covers a whole lot of angles with an interestingly personal angle on the personalities of the best and the brightest under world crushing pressures. Speaking of world crushing, you are spared no details in descriptions of the terror and destruction wreaked by bolides. Your new word, 'bolides'.
You really do want to read this book. Get busy. ...more