I felt the impact of this book most clearly when Root went out to buy candles for his birthday cake. It was the obvious crisis in the book. Mom's at hI felt the impact of this book most clearly when Root went out to buy candles for his birthday cake. It was the obvious crisis in the book. Mom's at home with the professor, not wanting to leave him, and you can feel the ominous portent of making either choice: is her son safe? Will the professor be safe if she leaves?
She goes, all's well with Root, but on returning the Prof. has had a relapse and their relationships, already tenuous and sustained (not very believably?) by effort to reload his memory each time, begin to unwind quickly to complete dissolution. This seems like foreshadowing of all our eventual losses of loved ones. People inevitably unravel and if this denouement is unusual and comical, it may soften the alarm a little, but it's still an inevitable harbinger of death.
It's tragic, supports Gina's assertion that good fiction requires tragedy, but I couldn't get deeply involved. The plot's so close to Memento that I wonder if it could be derivative.
I have to say I didn't like the number relationships either. Was there some significance to e^(j*pi) + 1 0 that I missed? I'm looking for meaning in the missing equals sign, I guess. (Everyone thinks it's just a text formatting shortcoming in the electronic book, nothing exotic.) That, btw is a favorite formula of mine from this book: the rest of 'em are stupid integers. They seemed too trivial a subject to devote such effort to, though it proves you can make sublime art out of integers if you work at it.
I was hoping the professor'd do something really significant thanks to using his untutored but intelligent housekeeper's insights & superior memory but no such luck. Perpahs Japanese literature is too understated for that. He tried every day though: fought the good fight. Like the professor in To the Lighthouse, he saw R often enough.
Last, I noted the cultural ambiguity of most of the book. It wasn't overtly foreign at all, except in small bits, as though the nationality of the author were purposely hidden.
--- postscript --- There were formulas offered at Zan Mai for the meeting! Gina: Cantor's triangular proof of infinite # of reals. Each number is created distinct from those above it in the list, by inverting just one digit. We choose the third digit do be different from its match in the third number, and similarly for all the others. Mine was (-1)^(1/3), and a question about why roots of motion can be comprehensively explained with just 1st and 2nd order poles. Manuel's was a proof that there's an infinite # of pythagorean triplets. Fun and elegant. Adam's was d/dt(e^x) which proof I need to try to understand. ...more
Not done but love it so far. Everything's very meta, which may get tiring but at first blush it is afun intelectual romp. Historical and dramatic, itNot done but love it so far. Everything's very meta, which may get tiring but at first blush it is afun intelectual romp. Historical and dramatic, it reads likea novel. We get to think about which came first, thought or language, and maybe some motivation to agree with the surprise answer. African drums encoding a noisy channel for fwd error correction, Aristotle as a pedantic semantic philosopher,andlots of other fun facts. A last very favorite of mine is the Babylonian closing to algoritmic recitations, spoken no doubt very reverently: "...this is the procedure." It was still way way BC, or they would have finished it with a solemn "Amen."
Good book, uses hard sci-fi setting to explore consciousness, working through many of the recent theories. There's a great protagonist made from a guyGood book, uses hard sci-fi setting to explore consciousness, working through many of the recent theories. There's a great protagonist made from a guy who had his empathy surgically removed so he could be a dispassionate professional observer. He's been augmented too, to be able to synthesize understanding from nuances others would miss, without getting his own personal biases involved, but this objectivity cost him a little bit of his self.
I particularly liked the mission commander too, who seems to show us that a psychopath is just what you want in a leader? This touches on a small problem with the book, which is that it's theme-less. There are instead several very interesting interactions for which I want more material, but it doesn't seem to tie together. Instead, just vignettes.
The relationship with Siri's hands-on girlfriend eventually collapsed because he was too cold. You could see that coming and she, Chelsea, was obviously a throwback to today, a woman who wants intimacy. Paired with a man who's had his empathy excised, they form a hyperbole for a contemporary relationship cliche. I wanted more of this. ...but was that the theme?
The aliens are the enemy, or are they? Do they even care about us? They seem un-directed and robotic, a ship and it's many support vessels and crew on autopilot. Not malignant but would it matter? They're certainly potentially dangerous. The plot line revolves around the reaction of our own human ship's cherry-picked crew of valedictorians to a very "alien" situation. (One thing that was really nice about this book was that the aliens really did live up to the connotation!) We're so far away from earth that it's essentially not a player in the drama: a half dozen overachievers, each with a distinct specialty working against the clock to determine the outcome of a First Contact.
Each of the characters could be an olympian in a different sport: fencing, powerlifting, gymnastics, nordic skiing. Imagine the contrasts! Instead, these people differ in their minds have all undergone psychologically relevant consciousness alterations. The translator has some kind of self induced multiple-personality disorder. The doctor has been merged into his teleoperated scalpels and x-ray eyes, the captain is... well he's well chosen; let's just say that.
Some of the fun ideas you might really want to skip over because: (view spoiler)[
* Heaven: upload yourself into paradise. * Vampires are real & we brought 'em back to be hard ass commanders. * Consciousness is just a post-facto observer. * We've passed the Kurzweil singularity and the ship turns out to be a perfectly legit AI.
A favorite moment cited the experiment where you "decide" to move your finger, but the conscious apprehension of the act comes half a second after the decision making was done. I think that doesn't invalidate the conscious actor as a key factor any more than does a coaches' post-game role. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I loved this book, a long time ago. I think it would seem a little childish now & earn less stars but it was great. The antagonist is a race of suI loved this book, a long time ago. I think it would seem a little childish now & earn less stars but it was great. The antagonist is a race of supermonsters they called "Grendels" (I think: it was a long time ago) whose basic aspect was of an alligator, and whose superpower was sacs of hydrazine-like blood additive that gave them lightning speed, at the cost of severe overheating.
After zooming through the camp & eating a few folks, they's have to sulk, steaming, underwater someplace cool.
I feel that way cycling around Boulder at lunchtime! My superpowers are the ability to ignore traffic regulations and put on bursts of speed. After, I have to sulk in a dark bistro for an hour, sucking down iced tea or a Staropramen. (...a newly discovered Austrian lager.)...more
Turning and turning in the widening gyre The falcon cannot hear the falconer; Things fall apart; theWhat a bad-ass poem she dares call into context.
Turning and turning in the widening gyre The falcon cannot hear the falconer; Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere The ceremony of innocence is drowned; The best lack all conviction, while the worst Are full of passionate intensity.
whoa. So, that's Yeats, the Second Coming, the first bit of it anyway. Calling on that is like conjuring a dragon; something not lightly undertaken. For this poem alone, the book is already worth the read, and gets a couple of provisional stars. Time will tell if they're just reflections of Yeats' intensity, or if Saks' work can match her title. I'm excited.
--- done --- Not finished but done.
Throughout the book, Elyn seemed "lazy." I use the word cautiously because I can't quite nail my discomfiture to the page: she knew she was losing it but could not stop herself. While I admit to similar weakness w.r.t. ice cream, it is just about impossible to imagine NOT stopping myself from ranting about killing people while they're considering whether or not to tie you down, an experience she lived through repeatedly! (I use my inside voice for all that silence of the lambs monologue.:) Anyway, it just seemed slovenly not to curtail a behavior of which you're conscious, and which she knew was not good for her. It's like she was a third party participant in her own thoughts, watching them run wherever they wanted to go. Maybe indeed this was the essence of the description of insanity, and it was chilling. One thing I'm sure of is my dominion over Me. I think about what I want, for sure and always. It would be petrifying to lose control of yourself! In this context, I want to think more about losing my temper, and ice cream and sex. Those are times when you do not have complete mastery over yourself: why am I not frightened by them, as I was by Elyn's experience? I would say (wrongly?) that even when losing my temper, it is because I want to and I have often said "you never do anything you don't want to do." Maybe I should question those ideas. Is this a gateway to try to understand insanity?
The Sandy Hook shooting happened during this read, and it became impossible to read the book without those sad deaths in the background.
I believe that Aurora shooter James Holmes and Sandy Hook shooter Adam Lanza should be forgiven for killing all those people, because they're not at fault for who they've become. No one should be faulted for nature or nurture, but then what is left of us? Perhaps the answer is that "fault" and "responsibility" are different words, even if only by a little bit, and we must act on that nuance.
High school wrestler Joe Blow should not be excused for writing a hit list and threatening the school, because everyone is responsible for their behavior.
Holmes and Lanza should be executed or jailed not as punishment but as security. Are they crazy? Surely. Crazy's not an excuse for behavior because nothing is.
There has been much maneuvering to prevent an “insanity” assessment of Holmes. The answer to “why?” must be that the legal consequences are materially different. That’s partly Elyn's proud accomplishment, and it's unfortunate, because it shouldn’t make a difference in the outcome. As for punishment, I personally don’t want to bother with it, he’s beneath notice, and it won’t bring anyone back.
Elyn Saks may have done some harm here,creating this legal divide....more
Very very close to the movie. Not much to say. The book club had a pretty interesting thread , if you're interested in the misogyny angle. OriginallyVery very close to the movie. Not much to say. The book club had a pretty interesting thread , if you're interested in the misogyny angle. Originally I thought it a bit hyperbolic, but then I discovered everyone just uses the word improperly. It's a nuclear word, used for common tactical purposes by the unlettered. :)...more