I read Hofstadter's "Gödel, Escher, Bach" many years ago and was completely taken aback by the author's brilliant style and insight.
I read Hofstadter'I read Hofstadter's "Gödel, Escher, Bach" many years ago and was completely taken aback by the author's brilliant style and insight.
I read Hofstadter's "Metamagical Themas" many years ago and was fascinated by the author's vast area of expertise.
I read Hofstadter's "Le Ton Beau de Marot" a few years ago and was amazed by the author's enormous knowledge.
I just finished Hofstadter's "I Am a Strange Loop" and was thoroughly disappointed.
The author uses 300+ pages to say something that could just as easily have been said in 100. This means that he repeats himself over and over again. And he doesn't really get to the point until about 50 pages before the end. Finally, I find his point ("consciousness is a hallucination hallucinated by a hallucination") useless and downright wrong.
It is truely mind-boggling how Dan Brown can get away with putting so many factual errors about cryptography and computers into a single book. Doesn'tIt is truely mind-boggling how Dan Brown can get away with putting so many factual errors about cryptography and computers into a single book. Doesn't he have anybody proofread his manuscripts? It is also surprising that a so highly praised writer can write so badly.
In "Digital Fortress" we enter a universe where:
* A 64-bit code requires 64 characters to type. (Fact: 64 bits can be easily typed with 16 characters or less.)
* Public Key Cryptography requires the exchange of a secret passkey. (Fact: One of the nice features about Public Key Cryptography is that it does NOT require the exchange of a secret passkey.)
* The concept of an unbreakable code is an impossibility as it violates the "Bergofsky principle". (Fact: The "One-time Pad" encryption invented more than 90 years ago is unbreakable (but often unpractical to use).)
* A password consisting of five random characters is a really good one.
* If you hide a backdoor in an algorithm, only the author of the algorithm will be able to find it.
On a less technical side, in "Digital Fortress" we enter a universe where:
* A German addresses a total stranger as "Du" instead of "Sie".
* A university teacher willingly accepts a secret overseas mission for the NSA, just because the man who calls him happens to be his wife's boss.
* A young man who appears to have lived for a few months in Spain doesn't know the difference between dollars and pesetas. (The book was written before the Euro currency was introduced.)
* The NSA apparently have no backup of the data in their main databank.
* Pigs actually do fly. (Okay, I didn't acturally read that, but I'm sure it must be in there somewhere.)
Add to this that the characters behave in ridiculously silly and unlikely ways. (For example, this man wants to buy a ring from a frightened, young woman. Does he say, "I would like to buy your ring"? No, he says "You have something I need; but I'll pay you for it," which of course frightens the woman even more.) Add some annoyingly long filler sentences completely lacking in content and serving only to use ink.
Not a good book. The only reason I read it to the end was because I kept believing that it must get better eventually. It didn't. In the final crisis the book reaches new levels of bad writing:
* The computer science is bogus.
* The assembled scientists cannot solve this problem: "What number best expresses the difference between Uranium 238 and Uranium 235?". In the final second of the crisis, after twenty minutes of thinking, somebody suddenly, surpisingly discovers that the answer is 3. (I am not exaggerating!)
* The writing style is an incredibly long-winded, drawn out, ink-wasting collection of superfluous words. (If the world was about to fall apart unless you discovered an important number in the next five minutes, would you spend that time pointing out to your colleagues that the word "man-made" is not a number? No, I thought not.) ...more