March 2005
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Day March 26, 2005

Books #18 & #19 and miscellaneous readings

I had a whirlwind trip to Philadelphia this week, and given non-direct flights from Seattle I managed to read a couple more books; both science fiction.  I suspect I’m taking a bit of a break on non-fiction, since I’d also taken Michael Freeden’s Liberal Languages:  Ideological Imaginations and Twentieth-Century Progressive Thought, which I cracked but only read the introduction. 

As a digression, the airports were awful this week.  Who knew that so many people traveled for Easter?  Or is it a combination of spring break and Easter?  Regardless, the airports were jammed with groups of schoolkids and families, and the security lines were brutal.  But that gave me plenty of time standing or sitting around to read. 

Book #18 was Chris Moriarity’s debut novel, Spin State.  Spin State is a combination of hard science fiction (i.e., at least pseudo-accurate physics) and a political thriller, with a dash of cyber-punk thrown in for good measure.  The mixture was hypnotic, and I read it pretty much in a straight shot (6 hours of plane flights and a fully charged iPod helped out…).  The sequel is coming out mid-2005, apparently, and given the quality of his first novel I eagerly await Moriarty’s second. 

Book #19 was Ken MacLeod’s Newton’s Wake, hastily bought at O’Hare after finishing Spin State and concluding that I was much too tired and spaced out to spend a four-and-a-half hour flight trying to focus on Liberal Languages.  Not a bad novel, another in a series of books I’ve read lately that focus on the after-effects of technological singularity.  MacLeod is a friend of Charles Stross, the author of Singularity Sky, so I thought I’d get a taste of his work.  I like Stross better, given my limited sample, but I don’t regret reading Newton’s Wake by any means. 

But what I’m really hoping on the science fiction front is to see a next novel from Greg Egan.  I still haven’t gotten over the amazement of my first reading of Diaspora.  I recommend the latter very highly, but it’s not an easy read if you’re not fascinated by artificial intelligence, software, and some reasonably heavy physics. 

On miscellaneous readings, the cover article on Justice Scalia in the current New Yorker is excellent; not much surprising about his jurisprudence but overall a very solid biographical piece and description of his legal philosophy.  And the Lukacs piece in New York Review of Books this week, reprinting his foreword to Siege of Budapest is also superb.