July 2005
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Day July 16, 2005

Book #38: Charles Stross, Accelerando

Given how much I liked his previous books, I started reading Stross’ Accelerando as soon as it arrived from Amazon. Accelerando is both a novel and a series of linked stories, following three generations of one family through the massive effects that exponential growth of computing power could bring to human society. The concept of “singularity” is familiar enough from Vinge, MacLeod, Stross’s previous works, and a host of other contemporary writers, but Accelerando gets inside the singularity itself, instead of considering it an “unknowable” event.

As befits an account of runaway technological evolution, the book moves fast, and is packed with as much terminology and technology per square inch as one is likely to find. And it’s fun — the hardest part of reading the book was slowing down and trying to make the book last for a day or two. I suspect one needs to be somewhat computer-philic to really enjoy the book, and possibly to enjoy Stross at all, but Wikibooks does have a “technical companion” developing nicely for those who might wish for a glossary.

Damn, now I have to wait for his next book.

Book #37: John Banville, The Untouchable

I’ve been fairly lax about blogging my reading lately.  The usual excuse — really busy at work (busy is good — repeat mantra as needed…). 

Awhile back I finished Banville’s The Untouchable.  The book was a gift from my friend Larry who wanted to introduce me to Banville’s prose, since I keep babbling about Rushdie being my favorite prose stylist.   The book is a brilliant "spy novel" which transcends that genre by a wide margin.  Banville fictionalizes the lives of the "Cambridge spies" from the 1930’s who rose the highest levels of British society, and gets further inside the mind of a double agent than even a Le Carre has managed. 

I can’t recommend this book highly enough, especially if one is a fan of Le Carre, as I am.  Banville presents a deep, detailed, and yet langorous portrait of his hero (anti-hero?), revealing how ideology is often only a front for more personal, contingent motivations.