Wednesday, May 17, 2006

B.W.'s Interim Book Report: Accelerando

You know how some people will eat only one thing on their plates at a time? Go through the dinner bun, empty the field of mashed potatoes, rip through the beans and save the meat loaf for last? I'm sort of that way with books.

I have a small library of stuff waiting for me to dive into, and instead of sampling a bit here and there as my mood takes me - maybe I'm in the mood for peas or ice cream today, not prime rib - no, I have to keep plowing through Accelerando. This Charles Stross book is very intriguing, but in parts it's slow going.

I'm not a dumb guy, but (as you can guess by my affection for vinyl records) I'm not always state-of-the-art techno-wise. As a result this very cool book sometimes loses me, which is OK - I like to be challenged - but it makes for slow going, as I said. It took me a good 50 pages or so before I could settle into the rhythm of his writing, but so far - two-thirds of the way through - it's been worth the journey.

And what's the book about? Won't know until I reach the end. Sometimes it's exploring the way human beings interact with technology to the point where, one day, it'll be hard to distinguish where the "meat puppet" ends and the artificial intelligence begins. Sometimes it's about the rights that artificial intelligence will inevitably demand. Sometimes it's a more traditional sf story about encountering alien cultures, but tackled in a not-so-traditional way. And sometimes it's a generational saga; from the dust jacket, I know pretty soon I'll be meeting the grandchild of Manfred Macx, the wired guy who was the main character of the book's first third.

This is not all the reading I've been doing, of course. The new Liberty arrived the other day; I've zipped through the latest pamphlet in Wally Conger's nifty series of libertarian writings by Samuel Edward Konkin III; and a friend has sent me an H.L. Mencken essay that, like much of the stuff this friend sends me, has shaken my assumptions to the core again.

But with stuff like Empire of Debt and Old Man's War sitting on the shelf waiting to be transferred to my nightstand, I'm really tempted to break out of my old habit and try a mouthful of beans, then a bite of mashed potatoes and back to the meat loaf. I kind of suspect introducing that kind of variety would break the mental logjams and make my reading life a lot more fun, but holy wah, old habits die hard.



Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home