Friday, March 18, 2011

Book report

I'm a big fan of Neal Stephenson's earlier novels, including Snow Crash and especially The Diamond Age. Both are great entertainments that are packed with wit and energy and give you a little bit to think about. Cryptonomicon had its moments, but the book was too long and flagged badly in various places. His subsequent efforts did not attract my attention, but I thought I owed him another try and picked up a copy of Anathem. It's a profoundly boring book, slow-moving, unfunny, and packed with characters about whom you just can't give a rat's ass. Oh, and did I mention it's almost a thousand pages long? Sorry Neal, but if it's any consolation I still recommend the above-mentioned two to everybody.

Michael Shaara's Gettysburg novel The Killer Angels is the perfect antidote to Anathem: economical and suspenseful, even though of course the outcomes are well known in advance; compelling characters, fine descriptions of landscape and battle. As literature, it does not rank with another Civil War novel I read recently, Doctorow's The March, but it is a wonderful way to spend a few evenings... not unlike Snow Crash in that regard, come to think of it.

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