Monday, September 19, 2011

Rule 34 and The Fat Years

Today I've had phone calls all over the place, from eight o'clock in the morning through to half past nine at night. Discombobulated by this, I forgot to drink any water all day, and by about half-eight I developed a nervous tic under my right eye, the muscles of my face stuttering to themselves as if a punishment for me not being kind enough to them.

It's enough to make me wish I hadn't stayed up all Saturday night reading Rule 34.

I suppose I was nostalgic for the twenty-first century after my Dickensian exploits last week, so I devoured the latest Stross. It's a sequel to Halting State, never my favourite Stross (I much prefer The Atrocity Archives to pretty much anything else, apart from his shorter stories), but it feels a much more developed world than in its predecessor. Although perhaps I just remember Halting State more negatively than I should.

It's odd to read a book that has (in part) some interesting ideas around credit default swaps, and ideas about 3d printers, and spam - not the kind of thing you expect to find all in the same place. From reading Stross's blog some of these ideas had already been sown in my subconscious, but it was nice to see them collected together into a narrative.

The last couple of chapters felt like they were over too quick; I'm not sure if they were, or if it was the effect of me rushing through them too fast because by then it was 1:30 am and I really could have done with some sleep, but it could have done with fifty pages more. And some explosions. And a man driving a car off a bridge. And. And. And. Maybe those aren't very good suggestions after all.

I'm also reading The Fat Years, which is kind of the opposite; not much happens from a good three quarters of the book, and then things start to happen, but packing more action and exposition in than is strictly necessary. Well, necessary if you hadn't left it out of the earlier parts. Again, it's a book concerned with futurology and with finance, but with markedly different results - a sort of doomed (or at least transformed) world with China as the ascendant, whereas Rule 34 makes no mention at all of China, as far as I can remember.

Anyway, I will try to write a more measured critique of The Fat Years when I've finished reading it, and when I've had a decent night's sleep. The intersection of those two things may be this year.


Post a Comment