Thursday, September 15, 2005

Tech-Fi

In preparation for my forthcoming Long Weekend Away (destination currently undecided, but San Francisco has been ruled out), I've been investing in some Mighty Works Of Tech Fiction. Although it's not yet apparent whether I'll be using these to sate my intellectual appetite or to build an emergency Ray Mears-style papier-mâché shelter should the weather prove inclement.

Neal Stephenson is an excellent choice for the latter scenario, given that he's unable to write* a novel of fewer than 900 pages. And I came at the Baroque Cycle trilogy all wrong the first time around, electing to read half of the second book before starting the first, and then reading half of the first book before leaving it in the gerbil-ravaged hands of an ex-veterinary surgeon in Venezuela.

So I've ordered myself a fresh copy of Quicksilver, which I'm to read all the way through before I start on the aptly named The Confusion again, which I’m to finish before The System Of The World comes out in paperback on 6th October.

And as if that’s not enough to be getting along with, I’ve also ordered a copy of The Difference Engine, which I’m really looking forward to reading as apparently it’s all about what Victorian Britain might have been like if there’d been computers an’ ‘at.

And when not reading them I plan to gaze in a slightly melancholic yet quietly resigned fashion at the sea. Yes.

* I mean literally write. By hand. All of it. As this picture demonstrates (thanks to James for that).

14 comments:

Konrad said...

Have a nice weekend and enjoy yourself. Konrad

Merkin said...

Why "Tech Fiction"? What's wrong with a volume of Gibbon and a copy of Private Eye?

patroclus said...

Many thanks Konrad!

Merkin, you *are* Boris Johnson and I claim my £5.

Merkin said...

Gosh. Erm. Wowzers. Etc. Don't be silly - he has 10 times the brain that I have (and the wages, and the charm) - but I'm awfully chuffed that you think so. I stand by my question though - why tech fiction? I had a slightly different impression of your literary tastes...

patroclus said...

Well, er, (incredibly long, dull answer ahoy), I thought my literary tastes were laid bare for all to see in my profile. But essentially I like books that are very dense and wordy. I hate plot, but I do love a good, meaty sentence (steady...). So Stephenson fits the bill perfectly, as does Lawrence Durrell.

And I like books that put technology in a cultural context, because otherwise the World Of Tech (in which it has long been my pleasure and privilege to work) is awful and soulless and full of Porsche-driving, golf-playing wankers.

Lord, how pretentious does all that sound?

Smat said...

I can let you have my copy of "Blown to Bits: How the New Economics of Information Transforms Strategy" which would fulfil all your criteria for a good book. It was generally referred to as Bored to Bits on our OU course, covering teh Economy of Things, Disintermediation, and Monday Mornings. I actually enjoyed it, despite it meeting none of my criteria for a good read.

Wyndham said...

Have a good time wherever you go. I have no doubt that, much like yourself, it will be glamorous and exciting.

patroclus said...

In the words of Chandler Byng: "Oh, how well you know me..."

But thanks, W. I'm not going away just yet, unfortunately. Got to wait for the books to arrive first.

Merkin said...

Wyndham. You should have ended that post with a bit of HTML. ie

[/brown-nosing]
[/flirting]

Although I too have no doubt that patroclus is copywriting's equivalent of a fragrant Miss Bennett (you choose which one, Wyndham) in a sea of Darcys.

[/nuzzling]

patroclus said...

You call that HTML?

james henry said...

You'd better like The Difference Enginee. If you don't, I'll smash you up.

patroclus said...

Crikey. Well, if the reviews on Amazon are anything to go by, it looks like I'll be receiving a severe beating before so very long.

But then these so-called cyberpunk types are notoriously picky.

Stef the engineer said...

Well I liked the Difference Engine, but then it described my ideal kind of world, where people would rather drive a traction engine than a Porsche, and Fred Dibnah rather than Bill Gates would be the tech icon!

patroclus said...

Hello there Stef and welcome. Well, The Difference Engine has now arrived, so watch out for my scathing/glowing critique shortly.