Anathem

I just finished Neal Stephenson’s Anathem—highly recommended! Like most of Neal Stephenson’s novels, it is full of little gems. There were none that stood out as much as the passage in The Confusion where Stephenson manages to place his protagonists in a situation where it is completely natural for one of them to say “I certainly did not expect the Spanish Inquisition”, but here are a couple I just had to share.

On why people stopped building particle accelerators:

Erasmas: “I always tend to assume there’s an infinite amount of money out there.”

Arsibalt: “There might as well be, but most of it is spent on pornography, sugar water, and bombs. There is only so much that can be scraped together for particle accelerators.”

On the balance of power between the protagonists’ civilization and their ostensibly extrasolar and probably hostile visitors:

Cord: “Do you need transportation? Tools? Stuff?”

Erasmas: “Our opponent is an alien starship packed with atomic bombs. We have a protractor.”

Cord: “Okay, I’ll go home and see if I can scrounge up a ruler and a piece of string.”

2,600 years of progress

I just finished The Dreaming Void, the first book in Peter F. Hamilton‘s Void Trilogy. Overall an excellent book, but I do have a nit to pick… a rather big one, in fact.

To provide some background: the Void Trilogy is set in the same continuity as Misspent Youth and the Commonwealth Saga, about 2,500 years after the former, 1,200 years after the latter, and close to 2,600 years after our time. Continue reading “2,600 years of progress” »