Monday, December 04, 2006

Nerdy things are waiting for me

I finally finished Judas Unchained, the massive space opera by Peter Hamilton. Overall, it is excellent, but it is really too lengthy, the ending in particular. It suffers in a few other ways. One of the subplots is flat out boring, and I was tempted to skip those chapters whenever they appeared. I also was unconvinced by two societal projections Hamilton posits.

For one, I think his society is really too freely sexual. His society is supportive of all sorts of relationships, which makes sense as she sees a fading of social taboos with a decline in religion. His characters though are openly promiscuous which I think makes less sense. While the limits to sexual behavior are social to a degree, Dawkins has convinced me that they are also biological. People are wired to dislike and stop cheating. Hamilton also sees sex as a little too harmless. As people like Camille Paglia have pointed out, we have known that sex and violence are intertwined ever since the Greeks worshiped Dionysus. This is a minor detail though really.

Another quibble is the power structure. A few families or dynasties dominate the multi-world society and have done so for centuries. It is a little hard to believe that in a technologically advancing society that company and therefore personal wealth wouldn't fluctuate greatly. On the other hand, the rich essentially live forever, which allows the rich to truly get richer. So maybe I give him a pass here.

If you have the sf stamina to read these books, then you will be excited to hear that Hamilton is working on a trilogy set a thousand years after these books.

While we are keeping it nerdy, check this brief video bit of Iain M Banks talking about the Algebraist. Did you know a comic was made of Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere? I didn't but I did just see this new graphic novel that compiles the comics. I admit I am dubious. Comics are often a good medium for the fantastic, but there is some crazy stuff in that book.

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