undiscriminating reads

on trains in and out of London

Ken MacLeod, the Night Sessions: very good and tightly imagined account of what a war on religion would actually mean; and what a secular Scotland would be like. Written with great sympathy for the villains; also I am extremely glad of the idea that the last best Calvinists in the world turn out to be robots. The best of his I have read to date.

Charlie Stross, Merchant Princes, books one two and three: ought to be really enjoyable fluff, and almost is. But in the end the mashup of chicklit, thriller and Marxism doesn’t work. The heroine is not exactly a Mary Sue, but she is too self-consciously meant as a a figure for readers to identify with. Either that, or the feisty, sexy, divorcee is this century’s answer to the carved white Victorian angel, and every bit as life-like.

Thomas Jackson, Darwin’s Error: very interesting book by an ex-Catholic with the subtitle “the poet who died”. Not about the science at all, but about the philosophy and the prose. I didn’t have room to squeeze it into my “big” New Statesman review,1 but should blog about it next week.

Nick Spencer, Darwin’s God, which, unlike Jackson’s, is actually about religion. A scrupulous account of the development of Darwin’s irreligious opinions.

And, since it is Easter Day, I throw in for free the news that a church in Västerås has, after two years’ work, and the collection of 30,000 white bricks, unveiled their life-size Lego Jesus.

1 I was sent a total of sixteen books, to be reviewed in 1400 words

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8 Responses to undiscriminating reads

  1. Pingback: Pages tagged "robots"

  2. Rupert says:

    And of course, Silverberg put a robot in the top job in “Good News From The Vatican”…

  3. Mrs Tilton says:

    Silverberg put a robot in the top job in “Good News From The Vatican”

    Wait, that was fiction?

    Pius XII was a robot, of course. A damn fine one too, when you consider that it was all clockwork back in those days. No integrated circuits, no “memory”, nothing but finely-meshed levers, pendula and gears. I have always thought Pacelli the supreme achievement of the mechanic’s art.

    Ratzinger is all very well in his way, but really, now that everything is chips and biomechanics, there’s no creativity or romance to it any more. Put a Japanese robotmaker in a basement room with a couple of script kiddies and a crate of Jolt Cola, and you could just as well start turning out popes on the assembly-line.

    The only way out of the present rut, clearly, is for the College of Cardinals to grasp the nettle and make the switch to human-embryonal-stem-cell/animal hybrids. Oh, they will, they will, as surely as night follows day. But in their own good time for, as every journalist who ever wrote a piece about the Curia can (and invariably will) tell you, the pace of progress is stately in an institution that measures out time in millennia. Still, one can’t help worrying that the RC church is in danger of being knocked off its perch by early-adopting Mormons or bleeding-edge Shiite slashdotters.

  4. acb says:

    And Pacelli chimed so beautifully when he knelt to pray!

  5. acb says:

    Ask not for whom the Pope tolls: he tolls for thee.

  6. Rupert says:

    At least we can now pay St Peter’s Pence through that most modern of online money transfer systems: Papal.

  7. Rupert says:

    And, ah, congratulations…

  8. The Montini model android (known as the Paulo Sesto), perhaps the most lifelike android ever to come out of the Italian factories, might be considered equivalent to a Ferrari.

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