Posted tagged ‘dawkins’

I Evoke Brow XXVII: Book Review Man’s Peak Season!

September 22, 2007

Three books sitting on my desk, awaiting reviews so I can return them, so let’s knock them out:

A Devil’s Chaplain, Richard Dawkins

Marvelous. Fascinating. I absolutely love the letter to his daughter concerning religion and science that ends the collection. Simple, concise, and impossible to refute. 8/10.

. . .

Death by Black Hole, Neil DeGrasse Tyson

Every bit as interesting as Dawkins and probably a bit better of a writer. Has an amazing ability to explain mindbogglingly complex phenomena in layman’s terms, aided by a knack for analogy. This clip explains the difference between the two scientists very well. I side with Dawkins in rejecting Stephen Jay Gould’s separate magisteria, but I must say I find Tyson’s methods to be better: persuasion vs. refutation and disengagement. 9/10.

. . .

Pattern Recognition, William Gibson.

Startlingly contemporary science fiction. Actually, there’s not anything about it that places it in the realm of SF other than the author’s previous works. Much like Neal Stephenson, Gibson transcends genre with his flawless style. While I like Gibson’s earlier works well enough, this book really stands out to me. It reminds me very much of Stephenson’s writing, though I wasn’t exactly sure why, at first. Now it occurs to me that in the same way Stephenson’s Baroque Cycle completely immerses you in its time and place, Pattern Recognition embodies the here and now, more than anything else I’ve ever read. PoMo, cybercommunity, otaku, marketing: Gibson captures it all. And the treatment of 9/11 is superbly done, with levels of depth. I happened to read it in the days surrounding the anniversary of the attacks and I often had to set it down to collect my thoughts. The novel falls short of perfection only in its ending–while not terrible, it didn’t feel as integral as the rest of the story–somehow it breaks the spell. Still, an easy 9/10.