Saturday, August 18, 2007

Last night I finished Blindsight by Peter Watts, an interesting hard science fiction book.

Even though most of the action in the book takes place on the fringes of the solar system, the main scientific speculation in the book is more about neuropsychology than physics or chemistry. For example, the titular "blindsight" is an actual phenomenon where the conscious mind perceives itself as blind but the unconscious mind is still seeing things and the body reacts as if it can see them.

Parts of the book feel a little preachy as the author uses plot devices to lead to discussions of the limits of consciousness and how perception can be manipulated by the external world.

Despite that flaw, it's an interesting book and based on that I've already taken another book by the same author out of the library.

Amazon Link: Blindsight

Monday, August 13, 2007

This morning I finished A Princess of Roumania by Paul Park. I had never heard of Paul Park but I went to an event called SF in SF, one of a series where pairs of science fiction authors read from their books in San Francisco, to see Gregory Benford and the other author was Paul Park. I enjoyed the short story he read so I thought I would try out his novels.

A Princess of Roumania is the first of a trilogy involving the passage of 3 young adults from our world to an alternate Earth where folk magic works, Roumania is a major power, England was destroyed by some natural disaster and America has remained un-populated. The title character was sent as a child to our Earth to protect her but now she has been pulled back and has to deal with the consequences.

This book falls pretty heavily into a tradition of more literate, less action oriented fantasy. A lot of time is spent on character's inner turmoil and not a lot of external action takes place. Combine that with the author's obvious love for pretty prose and you have a book that will be slower than many will appreciate. In particular, the prose is so pretty sometimes that it is difficult to tell what actually happened and it's only by reading subsequent sections that the reader can figure out the actual events.

Even given those complaints, it was compelling enough that I will check out the sequels and see how the story develops.

Amazon Link: A Princess of Roumania