April 8, 2012
In case anyone is looking for a book to read, allow me to review some of the books I recently finished.
David Deutsch: The Beginning Of Infinity
The Beginning Of Infinity is a multi-faceted approach to Science, Science Philosophy, Science History, Methodology, Epistemology and probably quite a lot else. The title refers not so much to mathematical infinities, but rather the infinite process that is the acquisition of knowledge. Deutsch provides a very convincing string of arguments and I found it difficult to find flaw in any of them, especially the ones that I initially did not agree with. This book is therefore that most precious of things; a way to change your mind for the better. Highly recommended.*
John D. Barrow: The Book Of Universes
In this —somewhat exhaustive— treatise of all the possible universes ever imagined by physicists and mathematicians, John D. Barrow certainly lives up to the formula; “Everything you always wanted to know about X, but were afraid to ask.” Barrow keeps the mathematical content quite low, though unfortunately the few equations that do occur are not explained in sufficient detail for the non-mathematicians amongst his readers. At times the listing of various types of universes can become somewhat monotonous, but by and large the book is well written and well paced. I enjoyed the book, even though I skipped ahead a couple of times during the more wearisome bits. Recommended only if you’re into astrophysics and theoretical physics, or if you’re interested in a reference book.**
Greg Bear: Hull Zero Three
Greg Bear is a hard Science Fiction writer who is generally under-appreciated in my opinion. He’s written some truly dreadful stuff, but also has a few magnificent stories to his name, quite possibly the best hard SF I’ve ever read. Hull Zero Three is neither of these extremes, though I would definitely classify it as good, possibly approaching great. The story and the angle are fairly unique as far as I know, and it certainly is sufficiently surreal to make for an exciting read. I imagine that some people would be offended by how many questions and how few answers this books provides, but I for one enjoy a story that doesn’t spell out anything right away, or indeed at all. If you haven’t read Eon, Blood Music, Moving Mars or The Forge Of God by Greg Bear, read those first, if you have and liked them, you’ll probably enjoy Hull Zero Three. ***
* I read this one almost entirely in the bathroom. I’ve recently had a carpenter make me a custom closet underneath the bathroom sink with a special storage space for books on the side. One of my best furniture purchases so far.
** Read this one while travelling from Slovakia to Finland and back. Ideal travel-companion as most of its topics are very short, so one is rarely interrupted mid-chapter.
*** Hull Zero Three was read exclusive in bed.