So I have 7,200 words blogged to phone from the trip, plus a few photos. Not sure whether to parcel it out in sections like last time, or just do a giant entry that no-one will ever read. Vote?
Was pretty good for me: lost 3 stones, got a promotion and pay rise, remembered to go on holiday abroad a few times, got to the theatre more often. Therefore regression to the mean implies that 2007 will be worse. Pre-emptive resolutions: Get fatter, get poorer, stay at home more.
Reading (with spoilers)
Finished Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood. Very good overall: more than a mood piece, has a lot of narrative tension and some dramatic sequences, if not much of a plot. Book is divided into two strands. One concerns the last survivor of the human race, who plays prophet to a new species of genetically modified humanity; instructing them in the ways of the two gods, Oryx and Crake. The second strand is a series of flashbacks telling how this came about: this strand therefore reaches a resolution, though the other is left dangling.
The characters are generally well-observed, apart from Crake behind whose enigmatic facade lurks a barely updated Victor von Frankenstein.
In terms of SF world-building, the post-apocalypse is actually very well done, with a cleverly worked-out ecosystem of GM animals inheriting the Earth. Only the pre-apocalyptic strand suffers from Atwood's tendency to laboriously re-invent skiffy cliches from scratch: in this case fortified suburbs versus anarchic cities. Only a few howlers though: in this biowarfare-paranoid future world you send and have returned resumes/portfolios by physical post; and there are hacking scenes reminiscent of those in South Park: Bigger Longer and Uncut.
Couple of minor irritations for me. The book seems to buy into the slashdot-friendly autistic-geek-genius theory; which I'm very skeptical of. I found the asexuality of these apparently even-sex-ratioed groups cooped up in corporate skunkworks hard to believe.
Secondly, it's hard to take Crake's masterplan seriously from an evolutionary point of view. He's supposedly in it for the very long term, but evolution's selfish genes would eventually work just as strongly on the Crakes as humans. There would be massive selection pressures to have more babies, to gain exclusive access to females, to advance ones own genes and interests ahead of the group; and that would bring all the old tragedy of the commos factors back into play.
Also seems to me that there would be better ways to do it. Maybe an antlike structure where most individuals are sterile and have to help their nieces and nephews. Or Crake could have introduced a predator, and relied on coevolution to keep the numbers down.
LHusiBeers, Saturday Jan 6th, Anchor
Did we ever agree a rough time? Is it Afternoon or Evening?
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