Sorry, I actually haven't read it yet, but I just wanted to point out that if you buy the Kindle eBook of this for $5.99, you can add the Audiobook for $1.99. $7.98 is a lot less than $24.95 and less than a credit. And it does WhisperSync, so if you choose to read part of it, it updates the audio bookmark for you, and vice versa. I had that idea years ago, should have patented it or something.
It's hard to believe that such a momumental discovery in scientific and medical history has such a significant but unknown personal history alongside it. Skloot gives us three themes at once: an unusual and complex ethical dilemma, a thrilling account of one of the greater discoveries in medical research, and a touching, tragic documentary covering several generations of a family in America (including, gratefully, a small measure of redemption). It's hard to even comment on the quality of the writing or the narration - the story is the story, and it's a story that I'm glad I've heard.
The setting and circumstances are intriguing. Vinge describes a believable, compelling, and fascinating world where a ubiquitous evolution of the Internet has reshaped human existence in the not-too-distant future. Particularly because of its role in education, this new technological medium has catapulted a generation of youth far beyond the capabilities and values of their parents.
As in other Vinge works, a broad, eclectic array of plot pieces are set into motion in order to arrive at a final climax. One moment you're reading about a miserable old poet who's been given a second chance on life, but must choose between his old talents and the brave new world. Then suddenly it's about children coming of age in a technological utopia. At one point it seemed to veer into a lecture on the merits of libertarian capitalism. For far too long it dwells on an unimportant sub-plot about teaching old dogs new technological tricks. And there's this grad student, desperate to find an original thesis. And then it's about a team of nostalgic rebels who fight against the violently rapid progress around them. Oh, and I almost forgot, there's a worldwide team of secret-agent anti-terrorist saviors who have been infiltrated and manipulated by a villain with a plan for world domination (except they drop that plot for such a long time that you forget if it was this book or another that you remember it from). And a husband-wife team of super military analysts. And a super-powerful AI screwing with all of them, just for fun. Oh, oh, and then there's a huge Pokemon battle! And some Bollywood executives, and some sort of worldwide technological catastrophe. No, I'm *not* making this up!
While it was never completely ridiculous, it was nevertheless frustrating to be constantly wondering, even well into the final 1/3 of the book, what the heck the main story was supposed to be, and how it all fit together. It does come together loosely, but then rushes into resolution and epilogue.
The title says it all. It is a long, sci-fi, Monty Python sketch. Fry even reads as if he were John Cleese returning a dead parrot. If the idea of that appeals to you, you will undoubtedly love this book.
I've liked a lot of his work before, both in text and audio formats. But this was painfully boring. I really tried to get into it, but gave up before finishing. There are a lot of intelligent ideas scattered throughout the work, but it feels as if you have to pry those few ideas free from a wall of repetitive tedium, using a rusty crowbar. I literally could not bring myself to press play anymore.
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