Thursday 28 September 2023

Book review: the Moat Around Murcheson's Eye

PXL_20230928_110601372~2Bought from the Abbey Bookshop in Paris, as something to read while waiting for the 23:45 bus from Bercy-Seine to London. As such, it was adequate.

This is a sequel to The Mote In God's Eye, which I read oh-so-many decades ago; but even then was slightly iffy about; the militarism and social attitudes jarred even on teenage me. But as a review at Goodreads saysThe novel takes the conclusion from the first book and follows it logically, ploddingly, through several hundred pages of military, political, and economic maneuvering. And I endorse that: there is no imagination at play here, no verve, just bashing at typewriter keys until the book is finished. On the other hand, at least its better than Ringworld, which I recently tried to read and gave up on as being too stupid and badly written.

Quibbles: I think the "blockade" is badly organised; leaving a few nuke mines around would be more efficient. As always with such books, everything is personalised; instead of dealing with a vast impersonal bureaucracy, decisions are made by individuals. In theory this connects us with characters we care about, but in practice we don't give a toss. Oh, and the contraceptive: the book, deeply embarassed by its own implausibility, doesn't even attempt to explain why humans are able to create this in a few decades when millenia of motie effort has failed. Oh, and also, I was disappointed that the Library of Alexandria popped up and was never seen again. Perhaps they couldn't work out what to do with it.

Perhaps more interesting: moties are, I think, supposed to be more intelligent than humans. But the authors can't imagine that, perhaps unsurprisingly. So instead they just get individually better abilities: better at engineering, better at mediating. But they're no better at thinking.