Tuesday, January 22, 2013

SciAm - no thanks!

The heavy white clouds occlude the sky; it can't decide whether to sleet, rain or snow. In any event, snow is predicted overnight.

I am in receipt of ever more strident letters from Scientific American begging me to resubscribe and promising enticing gifts if I so do.

In fact I'm going to let SciAm go, along with their less-than-attractive bribes. The quality of the articles seems just a touch dumbed-down these days while only a minority are actually of interest to me. But perhaps the biggest irritant is that SciAm has followed New Scientist down the path of Guardian-style stance-taking. I'm in the market for the latest theories and results. I don't need SciAm's smug moral exhortation on climate change, biodiversity or any other fashionable but ultimately value-driven cause.
I last read Dan Simmons' Hyperion novels back in 2002 and have thankfully forgotten the details. This has made rereading the first two volumes a delight.

Hyperion starts slow, as we gradually learn about the Shrike pilgrims and their back-stories. Soon we are deep into the epic struggle between the Hegemony worldweb and the 'barbarian' Ousters, subtly orchestrated by the sinister Technocore.

Brilliant characterisation, stupendous world-building, a supple and unpredictable plot, multiple storylines and an underlying transcendent theme, slowly revealed.

What's not to like?