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5.0 out of 5 stars
A very contemporary novel., 19 Feb 2011
I would recommend reading a couple of works of non fiction before tackling this; Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities and Software
and The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable
This deals with the interconnection of modern life on a global scale and the ultimate futility of attempting to control complex systems. The complexity and emergent behavior of such systems defeat the control of even the most advanced technological inventions. An interesting time to read this with the current situation developing in the Middle East, the novel is a critique of authoritarianism both political and religious. Whilst superficially bleak, I think it portrays an ultimately optimistic message that core values and simple rules are the only way to create stable and lasting peace; overarching rules and prescriptive doctrines no longer work in a totally interconnected world.
A lot has been talked about social media and its effect on the current revolutions taking place. This book illustrates that the world is connected in many other ways and that social media are as much a product of that phenomena as the cause. Facebook and Twitter can only exist in such a connected world, they dont create the connections. The stories of travel and transportation (both physical and metaphysical) illustrate this point beautifully.
The fragmented narrative bring into the 21st century the ability of story's to illuminate the political, social and scientific environment. The pace, diversity and complexity of modern life are reflected in this fragmentation. It shows the value of fiction to help us understand the world as we uncover the fundamentals of science which are so counter intuitive and difficult to reconcile with our everyday lives.