Mar 282013

light of other daysThe Light of Other Days,by Arthur C. Clarke and Stephen Baxter

Brief Synopsis: Privacy is demolished when a technology is invented that lets anyone see what is happening in real time anywhere on earth. Later in the book this is extended to allow people to see into the past as well.

Book Review: This is a terrible book. It’s hard to know where to start. The writing is flaccid and unsatisfying. The characters are shallow caricatures, and their dialog consists of things humans wouldn’t ever say. There is no emotion to be found, and the plot just sorta lays there. A moon-sized planetoid is on a collision course with Earth in a few hundred years, and the collective response of everyone is “Meh.” It also has absolutely no impact on the plot or characters, it could have been left out of the book entirely without changing anything. The concept (in the Synopsis above) is absolutely stellar, it could have made for amazing reading. Unfortunately it wasn’t explored in any depth. No one acts differently, there is no exploration of the social implications of never having any secrets again and living in a crime-free world, the world’s religions are barely mentioned, and so on and so forth. It’s just awful on pretty much every level. Not Recommended With A Vengance.

Book Club Review: This is a great book for a book club. We went late because there was so much to talk about. First, the venting at the poor writing can take a bit of time and provide for a lot of entertainment. But there is also the fact that if someone simply wrote a brief essay on a tech that forces complete transparency, that itself would be enough to get conversation going for quite some time among thoughtful people. There was disagreement in our group as to whether this would lead to chaos and societal collapse, or a shedding of taboos and embracing of social harmony (*cough* the latter *cough*). In addition, some people can overlook the atrocious writing and pick out some things that speak to them, particularly those with an interest in historical revisionism. As a catalyst for interesting discussion, this book does very well. Just be prepared to do a lot of skimming if you pick it up. Recommended.

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