Saturday, March 11, 2006

Book Recommendation - Spin State

With work impinging on leisure time, it has been a while since I have been able to carve out enough time to tackle a full length book.

Spin State, by Chris Moriarty takes the reader on a tour of a future in which quantum physics has practical applications for travel, computing, and politics. I seem to be reading a lot of books in which the mind is separable from the body. Not sure if it is a reflection of my own ambivalence about aging pains, or a genuine movement in the SF world, but it has been interesting to see the different twists each author brings to the concept.

As a novel, Spin State suffers from two major faults for me. The first is that it is just hard to follow the plot when characters are sometimes themselves, and sometimes "channeling" somebody else. The second is that at least a third of the novel feels like a derivative version, if not direct lift of Outland, which itself is a space opera version of High Noon. The whole mining colony with the vicious manager willing to do anything to keep production going is a very old plot.

The compulsion to keep going is provided by the genuinely clever weaving of the hard science of quantum physics and the speculation about how artificial intelligence will manifest itself into a compelling whole that holds one's interest to the end.

The book ultimately addresses the question of whether a person can fall in love with an intelligence that is human in the Turing sense, but not human in the biological sense.

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