New: Book Report: The Algebraist

I walked several miles today so that I could fail to see a calligraphy exhibit. In theory, it has some work by Tauba Auerbach. In theory, it was open today, but a sign on the door said it was closed. I guess I could have tried the door, anyhow. This was on the campus of San Francisco State University. Often, school doors are unlocked. Kids need to study on weekends. It didn't seem worth the risk, though. The risk was: I really didn't want to deal with any security guards. I smelled funny. I smelled like mineral oil. I'd dropped my magnetic compass, it had broken, it was full of mineral oil, now I smelled like mineral oil. So I didn't see the calligraphy exhibit. But that was OK, it was still a fun walk.

The Algebraist is Iain Banks science fiction, but it's not a Culture novel. Instead, it's a tale of exploration, war, and intrigue set against a backdrop of galactic empire. There are twists, there are turns. It's jolly good fun. Some of the plot strands don't really seem to fit. There's a revenge-driven character who flies across the galaxy chasing someone. (I'm exaggerating, but not by much.) The confrontation between this revenger and revengee seems tacked-on, and you wonder why it's there. But then, you might wonder why you're reading a fluffy bit of science fiction in the first place. The answer is: it's fun. It doesn't all have to make sense.

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Posted 2006-09-30