: New: Book Report: Surface Detail

(Yes, I'm publishing another blog post today. Sorry about the flurry. I'm testing stuff. This blog post should look pretty ordinary, but there's a rel="author" tag hiding in the source code.)

It's a science fiction novel from the Culture universe. If you've already read some of those, that's probably enough to convince you to read this one. This one focuses on the idea of transferable personae. If we had the ability to "record" someone's mind and to copy/move it into [another body/a robot shell/a simulated universe], what weird situations might arise? In this novel, someone sets out to avenge her own murder after her mind is "rescued" at the last second; some societies punish their dead by putting their recorded minds into simulated hells; someone who's developed useful skills is "copied" several times so that those skills might be deployed in more places.

It's a difficult read in places. There's an antagonist. For the story to work, he needs to stand out as evil—more evil than sadistic societies who sentence the minds of their dead to simulated hells. When the story establishes this, you kind of want to put the book down and go for a walk in the sunshine and remind yourself that most people are not that awful.

But mostly it's interesting and funny.

Tags: book brutal truth

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