Something I didn’t like and something I did

This is at least the second time that a Neal Stephenson book has started off really really cool and then flubbed the landing. I was all ready to write an effusively positive review of this book, which is a near-future novel about climate change and geoengineering, and then it just sort of … ends, with several storylines unresolved and the overall feeling that Stephenson had a page count he was expected to stick to and didn’t feel like going back and cutting anything out so he just ended the book. You may remember my review of Seveneves from several years ago, which is roughly five hundred pages of good, then a massive time skip and another three hundred pages of garbage. This does not do that; there is a brief time skip at one point but it keeps with the same characters afterwards and generally isn’t a huge misstep, even though it scared the hell out of me. But it does this thing where you’re following several characters whose stories knit together and one character whose story doesn’t until the end of the book, when they finally do come together, and they come together in such a ridiculous and unnecessary way that it made me feel like the extra character would probably have been best cut entirely from the book. Don’t get me wrong; it’s a Neal Stephenson book, so there’s a lot of interesting stuff here, but I’m starting to feel like this guy’s move is that he writes books that are chock full of cool stuff and interesting ideas and do not actually knit together into satisfying books. I gave it three stars on Goodreads; I could probably justify four or two depending on my mood.

Also, the novel is horrendously misnamed.

I went with the Termination Shock cover for my post image because the cover of Miley Cyrus’ new live album, Attention, is a close-up of her ass in a thong. Which, like, I don’t disapprove of, exactly, but neither do I need it spread all over my blog, and my normal way of listening to music on my computer involves the album art being visible and I had to turn that off too. I’m not even sure why I bought this, to be honest, it kind of happened without my conscious mind being involved, but I liked it a hell of a lot and I really want Miley to do an album of Janis Joplin covers. Her most recent incarnation seems to be leaning into the raspy, twangy nature of her voice and into rock much more than the pop music she used to do, and I like it a lot. The weirdest thing? The audience interaction is pretty good throughout the album, but the last song is Party in the USA, as you might expect, and the audience acts as if they’ve never heard the song before. It’s really weird.

Anyway, give it a look.

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Luther M. Siler

Teacher, writer of words, and local curmudgeon. Enthusiastically profane. Occasionally hostile.