Posted on Sep 8, 2005

For the past few months I’ve been working my way through a fair number of books, certainly more than was the case for the previous twelve months. For the first time I read a couple of electronic books on my Palm Tungsten, mostly as a result of Charlie Stross’s Accelerando and the need to stand around at airports, taxi ranks, train stations, etc.

Reading on the Tungsten using plucker was much better than I expected, particularly after I added some anti-aliased fonts. In the past I’ve tried reading books on a desktop or laptop LCD screen and always hated it. Perhaps it’s because I can hold the Tungsten more like a book, nearer to my face, that it feels more natural.

Accelerando itself is enjoyable, though I have a feeling that it will age very badly - in fifty years time who will know what a 419 scam is? Perhaps that’s why the technical companion exists. The book didn’t work as well as the early Ken MacLeod and the Scottish references seem completely incidental, whereas with MacLeod it actually seems important to the story. Greg Egan does science better than Charlie, but then Greg is way out in front of everyone in that respect.

Also on the Tungsten I read Cory Doctorow’s Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom and enjoyed it. Eastern Standard Tribe is proving more of a challenge, but in part that because I have less of the correct kind of time left to read it.

Paper reading has progressed at a much higher rate, though by volume eight of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series I realised that I wasn’t paying proper attention. One advantage of electronic books became obvious at that point - I couldn’t recall mention of a character (Matt Cauthon) in book eight. Scanning through the pages to check would have been laborious, but grep would have found it quite quickly. For some reason I’d convinced myself that book ten was the last in the series when I started it, but about a hundred pages from the end it was clear that things weren’t going to get finished. The remainder still lie ahead.

Book four of Ian Irvine’s The Well of Echoes Quartet was annoying, if only because it left a large number of issues and story threads unresolved. I’m not sure that I’ll have the patience to follow Nish’s story further.

Next on the shelf is Neal Stephenson’s The Confusion. After enjoying Cryptonomicon I had very high hopes for Quicksilver, but found the first half of the book hard going - overall it must have taken a year to finish. Here’s hoping that The Confusion isn’t so difficult.