What a strange book. On one level it’s a book about Ariel who finds possibly the only copy of a cursed Victorian book in which a character finds a potion that enables one to travel into the mind of others. She is then persued by shadowy men in dark suits who want the book/to kill her – because the recipe for the potion in the book actually works – and can persue her into ‘mindspace’. Does that reminds you of anything? It reminds me of quite a lot: ‘Being John Malkovich’, ‘The Matrix’,’Vurt’ by Jeff Noon (In fact ‘Vurt’ is a good comparison for a number of reasons). And there’s a god who is a huge mouse, of course.
On the other level, we are dealing with quantum mechanics, Jaques Derrida’s ‘Différance’, theology, the big bang, Newtonian cause and effect, thought experiments, homoeopathy and the places where they might all meet up. Oh, and a lot of it feels like the heroine – and you – are in a computer game.
This is a lot for one to get ones head around. I know a little about quantum mechanics & physics, nothing about Derrida (though I sort of grasped what was going on), but I was left with the nagging feeling that Scarlett Thomas might have bitten off a little too much. She descibes what ‘Machine Code’ is for computers and gets it wrong, so I’m not sure how much of the rest of the brainy stuff she’s got right. I’m guessing most of it.
I forgot to say: I really enjoyed it. It’s fun, brainy, well written. Although… there is perhaps a little too exposition – it’s quite handy that half of the characters are professors or gods and know enough about these concepts to chat about them for pages at a time.
(Note: This is not meant as a proper ‘book review’, just my shallow, random thoughts on it. This is a blog for Dawkin’s sake.)
There’s an interesting interview with the author HERE where she talks about this book and the one before.