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Old 06-15-2019, 02:19 PM
brossa is offline
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 1,148
Just finished it in a marathon of reading...

I enjoy Stephenson not so much for the plot or characters but for his style and for the passages that just jump off the page and sing; sometimes it's his humor, sometimes it's an infodump about something cool; sometimes it's an incredible description that makes the hair on my arms stand up. I got all of those things from this book. I also got them from Cryptonomicon, the Baroque Cycle, Snowcrash, and Anathem; not so much from REAMDE or Diamond Age.

Criticism spoiler:
Having said that, there was a lot of stuff here that didn't get fleshed out. The techno-utopia/Singularity taking place alongside Ameristan? Ameristan as a concept is great, but gets totally dropped. El's motivations are hard to understand; as are the reasons why all the uploaded souls are run on the same 'instance'. Rules get changed without explanation. Nobody rejects the Bitspace as 'fake' or 'immoral' or 'not really you, just a copy'. It didn't really affect my enjoyment of the things that I love Stephenson for, but the baling wire and bandaids holding it together were pretty visible.

Theme spoiler:
So I take it that the Cryptonomicon/Baroque Cycle/REAMDE meatspace is itself a simulation, and Enoch/Solly are avatars of an upper level universe meant to nudge the Dodgeverse into creating its own 'proper' subuniverse(s). The meatspace folk make a subuniverse to cheat death and keep their minds running in (an eventual) Dyson sphere, but there's no indication that they are going to boot up a second, or third, subuniverse with novel sentiences or different rules, like El might have wanted to do before he went crazy/didn't run two sims in parallel/whatever. Having 'fixed' the El-hijacked Bitspace, Enoch seems to vanish, his mission accomplished. Or maybe his goal was to keep the sim from getting wiped out somehow, and reaching the Singularity before Ameristan doomsday-nuked the world did the trick?

But will meatspace ever send an Enoch of their own into Bitworld, to get Bitworld to simulate a new reality one level down? They don't seem to die permanently (barring Sophia action), so they probably wouldn't be hung up on escaping mortality. Ah! Maybe they would be driven to do it by eventually running out of room on Land... Might Zula step into the Enoch role for Bitspace?