Thursday, May 3, 2007

Mumbo Jumbo

I definitely have to stick with Josh on this one...I really didn't get the book (Schild's Ladder), and didn't enjoy it enough to put the effort into digging deeper into it. There really seemed to be no real story or plot line, or maybe there was, but Egan used so much scientific jargon that it was buried in a mess of robotic sounding mumbo-jumbo. In most of the other selections in class, the authors made it possible for a layman, like me, to skip over some of the more scientific terms and still have a feel for what was happening; Egan did not.

Also, the other books in this class, in one way or another, have all drawn out some kind of emotional response, or made me feel sympathy or compassion for the characters. In attempting to fathom how the themes depicted in the books might play out in our world today, I began to actually get quite involved in some of them. Being someone that really deliberately tries to stay away from science fiction, this was really saying a lot for me. I did not have any sense of this after reading Schild's Ladder, however, and it was kind of a let down to finish the class with a sour taste in my mouth. The characters seemed cold, disconnected, even emotionless at times. While I realize that this is a science fiction novel about future computer technologies and quantum physics, etc, etc, I was still hoping for some sense that these charaters had some humanity buried in them. That must have been lost under the heaping pile of mumbo-jumbo as well.

In conclusion, I wish the "Mimosa Station" had referred to some sort sort of Sci-Fi bar or club, because that's what I really needed when I finished this book...a drink!


Amanda said...

I agree that this book was very detached from the reader. I struggled to finish it (and I admit, even now, have a couple chapters left).
However, this book did raise many good questions and concerns. I still do not know if I understand the qusp (sp? sorry doing this from Neenah, no books here). It is an interesting concept and I wonder how many people would jump at that chance to be "immortal" and how many would eventually come to the conclusion immortality is not as good as it may seem. Sure, on one hand you know you have time for everything you want to do, but how precious is that to you? I think may would find things have less meaning than the would if they had a lifespan limitation.
Because of these quesitons, I think this was a good novel that brought in a new presepective in what makes a human a human-death and being mortal.

Sarah said...

It's interesting going from the somewhat releiving air of Snow Crash with it's interesting plot and humor, to Schild's Ladder. Besides this novel, I felt that Neuromancer was hard to get through. I was surprised because it is, I guess, on the 100 books you must read list or something like that, but maybe I got lost in the content (if I remember correctly it was pretty 'rich' so to speak).

Mike Anzia said...

i found the novel interesting, although a bit complicated at times. Truly I think that someone who reads this book should have some kind of background in both human psychology and (quantum) physics.

At times the book was agreeably complicated by the use of scientific terminology, but I don't mind it so much (since my mind operates strange like that) because of we don't know what (post)human morality and culture will be like. We make our assumptions based on what WE observe in our time. Maybe in Schild's Ladder these terms are commonplace and everyone (in the novel) knows what they mean. But for us, its quite complicated since in our time, the average person doesn't know what any of those things mean. If I asked anyone what a qusp is, I could almost guarantee that 95% of people wouldn't know what I was talking about - not that we have anything like that anyways.

Anthony said...

I feel completely inadequate when it comes to science or math, yesh that’s why I’m an English major, and I have to agree that some of the more technical details of Schild’s Ladder were off-putting at times. Obviously Egan has strong scientific background, but regardless of that fact I’m sure the feeling of unease and detachment was Egan intention all along. So in a way he was eliciting the absence of attachment to facilitate the feeling of detachment to the body and materialism in general, by creating this atmosphere and then pairing it with the questions of immortality and detachment from all the normal facets of humanity we perhaps take for granted. After getting past some of the technicalities I really enjoyed the themes especially in relation to my ambivalence to primitive aspects of humanity and an interesting take on immortality. The classic scenario of full immortality has often been accepted as being more of a curse than something to be sought after as after awhile existence grows wearisome. Yet in Schild’s Ladder the Qusp allows one to live as long or as short as they wish. Perfect freedom it would seem to choose how long you will live, and how you will live by having the freedom to choose gender, corporeal/a corporeal, and small physical traits. A utopia in a certain sense as long as one doesn’t mind transcending their humanity for what may be considered “Post-humanity”, and one must be careful of course to maintain their “selves” in a realm of boundless possibility.