clutching books in the minutes between meetings, hoarding paragraphs for the
Many would classify Freakonomics in
the same brilliant pop soft science as The Tipping Point. I like its questions. I am
uncomfortable with the answers. When I was a child, my faith in books was
absolute. If it had passed through a printing press, it was true. Now I am
almost content with questions. I do not need to have the answers circumscribed
and turgid with unassailability.
Diamond, though, is a tower ringed with a moat and defended by a flight of
dragons (who in their spare time drink tea and compose letters). Guns, Germs and
Steel provides the most sweetly reasonable (and practically unassailable)
explanation why – to stretch the argument a bit – the too old-ugly-white-guy and
too young-somewhat pretty-Filipina pairing is a heckuva lot more common than the
old-ugly-Filipino and young-somewhat pretty-white-girl version. Why did waves of
colonization move from West to East?
Collapse, my new Diamond book, is hard
to read. It makes me twitchy. More concretely, I now turn off the water whilst I
brush my teeth, because of Easter Island, the Anasazi, and bits of Montana. If
we can choose to fail or succeed as a society, I for one will not want to be the
freak who used too much water to clean her teeth, not to mention her fountain
pens, and did her share in the collapse of
In the reading queue
The House of Storms by Ian McLeod, set in
the same eerie-beautiful industrial-magical Victorian England as The Light Ages.
Living Next Door to the God of Love by Justina
Robson, whom the Guardian says is “One of the very best of the new British SF
writers.” Those are mighty big shoes,
Good reading, everyone.