February 1st, 2004

classic beard


Henry Dreyfuss' widest-spread and most lasting design contribution was his work with Bell Telephone, and particularly his work on the 500 Series.

But he also did

  • the round thermostat

  • long distance rail travel

  • the early land "instant" camera

and lots of other impressive things. Wow.

It looks like Amazon has the new paperback edition of one of his books on design. Will read for myself soon (the peterme.com link above goes to a more detailed review than I plan to write, so don't wait up :-)
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classic beard

books: Absolution Gap - Alastair Reynolds

Following Chasm City, Redemption Ark, and Revelation Space, Absolution Gap is a fine continuation (and from the looks of it, resolution) of the series. I suspect that one doesn't ever want to start here - although it reads like there is enough back-explanation, it does connect up with enough past that I'd definitely go find the others first.

Reynolds does do a reasonably good job of avoiding the Lensman trap, where technology ramps up rapidly enough that you're casually tossing around planets in book two. (See also Weber.) At the same time, there's a reasonable amount of scaling up, and a god-like source of new technology.

The epilogue wraps up more than it should - I think it "gives away" what could be another book, or at least reasonable line of development - on the other hand, if he wants to skip a few hundred years and start af the end of the epilogue, that would be an interesting exploration too.

The imagery itself is quite satisfying, Reynolds does a fine job of getting you to visualize things that would be hard to actually look at. Characters are developed with (and without) subtlety. Logical extremes are approached and then rolled over, as one should expect at this point. Weaponry that would make Iain Banks proud: "cache weapons were intensely vain", "Simply grasping how such weapons were in some way disadvantageous to something loosely analogous to an enemy would have required such a comprehensive remapping of the human mind that it would be pointless calling it human anymore." (hmm, out of context, that sounds pretensious; in context, it's the logical end point and makes perfect sense :-)

Next book on the pile: Paladin of Souls (Bujold.) Yeah, months behind, everyone else has read it by now so I probably won't write about it - but it means I am making progress on my bookstacks again...