Not really up to the standards I’ve set for Gleick. It’s not really quite clear what he wants to do with his subject. The fictional portrait drawn in Stephenson’s Baroque Cycle sounds like it’s drawn from the same sources but gives a more vivid picture.
A very interesting history but you won’t find any salicious details about depraved emperors or famous battles. Well worth reading if you know a bit about Roman history beforehand.
McDonald likes submerging himself in other settings and getting into the heads of their (near) future inhabitants. He’s obviously done a lot of research for this book, and from my bookish North European viewpoint his future fractured India rings true. It’s certainly easy to fall into the cadence of Anglo-English when reading some of the interior monologues, but it goes beyond that, to an appreciation of the culture and mores that nuanced and well written.
The framing SF plot (rogue AIs planning to do something) is beside the point. The central story is of the characters and their interactions.
A sequel to New Moon. The series can now be read as a dialog and critique of The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, which I must confess I have never read, and purposefully written to make Heinlein, his epigones, and the fans who think his style of SF is the only real SF choke on a bag of dicks. Highly recommended.
A great biography over a man many times called great. A good overview of the key points of his career, wrapped up in a nice framework of history and anecdote.