Saturday, March 25, 2006

Computer frailties

Finished Transmission. Captivating book. The latter half is truly gripping. I enjoyed it because of its very contemporary plot juxtaposing human dreams with the reality of capricious computers and their frailties. Do take a look at what Walter Kirn writes in NYT:
“The fact that all contemporary fiction is now, by definition, historical fiction is hard to deny, but it's much, much harder to face, of course -- particularly for talented young novelists, like Britain's Hari Kunzru, who don't want to cede the present entirely to cable news personalities and Internet posters. Kunzru -- who turned down a prize for his first novel because he felt the London newspaper that sponsored it, The Mail on Sunday, had ''pursued an editorial policy of vilifying and demonizing refugees and asylum-seekers,'' and who went on to win a spot on Granta magazine's prestigious list of the best young British novelists -- is as up-to-date as writers come, with interests in technology, pop culture and the economics of globalization. If anyone deserves a shot at breaching the literary space-time continuum and doing what logic says can't be done, it's Kunzru.
''Transmission'' is his brave attempt. Making this exercise in timeliness even tougher than it has to be, the novel revolves around computers, which become obsolete even faster than morning papers. Even when they're hooked up to the Web and continually fed with software updates, computers now go to seed within a year, but put them into the pages of a novel, away from their modems, and the things are stillborn. A plot formed around their latest capabilities and influenced by their current limitations is irrelevant by the time the pages are spell-checked. It's science fiction in reverse.”