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nomeata’s mind shares



Joachim Breitners Denkblogade



 



Tad Williams' Otherland - Part II

Thu, 29 Dec 2005 00:05:11 Z

Just before Christmas, I finished reading the second volume of Tad Williams' "Otherland" quadrilogy, "The river of blue fire". Most of what I said about the first part still holds, especially what I said about the similarty to "games" like Second World, and how Williams forsees where stuff like Telepresence leads us.

By now, some of the story lines have crossed or merged, others are still independant and a few new ones have begun. The largest part of this volume consists of helplessly stumbling through virtual worlds. By doing so, Williams has all freedoms to create strange and interesting settings. At quite a few spots I thought: Wow, that would make a great movie szene. I hope some visually gifted will someday make a (or better: a few) Otherland movies.

A few of these worlds are perverted versions of famous literature, notably H.G. Well's "War of the Worlds" and "The wizard of Oz". Oddly, I have only heard of these stories before, but just about the time I read about them in Otherland, they somehow re-appeared somewhere around me: The recent "War of the Worlds" movie (which I actually haven't seen) and the old "Wizard of Oz" movie being shown at a small local theater in Karlsruhe.

I'm looking forward to reading the next volume, but I have to wait for my brother to finish it, so I'll probably squeeze another book in between.




Ken Follett: Das zweite Gedächtnis

Tue, 11 Oct 2005 08:08:48 Z

Zuletzt las ich Ken Folletts "Das zweite Gedächtnis", ein Agententhriller, der zur Zeit der ersten Weltraumraketen spielt, und auch diese zum Thema hat. Das Buch ist solide Handwerksarbeit: Nicht überragend, ohne Extravaganzen, aber etwas fesselnd und nicht langweilig.

Das beherreschende Thema Anfangs war der Gedächtnisverlust des Protagonisten und wie er damit zurecht kommt. Die Bourne Identitty lässt grüßen, welche meiner Meinung nach den Vorgang besser dargestellt. Später dagegen dreht es sich um die üblichen Agentenfragen: Wer für wen gegen wen und warum. Nett dabei ist dass alle Akteuere sich privat aus Studienzeiten kennen, was nicht ohne Konsequenzen bleibt.

Sehr gestört hat mich die Sprache des Buches. Ich las es auf Deutsch und vermute, dass die Übersetzung schlecht ist, aber durchweg wirkte der Sprachstil gezwungen und unecht. Wer die Möglichkeit hat solle das Buch lieber auf Englisch lesen, ich kann mir bei Follettts Erfolg nicht vorstellen dass sein Stil wirklich so wenig flüssig ist.

Auch beobachtete ich ein Muster, das man gut aus vielen anderen, vorwiegend Amerikanischen, Büchern und Filmen kennt: Bösewichte, deren Person genauer beschrieben werden, die nicht nur böse sind, mit denen sich der Leser vielleicht streckenweise identifiziert, die kommen nicht vor ein Gericht und werden schon garnicht verurteilt - das würde ja den Leser vor den Kopf stoßen - aber die entkommen auch nicht - wo bleibt denn da die notwendige Gerechtigkeit. Solche Figuren sterben entweder durch einen tragischen Unfall oder begehen Selbstmord. Interessant ist da auch, was mit wirklich bösen Figuren passiert: Auch die kommen nicht vor Gericht - anscheinend ist vielen Autoren die Amerikanische Juristerei zu lasch - sondern werden, falls der Held der Geschichte zu "gut" für einen Mord ist, auf ähnliche Weise mit dem Tode bestraft. Achtet beim nächsten Hollywoodschinken mal darauf!

Mein Fazit für "Das zweite Gedächtnis": Wenn man es eh schon hat, dann kann man es getrost lesen. Extra deswegen zum Buchhändler laufen? Eher nicht, da gibt es bessere Bücher.




Tad Williams' "Otherland"

Wed, 28 Sep 2005 22:51:19 Z

I recently finished reading the first volume of Tad Williams' "Otherland" triology. I have mixed feelings about this book. First important thing to know when starting to read the book: It not only says "Volume One", it means "Volume One": The story is even more unfinished as the story of the ring after The Fellowship. Also, the reader needs quite some patience with the book as about the first half is not really exciting. I'm not saying it is not interesting, but it is not hard to stop in that half, so one might stop for good, missing the better half of the book.

The better half is the second one: By now, each of the half dozen seemingly independand stories have advanced far enough to be interesting for themselves, and the first slight connections become apparent. This separation in several tracks actually helped me through beginning: It is always a surprise what storie will be continued now, and for what story you have to wait. Also, only after some reading time the reader feels at home is the not-too-much, but still, different world. And of course, by now the conflict is fully visible, so that after some point, you just want to know what's going to happen.

The book was first published in 1996, when the Internet was just beginning to become mainstream. Nevertheless, Williams created a very convincing view of the world in a few decades. The ways in which the net is accessed in the futrure, from simple touchscreens over 3D goggle to neuron implants, are still the most probable way. There are sucessful experiments with a neuro prosthesis proving a 12x12 pixel black and white vision to blinds.

Also the way the net itself is described, a commercialized copy of the real world, with people paying a lot of realmoney for prestigous sims and strange buildings, but also with a non-commerial, distributed ran hackers' playground, is something that has already become real: Products like Second Life are fightening similar to Williams' vision: A world where people pay real world money for vitual estate, where they can do just about everything they could do offline: Finding friends, being creative, working, playing, showing off. I must admit, after having read the book, I would have tried Second Life myself, but as long as they don't provide a linux client. Although I still would prefer a free and distributed equivalent to Second Life. "Tree House" rather than "Inner District", for those who have read Otherland.