I certainly found it enjoyable. This was another case of what I feel is a generally ‘realistic’ novel with borderline magical realism. Which of course serves a narrative purpose.

A couple themes that stood out that stood out to me:


Modern/Post-Modern Similitude

There is one point where the primary characters are meeting with the visitors - and one character notes that a modern or post-modern secular outlook may have a tendency to smooth out the interesting differences between cultures. Makes me think of my domestic travels - where, yes, everywhere you go - it’s America. And not so much different in Canada, PR or Western Europe from what I’ve seen.

System Dependence of Technology

  • a technology makes sense/works in a particular larger ecosystem. Hence why some ‘less’ advanced techniques persist in the face of more efficient means

Slow Time

  • considering how to describe this - but I got a big kick out of the practice described where the monasteries pull away from outside history for certain significant periods of time and how this smooths out the importance of (or lack thereof) of events, history, people, etc. I have seen this idea applied elsewhere in regards to how much news to consume. It is clear that the media driven news cycle of describing the negatives (that grab) attention and maximizing their import over time has a severely negative impact in many ways on mental health and perspective.


by Neal Stephenson