Review: Distraction

I found a pointer to Distraction as a political thriller that was good to read in an election year.  I don’t think Distraction fits that bill particularly well – Interface does – but any excuse to read Distraction is a good one.

Distraction benefits from two related strengths of Sterling’s: he sees technical issues and societal trends with unique insight and he expresses his insight precisely and enjoyably. I found Distraction’s plot and characterization to be excuses to move the action from observation to observation and to render them for maximum effect.  That was great as I found the observations well worth the time.  A couple favorites:

You can’t trust abstract mathematics, sir; it always turns out to be practical.

The climate’s in flux now. You can’t shelter whole environments under airtight domes. Only two kinds of plants really thrive in today’s world: genetically altered crops, and really fast-moving weeds. So our world is all bamboo and kudzu now, it has nothing to do with the endangered foxglove lady’s slipper and its precious niche on some forgotten mountain. Politically, we hate admitting this to ourselves, because it means admitting the full extent of our horrible crimes against nature, but that’s ecological reality now. That’s the truth you asked me for. That is reality. Paying tons of money to preserve bits of Humpty Dumpty’s shell is strictly a pious gesture.

Country like France gets along great without science. They just munch some more fine cheese and read more Racine. But you take America without science, you got one giant Nebraska.

These are the kinds of ideas that kept bringing me back to Heinlein, and will keep me reading Sterling.  Distraction is chock full.


Comments are closed.