Henrik Carlsson's Blog

All things me.

posted this note on and tagged it with Neal Stephenson Reading Seveneves

The Moon blew up without warning and for no apparent reason. It was waxing, only one day short of full. The time was 05:03:12 UTC. Later it would be designated +0.0.0, or simply Zero.

Neal Stephenson, Seveneves

That’s a great opening to a book.

(The lawn needed mowing today, so I bit the bullet and started listening to this one.)

Fall; or Dodge in Hell

posted this read on and tagged it with Ameristan Fall; or Dodge in Hell Neal Stephenson Reading
Read Fall; or Dodge in Hell

Today I finished listening to Fall; or Dodge in Hell. It was quite a thrill ride but I wouldn’t mind if it had been just half or 2/3 as long. Longwinded digressions and extreme detail seems to be a hallmark of Stephenson and a lot of times it does help build the world but at times it gets tedious.

Before I make it sound like I didn’t like it, let me make it clear that I did. I liked it very much. Parts of it was great.

In Stephenson’s own words it’s two books in one. One is a near future techno-thriller and the other one a high fantasy novel. The techno-thriller is about the unexpected death of Richard ”Dodge” Forthrast whose brain gets scanned and ”rebooted” in a digital afterlife called ”Bitworld” and the goings on in the physical world around that afterlife. The high fantasy part is what takes place in ”Bitworld”.

With that out of the way I’m going to dive into specifics about the plot so stop reading this blog post and start reading the book if you want to avoid spoilers.

The techno-thriller part is simply amazing. Here the details and wordiness is nothing but positive and results in a believable and interesting near-future. I especially like the parts with the alleged nuking of Moab and the adventure into ”Ameristan”, rural parts of America where the idea of truth and science has more or less disappeared completely in the wake of what we today call fake news. That seemed like the premise of one truly great 350 pages book. Honestly, I think everybody should read the book at least for this first part. If it doesn’t work for you, stop once Dodge’s brain is ”rebooted”.

That’s the next part, the part where Dodge is ”reborn” as Egdod and creates ”Bitworld”. It’s a grand creation myth that is at times entertaining and at parts indulgent. The first stream-of-conscience part where Edgod emerges from the noise of the simulation though is great writing.

Later comes the part that I didn’t care for at all, the part about Adam and Eve. That is where I stopped the book for quite some time and felt a lot of resistance to taking it back up again. I imagine that’s where @jack got stuck, 500 pages in. The good news is that if one pushes on, it get’s better. Once the Lord of the Rings-esque tale of Prim begins I was hooked again.

I was wondering how a book like this could conclude. How does one end this kind of story? In the End Stephenson managed to wrap it up in a suitable way, without it feeling too contrived.

So that’s it. Again, you should all read this book. It’s not the greatest book, but it’s very interesting, quite topical in the world today, and entertaining.

Side note: If you, like me, read the parts about Moab and the road trip through rural America, and watch Folding Ideas’s ”In Search of a Flat Earth” video more or less simultaneously, you will see the dystopian fantasy of Ameristan doesn’t seem at all like a fantasy.

posted this note on and tagged it with Fall; or Dodge in Hell Neal Stephenson Reading

The reading continues. After finishing Life 3.0 I resumed my listening of Neal Stephenson’s Fall; or Dodge in Hell. This one is a wild ride. Such an interesting premise and great start, then kind of slow for while and know (Prim’s journey) it’s great again.

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posted this read on and tagged it with A.I. Attention Life 3.0 Reading
Read Life 3.0

I did finish reading Max Tegmark’s Life 3.0 earlier this week and as I wrote the other day I don’t know if it was a great book or a quite tedious one. Probably both. The questions Tegmark discusses are really important ones for the future, and he does it in a well informed way. The problem is that it just goes on. I think you could get the same points across just as well in half the amount of words.

It is possible that it’s a problem with my attention span. A few weeks back I rewatched CGP Greys video ”Thinking about attention” and just as the first time I watched it, it did made me think about my attention a bit more. I think it’s quite possible that rewatching this was what got me to listen to an audiobook (The Drawing of the Three) when mowing the lawn last week instead of listening to a podcast, and this was certainly what made me keep listening to books. So maybe I’m out of practice. The argument agains this is that I very much enjoyed Norse Mythology even though that one has felt like a slog when I was out of practice. So if that one didn’t make me lose interest, maybe the problem is Life 3.0 and not me.

Though ”losing interest” isn’t the right way to put it. I was interested in Life 3.0 all the way through.

I think this is a long way of saying that this is a book that most people probably should read or listen to, because it’s a really important one, but it’s likely not to be the greatest book you’ve ever read.

posted this note on and tagged it with A.I. Life 3.0 Reading

Also I’m currently reading Max Tegmark’s Life 3.0 and I can’t for the life of me decide if I really like it or if it’s really tedious. Perhaps both. The first few chapters where great but as it goes on it really goes on, and on, and on, and on.

Moreover1 it discusses a lot of similar topics, and based on similar sources, as Kurzgesagt – In a Nutshell. That is both a good thing and a bad thing. It’s interesting to nod along to things I already knew from Kurzgesagt, while it’s also tedious to be told things I already know from Kurzgesagt.

As you can tell, I’m really mixed on this book so far. Currently I have a little over two hours left on it.


  1. Life 3.0 should be subtitled ”Moreover, the Book”, alternatively it should be accompanied by a drinking game in which you take a shot for every ”moreover” in the book. You’ll be braindead within a chapter. 

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posted this read on and tagged it with Neil Gaiman Norse Mythology Reading
Read Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

During the weekend, after I finished ”The Drawing of the Three”, I also realized that I only had two hours left of listening time on Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology and since I was driving around doing errands I just kept on listening and late that same day I finished this one as well.

When I was a kid I was somewhat interested in Norse mythology so some of the stories where more or less familiar to me. I feel like there’s got to have been something about this book that I didn’t like because I’ve been in the process of listening to it and never really finishing it for even longer than I was with The Drawing of the Three. I also felt more resistance inside myself to start listening to this one again.

That being said, right now I can’t remember anything in particular that I disliked about it, and the last two hours of it that I have in fresh memory where great. The stories themselves are fascinating and Gaiman is such a great writer. It also help’s that this audiobook was read by Gaiman himself and he is also a fantastic reader, really bringing the text to life.

posted this read on and tagged it with Reading The Dark Tower The Drawing of the Three
Read The Drawing of the Three by Stephen King

I finally finished ”reading” (listening to) Stephen King’s The Drawing of the Three today. As I’m looking back through the archives of this blog now I realize that I started this book in 2018. Wow, that’s a long time ago.

As I’ve written before, I’m not really a reader anymore and even thought I want to read more I find it hard to get around to doing it. Earlier this week however I decided to listen to an audio book while mowing the lawn and since it’s a fairly large lawn I managed to listen for over an hour. Because I had already started The Drawing of the Three and almost but not quite finished it, I decided to give it a go.

And boy am I glad I did. I liked the book all the way through, even though I stopped reading and listening to it for so long, and the ending was just awesome. Great climax and perfect lead in to whatever happens next in the Dark Tower series.

posted this note on and tagged it with Books Comics Reading

Oh yeah, this year I also read ”House of X”/”Powers of X”. Thanks The Incomparable.

On reading and (not) being a reader (anymore)

posted this article on and tagged it with Books Reading

I still have a hard time to reconcile the fact that reading fiction, that was such a large part of my identity as a child and a teen, is something that I do so rarely these days. Part of that is how slowly I get through even books I really love from authors that are among my favourites.

Case in point, William Gibson and his ”Blue Ant Trilogy”. According to my Reading page I read Pattern Recognition in 2013 and now, in august 2020, I finished Zero History. I really like Gibson and this trilogy has been a blast but still it’s taking my seven years to get through.

I wonder how much time I’ve spent browsing timelines and listening to people going on and on about the same things in podcasts during those same seven years.

That being said, this year might be a bit different. As I said, I’ve just finished Pattern Recognition but I’m also half-way through a bunch of books, some audio books some paper/Kindle books. I occasionally actually manages to convince myself to read a bit for pure pleasure. That makes me happy.

posted this reply on and tagged it with Reading Ted Chiang
Replied to https://cheri.micro.blog/2020/08/16/hey-ted-chiang.html by Cheri Cheri (cheri.micro.blog)

Hey, Ted Chiang has a short story up on Medium this week. 📖 He always blows my socks right off.

[Anxiety is the Dizziness of Freedom](https://onezero.medium.com/anxiety-is-the-dizziness-of-freedom-b5ab45cae2a5)

Thanks for pointing us to this one. I’m currently reading Chiang’s ”Stories of Your Life and Others” and really liking it. Will add this one to my reading list and read it as soon as I’ve finished ”Seventy-Two Letters”.

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