I've been reading ....
Reading is both a professional-development activity and a pleasure. What have you been reading lately? Tell us about it....
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Part of the problem comes from the age of the book. There are bad projections and missed predictions that get in the way a little (holographic TV and flying cars, but no cell phones), but the pre-feminist society of the book is especially distracting, especially in a book that's trying to challenge taboos about sexuality and relationships.
I enjoyed the early chapters, of Michael Smith learning to interact as a human, and the political machinations that (a little too conveniently) made him infinitely wealthy. But when it waded deep into religion, I lost a lot of my interest. The Fosterite church probably seemed scandalous at the time for its embrace of gambling and sex, but to me it just came across as much ado about nothing. And frankly, a critique of cults wrapped up in a story in which people really can perform miracles just by "grokking in fullness"... didn't really work for me.
Michael is almost impossible to relate to as a character, because he's so alien. But the other characters aren't much to latch onto either, especially as they get more involved with Michael's new religion. It says something that the most relate-able character in the last half of the book is Jubal Harshaw, the über-genius polymath who manipulates the president of the world into being Michael's accountant, dictates best-selling books while eating breakfast, and occasionally practices medicine when he can be bothered to.
It was worth reading – even the publisher's cut is a long book, but I finished it – but not as "classic" as I was hoping for.
Well, I'm supposedly a contributor to a weblog on urban infrastructure, so it seemed like a good choice.