I tried doing this once before with my "Currently Reading" mini-blog, but found out that I often wouldn't update it enough, due to both procrastination and a slower reading pace (thanks to College). Because books seem to be so integral to my creative sanity, and are a large part of any "decorating" efforts I tend to make, I do like the idea of attempting say a bit more about what I'm reading and why.

I'll start this off with Stephen Baxter's Manifold: Origin. Baxter is an often incredible writer in my fairly small, but heavily enjoyed, category of ex-physicists who write great books that I often pick off a shelf automatically. (The other in this category is David Brin.) The problem with some of Baxter's novels is that as much as I enjoy them they can often be slow reading for me. This book actually sat in my "Currently Reading" box up to the point where I got tired of it and hid it away in a template redesign. It has been on my shelf with a bookmark in it for several months now. So the book has come back into the vogue of my conscious because it has become my coffee break book at work now that I've finished scribing my Meta-War tale (which I'm thinking I'll release in its entirety relatively shortly; probably after I scribe something of a Cliff's Notes).

The book took some time for me to get into it. It started strong, and I liked the previous two in the series, but this one's large focus on anthropology had me bogged down in much of the beginning because I had a hard time slogging through it. Anthropology is one of the few subjects where I have little interest. Finally, one 15 minute break at a time I've reached the next part and peeled off more layers of the onion. In this new part Stephen Baxter has started to explore the larger meta-world one small jigsaw piece at a time and this is where Baxter really shines. Like myself, Baxter is awesome when playing with larger scales and structures, but his detail in "typical" story places such as character development is often somewhat wanting. But that's what I read his books for. (On the other hand, I've got Neal Stephenson's Quicksilver on my shelf mocking me... I'm not sure I'll read it. Stephenson seems to have delved into the complete inverse in which he mounts large amounts of detail and development and tangential focus, but the overall larger picture seems to be out of focus and fuzzy. An interesting take on things, but I'm certain the mountainous volume is much more than I can muster.)

Manifold: Origin, like the two preceding it, is an exploration of Fermi's Paradox ("if there is intelligent life out there, why haven't we noticed it?"). One book conjectured, "it's out there if we look in the right places". The second theorized, "it's all around us, we just haven't noticed". This one points to the current theory in Anthropology that in at least one point in world history there were multiple intelligent hominid species on this planet. It seems to be that it is then taking that idea and pushing it back around the first and second conjectures in new ways.

Reading it at Coffee Breaks re-energizes some of my spirit and gives me time to think about what I read earlier, and balances the some of the slowness of my take to the book. As new revelations are slowly building I find myself awaiting the next coffee break...