This book is another incredible ('science fiction' I suppose, but the term doesn't really do it justice...) novel by Neal Stephenson, which I have just finished (having read several of his other works in recent months). It absolutely doesn't disappoint. Stephenson must have one of the most brilliant, original and widely-educated minds in existence today. I found it quite staggering what he has achieved here, making such fascinating complexities even partially accessible to the layperson (if, like me, they aren't already well-versed in mathematics, physics, logic and quantum physics).
His ideas are truly breathtaking in their range, depth and....yes, even possibility. I'm no mathematician, and would have thought that such fiction, based (among other things) around the history of science and philosophy, would be tedious and boring - but it's not at all, in Stephenson's hands. It's also a ripping good sci-fi yarn, by the way, with some intriguing actual aliens, space travel, AND a touching love story in the background! There are some laugh-out-loud moments and fantastically memorable descriptions, all handled deftly, with a lightness of touch and a perfect, effortless style.
The best things don't usually come too easily: there will be those moments when you, as the reader, will need to 'hang in there', and not give up when the going gets a little, well, challenging.... The rewards will follow. It took me a good few weeks to reach the end, as it's at least 932 pages long, and I didn't have the whole blocks of free time that I would have loved to spend doing nothing but reading it ...It's the sort of book that makes you wish everyone else would go to bed earlier so you can return to it for another fix of entertaining cosmic exploration, while you delve into the very nature of consciousness itself....
This is a book for readers who wish to escape - for a good while - into a completely absorbing other world, from which they will eventually emerge, blinking, feeling wiser, cleverer, satisfied, and thoroughly grateful for the experience. I can't say this of many other writers.