Read Caverns of Socrates by Dennis L. McKiernan Free Online
Book Title: Caverns of Socrates|
The author of the book: Dennis L. McKiernan
The size of the: 728 KB
City - Country: No data
Date of issue: November 30th 1995
ISBN 13: 9780451454768
Format files: PDF
Loaded: 2412 times
Reader ratings: 6.1
Read full description of the books:
Sometimes you finish a volume with the idea that hiding somewhere inside it was a good book, but that the poor thing got smothered with over-writing, poor direction, expository nonsense, or ham-handed diadicticism. In this case, I felt like there might have been not two, but *three* potentially good books which kind of crashed into one another and left nothing terribly satisfactory. Still, kudos for trying.
McKiernan, one of the Great Grey Sages of the late 70's/early 80's fantasy boom, here takes his signature Tolkien rip-off and wedges it into a quasi sci-fi premise: some famous rpg gamers get the chance to use a newly developed technology to live out their characters' lives in a game run by a new developed AI, which promptly goes haywire, stranding their minds inside the computer.
I say quasi sci-fi because, even by the very vague understanding which should be available to lay people, this book mistreats the sciences of neurology and computer engineering so very badly that I can't quite believe it was the product of simple ignorance. You have to work *hard* to be this crazypants about technology. It's not just the "AI goes crazy and becomes murderous" silliness common to a billion Hollwood movies, it's the overwrought supposed 'scientists' who try to earnestly debate metaphysics they simply misunderstand, from Plato's allegory of the Cave to the Mandarin's Dream. Worst of those is the caricature of a neuroscientist who claims science has categorically "proven" that there is no soul...a stupid character, badly handled.
All of this might be excusable if either the sci-fi shenanigans of trying to stump the AI, or the fantasy quest story in the game, were compelling. They're not. Worst of all, McKiernan doesn't seem to understand basic character motivations here: why in the world would players of a game want to literally give up their identities in order to allow some computer to puppet them around a fantasy landscape. That's not them playing, so why would they bother? Where's the benefit? And if they were that self-defeating, then how is that 'their' souls in the machine at all, if the AI has erased their basic memories and motivations?
I gave the book a sole extra star for ambition, but almost took it off again for the last chapter which is the most over-the-top silly part of all and which I will now ruin for you: having escaped the AI, the gamers now have their characters' magical powers from inside the fantasy game. Because apparently the laws of physics are easily broken by a little extra voltage across your synapses and some wishful thinking.
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Read information about the authorMcKiernan was born in Moberly, Missouri, where he lived until he served the U.S. Air Force for four years, stationed within US territory during the Korean War. After military service, he attended the University of Missouri and received a B.S. in electrical engineering in 1958 and an M.S. in the same field from Duke University in 1964. He worked as an engineer at AT&T, initially at Western Electric but soon at Bell Laboratories, from 1958 until 1989. In 1989, after early retirement from engineering, McKiernan began writing on a full-time basis.
In 1977, while riding his motorcycle, McKiernan was hit by a car which had crossed the center-line, and was confined to a bed, first in traction and then in a hip spica cast, for many months. During his recuperation, he boldly began a sequel to J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. The publisher Doubleday showed an interest in his work and tried to obtain authorization from Tolkien's estate but was denied. Doubleday then asked McKiernan to rewrite his story, placing the characters in a different fictitious world, and also to write a prequel supporting it. The prequel, of necessity, resembles The Lord of the Rings; the decision of Doubleday to issue the work as a trilogy increased that resemblance; and some critics have seen McKiernan as simply imitating Tolkien's epic work. McKiernan has subsequently developed stories in the series that followed along a story line different from those that plausibly could have been taken by Tolkien.
McKiernan's Faery Series expands tales draw from Andrew Lang's Fairy Books, additionally tying the selected tales together with a larger plot.
McKiernan currently lives in Tucson, Arizona.
(Biography taken from Wikipedia)
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