I headed back from San Jose yesterday and used the time to finish up Volume 3 of The Baroque Cycle: System of the World. I could do with a little less mass in my bookbag, so I’m glad to be finished with the work.
But it was an enjoyable undertaking: ideas, gold, and the tying up of several plot threads that ran for the previous 1700-odd pages. One of my biggest complaints about Stephenson’s work is that he can’t relieve the exciting frission of tension he builds up in the preceding pages.
He acquits himself, decently this outing. There are no ridiculous deus ex machina devices ( I’m looking at you Cryptonomicon ), but I can’t say that the climactic resolutions that you feel you’re owed all happen ( some do, some don’t quite, and some flat-out don’t ). Nevertheless, to see how it all ends up between The King of The Vagabonds, a wily duchess, and an alpha-geek, after you’ve made the commitment to the previous tomes makes reading the 3rd book a bit of a requirement. You owe it to yourself at that point.
I actually can’t say too much more, because to do so would ruin the experience of the other books, so I’ll remain mute and wait for The Social Bobcat to finish it off.
I also had a chance to pay attention to my recently purchased Morrissey live at Earl’s Court record. One of the highlights was his cover of Patti Smith’s incongruously boppy reggae song about a disappearance / suicide “Redondo Beach”. Past that, Morrissey’s voice has aged wonderfully, turning from a fair champagne lilt to a richer, wiser, VSOP cognac. I recommend it highly for Morrissey fans, Patti Smith fans, and the Venn intersection therebetween ( Looking at you Mice-man ).