‘He’s so perverse, Robert’, said Manny at lunch today. We’d been talking about the ending of Contact, which I’d just finished, where there is a message in Pi which proves that there is a Maker. The Maker has put a series of ones and noughts in Pi which make a circle if you care to set them out thus. Manny is quite taken with this. So, I’m like ‘Get off the grass. How could that possibly prove the existence of a Maker?’
‘Yes, that’s just what Robert thinks’, said Manny. I couldn’t tell if he was surprised or sad.
Call me perverse then. If this were the message:
I’d be convinced. But a random sequence of digits in a infinite number making a random shape? Uh huh.
As for the book as a whole, it ran hot and cold for me: I felt like there was too much detail for a start. I wondered if that was because really two people wrote it. His wife must have had a huge input and one wonders why it isn’t a joint publication. There are rambling passages about culture, the point of which was lost on me. And it felt too much like a labour of love, like the authors were too close to it. If I’d got to edit it, I would have cut out a hundred pages. Even though the authors had a whole complex world in their heads when they were writing it, it doesn’t necessarily mean all of it should be imparted – spelled out, even – to the reader.
It warms up, and if the first 150 pages or so leave you discouraged, I’d hang on, the last half or so is better.