I haven't read this book, nor heard of Tony Ballantyne. This blog article has me quite intrigued, though, and I may buy it to put on my already-too-long reading list.
Your attempt at describing it without telling the story prompted a few thoughts. The "alien presence invades mind and takes over body" or "takes over electronic or mechanical device" premise has been used many, many times. However, I don't recall ever reading watching, or hearing about an alien intelligence taking over a completely inanimate and immobile object - like a building.
Not just taking it over and controlling the elevators; but essentially turning it into, by some perspectives, a living, breathing, sentient being. Concrete and steel don't think, move and grow, but what if, in a somewhat overlapping dimension/reality, those materials are the building blocks of life?
@Duane: This blog article has me quite intrigued, though...
I'll tell you one thing ... you will never again take a trip to the monkey house in a zoo without seeing things from a completely different perspective that will make your eyes water (said Max, cryptically, his eyes watering as he recalls a particular scene that shall remain unspoken)
@Crusty: Thought I new all the Si_fi and had it on my shelf.
If you haven't read Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman, then that's another one that should be at the top of your list -- not science fiction or science fantesy -- like Dream London it's a genre all of its own -- and both are MUST READs!
@Crusty: Thought I new all the Si_fi and had it on my shelf.
Another brilliant one (again, not science fiction or science fantest -- hard to say just what genre) is The Golem and the Jinni -- it gives a real good feel for life in New York circa 1900 as seen through the eyes of a Golem and a Jinni -- it had me enthralled all the way through -- and you will never guess the ending in 1000 years!
I don't read much science fiction. In the ones that I have read, I find that even if you suspend disbelief there is always something that seems just plain ridiculous. The SF last book I read was "Sacre Bleu: A Comedy d'Art" by Christopher Moore and was about the use of a particular shade of blue in artwork. Since you have some leanings to art you may appreciate the book more than I did- it interweave the story with some of the well known artists like Van Gogh, Toulouse-Lautrec, Manet, Monet etc. In the end I was left with the feeling that the whole premise was implausible- the foundation of the story did not hold water.
I read your comments on Dream London with some interest, but with so much to read I am afraid that even with your reccomendation, I am not sure I will ever get to it.
@Antedeluvian: ...with so much to read I am afraid that even with your reccomendation, I am not sure I will ever get to it.
I do know what you mean -- I have a bookshelf here in my office that is groaning under the weight of the books that are still awaiting my attention -- but if you ever do find the time, let me know and I will be happy to loan you my copy.
@Antedeluvian: ...even if you suspend disbelief there is always something that seems just plain ridiculous.
The strange thing about this book is that, even though things are happening like buildings changing shape and moving around, it doesn;t actually seem ridiculous -- it's not like they are "walking" around -- and they don;t change while anyone is looking -- it's just that day-by-day things are a little bit different. It's almost as though someone (or something) is rewriting our reality ... but how could this be?
The strange thing about this book is that, even though things are happening like buildings changing shape and moving around, it doesn;t actually seem ridiculous
I don't need fiction to have strange things described- I am reading "The Last Stand" (Custer and crew circa 1879) and the author describes how some steamboats were capable of dragging themselves over the dry parts of the Missouri River using winches and the onboard steam engine and this could go on for months in the dry season.
Of course, if you were a real fan, you'd read it in Elvish (remember Tolkein was a philologist, and originally wanted to write TLOTR in Elvish - I'm glad he didn't, but it's still presented as a translation. Also, as far as style goes, remember Tolkein's specialty was old or middle English, so TLOTR is really a heroic poem (think Beowulf or Sir Gawain and the Green Knight) written in modern prose.)
I am reading it in Spanish so that I can keep up my foreign language skills. I really do love, though, how it is set up as being a translation of historical documents. For me, it really adds to the story.
Well, I've actually read it in Spanish, but that was a long time ago. One neat thing about the TLOTR is that since almost everything has a "back story" (much of which is in the Silmarillion), the story has added depth and texture, unlike some fantasy worlds which feel paper thin and inconsistent.
@aeroengineer - "I am reading it in Spanish so that I can keep up my foreign language skills." Nice idea - I might try find a French copy and do the same. I love some of the language in LOTR - was going to give a quote but there's just too much good stuff.
I often wonder how I'd manage in the LOTR world - where my technical skills would be useless. Wouldn't mind being a wizard, as long as I did not get tempted like Saruman....
David wrote: Nice idea - I might try find a French copy and do the same.
Personally, I try to avoid translations whenever possible since you are seeing the original work reïnterpreted by the translator, whose interpretation may be quite different from what you'd come up with on your own. It loses "sharpness", like when you make a copy of a copy [reference to Multiplicity (1996)]. Like all rules (including this one), there are exceptions. For example, "To be or not to be" is wonderful in German: "Sein... oder nicht sein: das ist die Frage!"
If you want to read something in French, go for something obscure. I recently completed Manuscrit trouvé à Saragosse [The Saragossa Manuscript, circa 1814] in unabridged form (Livre de Poche, 1993). IMO it should be savored in real time, which takes about two months. The 1964 movie is terrific, but represents only a small part of Potocki's masterpiece of nested and interlocking stories.
Another obscure work particularly suited to engineers is René Barjavel's Ravage [Devastation, 1943] Marvelous view of a technological future devastated when all man-made power fails.