Thursday, May 26, 2005

Angels & Demons

Overseas flights are great for reading books. Despite Virgin's awesome entertainment system, I manage to finish the last 2/3 of Dan Brown's prequel to The Da Vinci Code. The comparisons are unavoidable.

They start off the same: A ritualistic murder in a facility (CERN vs The Louvre). Hints and mystery and clues in the bodies. Then art leads the way to uncover secret conspiracies that will take over the world. Both books deal with religious matters, and although Dan Brown states that his intentions are not anti-religious and he is based only on facts, that is clearly not the mood at the end. The problem (and his greatest strength probably) is that he does not distinguish clearly between fact and fiction. For example, He goes on to discuss the Bing Bang and elementary particles and CERN and all that, and at the end there is antimatter trapped with magnetic fields ready to meet matter and explode and the CERN director has this super-duper aircraft that flies from NY to Switzerland in 1 hour. The unaided reader will either accept all those statements or disprove them both - something that is clearly not the case.

Da Vinci is more mature and well written than Angels & Demons, the latter being far from a bad book. In A&D the final sequences before the bomb timer is running out are magnificent. The transitions between chapters are excellently put there, which just makes you want to read more. Da Vinci has the same characteristics even better well crafted. I'm sure that after the movie version of Da Vinci becomes a hit (which it will) they will go back and film Angels & Demons also.

My next book on the list is Diamond Jared's Guns, Germs and Steel, which discusses the rise and fall of human societies. They guy has some amazingly condensed writing without being tough to read. And then I'll go back to Feynman. From a mere 56Kbit/s connection, over and out.