Review: 2040

2040 (Graham Tottle; Cameron Publicity & Marketing Ltd) is a very odd book. Ostensibly an SF novel about skulduggery on two timelines, it is a actually a ramble through a huge gallimaufry of topics including most prominently the vagaries of yachting in the Irish Sea, an apologia for British colonial administration in 19th-century Africa, and the minutiae of instruction sets of archaic mainframe computers.

It’s full of vivid ideas and imagery, held together by a merely serviceable plot and garnished with festoons of footnotes delving into odd quarters of the factual background. Some will dislike the book’s politics, a sort of nostalgic contrarian Toryism; many Americans may find this incomprehensible, or misread it as a variant of the harsher American version of traditionalist conservatism. There is much worthwhile exploding of fashionable cant in it, even if the author does sound a bit crotchety on occasion.

I enjoyed it, but I can’t exactly recommend it. Enter at your own risk.

7 thoughts on “Review: 2040

  1. Interesting. Wonder how the politics would come across to me.

    And I suspect the S/360 isn’t archaic enough by this definition…

  2. >And I suspect the S/360 isn’t archaic enough by this definition…

    No. No, it isn’t.

  3. That reminds me vaguely of a short-lived South African SF TV series called “Charlie Jade”, which was ostensibly about a private detective operating across three different timelines, but wound up being a vehicle some some kind of incomprehensible South African political allegory.

  4. Sounds moderately Neil Stephenson-ish, though the politics are different.

  5. Let’s see – the 704/7040 had a user discovered accidental instruction, the Store Zero (STZ). Is that old enough?

  6. I remember an old mainframe…

    In the 1970s, the local technical college had an old Xerox mainframe on which they donated time to High School computer clubs. We had to actually go there to submit decks of punch cards for FORTRAN batch jobs, but we got a dial-up teletype terminal for BASIC.

    Anyway… someone discovered that the system PAGE command crashed the computer. A couple of guys with a malicious sense of humor would send a couple of taunting messages to the console and then type “PAGE 100″ and that was it until the computer was booted again.

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