Web of Angels

June 20th, 2005

A brief note, first, on how I read. I generally have at least two books going at any given time. I’ve got one I’m reading at home, and one I’m reading at the gym. Generally the gym book takes a bit longer to finish, because I’m only reading it in 30-40 minute intervals, a few times a week at best. Web of Angels was a particularly poor choice for a gym book, which I should have known going in, because I’ve read Ford’s stuff before. The book begins in the far future with a nameless boy fleeing with a sort of extremely high-tech laptop (obviously stolen) from a death squad. Interestingly, it doesn’t seem to be the theft which motivated the chase, but rather something he had done with the “webset;” apparently certain sorts of programming are illegal, and he’s particularly precocious. He finds refuge with a strange woman who tells his fortune using animated Tarot cards, and sets him on a path that will acquire him a mentor in the illegal (but not necessarily unethical) profession of “webspinning.” Ford, writing in 1980, postulated a sophisticated, instantaneous data transfer network connecting the many worlds of this book called “The Web,” which is a pretty impressive piece of prognostication. The rest of the book is divided between the young man’s (who takes the name “Grailer Diomede”) coming of age, and a strange mystery which he is hired to solve. The first part involves all the usual, the learning of his craft, moving on to “Journeyman” tasks, falling in love, losing love, and attaining mastery if not happiness. The second part was somewhat confusingly complicated, although it might have been clearer if I hadn’t read it in chunks as I mentioned. It all ties together in the end though, with a conclusion that is is satisfying and sad at the same time. As Pam mentions in her review, Ford experiments quite a bit with his use of language in this book, which is fascinating if you’re into it, but some are not, so consider yourself forewarned. Recommended, with those reservations. I’m looking forward to a more deliberate and less episodic reread.

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