Napier's Bones: math and mysticism make for great international adventure


17 Responses to “Napier's Bones: math and mysticism make for great international adventure”

  1. Anonymous says:

    I actually just finished reading this book, for those too worried about the math i wouldn’t. The numerates don’t deal with anything really mathematical it’s more akin to magic then anything real.

    It’s a really good read though, just don’t be surprised if it’s more magic than mathematics.

  2. pKp says:

    I am suddenly reminded of the magic system in Mage: The Ascension (oldish pen&paper RPG). At least, the non-silly aspects of it.

    Other than that…seems pretty cool. And what Skroo said…my “BUY THIS” bookmark folder is about a hundred links long buy now. I guess I need a better-paying job.

    • Latro says:

      Actually, this would not be out of place in an Unknown Army RPG session. It sounds exactly as one of the obsessive-compulsive schools of “postmodern magic” that form half the backbone of it.

  3. dobbsthedog says:

    i’m just in the middle of this book and am really enjoying it!
    i was lucky enough to receive a special limited edition hardcover copy from the author. =)
    and i’m really happy to see it reviewed here, on one of my favourite sites!

  4. craiig says:

    Math isn’t numbers! It’s the study of relationships and patterns. Mathematicians are primarily concerned with examining the relationships between mathematical concepts, not with collecting, enjoying numbers. Infact, even the study of numbers (Number Theory) isn’t about studying particular numbers, but the relationships and patterns they form.

    Barf on this book (and everything else) for math==numbers.

  5. Anonymous says:

    This is interesting.

  6. Thylacinthine says:

    I always thought maths was magic. Just ordered this. Can’t wait!

  7. Chevan says:

    I read this book based off Cory’s recommendation, and I have to say I wasn’t impressed. I felt that the basic premise of the book – that certain people could control numbers – was very poorly explained and implemented. I thought there was a lot of potential to geek out and get into the mathematical rules and probabilities governing nature, but instead I got some generic plot-device handwaving about numbers floating around doing things.

    Basically, I read the book expecting speculative fiction and found it to be basic fantasy.

  8. damiro says:

    This sounds good, whether or not the numenaries manipulate “math” or “magic.” The powers of the mind are very close to magic anyway, as anyone who has passed calculus and been amazed at Newton et al.’s genius could tell you. If you’re looking for another good book incorporating the earthly and mystical powers of numbers, check out Neil Stephenson’s Anathem–as I’m sure many of you have already.

  9. AnthonyC says:

    This is definitely getting added to my reading list.

    I hope it’s good. I find the premise… troubling, though. If you told me the Numerates could change the laws of physics, or physical constants, or the statistical distribution of particles, energy, and momentum in a system, I would have no complaints at all. But changing *math?* Math just *is.* You choose a set of premises, and theorems inexorably follow, whether you want them to or not, whether you’re aware of them or not.

  10. jphilby says:

    Damn great idea. Now see, kids, why you should pay attention to your math teacher?

  11. Rotwang says:

    This sounds excellent – I’ll have to check it out.

  12. Anonymous says:

    The math background to the plot in this novel reminds the one to Arkady & Boris Sgtrugatsky’s Definitely Maybe.

  13. Anonymous says:

    If you like something different, intelligent and thought-provoking, Derryl’s your man. I also recommend his anthology Wasps at the Speed of Sound. The two stories I remember best were the title one, and a reality TV show take on watching the last member of an endangered species expire.

  14. codersquid says:

    There was less math in the book than I was hoping for. When I read the premise I had expected there to be something akin to different magical ‘styles’ based on different maths e.g. set theory, topology, logic, etc. that aside, I did enjoy the book, and might get a sequel.

  15. simonbarsinister says:

    I fear reading this book could damage my mind.

    Years ago I read Kit Willams ‘Masquerade’ and Bamber Gascoigne’s commentary on it ‘The Quest For The Golden Hare’. I started seeing patterns everywhere. Billboards and pennies on the sidewalk were clues. It took a few months for it to fade away completely.

  16. Skroo says:

    Damn you Cory for adding another book to my already too long “want to read” list.

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