From: altamira (
Date: Sun Jul 16 2000 - 15:43:40 MDT

Review to be posted at

William Shakespeare's HAMLET is said to have been based on an older play,
possibly by Tomas Kyd; the older play may have been taken directly from
Danish legend or from some other intermediary source. Great stories thrive
in new times and places.

THE WHITE ABACUS gives a thoroughly enjoyable answer to the question of what
Shakespeare might have done with HAMLET's plot and characters, given the
chance to transport them to a time when minds are connected through the
Gestell and hex-gates allow instantaneous access to any point in the galaxy.
For our characters, we find in this far-future setting a wide range of
body-types to choose from, including the casque-headed, artistically
sensitive ai; the macho-anachronistic hu who believe that their soul resides
in their vermiform appendices; and the Genetics who take on a surprising
array of organic forms. Mind-boggling future technologies, some inherited
from science fiction forbears and others newly invented, play their critical
part throughout the book.

The book preserves HAMLET's immortal elements of power-lust, murder,
betrayal, madness, and revenge, while adding some fascinating plot twists of
its own. The tale is told with language as startlingly delightful as
Shakespeare's: narrative that paints incredibly detailed sensory images and
is at the same time brilliantly comical; and dialogue that is at times
hilarious, at other times thought provoking. To fully appreciate certain
humorous references, the reader must have some knowledge of classical
science fiction, as well as classics in general.

This book is probably best approached as a total immersion Experience, where
the reader floats along with the words on one level, enjoying the scenery
and the ever-present soundtrack; and at another level thinks critically
about what she's reading and laughs aloud when, for example, she notices
that Aaron Copland's APPALACHIAN SPRING is playing through a receiver in the
ai Ratio's head as se stands in the middle of Death Valley, looking out over
the salt flats.

My only regret is that I'll never again have the opportunity to read THE
WHITE ABACUS for the first time.

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