1 A 3 O R N

Geometry for Ocelots

by Exurb1a

Created: 2021-06-27
Wordcount: 0.3k

Geometry for Ocelots was a fun, sometimes profound, although not perfectly excellent book based on Buddhism, Buddhist mythology, and Malthusian concerns.

I've ready most of Exurb1a's books before -- Logic Beach: Part 1, The Prince of Milk, The Fifth Science. I think he is at his best, like many authors interested in philosophy, in the realm of short stories, like The Fifth Science. Borges was an amazing short story writer, but might have been a mediocre novel writer.

In any event -- Geometry for Ocelots does feel weird as a novel, but it is enjoyable. It dives into some actual Buddhism in parts, but in the end seems somewhat skeptical of any Buddhist claims. It is very skeptical of humanity's ability to actually avoid Malthusian catastrophe.

A few points about this kind of novel.

  1. A novel where a central fear is a (renamed) Malthusian collapse is... well, difficult to believe, because people actually take it seriously for parts of the novel. Which, really, no one does. It isn't that there's a small and struggling foundation trying to avoid disaster; it's that a whole university has avoiding such disaster as its central mission, lead by some of our protagonists. Granted, it later falls to shit; but, still, when does that actually happen.

  2. Exurb1a seems unflinching in his cruelty to some of his protagonists, sometimes. People die not meeting people they love and want to see again. Villains do not receive their comeuppance. One character bears a child from someone she hates. It's grim, but in the way the world is grim; but it's still surprising to see in a novel.

  3. All of Exurb1a is about death and how we're flung here and no one knows what we're doing here. There are some beautiful passages in the novel about this.