This is the second Robinson book I have read. What struck me is the view that societies where women play a larger role will be healthier or more advanced or less belligerent. I wonder where the author gets that conviction. I thought the bardo detracted from the story. So also the tiger. What is the purpose of providing continuity for the characters? The long war between Islam and China made me wonder if the west really thinks political Islam is that fanatical. I know Robinson doesn’t speak for the entire west but he is a type of intellectual that is unique to the west – intelligent, compassionate, receptive to & admiring of other cultures but convinced of the superiority of the west. Thus his views matter.

The book ignored Sub Saharan Africa completely and I resent that because it continues the practice of dismissing the history of black people and the roles we play in the world. I mean, other than the slave castrated and taken to China, there isn’t even a token black. It would have been interesting to have a civil rights movement against the Arabs in Africa.

All in all, I liked the book. The Mars trilogy is the only other work of his that I read. That was superb and can’t be compared to this. But this was good too, had a fresh air to it.