Speculating on Speculation

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

We interrupt our regularly scheduled lack of programming to bring to your attention a novel that's been responsible for many a late-night conversation around the Coding the Wheel campfire. Buy it. Borrow it. Steal it if you must. Just make sure you read Edmund Jorgensen's Speculation.

Speculation begins with one of those enigmatic Two Roads Before You scenarios that eccentric billionaires are always springing on family and friends, taunting them with the prospect of stakes high enough to be painful, tormenting them with dramatic reveals and diabolical twists, usually annoying the crap out of everybody in the process. ("Gee honey, it's been great being hunted by the Illuminati while living out of a suitcase and all, but life was so much simpler before your uncle Mr. X bequeathed that haunted Mayan temple to us. You know, back when we could sleep at night without worrying about being assassinated?") These mischievous billionaires' gambits always complicate things for the person on the receiving end. Especially when, as in Speculation, the billionaire is a philosopher.

Andrew Wrangles has a decision to make. His best friend Sothum, a philosophical and financial genius worth billions, has just died and left him a choice in his will: ten million dollars or a sealed envelope.

But if the premise of Speculation is a bit of an enigma, Speculation itself is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma, taken to the 13th power of ninja-step. Put it on your shelf next to Colin Wilson's The Philosopher's Stone, John Fowles's The Magus, or the short stories of Jorge Luis Borges. This is apotheotic puzzlefuckery on a grand scale delivered in a tight, readable package. Maybe that's why 35 of 38 reviewers on Amazon have failed to describe Speculation without resorting to giddy superlatives. Including yours truly:

Speculation was my introduction to the Kindle. With his first novel, this author has crafted a tale that surpasses 99% of the New York Times bestseller list in scope, in sincerity, in style. Jorgensen lobs some heavy ideological bombs over the reader/author divide, it's true, but with such grace and simplicity that you'll find yourself turning page after page not only to advance the plot, but to continue the amazing conversation of ideas. Where a lesser (and less sincere) book would come across as pedantic or boring, Speculation excites and inspires, drawing the reader deeper into a puzzle that is ultimately as big as... well, see for yourself. This one is a lot of fun -- mystery, romance, strange technologies, and more await. Highly recommended!

Of these 38 people, a full 24 gave Speculation five stars; 11 gave it four stars; and the remaining three souls apparently thought they were getting a jumbled Da Vinci Code ripoff starring Matthew McConaughey as Dirk Pitt. ("Darlin', the Illuminati are gonna frikkin' blow up the Eiffel Tower. Gimme the Codex while I kiss you like it's going out of style—wait DUCK! EXPLOSION! USE MY ABS FOR COVER! HRRRNGAH! Now shut your piehole while I decipher the ancient Egyptian obelisk's codes to the nuclear, uh, targeting infrastructure. I am a world-renowned expert in pseudolinguistic archaecryptophology after all.") Which means 92% of reviewers gave Speculation four or five stars, and a whopping 63% of reviewers gave it the full five star Royale w/ Cheese.

For organic, non-astroturfed reviews, those are some extraordinary numbers.

So I sincerely hope you'll buy Speculation, read Speculation, review Speculation, help spread the word about Speculation. It's an exciting find. Jorgensen could write the next Great American Novel that nobody reads, the next bestseller that everybody reads, or the next book of poetry that everybody ignores...for a hundred years. This is your chance to catch him at the beginning of his arc.

And did I mention that Speculation was dedicated to my father?

* * *

Dr. James P. Devlin, 1943 - 2010

The enigmatic Doctor D. died in November 2010 in Boston. Time passed, seasons turned, the Packers won a Superbowl, and snow was dusting the ground in Boston again when Speculation was published with a dedication that read, simply, "For Jim Devlin—in Memory." Sadly, the whereabouts of his README.TXT file are currently unknown.

And that, friends, like everything under the sun or moon, will make a little more sense after a lot more Speculation.

Speculation is available in Kindle and hardcopy from Amazon. Want more Jorgensen? Read our companion piece, The Gleaming Latch. You can also check out his blog, read samples of his poetry (including the Sonnet for Dennis Ritchie which appeared on Hacker News late last year), follow him on Twitter, or swap code with him on GitHub.

Tags: probability, Edmund Jorgensen, philosophy, Doctor D, books, puzzles

7 comment(s)

I had the pleasure of reading Sonnet for Denis Ritchie on Hacker News and will gladly check this out. By the way there are 39 reviews on Amazon, not 38. Glad to see you're still writing and sorry to hear about your old man.

Take the money and run...unless the benefactor is a billionaire, or you are...having 10 million you can afford to miss out on whatever's in the envelope...but having nothing you can't afford to miss out on the 10 million.

If you're a millionaire already, take the envelope...especially if the benefactor is a billionaire.

You had me at "sealed envelope".

This is currently free on the kindle!

Testing 123. I'm having trouble submitting comments -- artifact from a recent site update perhaps?

joy to read, I came across this site ages ago but I've only just decided to stop back and have a read of your articles.

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Speculation, by Edmund Jorgensen.