While “Distraction” describes large parts of my life, this time around, I’m writing about Bruce Sterling’s book of the same name.

I’d picked up several of Bruce’s books at Computers, Freedom, and Privacy 2002. Too many, in fact, and so after reading Heavy Weather, I put the others away for “later”.

Last week, I wanted to grab a book for the trip to Tucson, and Distraction was near at hand. And the back cover blurb was intriguing: “It’s November 2044, an election year, and the state of the Union is a farce….” — especially since I knew the Iowa caucuses were going to be a significant event during the trip. And 544 pages promised enough reading matter to get me through the trip, which was another point in the book’s favor. So I took it along with me — and spent the outbound flights doing crossword puzzles.

But eventually, I actually opened the book and was hooked almost immediately, as the not-quite-human protagonist, Oscar Valparaiso, reviews video of the Worchester May Day Riot of ’42 (which isn’t a riot) on the campaign bus (which is actually taking Oscar and his krewe on a post-election “vacation”), which is stopped by a roadblock where the US Air Force is shaking down motorists for money to keep an air base open.

And then things got strange.

It’s definitely a political story, with a new Huey, Governor of Louisiana, in rebellion against the Federal Government (or what remains of it); it’s also a love story, with Oscar and Greta a most mismatched pair; and it’s a science story, with plausible pseudo-science rather than pure bafflegab. It doesn’t all hang together completely, but it’s doable. And worth the read.