After finally finishing Storm Front I wanted to keep going, but wasn't ready to face the second in the Dresden series*, so I picked up a book I had started reading months ago and then put down for some reason, Walter Jon Williams' Implied Spaces. This time I read it straight through in the course of the weekend, and it left me refreshed, thrilled, and eager for more.
Williams is one of the most philosophically-minded writers I have encountered. In that (and no other way, mind you) he reminds me considerably of Terry Pratchett. He can't seem to stop writing about death, for one thing. Knight Moves is primarily a dialog between chosen immortal and chosen mortal, with a supporting chorus of those who do not have the choice; in Aristoi the human lifespan has been incredibly extended, though that extended body is liable to catastrophic breakdown at some unpredictable point, lending a certain tension to existence; and in Implied Spaces a combination of memory backups and nanotech-based regeneration have rendered the entire issue moot: if you die, a new you can be created, your memories (since the last backup) and identity intact.
That this would in no way solve the fundamental problem of humanness is a large part of the point.
Despite its extistentialist backdrop, this is not a meditative novel--Williams handwaves a lot of things he's not interested in right now, such as why there would still be money, or jobs for that matter, in this future, and whether an identical copy of you is really, well, you. He's got places to go and neat stuff to do; I kept thinking about Steven Brust's inspirational maxim, now I'm going to show you something really cool. And he does, in spades. This book is some of the best of what science fiction can be--imaginative, thought-provoking, laugh-out-loud funny in places, a fast-paced adventure with moments of brilliant beauty and a number of unexpected twists. It brightened the weekend (which was otherwise mostly spent with a sick little kid) considerably.
Oh, and I looked it up, and squinch is in fact a word. I wonder if that was the germ of the entire book?
* Fool Moon, which I have since started reading. Though there were several places in the first chapter that made me cringe outright, it picked up a bit after that. It suffers from the curse of all not-exactly-series novels, in that it has to repeat a fair amount of background and description in every book, since readers can start anywhere; I'm not sure how many times I'll be able to stand the description of Harry's apartment, and find it more than a little annoying when secondary characters are forced to spout bits of canned background.