In the Country of the Blind

In the Country of the Blind

Michael F. Flynn / Jan 16, 2021

In the Country of the Blind In the nineteenth century a small group of American idealists managed to actually build Charles Babbage s Analytical Engine and use it to develop Cliology mathematical models that could chart the li

  • Title: In the Country of the Blind
  • Author: Michael F. Flynn
  • ISBN: 9780765344984
  • Page: 493
  • Format: Paperback
  • In the nineteenth century, a small group of American idealists managed to actually build Charles Babbage s Analytical Engine and use it to develop Cliology, mathematical models that could chart the likely course of the future Soon they were working to alter history s course as they thought best By our own time, the Society has become the secret master of the world But nIn the nineteenth century, a small group of American idealists managed to actually build Charles Babbage s Analytical Engine and use it to develop Cliology, mathematical models that could chart the likely course of the future Soon they were working to alter history s course as they thought best By our own time, the Society has become the secret master of the world But no secret can be kept forever, at least not without drastic measures When her plans for some historic real estate lead developer and ex reporter Sarah Beaumont to stumble across the Society s existence, it s just the first step into a baffling and deadly maze of conspiracies.

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    About "Michael F. Flynn"

      • Michael F. Flynn

        Librarian Note There is than one author in the GoodReads database with this name See this thread for information.Michael Francis Flynn born 1947 is an American statistician and science fiction author Nearly all of Flynn s work falls under the category of hard science fiction, although his treatment of it can be unusual since he has applied the rigor of hard science fiction to softer sciences such as sociology in works such as In the Country of the Blind Much of his short fiction has appeared in Analog Science Fiction and Fact Flynn was born in Easton, Pennsylvania He earned a B.A in Mathematics from LaSalle University and an M.S in topology from Marquette University He has been employed as an industrial quality engineer and statistician.


    1. I have really enjoyed some of Michael Flynn's later work, but this one sure didn't live up to the standards that his more experienced writing sets. The idea is great- that history can be quantified and predicted, and even changed, through scientific analysis. I'm all about the social sciences being the subject of a hard science fiction novel. I was all ready to read about past history and present-day manipulation of history and alternate history. But didn't get that. Instead, I got one of the mo [...]

    2. I greatly enjoyed Michael Flynn's In the Country of the Blind. This is a thoughtful thriller in the "secret society" vein, specifically the societies which have used the scientific study of history to predict and occasionally alter the flow of history. So it's the book that The DaVinci Code wanted to be. [Aside: would people please stop calling him "da Vinci"? That merely means "of Venice" and is in fact not a surname - his name is Leonardo. "Da Vinci" is only useful if you're trying to differen [...]

    3. Comparing one book to another is a lazy way to review a book, but forgive me because there’s something about Michael Flynn’s writing that conjures up other writers. When I reviewed The Wreck of the River of Stars I found an umistakable touch of Jane Austen. And In the Country of the Blind, I can’t help but be reminded of Isaac Asimov, Philip K.Dick, Umberto Eco and Eric Frank Russell, to name just a few.But don’t for a second think that I find In the Country of the Blind derivative. It [...]

    4. Funny that Charles Babbage has come up in two books I read recently. This and The Witches of Chiswick (Robert Rankin). Very different books, but both deal with alternate historyies along the lines of "what if" Babbage's computer (which when built to plan a decade or so back really worked) had become popularized in Victorian England. Rankin's book is a bit on the light side (think Christopher Moore with a British flair). Still, this was a good read. Will pass along soon or wild release it.

    5. “ How do you trace the fault tree of something that never occurred?Have you ever tried to prove something from the absence of negative evidence? p 37“Justified? Who’s justice? Is a cornered rat justified when it bite? If an organization perceives a threat, it tries to protect itself. It’s a natural law of living systems. It doesn’t matter one whit if the system is a rat, the Mafia, or the Boy Scouts.” p 70“We Publicize and reward the behavior we want.We don’t coerce it.But people [...]

    6. A fantastic premise and fairly good execution.The basic idea is similar to the starting point of Asimov's Foundation series: that a secret society has discovered how to compute what will happen in history. Except that it's not set in the far future, it's set in the recent past. The sort of thing that could be going on now.What's particularly fascinating about it for me was:(a) It's more realistic than Asimov's Foundation--there are better limits on what could and could not be done. Better explan [...]

    7. Flynn uses Asimovian psychohistory (or, as Flynn's characters put it, 'cliology', or 'political metaeconomy') as the engine that drives a thriller in the style of Robert Ludlum. That is, the sympathetic protagonist stumbles into a conspiracy that costs her nearly everything and sends her on the run, justifying every bit of paranoia she's ever had. The plotting is fine, but doesn't leave much room to explore the more interesting questions about how cliology works or could applied. However, Flynn [...]

    8. _Had elements of Steampunk that I liked. (No forced gaslight error dialogue hooray!)_Interesting for the use of memes and computer analysis to track and influence human trends (all that more relevant almost 3 decades later)._Intricate plot that at times was gripping but on a few occasions got overly intricate and boring.

    9. Michael Flynn’s In The Country of the Blindposits an alternate history where, in the 1820s, Charles Babbage finishes constructing his difference engine in secret. In real life it was never competed, although existing drawings show that it would have worked if it had been finished. In the book a secret society uses this early computer to calculate and anticipate the course of history. Soon there comes the temptation to manipulate and alter the future course of human events via the science of Cl [...]

    10. Early Flynn, edited a bit to get rid of some clunky terminology, but pretty good either way. Some innocents stumble on an actual conspiracy; people have been manipulating historical events secretly for over a century and are willing to kill to keep it a secret. Their latest scare is caused by an auto-didact former reporter cum-real estate developer when she and her architect start researching on of the original owners of a building they are remodeling. Their research coincides with other interna [...]

    11. The first time I've had to keep a piece of paper tucked in the book (that I eventually filled both sides of) to look up character names. I never had to do that even with Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables or Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment, but in Flynn’s novel characters are briefly introduced, remain absent many pages, and then reappear in a different context with no hints to the reader as to where or even whether the character has previously appeared. Definitely not a book to listen to in th [...]

    12. More of an actiony thriller than science fiction, In the Country of the Blind details the story of a society that built a Babbage Engine and used it to calculate the course of human history. Think Foundation series but condensed to a single novel and set in a contemporary setting. There are a number of twists to keep the plot moving and quite a bit of action makes for a pretty fast read.I had fun reading this one, but for my money would have preferred a bit more of the cliology (mathematical ana [...]

    13. An interesting almost alternate history with a dash of action thriller thrown in. What happens if history and the future could be analyzed and forecast like a "hard" science (ie cliology); and the forecast be used for profit, or to influence history. That's the premise of this book. Much like Asimov's Foundation series, but set in current times. Flynn even has a treatise on statistical analysis of historical and social science trends as an appendix. I also enjoyed Flynn's description of modern c [...]

    14. This is an interesting exploration of the potential science of "cliology," the science of history. Flynn creates some fun characters, but spends too much time arguing about the ethics of meddling with the course of events and not enough developing them. The proliferation of secret societies is an interesting idea, but creates a great confusion of characters and goals. I think this would have been better either as a shorter, more focused book, or a series with scope to explore all the different g [...]

    15. Secret societies using Babbage Engines to predict and manipulate history are accidentally exposed, launching a war of spy-vs-spy, with a few intrepid folks caught in the middle. Sort of a cross between Asimov's Foundation series and a spy novel, with a long academic supplement at the end on the use of statistical methods for predicting historical trends.A must read for the STS crowd. A weak conclusion, and the heroine's definitely in Mary Sue territory, but Flynn pulls off this blend of adventur [...]

    16. This is one of those works with an extremely promising premise that never quite gets lived up to. Flynn spends so much thought and energy working out the realistic implications of his premise - a secret society that is heir to a mathematical science of predictive history - that he sort of forgets to tell a story. Which is a real shame since some of his characters are fascinating, and a couple of scenes hinging on their interactions are so well told that one can't shake the feeling that a really [...]

    17. Giving three stars, not so much for stellar writing, because for the most part, it isn't, but for some interesting thoughts about history and cliology. The sort of predictive cliology that forms the foundation (heh) for the novel may well never be possible, but we can spot and sometimes successfully project larger trends.I'd read this some years ago, it's interesting to note that the only things that stuck with me were the opening scene and a general sense of the conclusion. Didn't even recall a [...]

    18. An interesting take on the subject of psychohistory; more than one secret group tries to direct the course of history by using the mathematics of "cliology" to understand the trends in the population and then identify the nodes where a simple deletion of one person or thing is likely to change the direction that the society is taking, ostensibly to improve the society but also to make money with the advance knowledge. Too many fingers in the pie causes lots of problems.

    19. Superficially, this is an action adventure story. What raises it above the ordinary is that the book has a fascinating premise, deriving from the Babbage computer and its use by an organization to predict the future and correct undesirable deviations through action in the present. The story arises from a schism within the organization, as a powerful group misuses its power for its own ends and the others try to counter them.

    20. Michael Flynn‘s first novel, in which he presupposes that the difference engine proposed by Charles Babbage in the early 1800′s (a sort of mechanical computer) was actually built, and used by a secretive society to calculate the future, then influence the history of the world. It is a half-decent thriller that unfortunately gets bogged down towards the middle in an overcomplicated web of conspiraciesokssboch/?p=733

    21. Fans of Jared Diamond will like this book. The basic premise is that Charles Babbage acutally built a working computer and was part of a secret society that used statistics to predict the future. The society then worked behind the scenes to attempt to avert it. The appendix references a bunch of books and papers on the subject of predicting social movements.

    22. He estado a punto de ponerle solamente una estrella pero como no es un libro terrible lo he dejado en dos. La premisa es muy interesante y durante el primer tercio del libro cumple las expectativas. Pero luego se dispersa en una miriada de hilos y subtramas, personajes poco atractivos y palos de ciego que descorazonan. Una lástima.

    23. This is a work of historical fiction, based on the premise that in the time of Babbage, some "Babbage engines" (mechanical computers) were built and used to predict and control the course of history by a secret and ruthless cabal. Or was there more than one? It is an interesting and action-packed story.

    24. This book was on my "to read" list for so long that I had forgotten who or where that I had gotten the reccomendation. I'm halfway through with a Library copy and I think I might just stop here. That is not to say that I may not finish it some day, but it's just not grabbing me. Great idea, but not well executed, in my opinion. I tried.

    25. this is the first book, and unfortunately I found his mechanics somewhat stiff, his prose uneven, and a plethora of cardboard characters. I found these to be distractions from a clever plot, and really excellent world-building. I'll definitely check out another of his books with a hope that he improves.

    26. Disappointed. Really like this writer's blog, find the premise intriguing. Couldn't make it through more than about 50 pages prose is unbearable. Characters as mouthpieces, endless exposition kind of book that has a lengthy appendix, complete with charts and equations, to explain the ideas behind it all.

    27. What if you found out that a secret cabal was dictating the path of history? Now, what if the secret cabal found out they weren't the only one?Flynn's characterizations have definitely improved - this is an earlier work where he wasn't quite so skilled. While the character development is often done with a heavy hand, the plot is very engaging.

    28. Apparently this was Flynn's first book, constructed by expanding and updating a previously published novella. So I have to cut him some slack. The premises are interesting, the main characters are interesting, but it doesn't seem to come to a satisfactory conclusion.

    29. I read this around 1990 in Analog Sci Fi/Fact magazine, and it stuck with me so strongly, I read others in the last 25 years looking for it. Now enjoyed it thanks to Mother-in-law, birthday, and a used book store that advertised online.

    30. Ok. The essay included as an appendix, "An Introduction to Cliology," was a fascinating read on historical trends and the possibility of historical predictions. More interesting than the novel, actually!

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