Well, Strange Attractors is about a lot of things – it’s mostly a book about New York City and how much I love that insane, epic S.O.B. of a town. It’s also about attempting to exert control over our own destinies, and yes, mathematics, specifically complexity theory. Just like the rest of my stuff, it’s a book about subjects I find fascinating (and worth exerting all the time and effort required to bring a new project into the world.)
Just to speak a little more specifically about the story, the main character is a guy named Heller Wilson, a grad student up at Columbia. He’s been working on his thesis for a while – it’s all about New York City, specifically how all of the city’s endless layers of systems (power, transport, supply lines, economy, water, traffic, etc.) somehow manage to work together to keep the city running, despite the fact that no one ever planned them that way. I mean, there are systems in N.Y.C. that were built in the 1800s running right alongside stuff from the 21st century. He’s stuck, though, because according to his calculations, NYC should have completely collapsed in on itself back in the late 70s. The city simply shouldn’t work. It’s too complex, too crazy, too big.
You can read the rest of the interview on the Newsarama website at this link.