Review of „Blockland“: Half gonzo, half Bitcoin-thriller, 100% recommended
„Blockland: 21 Stories of Bitcoin, Blockchain and Cryptocurrency“ is not your typical book on cryptanalysis. It reads like a mixture of a sacred text and a rock’n’roll biography.
The first hint that „Blockland: 21 Stories of Bitcoin, Blockchain and Cryptocurrency“ may not be the same as the average book on the subject of cryptomontages appears in bold type all over the cover.
Avoiding the usual signs of serious design, it instead features Trevor Jones‘ artwork, „The Ecstasy (Bitcoin Angel)“. The religious iconography of the image is striking, to say the least.
And it carries over into the language of several of the chapters (or stories), conveying both the almost mythical nature of Bitcoin’s origin story and the devout faith of the many different flavours of crypto-belief.
So can Blockland be the first sacred text of Bitcoin?
A Less Ordinary Life
Before we get to that, I must confess that I could easily have taken an instant dislike to this book.
In the foreword, the author, Elias Ahonen, describes a journey around the world full of cryptomonies and an almost biblical excess, which brought to mind Cal Evans‘ truly abominable The Little Book of Crypto.
But while Evans‘ equally incredible travel anecdotes seemed designed purely to express how much cooler than the self-styled reader, Ahonen makes us feel like we’re drinking drinks on the stage of a big Shanghai rap concert alongside him.
He captures the intensity and madness that can manifest itself in what remains essentially a prepubescent industry that is bathed in more money than it knows what to do with.
So maybe Blockland is actually the first biography of cryptomoney rock’n’roll?
Once upon a time
The book tells 21 (often dramatised) stories of „Blockland“, the space of the cryptomonnage for you and me, starting with the creation of the first „Golden City of Bit“ and the settlers who initially chose to inhabit it.
It tells of the pioneers who later decided to attack and establish new communities, and the many ordinary people who were attracted to the expanding world of Blockland.
The themes of the chapters range from the quasi-spiritual (Satoshi’s Will, The Sects of Satoshism), to the pioneering spirit (The Searchers, Computer Frontiers), and even the spirit of excess (Mining Madness, Tulip Hangover)
While all of the underlying stories are true, the use of metaphor and allegory really does bring home the magical and unlikely path that cryptomongery has taken to get here.
A complete story of…
The fact that these seemingly disparate chapters come together to tell a coherent (and fairly complete) story of the journey of the cryptomonies to date is a great credit to Ahonen.
The author offers a uniform and unbiased view of space in a way that is easily accessible and absolutely charming. There is no wallpaper of the darker elements of cryptomontage, but the benevolent nature of the community is also given substantial page time.
Ahonen’s previous book was the infinitely more direct Encyclopedia of Physical Bitcoins and Crypto-Currencies, published in 2016, which led to him being described as „one of the first Bitcoin historians“.
While both books are technically reference works, Blockland feels more like a fiction thriller in its rhythm and style.
A fascinating read
So … part sacred scripture, part Gonzo journalism and 100% roller coaster, Blockland manages to amazingly mythicize and explain the current state of the cryptomoney industry.
This is the crypto coin book for people who are too cool to read crypto coin books. Buy it for yourself, then lend it to that friend who knows he is a potential cryptoevangelist, if only he would take the time to learn about it.