I found the section describing the game of Eschaton on pages 323-342 especially hard to get through. I'd been enjoying the book, but when it got to that point, I found myself mindlessly reading the acronyms --AMNAT, SOVWAR, REDCHI, IRLIBSYR, SOUTHAF, INDPAK, ??-- and not even trying to comprehend the strategies of the players. I understand the game is complex, but why so drawn out? Did anyone enjoy this section? Was it meant to be enjoyed, or was Wallace trying to make a point? The game doesn't seem like a typical children's game at all, nor does it seem like much fun (to me, anyway), so I was wondering if it was meant to convey something about the kids at E.T.A. They are worked insanely hard, all of them seem to be extremely bright, and they are forced to grow up and decide their futures so quickly. Twelve year old kids are playing highly mathematical strategic war games. Shouldn't they be jumping rope or something?
I was, however, intrigued by the "the map is not the territory" idea, the philosophical relationship between a reaction to or symbol of a thing and the thing itself. It's also interesting that such young kids would be having this debate. I read a lot about this in relation to the well-known Magritte painting, The Treachery of Images (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:MagrittePipe.jpg)--this is not a pipe, but an image of a pipe. It doesn't seem quite as interesting now that I'm typing it, but at one point I was really into this stuff, so if you're intersted here's a link to more on the map/territory relation: