I have enjoyed Poundstones book prisoners dilemma. I really enjoyed this one too. Conway explores complexity, life and its fate, the laws of physics, the possibility of machines that make even more complex machines and how complexity can bootstrap itself with simple rules into ever growing intricacy. The book starts out with Johnny Von Neumann in the 1950s when he hit upon the idea of a machine that can make copies of it self from the environment and the possibility that such a machine could make even more complex machines than itself. Nature has been doing this since the first cell divided and made two copies of itself and over about 4 billion years has developed more and more complex living things in its descendants. Then the book spends a lot of time on a computer game called life developed by John Horton Conway in the early seventies. This game which can be programmed with a few lines of computer code which involves the birth life and death of pixels on a screen depending sole on the number of neighboring pixels that each pixel registers as alive complex patterns can grow in size and complexity as each pixel follows these simple rules. This is an analogy of how life may have bootstrapped itself in our universe. There is a long discussion on entropy and the fate of life in a far future universe. The book holds the idea of mathematical recursion as the key to this bootstrapping of complexity. a recursion is a function which generates even more complex functions in mathematics like the game of life and may just be the mathematical basis of life in our universe. A fascinating read even if an old book.