Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

And sometimes Life gives you Science Fiction instead.

Friday, September 30th, 2011

I think I have a new reading list thanks to NPR’s top 100 poll. It seems my probability of having read the book/series is roughly inversely proportional to it’s numerical ranking… so at least I’ve been getting the good stuff.

Conveniently, SF Signal has created a flow chart. Click through to SF Signal’s site for the actually readable version.

SF Signal's NPR Top 100 Flowchart

Truth as strange as fiction.

Saturday, October 31st, 2009

Thanks to a post at Me and My Boys, I learned that Nantucket island is actually mining their landfill.

Beyond the environment winning here, I’m am amused because this is truth following fiction as this is just what Stirling predicted would happen in his book Island in The Sea of Time.

For those unfamiliar with the book, the island of Nantucket is arbitrarily plucked from the modern era and transported to circa 1250 B.C. Geographically, they are still on Nantucket Island, it is only the when that changes. Faced with a lack of refining and technological assets they eventually begin mining the landfill for electronic components and other refined materials. Cool, huh? This was one of my favorite details from the book. Necessity meets ingenuity and bang: elegant solution.

With the price of copper and some precious metals skyrocketing, it does make you wonder when this becomes financially worthwhile on a grand scale. What percent of the material needs to be useful for the separation process to be worthwhile? I have no idea, but it is a compelling thought.

I’m a cheap addict.

Thursday, July 31st, 2008

I’ve been waiting for the release of the latest John Scalzi novel, The Last Colony since I finished the previous book, The Ghost Brigades, months ago. I’m too cheap to buy it in hardcover though, so I’ve been waiting for the “mass-market paperback”.

Well it’s finally out and I bought it today on the way home from work. I’m already more than half way through. I could probably finish it in another couple of hours but I really must sleep now.

Harry Potter on Crack

Sunday, July 15th, 2007

At least that’s what it felt like to me. K & I went to see the new Harry Potter movie, Order of the Phoenix, last night.
Even though I won’t get to anything resembling a spoiler for quite a while, I’ll put the break here to protect those who wish to keep their film viewing untainted. There will be another spoiler warning before the plot/storyline comments if you want to dare a bit further.

Quick update

Thursday, March 22nd, 2007

Happy Spring everyone! It’s beginning to feel a little bit like spring here…the weather here today is 55 and raining, which is a bit dreary. We still have quite a bit of snow on the ground, but it won’t last long if the weather stays like this, and it looks like it’s going to. Just had to buy these tulips when I saw them in the grocery store on Tuesday to help brighten things up a little.

I watched the trailer for Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End today. It looks like it’s going to be good, but I’m a little bit leery ’cause the second movie looked good in the trailer, but I was very disappointed with it. Don’t know if I’ll be able to see this one in the theater…will have to wait and see how things go I guess.

I finished reading Running With Scissors yesterday. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I agree completely with the reviewer who called it “Disturbingly Hilarious”. I think I will pick up his book Dry: A Memoir the next time I’m at Barnes and Noble.

The kid is getting stronger and stronger. There’s been a whole lot of movement going on the last week or so. Tuesday night it was so bad it got to the point of being painful, and I didn’t get any sleep. S/he has been having a lot of hiccups recently too, which is a very interesting sensation. As for me, I’m doing pretty well, although I’m starting to be tired all the time, and nights without much sleep don’t help any. I’ve finally passed Chris on the scales, weighing in at 161 when I was at the doctors yesterday. I’m hungry all the time, and not much seems to satisfy my appetite for long. I can’t wait to see how much I weigh in May if I keep eating like this.

Alright, I need to go do a little more work on the closet doors before heading out to pick up Chris for our Childbirth Prep class tonight.

Somewhat old news….

Friday, February 23rd, 2007

K&I were reviewing our web site logs (yes you are being watched) and noticed that my posts about Naomi Novik’s Temeraire series were coming up related to several articles on Slice of SciFi. When I investigated, my track-back had long since expired. In exchange I found a post stating that the 4th book in the Temeraire series is due out in the fall.
I’m looking forward to it, although I’m apprehensive.

Last Harry Potter book to be released in July

Thursday, February 1st, 2007

It was announced this morning that the final book in the Harry Potter Series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, will be released July 21st. I am looking forward to this date already. Hopefully I’ll be able to find time to actually do some reading in July.

Complete… but yet not.

Monday, January 15th, 2007

The third (but probably not final) book in the Temeraire series, Black Powder War by Naomi Novik was quite possibly better than the other two. Black Powder War CoverShe does seem to be getting better at this. Unfortunately, my satisfaction was dashed onto the jagged rocks with the first signs of what I will coin as the “perpetual series syndrome”.

Those of you who know me have heard me complain about this behavior from much more established (and impressive) authors such as Robert Jordan. Let me explain: I suspect that many authors will write a book with the hopes that a series may result, but complete the first story without knowing whether it will get picked up by anyone. If the book does well, the author will write more. If the book does REALLY well, the author will often leave the ending dangling loosely to entice us into buying the next book. I have no problem with authors wanting to extend their franchise… and there is certainly nothing magical about a trilogy as the perfect set (although I tend to like the classical 3-Act tradition this invokes).

Look at the Harry Potter series with its obvious serial association with Harry’s school years. If the next book (which seems the logical conclusion) does not end the series (or at least resolve the Voldemort adventure) I will be very disappointed.

I have always felt that every book must in some sense stand on its own… beginning, climax, resolution. If the book doesn’t resolve the issues created within the story… well then it’s just pandering to the publishers… or maybe the bank account. I understand that a 4th book is in the works and I won’t pass my complete judgment yet… but the ending of this story was suspiciously like the start of a failure to deliver.

Stay tuned…

Book 2 Better

Sunday, January 7th, 2007

Throne of Jade, by Naomi Novik, I enjoyed as much as the first, and perhaps more. This story certainly has much less direct action, but fills in much of the background history of this version of our world. Throne of Jade Cover ArtAs a negative it certainly doesn’t stand alone, with not enough explanation of how the characters came to be in their current situation. This is a pretty weak criticism to be certain, and the alternative is usually that annoying exposition that we find in some other series books to fill in what happened previously.

It’s nice to see the dragon main character expand a bit beyond the world of his Captain, but the obsessive nature of all of the dragons to their ‘partners’ borders on sociopathic. I guess this is our hero’s required fatal flaw, but to see it in most of the race lessens them a bit, I think.

There is enough back-reference into the first book’s story to remind us of humorous or noteworthy events in the previous story that they hold together nicely. On to the third: Black Powder War.

Dragons and Tallships Oh My!

Friday, January 5th, 2007

Book cover for His Majesty's DragonThanks to Bill‘s recommendation, I have just completed His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik. It was a quick read but a fun story with an interesting take on the human-dragon relationship. I see a lot of Patrick O’ Brian’s Captain Aubrey in the hero, especially at the start of the story, and the author does list Mr. O’Brian as an inspiration. It may be that what little I know of British captains in the early 1800’s comes in some large part from Mr. O’Brian’s fiction, so the perceived similarity may be on my part.

I was hoping for a more first-hand experience of what dragon vs. tallship action would be like, but perhaps she’s saving this for a later book (and simply teases us with the second hand stories heard by the characters in this one).
There was also a fair bit of feminine political liberty taken within the Air Corp, as the dragon riders are referred. Mostly I suspect this is to insert heroic female figures into the story line which despite useful exposition to explain I found strangely hard to digest. It’s not that I have any issues with females in the roles portrayed, but I just can’t imagine the circumstances by which this would have happened within the context of early-1800’s Britain. It seems to me that if such liberties were required for the dragons, that these liberties would have propagated into the rest of society by now (since the story states clearly that dragons are not a new discovery by far). Perhaps I would have found it more believable if dragons had been a “New World” phenomenon, only recently incorporated into the Old World culture.

As always I over-analyze, and shouldn’t give the impression that this in any way diminishes the story. I will almost certainly begin on the second in the series, Throne of Jade, tonight.