Sunday, September 16, 2012

Review: Dune

Dune by Frank Herbert

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

There were parts of this novel that I thought were brilliant. The planet of Arrakis, the ecology, the spice, the worms, the religion of the fremen, the religion of the Bene Geserit. But there were many irritating things as well, starting with Paul and his mother Jessica. Those two characters seemed quite dated. They made this novel feel like a 1950s YA novel and a irritating one at that. But if you ignored the front story and concentrated instead on the amazing backstory this was an amazing novel.

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Sunday, September 9, 2012

Review: Homage to Catalonia

Homage to Catalonia
Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book was a great and engrossing read, bringing the Spanish Civil War and the Barcelona street fighting between the Anarchists, the Stalinists, the Replublicans and the POUM back to vivid life 80 years later. I highly recognize it for its unromantic description of life in the trenches on the front line but also for its very moving and romantic treatment of the original revolution in Spain and Orwell's description of the people and the changes that the revolution had on daily life and the slow descent back into authoritarianism.

Orwell has an interesting technique of first describing how an event (such as the street fighting in Barcelona) directly affected him in a diary like account, and then in the following chapter, he'd fill in the story with a broader brush of what was going on in a political, macroscopic view.

The final chapter's were maddening descriptions of the Pogram against the POUM, the trotskyite party and militia which were outlawed and thrown into prison, accused of collaborating with the fascists, even as they were coming off of the front lines that they were holding against the fascist. I had heard stories of the treachery of the Stalist factions in the Spanish Civil War, but had no idea the extent of their back-stabbing.

But still Orwell warns that all accounts of the Spanish Civil Was were biased and he warns of taking his own account as objective truth. But through it all the heartbreak, the stupidity, the treachery; he still sees the humanity of the people in the streets and on the front lines:

This war, in which I played so ineffectual a part, has left me with memories that are mostly evil, and yet I do not wish that I had missed it. When you have had a glimpse of such a disaster as this--and however it ends the Spanish war will turn out to have been an appalling disaster, quite apart from the slaughter and physical suffering — the result is not necessarily disillusionment and cynicism. Curiously enough the whole experience has left me with not less but more belief in the decency of human beings.

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Sunday, July 29, 2012

Review: A Feast for Crows

A Feast for Crows
A Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“Jaime,” she said, tugging on his ear, “sweetling, I have known you since you were a babe at Joanna’s breast. You smile like Gerion, fight like Tyg, and there’s some of Kevan in you, else you would not wear that cloak…but Tyrion is Tywin’s son, not you. I said so once to your father’s face, and he would not speak to me for half a year. Men are such thundering great fools. Even the sort who come along once in a thousand years.”

This book, concentrated on the action happening around King's Landing. The main narrators where Cercei, Jaime, Brienne, and Samwell, with a couple chapter's for Sansa, Arya and the Dornish. I found Brienne and Samwell's story arc's to be the most interesting. Cercei, finally started getting on my nerves by the end of the book. Jaime, as always, had entertaining wit. Also, it should be added that Sansa's chapters have become much better now that she has been paired with the amazing Littlefinger, the greatest mind in Westeros, with the possible exception of Tyrion.

I greatly enjoyed this book, the wild intricate plots and characters keep you still turning the pages, through the entirety of book 4. There were no weaknesses like the Daenerys chapters in the first couple of books.

This book also added a few new characters and kingdoms. The deserts of Dorne and its sly and sexy characters were filled in.

The star of this book was without doubt Brienne and her quest, she was the true knight, dashing, formidable, true to her word, endlessly loyal. She was the knight that Sansa was always looking for and pining over. [

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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Review: Software

Software by Rudy Rucker

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Cobb Anderson is the creator of the boppers: anarchic robots that have rebelled against the humans and now live autonomously on the moon. He built a simple directive into their code: each robot or bopper must rebuild bodies for themselves every 10 months. This directive cause rapid evolution among the boppers, the idea was "we couldn't build intelligient robots, but we could cause them to evolve."

At the beginning of the novel Cobb Anderson is retired and living in the "gimme retirement state" of Florida. He is worrying about how he can afford a new artificial heart, when a robot duplicate of himself, built by the boppers, offers him a ticket to the moon and the chance for immortality.

This novel is a classic and a major influence of the early cyberpunks. Although it was written in the 70s it doesn't feel dated, unlike some of the early cyberpunk novels from the 80s. It was a joy to read, and the bopper society, as well as Rucker's vision of Florida and the Gimme State and Baby boomer retirees is hilarious and not to be missed. This is the second time I have read this novel and I liked it even better the on the second reading. Highly recommended.

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Sunday, May 13, 2012

Review: Halting State

Halting State
Halting State by Charles Stross

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This story started slow, really slow, but I finally got into the story about half way through. I stuck with it because of the interesting look into the very near future.

The peak into the future world that Stross has created is the star of this story. Copspace, the augmented reality of the police, the virtual LARP's that the main character's are involved with, drone taxis, the virtual realities, the blacknets. Very cool stuff.

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Saturday, January 30, 2010

My Nook

I received a Nook for Christmas and I really like it. I like it so much I even sewed a sleeve for it. Mushrooms:

Mushroom Nook Sleeve and Vonnegut

I'm developing my thoughts on the difference between reading the nook and physical books. Once the bright touch screen dims (the touch screen timeout is configurable from 10 to 60 seconds), the reading experience is similar to that of a book. The e-ink display is very nice on the eyes--much nicer than a computer screen or I dare-say iPad display.

I've read a couple books on the Nook now, and while my eyes tire quickly when I read on my laptop, I can read all day without them tiring of the e-ink display.

Also as yet there is no email client or weather app for the Nook and so I can read in peace without feeling the need to check email or my facebook feed. I mean I get email, FB, pandora, google maps etc on a laptop and on my phone already, do I really need them on an ebook-reader too?

Friday, October 2, 2009

10. Dead Until Dark

Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris