A hilarious romp through the known and unknown universe that exposes how ridiculous much of US copyright law is. Written by the founder of Rhapsody, wA hilarious romp through the known and unknown universe that exposes how ridiculous much of US copyright law is. Written by the founder of Rhapsody, who knows a thing or two about music and the copyright surrounding it. What I didn't expect from a book by an entrepreneur is a funny book - and this book is not bad. It is being compared to Hitchhikers Guide, which nothing can approach, but its not bad. My only gripe would be there are a ton of footnotes that attempt to extend the humor and most of them didn't work for me.
The basic premise of the book is brilliant; that aliens have been listening to - and thus pirating - our music since 1977, without our knowledge. Because US copyright law states that a single case of intentional copyright violation can be fined $150,000 - this means the entire universe is many times over in debt to humanity.
It's pretty ridiculous that the music industry got such a big fine to be passed. I think one of my favorite parts of the book was learning about the law firm that Nick Carter works for, and seeing a little under the hood of how they operate.
This book has a great premise, and is full of some beautifully written prose. It's about a hacker during the Arab Spring, helping people get around thThis book has a great premise, and is full of some beautifully written prose. It's about a hacker during the Arab Spring, helping people get around the firewalls that the State erected to control its population. Alif falls in love, finds an ancient book, gets into trouble with State, enlists the help of an unseen, magical world full of creatures call Jinn, and combats evil. The story flowed well, and was a fast, fun read.
I would have given it a higher rating, but I'm a computer programmer, and for a book that is about hacking the descriptions of Alif coding felt like I was watching one of those movies where they used a bunch of made-up visuals that have nothing to do with hacking. The prose around the hacking was so oddly descriptive you didn't know what to make of it. For instance, when Alif is hacking into State's intranet, it is described as:
I didn't know a computer program could "reek of ionized air" - and can't conceive of how a mirroring protocol (if there is such a thing) could ever be used to "slice away layers of code".
(view spoiler)[I wanted so hard for the bit about quantum computing and encoding the ancient story into code to make sense. But it just didn't. And that was the heart of the story - that the ancient text contained an all-powerful computer algorithm. I also had trouble buying the Alif & Dina relationship - the characters just felt shallow to me. (hide spoiler)] ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
A fun, dark, slightly comical western about two killers (Charlie and Eli Sisters) on their way to California for the gold rush. Going into the mind ofA fun, dark, slightly comical western about two killers (Charlie and Eli Sisters) on their way to California for the gold rush. Going into the mind of a killer is a strange experience - I'm not sure I totally enjoyed it. But what I did really enjoy was the authors writing; it was clean, fun, and even poetic - which made this book a quick enjoyable read.
I loved all the introspective one-liners that Eli kept throwing out. For instance:
I struggled however to find the point of this novel. What lesson was I meant to take away? What did we learn from Charlie and Eli's adventure? I suppose if anything the theme of the book was transformation. (view spoiler)[We witnessed Warm, Morris, and Eli have the courage to transform themselves and change their lives. In other words - it's easy to let life dictate your path. Eli's story of how Charlie sucked him into a life of crime was fascinating. Warm had a similar story of how he became a thief. We didn't learn about Morris's past, but we did see the difficulty of his decision to leave the Commodore's employment. (hide spoiler)] It takes guts to transform oneself - especially for the better. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
A fascinating story of world war one. I knew the basics, but it was fascinating to hear the story told through some of the characters involved, and seA fascinating story of world war one. I knew the basics, but it was fascinating to hear the story told through some of the characters involved, and see how it all played out.
On the surface, WW1 was started pretty stupidly. The arch-duke of Austria was assassinated, so in retaliation Austria invaded Serbia. Serbia had an alliance with Russia so they stepped in, and then Germany had an alliance with Austria, so suddenly Germany and Russia were at war. Russia and France had a treaty and since they surrounded Germany, the Germans went on the offensive in France, which dragged in Britain. And then the US got dragged in later by Britain and b/c Germans were sinking our ships.
But there was more to the story. These countries didn't have to honor these treaties - they could have found a way to not commit to a war. It's almost like they were all war hungry. Follett also tried, through some of the female characters like Maud, to indicate that if the world had been controlled by women then war would never have happened (probably true). This was a great quote:
One issue of the war I hadn't considered was the financial pressures it brought to bear once a country had committed. This was brought up artfully by Ethel's husband Bernie. Once Germany, Britain, etc had declared and spent a ton of money building their army and fighting the war, they were stuck. The people in power - the aristocracy - needed to win or they would go bankrupt and risk losing power. They were pot-committed, and too proud to turn back.
My one criticism of the book was that the character Fitz was made out to be a real simpleton. Ethel and Billy seemed to intellectually walk all over him and he never defended himself (or it was left out) - didn't seem terribly realistic.
I think my favorite part was learning about the Bolshevik revolution - that was a piece of history I really didn't know enough about, and it was described in great detail through Grigory and his story. Czar Nicholas II fell from power during the war, and the Bolsheviks staged a revolution and took over. But its hard to control a country!
The class struggles in England, Germany and Russia were clearly a major theme to the book. In each country Follett was careful to show how the aristocracy were fools and didn't know what they were doing. It really highlighted why a democracy is a better way of doing things! ...more