A beautiful story. Neil Gaiman is truly a unique storyteller. I did a combo of reading and listening to this story, and Neil is great at reading as we...moreA beautiful story. Neil Gaiman is truly a unique storyteller. I did a combo of reading and listening to this story, and Neil is great at reading as well. I got interested in this book after seeing the movie, which I really enjoyed. The book is similar - maybe a bit more poetic - but I think the plot in the movie is a bit improved (not much, but a bit).
I imagine this book came about because Neil read the below poem that he includes in the beginning, and then he invented a plot around it. The result is the book reads like a epic poem - it's creative, magical, and really, just right.
Go and catch a falling star, Get with child a mandrake root, Tell me where all past years are, Or who cleft the devil's foot, Teach me to hear mermaids singing, Or to keep off envy's stinging, And find What wind Serves to advance an honest mind.
If thou be'st born to strange sights, Things invisible to see, Ride ten thousand days and nights, Till age snow white hairs on thee, Thou, when thou return'st, wilt tell me, All strange wonders that befell thee, And swear, No where Lives a woman true, and fair.
If thou find'st one, let me know, Such a pilgrimage were sweet; Yet do not, I would not go, Though at next door we might meet; Though she were true, when you met her, And last, till you write your letter, Yet she Will be False, ere I come, to two, or three.
What a fun series. I loved Wool, and Dust and Shift both gave us the backstory to explain the world and how it ended up. I think the first book was by...moreWhat a fun series. I loved Wool, and Dust and Shift both gave us the backstory to explain the world and how it ended up. I think the first book was by far the best, but this gave us a nice conclusion.
(view spoiler)[It was the conclusion we wanted to see - the people finally get outside! My problem with this book is there were lots of holes. A lot of the other reviews have pointed this out too, and I'm not sure if the fact I know it was self-published is biasing me to say it could have used more editing, but feels that way a little. But the writing was great.
There were lots of things that weren't cleared up or never really fully made sense. The major one is why Thurman really felt the need to destroy the whole world - feels like there could have been a lot more to that. It also wasn't clear how he really accomplished that - was it all nuclear or was it nano? If nuclear, wouldn't the world really be a wasteland?
Whatever happened to silo 40 and other silo's that went dark? I was kind of expecting that they had already broken outside and would have been waiting there. Or perhaps they already went to the sea and Hugh will tell us their story later.
What happens to the other silos after silo one is destroyed? Didn't it power their server rooms and probably provide other stuff including guidance to the silo heads? Will they make the 200 years on their own?
The mystery of silo 17 and why the dead bodies at the top didn't rot was never really explained. I'm guessing they were kept whole by healing nano's, but it felt like there was more to that story.
I didn't understand why Anna didn't come back to life. If Thurman could do so after being killed by Donald, why not her? All the love stories (Juliet and Kyle, Donald and Anna, etc ended up sadly - I wanted one happy one. (hide spoiler)]
If anything, I think this book is about hope and resiliency. Jules and Donald and even Solo weren't perfect, and suffered through a lot, but the only thing that kept them going was hope of a better life, and determination to keep themselves alive. That determination defined them and was what we admired about them. The hope was what gave them their drive. Hope is a powerful and necessary part of human psychology. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Great explanation of the theory of constraints and operations management. It's a business classic- first published in 1984 - but still relevant as it...moreGreat explanation of the theory of constraints and operations management. It's a business classic- first published in 1984 - but still relevant as it gets at the fundamentals. I almost removed a star for trying to create a fictional story to tell the book in that was badly told/edited. Did we really need the side story about the protagonists marital issues?
One of the biggest takeaways from this book is that it's incredibly important to set the right goals to manage a complex operation. This sounds obvious and intuitive, however it's actually much harder than most people think, and easy to get wrong. It gets down to the question of: is everyone working on the "right things". The things that will lead to the business making the most money. It's too easy to find a things that are easily measurable and saying "this thing is correlated with our success, so let's focus on it". It sounds like "cost accounting" fit into that bucket.
One of the drivers of making money in any business that creates a product is throughput, or how fast a product can be made. The others are costs/operating expenses, and inventory. One of the key concepts of the book is that focusing on throughput rather than costs will yield much better results.
The bottleneck theory, or the theory of constraints, was very useful to think about. My company produces software and not physical products, but each feature we develop definitely has steps it has to go through: creating the concept, research, spec, design, implementation (backend and client), testing, QA, measure results, analyze them, iterate, etc. Focusing on where the bottlenecks are with that process can help us move faster. And every startup needs to be moving fast - and not just at building - we need to be doing build, measure, learn as fast as we can.
A consequence of the bottleneck theory that is useful to keep in mind is that in any system only the bottlenecks should be 100% utilized. Every manager will have a natural tendency to want to utilize all their resources to 100% because that just seems... wasteful if you don't. People should be working full time right? But a system can only run at the speed of the slowest bottleneck, so non-bottlenecks will by definition have spare cycles, and it's important to keep them open for the important work and not fill it up with unimportant stuff that will bog them down when you actually need them on the important stuff.
I've seen this happen many times in software. An engineer finishes a project, and the big important project coming from the design team isn't done yet, so he picks up something small in the meantime. The next day that big important project is ready to go, but the engineer only needs "one more day" to finish this thing he started. And then that day becomes two and then three (because we didn't count QA). And then we've lost 3 days on our most important project for another project that doesn't matter at all. Add that up across a large number of developers, and you've lost a lot of time.
The theory of constraints is not limited to manufacturing, as the author shows. In the end, he is advocating it as a method or process of learning.
Mark Watney is a steely-eyed missile man. A man's man. A badass mechanical engineer botanist astronaut who is stranded on Mars during a Nasa mission g...moreMark Watney is a steely-eyed missile man. A man's man. A badass mechanical engineer botanist astronaut who is stranded on Mars during a Nasa mission gone wrong, and left to fend for himself. I listened to this on audio on a roadtrip, and it flew by - what a fun story. Not surprised at all it's being made into a movie directed by Ridley Scott starring Matt Damon. Also pretty amazing is that it was self-published.
There were two great things about this book: the humor and the science. The science appealed to the mechanical engineer in me - Watney is a bit like McGyver except he knows a lot more about chemistry and botany. I didn't double-check all the science, but loved the descriptions of all the math: calorie calculations, creating water, etc. Just fun stuff.
But the humor was top notch. Weir does a great job portraying a stranded man trying to remain upbeat by talking to himself in log entries. And the excellent audio narrator only made it better.
In the end, a well told story of survival against the odds. And one of belief - I liked the CNN Mark Watney watch - you could totally imagine how into this story the media would get. We humans love a good surviving against the odds story. (less)
An amazing and unique creation: JJ Abrams and Doug Dorst created what reads like a classic work of fiction - something you can easily imagine having r...moreAn amazing and unique creation: JJ Abrams and Doug Dorst created what reads like a classic work of fiction - something you can easily imagine having read in English class - and then wrote a intriguing side story in the margins. A grad student (Eric) has left his annotated copy of SOT (Ship of Theseus) in the library, and an undergrad (Jen) finds it and replies to his annotations. This leads to them making exciting discoveries about the book, and also falling in love.
The first thing is this book is just beautifully printed. It looks and feels like a classic book, to the point where people would ask me why I'm reading such an old book. The marginalia feels real, and I can only imagine how hard that was to print. This is one that will be cool to keep on the shelves. Only complaint is the inserts are a cool idea, but they fall out all the time, and at this point I have no idea which pages they were supposed to be on.
The most interesting thing about this book to me is that it's a blueprint for how people discuss books. Sometimes they discuss the content of the book. Other times they use the content as a jumping off point to have a personal discussion. The nature of this book shows both, almost split 50/50. A key difference with this book - and the genius of it - is that most of us have to rely on memory to start a conversation with someone about a particular event or passage in the book. Here, our characters can literally underline a phrase like "relationships" and then talk about what is happening in their relationship at the moment.
One thing I didn't realize until later in the book is that the ship of Theseus is a real thing - it's an ancient Greek philosophical question - if you replace all the parts of something, is it still the same object? This inspires the ship that S is captured on, which sails through the mists of time, always getting fixed when needed. It's a ship that can't die. Or a series of ships :)
I found the story of Jen & Eric a lot more compelling than the SOT story. They were real characters that you could relate to. SOT felt like books you read in english class - a bit obtuse - and I still don't understand it all. But don't get me wrong - it's a pretty cool story. I particularly enjoyed the themes - like how it all begins and ends with water, and also how it was a lot about Straka's regret to fulfill his mission instead of living his life with his true love. Kind of like how S was on a mission, but didn't really know why - he just found himself caught up in it.