Michael Crichton returns to the smarter writing that gave us Jurassic Park's pace and morality play without the obnoxious preachiness of State of FearMichael Crichton returns to the smarter writing that gave us Jurassic Park's pace and morality play without the obnoxious preachiness of State of Fear. The amusing (although at times far fetched) scenarios of the book almost manage to turn it into satire along the lines of Boomsday by Christopher Buckley. Here, Crichton informs us of the possibilities and dangers of applied genetics as well as the absurdities that occur due to a legal framework ill equipped to handle some of the new realities of this rapidly developing field of research.
All the threads wind up rather fantastically and a bit apruptly but it is entertaining and worth the money and time spent. While Jurassic Park remains his most famous work, this takes its place alongside Sphere and Airframe for smart, fun, funny and timely science fiction writing....more
Simply a masterpiece. Blending science, environmentalism, religion and politics in a story of mankind's distant future, the story of Paul Atriedes isSimply a masterpiece. Blending science, environmentalism, religion and politics in a story of mankind's distant future, the story of Paul Atriedes is a must for every lover of science fiction....more
This books is essentially Barack Obama's manifesto. It is his philosophy on government, his governing tendencies, the way his mind conceives of the prThis books is essentially Barack Obama's manifesto. It is his philosophy on government, his governing tendencies, the way his mind conceives of the problems of society, his personal priorities. The book is well written, funny and is written with a warmth and accesibility that I think is Barack Obama's strongest attribute. It allows you a sense that you know the man doing the writing (and the writing is excellent...and certainly more than you expect from a politician).
And while I am certainly an admirer of the writer (and our sitting President....ok...I admit it....I drank the Koolaid a LONG time ago!), I think reading this book has great insights into the hidden third way that must be charted between the virulent extremes that seem ascendant in modern political life. This ranks with Profiles in Courage among books written by prominent politicians....more
Excellent book by an MIT professor describing various experiments in the field of behavioral economics. This field attempts to give some practical insExcellent book by an MIT professor describing various experiments in the field of behavioral economics. This field attempts to give some practical insights into why classical economics fails to reliably predict marketplace behavior; further, he argues that these irrational tendencies are predictable and measurable parts of human nature with far reaching consequences for interpersonal relations, commercial choices and public policy. Written in a very accessible style which allows the reader to get a good appreciation of the power of empiricism, the difficulties of experimental design and the need to question one's assumptions about how people make decisions. I would think of this book as a slightly less commercial (though a little less fun) version of Freakonomics. While Freakonomics (I think) focuses more on the method in which you generate experiments to give insight into hard questions, this focuses more on the revelations of the experiments themselves. A must read for managers, physicians, lawyers and parents. Hell, anyone interested in making better sense of the patterns of behavior in the world....more
A science fiction novel about a near future America under strain due to a war with China and an ever growing internal rebellion due to White supremaciA science fiction novel about a near future America under strain due to a war with China and an ever growing internal rebellion due to White supremacist militias who eventually control much of the mountain West. And the cause of all of this...a horrific tobacco settlement enacted by Bill Clinton! A historian (and an expert in Clinton who is writing a biography of the then very old Bill Clinton) is sent back in time as part of a military mission to warn the young Bill Clinton of his terrible error and avert the scourge to come.
I know...sound awful! But it isn't!! That alone is remarkable...so many opportunities for this book to fall on its face but it does not. And the reason is that the what if scenarios are so plausible, the book is very funny and satirical and it is an excellent and plausible psychological profile of our former president which places his follies and missteps in an interesting light.
Even if you aren't into science fiction, I highly recommend this one if you are a lover of politics, policy and the thought exercises one must go through to imagine the consequences of important political decisions....more
Quite simply a tour-de-force laying out an excellent case for how the modern conservative movement was able to sway most of the country into voting foQuite simply a tour-de-force laying out an excellent case for how the modern conservative movement was able to sway most of the country into voting for and supporting an agenda which in many ways acted against their economic interests and in some cases were counter to their moral beliefs. This books introduced me to the term backlash politics; once you interpret modern conservatism in this light you both have trouble taking conservatism seriously, but you also understand more fully the power of the conservative media.
Humanity has reached the stars and there they meet a genocidal alien race who sets out to exterminate humanity. Humans are plucky...they put up a fighHumanity has reached the stars and there they meet a genocidal alien race who sets out to exterminate humanity. Humans are plucky...they put up a fight....but eventually realize they are going to lose. So a plan is hatched where a group of humans will escape in a last ditch effort to preserve the species.
The plan is to hide humanity until a way is found to defeat the Gbaba....but some of the leaders of the expedition decide to wipe humanity's memories, make themselves out to be gods and set up a Church of God Awaiting to enforce the Proscriptions....a set of rules designed to keep the Church in control but also designed to allow humanity to advance somewhat but not develop techonologies that would attract the Gbaba.
800 or so years into this, the memory of a female officer aboard the original expedition, Nimue Alban, awakens in an artificial superhuman body (male to boot), to confront a world, called Safehold, that is midieval and stunted. Those who opposed the deification of the expedition leaders (so-called Archangels) have been slaughtered and the memory of their names sullied. And Nimue Alban allies herself with Charis, a well ruled Kingdom hated by the Church for their "innovations". Just in time to see the Church launch an offensive to destroy Charis. What's an artificial life form with knowledge of Humankind's true history to do??
Simply one of the finest, most readable primers I have encountered on the techincal and cultural background to the present financial crisis. If you arSimply one of the finest, most readable primers I have encountered on the techincal and cultural background to the present financial crisis. If you are an ordinary person trying to understand how this disaster has befallen our country and society, you MUST read this as a foundation for your knowledge. And if you only read one book about the crisis, this would be the one I recommend. I didn't do economics in college but I would bet that 20 years from now when business schools and economics courses are reviewing this historical moment, this book will be on the reading list....more
A remarkable tale of failing hegemony, cultural decline and intellectual bankruptcy. A galactic empire has reigned for thousands of years and begins tA remarkable tale of failing hegemony, cultural decline and intellectual bankruptcy. A galactic empire has reigned for thousands of years and begins to decline inevitably. Enter Hari Seldon, a psychohistorian who has envisioned the coming crisis and established a foundation to maintain human knowledge and intellectual endeavor so that the coming time of barbarism is shortened from ten thousand to one thousand years.
Rich in psychology, politics and economic theory, this classic tale written in the 1950s jumps off the page now as then. A great book....more
I really struggled with how good I thought this one was....and finally decided on excellent. It's a combination of mid-20th century noir fiction, moraI really struggled with how good I thought this one was....and finally decided on excellent. It's a combination of mid-20th century noir fiction, morality play and cultural anthropology field trip into the mind of Zionism. it took me a little while to settle in what with esoteric Yiddish terms in every sentence (!) but once you got through that, you began to see the outlines of a really wonderfully textured story. I tend to not like stories with their premises in altered history but this one I thought was incredibly interesting given the modern tensions in the holy land and the stridency of some of the nuttier elements of Zionism and Chritian evangelism.
The characters are well developed (Berko, Meyer, Bina), the mindset of Zionism is explored in a very psychologically sophisticated way and it still manages to give us a very satisfying whodunit except that the revelation of the perpetrator seemed a little forced....almost as if the writer got tired, the editor cut huge chunks or the book deal was in real danger of being unfulfilled if it wasn't finished quickly!
The one serious drawback was that the earliest portions of the book were quite overwritten. There was an interesting passage where a character accuses another of having ridiculously formal Yiddish; imagine the first third of the book written like that! But despite that, Chabon still manages to deliver a tremendously interesting novel which will probably outlast him and his contemporaries.
This was a thoroughly engrossing book. And it makes me want to read the the Adventures of Kavalier and Klay which seems to be much more celebrated than this excellent novel....more