I'm a little dismayed I didn't learn about this a long time ago, when I was discovering some of the classic texts (e.g., The Lonely Crowd or The OrgI'm a little dismayed I didn't learn about this a long time ago, when I was discovering some of the classic texts (e.g., The Lonely Crowd or The Organization Man .)
❝“Politics and Vision,” subtitled “Continuity and Innovation in Western Political Thought,” appeared at a time when American political science was under the sway of the behavioralist revolution, which emphasized the quantitative analysis of data rather than political ideas as a way to explain political behavior.
Professor Wolin, then teaching at the University of California, Berkeley, galvanized the profession by gathering key political philosophers, beginning with the Greeks, in a grand debate on democracy and examining their ideas not as historical artifacts, but as a way to criticize current political structures.
“The book revitalized political theory by making its history relevant to an analysis of the present,” Nicholas Xenos, a student of Professor Wolin’s and a professor of political science at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, wrote in an email. “It challenged the behavioralists, for whom history was increasingly irrelevant. It also provided a way to criticize the present using the concepts and vocabulary that since antiquity had sustained concern for what he called ‘the possibilities of collectivity, common action and shared purposes.’ ”
In 1985, the American Political Science Association honored the book with the Benjamin E. Lippincott Award in recognition of its lasting impact. It was reissued in expanded form in 2004.❞
It appears to be quite appropriate to study today....more
This classic of science fiction is a must read —and very fast-paced and easy to read. Asimov took on the challenge: before this book, it was believedThis classic of science fiction is a must read — and very fast-paced and easy to read. Asimov took on the challenge: before this book, it was believed that science fiction couldn't crossover to the detective genre, since science fiction could always, trivially, answer too many questions.
Asimov proved 'em wrong.
I don't remember how many books featured the odd couple detectives (one human, one robot), but it was a pretty good pairing.
I will note that Asimov does contradict himself. At one point, it is established that robots can only follow "the law", but later the robot explained his actions by arguing that there is a "higher law", above the law itself. Oops!...more
This appears to be the recommended translation, per Wikipedia. But do I go for the very cheap Kindle version ($1.99), or actually dish out ten times tThis appears to be the recommended translation, per Wikipedia. But do I go for the very cheap Kindle version ($1.99), or actually dish out ten times that for a hardback, y'know, to put in the bookshelf for show-off purposes?
Ah, and I notice that the Kindle version has lending set to "Nope, sucker!" Hmmm. Or maybe just borrow a copy from the library, since they've got 24 copies of this edition....more
Good, verging on very good, although a bit too mannered and slow. Very deep psychological portrayals of the characters provide the big win. The plot wGood, verging on very good, although a bit too mannered and slow. Very deep psychological portrayals of the characters provide the big win. The plot was nicely convoluted, although the denouement wasn't much of a surprise.
This was among the books listed on an ancient "all-time bests" newspaper clipping I found in my files. I think anyone who is a fan of mysteries should probably have already read it, right?...more
From the January 2012 issue of Backpacker magazine: Required Reading, Top picks from our Facebook fans: OK, it's not a page-turner. But pack this onFrom the January 2012 issue of Backpacker magazine: Required Reading, Top picks from our Facebook fans: OK, it's not a page-turner. But pack this on a trek of Muir's namesake trail, and you'll want to slow time down, not speed it up....more
Although this book contains both Roadside Picnic and Tale of the Troika, this review is only of the latter, shorter story.
Roadside Picnic isn’t reallyAlthough this book contains both Roadside Picnic and Tale of the Troika, this review is only of the latter, shorter story.
Roadside Picnic isn’t really worth reading. If you’re curious about my review of that one, see here.
Think of Tale of the Troika as kind of a twisted Lewis Carroll-esque fantasy of the Soviet bureaucracy, but not nearly as good as Lewis Carroll would have done.
Luckily it is short, because it is hit and miss, with the emphasis on miss. Still, there are some delightful sections. The argument between the bedbug and abominable snowman about whether the human race was any better than other species is probably the highlight, but there are others scattered amidst the dross.
Near the end, there was one paragraph that will ring true for anyone tired of the attack on science common in the United States today. Is evolution true? Is climate change happening? The Soviets knew the power of ideological denial.
“How’s he on perjury?” Feofil asked the goat. “Never,” she replied. “He always believes every word he says.” “Really, what is a lie?” said Farfurkis. “A lie is a denial or a distortion of a fact. But what is a fact? Can we speak of facts in our increasingly complex life? A fact is a phenomenon or action that is verified by witnesses. But eyewitnesses can be prejudiced, self-interested, or simply ignorant. Or, a fact is a phenomenon or action that is verified by documents. But documents can be forged or tampered with. Or finally, a fact is a phenomenon or action that is determined by me personally. However, my sensations can be dulled or even completely deceived under certain circumstances. Thus, it is evident that a fact is something ephemeral, nebulous, and unverifiable, and the elimination of the concept becomes necessary. But in that case falsehood and truth become primitive concepts, indefinable through any other general categories. There exist only the Great Truth and its antipode, the Great Lie. The Great Truth is so great and its validity so obvious to any normal man, such as myself, that it is totally futile to try to refute or distort it, that is, to lie.”
I actually read Roadside Picnic in a different edition, but I wanted to reserve that review for the much-better Tale of the Troika. See here for thatI actually read Roadside Picnic in a different edition, but I wanted to reserve that review for the much-better Tale of the Troika. See here for that book, and here for my review.
Roadside Picnic isn’t really worth reading.
Ostensibly it is a tale of the chaos that reigns when aliens “visit” Earth and leave some mystifying junk behind.
But what you get is (view spoiler)[a story of a very corrupt society that is trying to both investigate (the scientists) and profit from (everyone else, including many of the scientists) the horrific junk, which tends to mangle and kill anyone that ventures into the visitation zone. Why the junk should do this is barely mentioned. The authors’ primary purpose in writing this was to let them fantasize about those nasty effects; it is fundamentally no different that what a group of kids telling scifi-themed horror stories around a campfire might come up with, although the authors might have a more creative collection than the kids create. But that, frankly, isn’t enough to make this an interesting story. (hide spoiler)]
The only reason this doesn’t get a one-star rating is the portrayal of Soviet-era corruption. The contrast with how the same story would unfold in the United States is mildly interesting (envision locals trying to deal with the invasion of the sinister military-industrial complex, a la E.T.) An interesting book along these lines would explore how visitation sites throughout the world were investigated and exploited differently, but that isn’t this book.
Read Tale of the Troika if you want a taste of these authors. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Wow, what a fascinating and strange book. You should read it.
Doesn’t take long, and it is pretty easy reading. Yeah, true, science fiction from 1956 dWow, what a fascinating and strange book. You should read it.
Doesn’t take long, and it is pretty easy reading. Yeah, true, science fiction from 1956 definitely creates a few difficulties in style and anachronisms, but those fade away pretty quickly.
A quick synopsis: a simple, stupid and barbaric man is stranded after a space battle. He appeals to a passing ship for rescue, and they leave him to die. He dedicates himself to the task of vengeance, and with each step he becomes more — more intelligent, more capable, and even more human. Finally, he becomes something just a bit more than human.
For those of you that know your scifi, this is a twisted blend of Philip K. Dick (yeah, he’s like Mary — once you know where to look, you’ll start seeing him everywhere) and Peter Watts. Watts because no one here is admirable — there are some victims, but mostly everyone is something of a villain. Not a pretty picture of humans; spiteful, greedy, angry, vicious are apt adjectives for just about everyone. As the book climbs towards its climax, PKD comes more into play, in psychedelia as well as in hints of existential questions, a temporal paradox, and a robot bartender that becomes something of a literal deus ex machina.
I thought I added this to my TBR shelf because it had shown up on a list of the 100 Best Science Fiction novels of all time, but now I can’t find any such list. (Yeah, it’s #58 on this one, but I know that isn’t the one I remember.) But this novel is acclaimed by plenty o’ the greats in the genre (e.g., William Gibson, so there.
Sigh. Couldn't get into this. The characters start out so.... irrelevant. Hackneyed, too, but the personalities themselves are caricatures that have nSigh. Couldn't get into this. The characters start out so.... irrelevant. Hackneyed, too, but the personalities themselves are caricatures that have no resonance, nor do the terms in which they perceive and discuss their political crisis....more