Better than Volume 1: the art is just as excellent (if not better), and most of the stories are interesting, with a couple of exceptional ones. Plus,Better than Volume 1: the art is just as excellent (if not better), and most of the stories are interesting, with a couple of exceptional ones. Plus, I actually recognize some of the artists this time!...more
Feynman's mischievous adventures are a common topic of discussion among my nerdier friends. I don't know whether his personality was really one of a kFeynman's mischievous adventures are a common topic of discussion among my nerdier friends. I don't know whether his personality was really one of a kind and influenced generations of science students after him, or if these sorts of things tend to happen to all young, intelligent kids when left among their own kind, but I can definitely sense an echo of Feynman's personality in the likes of xkcd, MIT culture, and other pillars of "geek Romanticism".
I found the stories in the book to be hugely inspiring. One reason is that despite their absurdity, Feynman makes it clear exactly how they came to transpire, and almost makes it seem like they could have happened to anyone. Take his stay at Los Alamos, for instance: not only did he crack half the safes in the facility, but he managed to unlock a set of filing cabinets containing the entire set of documents on the Manhattan Project -- and left a few mischievous notes inside for the owner to find! This story could have easily been one of a lone genius physicist outsmarting his coworkers, but it's not presented this way: Feynman describes how he took the locks apart and poked around the innards, how he accidentally discovered how to read off the last two digits of an open safe, how he used social engineering and pure educated guesswork to figure everything out. He makes it sound as if -- if we were in his shoes -- we would have been able to figure it out just as easily!
This attitude carries over to his physics work. Despite his great accomplishments, Feynman is very humble and laughs at himself more than others, and is quick to point out his own failings and moments of sheer luck. I didn't think it would be so easy to relate to a famous Nobel-Prize-winning physicist, but by the end of the book, I felt like I would have loved to sit down and have a beer with this man.
All in all, a hilarious, touching, and inspiring book. After reading, I suddenly have a burning desire to go out, educate myself as much as possible, and have lots of crazy adventures. I have no huge interest in physics, but if Feynman's as good of a teacher as he is a storyteller, I might just have to pick up his lecture series on the subject....more
The prose was ordinary, many of the characters weren't very well-developed, and the plot was predictable at times -- but somehow "Ender's Game" kept mThe prose was ordinary, many of the characters weren't very well-developed, and the plot was predictable at times -- but somehow "Ender's Game" kept me captivated until the very last page. The Battle School portion was particularly good: I quite enjoyed reading about Ender's development from genius child to military commander, as reflected in his brilliant tactical prowess as well as his careful navigation of the school's social ladder. I suppose it's this second-person view that the book excels at: we only understand the personalities of most of the characters in broad strokes, but it really feels like we're right there with them as they go through their training and develop their skills. It actually reminded me of Harry Potter quite a bit, especially the Quidditch matches.
I also quite liked the videogame sequences. They reminded me of some of the games I used to play when I was younger, such as King's Quest VI.
It's not a particularly deep read, but it's a good one. Recommended!...more
A suspenseful tale that you'd be hard-pressed to believe even as fiction — if you didn't already know it was true! This is an intense account of the sA suspenseful tale that you'd be hard-pressed to believe even as fiction — if you didn't already know it was true! This is an intense account of the survival of Ernest Shackleton's stranded 1914 Antarctic expedition. The book is meticulously detailed with excerpts from the crew's diaries, interviews, and even a few maps and photos of the seveal-year-long ordeal. The only issue I found was that it was a little too fact-heavy at the expense of pacing. You're dying to read about the crew's progress while the author is talking about the very specific makeup of the inventory or the step-by-step construction of the shelter. On the other hand, this creates a very vivid impression of what actually happened on the voyage, more so than perhaps any other non-fiction book I've read....more