I am perpetually promising myself that I won't read any more teenage wish fulfillment stories. That I am done with the whole teenager against post-apoI am perpetually promising myself that I won't read any more teenage wish fulfillment stories. That I am done with the whole teenager against post-apocalyptic society genre. That I've been Hunger Gamed out. And, yet, *sigh*, I find myself again with one of them in hand.
I will admit for the genre, this one wasn't bad. It's a little light on descriptive text, very tightly focused on the protagonist, but the plot moves along at a brisk pace and the characters are likable enough and there are enough amusement in how she's twisting the original fairy tale. Though you will know most of the "surprises" way before the story gets to them. And it's part of a series, so don't expect everything to be resolved.
It was a fine, summer afternoon book. Something to read by the pool....more
Everyone has gushed over this book and told me, in no uncertain terms, that, as a geek / nerd, I would love this book because it's about nerds and sciEveryone has gushed over this book and told me, in no uncertain terms, that, as a geek / nerd, I would love this book because it's about nerds and science and San Francisco and climate change. And it is well-written. The characters are interesting and the plot moves along briskly. But...
Somehow it didn't make that leap from a good read to wow, you can't miss this. And that's probably my fault. I find stories that combine magic and science -- rocket ships, robots, worm-holes, time-machines, ray guns AND talking animals, healing spells, curses, assassin guilds -- to be too rich a stew. Because every time something needs to happen, the character can say, oh, that's right, I forgot that I know how to fly or let's turn on the anti-gravity machine or let's do both at the same time. And you just know that for the grand reveal, science and magic have to merge into the literary equivalent of baked Alaskan.
It's all very topical and I'm sure a year or two from now it will be a Syfy channel movie where everyone will talk about the special effects. But it never really soared above "alright" for me....more
I believe the struggles of the last few years -- the Occupy movement, the success of Bernie Sanders -- is the beginning of a conversation about how weI believe the struggles of the last few years -- the Occupy movement, the success of Bernie Sanders -- is the beginning of a conversation about how we become a post-money, post-capitalistic society. Projects like this book are the beginning of trying to develop tools for that transition.
The big question for me is how comfortable do we make the lives of people that are unable or unwilling to contribute? The answer we're giving right now is that we make their lives pretty damn uncomfortable. And that feels hard hearted and selfish. But even with the best intentions, how comfortable can we make their lives when every avenue to give them funds involves a large unwieldy bureaucracy? In most of his examples, his case studies, the income, that he cites as 80% of their income is going to rent, is government aid, not wages. As automation increases and manual labor decreases, what do we do with the people without sources of income?
It's a discussion we need to start having, but I don't feel like we haven't quite hit on the solution yet. ...more
I get that this was a meditation on death and our denial of death, our fears about the end of the world and our need to control the end of the world,I get that this was a meditation on death and our denial of death, our fears about the end of the world and our need to control the end of the world, to exist beyond the end of the world. And that the people like that, narrowly focused on death, are speaking a different language from the rest of us that are just living our lives. And the book is beautifully written.
I read a book once, years ago, about suicide notes and how they're frustrating because a person that can get their head in a space to commit suicide is so detached from the what the rest of us are thinking about that suicide notes rarely coherently explain anything. That people who commit suicide are not rational, so neither are the suicide notes. And that seems to sum up this book for me. The people in the story that are preparing for surviving death are unintelligible to the narrator, so it makes for a rather disjointed story of the protagonist reporting events that he doesn't feel or understand. It's not that the protagonist is an unreliable witness, I think he's just doesn't care. So, I wasn't sure why I was supposed to....more
I never walk away from a Philip K Dick story raving about how great a story it was. I'm slack jawed from thinking, wow, what a really interesting ideaI never walk away from a Philip K Dick story raving about how great a story it was. I'm slack jawed from thinking, wow, what a really interesting idea. I'm intrigued about whether the scenario would really have played out that way. But the writing itself is very plain, very mid 20th century SF anthology, crank out ten pages every day....more
When this book came out years and years ago, it got such high praise and great reviews that I was, of course, immediately suspicious. And I have speciWhen this book came out years and years ago, it got such high praise and great reviews that I was, of course, immediately suspicious. And I have special resistance to book of the month breast heavers which the book blurb made this sound like. But I put myself on the list at the local library and waited two years for my number to come up. (Obviously this is a popular book.)
And you know, it really was fabulous. Sharply observed, poetic, knowing in how we sabotage our lives, true to its place and time. There's also a lot, I mean, seriously, a lot of sex. The characters spend most of their time thinking about sex, remembering sex, and, yes, even having sex. But it escapes being a woman's romantic novel because there is no good hearted heroine behaving stupidly or in need of rescuing. Just a group of people unsentimentally acting in ways that are not in their best interests. But winter across the lake from Canada can probably make you do a little crazy. Don't know. Not going to research it.
I would recommend this book for people that liked Mink River....more
A bit overly simplified, I was looking for something a bit more science-y, but well balanced and interesting enough. I would put it about junior highA bit overly simplified, I was looking for something a bit more science-y, but well balanced and interesting enough. I would put it about junior high level. ...more
There's a point where you're reading a biography that you don't like and can't figure out whether it's the author or the subject that is annoying you.There's a point where you're reading a biography that you don't like and can't figure out whether it's the author or the subject that is annoying you. The author kept telling me Mrs Churchill was a fabulous witty character, but then never gave me an example of her wit. Most of the direct quotes are from letters between her and her husband where she's nagging him about something. Mrs Churchill comes across as angry and brittle. The type of woman who gets annoyed at her husband so spends an extra month on ski holiday in the Alps to spite him. She comes across as unpleasant without being really interesting. But maybe it's just the author......more
I get it. The author (Joshua Cohen as opposed to the fictional author within the book) is trying to saying interesting things about identity and how mI get it. The author (Joshua Cohen as opposed to the fictional author within the book) is trying to saying interesting things about identity and how memory / history is written down and created. He's trying to deconstruct the novel into a new or at least unexpected form. So, the (fake) memoir is split into 3 sections. The first section we're introduced to the fictional author so we understand who's writing the memoir, what his biases and limitations are, and how he came to be writing the memoir. The second section is the first rough draft of the memoir with all its rewrites and strike-outs and notes to self, the rough transcripts of the interviews. And the third section is back to the author when he's cut loose and trying to figure out how and why to finish the thing, the writer's struggle for completion and meaning. The characters in the book keep talking about internet search, but in reality this is more of a riff on the Walter Isaacson's book on Steve Jobs. The fictional author of the Book of Numbers doesn't understand technology, so the technical references (which are the bulk of the book) become word salad, bad refrigerator magnetic poetry (which I didn't really appreciate when William Burroughs did it).
The worse part is that I think I might have been the intended audience for this book. I'm a Silicon Valley engineer. I understand technology. I've been to some of the places that Mr. Cohen is making fun of, been to some of the parties, know some of the people or at least know all the stories. I read a lot, I read a lot of literature, not frightened off by the post-modern deconstruction of the novel he's aiming for. Either that or I'm completely the wrong audience because I don't find turning technical references into gobbledygook enough of a joke. And make no mistake, Mr. Cohen thinks he's hysterical.
Which is a long winded way of saying that I thought Book of Numbers was self-indulgent unreadable garbage. Avoid at all costs....more
It was beautifully written, compelling characters, big in scope, trying to address the meaning of life and love with the deft touch of poetry. But it'It was beautifully written, compelling characters, big in scope, trying to address the meaning of life and love with the deft touch of poetry. But it's a long slog through the brutality of being a prisoner of war by the Japanese in WWII. There is death and disease and terrible suffering. And it's been written about so many times, it doesn't feel fresh or relevant. ...more