I'm a Scalzi fan but put off this book for a long time after reading the back cover. The concept was mildly interesting, but I wasn't in the mood forI'm a Scalzi fan but put off this book for a long time after reading the back cover. The concept was mildly interesting, but I wasn't in the mood for all the camp. There can only ever be one The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and any book whose premise starts with aliens hiring a Hollywood agent has to be shooting for the same "funny/wacky sci-fi-lite" flavor, right?
Here's where I admit my dirty little secret, jeopardize my nerdish accreditation, and expose an inner turmoil I have struggled with for years: I just like The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy—I don't love it. I recognize that it's brilliant and innovative, but I've only ever read it once and I'm okay with that. I feel the same way about Vonnegut, Hiassen, and Kim Stanley Robinson (see his little expedition into the absurd, Escape from Kathmandu). I read them, appreciate them, and generally come away thinking, "That was fine."
Scalzi's story promised more of this, and I flattered myself to believe I could spend my time better. Besides, I was supremely disinterested in the Hollywood angle, since that meta-story has been told a thousand times. In the end, I obviously read the book anyway. It entertained, thanks to a few interesting (though far from novel) ideas, some sort-of-funny characters, and the fact that it required no deep thinking. Still, I think I would have enjoyed Redshirts more. I'm going to test that theory....more
Not sure how I never read the original short story, since it has been reprinted so many times (unsubstantiated Wikipedia factoid: it appears in 48 antNot sure how I never read the original short story, since it has been reprinted so many times (unsubstantiated Wikipedia factoid: it appears in 48 anthologies and six collections of Asimov's stories), and is clearly considered an important piece of the Asimov canon. It even gets a passing XKCD mention (see note 4 there). Regardless, it was new to me, so I decided to take advantage of a long flight and read the novel adaptation.
The hard science isn't really that hard, but it's still fun. The plot turns on a bit of alien psychology that is also interesting, though it feels completely contrived to me. I know it's not supposed to; it's really speculating about how humans might react to seeing stars for the first time, but as thought experiments go, I found that one pretty ho-hum.
The novel breaks the story into three parts, the first being the most interesting. The rest of the book didn't do much for me....more
Experimenting with more young adult fiction to see what sparks an interest with my little Minecraft hounds. Even with limited screen time (weekends onExperimenting with more young adult fiction to see what sparks an interest with my little Minecraft hounds. Even with limited screen time (weekends only!), it seems like they would rather do anything besides read to themselves. This is killing me, of course. The best approach to this calamity is to make them sit through compulsory readings, right? I don't care what you say, it's happening.
Honestly, though, the whole situation is a mystery to me. They complain when I suggest they read on their own. They complain if I offer to read out loud. They complain when the reading is over (and beg for one more page—"You can't stop there! Just a little more so we hear what happens next!"). Right on schedule, the complain-train starts up again the next night.
Despite the exasperating process, the experience was a success. Everyone enjoyed the story, and there was a lot of side discussion and speculation about what would really happen if your float plane crashed in a remote lake, a bear walked up behind you, or you had to pull the guts out of your dinner. It's probably artificial, but there's a feeling here in the Northwest that we're not so far removed from the wilderness, and that these scenarios are actually worth contemplating. Maybe it's the same everywhere.
Regardless, my kids connected with the story and I enjoyed reading Paulsen's prose. It has a slightly broken, uncomfortable feel at times that accentuates the strangeness of Brian's situation. It doesn't flow easily like it's meant for young readers, but it's clear. Paulsen's style is sometimes quite poetic, which is especially noticeable when read aloud. ...more
I hated this book when I first saw it (having borrowed from my dad, I think). It seemed so dense at the time, and every little example so convoluted aI hated this book when I first saw it (having borrowed from my dad, I think). It seemed so dense at the time, and every little example so convoluted and impenetrable. Looking at it now, I have to laugh. The book covers 80x86 assembly, and the complexity was all in the chip, of course—Wyatt actually did a perfectly fine job of documenting it. After working almost exclusively on the 6502, though, I wasn't buying into 'int' calls to system routines with backward addresses that could have 65,535 aliases.
This book was a trusty companion for several years, never far from my keyboard and well-thumbed. I thought I remembered it including cycle times for eThis book was a trusty companion for several years, never far from my keyboard and well-thumbed. I thought I remembered it including cycle times for each op, but flipping through it recently I find I was mistaken. That data was critical and I referred to it daily, but it must have come from somewhere else.
Nevertheless, seeing this book brings back a lot of fond memories....more
This is the book that introduced me to the sweetest, nicest, prettiest, most down-to-earth, chip next door. So much of my love of programming arose diThis is the book that introduced me to the sweetest, nicest, prettiest, most down-to-earth, chip next door. So much of my love of programming arose directly from working in 68000 assembler, and any book wrapped up in that love affair deserves four stars just because. ...more
I remember being super excited to find this book (and its companion) at the Powell's Technical bookstore. I had just gotten an Amiga 2000 and was lookI remember being super excited to find this book (and its companion) at the Powell's Technical bookstore. I had just gotten an Amiga 2000 and was looking for any an all programming documentation I could lay my hands on.
Unfortunately, neither book was much more than an API reference, so they were a bit short on actual examples, which is what I really wanted at the time....more