Intriguing idea about a girl getting treatments to wipe out her memory. She can't remember why. Then someone tries to kill her, and things get complicIntriguing idea about a girl getting treatments to wipe out her memory. She can't remember why. Then someone tries to kill her, and things get complicated in a hurry....more
Marisa is a risk-taker, a hacker, and a member of the Cherry Dogs, a team in the MMORPG Overworld, in the not-so-distant future, where cybernetic braiMarisa is a risk-taker, a hacker, and a member of the Cherry Dogs, a team in the MMORPG Overworld, in the not-so-distant future, where cybernetic brain implants and limb replacements are common, and the world is ruled by corporations. Marisa's neighborhood, Mirador, is falling apart, with gang-driven protection rackets feeding off her parents' restaurant income. Between the restaurant's struggles, her brother belonging to the gang that controls much of the neighborhood, and her own risky behavior, Marisa's life is not simple.
And then one of her teammates gets a virus in her brain implant, Marisa tries to track down the source, and things start getting really complicated.
I'm torn on this book. In many ways, I really, really liked it. The characters are believable (if a bit thin). I loved that Marisa has an actual family -- a young adult book with a heroine with a mostly-intact family? how refreshing! -- and that the family plays intimately into the story. The pacing was terrific, the characters choices drove the consequences, and there were real consequences. The tech discussions were mostly dead-on, with clear evolutionary paths from where we are now: nothing too far-fetched.
On the other hand, there were a few false notes. Like many books dealing with programming, hacking, and cyber-anything, the teenaged hero(ine) strolls through in scant seconds problems that would take very experienced teams of coders weeks or months to figure out. I have done a lot of programming, I have 15 years of experience in cybersecurity, I occasionally hack things for a living (with permission!), I work with some brilliant programmers, and none of us could do the things that some of these characters do as a matter of course.
If you can get past that minor flaw, the book is great fun....more
A funny thing happened while I was reading this book. Actually, a number of odd coincidences occurred. The biggest of these was that as I was readingA funny thing happened while I was reading this book. Actually, a number of odd coincidences occurred. The biggest of these was that as I was reading a book on coincidences at the airport for a business trip, I started thinking about what a funny coincidence it would be if a friend or co-worker wound up on the same flight as me (other than the co-worker I was traveling with -- I figured that one wouldn't really count as a coincidence).
Imagine my surprise when, after I sat down on the plane, I saw a familiar face climbing into a seat eight or so rows ahead of me: a friend from high school whom I still see occasionally, but who I did not know was on a trip! What are the chances!
Pretty good, as it turns out. And that's the point of this book. Consider a few other factors: * I was traveling home * My friend lives in the same city I do * This was the last leg of the journey * We were leaving from a major hub * I've known thousands of people through work, school, church, and other activities
Given these factors, it really isn't that surprising that I would run across someone I know.
I've had this experience a number of times in my life, traveling and running across people I know. I'm always amazed. And yet, perhaps what should be surprising is the large number of times that it doesn't happen.
Fluke is about why some coincidences happen, and why, most of the time, we shouldn't be as surprised as we are. For the most part the book is pretty well written. A number of the explanations are long-winded, as though the author had been given a word minimum for the book and had to pad it to reach the goal. The coincidence stories were the best part of the book....more
This is a terrific survival story about Matt, a boy who goes with his father to build a cabin on his father's new claim in Maine in the last half of tThis is a terrific survival story about Matt, a boy who goes with his father to build a cabin on his father's new claim in Maine in the last half of the 1700s. After completing the cabin, his father leaves to fetch Matt's mother, sister, and the new baby they were expecting to come while the men were away.
Matt quickly learns that he will need more knowledge than he has to survive, and for his family to have anything to return to.
My wife and I read this to our three boys - 5, 7, and 10 - over several weeks at bedtime. All of them loved the story; for my ten year old, this was his second time through and he still loved it....more
The mystery of the missing cat, Christmas tree, and lights. Along the way, Hamish brings Christmas cheer to a number of people who need it.
The writingThe mystery of the missing cat, Christmas tree, and lights. Along the way, Hamish brings Christmas cheer to a number of people who need it.
The writing is very spare -- appropriate for the Scots in the book, but less descriptive than I like. While the book sets a good table, a little more flesh on the bones would made it a better feast....more
Excellent. Not a light read. Sean Carroll tries to cover many of the hard questions of cosmology and philosophy and arrive at a life philosophy that iExcellent. Not a light read. Sean Carroll tries to cover many of the hard questions of cosmology and philosophy and arrive at a life philosophy that is consistent with the body of received, provable knowledge and practical for functional human beings.
I liked his explanation of some of the apparent conflicts between so-called hard and soft sciences as confusions between useful models at different scales. For example, one can describe the universe as a (very, very, very) large collection of basic particles, and one could in theory, given enough knowledge about the initial state, predict with great accuracy the eventual positions of every existing particle of a gas-filled chamber at some future state. However, it would take a tremendous amount of information about the initial state, and enormous computational power to accurately model even a relatively small chamber this way. So in place of this cumbersome but very accurate model, we use computational fluid dynamics, which described the interactions in a simpler, more elegant way that turns out to be quite accurate in its own sphere.
I also liked that Mr. Carroll suggests that atheists can be moral, ethical people, and in fact, can arrive at many of the same conclusions about ethical decisions and moral compass based on principle and proper models of human behavior. This is certainly something that I've observed in many of my atheist and agnostic friends.
It seemed like every chapter had interesting insights into the position of life as we know it and its perhaps-fragile place in the universe. Mr. Carroll's writing is clear, often even when trying to communicate difficult topics. A few things he only touches on were covered better in Stephen Hawking's books, but in general this is much better written and clearer than that....more