I hope this is the worst that Jason Cordova writes, because if this is his best and Cordova is up for the Campbell Award for best new writer, scienceI hope this is the worst that Jason Cordova writes, because if this is his best and Cordova is up for the Campbell Award for best new writer, science fiction is seriously hurting for good new authors.
Murder World: Kaiju Dawn opens on an a spaceship captain who is something of a skallywag, but lacking all of the amusing characteristics that make skallywag's entertaining and endearing. He's just disgusting, self-interested, and rude. I never quite figured out why I should like him. He isn't attractive, evidently capable, or even honorable. There's just no reason to like him. Or believe that anyone would follow him. Heck, I kept expecting his first officer to just knock him off and take over the ship and the job.
The plot left a lot to be desired, too. Talk about predictable...or cliche? Yeah, cliche. And boring. I quit early. Life is just too short.
Look, this is the first thing of Jason's I've looked at, and it felt like a first attempt, a first draft. I'm not sure if the editor published it by accident or if there's a market out there for kaiju heavy plots (a clue: there is, but even that market deserves a better plot, a likelable (or at least capable) protagonist, and fewer cliches. I'll give Cordova a second chance, but I'm not sure I can give him a vote for the Campbell this time around. Maybe next year. ...more
There's a lotta interesting information on a lotta interesting books in here...specifically, 500 books. I enjoyed learning a bit about these, the bookThere's a lotta interesting information on a lotta interesting books in here...specifically, 500 books. I enjoyed learning a bit about these, the books that Howard Mittelmark thinks are the best you'll ever read. His commentary is witty, snarky...and occasionally even useful.
The problem is, I've not read enough of the books on his list, yet. I'm putting it next to my desk so that the next time I need a book, or need some commentary on the book, Mittelmark's book will be there, fully of short, quick and insightful commentary, without too much depth or weight....more
I can't recall who exactly recommended this to me when I first picked this up back in 2010 or 2011, but I do recall the cautionary note that they tookI can't recall who exactly recommended this to me when I first picked this up back in 2010 or 2011, but I do recall the cautionary note that they took as they described it and the author's conclusions. The global recession had begun four years earlier, since which time I had just barely been able to sell a house (seriously--I closed the sale of the house the same week that Bear Sterns ceased to be), had graduated from law school at perhaps the worst time for new attorneys to be entering the work force, and had managed to find a good, but not great paying, job at a local company. Financially speaking, the future seemed bleak, and I was not sanguine about my prospects for future income. Aftershock: Protect Yourself and Profit in the Next Global Financial Meltdown seemed like a warning voice against future economic calamity, so I picked it up and gave it a read.
Unfortunately, I was, largely, disappointed. Falling into that category of financial reading that seems to best be described as "fear mongering," I found it full of doom and gloom, threatening prognostications, and warnings about the future. I suspect that authors David and Robert Wiedemer, and Cindy Spitzer have made better money of the sale, and subsequent editions of, the book than most readers have from the advice they give.
This isn't to say that there may not be substance to their arguments. Looking at a succession of financial bubbles, including both the dotcom bubble and the more recent housing bubble, they posit that the bubbles have led the Federal Reserve to engage in reckless market manipulation that is going to result in 50% unemployment, a 90% stock market crash, and 100% annual inflation, starting in 2012.
Their advice? Sell your home, cash out your stocks, and convert your assets into gold and inflation pegged securities.
That's a stark transition, and from a set of authors who are perhaps inflating their own expertise in economic prophesy a bit further than their resumes merit.
Meanwhile, we find ourselves in 2014, the economy on the mend, and the catastrophic events predicted by Aftershock as yet unrealized. I suppose that there is still time, and I don't want to give the impression that everything is smelling of roses, but perhaps the take away is that the success of Aftershock is more about marketing for its authors than about economic prediction relevant to readers. ...more
Let's be completely honest: we all pick up books for various reasons. A recommendation from a trusted friend. It was up front iLife is just too short.
Let's be completely honest: we all pick up books for various reasons. A recommendation from a trusted friend. It was up front in the airport bookshop. Written by a favorite author. A great cover.
I picked up Psychoshop because it was written by Alfred Bester. I was at Powell's in Portland, and it seemed like a good find. A classic author, a previously unread title, and a giant bookstore.
A win, right?
Perhaps for some. For me, time is too precious and life is too short.
Psychoshop was left unfinished by Bester on his death and was finished by Roger Zelazny, another classic science fiction writer. Comparing the work to a jazz duet, Greg Bear says in an introduction that the book is "Brisk, fast, memorable, a rare improvisational duet from two of our best[,]" but to be honest, I just couldn't get through it. As creative as it is, and it is, I just found it schizophrenic and undefined, a story looking for a conflict to be resolved. ...more
I didn't finish, which perhaps is an unfair way to rate a book, but the novel opens with an inaccurate representation of the law--what a protected claI didn't finish, which perhaps is an unfair way to rate a book, but the novel opens with an inaccurate representation of the law--what a protected class of persons is--and proceeds to become a heavy handed look at racism that didn't seem to jive with how I would imagine human nature to proceed. The story also felt like a repeat of ground that the X-men movies have already trod, and not as convincingly.
Too bad. I really enjoyed Wilson's first book, "Robopocalypse," and look forward to seeing it on the big screen....more
**spoiler alert** It's rare that I would waste space blasting a book. Life is short and time is a scarce resource. I'd rather just drop a book unworth**spoiler alert** It's rare that I would waste space blasting a book. Life is short and time is a scarce resource. I'd rather just drop a book unworthy of finishing and move on to a new one. This time, though, I think 1421 merits further explanation because of the sensational success it has experienced worldwide.
Simply put, 1421 is junk history posing as "real history." Gavin Menzies has spun a fantastical and interesting tale out of the very real events surrounding the massive Chinese treasure fleets of 1421. His thesis--that the Chinese discovered the New World in the 1420s, mapped it, and that it was their maps that European explorers used when sailing for the New World (including, he argues, Columbus).
Built by a Ming emperor to gather in tribute from the ends of the Earth, the fleet was one of the last acts of imperial hubris. Shortly after it set sail, the emperor died. His son, in replacing his father's policies, had the fleets destroyed upon their return, along with records gathered during the voyage. Starting with that sparse introduction, Menzies proceeds to gather bits and pieces of evidence stretching from China itself to the Indian subcontinent, from the Congo to Patagonia and beyond, and levies the evidence to tell a tale of the massive Chinese fleet charting the New World the greater part of a century before Columbus set sail in 1492.
It is an extremely interesting and, if it were true, a ground breaking discovery and thesis. Perhaps it is true. But likely, it is not.
As I started reading it, the first question that came to mind for me was this: in the almost six centuries since these events happened, why has no one else suggested that the Chinese arrived first? Menzies explanation is that historians generally lack the skill set necessary to uncover the truth, a skill set that he has as a former captain in the British Navy. Unlike most historians, Menzies argues, he can read a chart, understand what he's looking at, and glean from these 15th century charts things that no historian would otherwise notice.
Yeah. It's a little bit of a stretch. I would be surprised to find that no historian has ever had the skill set to learn maritime charts and understand how to read them (heck, Theodore Roosevelt when only an undergraduate student at Harvard, researched and wrote a book of naval strategy -- "The Naval War of 1812"--that became a classic and a text book used by both the US and British navies for decades after it was published). That being said, I gave Menzies the benefit of the doubt. I've long been intrigued with China and its history, and I think I wanted to believe that history as we have been taught might not be true. How interesting would it be for America to have been discovered by the Chinese?
As I read, though, red flags continued to pop up. Out of only sparse details, Menzies would assert "conclusive proof" that his theories were finding relevance. Finally, over two hundred pages in, I decided to check into what critical review might have said about his methods and evidence. I reasoned that if Menzies is correct, or even has a good theory, then the academic community would support his findings with further research. I went to the internet.
Critical acclaim was anything but what I found. In addition to finding entire sites dedicated to debunking Menzies myths, I also found that historical lectures had been given explaining and demonstrating that what Menzies proposed was just that--a proposal. Be it even true, the evidence was not there, not was the reasoning clearly logical.
--Menzies claims that Chinese anchors have been found off of the coast of California, but fails to document them. --1421 says that Chinese DNA is found in North America natives, but fails to account for the influx of Chinese immigrants in the 17th century. --Menzies finds what he claims are chickens unique to Asia living in Peru, but fails to note that Peru exported millions of tons of silver to China and brought back silk and porcelain (and presumably other things, like, for example, chickens) throughout the heyday of the Spanish during the 16th through 17th centuries.
And that's just to start.
Historian Kirstin A. Seaver says, in disecting claims about the Chinese in Vinland:
"The study of history is likely to reward anyone willing to undertake it in a quest for better understanding of who they are, how they became what they are, and what they might hope to become. The manufacture of a history that never existed rewards only those who make money by deceiving the public."
If 1421 is true, Menzies has not found the evidence to support it. If it is false, it's junk and a waste of time to read. Further, it perpetuates a falsehood that makes the acquisition of real history--real, boring, dry and factual history--that much harder to grasp. ...more
Ron Suskind's a good writer, but he's also in love with Barack Obama. Well, maybe not in love, but he's certainly not an objective or dispassionate obRon Suskind's a good writer, but he's also in love with Barack Obama. Well, maybe not in love, but he's certainly not an objective or dispassionate observer. Even while he's observing that Obama may not have been ready for the Presidency, he's lavishing praise on the politician.
I read as long as I could, but after a third of the book fawning over Obama without really examining what was going on, I started to tire. Barack Obama is no villain as he's been portrayed by many, but neither is he a semi-deity or Olympian hero. Further, much of the material that Suskind covers is not new, having been reported in other sources. If you've read nothing else about the last few years, it's not a bad way to become familiar with some of the major players, and it's not horrible writing. But if you're looking for in-depth analysis and reporting, there are better books out there. "Too big to fail" is a good place to start.
I may come back to it later, but right now, it feels repetitive. Meanwhile, life's too short to read books that duplicate what you've already read. I'm moving on to a new book tonight. ...more
if you want a great on the ground history of a common man's view of the communist movement in America in the 1920s and 1930s, start here...I couldn'tif you want a great on the ground history of a common man's view of the communist movement in America in the 1920s and 1930s, start here...I couldn't make it through it, though. Beautiful writing, but just don't have the patience at this juncture....more