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Summer Reading

I try to read a lot. My goal is to read fifty pages a day, which works out to about five books a month. This is nothing if you compare me to someone like Stephen King, who reportedly read hundreds of books a year, but I feel like it’s a pretty good pace. Here are my thoughts on a couple of books I read recently.

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The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell

I loved Cloud Atlas, and its Russian nesting doll of a structure  chronicling the lives of various linked characters throughout different time periods. This book has a similar set up. Events are told through various viewpoint characters, one in each time period. This time the story is more straightforward. It’s the tale of a war between two groups of immortals, told as they intersect with a woman and affect her throughout her life. It’s beautifully written, with great characters, but was confusing in places and some of its more out-there concepts don’t hold up to scrutiny. I liked it, even if it’s not as good as Cloud Atlas.

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Nemesis Games by James S.A. Corey.

This is the fifth installment in The Expanse series, and, I think, one of the best. Ordinarlily the way these books are structured you get the central viewpoint of James Holden, Captain of the Rocinante, along with several other characters who are usually only around for one book. This time the other viewpoints are from the other members of the Rocinante’s crew, as they take off in separate corners of the solar system to deal with personal matters. Eventually, though, events collide cataclysmically, and they find themselves pulled back together again, fighting to become one crew once more. There are severa, major events that will change the series going forward. It might be my favorite book of the series so far.

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Armada by Ernest Cline

I ,loved Ready Player One, and its deep dive through pop culture, and this does a similar thing here. A teenage video game expert finds himself recruited into a cosmic war, discovering world-shaking secrets along the way. If it sounds a little like The Last Starfighter, that’s addressed in a clever way. It’s good, even if it seems a little shallow at times. It doesn’t let characterization get in the way of a good space battle, and I found the climax a little predictable.

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The Dark Forest by Cixin Liu

This is the secret to the Hugo-award-winning Chinese novel The Three Body Problem, which I absolutely loved. This book? Has some problems. It details the preparations for a coming interstellar way over the course of two centuries. There are a couple of conceits that don’t make a whole lot of sense, and I had big problems understanding the way the conflict was ultimately resolved. It also has a problem with its female characters. They’re either ciphers offered as prizes to the main characters, or subordinates with little agency. Maybe that’s a cultural thing. I enjoyed this book and will read the concluding volume of the trilogy. It might make more sense if I read it again. It could just be me.

I read several other books, but these are the Four I wanted to talk about. Currently reading the new Jim Butcher Steampunk thing, which is good so far. Interested in what you guys have read recently. Leave your picks in the comments ….

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Posted by on October 1, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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5 things …

My wife has challenged to be more positive in the comments I make out loud. Apparently, non-stop snark can be grating on the people around you, who knew? I think i may have driven her over the edge during an America’s Next Top Model marathon, when I responded to every emilinated contestant’s tears with “Now go do something useful with your life!”

So, in that spirit, I am going to write about 5 things I am enjoying right now.

1. Last Exile I am a long-time anime fan, but I’m not really into the wslastexile95407uqmecha or the weirdo super-powered kids stuff. I like the trippy sci-fi aspects, the riot of mad ideas, translated through a different culture. This sometimes is not copacetic with sense-making … but this one is my favorite ever. I love the prussian steam-punk vibe, the characters, while adhering to certain anime archetypes (hello, stoic hero with a past, cute kid with bug eyes and a mysterious power, and you, super-pilot teenager) are beautifully developed and animated, and the wolrdbuilding is completely trippy, yet makes perfect sense by the end. Plus, its a story about my favorite thing, a band of plucky rebels on the run. And weird are they/aren’t they alien creatures. I first saw this a few years back out of order of G4’s anime unleashed block, and have been rewatching it on Netflix’s instant system, which, if you haven’t tried it, is wonderful.

 

 

2. Anathem by Neal Stephenson

This book has been much written about and reviewed already, so I will just add this … This is his best book. It may be a contender for my favorite book of all time, actually. I read the last 200 pages in one day. Yes, the beginning is a little bit of a challenge as you must first become familiar with an insular world before you are cast out into the rest of the story, but it is an amazing experience. Plus: super space nija monks vs. well … that would be telling. But that moment the central mystery locked in place … wow.

 

3. Poseidon and the Bitter Bug by the Indigo Girls.

61COMXXSFmLanother amazing album, no suprise. Ghost of the Gang might be the most uplifting song about suicide ever. Plus, they used my favorite painting of all time as the album cover. As I get older, I find I am identifying more with Amy’s angry poetry than I used to. It used to be the Emily songs that grabbed me. That probably says more about me than about them, because I’m fairly certain Amy has not mellowed over the years.

“Tonight I’m gonna take that ride for the years we missed and the frieds that died …
side swipe baby on the road somehow with a pack of dreams, we just weren’t allowed
Maybe you’re walking those halls all quiet and sad …
sitting in the dark all scared and mad
feel my hand reaching out and don’t forget
where you come from, baby, cuz there’s truth in it … ”

4. http://www.unclutterer.com. I suck at it, but am trying to get my house organized and uncluttered. This site offers advice and inspiration, and a lot of pictures of gorgeous workspaces I will never hope to be able to emulate. They did inspre the “landing strip” now in the entryway, which has been helpful. If only they could come up with a simple system for “processing” laundry that does not involve me folding it all.

5. wii fit. Trying to lose the last few pounds, as wel all are, this thing has been an invaluable training tool. It’s also helped get me focused on core strength and balance, which revealed some things I needed to work on, and explained a lot actually. Love the questions … “wow, you’re really unbalanced, do you trip and fall a lot?” which, yes, of course …

It’s a little clingly though. It scolds you if you miss a few days and lately has been asking me if I’ve seen other members of our little user group. It even asked me if one of them looked like she was gaining weight, losing weight, of staying the same. It’s starting to creep me out.

and no, I will not be sharing my wii fit age with you.

 
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Posted by on July 8, 2009 in culture, life

 

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