Spring break included finally finishing one of my books-in-progress, Eon by Greg Bear. In retrospect, this was probably not worthwhile. Eon is a mid-eighties sci fi novel set in 2005, when a mysterious asteroid/interstellar spacecraft arrives at Earth at the same time as geopolitical pressures push Earth towards global nuclear war. My concern was not with the timeliness of the plot, though. The book centers around a presumption of technologies to manipulate space-time and reach alternate universes. This would be fine, but a book of this sort needs to decide either to assert that such technologies exist and leave it … Continue reading Review: Eon by Greg Bear
One of the best things about the holidays is always the opportunity to do more reading than usually happens during the semester. This past break, I tackled two books by David Foster Wallace: Brief Interviews with Hideous Men and The Broom of the System. Of the two, I greatly preferred Broom. Brief Interviews is a collection of stories (or vignettes? or “interviews”?) that hang together through themes of relationships, connection, and what it is for people to see or know each other (or not). The titular interviews give the accounts of a number of undescribed subjects of a significant relationship … Continue reading Brief Interviews and Broom of the System, DFW
Based on my experiences being seen with the book, I feel like I have to preface any comments on Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere with a disclaimer that I am aware it is based on a television series and, yes, I decided to read the book anyway. And while I can see how the story could translate well to a serial format, it is also perfectly nice as a single unit. The story is grounded in a typical fantasy context – average guy accidentally falls into another side of the world, struggles to make sense of his new surroundings, finds out there … Continue reading Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere
On a friend’s recommendation, I just read David Weber’s Bolo! this weekend, and from early in I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was reading a modern variation on Asimov’s I, Robot (the short story collection, which has little relation to the movie by the same name), and I enjoyed it almost as much. Some of the similarities are apparent on the surface. Both are a collection of stories about a particular universe, and focusing on the development of a particular technology within that universe over centuries. In both cases the technology is robotic – for Asimov, classic robots, and … Continue reading Bolo! Review
Based on how much I enjoyed “The Professor and The Madman”, I have read two more books by Simon Winchester in the past few months: “The Map that Changed the World” and “The Man Who Loved China”. Both continue the theme of tracing the life of a researcher who embarks on an immense project cataloging some portion of human knowledge in minute and exhaustive detail, often to their own personal detrement along the way. “The Map that Changed the World: William Smith and the Birth of Modern Geology” covers the creation of an exhaustive geological map of England and, along … Continue reading Two Winchester Books
I have been doing a lot of reading about robots this summer in preparation for a couple of classes I am teaching in the fall. The most recent selection I finished off, which I don’t intend to use in any course but thought might be good for background, was Roving Mars by Steve Squyers, the principle scientist for the current Mars rover missions with Spirit and Opportunity. I thought this might be a slightly dry but informative read. In fact, the book was quite engaging. While there is a ton of detail about the rovers and what they do, the … Continue reading Roving Mars
I was asked the other day why I no longer write reviews of the books that I list as “recently reading” in my sidebar. The answer is two-fold – one, I started reading books faster than I could review them and I had fallen into a compulsion to only review books in the order I read them, and two, I’ve never upgraded the section of my site where I store book reviews, and it’s a bit of a hassle to post them there because it is all hand coded. But, I want to start reviewing books again. And so I’ve … Continue reading Writing about books again
In the further adventures of catching up on book reviews, I give you my review of The Final Solution by Michael Chabon, reproduced below for your convenience.
Over the past few years I have entirely neglected the book review section of this site, and the truth is that I have hardly had time to read in the past year until a couple of weeks ago, but I’m going to make an effort to revive the site, beginning with a lengthy Attributing Authorship by Harold Love, reproduced below for your convenience.
I’ve been really bad about writing book reviews the past year, but I did bother to do my annual list and mini-review of the books I read in 2003. My list of favorites from the past year was: Babel Tower by A.S. Byatt, Can’t Buy My Love by Jean Kilbourne, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling, The Ground Beneath Her Feet by Salman Rushdie, and The Big U by Neal Stephenson.