Author Topic: Rate the last book you just read  (Read 115901 times)

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Offline BilLumberg

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Re: Rate the last book you just read
« Reply #1050 on: July 23, 2019, 08:20:52 PM »
The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet  Becky Chambers - 9/10

Book one of the "Wayfarers" series. Science fiction about the crew of a tunneling ship that creates wormholes for space travel. You are introduced to a world that feels lived in and real.
 
I never been very good at describing this kind of stuff, but I really enjoyed this book and will be starting the sequel soon. It's one of those books that was fun and easy to read.

Online superdave

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Re: Rate the last book you just read
« Reply #1051 on: July 31, 2019, 09:08:13 AM »
Semiosis by Sue Burke  5/10   REfugees from Earth land on a planet where there is less division between plants and animals than there is on Earth.  The book starts off interesting as humans struggle to survive on an alien world that is similar but crucially different from Earth.  The problem is that this book is trying to be hard sci-fi but the science stretches too far.  About halfway through the book we meet a character that is just godlike in scope and the rest of the story is one Deus Ex Machina after another, to the point of tedium.
I disavow anyone in the movement involved in any illegal,unethical, sexist, or racist behavior. However, I don't have the energy or time to investigate each person and case, and a lack of individual disavowals for each incident should not be construed as condoning such behavior.

Offline Swagomatic

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Re: Rate the last book you just read
« Reply #1052 on: July 31, 2019, 12:29:26 PM »
I finished the final book in the Hyperion Cantos series (The Rise of Endymion) by Dan Simmons.  I really enjoyed this series and the final book is a nice wind-up.


I am now listening to the audiobook of Fall, Or Dodge in Hell, by Neal Stephenson.  So far this is very good. It is a sort-of sequel to Reamde, and includes references (and at least one character) to/from Cryptonomicon and the Baroque Cycle, also by Stephenson.  So far it's been excellent.
Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance.
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Offline Sawyer

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Re: Rate the last book you just read
« Reply #1053 on: August 11, 2019, 09:51:14 PM »
Alan Turing: The Enigma by Andrew Hodges - 5/10

Top notch content about Turing's contributions to cryptography, computers, and the understanding of the human mind, but WAAAAAY too long.  I remember being annoyed a few years ago when the movie The Imitation Game did not properly explain how the Enigma was effectively decrypted, and I wanted to go to the source material for more details.  Well, they are in here, along with a hundred other musings from Turing about information theory, voice encoding, Godel, the atomic bomb, morphogenesis, incentive structures in education, the Riemann-Zeta function ....    There's no single subject that I think could have easily been axed from the book, it's just that the implications of what Turing was doing are so wide-ranging that there's no way to cover them all without overwhelming the reader.  Probably could have dropped most of the hundred pages about life at English public schools and universities, although then you couldn't fully appreciate how Turing's homosexuality and social aloofness clashed with those around him.  Also probably could have ended the book when he, SPOILER ALERT, kills himself, instead of trying to reflect for another entire chapter about the psychology of the entire Western world after World War II.

Just read The Code Book by Simon Singh or maybe the David Kahn book about the Enigma if that's all you want to know about.  If you want the complete Turing this is probably where to look, but be prepared to power through certain sections.  (I tried taking a break halfway through with Alan Moore's From Hell, but a month and a half of exposure to brooding, philosophical Londoners is not good for the soul.)

Online superdave

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Re: Rate the last book you just read
« Reply #1054 on: August 12, 2019, 04:20:07 PM »
Next by Michael Crichton
5/10  It brings up some interesting and valid ethical concerns about gene therapy and biotech and it was interesting to see that some of them have come true while others have fizzled out in the 10 years since the book was published.  But the story itself is pretty ludicrous. 
I disavow anyone in the movement involved in any illegal,unethical, sexist, or racist behavior. However, I don't have the energy or time to investigate each person and case, and a lack of individual disavowals for each incident should not be construed as condoning such behavior.

Offline Sawyer

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Re: Rate the last book you just read
« Reply #1055 on: August 19, 2019, 08:39:04 PM »
Bad news everyone - Terry Pratchett is#CANCELLED.



From Soul Music.  Didn't really care that much about the previous Death novels but this one is a step up.

Also I try to get away from reading about the invention of computers, and lo and behold, one of the wizards has ants running through punchcard boards to do math.

Offline wastrel

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Re: Rate the last book you just read
« Reply #1056 on: August 23, 2019, 09:51:25 PM »
Terry Pratchett is#CANCELLED.

He beat you to it

Offline Sawyer

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Re: Rate the last book you just read
« Reply #1057 on: August 23, 2019, 10:20:48 PM »
Terry Pratchett is#CANCELLED.

He beat you to it

Hmm, I used the all caps for emphasis, but they work on that level too.

Online superdave

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Re: Rate the last book you just read
« Reply #1058 on: September 05, 2019, 08:12:58 PM »
I am in the middle of The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead.  It isn't terrible but it's shocking to me that this won the Pulitzer.  I find the prose pretty mediocre and the story pretty predictable. 

Who Fears Death - Nnedi Okorafor
 6.5
The second book by Okorafor that I have read.  I didn't like it as much as the first.  The narrative is cliched and disorganized.  The beginning drags forever and the end is rushed.  While in the previous novel, Lagoon, the setting of Lagos really feels like it affects the narrative and is in some ways it's own character, the setting here feels like just reskinning Star Wars with African names and culture.  There were some cool ideas and the story itself is OK.  This author was a young adult writer and she still has that writing style.  I actually like the simplified style but the "adult" parts of this book feel a bit tacked on, like a movie trying to justify an R rating.  I did really like the main character as basically a Female Luke Skywalker.  She was pretty badass and rooting for her was what kept me going to finish the novel.
« Last Edit: September 05, 2019, 08:36:09 PM by superdave »
I disavow anyone in the movement involved in any illegal,unethical, sexist, or racist behavior. However, I don't have the energy or time to investigate each person and case, and a lack of individual disavowals for each incident should not be construed as condoning such behavior.

Offline Sawyer

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Re: Rate the last book you just read
« Reply #1059 on: September 07, 2019, 11:19:15 AM »
Mismeasure of Man by Stephen Jay Gould - a high 9/10

It's hard for me to evaluate Gould books at this point because I can't judge any single one by its own merits.  They all form a continuum of discussion about the beauty of nature, the balance between quantitative and qualitative methods of investigation, and ultimately the need for a lot more humility in all disciplines of science.  Mismeasure of Man is often described as a refutation to The Bell Curve or other popular forms of race science, but I feel that this description doesn't do it justice.  It's more of a general primer for how to think about the history of all social sciences and how the allure of absolute objectivity has led so many scientists and writers astray.  Gould died many years before the whole "logic bro" phenomena really hit its stride on the internet, but I'm unaware of another writer who could so presciently dissect the way in which facts and reason would be wielded not in service to curiosity and hope, but as weapons of bigotry and arrogance. 

At some point I may do a more thorough review of this book because there's so much to cover, but for now I'll just point out an incomprehensible fact about the publication timeline.  For some reason I had previously believed that the The Bell Curve was published in the mid 80s and that Mismeasure of Man came out in the early 90s.  Nope, I had it completely backwards.  Murray's book was first published in 1993, Gould's in 1981.  Just looking at the dates here reveals something amazing.  Gould pretty convincingly demonstrates that there's a roughly 200 year history of questionable scientific methods being used to prop up racism, and that while each generation has its own unique brand of BS, the overall improvements to methodology and increased self-awareness of scientists is minuscule.  I can see publishing a book at the same time that makes claims to the contrary, but publishing roughly a decade later?  You'd have to basically claim that someone waved a magic wand in the 80s to make racism vanish from existence, and to make every single scientist studying race and intelligence a hyper-objective automaton.  You don't even need to read a single sentence from Murray to recognize that his work is built on this incredibly unlikely premise. There's an updated version of Mismeasure of Man from 1996, but frankly it should not have been necessary.  Just read the original version and think for yourself how Gould's critique would apply to future research.

If you don't read this book, at least read one of Gould's other books that deals with misuse of statistics and how narrative framing under-girds almost all scientific research - Full House or Wonderful Life are excellent starting points.

Offline lonely moa

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Re: Rate the last book you just read
« Reply #1060 on: September 07, 2019, 02:38:19 PM »
I take Goulds work with a grain of salt; a lot of just so stories and his denial of the role of genetic determinism.  I fall on the side of his rather more famous opposition, E.O. Wlson.  That said, I remember well the essay "The Median Isn't the Message".  Certainly relevant to anyone struggling with cancer.

https://people.umass.edu/biep540w/pdf/Stephen%20Jay%20Gould.pdf
"Pull the goalie", Malcolm Gladwell.

Online superdave

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Re: Rate the last book you just read
« Reply #1061 on: September 09, 2019, 06:02:20 PM »
Finished "The Underground Railroad" .  I have pretty mixed feelings.  I think there was an important message in the book and parts of it were riveting, but his decision to make things ahistorical hurt the book. It made the narrative confusing for no real benefit.  There were also weird narrative choices, like spoiling future chapters or retconning previous ones.  It just made the story harder to read than it had to be.  The main theme seemed to be to question what we think of as freedom and if we are really as free as we think, so maybe he purposefully wanted to disorient the reader. 

There was universal acclaim for this book except in very right wing sources, and that makes me wonder if I am just missing something.
I disavow anyone in the movement involved in any illegal,unethical, sexist, or racist behavior. However, I don't have the energy or time to investigate each person and case, and a lack of individual disavowals for each incident should not be construed as condoning such behavior.

Offline Sawyer

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Re: Rate the last book you just read
« Reply #1062 on: September 15, 2019, 11:35:37 AM »
Halfway through Devil in the Grove by Gilbert King.  This is a must-read.  10/10

Basically a real life To Kill a Mockingbird story, except with even more layers.  Four black men are falsely accused of rape in Groveland Florida in the 1940s, and pretty much the entire town conspires to frame them and/or lynch them.  The sheriff is painted by local newspapers as a hero for preventing the immediate lynching, thus providing cover for all the other horrible things he and his deputies are willing to do.  The NAACP intervenes via Thurgood Marshall and ultimately manages to appeal the mockery of a trial all the way to the Supreme Court.  The court grants their appeal, adding to the massive weight of cases already threatening to shatter the Jim Crow South, and saving the accused from death row.  Hooray!

Wait, why are there still another 150 pages in this book?  Those Groveland boys are gonna be okay now, right?   :-\

Online superdave

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Re: Rate the last book you just read
« Reply #1063 on: September 19, 2019, 09:30:00 AM »
Children of Ruin Adrian Tchaikovsky
I was somewhat look warm on the Children of Time, which to me seemed to lack a certain tension and went a little to far with the spider stuff.  The Spiders were a little too "perfect" to be realistic.  The sequel is a lot better.  There is more tension, more interesting sci fi plots and ideas, more twists and turns.  I think it might fall short of masterpiece but it's close.  I give it a 9/10.   
I disavow anyone in the movement involved in any illegal,unethical, sexist, or racist behavior. However, I don't have the energy or time to investigate each person and case, and a lack of individual disavowals for each incident should not be construed as condoning such behavior.

 

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