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Sunday, May 19, 2019

An Amazing Listen!

The Collected Stories of Arthur C. Clarke 1937-1999The Collected Stories of Arthur C. Clarke 1937-1999 by Arthur C. Clarke
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Arthur C. Clarke was prolific and talented author of science and science fiction, so to assemble this amazing cast of narrators to read his works was a stroke of genius and a very fitting tribute to his wonderous storytelling. If you're a fan of his works, this is a must listen.

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Wednesday, May 08, 2019

Just Be Nicer

A Face in the CrowdA Face in the Crowd by Stephen King
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A very good quick read! I hate baseball, and I found this engaging. Actually, the baseball stuff is just wallpaper for the story. Don't read the synopsis if you haven't already. Just dive in. You'll catch on to what's happening pretty quickly. It's a great "what if..." story, even if baseball is peripherally involved. God, I hate baseball! So boring!

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Vengeance Is Mine!

Without Remorse (John Clark, #1)Without Remorse by Tom Clancy
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the earliest set story told in The Ryanverse (novels set in the universe containing Jack Ryan). It is the origin story of one John "Clark" Kelly. A former Navy Seal, John rescues a befriends a young woman abused by criminals only to see her killed by the same. Thus begins what is one of my favorite vengeance novels. There's a lot more to the story, including a Russian Colonel working American soldiers in a Vietnam POW camp, a coast guard crew, the CIA and a wee bit of romance. It's a long book, but a quick read once you get started. Highly recommended.

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King's Two Cents

Guns (Kindle Single)Guns by Stephen King
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

OK, Steve-o-rino, tell us how you really feel! Oh, goodness - it is such a contentious issue. What do we do about guns in this country? Stephen King has opinions on the matter, and while he is "just another author with an opinion," you might want to read what he has to say. I, for one, agree with him, but enough about me. Even if you're a card-carrying member of the NRA, it is intellectually honest to consider the opinions of those who disagree with you, and you might be interested to know how your opponents see you and your position. Of course, this isn't the only opinion anyone should read, but King lays out his with a unique style that is nakely honest, so it is at least entertaining to add his voice to the mix.

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He Is A Machine!

Terminator 3: Rise of the MachinesTerminator 3: Rise of the Machines by David Hagberg
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I enjoy movie novelizations when they add perspective to a the story told in the movie. A good movie novelization always gives a bit more than what you get from watching the movie. David Hagberg doesn't pull that off in this novelization. He faithfully recreates in narrative what is seen and heard in the movie. As far as that goes, he does a good job. The writing is clear and engaging. Had the film never been made, this would have been an awesome book. However, given its replicative nature, I will call it "competent."

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Sunday, May 05, 2019

Teenage Wasteland

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Harry Potter #6)Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

As with the previous HP books, I very much enjoyed the Audible version of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince . Jim Dale is very good. Harry is, in his true to teenage form, irritating and tiresome with his angst and immaturity, as are all people in true to teenage form. JKR is excellent at character building. No spoilers. If you've go this far in the series, you'll want to read are reading review in order to see if you should continue, then search no more. Pick up the book or put on those headphone and get after it! I command it!

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Monday, April 29, 2019

It's About Time!

The Time Illusion (Kindle Single)The Time Illusion by John Gribbin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow, I found some experiments done on quantum systems that I'd never even heard about. Fascinating! I don't know that I'm convinced of Gribbin's view on time, but he certainly makes a compelling argument. I won't spoil it. I'll just say that if you're into the nature of time, read this with an open mind peppered with some skepticism.

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Thursday, April 11, 2019

Narf!

Black Holes: The BBC Reith LecturesBlack Holes: The BBC Reith Lectures by Stephen Hawking
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

That Stephen Hawking - what do you do with him? He was such a funny guy. His wit is frequently as profound as his physics. This Kindle Single is an easy read and packs a lot of interesting information about black holes. Given that we've just got the first picture of one, the work is very relevant. I highly recommend it.

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Tuesday, April 09, 2019

Your Latin Sucks!

The ExorcistThe Exorcist by William Peter Blatty
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

As beautiful as it is horrifying, this novel of the interweaving of the lives of a mother, daughter, priest and detective along with a struggle of reason against faith, frosted with a battle between good and evil, will make you turn pages until your wrist cramps.

I read this novel back in the eighties, and I thoroughly enjoyed the 40th anniversary edition. Back in those days, I was a Catholic struggling with my faith. I believed in such things as demonic possession. I've since then given up both faith belief in anything supernatural, but I still feel sympathy for Father Damien Karras and I am genuinely fond of the character. I still find the demon possessing Regan MacNeil terrifying.

William Peter Blatty has given us a beautifully written novel. If nothing else, read this so that you can enjoy, in context, the little note that Regan wrote to her mother for Mother's Day. It will change your life. That alone makes this novel a great work of literature.

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Sunday, April 07, 2019

Creeeeeeeeeeeeepy..... yo!

The Neighbor (The City, #0.5)The Neighbor by Dean Koontz
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Well, that was just creepy. For me, true horror is watching helplessly while a child is terrorized by evil. Dean Koontz frequently uses that ammunition against me. That's why I enjoy his stuff - formulaic as it may be. He's good with bringing characters to life - formulaic as they may also be. What can I say? I just like his stories. OK, the guy is formulaic. You have to give him points for consistency though, right? it ain't literature. It's trash writing, but it's entertaining trash writing. That's what counts. Suffice it to say that I was .... entertained. Peace.

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Monday, April 01, 2019

Fantastic and Brilliant!

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Harry Potter, #5)Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Bloody marvelous the second time around as an audiobook! Jim Dale is a fantastic and brilliant narrator! I use those two adjectives, because they seem to be the only ones that the English actually know how to use.

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Why You Should Watch Angel

Why you should watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Everybody Wave!

Discovering Gravitational Waves (Kindle Single)Discovering Gravitational Waves by John Gribbin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Who doesn't love gravitational waves? If it's you, stop reading this and get on with your sad life. However, if, like me, you just love gravitational waves, this kindle single will provide you with some interesting background and hopes for a future of gravitational wave physics. John Gribbin is very good at what he does. The guy does some in-depth research that many science writers don't seem to bother with. He is into detailed historical accuracy, and the history of experimental physics in this realm is fascinating and just a little heart-breaking. You might cry at some points. I did.

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Twisted Reality

The Man in the High CastleThe Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Well, this was an unexpected diversion from my expectations. I presumed that this novel would detail a struggle between real history and alternate history with a clear victor, but it wasn't really that, although it had some elements of that struggle. It's more about how how a specific set of characters deal with the alternate reality of Germany and Japan winning WWII and I have to say that it was brilliantly done, with the caveat that no one really knows how anyone would deal with such an alternate reality. PKD does shine a light on human nature as he sees it, so there are some interesting insights to be gained. The element of there being a novel within a novel is certainly interesting and masterfully presented - especially the big reveal later in the story. It's more literary than action oriented, so if you're thinking that this is going to be like the Amazon series, don't even. You'll just end up taking a lot of naps. If you like the product of a twisted mind though, do read this. It's twisted.

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Friday, March 08, 2019

You Can't See Everything With Only Your Eyes

Wilderness (Innocence, #0.5)Wilderness by Dean Koontz
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Dean Koontz creates a compelling character in this Innocence prequel kindle single. Here, we have an 8 year old boy who is so horrible to look at that it drives people to voient fear. This is the story of his beginnings and his unique character. You'll like him. I'm excited about (not for) reading the novel.

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Wednesday, March 06, 2019

Pow!

Before the Big BangBefore the Big Bang by John Gribbin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

John Gribbin knows how to explain science without dumbing anything down. Sure , there's not a lot of mathematics in this slim volume, but it's the concepts that he works on getting across. So, you won't truly understand inflation when you finish reading this. If you want that, do the math. Inflation is interesting and it's still in the running for what preceded The Big Bang. Hopefully, someday soon, we'll know what the real scenario is on what produced The Big Bang, so until then, read this.

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Sunday, February 24, 2019

May The Farce Be With You

Into the Void (Star Wars: Dawn of the Jedi, #1)Into the Void by Tim Lebbon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The chronologically first story in the Star Wars Legends books, this is a tale of sibling rivalry, coming of age and dark times for the galaxy. I read the kindle version along with the Audible version. The kindle version also has a short story and several excerpts from other novels in the series. One could stick to the canon novels and have plenty to read, but the legends novels are fun too. You just have to be wary of inconsistencies and gloss over them when they conflict with canon. It's Star Wars, people - don't take it too seriously.

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I Had To Write This

Free Will Explained: How Science and Philosophy Converge to Create a Beautiful IllusionFree Will Explained: How Science and Philosophy Converge to Create a Beautiful Illusion by Dan Barker
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I had no choice but to write this, so here goes! I don't have free will, but I sure feel like I do, so it's an illusion. Dan Barker argues that the illusion is a useful one. In this concise treatment, Dan uses a variety of analogies and personal experiences to present the idea that free will is a result of moral judgment that occurs after a decision is made. As Sean Carroll would say, it's a way of talking about something, that's not objectively real - useful, but clearly an illusion.

I'm down with Dan's view of free will. I don't think it eliminates personal responsibility for behavior, but I now see behavior as something that is either creates a social good or a social evil. If a social good is created, society should encourage that behavior and bring the behaving peron into the fold of society. If the behavior creates a social evil, the behavior should be discouraged and the badly behaved person should be separated from society, but not punished.

A brilliant scientist who discovers something of great benefit to society had no choice but to make that discovery, but she's the one who did it, so society should give her its seal of approval and bestow a portion of its resources to her personal as well as professional wants and needs. A child molster had no choice but to behave the way he did, but although it's not his fault, he's the one who did it, so society should show its disappointment and disapproval and remove him from it's graces; imprisoning him, but not making his imprisonment intentionally painful.

The recognition of free will for what it is can lead to a better justice system, better parenting, better education and a healthier society. Dan's little book should be shelved along the best of writing on this subject.

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Friday, February 22, 2019

Weird, But Good

Introducing Time: A Graphic Guide (Introducing...)Introducing Time: A Graphic Guide by Craig Callender
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is an introduction to the physics and philosophy of time. You will not find in depth treatment of the subject. It is a survey of the concepts, theories, hypotheses and speculation about time. The approach of using cartoon graphics meshed with the text is interesting. If it is done with the intent to appeal the the reader, it doesn't work so well with me. I like my nonfiction more straightforward. I'd rather have text, equations, graphs, charts and illustrations than cartoon bubbles from talking heads, but I guess there must be an audience for this phenomenal waste of space and time. Furthermore, I find some of the graphics close to the edge of creepy. The book gets 5 stars, because it is lucid, concise and a very good introduction to the subject. If you want a very good introduction to a subject that all too many take for granted, this is an excellent start.

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