Monday, July 30, 2012

Book Review: Distrust That Particular Flavor

Usually, I'm not a fan of these types of books, where a publisher has persuaded an author to throw together a bunch of previously published articles, talks, and the like, into a collection for sake of putting it on a shelf.

That said, I found this book pretty good for a couple reasons: (1) It was interesting to learn some background on Gibson's writing process and his, well, I'll call it 'observational research'. (2) There were some interesting bits of background on books of his that I read that gave me new appreciation for them (e.g. I feel much better about Pattern Recognition now), and (3) it was interesting to read these different pieces from over a decade or two, that were each mini-time capsules of futurism, upon which Gibson gives some additional commentary.

If you like speculative fiction and near-term futurism, this is a good read.

Distrust That Particular Flavor

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Book Review: Logicomix

For a while now I've been whittling away at Logicomix, a graphic novel about the life of philosopher and mathematician Bertrand Russell. I've never had any particular urge to learn about him, but I saw several positive reviews of the book popping up from time to time so I decided to give it a whirl.

While the book is loosely a biography, it really uses this for it's real purpose, providing the reader with a history of the development of logic at the turn of the last century. In doing so, it uses Russell as a central figure but also talks of the work of Frege, Pointecare, even up to Turing (the latter mentioned only later in the book as a 'look where this lead' type of example).

One complaint is that I would have liked some of the subjects treated in Scott-McCloud-style graphic illustration, while they instead are treated only with text, with the illustration just being of Russell or someone else discussing the idea.

In covering these subjects so sweepingly and in graphic novel form, it doesn't go into the detail some might want, but it does give a palpable sense of the different schools of thought prevalent at different times and how they evolved. This it does in a pretty compelling way, in a book that's interesting and beautifully illustrated.

Logicomix: An Epic Search for Truth

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Book Review: A Short History Of Nearly Everything

A Short History of Nearly Everything is a brief history of the physical sciences.

Bryson takes the reader through an introduction to geology, paleontology, nuclear physics, chemistry and a host of other topics. The book is both a crash course in how they work and fit together, as well as the history of each field.

The coverage is pretty lightweight (it would have to be, for this wide a set of topics) and humorous as Bryson pulls numerous memorable trivia and stories on the persons involved. Anyone who's a fan of James Burke (of Connections fame) will find this book to their liking.

 The only down side I can think of is that he goes on a tangent of doom-and-gloom for a while, which I found was laid on a little thick, but I still quite enjoyed the book.

 A Short History of Nearly Everything

Monday, July 9, 2012

Book Review: The Mongoliad: Book One

Fast paced, medieval sword-n-shield, knights vs mongols, action. The fast action swashbuckling of System of the World, without the lengthy political in-betweeny bits. I tore through this one really quickly. My only complaint is that the next book isn't due out for a while and the cliff hanger at the end has me wanting more.