matt | August 20, 2006
Previous post was here.
I'm back from Alaska, and since I slept on the plane, I didn't read as much as I expected to.
Also, I find that I tend to get distracted, go read something else, then come back to the original book. Rather than fight it, I figure that I'll post reviews of the books as I get far enough into them to form an opinion, rather than waiting until I finish the book. I'll probably post a final review as well.
Off the stack:
The Difference Engine, William Gibson and Bruce Sterling
If you like steampunk / Jules Verne / etc., then maybe this will be for you. Personally, I thought that it dragged, and the multitudinous changes of perspective really kind of bugged me. Now, in Stephenson's Cryptonimicon there are similar changes of perspective, but the book was interesting and gripping. It has everything to do with style, it seems.
The Past Through Tomorrow, Robert Heinlein
This is a collection of Heinlein's novellas and short stories. As such, it is typical Heinlein, but gives him the ability to express a bunch of different ideas. Since the stories don't need to be cohesive, he can switch gears and play on different themes. Good science fiction.
We Were Soldiers Once… and Young, Lt. Gen. Harold G. Moore (Ret.) and Joseph L. Galloway
This is a good read, though a bit depressing in parts. War is not really a fun subject, and when told from the point of view of someone who was there, it tends to become a list of the dead at times (especially when the fighting is heavy). However, through it all, stories of heroism and bravery shine through.
The Falcon Banner Christopher P. Lydon
See the note below for a little background on this one. Sticking to the review, I have to say that the themes expressed are not new (the general backdrop of humanity in decline from former greatness is an old idea), the typesetting is annoying (instead of indenting, Lydon goes with the “newline between paragraphs” approach, which leads to too much vertical whitespace, making the page look empty. Plus, the whole thing looks like it was typeset in Word. (Actually, checking in to it, it appears that he just wrote it in HTML, hence the lack of indending) Use LaTeX. At least it produces pretty results), and the poor guy needs an editor. Missing commas, oddly conjoined sentences, and a plethora of sentence fragments grate upon my proclivity towards proper usage of the language (and I'm only about 20 pages into the book). That said, the story, at it's core, is quite a good one, and worth putting up with these annoyances to find out what happens next. I just wish that the man would have someone knowledgeable check his work before he publishes it (and there's nothing wrong with revised editions!).
Added to the stack since my last book post:
The Falcon Banner, Christopher P. Lydon (see note, below)
Sigil of the Wolf, Christopher P. Lydon (see note, below)
The Lion's Pride, Christopher P. Lydon (see note, below)
The Federalist Papers, Hamilton, Madison, and Jay
Democracy in America, Alexis de Tocqueville
Will: The Autobiography of G. Gordon Liddy, G. Gordon Liddy
The Gun Digest Book of Combat Handgunnery, Massad Ayoob
On the back burner:
People's History of the United States: 1492 to Present, Howard Zinn
Currently on the stack:
All Tomorrow's Parties, William Gibson
Starship Troopers, Robert Heinlein
The Door Into Summer, Robert Heinlein
Tomorrow, The Stars, Robert Heinlein
Tunnel In The Sky, Robert Heinlein
The Rolling Stones, Robert Heinlein
Great Issues in American History, Volume II – From the Revolution to the Civil War, 1765-1865, Richard Hofstadter.
Great Issues in American History, Volume III – From Reconstruction to the Present Day, 1864-1981, Richard Hofstadter and Beatrice K. Hofstadter
Dark Tower VII: The Dark Tower, Stephen King
SAS Survival Handbook, John “Lofty” Wiseman
The Underground History of American Education, John Taylor Gatto
On Killing : The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society, Dave Grossman
On Combat, Dave Grossman
Serenity: The Official Visual Companion, Joss Whedon; Paperback
Serenity Role Playing Game, Jamie Chambers
Note on Christopher P. Lydon stuff:
I actually came to these based off the Darker Projects Radio Adaptation podcast. In looking around for the print versions of the books, I found out that one can buy them through Lulu.com which allows folks to publish-on-demand, kind of like CafePress. Because I like their model, I've linked to the books which you can buy from them, as opposed to just underlining them as I normally do. I also recommend that you check out the Darker Projects site, and their other podcasts. I like to listen to them while in the car.