September 03, 2007

John's Reading Report (August 2007)

Here's what I've read since my last report:

The Ghost Brigades, John Scalzi I love Scalzi's Colonial Union universe. I hope he is able to find a way to keep it interesting for himself, so that he will write more stories in this setting.

1776, David McCullough I don't know why I put this one off for so long. It was actually a pretty easy and informative read once I started.

Magician, Raymond E. Feist. I read this book many years ago and enjoyed it again as I was previewing it for my 13-year-old. I'm not much for swords-and-sorcery (I prefer hard SF), but this novel is set in a nicely-planned universe reflecting careful world-building and plotting. I may actually check out a few of the other stories set in this universe.

The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice, Christopher Hitchens. A quick read, inspired by the recent Time Magazine article about Mother Teresa's crises of faith.

In progress:

Making up the Mind: How the Brain Creates Our Mental World, Chris Frith. This is a good one so far, but needed some more careful editing (I've noticed several sloppy typos that aren't the kind to be caught by spell-check; they would require a human copyeditor).

Consciousness Explained, Daniel C. Dennett.

Amateur Telescope Making Book One, Albert G. Ingalls (editor)

On Deck:

God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, Christopher Hitchens. My Sunday School class may be discussing this one in the near future, so I'll be getting a head start.

Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid, Douglas R. Hofstadter. Time to re-read this.

Soul Made Flesh: The Discovery of the Brain--and How it Changed the World, Carl Zimmer. I love Zimmer's science writing (check out his blog here). This is of a kind with all the other cognitive science reading I've been devouring this year. If I could find another way to pay for my 3 kids' college today, I would quit being a lawyer and go back to school for graduate work in CogSci. It's one of the most fertile areas of interdisciplinary study these days, and I have a very personal interest in learning more about how the brain works.

About eight months' worth of Analog magazine.

I am reading more than writing, still, and hope someday to condense some of my reading down into worthy blog posts. In the meantime, please continue to enjoy Planet Stories' excellent contributions around here.

Posted by JohnL at September 3, 2007 09:39 AM

There are quite a few books in the Magician universe at this point, and there are still more being writen by Feist- the Darkwar Saga. But besides the original Magician, I think I like the Empire Sequence the best, cowriten with Janny Wurts: Daughter of the Empire, Servant, Mistress. Much less extinction event level sorcery, much more political and personal stuff.

Posted by: owlish at September 3, 2007 07:02 PM

Hi. Since this never happened:

at least I would like to spend the last 1/3rd of my life living like this:

But it's fake. And so is most Sci-Fi, except for Lucifer's Hammer. Do you live your life in drab faded greys, and then come home and cocoon in fake Sci-Fi mumblings?

Do you think that working at Google is like living in a future Sci-Fi world? What about working at some alt-space company? I think the problem with that is that they still come home to the same type of home-life that everybody else does. I hate knotted pine furniture.

Posted by: Mid Life at September 5, 2007 11:20 PM

Hah. I've got decades of unread copies of Analog. Sometimes I wonder why I still keep buying it, as I never seem to get around to them!

Scalzi wrote one "chapbook" in the Colonial Union series, The Sagan Diary, which I posted. I'm a few chapters into The Last Colony. Good read so far.

I have the Ingalls series in a couple of older editions. Good stuff, but I've never had the space to set up a mirror grinding facility! One of the more fascinating bits about Clyde Tombaugh's life is that he did several telescopes, selling some to finance his own. He dug a cellar (in the blazing summer heat) on his parent's farm in order to have a steady-temperature place to do his mirror grinding.

(Oh yes. He also discovered a planet. Yes, IAU, a planet. Take that!)

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