May 11th, 2015


Books that I read in April

Books that I read in April:

8. Spoor, Ryk. Paradigms Lost (526 p.)

9. Bradbury, Ray. Fahrenheit 451 (184 p.)

10. Munroe, Randall. What If? (303 p.)

April total: 1,013 pages
2015 total: 3,357 pages

Three good books this month.

Paradigms Lost is an expanded form of Digital Knight, a collection of sequential short stories telling a larger story about an expert in information gathering and digital video/sound processing who's world gets turned on its head overnight when he discovers that vampires & werewolves are very real, but also not necessarily all they appear to be. It also crosses over somewhat with Spoor's Balanced Sword fantasy series (though it's not necessary to read that to enjoy this--but you may find yourself wanting to, if just to be able to find out what happens to those characters), and I'm guessing it also links to (or at least tips a hat to) his Grand Central Arena science fiction series (though if that latter is true, I haven't read enough of it yet to reach any explicit spelling out of what I suspect the link is). It's good, in a similar vein to Butcher's Dresden Files, except with high tech instead of Dresden's low-tech. (One story somewhat broke my suspension of disbelief--one in which the character suddenly becomes a super-competent courtroom litigator--but the story's payoff was a sweet way out of what looked like it was going to be a narrative corner, so I was willing to overlook the piece of the story that bothered me.) When I finished the book, I wanted to read more about these characters, which is always a good sign. Definitely recommended.

I remember reading Fahrenheit 451 in high school or college, but I didn't remember much of the specifics, and Bradbury was next after Austen, so I gave it a go. It's quite good, but felt a little thin in parts, or perhaps in need of a little more unpacking. The messages (both the surface one of anti-censorship and the deeper one of how easily mass media turns the general populace into cultural illiterates that are little more than sheep at best) still hold up. The second half (as well as the anti-TV message) reminds me of Stephen King's The Running Man, though I liked the latter better.

I've been reading What If online since it started, and having several of these in hard-copy form--as well as the all-new columns that haven't appeared on the site--was definitely an attraction, and I'm glad I got it. The quirky, chaotic sense of humor, and the straight (yet generally explosively funny) answers to varyingly absurd (yet very earnest) questions makes me laugh just about every time, yet it also makes what is often otherwise highly complex, theoretical science understandable and interesting to the layman. The story about what if a baseball were suddenly accelerated almost to the speed of light, as well as the one about what would happen if you created a periodic table of elements with cubes of each element in its purest state are both absolutely grand. Highly, thoroughly recommended.

Feudalism: Serf & Turf