30.7.12

Review: Reamde: A Novel


Reamde: A Novel
Reamde: A Novel by Neal Stephenson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars



Have you been hankering for a long winded novel about a multi-cultural/multi-national rag tag squad of hackers, hard boiled soldiers, cantankerous old men and religious gun nuts living out a utopian fantasy of stemming the flow of jihadists sneaking over the Canadian border?

I read it, there were parts I certainly enjoyed, the conclusion was for the most part satisfying. But still not a book I'd necessarily recommend with any enthusiasm. If you like thrillers that try to weave in some other stuff, or if you really get into long, descriptive asides of whatever the hell Neal was fancying that day, then carry forth and read this. For all its positives, and it has a few, this was not an easy read.

For one, there's the structure. It takes place over twenty one days, and each chapter is a day long. And in each day, it dances between several POV characters. This makes for some long chapters, and then some very long chapters. I imagine this is by design. There are some days that I read saying to myself, ugh, when will this day end, which I'm sure was the position of the characters as well.

So yeah... Reamde, erotic fiction about guns.



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21.7.12

Review: Kill Decision


Kill Decision
Kill Decision by Daniel Suarez

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



Now with 100% less Giant Super-powered Deus Ex Machina

I really enjoyed Daemon and Freedom(tm), for their pacing, and the thorough dive into technology speculation. And I'm happy to say that continues in full in the reading of Kill Decision. From killer ants to pheromones to seventy two hour batteries (ok, the 72 hr batteries are almost as implausible as the giant super-powered Merritt), Daniel Suarez explores the geopolitical, technological and moral implications of an autonomous military in the hands of them that can afford it. And it's a very scary vision of What If.

I consider it a win anytime a book spurs me on to do further research on a topic. So this is a triumph.



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18.7.12

Review: The Coldest War


The Coldest War
The Coldest War by Ian Tregillis

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



Nazis and Commies and Cyborgs and Magic! Oh My!

A good follow up to Bitter Seeds. And it patched up where the first was rough. Although I guessed the identity, and nature, of the disfigured man after reading Bitter Seeds, it was great to see exactly how it played out.

And I look forward to the next in the series, The Wild Adventures of Marty McFly



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16.7.12

Review: Year Zero


Year Zero
Year Zero by Rob Reid

My rating: 3 of 5 stars



I was ready to give this two stars up until the epilogue. The libertarian tech ethos was running just a bit too thick. It's a silly book about a serious topic though.

All that being said, it was short, and I appreciate the Epilogue. Hell, I would have been fine just reading the Epilogue.

So. Go read the Epilogue. Especially if you hate Microsoft.

The added at the back has a series of playlists for each of the characters, that's supposed to inform one's view of the character in question. That's something I really like, so I started making some of them in Spotify. Here they are.



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14.7.12

Review: Ready Player One


Ready Player One
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

My rating: 3 of 5 stars



I would have given it four stars had it not relied upon the tired trope of love made him discover the real world. But I'll forgive a lot for freshman effort. Lot of time and love went into the writing of this book.
But as I said in my status reports, there were several times where he wasn't writing from 2044 so much as he was projecting to it. No confidence that in the world of GSS and IOI orgs like Wikipedia and YouTube and programs like Saturday Night Live will still exist.
This story did give me serious bouts of nostalgia, I give it high marks for that. Really do wish I could give it another 1/2 star. I hate the scalar rating system. There are multiple nuances to how I judge a read, and a 1-5 scale doesn't do it. I'd give this 4 stars easily for the way it made me feel, and the 3 is for the way it was written.



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Review: Caliban's War


Caliban's War
Caliban's War by James S.A. Corey

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



If I take both Leviathan Wakes and Caliban's War together, I would give them 9 stars, with the 9th star being in a state of quantum flux between them. The Expanse is just a fun, engaging read. It seems hollowed out asteroids are all the rage nowadays, and that's fine with me.

With the Expanse, and forgive me for speaking of them as a whole, but I am, we're given a plausible near-ish future in which we're seeing the strains of an interplanetary system. I like how we're given a sense of the manner in which these lengthy transit times impact relations of the various factions.

Most certainly recommend this series.



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Review: 2312


2312
2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars



There seem to be two kinds of science fiction I enjoy. Those that write well and tell a good story. And those for whom the story is just a way to explore ideas. Idea explorers. I would put Asimov, for instance, in this category.

Kim Stanley Robinson likes words. And he likes using a lot of them. Sometimes so much so that I felt my eyes glassing over. But that isn't always a bad thing.

So part of the reason I decided this was going to be my next pick is an interview I'd listened to where he spoke at length about gender. One of the topics was the indeterminate gender of one of the characters, Jean Genette. He talked about trying to avoid the use of gender defining pronouns in regards to this character. I was with it until it started creeping in as the character became more of a POV character, and made more frequent appearances. And the odd thing was that the definition was consistent, consistently male. Repeatedly masculine pronoun usage slipped in, which completely destroyed the image of this character that had been conjured. Oh well.

That said, the story itself reached what, to me, was a predictable conclusion [SPOILER] the synthetics (qubans or quboids) being fired off extra-sol-system [/SPOILER] primarily because KSR has stated in several interviews that he doesn't believe homo sapiens will expand beyond this solar system. The conclusion was predictable, but the manner in which it was reached was ham fisted.

All in all I found the novel somewhat frustrating. I'm glad I read it, but the story itself seemed kind of weak. And after having gone on at length about this future vision of a diversified and self-directed humanity, it ends with a rather stereotypical princess meets prince charming (almost too literally) and they get married.



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