Tripping the Multiverse by Alison Lyke

Filed under:Uncategorized — posted by Randolph on March 18, 2021 @ 9:29 am

Tripping the Universe is the story of two women who gain superpowers from an accident involving a quantum-based experiment. The women, Jade and Antigone (Anti), are science journalists attending an experiment to create a quantum tunnel. The tunnel opens a hole to alternate worlds and give the two the ability to shape change and the ability to find the portals.

Jade and Anti are quested to find someone who disappeared into another dimension during the experiment. After returning home, they find things are subtly different and need to find a way home.

Through their adventures and an instinct that things are not as they seem, they uncover an interdimensional criminal that is destabilizing our dimension. This starts a self-induced quest to hunt down the criminal, wandering among the different dimensions.

The book has a few problems. It feels like minor characters just appear to explain things to the two adventurers. This leaves the book with a deus ex machina feel.

The author uses too many adjectives. Quite often she uses two adjectives and a noun, sometimes more than once in a single sentence. This reads awkwardly and sometimes suggests incidental items have more importance to the story than they actually do.

The pacing of the story felt off. It is always moderately fast-paced. But there are times when it should be slower. A changing of pace would help the story.

Some of the dialog didn’t feel natural. The subject changes too quickly.

The narrator used Anti’s full name at the start of the book. After Anti mentioned her nickname to Jade, the narrator suddenly changed it’s references. Except in one instance the narrator referred to her as Antigone, but there was no rhyme nor reason for that instance.

In their first trip to a foreign dimension, they had to split up. Jade took their universal translator, but Anti was able to communicate without it.

Generally, I think the book could use a stronger editor, especially with continuity.

In spite of these issues, I did enjoy the book. When Anti and Jade were in alternate dimensions, the extra adjectives helped to describe the unique locations. Each place they visited felt odd and unique. The reader will get an immediate feel for unusual cultures and people.

The experiment itself was described in terms of modern technology dropping recognizable terms. This worked well with a suspension of disbelief to help the user get into the story.

When you add interesting minor characters and situational humor, the book becomes an enjoyable and light read. I suspect the author targeted a younger audience, but I will enjoy reading the next installment.

Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey

Filed under:Uncategorized — posted by Randolph on March 11, 2021 @ 7:39 am

Leviathon wakes is a space opera taking place in the near future. Man has colonized Mars and the asteroid belt populated by Belters. There is a lot of political tension between the three populations.

The book follows two men. James Holden is the executive officer of a small ice-mining ship. Josephus Aloisus Miller is a small-time detective at a space station.

The story starts with Holden and crew responding to a distress signal. They find a dead ship, when a stealth Martian ship arrives and destroys their ship. This leaves him in command of a small crew and pulls him into a political power struggle for the Solar System.

Miller is given an assignment to find Julie Mao, the daughter of a wealthy Earthman. His orders are to kidnap her and ship her home. His early investigation reveals that she was involved with Belter rebels – and leads to his being pulled from the investigation and ultimately fired for not dropping the investigation.

Miller finds Julie Mao dead, she dies of an unknown and apparently dangerous virus.

Someone is setting up Eros as an experiment with the virus. Miller recognizes a bugus radiation alert and mercenaries acting as herding authorities, Miller find Holden to gain his expertise on the ships and docks, then manages to herd them both safely to Holden’s ship using back areas of the station.

From here, the story involves an alien virus, a large corporation trying to control and dominate it, Mars and The Belt trying to get their own samples.

The story is very readable, mostly an adventure novel with a bit of noir mystery thrown in.

New York 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson

Filed under:Uncategorized — posted by Randolph on February 26, 2021 @ 4:58 pm

This book tells the story of several people inhabiting a skyscraper in New York City in the year 2140. Global warming has raised the ocean level to the point of flooding lower-elevation buildings in the city. Some people live below the high-tide level. Below sea level in poorer sections of town.

One plot line involves elderly man who studies old maps and two young boys. The man believes he’s discovered the location of an old shipwreck that had been carrying gold. The two boys take it on themselves to look for it.

Two hackers trying to unbalance the current government, which has become more oppressive and has concentrated money and power in smaller numbers. They have created some code to disrupt Wall Street. This is the underlying theme of the book, money is the main social problem and bringing down the finial system is a way to free it.

The building janitor lives, by choice in an under-high-tide apartment. He seems to be part of the story mainly to explain some features of the technology and find tools.

A reality tv start who lives aloft in a large balloon is trying to save endangered species. A couple of other characters who’s main purpose is to provide ideas and access to equipment.

The story is told as an adventure story. It ultimately brings all the characters together to focus on changing the world. I found the book a little preachy at times. I think Kim Stanley Robinson has better books, but this one is good.

How Did You Paint That?: 100 Ways to Paint Seascapes, Rivers & Lakes

Filed under:Uncategorized — posted by Randolph on February 19, 2021 @ 2:39 am

This book is part of a series that promises to explain the inspiration, interpretation, design and process for creating a painting. Unfortunately it doesn’t really deliver that. Each of these categories is only allotted about two dozen words or less. There isn’t enough to get value from the text.

Each page contains 1 painting taking up about half the page allong with the authors text on the subject and a diagram of the paints/pencils/pastels or whatever he used in the process. Too much is allocated to his tools and far too little on all other aspects of the art.

The book does have some good values. As a picture book, there are 100 nice photos. Each done by a different author in a different style. The art is reproduced well. I think the book would have been better as a picture book with a little information about the painting.

Another nice feature is that most artists have a listed link to a webpage, so it’s easy to find more information about the artist and his other works.

Sci-Phi: Science Fiction as Philosophy with Dr. David K. Johnson

Filed under:Uncategorized — posted by Randolph on December 14, 2020 @ 5:14 pm

This is a lecture series by The Great Courses. It uses science fiction, specifically science fiction movies, to illustrate philosophical concepts. In 24 lectures, he discusses science fiction movies and how the relate to ideas in philosophy.

In each lecture, Dr. Johnson asks you to watch a movie. Then in the next lecture he discusses the movie and ties it in to philosophy.

The movies selected are enjoyable for the most part and offer interesting ideas to consider. These include Inception, The Matrix, The Adjustment Bureau, Arrival and such. He also covers Star Trek and Doctor Who. He ends with 2001 and a discussion of Nietzche, comparing the star child at the end to the idea of the ├╝bermensch.

Composition by David Friend

Filed under:Uncategorized — posted by Randolph on December 4, 2020 @ 11:59 am
Composition by David Friend

Composition discusses some of the finer points of painting composition not well understood by casual artists. Most sections consist of two parts. The first is a light introduction to the section’s topic and includes exercises. The second section (usually) takes a famous painting and compares it to an initial sketch. The pair demonstrate the section’s topic and the artist’s solution to the problem.

The book is well done and very informative. My only issues is that some of the exercises can take several days and makes the book more of a workshop than just a read. I wasn’t prepared for that and ended up skipping or rushing the exercises. If you go in with the time and preparation, the book would probably be a good workshop. Even without taking the exercises as seriously as I should, I found the book very informative and useful.

Hashi: The Bridges Puzzle by Alastair Chisholm

Filed under:Games and Puzzles,Uncategorized — posted by Randolph on October 13, 2020 @ 3:54 pm

Hashi are puzzles where you need to form connections between all the bubbles on a page. Each bubble shows the total number of connections to that bubble and no two bubbles can share more than two connections. Then, all connections are simple orthogonal.

I found the puzzles a lot of fun. It is engaging enough to keep you occupied and the complexity seems right. Except for the simple introductory puzzles, they can be solved in less than about 20 minutes.

The one problem I felt, was they did not get more complex. The puzzles are rated delicious (fairly trivial), pernicious, malicious and vicious. But other than the delicious puzzles being trivial, the others did not get more difficult. They increased in size which provided more places to make an error, but they did not require more thought or problem solving.

They are fun. Now that I’ve solved the book, I don’t feel I need more of them, unless they can truly become more difficult.

ABC’s of Leatherwork by Tandy Leather Company

Filed under:Uncategorized — posted by Randolph on December 26, 2019 @ 12:28 pm

This is a minimal primer for leatherworking. It introduces the reader to a few basic tools and techniques, that’s about it. It doesn’t mention maintenance or care of the tools, nor safety. It may be decent for a user who needs a quick introduction and has access to a teacher or someone who can help through any difficulties. It is cheap and a quick read. The company has several better books. Better is Leather Crafting: http://books.randolphking.com/?p=1647.

Behold a Pale Horse by Peter Tremayne

Filed under:Uncategorized — posted by Randolph on November 25, 2019 @ 10:32 am

This is the 22nd book in the Sister Fidelma mystery series. Set in 664 AD, Sister Fidelma is returning from a trip to Rome. She finds herself on an island where she encounters an old mentor who is dying. But he had stumbled onto something that opened the door to murder, intrigue and conspiracies.

Not speaking the language, Fidelma is limited and manipulated but unknown agents. The story is very well told and compelling to the end.

Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynne Truss

Filed under:Uncategorized — posted by Randolph on October 17, 2019 @ 3:31 pm

Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss that is a grammarian with quite a sense of humor. The book is both informative and funny as it discusses various points of grammar and of style.

The book covers different points of grammar, focusing on punctuation and its use. She grabs examples from her surroundings and compares the actual stated with the intended meanings.

Although she uses the British style, she often notes differences between American and British English, then pokes fun at everyone. Any ready will find a thoroughly enjoyable read and will learn a few points of grammar in spite if himself.


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image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace