Gateway by Frederik Pohl

Filed under:Adventure,Science Fiction — posted by Randolph on April 15, 2017 @ 3:06 pm


Gateway by Frederik Pohl

This story tells about exploration, about the fear and wonder of it. It is told in first person, and we deal with his anxieties, passions and fears. The protagonist, Robinette “Bob” Broadhead, won a lottery, enough to got to Gateway and become a prospector. Gateway is an asteroid with Heechee ships, the Heechee disappeared millions of years ago leaving valuable artifacts. People risk their lives to find these artifacts on the potential of achieving independence.

There are only a few key characters besides the main character, most of these have very little development. The exceptions are Gelle-Klara Moynlin, Dane Metchnikov who are important to Bob and are key to his character development and his psychosis.

The author does a good job of describing life in a low-gravity asteroid, I found the descriptions interesting and insightful, although I think he missed a point or two. 🙂 Moving a heavy object would be very difficult, it may not have weight, but it’s inertia would be greater than the friction you would have with the floor. It recurred during the fight scene, it seems like it would be very difficult to maintain footing while struggling with someone. The problem did not detract from the book.

The story unravels along with a parallel path in the future where Bob is seeing a robot shrink, Sigfrid. These sessions provide a harbinger of events to come, but they aren’t very clear. At first, they seemed unimportant, but they help develop both Bob’s character and build to the climax. I found Sigfrid very interesting, even though a very flat character. Bob’s actions later in the book reinforce that Sigrid isn’t an individual, but he seems to walk a line between human and robot.

There are also one-page entries that help build an image of life on Gateway. These include classified ads, personal communications, rule and contracts.

Overall, I found the book very enjoyable and difficult to put down. There is something looming around the corner that needs resolving. The final revelation is unique and thought-provoking.

Impressionist Painting for the Landscape: Secrets for Successful Oil Painting by Cindy Salaski

Filed under:Uncategorized — posted by Randolph on April 11, 2017 @ 12:07 pm

Impressionist Painting for the Landscape: Secrets for Successful Oil Painting by Cindy Salaski

The book got off to a weak start for me. When describing materials, he describes what he has and insists it is the BEST available. He doesn’t give adequate information as to why it is the best and what you can do if his choice isn’t available or is too expensive for the reader. This doesn’t address why the best wouldn’t change over time. Everything he has is the best.

The book got a lot better when he got down to painting techniques and composition. However, the authors didn’t really address impressionism very much. The book includes some step-by-step painting examples, again, there is a discussion of techniques, but not as to why they would support an impressionistic feel.

There are a lot of references at the bottom of alternate pages to a website for additional material. This is just a blatant attempt to get you to a website to view ads. the extra materials consist of two pages, one of very basic suggestions already covered in the book, the second page is a nice painting with a few words about its composition. This could have been included on one page in the book. Instead there are three pages about the two authors and two pages that are selling a video.

The book does have value, don’t expect to come through it with any understanding of impressionism and you can enjoy it.

Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness by Richard H. Thaler, Cass R. Sunstein

Filed under:Philosophy,self-help — posted by Randolph on April 5, 2017 @ 3:27 pm


Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness by Richard H. Thaler, Cass R. Sunstein

This book is slow and I find the author demeaning. He isn’t teaching about how to improve your skills, it is more about choice architecture. It itself, that could be interesting, but the author is ‘nudging’ the reader toward libertarian paternalism. He starts arguments with ‘givens’ that the reader is supposed to accept, and I couldn’t accept them. He draws conclusions about medical care and retirement with his socio-political views that I don’t agree with.

He talks down to the reader, it felt like a waste of time. I will not finish this book.

Myth-ion Improbable by Robert Asprin

Filed under:Adventure,Fantasy,Humor,Series — posted by Randolph on April 1, 2017 @ 2:23 pm


Myth-ion Improbable by Robert Asprin

This books is set earlier than some of the recent books, following Myth Directions. In this adventure, Skeeve gets hold of a treasure map that leads to a golden cow. At the thought of treasure, Aahz loses his senses, with Tananda, they begin a grand adventure. .

Only, the map is magical and changes as the proceed. They meet some odd characters, some peculiar dimensions. Meeting vegetarian cowboys, odd cattle, and redundant towns on their way to find gold, they face odd obstacles and find humorous solutions.



image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace