Read Books This will provide a list of the books I've read with a brief review. Users are blocked, contact me for access. I welcome discussions, but I'm tired of spam.

May 17, 2013

The Ghostway by Tony Hillerman

Filed under: Mystery,Series — Tags: — Randolph @ 8:02 am

The Ghostway by Tony Hillerman

There is a murder in Shiprock, NM. Jim Chee can’t investigate because the FBI is involved in the case. But he finds an angle, a missing girl who is related to one of the people involved.

His investigation takes him to Los Angeles, where we view the white poverty through his eyes. As usual in these books, the Navajo culture is a strong influence on the story. We learn about ghosts, and the ghostway, which is a cleansing ceremony for someone who has been in an infected hogan, by the chindi.

A third story line is with Joe’s fiancĂ©, Mary Landon. She is pressuring him to leave the reservation and join the FBI. He is torn between the world he knows and loves, and the unknown of the white world. And he is concerned for the Navajo culture, he is one of a very few young people who is studying the old ways. He is working to become a yataalii, a medicine man. If he leaves, that would be a great loss to the tribe.

Although the story involving the death and the FBI is the main mystery, the story is more about Jim Chee’s struggle to resolve his relationship with Mary. Mary appears very little through the book, but plays a vital part. Tony Hillerman’s storytelling is excellent, the pacing is right and he gives a very good feel for the New Mexico area and the Navajo culture.

This is an excellent read, and a must-read for any Hillerman fans.

May 11, 2013

Startide Rising by David Brin

Filed under: Science Fiction,Series — Tags: , , — Randolph @ 7:27 pm

Startide Rising by David Brin

This is the second book in David Brin’s Uplift Saga. It provides a good introduction to the aliens and galactic politics.

In this story, a small ship, crewed by dolphis, a few humans, and a chimp, stumble across a fleet of derelict starships from a lost race. The prize is valued by many species, and the Earthling crew has to struggle for survival as the powerful races fight over the right to capture them to learn the fleet’s location.

The characters are well developed, including a number of the bad guys who were interesting and creative. The personalities of the dolphins seemed appropriate and well though out. They have unique characteristics that makes them feel a bit alien yet very familiar to us.

There was one weak point that bothered me. One of the bad guys had to explain everything to a person he was about to kill. It felt a lot like a gimmick, ok, it was a gimmick. It was a message to the reader and a minor plot device. I expect better from good authors. This flaw did not really affect the reading in my opinion.

Overall the book moves at a good pace; the writing is good and the story inviting. The story has interesting politics and characters. It is a good read for anyone who mildly likes science fiction.

May 4, 2013

Acceleration: The Forces Driving Human Progress by Ronald G. Havelock

Filed under: Science — Randolph @ 8:51 pm

Acceleration: The Forces Driving Human Progress by Ronald G. Havelock

The book discusses the acceleration of man’s culture, society, and technology. He explores many aspects of these, their relation to history and trends for the future. He tends to back up his ideas with a lot of data. He addresses many problems current society faces and extrapolates his philosophies for their future prospects.

He breaks his ideas into six forces that forge society: animal learning, externalized learning, social connections, knowledge platforms, scientific problem-solving, and global diffusion.

Too much of the book was devoted to setup. The first part of the book is long and tedious. The majority of the book is interesting and provides good food for thought.

Although the ideas seemed well researched, I felt he was overly optimistic and even dismissive of many ideas. For instance, he dismisses global warming with the statement “If the current trend in public opinion holds [we] will soon take steps to reduce emissions.” I several topics he seem either naive or to have a poor understanding of the issue.

Even with the shortcomings, the book was interesting and presents some interesting ideas.

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