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.

April 25, 2015

You Want Proof? I’ll Give You Proof! by Sidney Harris

Filed under: Humor — Randolph @ 7:59 pm

You Want Proof? I'll Give You Proof! by Sidney Harris

This is a series of unrelated cartoons, mostly about science. Some basic understanding of science is helpful to understand some of them, but anyone can enjoy the book. It is a pretty fast read, worth a few giggles, but not much more. It is a different way of looking at science.

I did find it curious that a science-oriented book would neglect to include page numbers.

April 19, 2015

Dracula by Bram Stoker

Filed under: Fantasy — Randolph @ 7:36 pm

Dracula by Bram Stoker

Dracula is well known, I found some of the differences between movies, common myth, and the book of interest. He isn’t quite as fearsome in this version. I think a lot of the issue is the dating of the book. A lot of what Bram Stoker does serves to reduce the horror. An example is the early introduction by watching him scale a castle. His behavior wasn’t consistent with his abilities.

Next is the structure of the book. It is told as a series of diary entries with the addition of a few letters. These come from several people, yet they are all told in the same voice with similar types of content and style. Each person has recorded dialog verbatim, even to the point of the awkward working and spelling of people of different cultures and backgrounds. It felt very unnatural.

Abraham Van Helsing seemed over the top. He has all the answers, he’s encountered vampires before, but his background isn’t adequately explained. He is overly secretive for a matter as grave as this, and parcels out information only sparingly.

The story, itself, could be brought up-to-date. For instance, instead of starting in Romania, I would have started in England with the arrival of the boat whose crew was dead. It could have started by taking the form of an investigation. There were some interesting events early in the book, intrigue around Harker’s apparent imprisonment, his interaction with the other vampires. This could be updated by introducing another victim, probably replacing Harker, and another plot thread in England.

Overall, the book fell short of my expectations. I felt no horror, and felt that Dracula didn’t present himself well. Coupled with the overburdened dialog of the stereotypical Victorian dialog made it slow at times and difficult to accept when belittling women or other minorities. The climax came a bit suddenly and was too abrupt. A rewrite could do wonders for the book, it is a good story.

April 1, 2015

Legacy by Greg Bear

Filed under: Science Fiction,Series — Randolph @ 7:43 pm

Legacy by Greg Bear

The plot is the exploration of the relationship between a small human society and a new life form. The author seems to have envisioned a new idea for a new life form and used the book as a device to explore it. That said, the book is enjoyable.

Olmy is sent by the Hexamon to spy on the humans on Lamarckia, a planet with a unique life form that was to be left alone. As soon as he arrives, the focus turns to an exploration of the life, itself.

There is almost nothing that is really explored. Although Olmy sets out on a travel, which did not seem to fit with his mission, almost everything we learn about the life is provided by other characters. As the story progresses, the reader encounters characters more and more knowledgable.

Another plot line involves the relation of two factions on the planet. We open with outright warring, and eventually learn the underlying history behind the war, and the people leading it. We also learn a little about the cultures involved in this war. Personally, I found this more interesting than the life exploration.

Besides Lamarkia, referring to the planet and the Lamarkian-style evolution that seems to predominate its life forms, the author has thrown in references to mythologies. Other than just names dropped, there isn’t really a clue that there is a reference. I suspect I missed most of them, if there were more than a couple.

Early on, the book dragged. I really couldn’t identify with any of the characters in the book, the main character seemed to make some very odd decisions. The book really picked up in the second half. If the first half were just a little better, I would rate the book much better.

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