Friday, April 26, 2019

read: The Barbary Pirates (4 stars)

The Barbary Pirates (Ethan Gage, #4)The Barbary Pirates by William Dietrich
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Plenty of swash is buckled here, once the yarn gets ripping. After a rather rousing start, the story bogs for a while in order for the pieces to get positioned on the board. Then the dice are rolled and Ethan Gage starts shredding the scenery with all of the enthusiasm and grit, but not quite as much suave, of James Bond. Yes, there are pirates. Plus more Napoleon, now with added Archimedes, Robert Fulton and plenty of old friends and enemies.

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Tuesday, April 9, 2019

read: Factfulness: Ten Reasons We're Wrong About the World--and Why Things Are Better Than You Think (5 stars)

Factfulness: Ten Reasons We're Wrong About the World--and Why Things Are Better Than You ThinkFactfulness: Ten Reasons We're Wrong About the World--and Why Things Are Better Than You Think by Hans Rosling
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Does it seem like the world is getting more and more difficult to understand? Does it feel like everything is getting worse, yet you know that some things must be getting better? Does it seem like all of what is presented as news is bad news and disasters? Does it feel like everything you learned about the world in school might be wrong?

All of the above are true for me. After reading Hans Rosling's book, I'm pretty sure I'm necessarily smarter. But I think I have a better handle on how to approach the issues of the day and how they are presented in the modern media. And that's really the point of the book. It's not trying to provide simple facts (although it does present some astonishing statistics that are meant to challenge your world view). It is intended to give the reader the tools to digest all of the input that is flooding our lives.

If you want a taste of what the book contains, watch Hans' TED Talk:

Then, read his book.

Then encourage everyone you know to read his book. Let's all become dedicated to factful living.

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Thursday, April 4, 2019

read: Steampunk II: Steampunk Reloaded (3 stars)

Steampunk II: Steampunk Reloaded (Steampunk, #2)Steampunk II: Steampunk Reloaded by Ann VanderMeer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The usual mix-bag of good, bad and meh stories. I started out enjoying the eclectic feel of the stories, which didn't always (or even usually?) fit into my preconceived notion of what Steampunk is supposed to be. A great many of them tended to veer quite a more into fantasy than expected. Toward the end, however, the slow pace and intentionally archaic language became tedious and I started a lot of skimming.

I picked this volume up because it included, "Tanglewood", a "Clockwork Century" story by Cherie Priest. As expected, it was one of the good ones, though also not what I expected. My favorite was "The Strange Case of Mr. Salad Monday" by G.D. Falksen, with it's odd take on 19th Century social media.

Anyone that is really into this genre will probably find the collection enjoyable. If you're not already a Steampunk fan, the odds are more like 50-50.

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