It's a blog! Mainly of book reviews.
The collected Asterix short stories!
These are as varied as they are fabulous!
We see: a story about how the animals of the village also hold out against Roman Imperialism; a story about Gaulish fashion; the birth of our heroes; Asterix in the styles of several other comix; the Obelix family tree; how Lutetia won a competition to host the Olympics; how Spring defeated Winter with the help of the village of Indomitable Gauls; a lot of Roman-bashing; and numourous other adventures! Absolutely top-notch work from Goscinny and Uderzo, spanning 40+ years of Asterix comics history.
This is a blend of travelogue, scientific explanation and cultural and scientific history. It is most successful at the travelogue and least successful at the scientific explanation. The author unfortunately suffers from the "Curse of Knowledge" at times, whereby understanding gained over many years of hard study becomes second-nature and one forgets that even the basics are unfamilar to most people - even most well educated people. This makes some of the attempts to explain the origins of the aurora somewhat muddled. It's worth reading, though, if you are interested in the aurora, polar exploration or how vulnerable much of our technology is to events utterly beyond our control, whose ultimate origin is our sun.
Debate by quoting Authorities (Mainly Biblical or Classical): Not unusual at the time of writing according to the editors. Piers Plowman certainly had an abundance - usually in Latin - at least it's mostly in English here.
House of Flowers: one of the better stories - also appearing in my edition of Breakfast at Tiffany's, which explains why it felt familiar.
The Tale of Melibee: A lengthy prose tale again narrated by Geoffrey himself - a close translation of a French source that in turn is adapted from earlier works.
Chandler In Spaaaaaaaaaaaaace!
OK, it's mostly on Earth but it starts on another planet and it is about 2/3 Raymond Chandler noir detective story and 1/3 William Gibson cyberpunk. There's nothing original here but it is well executed and gripping.
The explanation has been there all along and I was just being dumb: There's a continuous local back-up "cortical stack" in your body. As long as this isn't destroyed when your body dies, you can remember your "death." It still isn't in reality possible to download this into a random body because your brain structure matters - you'd end up a different person. Personal clones might work? But the story is internally consistent, at least.
How does Kovacs remember right up to where he was "killed"? Does he continuously "back-up" somehow? This unexplained possible error is distracting me.
So far another take on: we can upload your mind and download it into a new body if you get killed. Too early to see what any original wrinkles might be.
Rick continues to oscillate wildly between unhinged psycho-killer and alleged Greatest Leader the World has Ever Seen. Negan turns out to just be The Governor dialled up to 11. Far more interesting is the latter parts where we focus more on Carl and we get new antagonists, the Whisperers. They are an intriguing psychological response to the Zombie Apocalypse, which seems to have been going on for a while now.
What a fabulous book!
A mixture of comic strip silliness, delightful anecdote and thorough research (aided by the spiritual successors to Babbage's never realised Analytical Engine) that provides the perfect introduction to the designer of the world's first computer and the author of the world's first computer science article!
This dynamic duo have to face: visits from Royalty! Funding problems! Infestations of monkeys! And more! Meet such supporting characters as Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Marian Evans (better known as George Eliot) and a Leopard!
Enjoy such additional delights as: extensive footnotes that take on a life of their own! Primary sources! An explanation of how the Analytical Engine was supposed to work! And an Epilogue! And more!
Seriously, read this book to laugh while you learn and wonder how history would have gone if Babbage had just completed even one of his designs...