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arbieroo

Arbie's Unoriginally Titled Book Blog

It's a blog! Mainly of book reviews.

Currently reading

Life and Letters of Charles Darwin - Volume 1: By Charles Darwin - Illustrated
Charles Darwin
Progress: 176/346 pages
Ursula K. Le Guin: The Complete Orsinia: Malafrena / Stories and Songs (The Library of America)
Brian Attebery, Ursula K. Le Guin
Progress: 359/700 pages
Plasma physics
R.A. Cairns
Progress: 166/244 pages
Selected Short Stories - Conrad (Wordsworth Classics)
Keith Carabine, Joseph Conrad
Progress: 180/272 pages
A Student's Guide to Lagrangians and Hamiltonians
Patrick Hamill
Progress: 7/180 pages
Complete Poems, 1904-1962
E.E. Cummings
Progress: 108/1102 pages
The Complete Plays and Poems
E.D. Pendry, J.C. Maxwell, Christopher Marlowe
She Stoops to Conquer and Other Comedies (Oxford World's Classics)
Henry Fielding, David Garrick, Oliver Goldsmith
Progress: 76/448 pages
Shakespeare and the Goddess of Complete Being
Ted Hughes
Progress: 511/517 pages
Gravitation (Physics Series)
Kip Thorne;Kip S. Thorne;Charles W. Misner;John Archibald Wheeler;John Wheeler
Progress: 48/1215 pages
SPOILER ALERT!

Rule 34, Charles Stross

Rule 34 - Charles Stross

Yeah, on a second reading, still not that fab. "The AI manipulated everybody so that nobody had any real agency," is actually a really dull concept and it's at least the third time Stross has used it. Additionally the story story stops with heaps of loose ends and not much clarity about what's really happened.

Reading progress update: I've read 168 out of 346 pages.

Life and Letters of Charles Darwin - Volume 1: By Charles Darwin - Illustrated - Charles Darwin

The first mention (in this book) of working on "the species question" comes in a letter dated 1840.

Reading progress update: I've read 186 out of 368 pages.

Rule 34 - Charles Stross

Evidently there are dangers associated with writing "near future" SF. E.g. if Scotland votes against independence and Google Glass flops so hard it hurts, your Indie-Scotland where everyone uses virtual reality specs looks a little less than convincing...of course it all could still happen...

Reading progress update: I've read 1138 out of 1344 pages.

The Complete Works (Oxford Shakespeare) - William Shakespeare, John Jowett, Gary Taylor

And at last I have context for that most famous of stage directions, "Exit, pursued by a bear."

 

Now for my monthly update on my mission to finish the Complete Works by the end of the year:

 

I am two Acts behind schedule, which pace, if maintained, would put me 4 Acts behind by the end of the year. I also have 64 sonnets and a few pages of miscellaneous poems to go.

Burglars Can't be Choosers, Robert Block

Burglars Can't Be Choosers - Lawrence Block

So Block has three major series: Scudder the alcoholic detective, Keller the professional killer and Rhodenberry the burglar who solves murders. The impression I have is that I've written them out in order of decreasing popularity, which turns out to be the inverse of how much I like them.

 

It was a bit of a surprise, then, for me to re-read this and discover that Bernard Rhodenberry isn't all that likeable a guy. He's sexist, mildly homophobic and a thief. Block makes him sympathetic (or at least tries to) by having him be funny, honest about his motivations, averse to violence almost to the point of cowardliness (additionally hating guns) and someone who only steals from the rich - even though there's no giving to the poor involved, as well as making him the victim of false murder charge.

 

Somehow it works; I'm rooting for Bernie to solve the murder and clear his name.

 

Our society is changing fast by the way; this is the mid-nineties for Bernard and there are no mobile phones, nobody has heard of the internet - in fact computers are never even mentioned - and these facts stand out like an elephant in a high street, giving things a quaint air of past times that are not even a 1/4 century past.

Reading progress update: I've read 34 out of 320 pages.

Burglars Can't Be Choosers - Lawrence Block

Is Rhodenbarr being set up for a murder charge?

Reading progress update: I've read 188 out of 414 pages.

The Poems of the Pearl Manuscript: Pearl, Cleanness, Patience, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight: - Ronald Waldron, Unknown

More of the by now very familiar preaching of the virtues; roll on the Jonah story.

Reading progress update: I've read 19 out of 42 pages.

The Feynman Lectures on Physics Vol 2: Mainly Electomagnetism & Matter - Matthew L. Sands, Robert B. Leighton, Richard P. Feynman

The Principle of Least Action - with some bonus stuff on minimum principles in electromagnetism and across physics as a whole - including an outline of a research question Feynman was working on at the time! Of course in one lecture he can't really teach calculus of variation thoroughly but it is very provocative to the curious, what with its hints about Actions in Feynman's own Nobel Prize winning approach to Quantum Electo-Dynamics.

Reading progress update: I've read 73 out of 244 pages.

Plasma physics - R.A. Cairns

This book covers a wide range of topics in a fairly compressed manner. I therefore conclude it is best used as a reference manual rather than an initial learning tool.

SPOILER ALERT!

The Fuller Memorandum, Charles Stross

The Fuller Memorandum (A Laundry Files Novel) - Charles Stross

Beware the manager who treats you well; she probably wants to use you as a vessel for an alien from beyond space-time...

Reading progress update: I've read 1137 out of 1344 pages.

The Complete Works (Oxford Shakespeare) - William Shakespeare, John Jowett, Gary Taylor

Leontes, you're an idiot and Oh noes! Hermione!

Reading progress update: I've read 186 out of 414 pages.

The Poems of the Pearl Manuscript: Pearl, Cleanness, Patience, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight: - Ronald Waldron, Unknown

Patience.

 

Ironically the shortest poem in the Pearl Manuscript...but in the Middle English it seems to refer to Job-like stoicism in the face of suffering and misfortune and self-control in the face of provocation and fear.

Reading progress update: I've read 1134 out of 1344 pages.

The Complete Works (Oxford Shakespeare) - William Shakespeare, John Jowett, Gary Taylor

Leontes has gone completely bonkers! And we're setting up for a Child with Hidden Destiny Romance plot!

Reading progress update: I've read 144 out of 272 pages.

Selected Short Stories - Conrad (Wordsworth Classics) - Keith Carabine, Joseph Conrad

Anarchists have featured in two stories in a row. Were they a contemporary concern?

Reading progress update: I've read 30 out of 244 pages.

Plasma physics - R.A. Cairns The introduction to magnetohydrodynamics is very concise and pulls the same "characteristic length" stunt as Davidson does in his book (i.e. not explaining what such a thing is or how to determine it). One wonders if it's the Emperor's New Clothes handed down for generations.

Reading progress update: I've read 18 out of 244 pages.

Plasma physics - R.A. Cairns

Nice section on adiabatic invariants - although it doesn't explain why they are "adiabatic"!