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arbieroo

Arbie's Unoriginally Titled Book Blog

It's a blog! Mainly of book reviews.

Currently reading

Ursula K. Le Guin: Hainish Novels and Stories, Vol. 1: Rocannon's World / Planet of Exile / City of Illusions / The Left Hand of Darkness / The Dispossessed / Stories (The Library of America)
Brian Attebery, Ursula K. Le Guin
Progress: 38/1100 pages
Life and Letters of Charles Darwin - Volume 1: By Charles Darwin - Illustrated
Charles Darwin
Progress: 184/346 pages
Basics of Plasma Astrophysics
Claudio Chiuderi, Marco Velli
Progress: 3/250 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
Selected Short Stories - Conrad (Wordsworth Classics)
Keith Carabine, Joseph Conrad
Progress: 206/272 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
Gravitation (Physics Series)
Kip Thorne;Kip S. Thorne;Charles W. Misner;John Archibald Wheeler;John Wheeler
Progress: 48/1215 pages

The Burglar who Studied Spinoza, Lawrence Block

The Burglar Who Studied Spinoza - Lawrence Block

So I just picked up all the Burglar Books the 2nd hand bookshop in Fredericton had, which was the first and two other random members of the series. Circumstances have changed a bit between the first book and this; the supporting cast is completely different apart from Ray the corrupt cop, Bernie runs a 2nd hand bookshop of his own (a money-losing business) and seems to be less sexist. On the other hand he still burgles and still ends up having to solve a murder...

 

Bernie's adventures are still amusing but in this example are also a bit confusing...how did not end up arrested, again?

Reading progress update: I've read 1139 out of 1344 pages.

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

Time comes along and eats up 16 years in less than a minute!

Reading progress update: I've read 511 out of 517 pages.

Shakespeare and the Goddess of Complete Being - Ted Hughes

Almost there - which is a relief!

Reading progress update: I've read 24 out of 42 pages.

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

And so I skip circuit theory, transmission lines and waveguides to move on to electromagnetism fromthe perspective of special relativity.

Reading progress update: I've read 20 out of 42 pages.

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

A random aside on "scientific imagination."

Reading progress update: I've read 95 out of 244 pages.

Plasma physics - R.A. Cairns There was an interesting section on energy transport in plasma waves which feels like it ought to be practically useful but I can't actually think of an application...cogitation needed.

Reading progress update: I've read 180 out of 272 pages.

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

Il Conde.
Another mysterious character introduced at the dinner table.

Reading progress update: I've read 106 out of 320 pages.

The Burglar Who Studied Spinoza - Lawrence Block

Well, well! Rhodenbarr commits a burglary and ends up involved in a murder investigation - again! One has to ignore the preposterousness in order to enjoy these.

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.