It's a blog! Mainly of book reviews.
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?
And so I skip circuit theory, transmission lines and waveguides to move on to electromagnetism fromthe perspective of special relativity.
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.
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.
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...
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.
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.
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.