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arbieroo

Arbie's Unoriginally Titled Book Blog

It's a blog! Mainly of book reviews.

Currently reading

Broken Angels
Richard K. Morgan
Progress: 56/468 pages
Introduction to Topology
Bert Mendelson
Progress: 10/224 pages
Basics of Plasma Astrophysics
Claudio Chiuderi, Marco Velli
Progress: 58/250 pages
Ursula K. Le Guin: The Complete Orsinia: Malafrena / Stories and Songs (The Library of America)
Brian Attebery, Ursula K. Le Guin
Progress: 454/700 pages
A Student's Guide to Lagrangians and Hamiltonians
Patrick Hamill
Progress: 7/180 pages
Complete Poems, 1904-1962
E.E. Cummings
Progress: 166/1102 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: 164/448 pages
Gravitation (Physics Series)
Kip Thorne;Kip S. Thorne;Charles W. Misner;John Archibald Wheeler;John Wheeler
Progress: 48/1215 pages
I Am a Cat
Graeme Wilson, Aiko Ito, Sōseki Natsume
Progress: 410/638 pages

Reading progress update: I've read 64 out of 448 pages.

Watchmen: International Edition - Dave Gibbons, Alan Moore The lack of a single sympathetic character is a strain.

Reading progress update: I've read 148 out of 320 pages.

The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage: The (Mostly) True Story of the First Computer - Sydney Padua

Attack of the Luddite computers! Computers being people who do calculations by hand, obviously. The Difference Engine proves impervious, however.

 

Babbage pointed out that smashing the machinery would likely cause all remaining jobs to move to less militant areas whilst Ada's father, Lord Byron, wrote a poem in support of the Luddites...

 

The first woman employed by the Greenwich Observatory was a computer. The second was Caroline Herschel, astonomer.

Reading progress update: I've read 32 out of 448 pages.

Watchmen: International Edition - Dave Gibbons, Alan Moore I'd forgotten that everybody is horrible...

Reading progress update: I've read 225 out of 320 pages.

Aurora: In Search of the Northern Lights - Melanie Windridge

A nice description of how big geomagnetic storms can cause power cuts.

Reading progress update: I've read 197 out of 297 pages.

The Complete Stories (Penguin Modern Classics) - Truman Capote

The Diamond Guitar - not much like the TV series Prison Break.

Head On, John Scalzi

Head On - John Scalzi

If you liked Lock In you will probably like this. If you like murder mysteries and aren't opposed to SF you'll probably like this. If you liked anything else Scalzi has written you'll probably like this. And if you like witness protection cats, you will definitely like this!

 

It doesn't repeat the whole subtext of Lock In and doesn't really replace that subtext with anything, but it tells an amusing tale of smart-arsery, corruption, murder, arson, wanton destruction of telefactors - and a cat called Donut.

 

You're gonna hafta read the book to find out what happens to him.

Reading progress update: I've read 238 out of 332 pages.

Head On - John Scalzi

The twins are hogging witness protection cat and one of their housemates is jealous.

Reading progress update: I've read 146 out of 332 pages.

Head On - John Scalzi

"'We have a witness protection cat?!?'"

 

I was liking it anyway but the witness protection cat makes it so much better. It's called, Donut.

Reading progress update: I've read 140 out of 320 pages.

The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage: The (Mostly) True Story of the First Computer - Sydney Padua

Babbage contributed to economic theory by pointing out that automation devalued labour.

 

Banking crises were two a penny in the 19th Century and not notably different from later ones...

Reading progress update: I've read 86 out of 332 pages.

Head On - John Scalzi Early part spends a lot of time filling in folks who haven't read Lock In. After that we get stuck in to the mystery of the man who died playing the ultimate e-sport.

Reading progress update: I've read 91 out of 320 pages.

The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage: The (Mostly) True Story of the First Computer - Sydney Padua

Queen Victoria is unimpressed with the notion of mass production of high-accuracy mathematical tables useful for e.g. ocean navigation; she wants more Crime Fighting!

 

Babbage seems to have had a gigantic but delicate ego. Sounds familiar from numerous scientists I know - but Babbage was also a century ahead of his time, unlike the people I know...

Reading progress update: I've read 14 out of 332 pages.

Head On - John Scalzi

Picking up on a sidebar from Lock In, we open with a report about a very violent sport concocted from the concept that if you have a remote-control body it doesn't matter how much damage is done to it; ripping its head off and using it as a ball is fine...

Reading progress update: I've read 10 out of 224 pages.

Introduction to Topology - Bert Mendelson

A book by a mathematician for mathematicians but it does to some extent appeal to a person's intuition. On the other hand it has that thing where a zillion symbols and axioms are introduced in the space of about 2p. You folks ever heard of a table so people with naff memories (like me) can look them up easily? Jury's out as to whether this is gonna work for me or not. The concept of a metric is explained well, at least; it's just a quantitative concept of distance.

Asterix and the Actress

Asterix and the Actress - Albert Uderzo

In which we meet the parents of Asterix and Obelix, Roman internal politics intrudes on the lives of our favourite Indomitable Gauls once again and Latin quotes make a major come-back. Sillier than a can of silly string.

Reading progress update: I've read 36 out of 320 pages.

The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage: The (Mostly) True Story of the First Computer - Sydney Padua

People had science and engineering funding problems back in the 19th Century, too!

The Absolute Sandman, Vol. 1, Neil Gaiman

The Absolute Sandman, Vol. 1 - Neil Gaiman, John Costanza, Steve Oliff, Malcolm Jones III, Sam Kieth, Steve Parkhouse, Daniel Vozzo, Kelley Jones, Todd Klein, Chris Bachalo, Mike Dringenberg, Michael Zulli, Colleen Doran, Charles Vess

How good was Sandman, really? I asked myself. After all I was in my late teens and it was a long time ago. Also probably the first comic for adults I  ever read. Should I take a risk on those gigantic anthologies, The Absolute Sandman or a lesser commitment on the comparatively tiddly first paperback collection, Preludes and Nocturnes? How much of it did I actually read back then? There was Death and a Cereal Convention and a performance of A Midsummer Night's Dream but there was definitely much more I had not read.

 

OK - let's play with house money and get The Absolute Sandman, Vol. 1 for my birthday.

 

Good choice! Because this book is utterly gorgeous simply as a physical object and the art is scaled up from the 8 issue paperback collections. (Also re-coloured, whatever that means for quality - ask a person who knows about comics.) There's also a pile of ancillary material collected at the back, some of which isn't available elsewhere. It's also, for the most part, even better than I remembered!

 

Both Gaiman and who-ever wrote the introduction feel that these comics really found their proper voice with the first appearance of the character Death in issue 8. I agree. This marks the end of the first story arc, involving many aspects of and characters from the wider DC universe and the start of a more isolated but deeper exploration of Gaiman's vision of The Endless and how they relate to life across the universe and time as well as humanity specifically. The Endless are seven "anthropomorphic personifications" that don't seem to always be anthropomorphic at all, since they exist for all types of life - as evidenced by fairies, aliens and cats. They are: Dream, Death, Delerium, Desire, Destiny, Despair...and the other one that I never remember but presumably has a name beginning with "D" in English. They're an interesting bunch.

 

These stories already show Gaiman's in-depth knowledge of world mythology and penchant for literary references, only the most obvious of which did I get back in the day. I noticed many more this time round. Makes me wonder if there are more I still missed...

 

Anyway, to sum up...book gorgeous. Art gorgeous. Stories great. And addictive. Bring me Vol. 2.