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Over the course of the summer and fall, I've read War and Peace. Yes, that War and Peace. The one everyone makes fun of because it's so long. It turned out to be quite fantastic, with an interesting pace of slow lulls and then ten chapters in a row of amazing things one after another. It's not really written as a novel. The author interjects historical supposition and commentary, and I think the book is actually a large philosophical tract written in the form of a pseudo-novel.

Without giving away the story or touching on the many interesting characters, the author tries to propound on an idea that it is not in fact the 'important people' that make history. That regardless of what Emperor this or Duke that want to do, history is made simply by the collective will of the people. It's not the general's orders that determine the battle, but the natural spirit of the army, the collective of its soldiers that drive it to victory or defeat. Likewise on an even larger scale, individual acts of heroism are quite mad or consist of folly; it is the many innumerable selfish acts of each individual person, trying to live as 'normally' as possible even in a time of crisis, but in responding to stimuli such as the occupation of a city, or an approaching army, that guide the nation, its army, and ultimately its leadership into the roles they play.

Important people then are not so important. They become figureheads for the ebb and flow of history, playing the role they are forced to play as their underlings go about their business quite in disregard for what the important people want them to do. It's certainly, from the perspective of most histories which concentrate on the actions and words of a select few, a rather novel thesis.

Then Friday, while I was more or less all day in a waiting room of one sort of another, I read all of The Island of Doctor Moreau, which was a fun little book. It was also completely unlike, at least in my estimation, either of the movie adaptations I've seen of it (the 30's one with Bela Lugosi and the 90's one with Brando).

I'm going to have to hold off on reading more books for a few days, I've got a lot of work to get back into.

Edit: Side-note: What genius decided to have John Frankenheimer direct The Island of Dr. Moreau anyway? He hadn't made a good movie since what, Grand Prix in '66? He's the man that directed Prophecy ('79) for crying out loud. He should never have been allowed near a camera after that... thing he put on film.
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So I finished reading this book. I already knew what was going to happen going into it, but dang, it was so depressing.
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I just read this story in bits and pieces while waiting on calculations to finish. It was pretty amazing.
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I finished reading this book, after a year or three of trying to slog through it. I didn't enjoy it much, not nearly as much as I liked his previous book _The Elegant Universe_. It felt like the textual equivalent of chewing gristle. I don't know if it's because I am so close to the subject now, or what, but there you have it.
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I just read the plot synopsis for the last two Dune books, which are sequels to the main series of books. It sounds like horrible fanfic. Not that the last real Dune books weren't horrible fanfic bordering on pornography... but... ... I don't remember what my point was.

I'm kind of glad I haven't read Sandworms of Dune and the other book... but now morbid curiosity is getting the better of me.
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I finished reading this book by Gasperini. I don't really believe in string theory anymore, or theories that rely on it (such as string cosmology) but it was a pretty good read and a nice introductory survey into a variety of cosmological models, the reasoning behind them and motivations for them.
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I just finished reading this book while I was waiting on a test run of our code to finish. I enjoyed the discussion of the history of the science involved in anti-matter, and on the whole I found it thoughtful. It's probably best for an interested layman to read, because much of the discussion of the science kinda glazed my eyes over since I knew the material fairly well already. Fortunately there's more interesting history than heavy science in it.
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I can't remember if I mentioned it while I was reading it, but recently I read Einstein's Telescope by Evalyn Gates. It's about gravitational lensing, and the kinds of information that we can get from utilizing the phenomenon. As such it covers a dizzying array of topics in Cosmology, Astronomy, and Astrophysics. Being in the field myself this sort of material is somewhat interesting to me. The book however, wasn't that interesting to me. It was neither light enough that it was a joy to read, or heavy enough to contain things I didn't know. It tried to straddle that line, and in my opinion failed. On the other hand, it did have some nice insights and ways of explaining complex things in an easier to understand manner, and I give the author props for that.

I think the ideal audience for the book is actually the interested amateur that's starting his quest into physics/astronomy knowledge. Which puts me solidly out of the market.
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A couple weeks ago I read the first half of Kiln People and this afternoon/evening I finished it. It starts out as a somewhat conventional detective story transplanted into the future, but eventually it starts veering heavily off into "Let's discuss our existential issues" territory and I lost some of my enthusiasm towards the end of it. Still, the conspiracy is wonderfully convoluted, the setting is unique, and it's well written. Give it a read if it sounds like it'd interest you.


May. 10th, 2008 04:08 am
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Just read this book of Shaw's, or rather an abridged and illustrated version. It's a nice read. I'm not sure if I prefer it in this form, or as a musical (My Fair Lady).
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I reread the book today. It's such a marvelous story. Though I can't help but want to change the ending to be happier and less wondrous...
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I was looking to see if I could find some of his stories online for inspiration, and I found this:

That is most awesome. Especially since I can't find my omnibus with a ton of his stories in it. :\


Jul. 7th, 2007 07:47 pm
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Started reading these comics. They're pretty amusing. The Jack of Fables spin-off is even more amusing.

Jack himself reminds me of a character named Nick from Silvertech, and to illustrate I took the liberty of grabbing this page:

Free Image Hosting at


Jul. 6th, 2007 05:41 pm
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Wow. People are making a big to do for his 100th birthday around the blogosphere.

My favorite books of his are Red Planet and Starship Troopers. What about you?
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Self-Made Man: It certainly sounds interesting enough. It'll have to wait though, I've got a couple dozen books, including some nice history texts, to read first.

Hm. I should write about my last couple reads, they've been pretty interesting.
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by: Percy Bysshe Shelley

I met a traveler from an antique land
Who said: "Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert... Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal these words appear:
My name is Ozymandius, King of Kings,
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.


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