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text 2017-07-19 00:24
Reading progress: on to Chapter 7
Old Man's War (Old Man's War, #1) - John Scalzi

Well, at least now there is a drill sergeant so presumably starting basic training.  

 

Mentally, I just got myself stuck by hearing the sergeant's voice as being exactly the same as Sergeant Carter's from the Gomer Pyle tv show.  I now cannot unhear that.

 

 

and before that voice:

 

 

Feel free to join the booklikes Virtual Speculation Book Club read of Old Man's War at http://booklikes.com/book-clubs/50/virtual-speculation .

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text 2017-07-18 15:11
The Andromeda Strain: 107/288 pg
The Andromeda Strain - Michael Crichton

Zing! I didn't see that one coming about the person who gets the key to the nuclear bomb.

 

And I'm curious about how Crichton set up this fictional study of which type of person is most likely to make the "right decision" with the key - the subjects are categorized by gender and marital status. I'd think that having a child/being a parent would have a greater impact on this kind of decision than simply having a spouse. But perhaps, in 1969, it would have just been an assumption that the parenting would be associated with marital status. Married = family & Single = no family. I suppose it just wouldn't be part of the assumption, at that time, that parenthood could be completely independent of marital status. 

 

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text 2017-07-17 20:41
The Invention of Nature - Reading Update: Part 5
The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt's New World - Andrea Wulf

I am a little sad.

 

This was a fascinating book, and I loved the chapter that described the last years in Humboldt's life and the political changes that he was surrounded by, even tho for Humboldt the novelty of revolution had worn off because he had seen and been in the midst of so many of them.

 

As for the remaining chapters on Perkins, Haeckel, and John Muir, I am in two minds: We did not really need them to understand Humboldt and his times. But, they do illustrate - again - the far-reaching impact Humboldt and his work have had on a future generation that would lead to the birth of environmentalism. 

 

I appreciate the link that Wulf creates between the extraordinary Humboldt and the subsequent discussions that are still current affairs more than I criticise Wulf for meandering a little in the last three chapters

 

What a book! What a guy!

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text 2017-07-17 00:57
The Invention of Nature - Reading Update: Part 4
The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt's New World - Andrea Wulf

At the end of July, more than three months after leaving Berlin, Humboldt reached Tobolsk – 1,800 miles from St Petersburg and the most easterly point on the prescribed route – but it was still not wild enough for his taste. Humboldt had not come this far only to have to turn around. He had other plans. Instead of travelling back to St Petersburg as previously agreed, Humboldt now ignored Cancrin’s instructions and added a detour of 2,000 miles. He wanted see the Altai Mountains in the east where Russia, China and Mongolia met, as the counterpart to his observations in the Andes. As he had failed to see the Himalaya, the Altai was as close as he could get to collecting data from a mountain range in Central Asia.

I'm finding it hard to put this book down. He is such an unlikely rebel, and yet...he gets away with it.

 

Having been denied access to the Himalayas by the East India Company, and having returned to Berlin, Humboldt is dying to get out again.

 

I was so relieved when I read about his travels through Russia. Not only because the parts where he travels have been my favourites of the book, but also because I really hate seeing him cooped up.

 

And of course there several passages where I caught my breath, most notably where he basically upsets Cancrin, the czar's official delegate, by wanting to see the true living conditions of the eastern peasants and, the second, where he is so set on reaching his destination (also against the will of Cancrin) that he rode straight through a region plagued with an anthrax epidemic. Anthrax!!! WTF, Alex?

"As they sat in silence, hot and cramped behind tightly shut windows in their small carriages, they passed through a landscape of death. The ‘traces of the pest’ were everywhere, Humboldt’s companion Gustav Rose noted in his diary. Fires burned at the entrances and exits of the villages as a ritual to ‘clean the air’. They saw small makeshift hospitals and dead animals lying in the fields. In one small village alone, 500 horses had died."

I guess the views would have have been worth it:

 

 

As for the other parts, I enjoyed learning about how much Humboldt had influenced Darwin. I had never expected this.

 

I am, however, puzzled by the chapter about Thoreau. Not only was this the least interesting to me, but I found the description of Thoreau quite annoying.

 

While Humboldt and Darwin were scientists who were able to write well, Thoreau merely strikes me as a - somewhat lofty and self-indulgent - writer, but not really a scientist.

What was the point of including this chapter other than to illustrate Humboldt's influence across several continents?

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text 2017-07-14 18:51
Schedule Question for book club TOR Monthly Free eBook
Kushiel's Dart - Jacqueline Carey

Reminder: any edition of the book can be read (do not have to download the free ebook from publisher TOR/Macmillan).

 

Should we read the books as soon as announced or start them the next month?

 

"As announced" would mean reading this one now through middle of August.

 

"Next month" would mean an August read, giving people time to get book and adjust reading plans.  Bookclub would show current read plus mid-August when next announced would show a next book.

 

Will anyone be joining me in reading Kushiel's Dart or is this month's freebie of no interest (or already read, it is an older publication)?

 

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • 

 

Get book free at http://ebookclub.tor.com/  (you will be asked for email address and receive notice of each month's freebie).

 

Feel free to join in the bookclub read at http://booklikes.com/book-clubs/book/88/tor-monthly-free-ebook-science-fiction-and-fantasy .

 

Publisher page for book details is https://us.macmillan.com/books/9780765342980 .

 

Source: >booklikes.com/book-clubs/book/88/tor-monthly-free-ebook-science-fiction-and-fantasy
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