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review 2017-06-23 17:59
Blaze (Galaxy Alien Mail Order Brides #3) by Michelle M. Pillow Review
Blaze (Galaxy Alien Mail Order Brides) (Volume 3) - Michelle M. Pillow

Sev (aka Blaze) isn't looking for commitment, but there is no way in hell he's letting his brother go to Earth to search for a woman by himself. He's prepared to yank the idiot out of every jailhouse and ice cream parlor (don't ask) if he has to. It wouldn't be the first time. He can handle a good fight. But what this alpha isn't prepared for was the hardheaded beauty determined to follow him home.

Review

 

This is the last book about two Alien brothers and one cousin from a mining planet who come to Vegas the way we might pretending we are interested in a condo to get a vacation. In their case it is pretending to being looking for brides.

 

I love me some Science Fiction Romance Mail Order Mate fun and even though this one dodges the trope because they are pretending, it is fun romp.

 

This last book in features the most serious brother and is less slapstick. The romance is fast and the tale a bit short but it is a good ride.

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review 2017-06-23 16:22
The Three-Body Problem, Liu Cixin (trans. Ken Liu)
The Three-Body Problem - Liu Cixin,Ken Liu

What would you do if the laws of physics, of the universe, turned out not to be laws at all? Imagine you're a scientist confronted with this realization. This is one of the more disturbing realities that characters must contend with in The Three-Body Problem, the first of a trilogy by Chinese author Liu Cixin.

 

The book does an excellent job of making the scale of the universe, from its immensity to its sub-atomic particularities, conceivable and real. One of the scientist characters has a gift that allows him to visualize numbers, and in a note the author reveals that he has a similar gift. The book is very intelligent and detailed in its explanation of science; I can't say I could follow it all, but I understood the larger picture and was fascinated by the minutiae.

 

The book begins in China's cultural revolution and fast forwards to the present, shifting perspectives from the scientist daughter of a persecuted university professor to a man working in nanotechnology. Most of the significant characters are scientists, with the exception of Da Shi, a corrupt, wily policeman who became my favorite character. The protagonist, Wang, learns of the deaths of prominent scientists and starts seeing strange things, such as a countdown that appears visible only to him. He is tasked with helping to investigate a shady scientific organization, which involves his playing a strange video game called Three-Body. Nothing is what it seems, and Wang falls down a rabbit hole (more like a black hole) that leads to knowledge of extra-terrestrial life.

 

This Chinese SF novel was something unique; I found its different style of storytelling often engaging, though sometimes odd. The translator explains in a note that there may be narrative techniques unfamiliar to Western readers, and I could sense them. For example, much is explained through pages of dialogue, and the narrative can feel interrupted by the video game chapters, as much as I enjoyed them. I struggled with the fact that, after a brief appearance earlier in the book, Wang's wife and child do not re-enter the narrative, not even Wang's thoughts. His thoughts themselves are often unknown--for a time I wasn't sure where he stood in the quiet war going on.

 

Nevertheless, I do look forward to reading the next book in the trilogy (after a break) and to seeing the movie adaptation.

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review 2017-06-23 14:27
Unseen City: The Majesty of Pigeons, the Discreet Charm of Snails & Other Wonders of the Urban Wilderness by Nathanael Johnson
Unseen City: The Majesty of Pigeons, the Discreet Charm of Snails & Other Wonders of the Urban Wilderness - Nathanael Johnson

I enjoyed this book a great deal.  No matter where we live, there are wonders that we walk past every day. Unseen City widens our perspective by allowing us to view the world from the high-altitude eyes of a turkey vulture and the distinctly low-altitude eyes of a snail.  The blurb describes the book fairly accurately so there isn't much to write in that department.  However, all the additional little tidbits about city animals (pigeons, crows, squirrels, snails, ants, trees etc) was interesting and provides a new perspective on nature and our immediate environment.  The writing is beautiful and the personal anecdotes don't detract (they add) to the experience of the book.  

This isn't a popular science book as such, this is a get in touch with the world around you and see what is really there type of book.  While this book isn't meant for children, I think parents with young children could benefit from reading it and exploring the world (garden/suburb/city) with their children the way the author has with his daughter.  The author has also provided a useful bibliography so you can find more information on the specific topics he covers.

 

QUOTE:

"We tend to think of nature and civilization as being irreconcilably opposed:  Civilization's gain is nature's loss.  but in fact, cities have become prime habitat for speciation, hybridization, and in short, rebirth.  Certainly, civilization has upended the status quo in nature, but it is also proving to be a vehicle for a natural renaissance."

 

 

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text 2017-06-23 09:18
Reading progress update: I've read 30 out of 244 pages.
Plasma physics - R.A. Cairns Plasma physics - R.A. Cairns The introduction to magnetohydrodynamics is very concise and pulls the same "characteristic length" stunt as Davidson does in his book (i.e. not explaining what such a thing is or how to determine it). One wonders if it's the Emperor's New Clothes handed down for generations.
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review 2017-06-22 18:09
Eye-Opening SF: "Saving the World Through Science Fiction - James Gunn, Writer, Teacher and Scholar” by Michael R. Page
Saving the World Through Science Fiction: James Gunn, Writer, Teacher and Scholar (Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy) - Michael R Page,Foreword by Christopher McKitterick,Donald E Palumbo,C W Sullivan III

“Thus, traditional criticism’s charge that science fiction isn’t, in general, ‘literary’ because science fiction writers don’t focus on or have the artistry to deeply delve into character misses the point that science fiction isn’t about character, it’s about ideas. And therefore, science fiction should be judged by a different set of criteria than mundane mainstream fiction is evaluated.”

 

In “Saving the World Through Science Fiction - James Gunn, Writer, Teacher and Scholar” by Michael R. Page

 

Don't critics ignore SF because there's far too much of it, and the vast majority of it - like any sector of genre fiction - is a bit safe, geared more to selling to a niche of fans than the mass market? Certainly SF fandom is obsessed with genre distinctions (steampunk, space opera, mundane, whatever) that have absolutely no currency in the mainstream world - just like crime fandom (maybe to a lesser extent) worries about distinctions between golden age, hard-boiled, procedural and so on.

In both cases the really good stuff, the stuff that transcends the formulae and has something worthwhile to say - Atwood, or Houllebecq, or Alan Moore, Ballard, or Gunn - it "does" get noticed, it's just that people don't call it SF anymore.

 

 

If you're into SF Literary Criticism, read on.

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