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review 2018-10-23 17:07
What is Life? Erwin Shrodinger
What Is Life?: With Mind and Matter and Autobiographical Sketches - Erwin Schrödinger,Roger Penrose

Scientifically very out of date, often unclear and self-condradictory. Frequently descends into religio-metaphysical mumbo-jumbo. The autobiographical part completely superficial.

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review 2018-10-23 14:20
The shadow over Guangzhou
Doctor Who: The Eleventh Tiger - David A. McIntee

When the TARDIS materializes in China in 1865, the Doctor and his companions arrive in a China plagued by foreign occupation and a shadowy threat. Mistaken for the commander of the local garrison of British troops, Ian is attacked by the patrons of a local restaurant. As he recovers from his injuries, the Doctor, Barbara, and Vicki discover that an unknown group has infiltrated the Black Flag militia and is using the organization to their own mysterious ends. With their forces seizing various locations and their men ordered to kill scholars and teachers, the Doctor begins to suspect that the threat before him may not be of this world and is one that knows more about him than he does about it.

 

David McIntee's book is an interesting entry in the Past Doctor Adventures series. Focused on the First Doctor and one of his teams of companions, it evokes nicely the sort of slow-developing (for better and for worse) history-centric adventure that was common to the series at that time. McIntee's characterization of the crew is particularly strong, despite (or perhaps because of) the fact that the locals the encounter are featured more prominently in the narrative. What makes the book stand out, though, is McIntee's subtle employment of an antagonist from later in the televised series, one whom a subsequent regeneration of the Doctor defeated hundreds of years prior to the events in his book. It's a neat twist, and one that manages to avoid any of the logic-twisting issues that so often come up in time travel stories premised on such a scenario. The book cemented for me McIntee's status as my favorite author of Doctor Who novels, and I plan on reading all of his other contributions to the franchise as soon as I can get my hands on them.

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review 2018-10-23 09:30
Oceanspace
Oceanspace - Allen Steele

My Kindle edition of Oceanspace is a 2015 reprint of a 2000 novel set in 2011 that stole all its tropes from the 1960’s-70’s. From the description:

 

Treachery, greed, and a gargantuan sea monster threaten the inhabitants of a high-tech, deep-water research station in this thrilling undersea science fiction adventure

 

I beg to differ, sir! A more accurate description would be:

 

More sexist and racist tropes than you can slap with a fish threaten the peaceful existence of a gargantuan sea monster in this mildly interesting treatise on underwater exploration

 

Not as catchy, I know, but I’m big on truth in advertising.

 

Basically, Oceanspace is as cringingly racist and sexist as a Dirk Pitt novel without any of the hilarious cheesiness to make reading it worthwhile. The stuff about undersea habitats and submersibles and oceanic exploration was quite interesting, but the awful troperrific characters drag the story below crush depth.

 

I read this for the Halloween Bingo 2018 Fear the Drowning Deep square.

 

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review 2018-10-23 06:04
Plagues and Peoples by William Hardy McNeill
Plagues and Peoples - William Hardy McNeill

TITLE:  Plagues and Peoples

 

AUTHOR:  William Hardy McNeill

 

DATE PUBLISHED:  1998, first published 1976

 

FORMAT:  ebook

 

ISBN-13:  9780307773661

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DESCRIPTION:

"Upon its original publication, Plagues and Peoples was an immediate critical and popular success, offering a radically new interpretation of world history as seen through the extraordinary impact--political, demographic, ecological, and psychological--of disease on cultures. From the conquest of Mexico by smallpox as much as by the Spanish, to the bubonic plague in China, to the typhoid epidemic in Europe, the history of disease is the history of humankind. With the identification of AIDS in the early 1980s, another chapter has been added to this chronicle of events, which William McNeill explores in his new introduction to this updated editon.

Thought-provoking, well-researched, and compulsively readable, Plagues and Peoples is that rare book that is as fascinating as it is scholarly, as intriguing as it is enlightening. "A brilliantly conceptualized and challenging achievement" (Kirkus Reviews), it is essential reading, offering a new perspective on human history.
"

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This is an interesting and somewhat scholarly look at how people and diseases have interacted and evolved together over time, from "man the hunter" to "the ecological impact of medical science and organization since 1700".  McNeil examines macroparisitic and microparisitic effects on the growth of civilizations, focusing primarily on diseases and how epidemics have effected world history, the course of civilization and human evolution.

I found the sections where the author discusses the "living conditions" of diseases particularly interesting:  how a specific disease inhabited a certain enviornment, how it arrived and survived in that environment, and how those environments may have been altered by human impacts such as agricultural activities, population growth (or lack thereof), how the disease spread to other areas etc.  McNeill's comparison between human micro-parasites (bacteria, worms, viruses) and our macro-parasites (governments, armies ,raiders, plunderers) was a particularly thought-provoking and novel (to me) aspect of the book.

The book was originally published in 1976, so some details are a bit dated, but this doesn't detract from the overall thesis.  The writing style is also a bit "old-fashioned" if that sort of thing bothers you.  The author does, however, make use of historical sources that include as much of the globe as possible, so the spread between and effects of epidemics on Europe as well as of China, India, the Middle-East, the America's and Africa are discussed where possible (allowing for existing source material on these regions).

This is an interesting, fundamental and thought-provoking book about the interactions of humans and diseases and the course of human history.

 

 

 

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review 2018-10-22 20:24
Wray by M.K. Eidem
Wray (Tornians Book 2) - M.K. Eidem

Far less typos than in the first book. :)

Although this is book two in the series, it takes place before Grim and tells us how Wray, who is the emperor, found his Empress and fell in love.
The beginning was dragging and a bit unbelievable. What was the chance of them crashing near a cave with both hot and cold water and surviving more than a week with only a few energy bars. Really? 
It also wasn't believable how quickly Kim got over being raped for two weeks. Yes, she had her reason to trust Wray but it was still far-fetched. 
The story told more about Tornian empire, the Goddess and the curse and all this information was really interesting. I liked how Kim found herself, got more independent, but she also annoyed me because of what she thought about her sister's fate and how she constantly stressed how much she wanted to be a better person. Wray wasn't as fascinating as a main character but I liked him. I even understood his reasons for lying at the beginning of the story.

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