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text 2018-11-17 21:32
Reading progress update: I've read 162 out of 416 pages.
The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs: A New History of a Lost World - Stephen Brusatte

 

There's some serious Paul Serreno worship going on here!  Not that there's anything wrong with that, exactly.....

 

I know I have biases toward the paleontologists in my province too, especially Phil Currie, who is possibly the nicest scientist that I have ever met.  When I was in Cuba, our bird tour leader was a university professor who was a geologist.  When he found out that I was a dyed-in-the-wool dinosaur fan, he took us to a place where we could see & touch the K/T boundary.  I was thrilled, although I'm not sure that the other members of the tour really understood its significance.  This Cuban prof was more of the "birds aren't dinosaurs" persuasion and we had some intense discussions of the issue.  Until I finally just said, "Look, Phil Currie works in my area and he is my hero.  So as far as I am concerned, birds are dinosaurs."  We agreed to disagree.  But I will always remember laying my hand on that iridium layer, that divides the Cretaceous from the Holocene.

 

Dinosaurs are wondrous creatures!

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text 2018-11-16 19:23
Reading progress update: I've read 219 out of 416 pages.
The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs: A New History of a Lost World - Stephen Brusatte

I've slowed way down due to the Author's obnoxious tone. He's so full of himself. May now not finish it before the end of November. Not a problem since I have no interest in the December pick for the club. Am engrossed in much better reads.

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text 2018-11-16 15:01
Reading progress update: I've listened 51 out of 440 minutes.
The Gunslinger (The Dark Tower I) - Stephen King,George Guidall

So this was going pretty well until we stumbled into some serious slut-shaming. Why do you hate women, gunslinger?

 

This probably dropped a star because of that (the line about regaining her maidenhood if not her head).

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text 2018-11-15 15:22
Reading progress update: I've read 85 out of 416 pages.
The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs: A New History of a Lost World - Stephen Brusatte

 

Reading about the new Triassic research was very interesting.  Back in 2013, I read My Beloved Brontosaurus by Brian Switek and realized that there was a lot of work going on in that time period. 

 

Interestingly, when I attended a lecture at the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology back in October, the lecturer (whose name seems to have completely escaped me) was talking about crocodile hearts--namely that they were structurally like the heart of endothermic animals, so it looked like modern crocodiles were descended from warm-blooded ancestors.  The pseudosuchians that Brusatte talks about seem to fill the bill--active predators who would have needed to be endothermic in order to pursue prey.  Crocs have since become ectothermic ambush predators, but retain that endothermic heart structure.

 

I also appreciated his description of Bob Bakker on page 77:

"...renowned for his high energy lectures, delivered in the style of an evangelist testifying to his congregation."

 

This is exactly how Bob is!  When he was promoting his 1995 novel Raptor Red, he stopped here in Calgary and gave an evening talk at the Calgary Zoo.  I was a new docent at the zoo at the time and as a dinosaur enthusiast, I was there with bells on. 

 

It was shortly after the Jurassic Park movie had come out (1993) and Bakker was talking about the raptors in that movie.  The actual fossil velociraptors were only about turkey size, but Spielberg had deemed those "not scary enough" so he increased their size by several orders of magnitude.  In the meanwhile, fossils of a large raptor called Utahraptor had been described and were about the right size.  Bakker was calling Spielberg a prophet and urging us to "Praise Speilberg!"  I got a great kick out of that evening.

 

I must admit that I was skim reading the notes and checking the index to this book last night and I'm a bit disappointed at how little Canadian scientists and older scientists of Bakker's vintage that this author cites.  I live in a dinosaur hot-spot, with Dinosaur Provincial Park and the Royal Tyrrell Museum in my back yard and I know that a ton of significant fossils and research originate here.  This may end up being my biggest disappointment with this book.

 

A reconstruction of Utahraptor (from Wikipedia).

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review 2018-11-13 21:24
The Waste Lands / Stephen King
The Waste Lands - Stephen King,Ned Dameron

Roland, The Last Gunslinger, moves ever closer to The Dark Tower of his dreams and nightmares—as he crosses a desert of damnation in a macabre world that is a twisted image of our own. With him are those he has drawn to this world: street-smart Eddie Dean and courageous wheelchair-bound Susannah.

Ahead of him are mind-rending revelations about who and what is driving him. Against him is arrayed a swelling legion of foes—both more and less than human....

 

The best book in this series so far for me.

I couldn’t help but notice, as I read this book, just how well-read Stephen King is. It would be tedious to list all the literary allusions (plus all the mentions of his own works) because there are just so many of them. But of course, you can’t miss one of the biggest references in the title—T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land, not to mention Robert Browning’s Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came. I also couldn’t help but notice all of the LOTR similarities—as King wrote in his introduction, Tolkien’s work looms large in the imagination of all of those of us who read fantasy. And Jake, being run by Gasher through the ruined city of River Crossing, made me think of Merry & Pippin being driven by orcs.

Jake’s entry into the Gunslinger’s world, through The Mansion in New York, reminded me strongly of King’s The Shining, namely the pursuit of Danny Torrence on the grounds of the Overlook Hotel by the hedge animals. The malevolent Mansion and the haunted hotel were both very effective—King writes that kind of scenario really well.

Three books in, I’m finally feeling like the story is beginning to interest me. Hopefully the remaining books in the series won’t be quite such a tough row to hoe.

Book number 297 of my Science Fiction & Fantasy Reading Project.

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