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review 2018-11-17 14:21
A cautionary tale, with plenty of action and philosophical touches thrown in.
Killing Adam - Earik Beann

I am writing this review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team (authors, if you’re looking for reviews, I recommend you check her amazing site here), and I thank her and the publisher for providing me an ARC copy of this book that I freely chose to review.

This is a very interesting book, and I doubt anybody reading it will fail to put themselves in the shoes of the protagonist. The concept is easy to grasp. Accidentally, (there was an experiment linking several people’s brains) an artificial intelligence (who later describes itself as a “singularity”) called Adam is born. Adam quickly takes control of the whole world, creating ARCs (altered reality chips), which are inserted into everybody’s brains, and allow people to control everything around them and to live get interconnected and live in an altered (virtual) reality world. Of course, the intelligence behind the inventions (and there is a company behind it too, BioCal) gets to control the brains of the people involved, in turn. You can imagine Terminator with AIs instead of physical robots, or Matrix, although in this case people are not physically hooked onto a computer, but hooked they are, nonetheless. Adam is extraordinary, but a megalomaniac and cannot stand the thought of coexisting with other singularities who might take a different view of matters. He will not stop at anything to achieve his ubercontrol and will use (and has used) any means necessary.

The story, told in the third-person by an omniscient narrator, is plot-driven. Each chapter is told from a character’s point of view (so there is no confusion as to whose point of view we’re following), mostly the main characters: Jimmy (a man who cannot be fitted with an ARC due to a brain injury suffered while he was playing American football), Adam, Trixie (another singularity, and one who sees things very differently to Adam), Jenna (one of the people —or “nodes”— hosting Trixie), and other secondary characters who play their part in the action but whom we don’t learn much about. Jimmy is the character we get to know better, but due to his personal circumstances, his life has become so limited that there is little information we gather in the time we spend with him. He is married and loves his wife, but as she’s mostly hooked onto the altered reality (23 hours a day), he can hardly spend any time with her. He attends “Implants Disability Anonymous”, an association for those who have difficulty adapting to life because they do not have an implant (and it is extremely complicated to live in a world centred on an alternate reality if you are an outsider), and has a friend, Cecil, whose life circumstances are very similar. He becomes a reluctant hero, and, perhaps preciesly because we do not know that much about him, it is easy to imagine ourselves in his place.

There are other characters with plenty of potential, especially Crazy Beard, an amateur philosopher who feels at home anywhere, and whose pearls of wisdom are eminently quotable. The language is not overly technical or complex and although there are some descriptions, these are not very detailed or lengthy. In a way, the experience of reading this book is similar to what life must be like for the characters of the novel hooked onto the alternate reality. You become so immersed in the story and focused on the content that you don’t see or notice what is around you, including the details about what surrounds you. The scenes and the actions succeed each other at a fast pace and, every-so-often you are thrown out of that reality by a detailed mention of a location or of an in-depth description of a character’s thoughts or feelings. And then, back you go, into the story.

The novel can be read as an allegory for our modern lives, increasingly taken over by social media and online content (yes, it is not a big stretch to imagine that you could walk along a crowded street and be virtually invisible because all people you come across are focused on their devices), a cautionary tale. Indeed, some of the technology, like the connected fridges and the self-driven cars are already here. It can also be read as a straightforward science-fiction/dystopian novel, with touches of humour, philosophical thoughts, and an inspiring and positive ending (and no, I won’t tell you what it is). Hard science-fiction fans might take issue with some of the novel’s premises (I missed getting a sense of how this alternate reality was, as we mostly see the effects of it but not the actual content), and a fair deal of suspension of disbelief is required to enjoy the novel if you are looking for a realistic story, but if you enjoy speculative fiction, plenty of action, and are open to a story that will make you look around and think, you’ll love this novel. I look forward to the author’s future works.

 

 

 

 

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review 2018-08-29 15:40
The Major Works of Anselm of Canterbury
Anselm of Canterbury: The Major Works (Oxford World's Classics) - Anselm of Canterbury

Throughout the Middle Ages priests and theologians pondered the great questions about the Christian faith and this is a compilation one of the major thinkers of the time. The Major Works of Anselm of Canterbury brings together all of the important works—and some fragments of miscellaneous writing—of this Doctor of the Church on numerous issues to make sense of his faith.

 

Containing 11 works, this volume explores such questions as relating to the Christian faith.  However except for Anselm’s first major work, “Monologian” in which he sets out to prove God exists through reason than faith, almost everything in this book is either bordering on heretical or barely comprehensible at best.  Such works as “De Grammatico”, “The Truth, and “Free Will” quickly make no sense in their dialogue form while “On the Fall of the Devil” appears to indicate that God created evil which is frankly should have resulted in a one-way ticket bonfire for Anselm.  Anselm’s attempt to better articulate his thoughts of the “Monologian” in the “Proslogion” were a disaster of incomprehensibility.  The three works “On the Incarnation of the Word”, “Why God Became Man”, and “On the Virgin Conception and Original Sin” were insightful in a few spots though exposed the fallacy of original sin even though Anselm might have thought he had validate it.  The two other major pieces were so disappointing that it is best not to mention them by name.

 

After reading St. Augustine’s City of God, I hoped for a clear understanding of medieval theological thought in this book as well.  To say I was disappointed would be an understatement, in fact even though “Monologian” was tougher than I expected I wasn’t discouraged but as I continued reading it became harder to read.  On top of that, the rise of so many unbiblical theological statements that Anselm “proves” through reason then “backs up” through scripture was getting hard to take.  In fact, the worst part of “Monologian” was Anselm attempting to prove the immortality of the soul and failing completely.  The only other positive thing I can say, except for my general liking of “Monologian”, is that any notes of the text were put in the footers and not in the back of the book like other Oxford World’s Classics editions I read have done.

 

The Major Works contains serious theological and philosophical works by Anselm of Canterbury that the honest reader will find barely comprehensible and at times almost heretical.  Do not waste your time with this book unless you are a very serious scholar.

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review 2017-03-14 14:05
The Reluctant Swordsman (The Seventh Sword #1)
The Reluctant Swordsman - Dave Duncan

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot,, Booklikes & Librarything and linked at Goodreads & Mobileread by  Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: The Reluctant Swordsman
Series: The Seventh Sword #1
Author: Dave Duncan
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 321
Format: Digital Edition





 

Synopsis:


Wallie dies. The End.

 

Ok, not really. In fact, he wakes up in the body of a magnificent warrior who is a Seventh Sword, the highest rank possible. He also wakes up into the middle of a power struggle between corrupt warriors, priests and some “gods”. Specifically, Wallie has been chose by a goddess to be the divine instrument of her will in the current game.

 

Forced to recognize tht he is in a different world, in a different body and that the gods are real, Wallie must play along or die.

 

 



My Thoughts:


This had the same fingerprints as Duncan's The Great Game trilogy. As such, there is a lot of mocking of religion in general and very not-subtle jabs at Christianity. This type of thing might not bother you at all, so your mileage is definitely going to vary from mine.

 

The story was great, the setup very good, the action was fast and furious and overall I really enjoyed my read.

 

But just like going on a picnic in a beautiful field with my wife, if I place the blanket over an ants' nest, those little buggers are going to bite me and cause some annoyance and that's what I'll remember instead of the good time I had. Duncan's jabs were like little pin pricks and it made it very hard to just sit there and enjoy my time. I've read enough of Duncan's various works to know that he doesn't always take potshots at religion and I've truly enjoyed those books. Therefore, it's deliberate on his part and that just makes it all the more unpleasant.

 

I'm going to give the second book a chance when I cycle around to it, but if it has the same smug dismissive attitude as this one, I'll be stopping there.

 

 



 

 

 

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-03-04 14:11
Out of the Silent Planet (Space Trilogy #1)
Out of the Silent Planet - C.S. Lewis

Out of the Silent Planet

 

 

 

 

On a side note, I haven't seen any hiccups here at Booklikes in the last month. No more disappearing reviews or database resets that I can tell.  That being the case, I'll start posting my full reviews here again starting with the next review.

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review 2017-01-03 14:21
Grunge (Monster Hunter Memoirs #1)
Grunge - Larry Correia,John Ringo

This review is written with a GPL 3.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, Booklikes & Librarything by  Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission.

Title: Grunge
Series: Monster Hunter Memoirs #1
Author: John Ringo, Larry Correia
Rating: 2 of 5 Stars
Genre: SFF
Pages: 320
Format: Kindle digital edition

 

 

 

Synopsis:

 

Oliver Gardenier, aka Gary Stu, is a boy wonder with some seriously messed up parents. He joins the marines in defiance of his mother and ends up talking to St Peter and given a mission back on Earth: to hunt Monsters. Joining up with Monster Hunters International, Oliver details his adventures.

 

He also details his seriously messed up theological thoughts on Jesus and God. And just in case you forget, he also states, over and over and over, how successful with women he is.

 

 

My Thoughts:

 

If this had been just an MHI story, it would have been awesome. 4stars easy, pushing 4 1/2.

 

First thing that pushed it down was Gardenier’s continual references to his womanizing. He justifies it by saying he doesn’t want to leave a widow and orphans behind when he inevitably dies on the job, but that is so much BS. He’s probably leaving a trail of byblows who are growing up without a dad and string of woman who wanted more than a night. Those excuses lead into the second, and bigger, reason.

 

Theology. Ringo, and he is the author of this book, not Correia, presents sin as something just kind of ‘meh’ and that Jesus is our Dude who tells God to chill out on our behalf. In fact, Ringo/Gardenier states that you have to do something REALLY bad to go to hell now. Ringo threw around enough biblical names, terms, etc that it is obvious he’s at least familiar with Scripture but simply choosing to twist it to allow him to do whatever he wants.

 

Once past those, like I said,  it is a tremendous MHI story. I’ll be reading the next book but with some serious reservations.

 

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