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Yesterday

Caliban’s War by James S.A. Corey (2011) (read in 2021)

Published by marco on

Standard disclaimer[1]

The second book of the The Expanse begins on Ganymede, where we meet Prax Meng, a botanist of consummate skill and education. He has a daughter Mei with a debilitating but controllable disease. She is kidnapped from her pre-school. We also meet Bobbie Draper, a Martian Marine deployed on the surface, opposing the Earth forces that are also stationed there. Tensions are already high when a mysterious humanoid without a spacesuit tears across the surface, eliminating the... [More]

Two Days Ago

Subprime Attention Crisis by Tim Hwang (2020) (read in 2021)

Published by marco on

Standard disclaimer[1]

This is a short book about the digital advertising business, including its history, its present, and possible futures. The history is that the advertising business has always struggled with the essential fact that they are selling a largely unquantifiable product. There are feelings about the effectiveness of advertising, but little evidence for the effectiveness of a particular ad. Effectiveness is measured in two ways: directly contributing to a sale (e.g. rebates, sales,... [More]

Strange Dogs by James S.A. Corey (2017) (read in 2021)

Published by marco on

Standard disclaimer[1]

A girl named Cara lives on a planet named Laconia with her parents, who are part of a research team. Laconia is one of the 1300 ring worlds discovered by humanity in The Expanse novels. Cara enjoys visiting a local pond, where she watches the strange and alien local fauna, in particular the sunbirds. At twilight, “strange dogs” show up, but seem to pose no risk.

One day, Cara feeds a bit of her own food to a sunbird. She saw someone do something similar with a duck in a... [More]

5 days Ago

Gods of Risk by James S.A. Corey (2012) (read in 2021)

Published by marco on

Standard disclaimer[1]

This story takes place after Caliban’s War, when Bobbie returns to Mars after having retired from the Mars Marines.

She’s living with her brother and his family. Her nephew David is a gifted student, enrolled in the terraforming program at school. He’s also a gifted chemist, so he’s tempted to make extra money by creating drugs for a local dealer. This is the Breaking Bad storyline, I guess. David is infatuated with LeeLee, one of the girls who orbits the leader of the... [More]

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston (1937) (read in 2021)

Published by marco on

Standard disclaimer[1]

Janie Crawford returns to the village where she has a home, crossing past the hooting and hollering peanut gallery stationed outside the town store. She continues onward, ignoring them, to visit her friend Pheoby, who’d stood by her all the time she’d been gone and who was dying to know what had happened since she’d left.

The rest of the book is Janie recounting the story of her life that led to her, at about forty years old, sitting on that porch with her friend Pheoby.
... [More]

3 weeks Ago

Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir (2021) (read in 2022)

Published by marco on

Standard disclaimer[1]

Andy Weir manages to comes up with consistently interesting science-fiction ideas and entertaining yarns (even if it’s rather obvious in some places where he’s almost writing a screenplay). I really wish he would find a co-author to help him smooth out some of the more YA aspects of his writing. Still, this was a fun book to read—after the first third.

As with The Martian, it took me about that long to either get used to the writing style or for Weir to settle in and... [More]

1 month Ago

The Churn by James S.A. Corey (2014) (read in 2021)

Published by marco on

Standard disclaimer[1]

This is one of the earliest stories in the entire Expanse universe. It takes place before even Leviathan Wakes. This is Amos Burton’s origin story. It tells the story of how he started as a young thug named Timmy, in the employ of Baltimore crime lord Amos Burton. He ends up running protection for an identity-grifter named Erich who works for Burton. Timmy lives with Lydia, an older woman who rescued him after his mother had died. She also had worked for Amos Burton, as a... [More]

Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey (2011) (read in 2021)

Published by marco on

Standard disclaimer[1]

This is the first book of the Expanse series. The crew of the ice-hauler Canterbury includes Earther XO Jim Holden, Belter Chief Engineer Naomi Nagata, Martian Navy pilot Alex Kamal, and Earther engineer Amos Burton. While they are on an excursion to investigate a distress call from the ship Scopuli, a stealth ship appears and destroys the Canterbury.

Holden establishes his reputation by broadcasting his suspicions of it having been a Martian attack to the whole solar... [More]

The Butcher of Anderson Station by James S.A. Corey (2011) (read in 2021)

Published by marco on

Standard disclaimer[1]

This is one of the earliest stories in the entire Expanse universe. It takes place before even Leviathan Wakes. This is Fred Johnson’s origin story. It tells the story of how he started as an Earth marine and how he came to be known as the eponymous butcher.

The present-day Fred Johnson has been taken captive by Anderson Dawes, then-leader of the OPA. But Fred Johnson hasn’t been captured because he’s a danger to the OPA. Quite the contrary: Johnson has become a drunk and... [More]

White Noise by Don DeLillo (1985) (read in 2021)

Published by marco on

Standard disclaimer[1]

This novel felt a bit like others I’ve read about tenured professors in America, like Roth’s The Dying Animal. It’s not got much of a plot to speak of. Instead, it’s more a set of character studies of Jack Gladney and his odd family: Babette (his third wife, I believe) and a mix of his and her children, Heinrich, Denise, Steffie, and Wilder. There are other children and their mothers (Jack’s exes) scattered around the country, who make rare appearances. Jack teaches Hitler... [More]

Kindle Books Written by AIs Vol.2021.4

Published by marco on

This is the latest roundup of book titles that my Kindle shows me when I’m not reading it. Long ago, I considered paying to turn off this advertising, but it’s proven to be so entertaining that I’m happy I never gave in.

This is a view into what people are reading or what Amazon would like people to be reading or … whatever. I simply observe and catalog. I also sometimes have to hide my Kindle in public places so that no-one calls the police for what they think I’m reading.

Bethlehem, NC... [More]

4 months Ago

Kindle Books Written by AIs Vol.2021.3

Published by marco on

This is the latest roundup of book titles that my Kindle shows me when I’m not reading it. Long ago, I considered paying to turn off this advertising, but it’s proven to be so entertaining that I’m happy I never gave in and did it. This is a view into what people are reading or what Amazon would like people to be reading or … whatever. I simply observe and catalog. I also sometimes have to hide my Kindle in public places so that no-one calls the police for what they think I’m reading.[1]

Bad... [More]

7 months Ago

Kindle Books Written by AIs Vol.2021.2

Published by marco on

This is the latest roundup of book titles that my Kindle shows me when I’m not reading it. Long ago, I considered paying to turn off this advertising, but it’s proven to be so entertaining that I’m happy I never gave in and did it. This is a view into what people are reading or what Amazon would like people to be reading or … whatever. I simply observe and catalog. I also sometimes have to hide my Kindle in public places so that no-one calls the police for what they think I’m reading.[1]

Chunkee... [More]

10 months Ago

Arsène Lupin, gentleman-cambrioleur ...ice Leblanc (1907; fr) (read in 2021)

Published by marco on

Disclaimer: these are notes I took while reading this book. They include citations I found interesting or enlightening or particularly well-written. In some cases, I’ve pointed out which of these applies to which citation; in others, I have not. Any benefit you gain from reading these notes is purely incidental to the purpose they serve of reminding me what I once read. Please see Wikipedia for a summary if I’ve failed to provide one sufficient for your purposes. If my notes serve to trigger an... [More]

11 months Ago

Kindle recommendations: 2021.1

Published by marco on

Since my Kindle regularly provides me with what I consider to be bizarre recommendations, I’ll just name this series of posts about them.

Though these books aren’t for me, I’m honestly glad that people are reading books. I am a bit worried that they’re reading books generated by an AI, but as long as they’re happy…

As for these books? I feel like I’m watching the awakening of an a digital mind, trained on and simultaneously stunted by the questionable quality of human literary achievement... [More]

1 year Ago

Batman: A Death in the Family by Jim Starlin (1988) (read in 2020)

Published by marco on

I received a whole pile of late 80s–early 90s comic books from my Aunt Penny, who used to run a newsstand in Mohawk, New York. She’d kept them for years and finally gave them to me for Christmas after seeing me read Le Transpierceneige on my laptop in the back of the minivan as Kath drove us around Switzerland in the fall of 2019.

She gave me the following comics:

  • DC: Batman #429: A Death in the Family Part 4
  • DC: Batman: A Death in the Family (books 1-4)
  • DC: Batman vs. Predator (1 of 3)... [More]

Books read in 2020

Published by marco on

This year’s list of books and reviews and notes got a little bit out of hand (last year also did). As I’ve done in other years, I’ve included my notes and review of each book in this article as well as linked a separate article which includes the same notes and review, as well as citations and rough notes. So, this article weighs in at about 87 pages.

I only hit 21 titles this years, but many of them were meaty tomes, one in German and one in French. A lot of public-policy books this year,... [More]

The Divide: American Injustice in the ...p by Matt Taibbi (2014; read in 2020)

Published by marco on

Disclaimer: these are notes I took while reading this book. They include citations I found interesting or enlightening or particularly well-written. In some cases, I’ve pointed out which of these applies to which citation; in others, I have not. Any benefit you gain from reading these notes is purely incidental to the purpose they serve of reminding me what I once read. Please see Wikipedia for a summary if I’ve failed to provide one sufficient for your purposes. If my notes serve to trigger an... [More]

Im Westen nichts Neues by Erich Maria Remarque (1929; read in 2020)

Published by marco on

Disclaimer: these are notes I took while reading this book. They include citations I found interesting or enlightening or particularly well-written. In some cases, I’ve pointed out which of these applies to which citation; in others, I have not. Any benefit you gain from reading these notes is purely incidental to the purpose they serve of reminding me what I once read. Please see Wikipedia for a summary if I’ve failed to provide one sufficient for your purposes. If my notes serve to trigger an... [More]

Bullet Points and Punch Lines by Lee Camp (2020; read in 2020)

Published by marco on

Disclaimer: these are notes I took while reading this book. They include citations I found interesting or enlightening or particularly well-written. In some cases, I’ve pointed out which of these applies to which citation; in others, I have not. Any benefit you gain from reading these notes is purely incidental to the purpose they serve of reminding me what I once read. Please see Wikipedia for a summary if I’ve failed to provide one sufficient for your purposes. If my notes serve to trigger an... [More]

Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller (1934; read in 2020)

Published by marco on

Disclaimer: these are notes I took while reading this book. They include citations I found interesting or enlightening or particularly well-written. In some cases, I’ve pointed out which of these applies to which citation; in others, I have not. Any benefit you gain from reading these notes is purely incidental to the purpose they serve of reminding me what I once read. Please see Wikipedia for a summary if I’ve failed to provide one sufficient for your purposes. If my notes serve to trigger an... [More]

The Last Man by Mary Shelley (1826; read in 2020)

Published by marco on

Disclaimer: these are notes I took while reading this book. They include citations I found interesting or enlightening or particularly well-written. In some cases, I’ve pointed out which of these applies to which citation; in others, I have not. Any benefit you gain from reading these notes is purely incidental to the purpose they serve of reminding me what I once read. Please see Wikipedia for a summary if I’ve failed to provide one sufficient for your purposes. If my notes serve to trigger an... [More]

Scifi and Fantasy Recommendations (for a younger reader)

Published by marco on

I recently learned that a young reader I know is a fan of The City of Ember (Wikipedia), which is a science-fiction novel “[…] about Ember, a post-apocalyptic underground city threatened by aging infrastructure and corruption.” I heard she’d received the The People of Sparks (Wikipedia) as a gift and was intrigued to learn that she was reading books deemed “science fiction”.

I dug back through my own lists of recent years to find the following recommendations for (more or less) age- and reading-level appropriate... [More]

Living in the Long Emergency by James Howard Kunstler (2020; read in 2020)

Published by marco on

Disclaimer: these are notes I took while reading this book. They include citations I found interesting or enlightening or particularly well-written. In some cases, I’ve pointed out which of these applies to which citation; in others, I have not. Any benefit you gain from reading these notes is purely incidental to the purpose they serve of reminding me what I once read. Please see Wikipedia for a summary if I’ve failed to provide one sufficient for your purposes. If my notes serve to trigger an... [More]

Masque of the Red Death by Edgar Allen Poe (1842; read in 2020)

Published by marco on

Disclaimer: these are notes I took while reading this book. They include citations I found interesting or enlightening or particularly well-written. In some cases, I’ve pointed out which of these applies to which citation; in others, I have not. Any benefit you gain from reading these notes is purely incidental to the purpose they serve of reminding me what I once read. Please see Wikipedia for a summary if I’ve failed to provide one sufficient for your purposes. If my notes serve to trigger an... [More]

Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs (1959; read in 2020)

Published by marco on

Disclaimer: these are notes I took while reading this book. They include citations I found interesting or enlightening or particularly well-written. In some cases, I’ve pointed out which of these applies to which citation; in others, I have not. Any benefit you gain from reading these notes is purely incidental to the purpose they serve of reminding me what I once read. Please see Wikipedia for a summary if I’ve failed to provide one sufficient for your purposes. If my notes serve to trigger an... [More]

Book Recommendations for a Friend (July 2020)

Published by marco on

I found a list of book recommendations I’d made for a friend, tailored to his interests. I’ve republished it here with some minor edits, in case anyone else is interested. The title links to my review and notes.

This is a partial list of books I’ve read since 2013 that I think you might be interested in. I’ve included links to my reviews/notes/citations, if that helps.

I’ve tried to break it up into rough groups. Many straddle categories. They’re all good, but some are work and some are fun.
... [More]

Amazon Book Recommendations getting weirder

Published by marco on

I was recently inspired to write about my Kindle’s odd recommendations. Since then, I’ve gotten several more—with seemingly rapidly decreasing quality.

Lady from the Stars

 Lady from the Stars

“A woman from another planet crashes on Earth. Her foes track her and plan to enslave Earth. Can she stop them and save Earth and the man she loves?”

I’m going to guess that the author is simultaneously responsible for the cover art and the blurb. If the prose in the book measures up to the quality of the blurb, then... [More]

More great suggestions from Amazon

Published by marco on

The Handsewer’s Son

 The Handsewer's Son

The blurb below the amazing cover is:

“Imagine having a gem in your hand that allows you to cut through the fabric of the universe. With a vision that can take you anyplace in the Galaxy.”

Amazon has had access to my wishlists for over a decade. Possibly even two decades. They have names like “Sociology and Philosophy”, “History and Biography”, “Science and Technology”, and “Public Policy”. There is no “self-published YA Fiction that is most likely utter shite even for... [More]

2 years Ago

I Can’t Breathe by Matt Taibbi (2017; read in 2020)

Published by marco on

Disclaimer: these are notes I took while reading this book. They include citations I found interesting or enlightening or particularly well-written. In some cases, I’ve pointed out which of these applies to which citation; in others, I have not. Any benefit you gain from reading these notes is purely incidental to the purpose they serve of reminding me what I once read. Please see Wikipedia for a summary if I’ve failed to provide one sufficient for your purposes. If my notes serve to trigger an... [More]