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Showing posts from March, 2014

[Book Review] Nexus

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Nexus / Ramez Naam (Powell's Books)

The singularity is nigh, and we are it.  What happens when technology allows us to transcend the bounds of humanity?  Who controls it, who uses it?  Do we fear it, embrace it, improve ourselves, or abuse it?

Kade is a brilliant scientist and dreamer, and is one of the minds behind a breakthrough in an experimental nano-drug allowing mind to mind networking.  They've transmuted Nexus from an ephemeral temporary experience to an operating system that can be fully integrated into your brain, complete with the ability to run programs that effect your whole body.  He and his friends see Nexus as an opportunity to improve life for everyone, increasing empathy and knowledge.  Unfortunately the United States government sees the dangers of Nexus and none of the benefit, marking he research of Kade and his companions as a threat to humanity and stripping them of basic legal protection for their perceived crimes.

Now Kade is a reluctant asset for the Em…

[Book Review] Peacemaker

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Peacemaker / Marianne De Pierres (Powell's Books)
Virgin Jackson is the senior ranger in Birrimun Park – the world’s last natural landscape, overshadowed though it is by a sprawling coastal megacity. She maintains public safety and order in the park, but her bosses have brought out a hotshot cowboy to help her catch some drug runners who are affecting tourism. She senses the company is holding something back from her, and she’s not keen on working with an outsider like Nate Sixkiller. When an imaginary animal from her troubled teenage years reappears, Virgin takes it to mean one of two things: a breakdown (hers!) or a warning. When the dead bodies start piling up around her and Nate, she decides on the latter. Something terrible is about to happen in the park and Virgin and her new partner are standing in its path… Set in a potential near-future, Peacemaker delivers blending of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Western through the experiences of Virgin Jackson.  As an Amer…

[Book Review] From Every Bitter Thing

From Every Bitter Thing : The Real Story of Guenevere and Lancelot / Robert Rice
From Every Bitter Thing is the story of Guenevere, a woman raised in a matriarchal Pict society who is sacrificed, first to the ambitions of her father, the king, and then to the goals of Arthur, the husband forced upon her by political expedience. In the patriarchal and increasingly Christian society of post-Roman Britain, Guenevere is determined to set her own spiritual course, a course made infinitely more difficult when she falls in love with Lancelot, the peasant mercenary whom she has hired to protect her. Her quest is not to unify England or discover the Holy Grail but to find freedom to follow her own life’s path.

A character-driven drama, From Every Bitter Thing views the often-misunderstood story of Guenevere through a historical lens, but is also a winning tale of heroism, glory, and romance. What gives the story contemporary resonance is its concern, albeit low-keyed, for more transcendental th…

[Book Review] Don't Even Think About It

Don't Even Think About It / Sarah Mlynowski

Secrets. Scandals. ESP. A terrific and sexy new novel about a group of Tribeca teens from Sarah Mlynowski that will immediately appeal to fans of realistic fiction as well as readers who enjoy a little magic.
This book had so much promise.  I picked up this book not expecting anything remotely resembling fine literature, but rather something cheeky, hilarious, and probably a bit cheesy.  Unfortunately it failed to deliver.

Juggling 20+ narrators, their thoughts, and the overheard thoughts of those around them is definitely tricky.  People also think many inane and embarrassing things.  While I give the author kudos for attempting to handle this, to pull it off the ESP needs to have more limits just for the consistency, scope, and flow of the story, OR needs to be significantly more detailed and involved which would easily bog down the story.  Instead the story rotates through a range of characters of limited personality in a world where …

[Book Review] The Last Unicorn

The Last Unicorn is one of the most beautiful works of prose that I have read.  The story is both timeless and ageless, with layers and depth to appeal to both children and adults. I'm not sure why I never read this book when I was younger, some how it just never crossed my path and I never sought it out.  Whenever I read it I notice different little details, and for a book published 46 years ago remains incredibly fresh and new.


I was inspired to use The Last Unicorn as the first pick for Virtual Speculation.  It's a short book that many of us had read before, so it fit well for a short month in the opening of an experimental book club.  Only a few of us were able to meet (online) to discuss the book, and one of us was heavily medicated for a cold, but we had a great time discussing the book.

Discussion Fodder:
Themes to discuss: identity, humanity, reality, mortality, morality.What makes it a time for unicorns?  What are unicorns for? ("Would you call this a good a…

[Book Review] Under Nameless Stars

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Under Nameless Stars / Christian Schoon (Powell's Books)
After barely surviving a plot to destroy her school and its menagerie of alien patients, could things get worse for novice exoveterinarian Zenn Scarlett? Yes, they could: her absent father has been kidnapped.

Desperate to find him, Zenn stows away aboard the Helen of Troy, a starliner powered by one of the immense, dimension-jumping beasts known as Indra. With her is Liam Tucker, a Martian boy who is either very fond of her, very dangerous to her, or both. On the verge of learning the truth about her missing dad, Zenn’s quest suddenly catapults her and Liam thousands of light years beyond known space, and into the dark heart of a monstrous conspiracy. I've come to have high hopes for books published by Angry Robot.  Unfortunately, Under Nameless Stars came nowhere near what I've come to expect from this publisher.  I failed to notice when selecting this title that it was a sequel, an unfortunate slip on  my part, but…

Link Smorgasbord, February 2014

Adobe’s change of DRM could end old e-readers’ compatibility with e-book stores
Fortunately Adobe backpedaled a little bit on this one, but this is one of those underlying issues about DRM.  Now it makes sense that they wanted to rework their encryption, because to be honest, it was laughably easy to get around (if I have to buy a book with DRM one of the first things I do is remove it so that I can read it on the device of my choice and have a back-up copy).  Changes are still going to happen, but now the onus is on the publishers and ebook vendors if they are going to force a DRM that is incompatible with a large number of existing devices, and on the device manufacturers if they plan on providing any sort of firmware updates in response.

See more:
Adobe: We Didn’t Mean to Use DRM to Break Your eBook Readers

Noisetrade
Free books, audio books, and music.  Tip suggested but left to your discretion.

Four Libraries Offering Cutting-Edge Digital Services
Well, the title is pretty self-exp…