‘More Like This, Please’

Score: 5/5

This was an enjoyable introduction to 10 technologies that are coming that could make a huge difference to how we live our lives. Things like space elevators, 3D printing and personalised medicine are reaching the stage where they may be possible/useful/life-saving in the next few years, and this book serves to give a humorous overview of the current state of the art.

And best of all, one of the authors is Zach Weinersmith, who draws the Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal web comic so the text is interspersed with lots of cartoons.

It’s a big book, but really it can’t go into depth on any of the topics. I thought that was a bit of a shame because I generally wanted to find out more of what the authors found out during research - even when I already knew a bit more about the subject than was covered.

I could happily read another book like this. What else is coming along soonish?

Tags: 4 Word Book Reviews
Created by on Logo15659OpinionatedGeek Ltd.Logo15659

‘History Set To Music’

Score: 4/5

I don’t know what to say about this. It brought back unpleasant memories and bad times, as well as some of the incredible music we had. The music scene had its ups and downs just like other areas, and music (and musicians) sometimes added to the dark side of our past.

Still, there are great stories here of Norn Iron artists, visitors, and some of the gigs.

Tags: 4 Word Book Reviews
Created by on Logo15659OpinionatedGeek Ltd.Logo15659

‘I’m In Two Minds’

Score: 4/5

I came to this book not knowing anything about its background, or even really what it was about. (I still don’t know the background. If you want something well researched you’re in the wrong place.)

I suppose I’d describe it as personal philosophical musings. I don’t know if that’s a real category or not (’Hello, can I speak to Mr. Dewey please?’) but it’ll do.

Anyway, some of the musings are beautiful, some are prophetic, and some are a bit disconcerting. Rather than dwell on the bits I didn’t enjoy, here’s a passage I found both beautiful and prophetic:

‘If we believe that machines are ruining mankind, it may be that we are lacking a little in distance and cannot judge the effects of transformations as rapid as those that we have undergone. What are the hundred years of mechanical history when set against the two hundred thousand years of the history of man? We have scarcely begun to settle in this landscape of mines and power stations. Our life in this modern house has only just begun, and the house is not yet even complete. Everything has changed so rapidly all around us: human relationships, working conditions, social customs. Our very psychology has been rocked on its most intimate foundations. The words denoting separation, absence, distance and return remain the same, but the ideas reflect a different reality. To grasp the world of today we are using a language made for the world of yesterday. And the life of the past seems a better reflection of our nature, for the simple reason that it is a better reflection of our language.’


Tags: 4 Word Book Reviews
Created by on Logo15659OpinionatedGeek Ltd.Logo15659

‘A Bit Less Polished’

Score: 4/5

Yeah, I made a mistake and read the previous book before this - the first in the series.

It did bring home to me how much more polished Th1rt3en was - this book has a few more rough edges. I still enjoyed it though.

Tags: 4 Word Book Reviews
Created by on Logo15659OpinionatedGeek Ltd.Logo15659

‘Well Paced Legal Thriller’

Score: 5/5

I don't want to go into details here (no spoilers!) so I'll just say this is an exciting, well paced book. I could quibble about some of the foreshadowing or some of the obviously-not-told bits that spoil the reveals a little, but even so it mostly works. I enjoyed it.

Tags: 4 Word Book Reviews
Created by on Logo15659OpinionatedGeek Ltd.Logo15659

‘Good Points, Well Made’

Score: 4/5

Yep, it all makes a lot of sense. I still haven’t deleted my Twitter account yet, but I might...

Tags: 4 Word Book Reviews
Created by on Logo15659OpinionatedGeek Ltd.Logo15659

‘Cried My Lamps Out’

Score: 5/5

A beautifully simple, beautifully illustrated children’s book to introduce the concept of death.

Doesn’t sound like a lot of fun. It’s really touching though, and does convey its points well.

The pages are sparse, the illustrations gorgeous, the text succinct. Beautiful.

Tags: 4 Word Book Reviews
Created by on Logo15659OpinionatedGeek Ltd.Logo15659

‘Way Too Much Fireflying’

Score: 4/5

Someone took the notion of an independent starship with a crew of half a dozen quirky individuals a bit far. Or Firefly has a lot to answer for. One of those.

‘Space cowboys’ never really made a lot of sense to me. I loved Firefly, it just didn’t really add up. For example, if you’re able to navigate from one star system to another I’d expect the available weaponry to be better than a six-shooter or a shotgun.

Well, this book is in the same kind of universe. It draws heavily on that Firefly ethos - a single ship, independent, trying to make money, big galactic events happening around them - but it felt a bit tired.

Maybe I’m just a bit jaded with the whole thing.

Tags: 4 Word Book Reviews
Created by on Logo15659OpinionatedGeek Ltd.Logo15659

‘Interesting Lack Of Bikes’

Score: 4/5

The setting is a post-apocalyptic England, about a century after the disaster. The few people left are generations after the initial survivors coped with the massive starvation. The only technology that remains is stuff people have managed to maintain.

Guns, for example, seem to be quite available. For a price, of course, but available anyway. Lots of the people in this book have guns.

But despite the long distances travelled, there are no bikes.

This seems very odd. I’ve no idea if I could maintain a gun for a hundred years, but I’m certain I’d have a much better chance maintaining a bicycle for that long. I think you’d run out of bullets years before my tyres became unpatchable.

I am probably the only person that notices or cares about this, I know...

So, putting that aside, there’s another thing worth mentioning here: this is book 1 in a series from different authors. I’m not sure this is a good thing.

We’ve had books - great, standalone books. And then there were sequels. Sometimes the sequels were good, sometimes they were bad, sometimes they were obvious cash-ins, but they were at least from the original author.

Then we had ‘sequels’ from other authors if the original author died. There are good and bad examples of this too.

Then we had books that were created to be part of a series. And there have been some very long series. But again these were by the same author.

This is the first time I’ve seen a series and setting created by a publisher, with the publisher deliberately seeking out different authors for different books in the series. (I’m sure there have been plenty and I just don’t know them.)

It just seems a step in the wrong direction to me. I’m wary of publishers taking that kind of control. It feels like design-by-committee, choosing stories via focus-groups instead of an author having a passion and feel for a particular theme. Or (perhaps more accurately) it feels more like the way films are made these days than books - the culmination of input from a wide range of people instead of just a lone author and editor.

With all that said, it’s not a bad book. Overall it’s pretty good, in fact. There’s foreshadowing. There’s mystery. There’s character - not much personal growth in the main characters, but there is at least some character there. Just no bikes.

Tags: 4 Word Book Reviews
Created by on Logo15659OpinionatedGeek Ltd.Logo15659

‘More London Ghost Stories’

Score: 5/5

Not much to say here. I do find these books very readable, a nice way to relax after reading some of the non-fiction I’m working my way through. And there are more books in the series, and we already have them because SWMBO’s read them already!

Tags: 4 Word Book Reviews
Created by on Logo15659OpinionatedGeek Ltd.Logo15659