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Showing posts from March, 2019

Review: The Anthology at the End of the Universe: Leading Science Fiction Authors on Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

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The Anthology at the End of the Universe: Leading Science Fiction Authors on Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Glenn Yeffeth
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I've had this book on my "to read" shelf probably since it came out or shortly thereafter. I'm a dedicated Douglas Adams fan and therefore, this collection was a must-have. And I finally go around to reading it and while I can't say it's a "must read"--it certainly is enjoyable enough that it lead me to re-listen to all of the Hitchhiker's Guide books recently to celebrate and remind myself of the works. Like any good anthology of essays, not all are going to be winners with every reader. We all come to Hitchhiker's Guide differently. There are some that I enjoyed and there were others that I found less engaging. Some authors tried a bit too hard to write in the style of Douglas Adams and it felt derivative, but others were able to sew together such a mixture of facts …

Review: The Strange Library

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The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Murakami is a fascinating writer and this is the second or third book of his that I've read. There's an odd rhythm to his stories that is both coherent within the world of the story and strange when one tries to explain it to others. The Strange Library fits perfectly within his canon. The story follows a boy as he discovers the dark and odd depths of his local library after trying to find a piece of information. He is led into the bowels of the library and imprisoned, forced to complete entire memorization of tax accounts of the ancient world. However, he is not alone as he has two companions, whom he doesn't entirely trust that may be able to help him escape. But even if he escapes, is he ever really free from such a strange ordeal? It reminds me of Kafka and The Metamorphosis in that while these things are strange, they remain largely normal within the realm of the story. This is a short novel (really, a short…

The Two Demons of The Doctorate

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I like to write about demons. Maybe it's my overall fascination with horror, my experiences with religion, or great appreciation for Supernatural (to be clear--it's a bad show but I still enjoy it), but I find that when I need to explain something such as inner turmoil, I like to draw upon demons.  I wrote about the two demons I run with.  Today, I'm going to talk about the two demons of the doctorate.  My guess is that some of you are quite familiar with one and possibly familiar with the other. 

Demon 1:  The Distraction DemonThe doctorate program, like many other big tasks is dominated by output and deadlines.  There's papers to be done throughout the courses leading up to the dissertation process and then more deadlines, bigger and more stressful deadlines along the way. 

I'm often challenged by deadlines.  I think Douglas Adams, in all the ways he has influenced me, maybe have influenced me most when I heard him say, "I love deadlines. I like the whooshing …

Review: Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress

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Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress by Steven Pinker
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was a big fan of Pinker's previous book, The Better Nature of Our Angels that he wrote several years ago. I found it to be a relieving exploration into the world today and better understanding the myth of violence that is ever-present in news and political rhetoric about the world today. Thus, his follow up where he continues to make that argument by connecting it to the present-day issues and concerns that dominate discussions across many different places is appreciated and useful in gaining perspective. He moves through dozens of chapters taken on different issues and leveling the known research available while connecting the issues with the larger picture or with other concepts and research that can prove...well..enlightening. At the core of his argument is one that is similar to Kurt Anderson's in Fantasyland, that through the lens and application of evidence-ba…

Review: The End We Start From

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The End We Start From by Megan Hunter
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a fun and short novel about a woman dealing with an apocalypse while also dealing with a growing infant, but, of course, it's about so much more. The novels' style is minimalistic, broken into small sections that can be one sentence to about a full page's worth. Hunter manages to provide the fullest of stories in the smallest of words and using a good amount of synecdoche, giving the readers glimpses of her bigger whole experience. Hunters desire to straddle this line between detail and reduction of words, that all the characters are merely denoted by a single letter, rather than a full name. It makes the reading experience move quickly and evokes the realization of how names themselves, though necessary, are far more complex than needed for a good story. The story starts with the birth of the protagonist's baby and the husband working to get them moving as a disaster is approaching (a flood by the sou…