For those who are new ... we discuss books. I list what I'm reading, and people comment with what they're reading. Sometimes, on Sundays, I post a special edition on a particular genre or topic.
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Nothing this week
God's Arbiters:Americans and the Phillippines: 1898-1902 by Susan K. Harris. I am only a few pages into this book, but it looks good. It is an advance copy sent to me by the publisher, with rather fortuitous timing since Cryptonomicon deals a lot with the Phillippines, and Mr. Speaker deals with the same time period, and I just finished The War Lovers, which is about the other part of the Spanish American war - the part that was fought in Cuba.
The Invention of Air: A Story of Science, Faith, Revolution, and the Birth of America by Steven Johnson. A biography of Joseph Priestly and his times. Really just started, but Johnson writes very well and it's a fascinating period
Year's Best Science Fiction ed. by Gardner Dozois. My favorite of the annual collections of SF
The Beginning of Infinity by David Deutch. Deutch has ideas. LOTS of ideas. About everything - science, religion, philosophy, ecology and on and on. Fascinating reading.
I've also written a Squidoo lens entitled Great hard science fiction novels
Taking Sudoku seriously: The math behind the world's most popular puzzle by Jason Rosenhouse and Laura Taalman
The publishers sent me a reader's copy of this.
At one level, a lot of people say Sudoku is not a math puzzle - because you could just as easily use letters instead of numbers. But the authors know this just means Sudoku is not an arithmetic puzzle, and they also know that arithmetic really doesn't have that much to do with math. Unfortunately, the copy I got is in black and white, which makes certain parts almost meaningless; they will send me a color version in a few months.
The Better Angels of our Nature: Why Violence has Declined by Steven Pinker.
An astonishingly erudite writer, Pinker draws on fields from history to psychology to anthropology to primatology to first show that, at almost every time scale, violence has declined over time; then he explains why this is so.
Reamde by Neal Stephenson. After his recent, more experimental work, Stephenson returns to a more typical novel, more a thriller than a science fiction book, but fool of online gaming, hackers, spies and such. Very good.
Nothing this week