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Full title A Devil's Chaplain: Reflections on Hope, Lies, Science, and Love [permalink]
Language English
Author Richard Dawkins (author)
Publisher Mariner Books
Categories Anthology, biology, essay and science
Publication year 2004
Original publication year 2003
ISBN 978-0-618-48539-0 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 263
Images Back of A Devil's Chaplain.Spine of A Devil's Chaplain.Front of A Devil's Chaplain.
Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • Introduction to the American Edition
  1. Science and Sensibility
    • 1.1 A Devil's Chaplain
    • 1.2 What is True?
    • 1.3 Gaps in the Mind
    • 1.4 Science, Genetics and Ethics: Memo for Tony Blair
    • 1.5 Trial By Jury
    • 1.6 Crystalline Truth and Crystal Balls
    • 1.7 Postmodernism Disrobed
    • 1.8 The Joy of Living Dangerously: Sanderson of Oundle
  2. Light Will Be Thrown
    • 2.1 Light Will Be Thrown
    • 2.2 Darwin Triumphant
    • 2.3 The 'Information Challenge'
    • 2.4 Genes Aren't Us
    • 2.5 Son of Moore's Law
  3. The Infected Mind
    • 3.1 Chinese Junk and Chinese Whispers
    • 3.2 Viruses of the Mind
    • 3.3 The Great Convergence
    • 3.4 Dolly and the Cloth Heads
    • 3.5 Time to Stand Up
  4. They Told Me, Heraclitus
    • 4.1 Lament for Douglas
    • 4.2 Eulogy for Douglas Adams
    • 4.3 Eulogy for W. D. Hamilton
    • 4.4 Snake Oil
  5. Even the Ranks of Tuscany
    • 5.1 Rejoicing in Multifarious Nature
    • 5.2 The Art of the Developable
    • 5.3 Hallucigenia, Wiwaxia and Friends
    • 5.4 Human Chauvinism and Evolutionary Progress
    • 5.5 Unfinished Correspondence with a Darwinian Heavyweight
  6. There is All Africa and her Prodigies in Us
    • 6.1 Ecology of Genes
    • 6.2 Out of the Soul of Africa
    • 6.3 I Speak of Africa and Golden Joys
    • 6.4 Heroes and Ancestors
  7. A Prayer for My Daughter
    • 7.1 Good and Bad Reasons for Believing
  • Endnotes
  • Index
Full title A Mathematician's Apology [permalink]
Language English
Author G. H. Hardy (author)
Categories Mathematics and science
Publication year 1940
Online version Link
Pages 52
Full title The Abominable Earthman [permalink]
Language English
Author Frederik Pohl (author)
Publisher Ballantine Books
Categories Anthology, science fiction and short stories
Publication year 1963
Pages 159

The Abominable Earthman contains five short stories, and one long-ish one (taking up the bulk of the book).

The Abominable Earthman, the titular story, is about what happens when green-skinned aliens conquer Earth in a short span of time, and the adventures of a small group of people who are trying to overthrow them.

We Never Mention Aunt Nora is about a most curious pregnancy and an aunt who we don't talk about...

A Life and a Half is about a very bleak future which runs very efficiently, alright, but about which something else is off.

Punch is a strange little story about benevolent aliens.

The Martian Star-Gazers reads like an anthropology report on the previous inhabitants of Mars.

Whatever Counts, the longest of the stories, is about a group of colonists and the crew who are hauling them to Aleph Four, a satellite of a Jupiter-like planet a long way off (the journey takes eighteen years). There's also a rhinoceroid alien race of graceful and fast creatures who lack any kind of subconscious who feature prominently (to say more would spoil).

Three Portraits and a Prayer is a very short story about a dying scientist, his doctor, and an evil millionaire.


Unfortunately, almost all the short stories fell rather flat for me. It's all very well written, but some of the stories left me wondering what the point was. The Martian Star-Gazers stood out for me. There's not a whole lot of action in it, but the way it's written made it very interesting to read. It's written almost as thought it were a piece of anthropology, describing Martian mythology and the stars in their skies and what it meant to them. Whatever Counts, the longest story in the collection, also stood out. There aren't too many main characters and Pohl develops them in style: In the end, one really does care about them and their motives, and the aliens, the Gormen, are enigmatic and fit the story very well.

I can't recommend this one unless you really want those two stories. However, you're probably better off buying another Pohl collection with those two in them.

Images Back of The Abominable Earthman.Spine of The Abominable Earthman.Front of The Abominable Earthman.
Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • The Abominable Earthman
  • We Never Mention Aunt Nora
  • A Life and a Half
  • Punch
  • The Martian Star-Gazers
  • Whatever Counts
  • Three Portraits and a Prayer
Full title About a Boy [permalink]
Language English
Author Nick Hornby (author)
Category Novel
Publication year 1998
Pages 286
Full title Accelerando [permalink]
Language English
Author Charles Stross (author)
Publisher Ace Books
Categories Novel and science fiction
Publication year 2005
ISBN 0-441-01284-1 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Online version Link
Pages 390

Manfred Macx, a heavily augmented transhuman in the early 21st century, is a visionary and a so-called venture altruist: He roams the world, giving ideas away for free and turning paradigms upside-down as a matter of course. The novel follows him towards a technological singularity, his daughter Amber through it, and her son, Sirhan, after it.


This novel is somewhat special in that it is chuck full of jargon (e.g. 419) and techno-speculation (e.g. utility fog). Have a dictionary handy if you want to avoid being drowned in it. It's when you understand all of it, if only superficially, that the novel becomes the brilliant flair of wild ideas that it is.

Images Back flap of Accelerando.Back of Accelerando.Spine of Accelerando.Front of Accelerando.Front flap of Accelerando.
Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • Part 1: Slow Takeoff
    • 1: Lobsters
    • 2: Troubadour
    • 3: Tourist
  • Part 2: Point of Inflection
    • 4: Halo
    • 5: Router
    • 6: Nightfall
  • Part 3: Singularity
    • 7: Curator
    • 8: Elector
    • 9: Survivor
Full title The Age of Spiritual Machines: When Computers Exceed Human Intelligence [permalink]
Language English
Author Ray Kurzweil (author)
Categories Computing and science
Publication year 1999
Pages 257

The first part explains the Law of Accelerating Returns, discusses the idea of an intelligence (us) creating a greater intelligence (computers), and how a machine would deal with ambiguities of language (there are at least four ways of interpreting the sentence "time flies like an arrow", laid out in the book). The second part deals with preparing the present, and discusses different ways of building brains (and uploading already-built brains to another substrate). The third part is a journey through the twenty-first century, with stops for snapshots at 2009, 2019, 2029, and 2099. At the end of each chapter is an imaginary talk with an imaginary reader, Molly, which helps explain things.

Full title Airframe [permalink]
Language English
Author Michael Crichton (author)
Publisher Ballantine Books
Categories Novel and science fiction
Publication year 1997
Original publication year 1996
ISBN 0-345-41299-0 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 431

A passenger plane goes into a series of deep dives and climbs, killing three and injuring many. The novel spans the week following the accident, and follows the team who tries to clear it up.

Images Back of Airframe.Spine of Airframe.Front of Airframe.
Full title Alice's Adventures in Wonderland [permalink]
Language English
Author Lewis Carroll (author)
Categories Humor and novel
Publication year 1865
Online version Link
Pages 108
Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • I Down the Rabbit-Hole
  • II The Pool of Tears
  • III A Caucus-Race and a Long Tale
  • IV The Rabbit Sends in a Little Bill
  • V Advice from a Caterpillar
  • VI Pig and Pepper
  • VII A Mad Tea-Party
  • VIII The Queen's Croquet-Ground
  • IX The Mock Turtle's Story
  • X The Lobster-Quadrille
  • XI Who Stole the Tarts?
  • XII Alice's Evidence
Full title The Alternate Asimovs [permalink]
Language English
Author Isaac Asimov (author)
Categories Anthology, science fiction and short stories
Publication year 1986
Pages 320

Contains Grow Old Along with Me (which became Pebble in the Sky), The End of Eternity (which became a novel with the same name), and two versions of Belief (the unpublished and the published versions).

Grow Old Along with Me takes place in the Galactic Era (when humans have colonized millions of worlds) and deals with an Earth plot to take revenge at the rest of the Galaxy for its poor treatment of the Earth, and to establish the Earth as the ruling world. (As a side-note, no one in the Galaxy really knows if humanity originated on a single planet, or if they originated on several worlds more or less simultaneously and, when each planet became space-faring, met and interbred to form the humanity that is the Galactic Empire. Most adhere to the latter, which they call the Merger Theory. The former is called the Radiation Theory and is believed by a small sect on Earth calling themselves the Ancients.)

The End of Eternity is a time travel short story about the so-called Eternals who live in Eternity and alter the realities of different centuries by making quantum changes.

Belief is a story about Roger Toomey who one morning discovers that he can levitate, and centers around his attempts at getting his fellow physicists to believe him. The two versions (the unpublished and the published) differ only in the endings. My favorite of these is by far the published version of Belief (Asimov preferred the unpublished one), because it tells a beautiful story in a beautiful way. My least favorite is The End of Eternity, because time travel is full of paradoxes (and I really dislike paradoxes).

Full title American Poetry: An Introductory Anthology [permalink]
Language English
Author Donald Hall (author)
Publisher Faber and Faber
Categories Anthology and poetry
Publication year 1991
Original publication year 1969
Pages 192

As the title says, this is an introductory anthology to American poetry. The introduction devotes around three pages to a synopsis of a selection of the authors' lives, and the book itself has a handful of poems from each author.


This book is pretty dated, but I still enjoyed the selection.

Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • Acknowledgements
  • Introduction
  • Anne Bradstreet
  • Edward Taylor
  • Philip Freneau
  • William Cullen Bryant
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
  • Edgar Allan Poe
  • John Greenleaf Whittier
  • Jones Very
  • Henry David Thoreau
  • Herman Melville
  • Walt Whitman
  • Frederick Goddard Tuckerman
  • Emily Dickinson
  • Sidney Lanier
  • Duncan Campbell Scott
  • Edgar Lee Masters
  • Edwin Arlington Robinson
  • Trumbull Stickney
  • Robert Frost
  • Vachel Lindsay
  • Wallace Stevens
  • William Carlos Williams
  • E. J. Pratt
  • Ezra Pound
  • H. D.
  • Robinson Jeffers
  • Marianne Moore
  • John Crowe Ransom
  • Archibald MacLeish
  • Phelps Putnam
  • E. E. Cummings
  • F. R. Scott
  • Hart Crane
  • Allen Tate
  • Earle Birney
  • Richard Eberhart
  • Theodore Roethke
  • Elizabeth Bishop
  • John Berryman
  • Irving Layton
  • Robert Lowell
  • Richard Wilbur
  • Index of Titles and First Lines
Full title The Ancestor's Tale: A Pilgrimage to the Dawn of Evolution [permalink]
Language English
Author Richard Dawkins (author)
Publisher Mariner Books
Categories Biology and science
Publication year 2004
ISBN 978-0-618-61916-0 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 623

A history book about life, in reverse chronology.


This 600+ pages book could easily be called Dawkins' magnum opus. It's a history of life, written in reverse chronology, starting with humans and working backwards to the common ancestor to all life. The book is divided into chapters, called Rendezvous, and each rendezvous would be where two twigs on the tree of life meet. If you picture the tree of life, then the book starts at one tip of the tree, humanity, and moves progressively backwards (inwards) to the root of the tree. (Actually, this is slightly misleading. The entire tree of life is an unrooted phylogenetic tree, not a rooted one.) At each rendezvous, a joining pilgrim (sometimes several) gets a chance to tell its Tale, and the tale usually illustrates a point about biology. This is what makes this book such a joy to read. While you're reading you can (and are in fact encouraged to) imagine that you're on a pilgrimage (see subtitle), à la Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. But unlike The Canterbury Tales, this isn't a work of fiction, and you'll inevitably learn a lot of biology while you're at it.

In the book, like with most of Dawkins' books, he doesn't shy away from using technical words, but he's very meticulous about explaining ones that may be unfamiliar to the reader. Being a hobby etymologist, this is the kind of writing that I love. (The word 'Neanderthal', for instance, comes from Neander, the valley in Germany in which the original fossil was found, and 'thal', which is German for 'valley'.) And besides, it's a fun challenge for the reader to go look up the words she doesn't understand.

This is a thoroughly excellent and riveting book, but be warned that it's also a long and difficult book. Set aside a good chunk of uninterrupted time for it. I read about one-fifth of it (straight) in bed, and the rest during a thirteen-hour bus trip, and I was in a daze for a week. (Maybe partly because I read it on a bus, but mostly because the book itself is so eye-opening.)

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Full title Angels and Demons [permalink]
Language English
Author Dan Brown (author)
Category Novel
Publication year 2000
Pages 480

The Illuminati steals a quarter gram of antimatter from CERN, places it somewhere inside the Vatican, and kidnaps four cardinals from under the Vatican's nose. Robert Langdon, a symbologist from America, is flown in to investigate.

Full title Apocalypsopolis [permalink]
Language English
Author Ran Prieur (author)
Categories Apocalyptic and science fiction
Publication year 2004
Online version Link

An asteroid of respectable size plunges into the Pacific, starting the apocalypse. The novel follows a group of people through it.


Overall the story is very gripping, but at times I felt there were too many characters to make each of them stand out, which made it harder to sympathize with them. The writing is good and the pacing is OK; I definitely recommend it.

Full title Around the World in Eighty Days [permalink]
Original title Le tour du monde en quatre-vingts jours
Language English
Author Jules Verne (author)
Categories Adventure and novel
Publication year 1873
Online version Link
Pages 256

Phileas Fogg, a London gentleman of the Reform Club (which is actually a real club), and his French valet, Passepartout, make a £20 000 bet with the other gentlemen of the Reform Club that circumnavigation of the Earth is possible in fewer than eighty days.


One would suspect that the novel would be boring nowadays, when circumnavigation can be done in far fewer than eighty days, but this is not the case. It's not so much the feat itself as the sense of adventure that makes the novel really good (and there is plenty of adventure to go around).

Full title Asimov Laughs Again: More Than 700 Jokes, Limericks, and Anecdotes [permalink]
Language English
Author Isaac Asimov (author)
Publisher Harper Perennial
Categories Anthology and humor
Publication year 1993
Original publication year 1992
ISBN 978-0-06-092448-5 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 341

Unlike Asimov's previous compilation of jokes, Isaac Asimov's Treasury of Humor, this one isn't divided into categories; rather, it's a long story of one joke flowing neatly into the next one, with banter inbetween.


I like this style much better, as evidenced by the copious amount of dog-earing in my paperback edition.

Let me give you some samples.

One psychiatrist met another and greeted him with, "You're fine; how am I?"

A German was giving an impassioned speech at the United Nations and the interpreter was silent.

"What's he saying?" someone whispered to the interpreter.

"I don't know yet," said the interpreter. "I'm waiting for the verb."

An astronomer said, "What's the use!
Our classical knowledge is loose.
There can be nothing stupider
Than to name that world Jupiter,
When we all know it should be called Zeus."

"As for screwing," said Little Miss Muffet,
"I proclaim here and now that I love it.
I defy the authority
Of the Moral Majority.
They can take all their preaching and stuff it."

Images Back of Asimov Laughs Again.Spine of Asimov Laughs Again.Front of Asimov Laughs Again.
Full title Asimov On Numbers [permalink]
Language English
Author Isaac Asimov (author)
Publisher Pocket Books
Categories Mathematics and science
Publication year 1978
ISBN 0-671-82134-2 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 275

This is a collection of essays by Asimov on numbers and mathematics. It discusses how we got the concept of zero (from India via the Arabs), exponents, factorials, aleph numbers (there are actually different kinds of infinities), pi, imaginary numbers, huge numbers (like googol, but that doesn't even scratch the surface), the metric system (yum), and a host of other stuff. It also has an essay on animals and their sizes.


As with most essay collections from Asimov, this one is a sure-fire good read. Asimov explains in detail (but not too painful detail) a lot of difficult mathematics, step by careful step. Unlike a lot of his other collections, this one feels a little miscellaneous, but that doesn't at all detract from its quality.

Images Back of Asimov On Numbers.Spine of Asimov On Numbers.Front of Asimov On Numbers.
Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • Introduction
    • 1. Nothing Counts
    • 2. One, Ten, Buckle My Shoe
    • 3. Exclamation Point!
    • 4. T-Formation
    • 5. Varieties of the Infinite
    • 6. A Piece of Pi
    • 7. Tools of the Trade
    • 8. The Imaginary That Isn't
    • 9. Forget It!
    • 10. Pre-fixing It Up
    • 11. The Days of Our Years
    • 12. Begin at the Beginning
    • 13. That's About the Size of It
    • 14. The Proton-Reckoner
    • 15. Water, Water, Everywhere—
    • 16. Up and Down the Earth
    • 17. The Isles of Earth
Full title Asimov's New Guide to Science [permalink]
Original title The Intelligent Man's Guide to Science
Language English
Author Isaac Asimov (author)
Publisher Penguin Books
Categories Biology, chemistry and science
Publication year 1987
Original publication year 1984
ISBN 978-0-140-17213-3 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 880

This is a thick door-stopper of a book, dealing with all of science (and the history of science in general). It's divided into two major parts, The Physical Sciences and The Biological Sciences.


Asimov wrote very well fiction, but I think non-fiction is where he shines, and this book is no exception. Go buy it, and get an overview of the vast fields of science!

Images Back of Asimov's New Guide to Science.Spine of Asimov's New Guide to Science.Front of Asimov's New Guide to Science.
Full title Bad Science [permalink]
Language English
Author Ben Goldacre (author)
Publisher HarperCollins
Category Science
Publication year 2009
Original publication year 2008
ISBN 978-0-00-728487-0 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 370

Bad Science is a book almost entirely dedicated to the exposition of poor and damaging science reporting in the media, especially medical science. (Another major point of the book is focusing on specific people in the media who Goldacre thinks are doing a poor job or a disservice to the public.) This isn't all of the book, however: some chapters (The Placebo Effect and Bad Stats stand out) go into how medical science is actually done and what methods are used in clinical trials.


I found the book both entertaining and enlightning, although the book is heavily focused on the UK. If you're from the UK then you'd probably enjoy this book much more than I did, being from Norway.

Images Back of Bad Science.Spine of Bad Science.Front of Bad Science.
Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1: Matter
  • Chapter 2: Brain Gym
  • Chapter 3: The Progenium XY Complex
  • Chapter 4: Homeopathy
  • Chapter 5: The Placebo Effect
  • Chapter 6: The Nonsense du Jour
  • Chapter 7: Dr Gillian McKeith PhD
  • Chapter 8: 'Pill Solves Complex Social Problem'
  • Chapter 9: Professor Patrick Holford
  • Chapter 10: The Doctor Will Sure You Now
  • Chapter 11: Is Mainstream Medicine Evil?
  • Chapter 12: How the Media Promote the Public Misunderstanding of Science
  • Chapter 13: Why Clever People Believe Stupid Things
  • Chapter 14: Bad Stats
  • Chapter 15: Health Scares
  • Chapter 16: The Media's MMR Hoax
  • And Another Thing
  • Further Reading and Acknowledgements
  • Notes
  • Index
Full title Barna fra Sukhavati [permalink]
Translated title The Children from Sukhavati
Language Norwegian
Author Jostein Gaarder (author)
Publisher Aschehoug
Categories Fantasy and novel
Publication year 1998
ISBN 82-03-24238-3 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 143
Full title The Beginning and the End [permalink]
Language English
Author Isaac Asimov (author)
Publisher Pocket Books
Categories Anthology, astronomy, essay and science
Publication year 1978
Original publication year 1977
ISBN 0-671-47644-0 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 253
Images Back of The Beginning and the End.Spine of The Beginning and the End.Front of The Beginning and the End.
Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • Introduction


  • 1 The Real Cyrano
  • 2 Of What Use?
  • 3 The Democracy of Learning
  • 4 The Monsters We Have Lived With
  • 5 The Fossil Fuels
  • 6 A Stop of Water


  • 7 Smart, but Not Smart Enough?
  • 8 Recipe for an Ocean
  • 9 Technology and Energy
  • 10 The Glorious Sun
  • 11 Astronomy
  • 12 The Large Satellites of Jupiter
  • 13 The Natural Satellites
  • 14 Of Life Beyond
  • 15 The Beginning and the End
  • 16 Gravitation, Unlimited
  • 17 Man and Computer


  • 18 The Big Weather Change
  • 19 Tighten Your Belt
  • 20 America—A.D. 2176
  • 21 The Coming Decades in Space
  • 22 Colonizing the Heavens
  • 23 The Moon as Threshold
Full title The Best Science Fiction of Isaac Asimov [permalink]
Language English
Author Isaac Asimov (author)
Categories Anthology, science fiction and short stories
Publication year 1986
Pages 249

Perhaps The best non-robot non-Foundation science fiction of Isaac Asimov would be a more fitting, if longer, title for the book. This is an anthology of stories chosen by Asimov himself, with commentary preceding each story.

Full title The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature [permalink]
Language English
Author Steven Pinker (author)
Publisher Penguin Books
Category Psychology
Publication year 2002
ISBN 0-14-200334-4 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 509

A very good synthesis of and commentary on the nature-nurture debate from the point of view of an evolutionary psychologist. The book is divided into six parts named "The Blank Slate, the Noble Savage, and the Ghost in the Machine" (in which Pinker outlines the debate and discusses the three doctrines in the title), "Fear and Loathing" (in which he describes the reactions from scientists and lay people to the discoveries of the modern sciences of human nature), "Human Nature with a Human Face" (in which he discusses four fears — inequality, imperfectibility, determinism, and nihilism — that seem to flow from the dismantling of the three doctrines outlined in the first chapter), "Know Thyself" (in which he attempts to allay fears by making human nature explicit), "Hot Buttons" (in which he deals with five topics — politics, violence, gender, children, and the arts — and explain how the sciences of human nature touch on these), and "The Voice of the Species" (which is a single chapter where Pinker draws examples from poetry and literature to illustrate his main points and bring the book to a natural end).


A very good book about human nature, and why gut feelings and folk theories on psychology are often wrong (or not right enough). This is the first book on evolutionary psychology I've read, so I had a little trouble keeping up with the parts of the book that described its history and methods, but I think I got the gist of those parts. I especially enjoyed the last part of the book, titled "The Voice of the Species", where Pinker quotes various poets and authors (such as Emily Dickinson, Mark Twain, and Kurt Vonnegut), in passages illuminating human nature. I can wholeheartedly recommend this book!

Images Back of The Blank Slate.Spine of The Blank Slate.Front of The Blank Slate.
Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • Preface
  • PART I The Blank Slate, the Noble Savage, and the Ghost in the Machine
    • Chapter 1 The Official Theory
    • Chapter 2 Silly Putty
    • Chapter 3 The Last Wall to Fall
    • Chapter 4 Culture Vultures
    • Chapter 5 The Slate's Last Stand
  • PART II Fear and Loathing
    • Chapter 6 Political Scientists
    • Chapter 7 The Holy Trinity
  • PART III Human Nature with a Human Face
    • Chapter 8 The Fear of Inequality
    • Chapter 9 The Fear of Imperfectibility
    • Chapter 10 The Fear of Determinism
    • Chapter 11 The Fear of Nihilism
  • PART IV Know Thyself
    • Chapter 12 In Touch with Reality
    • Chapter 13 Out of Our Depths
    • Chapter 14 The Many Roots of Our Suffering
    • Chapter 15 The Sanctimonious Animal
  • PART V Hot Buttons
    • Chapter 16 Politics
    • Chapter 17 Violence
    • Chapter 18 Gender
    • Chapter 19 Children
    • Chapter 20 The Arts
  • PART VI The Voice of the Species
  • Appendix: Donald E. Brown's List of Human Universals
  • Notes
  • References
  • Index
Full title The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe without Design [permalink]
Language English
Author Richard Dawkins (author)
Publisher W. W. Norton
Categories Biology and science
Publication year 2006
Original publication year 1986
ISBN 978-0-14-102616-9 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 358

The Blind Watchmaker demolishes the argument from design, which was first advanced by the theologian William Paley. In short, it goes like this: If you're walking somewhere and you find a rock, you don't require an explanation for why it's there. But if you find a watch, you'll assume that the watch had a maker. Organisms are complex things, like a watch, so they, too, should require a maker (evolution is the blind watchmaker that the title alludes to). The book introduces biomorphs, creatures in a computer program that can evolve a multitude of shapes based on nine different "genes" (variables) which control how the form grows. Even with only nine genes, the number of forms that can be generated is huge, and the reader is invited to imagine walking through the (nine-dimensional!) space of possible shapes.

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Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • Introduction to the 2006 edition
  • Preface
  • Chapter 1 Explaining the very improbable
  • Chapter 2 Good design
  • Chapter 3 Accumulating small change
  • Chapter 4 Making tracks through animal space
  • Chapter 5 The power and the archives
  • Chapter 6 Origins and miracles
  • Chapter 7 Constructive evolution
  • Chapter 8 Explosions and spirals
  • Chapter 9 Puncturing punctuationism
  • Chapter 10 The one true tree of life
  • Chapter 11 Doomed rivals
  • Bibliography
  • Appendix (1991): Computer programs and 'The Evolution of Evolvability'
  • Index
Full title Book of Nonsense [permalink]
Language English
Author Edward Lear (author)
Categories Nonsense and poetry
Publication year 1846

A short book of nonsene limericks.

Full title Boy [permalink]
Language English
Author Roald Dahl (author)
Publisher Cappelen
Category Autobiography
Publication year 2008
Original publication year 1985
ISBN 82-02-19319-2 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 208
Images Back of Boy.Spine of Boy.Front of Boy.
Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • Preface
  • About the Author
  • About the British private school system
  • A map of southern England and Wales
  • BOY
  • Starting-point
  • Llandaff Cathedral School, 1923-25 (age 7-9)
  • St. Peter's, 1925-36 (age 13-20)
  • Vocabulary and comprehension questions
  • Group work
  • Writing activities
Full title Brain Droppings [permalink]
Language English
Author George Carlin (author)
Category Humor
Publication year 1998
Full title Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon [permalink]
Language English
Author Daniel Dennett (author)
Publisher Viking Books
Category Religion
Publication year 2006
ISBN 0-670-03472-X [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 448
Images Back flap of Breaking the Spell.Back of Breaking the Spell.Spine of Breaking the Spell.Front of Breaking the Spell.Front flap of Breaking the Spell.
Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • Preface

Part I: Opening Pandora's Box

  • 1 Breaking Which Spell?
    • 1 What's going on?
    • 2 A Working definition of religion
    • 3 To break or not to break
    • 4 Peering in the abyss
    • 5 Religion as a natural phenomenon
  • 2 Some Questions About Science
    • 1 Can science study religion?
    • 2 Should science study religion?
    • 3 Might music be bad for you?
    • 4 Would neglect be more benign?
  • 3 Why Good Things Happen
    • 1 Bringing out the best
    • 2 Cui bono?
    • 3 Asking what pays for religion
    • 4 A Martian's list of theories

Part II: The Evolution of Religion

  • 4 The Roots of Religion
    • 1 The births of religions
    • 2 The raw materials of religion
    • 3 How Nature deals with the problem of other minds
  • 5 Religion, the Early Days
    • 1 Too many agents: competition for rehearsal space
    • 2 Gods as interested parties
    • 3 Getting the gods to speak to us
    • 4 Shamans as hypnotists
    • 5 Memory-engineering devices in oral cultures
  • 6 The Evolution of Stewardship
    • 1 The music of religion
    • 2 Folk religion as practical know-how
    • 3 Creeping reflection and the birth of secrecy in religion
    • 4 The domestication of religions
  • 7 The Invention of Team Spirit
    • 1 A path paved with good intentions
    • 2 The ant colony and the corporation
    • 3 The growth market in religion
    • 4 A God you can talk to
  • 8 Belief in Belief
    • 1 You better believe it
    • 2 God as intentional object
    • 3 The division of doxastic labor
    • 4 The lowest common denominator?
    • 5 Beliefs designed to be professed
    • 6 Lessons from Lebanon: the strange cases of the Druze and Kim Philby
    • 7 Does God exist?

Part III: Religion Today

  • 9 Toward a Buyer's Guide to Religions
    • 1 For the love of God
    • 2 The academic smoke screen
    • 3 Why does it matter what you believe?
    • 4 What can your religion do for you?
  • 10 Morality and Religion
    • 1 Does religion make us moral?
    • 2 Is religion what gives meaning to your life?
    • 3 What can we say about sacred values?
    • 4 Bless my soul: spirituality and selfishness
  • 11 Now What Do We Do?
    • 1 Just a theory
    • 2 Some avenues to explore: how can we home in on religious conviction?
    • 3 What shall we tell the children?
    • 4 Toxic memes
    • 5 Patience and politics
  • Appendixes
  • A The New Replicators
  • B Some More Questions About Science
  • C The Bellboy and the Lady Named Tuck
  • D Kim Philby as a Real Case of Indeterminacy of Radical Interpretation
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Index
Full title The Catcher in the Rye [permalink]
Language English
Author J. D. Salinger (author)
Publisher Penguin Books
Category Novel
Publication year 2010
Original publication year 1945
ISBN 978-0-241-95043-2 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 230

Holden Caulfield is doing poorly in school, being kicked out of school after school. This new school is no different: Caulfield is being kicked out, but doesn't want to confront his parents about it. He's naive yet street-smart and resourceful, and the book follows his exploits roaming around New York City doing nothing in particular, dreaming, exploring, and horsing around.

The title is referencing a dream that Holden has about catching falling bodies coming off a cliff into a rye field. Holden, when explaining this dream to someone, is misremembering a line from the poem Comin' Thro' the Rye: "If a body catch a body / Comin thro' the rye." The line is actually "If a body meet a body / Comin thro' the rye."


A fascinating read. I especially liked the conversation in the beginning of the book between him and one of his teachers, Mr. Spencer. Mr. Spencer is trying to help Caulfield by giving him practical advice, but Holden is too distracted to really pay attention, in addition to not wanting to be there in the first place. It's funny watching him trying to worm his way out of it.

I think everyone can see something of themselves in Caulfield, even though one doesn't always empathize with him. He's not really a likeable character, but he's charming and funny, and his adventures around New York City makes for an enjoyable read.

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Full title Childhood's End [permalink]
Language English
Author Arthur C. Clarke (author)
Publisher Tor Books
Categories Novel and science fiction
Publication year 2010
Original publication year 1954
ISBN 978-0-330-51401-9 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 256

The novel starts abruptly with two scenes of American and Russian astronauts preparing to embark on their different (irrelevant) missions, only to be halted by the sudden appearance of starships above major cities of the Earth. It's explained in short order how these benevolent aliens manage, in only a few years, to clean up our mess. War, disease, and want are all things of the past, and humanity now lives in peace with itself. Eventually the aliens make themselves and their plans known...


This novel is considered by many Clarke fans to be his best (even Clarke himself considered it that, along with The Songs of Distant Earth), and I'll have to tentatively agree (the final verdict will have to wait until I've read more of Clarke's work). The story is engaging and spans many decades, the characters are interesting, the aliens' motives understandable (and even sympathetic), the pacing is good... The only complaint I have is that I wished it was longer. It feels like there should be more to this story!

Definitely go pick this up!

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Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • Foreword
  • Earth and the Overlords
  • The Golden Age
  • The Last Generation
Full title The City and the Stars [permalink]
Language English
Author Arthur C. Clarke (author)
Publisher Victor Gollancz Ltd
Categories Novel and science fiction
Publisher series SF Masterworks
Publication year 2001
Original publication year 1956
ISBN 978-1-857-98763-8 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 255

The story takes place on Earth several billion years in the future. It revolves around the huge city of Diaspar, which has cloistered itself under an artificial roof. No one can leave the city, and no one even wants to. People are no longer born naturally, but emerge from the Hall of Creation. They live for centuries, and when they decide it's time to "die" they simply choose which memories they wish to keep, and are then stored in the Memory Banks, to return centuries later from the Hall of Creation. These Memory Banks also house the patterns for everything in the city (buildings, furniture, what have you) so that when one wishes something (a chair, for instance), one simply asks for it and it will materialize. As a by-product, nothing ever wears down; the city (and its inhabitants) are practically immortal.

Into this mix emerges Alvin, a Unique (meaning it's his first life). These aren't unheard of, but they're very rare. The story is really about Alvin and his adventures to unravel the secrets of the city's (and Earth's) mysterious and myth-laden past.


I thorougly enjoyed it. If I have one complaint it's that I wish we learned more about the Invaders, but this doesn't detract from the story (for reasons which I won't go into due to the spoiler potential).

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Full title Climbing Mount Improbable [permalink]
Language English
Author Richard Dawkins (author)
Publisher W. W. Norton
Categories Biology and science
Publication year 1996
ISBN 978-0-393-31682-7 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 326
Images Back of Climbing Mount Improbable.Spine of Climbing Mount Improbable.Front of Climbing Mount Improbable.
Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • Acknowledgements
  • Picture Acknowledgements
  • 1 Facing Mount Rushmore
  • 2 Silken Fetters
  • 3 The Message from the Mountain
  • 4 Getting off the Ground
  • 5 The Forty-fold Path to Enlightenment
  • 6 The Museum of All Shells
  • 7 Kaleidoscopic Embryos
  • 8 Pollen Grains and Magic Bullets
  • 9 The Robot Repeater
  • 10 'A Garden Inclosed'
  • Bibliography
  • Index
Full title Cloud Atlas [permalink]
Language English
Author David Mitchell (author)
Publisher Random House
Categories Novel and science fiction
Publication year 2004
ISBN 978-0-375-50725-0 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 509

Six separate stories running from the late 1800s into the deep future are interwoven in various ways. The chapters first tell the first part of each story until the middle chapter, where then the second parts of the stories are told in reverse order (see the structure, you'll understand).


I watched the movie before reading the book (in fact, watching the movie spurred me into reading it), so my review is naturally colored by that. I loved the movie, and the book is even better.

It's extremely well-written, and the tone of each chapter is fitting for the time period. The language of the chapters that take place in the future is also apt. An example from the chapter "Sloosha's Crossin' an' Ev'rythin' After", set in the deep future:

Yay, Old'uns' Smart mastered sicks, miles, seeds an' made miracles ord'nary, but it din't master one thing, nay, a hunger in the hearts o' humans, yay, a hunger for more.

I strongly recommend this novel. It's a joy to read from start to finish.

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Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • The Pacific Journal of Adam Ewing (Part 1)
  • Letters from Zedelghem (Part 1)
  • Half-Lives: The First Luisa Rey Mystery (Part 1)
  • The Ghastly Ordeal of Timothy Cavendish (Part 1)
  • An Orison of Sonmi~451 (Part 1)
  • Sloosha's Crossin' an' Ev'rythin' After
  • An Orison of Sonmi~451 (Part 2)
  • The Ghastly Ordeal of Timothy Cavendish (Part 2)
  • Half-Lives: The First Luisa Rey Mystery (Part 2)
  • Letters from Zedelghem (Part 2)
  • The Pacific Journal of Adam Ewing (Part 2)
Full title The Collected Stories of Arthur C. Clarke [permalink]
Language English
Author Arthur C. Clarke (author)
Publisher Victor Gollancz Ltd
Categories Anthology, science fiction and short stories
Publication year 2001
ISBN 978-1-85798-323-4 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 966

A collection of virtually every short story of Arthur C. Clarke. See Structure for links to some of them.


The stories are of varying quality, although most are very good (and some are truly excellent). As this is a compilation, it's hard to give a verdict, but I definitely recommend it to you if you're a Clarke fan.

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Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • Travel by Wire!
  • How We Went to Mars
  • Retreat from Earth
  • Reverie
  • The Awakening
  • Whacky
  • Loophole
  • Rescue Party
  • Technical Error
  • Castaway
  • The Fires Within
  • Inheritance
  • Nightfall
  • History Lesson
  • Transience
  • The Wall of Darkness
  • The Lion of Comarre
  • The Forgotten Enemy
  • Hide-and-Seek
  • Breaking Strain
  • Nemesis
  • Guardian Angel
  • Time's Arrow
  • A Walk in the Dark
  • Silence Please
  • Trouble with the Natives
  • The Road to the Sea
  • The Sentinel
  • Holiday On the Moon
  • Earthlight
  • Second Dawn
  • Superiority
  • 'If I Forget Thee, Oh Earth...'
  • All the Time in the World
  • The Nine Billion Names of God
  • The Possessed
  • The Parasite
  • Jupiter Five
  • Encounter In the Dawn
  • The Other Tiger
  • Publicity Campaign
  • Armaments Race
  • The Deep Range
  • No Morning After
  • Big Game Hunt
  • Patent Pending
  • Refugee
  • The Star
  • What Goes Up
  • Venture to the Moon
  • The Pacifist
  • The Reluctant Orchid
  • Moving Spirit
  • The Defenestration of Ermintrude Inch
  • The Ultimate Melody
  • The Next Tenants
  • Cold War
  • Sleeping Beauty
  • Security Check
  • The Man Who Ploughed the Sea
  • Critical Mass
  • The Other Side of the Sky
  • Let There Be Light
  • Out of the Sun
  • Cosmic Casanova
  • The Songs of Distant Earth
  • A Slight Case of Sunstroke
  • Who's There?
  • Out of the Cradle, Endlessly Orbiting...
  • I Remember Babylon
  • Trouble With Time
  • Into the Comet
  • Summertime on Icarus
  • Saturn Rising
  • Death and the Senator
  • Before Eden
  • Hate
  • Love That Universe
  • Dog Star
  • Maelstrom II
  • An Ape About the House
  • The Shining Ones
  • The Secret
  • Dial F for Frankenstein
  • The Wind from the Sun
  • The Food of the Gods
  • The Last Command
  • The Light of Darkness
  • The Longest Science-Fiction Story Ever Told
  • Playback
  • The Cruel Sky
  • Herbert George Morley Roberts Wells, Esq.
  • Crusade
  • Neutron Tide
  • Reunion
  • Transit of Earth
  • A Meeting With Medusa
  • Quarantine
  • siseneG
  • The Steam-Powered Word Processor
  • On Golden Seas
  • The Hammer of God
  • The Wire Continuum (with Stephen Baxter)
  • Improving the Neighbourhood
Full title The Complete Robot [permalink]
Language English
Author Isaac Asimov (author)
Categories Anthology, science fiction and short stories
Publication year 1982
Pages 680

This is a collection of robot stories that he wrote between 1940 and 1976. They're not grouped chronologically, but by theme (and this works really well). The stories, of course, revolve around robots; non-humanoid, immobile, metallic, and humanoid (there's even an android in the last story, but I've already spoiled too much).


Some of these stories are amazing, and you should go pick up this anthology now. My favorites are A Boy's Best Friend, Victory Unintentional, Segregationist, Evidence, Feminine Intuition, and The Bicentennial Man.

Full title Cosmos [permalink]
Language English
Author Carl Sagan (author)
Publisher Ballantine Books
Categories Astronomy, biology, chemistry, history, physics and science
Publication year 1985
Original publication year 1980
ISBN 978-0-345-33135-9 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 324

Cosmos is, as its title suggests, a book about the Cosmos. It's based upon (and can be considered a companion to) the TV series of the same name. There are thirteen chapters, each corresponding to the thirteen episodes.

The Shores of the Cosmic Ocean is setting the tone for the rest of the book. Sagan discusses the Cosmos on its largest scales, putting the Earth in perspective. He then discusses early attempts to measure the size of the Earth.

One Voice in the Cosmic Fugue is about evolution and our own species. It discusses various potential biologies that could be evolved on other worlds and muses on the implication of all this.

In the chapter Harmony of the Worlds, Sagan really shines. This chapter deals with astrology, astronomy, and the histories of both. (Sagan was an astronomer.) He explains Kepler's Laws, goes into the geocentric vs heliocentric models of the Solar System, and the history of planetary observation and theory-making.

Heaven and Hell is all about comets and asteroids. Sagan discusses the Tunguska event and the impact craters on the Moon, among other things.

Blues for a Red Planet is about Mars in fiction and fact. He goes into the canali of Giovanni Schiaparelli and Percival Lowell, H. G. Well's The War of the Worlds, and the Barsoom novels of Edgar Rice Burroughs. He then discusses the Mars probes and the potential for terraforming Mars.

Travelers' Tales is about the sailing ships and the discoveries made during the Age of Exploration, with respects to astronomy and the study of the Cosmos.

The Backbone of Night is a discussion of myths from around the world on the creation and system of the Universe, veering into a discussion of the scientific explanations (and the evidence). There's a very charming three pages of imagined inner monolog by a curious and primitive ancestor dealing with his explanation for the stars. The chapter title is a reference to the name for the Milky Way that the !Kung people of the Kalahari desert use for it.

Travels in Space and Time is about the immensity of space and time. It begins with a discussion on constellations and astrology, and has a wonderful illustration of how a constellation (in the example, The Big Dipper) would look from other angles and in other eras. It then launches into an extended explanation of the speed of light and the various paradoxes attending it (such as time dilation).

The Lives of the Stars is about atoms, chemistry, and the lives of the stars (ahem), meaning the fates and types of stars (white dwarfs, neutron stars, supernovas, etc.).

The Edge of Forever lives up to its title. Its subject matter is the beginning of time, the extent of the Cosmos, and a very entertaining discussion on higher dimensions (reminiscent of, even directly referent to, Flatland). It also discusses mythological theories on the nature of time and the Cosmos.

The Persistence of Memory is about information, in the form of DNA and brains.

Encyclopaedia Galactica is really about galactic citizenship. It goes into UFOs, SETI, the Drake equation, and contact with other intelligent beings (what it would look like and what the implications would be). This is one of the more interesting chapters.

The book ends on a somewhat morose note with Who Speaks for Earth? The chapter deals with the planet and its various challenges, most conspicuously nuclear weapons and what to do about the potentiality of our destroying ourselves. After so many chapters of uplifting speculations and explorations of immensity, this chapter is a very sobering read.


Where to start? When I watched the TV series in 2007 I was utterly blown away, and the book is even better. Being a book it's also much more detailed. If you've read anything by Sagan you know what to expect, but this work is simply breath-taking in its breadth and depth. It's personal, uplifting, educational, interesting... If you want to get a (biased, in a good sense) overview of the history of ideas and science, go read it.

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Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • Introduction
  • I The Shores of the Cosmic Ocean
  • II One Voice in the Cosmic Fugue
  • III The Harmony of the Worlds
  • IV Heaven and Hell
  • V Blues for a Red Planet
  • VI Travelers' Tales
  • VII The Backbone of Night
  • VIII Travels in Space and Time
  • IX The Lives of the Stars
  • X The Edge of Forever
  • XI The Persistence of Memory
  • XII Encyclopaedia Galactica
  • XIII Who Speaks for Earth?
  • Appendix 1: Reductio ad Absurdum and the Square Root of Two
  • Appendix 2: The Five Pythagorean Solids
  • Further Reading
  • Index
Full title Counting the Eons [permalink]
Language English
Author Isaac Asimov (author)
Categories Anthology, astronomy and science
Publication year 1983
Pages 254
Full title The Da Vinci Code [permalink]
Language English
Author Dan Brown (author)
Category Novel
Publication year 2003
Pages 583
Full title Dandelion Wine [permalink]
Language English
Author Ray Bradbury (author)
Publisher HarperCollins
Category Novel
Publication year 2008
Original publication year 1957
ISBN 978-0-00-728474-0 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 319

Originally a series of short stories, this novel is about quiet Middle American life in the fictional Green Town, Illinois. The story mainly follows twelve-year-old Douglas Spaulding and his brother, Tom, with minor characters scattered about. The novel is about nothing in particular, except the musings of Doug about rather adult themes like life and death.

The title is a metaphor for good summer memories, and in the story it's a real beverage that Doug and his grandfather actually tap into bottles for the long winter ahead.

There is a sequel, Farewell Summer.


Despite being well-written, I found this novel at times boring, and I was a little disappointed that it didn't go anywhere; there's no real story here. There are a few memorable scenes, however, like the meeting between the gang (Doug, Tom, and Charlie) and Colonel Freeleigh and between the young reporter and the old woman.

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Full title De dødes tjern [permalink]
Translated title Lake of the Dead
Language Norwegian
Author André Bjerke (author)
Publisher Aschehoug
Categories Crime and novel
Publication year 2008
Original publication year 1942
ISBN 978-82-03-18497-0 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 191

A group of people (including the author's alter ego, crime author Bernhard Borge) travel into the woods to explore the mystery around the eponymous Lake of the Dead.

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Full title Deception Point [permalink]
Language English
Author Dan Brown (author)
Publisher Pocket Books
Categories Novel and science fiction
Publication year 2002
Original publication year 2001
ISBN 0-671-02738-7 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 558

NASA discovers a meteoric rock under the Milne Ice Shelf which contains a fossil, and the story centers around this remarkable find. Involved in their own ways are a senator, a senator's daughter, a senator's aide, the U.S. President, and several organizations.

Images Back of Deception Point.Spine of Deception Point.Front of Deception Point.
Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • Acknowledgments
  • Author's Note
  • Prologue
  • [133 unnamed chapters]
  • Epilogue
Full title The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark [permalink]
Language English
Author Carl Sagan (author)
Categories Astronomy, philosophy and science
Publication year 1996
Pages 416

The Demon-Haunted World deals with human imagination, science, and scepticism, in a nutshell. In reality it's so much more: It's a defense of scepticism, an advertisement for science, a crash course in wonder, and an explanation of science and what it's all about. My favorite chapters, I think, are The Dragon in My Garage and The Fine Art of Baloney Detection.

Full title Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? [permalink]
Alternative title Blade Runner
Language English
Author Philip K. Dick (author)
Publisher Ballantine Books
Categories Novel and science fiction
Publication year 1982
Original publication year 1968
ISBN 0-345-35047-2 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 216
Images Back of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?.Spine of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?.Front of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?.
Full title Døde menn går i land [permalink]
Translated title Dead Men Walk Ashore
Language Norwegian
Author André Bjerke (author)
Publisher Aschehoug
Categories Crime and novel
Publication year 2008
Original publication year 1947
ISBN 978-82-03-19323-1 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 272

A business man decides to re-purpose an old house on the southern coast of Norway to a summer hotel. There's a superstition among the locals that the house is haunted, and a gang of friends travel down to stay there. Scary things ensue...


I don't normally read crime novels, but André Bjerke is really good at setting the mood, and he writes with wonderful wit, humor, and knowledge. (For instance, there's an Omar Khayyam poem in it!)

A riveting read, and definitely recommended.

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Full title Eaters of the Dead: The Manuscript of Ibn Fadlan Relating His Experiences with the Northmen in A.D. 922 [permalink]
Language English
Author Michael Crichton (author)
Publisher Arrow Books
Category Novel
Publication year 1997
Original publication year 1976
ISBN 978-0-099-22282-8 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 186

Being the inspiration for the movie The 13th Warrior, this is a story about an Arab's adventures with Vikings, battling a dangerous and mysterious enemy who might or might not be completely human, the Eaters of the Dead (which they do).


I really enjoyed this one, mainly because of the intelligence and questioning nature of the protagonist, the Arab Ahmad ibn Fadlan (a real person). He is sent as an ambassador by the Caliph of Baghdad to the king of the Volga Bulgars, although he never reaches his destination, instead joining a band of Vikings in their quest to beat the wendol, as the Vikings call the Eaters. I give it a thumbs-up.

Images Back of Eaters of the Dead.Spine of Eaters of the Dead.Front of Eaters of the Dead.
Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • Introduction
    • Provenance of the Manuscript
    • The Vikings
    • About the Author
  • The departure from the City of Peace
  • The ways of the Oguz Turks
  • First contact with the Northmen
  • The aftermath of the Northmen's funeral
  • The journey to the far country
  • The encampment at Trelburg
  • The kingdom of Rothgar in the land of Venden
  • The events that followed the first battle
  • The attack of the glowworm dragon Korgon
  • The desert of dread
  • The Counsel of the dwarf
  • The events of the night before the attack
  • The thunder caves
  • The death throes of the wendol
  • The return from the North country
  • Appendix: The Mist Monsters
Full title Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation [permalink]
Language English
Author Lynne Truss (author)
Publisher Profile Books
Category Language
Publication year 2003
ISBN 1-86197-612-7 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 204
Images Back flap of Eats, Shoots & Leaves.Back of Eats, Shoots & Leaves.Spine of Eats, Shoots & Leaves.Front of Eats, Shoots & Leaves.Front flap of Eats, Shoots & Leaves.
Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • Introduction — The Seventh Sense
  • The Tractable Apostrophe
  • That'll Do, Comma
  • Airs and Graces
  • Cutting a Dash
  • A Little Used Punctuation Mark
  • Merely Conventional Signs
  • Bibliography
Full title The End of Eternity [permalink]
Language English
Author Isaac Asimov (author)
Publisher HarperCollins
Categories Novel and science fiction
Publication year 2000
Original publication year 1959
ISBN 978-0-586-02440-9 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 189

Mankind has opened Eternity, and a group of people there constantly interfere with the Centuries to iron out mistakes and keep mankind safe.


I normally don't like time-travel stories because they're confusing. This one is also pretty confusing, but it's well-written confusion, and I can recommend it on that point alone.

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Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • Chapter One: Technician
  • Chapter Two: Observer
  • Chapter Three: Cub
  • Chapter Four: Computer
  • Chapter Five: Timer
  • Chapter Six: Life-Plotter
  • Chapter Seven: Prelude to Crime
  • Chapter Eight: Crime
  • Chapter Nine: Interlude
  • Chapter Ten: Trapped!
  • Chapter Eleven: Full Circle
  • Chapter Twelve: The Beginning of Eternity
  • Chapter Thirteen: Beyond the Downwhen Terminus
  • Chapter Fourteen: The Earlier Crime
  • Chapter Fifteen: Search Through the Primitive
  • Chapter Sixteen: The Hidden Centuries
  • Chapter Seventeen: The Closing Circle
  • Chapter Eighteen: The Beginning of Infinity
Full title The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason [permalink]
Language English
Author Sam Harris (author)
Publisher W. W. Norton
Category Religion
Publication year 2004
ISBN 0-393-32765-5 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 348

The central thesis in End of Faith is that faith is dangerous, because beliefs unsupported by evidence, when put into action, can't be reasoned with. Harris gives a lot of historical examples of this (indeed, the book has a pretty extensive bibliography in the back), and the book is peppered with endnotes (and a few pages-long ones, at that!).

The last two chapters are called A Science of Good and Evil (where Harris tries to map out an emerging science of morality) and Experiments in Consciousness (where Harris basically advocates meditation as a rational way of garnering knowledge about subjectivity, and where he doesn't reject the notion of consciousness surviving physical death). While I reject the notion that personhood survives death (that is, I think consciousness is dependent upon the brain being able to function properly and that when it eventually succumbs to decay, that'll be the end of us), I can wholeheartedly join Harris in admitting ignorance on that question.


While I can't say the book was an entirely enjoyable read, it's definitely well-written and engaging. What turned me off was the incessant referencing to past atrocities. However, that was in part (I think) the intent of the book, and in that sense it succeeded. I can definitely recommend it, nonetheless.

Images Back of The End of Faith.Spine of The End of Faith.Front of The End of Faith.
Structure [Toggle visibility]
  1. Reason in Exile
  2. The Nature of Belief
  3. In the Shadow of God
  4. The Problem with Islam
  5. West of Eden
  6. A Science of Good and Evil
  7. Experiments in Consciousness
  • Epilogue
  • Afterword
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Acknowledgments
  • Index
Full title Engines of Creation: The Coming Era of Nanotechnology [permalink]
Language English
Author Eric K. Drexler (author)
Categories Nanotechnology and science
Publication year 1986
Online version Link
Pages 320

This 1986 Drexler book is a seminal work on molecular nanotechnology. It's very well-written and very well-paced, and charts some of the possibilities and dangers with upcoming technologies such as nano-sized robots and true artificial intelligence. Despite being extremely future-optimistic (which it has every right to be, of course), it's also extremely rational; it gives examples of disagreements and somewhat tries to refute these.

The book describes how tiny robots might build a light-weight and sturdy rocket engine in a vat, how a person might be frozen and then thawed several years later (cryonics), and how tiny robots might act as a tight-fitting and light spacesuit. These are very excellent descriptions, and it's very hard not to imagine these things with awe.

The book is very quotable, too. Check out this one, for instance, which criticizes Jeremy Rifkin's Entropy: A New World View, a controversial book about entropy and how it relates to human activities:

"The entropy threat is an example of blatant nonsense, yet its inventors and promoters aren't laughed off the public stage. Imagine a thousand, a million similar distortions - some subtle, some brazen, but all warping the public's understanding of the world. Now imagine a group of democratic nations suffering from an infestation of such memes while attempting to cope with an era of accelerating technological revolution. We have a real problem."

Or how about this one (describing a limit of molecular technology):

"Trying to change a nucleus by poking at it with a molecule is even more futile than trying to flatten a steel ball bearing by waving a ball of cotton candy at it. Molecular technology can sort and rearrange atoms, but it cannot reach into a nucleus to change an atom's type."

Go read this book now.

Full title The Epic of Gilgamesh [permalink]
Language English
Author Anonymous (author)
Categories Classic and epic
Publication year -700
Pages 128

Being one of the few surviving early epic poems in the world (dating to the third millennium BCE), Gilgamesh tells the story of Gilgamesh, a god-king of Uruk who the gods see as arrogant. They create Enkidu, a wild beast that eventually befriends Gilgamesh. They travel together to the cedar forest and battle Humbaba, a fiendish guardian. They successfully defeat him, but eventually Enkidu dies, and Gilgamesh becomes painfully aware of his own mortality. Not liking that, he sets out on a journey to find ever-lasting life.


The paperback edition that I read is only 62 pages, so it's a very light read. The story is engaging, but not really engagingly written (doubtless because of its age and the act of translation). Nevertheless, I recommend it if only for its prominent status. (Note: There are several free online translations. I originally read it online, but I can't find the version I read, so you could Google it if you want. However, my guess is that a translation from a proper book is best.)

Full title Expanded Universe [permalink]
Language English
Author Robert A. Heinlein (author)
Publisher Baen Publishing Enterprises
Categories Anthology, science fiction and short stories
Publication year 2007
Original publication year 1980
ISBN 978-0-7434-9915-6 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 705

A collection of short stories and essays, the essays focusing for the most part on WWII and the atomic bomb.


A really nice read. I especially liked How to Be a Survivor, Nothing Ever Happens on the Moon, and Paul Dirac, Antimatter, and You.

Images Back of Expanded Universe.Spine of Expanded Universe.Front of Expanded Universe.
Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • Life-Line
  • Successful Operation
  • Blowups Happen
  • Solution Unsatisfactory
  • The Last Days of the United States
  • How to Be a Survivor
  • Pie from the Sky
  • They Do It with Mirrors
  • Free Men
  • No Bands Playing, No Flags Flying—
  • A Bathroom of Her Own
  • On the Slopes of Vesuvius
  • Nothing Ever Happens on the Moon
  • Pandora's Box
  • Where To?
  • Cliff and the Calories
  • Ray Guns and Rocket Ships
  • The Third Millennium Opens
  • Who Are the Heirs of Patrick Henry?
  • "Pravda" Means "Truth"
  • Inside Intourist
  • Searchlight
  • The Pragmatics of Patriotism
  • Paul Dirac, Antimatter, and You
  • Larger than Life
  • Spinoff
  • The Happy Days Ahead
Full title Expedition to Earth [permalink]
Language English
Author Arthur C. Clarke (author)
Publisher Ballantine Books
Categories Anthology, science fiction and short stories
Publication year 1982
Original publication year 1953
ISBN 0-345-31057-8 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 165
Images Back of Expedition to Earth.Spine of Expedition to Earth.Front of Expedition to Earth.
Structure [Toggle visibility]
Full title A Fall of Moondust [permalink]
Language English
Author Arthur C. Clarke (author)
Publisher Victor Gollancz Ltd
Categories Novel and science fiction
Publisher series SF Masterworks
Publication year 2002
Original publication year 1961
ISBN 978-0-575-07317-3 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 224

It's the near future, and the Moon is a place for tourism. The novel opens with Pat Harris, skipper of the boat Selene, enjoying a cruise with his two-dozen-or-so passengers across the (fictional) Sea of Thirst. At the time of the novel's writing in 1960 it was reasonably assumed that the so-called "seas" of the Moon consisted of very fine dust. Selene, therefore, was imagined as a ship capable of crossing these seas. However, like an ant falling into an antlion's trap (the analogy is one of the character's), Selene sinks into the Sea of Thirst, and the rest of the novel is concerned with, alternately, the people aboard, the search party above, and the various other interested parties (TV crews, overseers, and what have you).


An immensely gripping novel! To call it science fiction is technically correct, but the SF serves merely as the backdrop for the human drama. And what a drama it is! Go pick this up!

Images Back of A Fall of Moondust.Spine of A Fall of Moondust.Front of A Fall of Moondust.
Full title Fantastic Voyage [permalink]
Language English
Author Isaac Asimov (author)
Publisher Bantam Books
Categories Novel and science fiction
Publication year 1966
ISBN 0-553-27572-0 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 186

Miniaturization is reality, but indefinite miniaturization isn't; that knowledge resides within the brain of Jan Benes, a scientist who defects to the West. Unfortunately, there is an assassination attempt which leaves Benes comatose, and a blood clot develops in his brain. A team of scientists are miniaturized and injected into Benes' body in a submarine rudimentarily outfitted with a laser and have only 60 minutes to remove the clot before they are de-miniaturized (which would make the submarine expand and in the process kill Benes).

Images Back of Fantastic Voyage.Spine of Fantastic Voyage.Front of Fantastic Voyage.
Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • 1. Plane
  • 2. Car
  • 3. Headquarters
  • 4. Briefing
  • 5. Submarine
  • 6. Miniaturization
  • 7. Submergence
  • 8. Entry
  • 9. Artery
  • 10. Heart
  • 11. Capillary
  • 12. Lung
  • 13. Pleura
  • 14. Lymphatic
  • 15. Ear
  • 16. Brain
  • 17. Clot
  • 18. Eye
Full title Fantastic Voyage II: Destination Brain [permalink]
Language English
Author Isaac Asimov (author)
Categories Novel and science fiction
Publication year 1987
Pages 385

Not a sequel to Fantastic Voyage, this novel revolves around neurophysiologist Albert Jonas Morrison and his crew's journey into the brain of a scientist by way of miniaturization. Morrison has some fringe theories on how the mind works and how it is theoretically possible to amplify brain waves and, in effect, sense thoughts. For this reason, his fellow scientists don't respect him very much, and for this reason, he is hired (read the book and you'll understand) by a team of Russian scientists who want Morrison and his computer to join them in a mission inside a man's brain to sense his thoughts.


The story, in essence, is the same as that of Fantastic Voyage, except that FV is a straight novelization of the movie script (the novel appeared before the movie, interestingly) while FVII is the same story as Asimov would have told it. I prefer the latter because the conundrums of miniaturization are discussed in much greater detail as Morrison is extremely sceptical about it at first.

Full title Farewell Summer [permalink]
Language English
Author Ray Bradbury (author)
Publisher HarperCollins
Category Novel
Publication year 2008
Original publication year 2006
ISBN 978-0-00-728475-7 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 166

Farewell Summer is a sequel to Dandelion Wine, and takes place the following year (another summer). It continues the theme of a boy's childhood summer, and adds in a conflict (of sorts) between two generations.


Like its prequel, I found this novel too a little boring, but the scene where the mischievous boys sneak into the clock tower was entertaining. I can't recommend this one, but if you liked the prequel, chances are you'll like this one as well.

Images Back of Farewell Summer.Spine of Farewell Summer.Front of Farewell Summer.
Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • I. Almost Antietam
  • II. Shiloh and Beyond
  • III. Appomattox
  • Afterword: The Importance of Being Startled
Full title The Fifth Essence: The Search for Dark Matter in the Universe [permalink]
Language English
Author Lawrence Krauss (author)
Publisher Hutchinson
Categories Astronomy, physics and science
Publication year 1989
ISBN 0-09-174211-0 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 342

This book is in large part about particle physics, with the main theme being an exploration of dark matter and its implications. There are very few equations, and those are fairly simple to follow. However, there's a lot of physics jargon, making it a little hard to follow at times for the non-physicist.


As a layman I found this book very interesting, although I feel someone with a deeper knowledge of physics (in particular particle physics) would enjoy it even more. Nonetheless, Krauss makes a valiant effort at explaining a very difficult subject. I especially enjoyed the long section about how we've modeled (and simulated) the formation of large-scale structure. It's really amazing how well gravity can explain large structures. If you're at all interested in dark matter, I heartily recommend this book, even though it's a little dated by now (for instance, it talks about the Superconducting Super Collider).

Images Back flap of The Fifth Essence.Back of The Fifth Essence.Spine of The Fifth Essence.Front of The Fifth Essence.Front flap of The Fifth Essence.
Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • Preface: A New Copernican Revolution?

Part I

The Stuff of Matter
  • Chapter 1: Making Something Out of Nothing
  • Chapter 2: Filling the Void

Part II

Weighing the Universe... and Coming up Short
  • Chapter 3: First Light on the Darkness
  • Chapter 4: Beyond Our Island in the Night

Part III

Why the Universe is Flat: The Big Bang, Large-Scale Structure, and the Need for Something New
  • Chapter 5: Cooking with Gas
  • Chapter 6: The Tip of the Iceberg

Part IV

The Neutrino Saga and the Birth of Cold Dark Matter
  • Chapter 7: The Obvious Choice?
  • Chapter 8: Cold Gets Hot

Part V

The Candidates
  • Chapter 9: All Roads Lead to Dark Matter
  • Chapter 10: Three Modest Proposals

Part VI

Desperately Seeking Dark Matter
  • Chapter 11: The Music of the Spheres?
  • Chapter 12: Of Thermometers and Radios
  • Epilogue: The Best of Times?
  • Appendix A: Orders of Magnitude and Scale of the Universe
  • Appendix B: A Really Brief History of Time
  • Notes
  • Index
Full title The First Men in the Moon [permalink]
Language English
Author H. G. Wells (author)
Publisher Victor Gollancz Ltd
Categories Novel and science fiction
Publisher series SF Masterworks
Publication year 2001
Original publication year 1901
ISBN 1-85798-746-2 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 196
Images Back of The First Men in the Moon.Spine of The First Men in the Moon.Front of The First Men in the Moon.
Full title Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions [permalink]
Language English
Author Edwin A. Abbott (author)
Categories Classic, mathematics, novel and science fiction
Publication year 1884
Online version Link
Pages 68

Flatland chronicles the adventure of A. Square, a being in Flatland. Flatland consists of only two dimensions, as opposed to Pointland, which consists of zero dimensions, Lineland, which consists of one dimension, and Spaceland (the one we inhabit), which consists of three dimensions. It describes at length the society in Flatland, and how they go about tasks that we Spacelanders find trivial. For instance, everyone is a Polygon. The more equal all its angles and the more sides it has, the higher its social rank. Lowest are women (or the Frailer Sex, as they are often called) who are mere Lines and have no chance of rising in rank. Then come the Triangles, which are men. Then Squares (of which the narrator, A. Square, is naturally a member), Pentagons, Hexagons, Heptagons, Octagons, etc. The more sides a Polygon has, the closer it gets to being a Circle. They're the top leaders of every aspect of Flatland's society.


Flatland is a classic, and even though it's written in the 1880s in Victorian English, it's still eminently readable (and funny). You might have to read a little carefully at first to get used to the age of the language, but once you've picked it up you'll have no trouble enjoying this excellent story.

Full title Flatterland: Like Flatland, only more so [permalink]
Language English
Author Ian Stewart (author)
Publisher Basic Books
Categories Mathematics, novel and science fiction
Publication year 2001
ISBN 978-0-7382-0675-2 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 294

Flatterland is sort of an unofficial sequel to Abbott's classic Flatland, written in modern non-Victorian English. Although Victorian English gave the original a pretty classy feel, Flatterland doesn't disappoint. Its aim is similar to that of the original: To explain new mathematical concepts to lay people in lay language.


The book succeeds brilliantly. It's filled with illustration to help visualize the concepts, and the stories around which the concepts are introduced are reminiscent of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (well, the fact that chapters have names like The Topologist's Tea-Party and Along the Looking-Glass probably helps), and this gives the book a whimsical tone (that's a benefit). Here's a sample:

"Is Planiturth's universe built from mathematics? Or is mathematics built by the minds of Planiturthians? Planiturthian mathematicians would like to think that their universe is built from mathematics, but that's only natural, after all. Planiturthian physicists would like to think that the Planiturthian universe is built from physics. Planiturthian biologists would like to think that the Planiturthian universe is built from biology. Planiturthian philosophers would like to think that the Planiturthian universe is built from philosophy. (Let me tell you a secret: it is. The fundamental unit of the Planiturthian universe is the philosophon, a unit of logic so tiny that only a philosopher could hope to split it.)"

The book also ventures a little into physics, explaining things like the Schrödinger's cat, the double-slit experiment, time travel, and forces. But the meat of the book is mathematics.

Images Back of Flatterland.Spine of Flatterland.Front of Flatterland.
Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • From Flatland to Flatterland
  • 1 The Third Dimension
  • 2 Victoria's Diary
  • 3 The Visitation
  • 4 A Hundred and One Dimensions
  • 5 One and a Quarter Dimension
  • 6 The Topologist's Tea-Party
  • 7 Along the Looking-Glass
  • 8 Grape Theory
  • 9 What is a Geometry?
  • 10 Platterland
  • 11 Cat Country
  • 12 The Paradox Twins
  • 13 The Domain of the Hawk King
  • 14 Down the Wormhole
  • 15 What Shape is the Universe?
  • 16 No-Branes and P-Branes
  • 17 Flatterland
  • 18 The Tenth Dimension
Full title Free Culture: The Nature and Future of Creativity [permalink]
Language English
Author Lawrence Lessig (author)
Category Law
Publication year 2004
Online version Link
Pages 368

This is a book about copyright — what it meant originally, what it means now, what it regulated originally, what it regulates now — and about how new technology should force us to rewrite old laws so that common sense prevails.


In my opinion, a must-read for anyone interested in freedom, culture, and copyright. Parts of the book are unfortunately very dull and not very well-structured (and also written in Lawyerese), but the subject matter is more important (besides, the parts that aren't dull are exceedingly good).

Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • "PIRACY"
    • CHAPTER ONE: Creators
    • CHAPTER TWO: "Mere Copyists"
    • CHAPTER THREE: Catalogs
    • CHAPTER FOUR: "Pirates"
      • Film
      • Recorded Music
      • Radio
      • Cable TV
    • CHAPTER FIVE: "Piracy"
      • Piracy I
      • Piracy II
    • CHAPTER SIX: Founders
    • CHAPTER SEVEN: Recorders
    • CHAPTER EIGHT: Transformers
    • CHAPTER NINE: Collectors
    • CHAPTER TEN: "Property"
      • Why Hollywood Is Right
      • Beginnings
      • Law: Duration
      • Law: Scope
      • Law and Architecture: Reach
      • Architecture and Law: Force
      • Market: Concentration
      • Together
    • CHAPTER ELEVEN: Chimera
      • Constraining Creators
      • Constraining Innovators
      • Corrupting Citizens
    • Us, Now
      • Rebuilding Freedoms Previously Presumed: Examples
      • Rebuilding Free Culture: One Idea
    • Them, Soon
      • 1. More Formalities
        • Registration and Renewal
        • Marking
      • 2. Shorter Terms
      • 3. Free Use Vs. Fair Use
      • 4. Liberate the Music—Again
      • 5. Fire Lots of Lawyers
Full title Free Will [permalink]
Language English
Author Sam Harris (author)
Category Philosophy
Publication year 2012
Pages 96

Using psychology, results from neuroscience, and clever reasoning, Sam Harris shows how free will is an illusion.

Full title Freedom Evolves [permalink]
Language English
Author Daniel Dennett (author)
Publisher Viking Books
Categories Philosophy, psychology and science
Publication year 2003
ISBN 0-670-03186-0 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 347
Images Back flap of Freedom Evolves.Back of Freedom Evolves.Spine of Freedom Evolves.Front of Freedom Evolves.Front flap of Freedom Evolves.
Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • Preface

Chapter 1: Natural Freedom

  • Learning What We Are
  • I Am Who I Am
  • The Air We Breathe
  • Dumbo's Magic Feather and the Peril of Paulina

Chapter 2: A Tool for Thinking About Determinism

  • Some Useful Oversimplifications
  • From Physics to Design in conway's Life World
  • Can We Get the Deus ex Machina?
  • From Slow-motion Avoidance to Star Wars
  • The Birth of Evitability

Chapter 3: Thinking About Determinism

  • Possible Worlds
  • Causation
  • Austin's Putt
  • A Computer Chess Marathon
  • Events without Causes in a Deterministic Universe
  • Will the Future Be Like the Past?

Chapter 4: A Hearing for Libertarianism

  • The Appeal of Libertarianism
  • Where Should We Put the Much-needed Gap?
  • Kane's Mode of Indeterministic Decision-making
  • "If you make yourself really small, you can externalize virtually everything"
  • Beware of Prime Mammals
  • How Can It Be "Up to Me"?

Chapter 5: Where Does all the Design Come From?

  • Early Days
  • The Prisoner's Dilemma
  • E Pluribus Unum?
  • Digression: The Threat of Genetic Determinism
  • Degrees of Freedom and the Search for Truth

Chapter 6: The Evolution of Open Minds

  • How Cultural Symbionts Turn Primates into Persons
  • The Diversity of Darwinian Explanations
  • Nice Tools, but You Still Have to Use Them

Chapter 7: The Evolution of Moral Agency

  • Benselfishness
  • Being Good in Order to Seem Good
  • Learning to Deal with Yourself
  • Our Costly Merit Badges

Chapter 8: Are You Out of the Loop?

  • Drawing the Wrong Moral
  • Whenever the Spirit Moves You
  • A Mind-writer's View
  • A Self of One's Own

Chapter 9: Bootstrapping Ourselves Free

  • How We Captured Reasons and Made Them Our Own
  • Psychic Engineering and the Arms Race of Rationality
  • With a Little Help from My Friends
  • Autonomy, Brainwashing, and Education

Chapter 10: The Future of Human Freedom

  • Holding the Line against Creeping Exculpation
  • "Thanks, I Needed That!"
  • Are We Freer Than We Want to Be?
  • Human Freedom Is Fragile
  • Bibliography
  • Index
Full title Fremtiden [permalink]
Translated title The Future
Language Norwegian
Author Eirik Newth (author)
Category Science
Publication year 1999
Pages 254

This is a book about the immediate human future; its perils, its hopes, its possible solutions, its possible unfoldings.


Like Asimov's Counting the Eons, this is an excellent book about the future of the world, but unlike Counting the Eons, the meat of Fremtiden limits itself to only a few millennia into the future; the beginning and ultimate fate of the Universe are discussed, but with far less detail than Counting the Eons and with far more emphasis put on the future of the human species and how it can survive (or become extinct). Especially eerie, I think, is the chapter discussing space lifts to geostationary space stations 36 000 kilometers above the Earth's surface. Reading about that gave me the same fuzzy feelings as seeing the space walk between the spaceships Alexei Leonov and the Discovery over Jupiter in 2010: The Year We Made Contact did. I mean, just imagine that! The book unfortunately contains a lot of typos, but I actually forgive him for that; the book is too interesting to dismiss on that ground.

Full title The God Delusion [permalink]
Language English
Author Richard Dawkins (author)
Publisher Houghton Mifflin
Category Religion
Publication year 2006
ISBN 978-0-618-68000-9 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 406

The God Delusion unapologetically criticizes religion (as the title implies, belief in gods is a delusion, on the same level as believing you're Napoleon). First off, he tries to avoid confusion with the way Einstein and Hawking have used religious terms to express their appreciation of contemplating the universe, by invoking what he calls Einsteinian religion (neither Einstein nor Hawking are theists, by the way). In that respect, Dawkins tells us that he's a deeply religious non-believer, but dislikes using the word, instead preferring to reserve it for traditional religion.

Images Back flap of The God Delusion.Back of The God Delusion.Spine of The God Delusion.Front of The God Delusion.Front flap of The God Delusion.
Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • Preface

1: A Deeply Religious Non-Believer

  • Deserved respect
  • Undeserved respect

2: The God Hypothesis

  • Polytheism
  • Monotheism
  • Secularism, the Founding Fathers and the religion of America
  • The poverty of agnosticism
  • NOMA
  • The Great Prayer Experiment
  • The Neville Chamberlain school of evolutionists
  • Little green men

3: Arguments for God's Existence

  • Thomas Aquinas' 'proofs'
  • The ontological argument and other a priori arguments
  • The argument from beauty
  • The argument from personal 'experience'
  • The argument from scripture
  • The argument from admired religious scientists
  • Pascal's Wager
  • Bayesian arguments

4: Why There Almost Certainly is No God

  • The Ultimate Boeing 747
  • Natural selection as a consciousness-raiser
  • Irreducible complexity
  • The worship of gaps
  • The anthropic principle: planetary version
  • The anthropic principle: cosmological version
  • An interlude at Cambridge

5: The Roots of Religion

  • The Darwinian imperative
  • Direct advantages of religion
  • Group selection
  • Religion as a by-product of something else
  • Psychologically primed for religion
  • Tread softly, because you tread on my memes
  • Cargo cults

6: The Roots of Morality: Why Are We Good?

  • Does our moral sense have a Darwinian origin?
  • A case study in the roots of morality
  • If there is no God, why be good?

7: The 'Good' Book and the Changing Moral Zeitgeist

  • The Old Testament
  • Is the New Testament any better?
  • Love thy neighbour
  • The moral Zeitgeist
  • What about Hitler and Stalin? Weren't they atheists?

8: What's Wrong With Religion? Why Be So Hostile?

  • Fundamentalism and the subversion of science
  • The dark side of absolutism
  • Faith and homosexuality
  • Faith and the sanctity of human life
  • The Great Beethoven Fallacy
  • How 'moderation' in faith fosters fanaticism

9: Childhood, Abuse and the Escape From Religion

  • Physical and mental abuse
  • In defence of children
  • An educational scandal
  • Consciousness-raising again
  • Religious education as a part of literary culture

10: A Much Needed Gap?

  • Binker
  • Consolation
  • Inspiration
  • The mother of all burkas
  • Appendix: A partial list of friendly addresses, for individuals needing support in escaping from religion
  • Books cited or recommended
  • Notes
  • Index
Full title God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything [permalink]
Language English
Author Christopher Hitchens (author)
Publisher Twelve
Category Religion
Publication year 2007
ISBN 978-0-446-50945-9 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 354
Images Back of God is Not Great.Spine of God is Not Great.Front of God is Not Great.
Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • One: Putting It Mildly
  • Two: Religion Kills
  • Three: A Short Digression on the Pig: or, Why Heaven Hates Ham
  • Four: A Note on Health, to Which Religion Can Be Hazardous
  • Five: The Metaphysical Claims of Religion Are False
  • Six: Arguments from Design
  • Seven: Revelation: The Nightmare of the "Old" Testament
  • Eight: The "New" Testament Exceeds the Evil of the "Old" One
  • Nine: The Koran Is Borrowed from Both Jewish and Christian Myths
  • Ten: The Tawdriness of the Miraculous and the Decline of Hell
  • Eleven: "The Lowly Stamp of Their Origin": Religion's Corrupt Beginnings
  • Twelve: A Coda: How Religions End
  • Thirteen: Does Religion Make people Behave Better?
  • Fourteen: There Is No "Eastern" Solution
  • Fifteen: Religion as an Original Sin
  • Sixteen: Is Religion Child Abuse?
  • Seventeen: An Objection Anticipated: The Last-Ditch "Case" Against Secularism
  • Eighteen: A Finer Tradition: The Resistance of the Rational
  • Nineteen: In Conclusion: The Need for a New Enlightenment
  • Acknowledgments
  • References
  • Index
Full title The Gods Themselves [permalink]
Language English
Author Isaac Asimov (author)
Publisher Bantam Books
Categories Novel and science fiction
Publication year 1990
Original publication year 1972
ISBN 0-553-28810-5 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 293
Images Back of The Gods Themselves.Spine of The Gods Themselves.Front of The Gods Themselves.
Structure [Toggle visibility]
  1. Against Stupidity...
  2. ... The Gods Themselves...
  3. ... Contend in Vain?
Full title Godt nok for de svina: en leders tanker om mot, sårbarhet og troverdighet [permalink]
Translated title Good Enough for the 'Bastards': Courage - Vulnerability - Credibility. Confessions of a Female Leader
Language Norwegian
Author Anita Krohn Traaseth (author)
Publisher Cappelen Damm
Category Autobiography
Publication year 2016
Original publication year 2014
ISBN 978-82-02-48024-0 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 180
Images Back flap of Godt nok for de svina.Back of Godt nok for de svina.Spine of Godt nok for de svina.Front of Godt nok for de svina.Front flap of Godt nok for de svina.
Full title Gold: The Final Science Fiction Collection [permalink]
Language English
Author Isaac Asimov (author)
Categories Anthology, science fiction and short stories
Publication year 1990
Pages 416

The first part is an anthology of short stories, while the two last parts are non-fiction dealing with concepts in science fiction and on writing science fiction, respectively.

Full title The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution [permalink]
Language English
Author Richard Dawkins (author)
Publisher Bantam Books
Categories Biology and science
Publication year 2009
ISBN 978-0-593-06173-2 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 470

A book about the evidence for evolution.

The first chapter begins by inviting the reader to imagine that they're a teacher of Roman history, and that they have to waste their time with a rearguard defense against people who try to persuade your pupils that there never was a Roman empire (which is akin to how biologists today have to spend their time).

The rest of the book is devoted to laying out the actual evidence for evolution, while debunking some claims against it (for instance, that there are missing links, which is simply based on a Victorian misunderstanding). I found the chapters dealing with radiometric dating and dendrochronology especially enlightening.

The last chapter takes the last paragraph of Darwin's On the Origin of Species and unpacks and explains it, with each sentence being a sub-heading.


Dawkins says in the book that he wrote this book, a book about the evidence for evolution, because none of his other books explicitly lay this out (they only assume evolution is true). In contrast, this book lays it all out, in meticulous detail.

It's a relatively light read, but as with most books of this kind, you have to pay close attention when reading, or you might miss important points. I definitely recommend it.

Images Back flap of The Greatest Show on Earth.Back of The Greatest Show on Earth.Spine of The Greatest Show on Earth.Front of The Greatest Show on Earth.Front flap of The Greatest Show on Earth.
Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • Preface
  • Chapter 1 Only a theory?
  • Chapter 2 Dogs, cows and cabbages
  • Chapter 3 The primrose path to macro-evolution
  • Chapter 4 Silence and slow time
  • Chapter 5 Before our very eyes
  • Chapter 6 Missing link? What do you mean, 'missing'?
  • Chapter 7 Missing persons? Missing no longer
  • Chapter 8 You did it yourself in nine months
  • Chapter 9 The ark of the continents
  • Chapter 10 The tree of cousinship
  • Chapter 11 History written all over us
  • Chapter 12 Arms races and 'evolutionary theodicy'
  • Chapter 13 There is grandeur in this view of life
  • Appendix: The history-deniers
  • Notes
  • Bibliography and further reading
  • Picture acknowledgements
  • Index
Full title Hackers & Painters: Big Ideas from the Computer Age [permalink]
Language English
Author Paul Graham (author)
Publisher O'Reilly
Categories Computing and science
Publication year 2004
ISBN 0-596-00662-4 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 271

This book is a collection of essays from Paul Graham, most of which can be found on his web site (with the exceptions of Good Bad Attitude, Mind the Gap, Programming Languages Explained, and The Dream Language). The essays deal with the hacker culture, startups, and how to make good things.

Images Back flap of Hackers & Painters.Back of Hackers & Painters.Spine of Hackers & Painters.Front of Hackers & Painters.Front flap of Hackers & Painters.
Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • Preface
  • 1. Why Nerds Are Unpopular
    Their minds are not on the game.
  • 2. Hackers and Painters
    Hackers are makers, like painters or architects or writers.
  • 3. What You Can't Say
    How to think heretical thoughts and what to do with them.
  • 4. Good Bad Attitude
    Like Americans, hackers win by breaking rules.
  • 5. The Other Road Ahead
    Web-based software offers the biggest opportunity since the arrival of the microcomputer.
  • 6. How to Make Wealth
    The best way to get rich is to create wealth. And startups are the best way to do that.
  • 7. Mind the Gap
    Could "unequal income distribution" be less of a problem than we thing?
  • 8. A Plan for Spam
    Till recently most experts thought spam filtering wouldn't work. This proposal changed their minds.
  • 9. Taste for Makers
    How do you make great things?
  • 10. Programming Languages Explained
    What a programming language is and why they are a hot topic now.
  • 11. The Hundred-Year Language
    How will we program in a hundred years? Why not start now?
  • 12. Beating the Averages
    For web-based applications you can use whatever language you want. So can your competitors.
  • 13. Revenge of the Nerds
    In technology, "industry best practice" is a recipe for losing.
  • 14. The Dream Language
    A good programming language is one that lets hackers have their way with it.
  • 15. Design and Research
    Research has to be original. Design has to be good.
  • Notes
  • Acknowledgments
  • Image Credits
  • Glossary
  • Index
Full title The Happy Atheist [permalink]
Language English
Author P. Z. Myers (author)
Publisher Pantheon Books
Categories Religion and skepticism
Publication year 2013
ISBN 978-0-307-37934-4 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 190

The Happy Atheist is Myers' first book. Readers familiar with his blog Pharyngula will know what to expect. The book deals with religion and atheism from a lot of different angles, and in essence it's a popular book written for a popular audience, using popular arguments. This is not to say that the book is simplistic, just that it isn't scholarly. If you want a preview of the book, read his essay "Planet of the Hats", which in the book is the chapter called "About the Author".


I half-expected the book (having read Myers' blog) to be much more angry than it is. In fact it's a very funny, lively, and readable book, and at no point was I bored. (In fact, I had trouble putting it down. I didn't read it in one sitting, but two.)

Images Back flap of The Happy Atheist.Back of The Happy Atheist.Spine of The Happy Atheist.Front of The Happy Atheist.Front flap of The Happy Atheist.
Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • Morning in the Midwest
  • About the Author
  • The Joke
  • The Great Desecration
  • Get a Job
  • It's So Easy to Be Outraged!
  • I Am Not a Spoiled Child Having a Temper Tantrum
  • The Proper Fate for a Holy Book
  • Ask but Don't Tell
  • Dirty Words
  • The Top Ten Reasons Religion Is Like Pornography
  • The Purpose-Free Life
  • Happy Easter!
  • Afterlife? What Afterlife?
  • Soulless!
  • What Dreadful Price Must We Pay to Be Atheists?
  • Imagine No Heaven
  • Daughters of eve
  • Prometheus's Sin
  • So Alone
  • One Nation Free of Gods
  • An Embryo Is Not a Person
  • The Courtier's Reply
  • The Big Pink Guy in the Sky
  • The Karen Armstrong Diet
  • God's Little Crisis of Confidence
  • Laugher as a Strategy for Diminishing Religion
  • We're Happier out of a Straitjacket than in One
  • Marketing Godless Science
  • "Science Is What We Do to Keep from Lying to Ourselves"
  • Our Brains Are Full of Contradictions
  • Ken Miller, Poster Child for Compatibility
  • Religion Fails as a Source of Knowledge
  • Science as a Lever to Move the World
  • The Active Hand
  • The Proper Reverence Due Those Who Have Gone Before
  • Niobrara
  • We Stand Awed at the Heights Our People Have Achieved
  • Acknowledgments
Full title Hercolubus or Red Planet [permalink]
Original title Hercólubus o Planeta Rojo
Language English
Author V. M. Rabolú (author)
Publisher A. Prats Editor
Category Miscellaneous
Pages 52

The author claims that a planet, Hercolubus, is headed for Earth, and that this is something scientists deny. The author further claims that nothing we do can stop it.


What can I say? I read it on a bus trip because I was bored, and I can't remember where I got the book. I can't recommend it. If you're interested, however, you might find out more about it online.

Images Back of Hercolubus or Red Planet.Spine of Hercolubus or Red Planet.Front of Hercolubus or Red Planet.
Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • Preface
  • Hercolubus or Red Planet
  • Nuclear Tests and the Ocean
  • Extraterrestrials
  • Life on Venus
  • Life on Mars
  • Interplanetary Spaceships
  • Death
  • Astral Projection
  • Concluding Remarks
  • Dear Reader
Full title Hitch-22: A Memoir [permalink]
Language English
Author Christopher Hitchens (author)
Publisher Atlantic Books
Categories Autobiography and memoir
Publication year 2011
Original publication year 2010
ISBN 978-1-84354-922-2 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 435
Images Back of Hitch-22.Spine of Hitch-22.Front of Hitch-22.
Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • Foreword
  • Prologue with Premonitions
  • Yvonne
  • The Commander
  • Fragments from an Education
  • Cambridge
  • The Sixties: Revolution in the Revolution
  • Chris or Christopher?
  • Havana versus Prague
  • The Fenton Factor
  • Martin
  • Portugal to Poland
  • A Second Identity: On Becoming an (Anglo) American
  • Changing Places
  • Salman
  • Mesopotamia from Both Sides
  • Something of Myself
  • Thinking thrice about the Jewish Question...
  • Edward Said in Light and Shade (and Saul)
  • Decline, Mutation, or Metamorphosis?
  • Acknowledgments
  • Index
Full title I. Asimov: A Memoir [permalink]
Language English
Author Isaac Asimov (author)
Publisher Bantam Books
Category Autobiography
Publication year 1995
Original publication year 1994
ISBN 0-553-56997-X [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 578

This is Asimov's third and last autobiography, started in early 1990 after a complicated operation, and finished in May 1990 (Asimov died in 1992). His two previous autobiographies are called In Memory Yet Green and In Joy Still Felt, and their titles, Asimov tells in this book, are from a poem by Asimov himself:

"In memory yet green, in joy still felt
The scenes of life rise sharply into view.
We triumph; Life's disasters are undealt,
And while all else is old, the world is new."

From this, Asimov wanted to call this third volume The Scenes of Life, but sadly that title didn't survive editorial tampering.


This is a more or less chronological account of Asimov's life, arranged in 166 smallish chapters, each dealing with a different subject or person (Asimov had a lot of well-known friends), and everything is thoroughly entertaining. If you pick up this book, I promise you'll have a hard time putting it down.

Images Back of I. Asimov.Spine of I. Asimov.Front of I. Asimov.
Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • Introduction
  • 1. Infant Prodigy?
  • 2. My Father
  • 3. My Mother
  • 4. Marcia
  • 5. Religion
  • 6. My Name
  • 7. Anti-Semitism
  • 8. Library
  • 9. Bookworm
  • 10. School
  • 11. Growing Up
  • 12. Long Hours
  • 13. Pulp Fiction
  • 14. Science Fiction
  • 15. Beginning to Write
  • 16. Humiliation
  • 17. Failure
  • 18. The Futurians
  • 19. Frederik Pohl
  • 20. Cyril M. Kornbluth
  • 21. Donald Allen Wollheim
  • 22. Early Sales
  • 23. John Wood Campbell, Jr.
  • 24. Robert Anson Heinlein
  • 25. Lyon Sprague de Camp
  • 26. Clifford Donald Simak
  • 27. Jack Williamson
  • 28. Lester del Rey
  • 29. Theodore Sturgeon
  • 30. Graduate School
  • 31. Women
  • 32. Heartbreak
  • 33. "Nightfall"
  • 34. As World War II Begins
  • 35. Master of Arts
  • 36. Pearl Harbor
  • 37. Marriage and Problems
  • 38. In-Laws
  • 39. NAES
  • 40. Life at War's End
  • 41. Games
  • 42. Acrophobia
  • 43. Claustrophobia
  • 44. Ph.D. and Public Speaking
  • 45. Postdoctorate
  • 46. Job Hunting
  • 47. The Big Three
  • 48. Arthur Charles Clarke
  • 49. More Family
  • 50. First Novel
  • 51. New Job at Last
  • 52. Doubleday
  • 53. Gnome Press
  • 54. Boston University School of Medicine
  • 55. Scientific Papers
  • 56. Novels
  • 57. Nonfiction
  • 58. Children
  • 59. David
  • 60. Robyn
  • 61. Off the Cuff
  • 62. Horace Leonard Gold
  • 63. Country Living
  • 64. Automobile
  • 65. Fired!
  • 66. Prolificity
  • 67. Writer's Problems
  • 68. Critics
  • 69. Humor
  • 70. Literary Sex and Censorship
  • 71. Doomsday
  • 72. Style
  • 73. Letters
  • 74. Plagiarism
  • 75. Science Fiction Conventions
  • 76. Anthony Boucher
  • 77. Randall Garrett
  • 78. Harlan Ellison
  • 79. Hal Clement
  • 80. Ben Nova
  • 81. Over My Head
  • 82. Farewell to Science Fiction
  • 83. The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction
  • 84. Janet
  • 85. Mystery Novels
  • 86. Lawrence P. Ashmead
  • 87. Overweight
  • 88. More Conventions
  • 89. Guide to Science
  • 90. Indexes
  • 91. Titles
  • 92. Essay Collections
  • 93. Histories
  • 94. Reference Library
  • 95. Boston University Collection
  • 96. Anthologies
  • 97. Headnotes
  • 98. My Own Hugos
  • 99. Walker & Company
  • 100. Failures
  • 101. Teenagers
  • 102. Al Capp
  • 103. Oases
  • 104. Judy-Lynn del Rey
  • 105. The Bible
  • 106. Hundredth Book
  • 107. Death
  • 108. Life After Death
  • 109. Divorce
  • 110. Second Marriage
  • 111. Guide to Shakespeare
  • 112. Annotations
  • 113. New In-Laws
  • 114. Hospitalizations
  • 115. Cruises
  • 116. Janet's Books
  • 117. Hollywood
  • 118. Star Trek Conventions
  • 119. Short Mysteries
  • 120. Trap Door Spiders
  • 121. Mensa
  • 122. The Dutch Treat Club
  • 123. The Baker Street Irregulars
  • 124. The Gilbert & Sullivan Society
  • 125. Other Clubs
  • 126. American Way
  • 127. Rensselaerville Institute
  • 128. Mohonk Mountain House
  • 129. Travel
  • 130. Foreign Travel
  • 131. Martin Harry Greenberg
  • 132. Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine
  • 133. Autobiography
  • 134. Heart Attack
  • 135. Crown Publishers
  • 136. Simon & Schuster
  • 137. Marginal Items
  • 138. Nightfall, Inc.
  • 139. Hugh Downs
  • 140. Best-seller
  • 141. Out of the Past
  • 142. Word Processor
  • 143. Police
  • 144. Heinz Pagels
  • 145. New Robot Novels
  • 146. Robyn Again
  • 147. Triple Bypass
  • 148. Azazel
  • 149. Fantastic Voyage II
  • 150. Limousines
  • 151. Humanists
  • 152. Senior Citizen
  • 153. More About Doubleday
  • 154. Interviews
  • 155. Honors
  • 156. Russian Relatives
  • 157. Grand Master
  • 158. Children's Books
  • 159. Recent Novels
  • 160. Back to Nonfiction
  • 161. Robert Silverberg
  • 162. Gathering Shadows
  • 163. Threescore Years and Ten
  • 164. Hospital
  • 165. New Autobiography
  • 166. New Life
  • Epilogue, by Janet Asimov
  • Catalogue of Books by Isaac Asimov
Full title Imperial Earth [permalink]
Language English
Author Arthur C. Clarke (author)
Publisher Vista
Categories Novel and science fiction
Publication year 1997
Original publication year 1975
ISBN 0-575-60158-2 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 287

The year is 2276, and the furthest world colonized by mankind is Titan, the largest moon of Saturn (and one of the largest in the Solar System). Titan is home to a quarter of a million people, selected for intelligence, endurance, and any other characteristic necessary for such a mission. Among them is a powerful political trio, Malcolm Makenzie (the "grandfather"), Colin Makenzie (the "father"), and Duncan Makenzie (the "son"), Colin being a clone of Malcolm, and Duncan in turn being a clone of Colin. Duncan is sent as an emissary to Earth for the fourth Centennial of the United States. The bulk of the novel follows Duncan on his adventures on Earth.


A good novel, but not excellent; the end of the book doesn't tie up enough loose ends, and the book is more about politics than science fiction. Not necessarily a bad thing, but I felt sort of cheated.

I'll still recommend it. There's a wonderful scene where Duncan's grandmother presents him with a set of pentominoes made of Titanite (a crystal native to Titan) and a ten-by-six box into which to fit the pieces (see the Wikipedia article for solutions).

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Structure [Toggle visibility]


  • 1 A Shriek in the Night
  • 2 Dynasty
  • 3 Invitation to a Centennial
  • 4 The Red Moon
  • 5 The Politics of Time and Space
  • 6 By the Bonny, Bonny Banks of Loch Hellbrew
  • 7 A Cross of Titanite
  • 8 Children of the Corridors
  • 9 The Fatal Gift
  • 10 World's End


  • 11 Sirius
  • 12 Last Words
  • 13 The Longest Voyage
  • 14 Songs of Empire
  • 15 At the Node
  • 16 Port Van Allen


  • 17 Washington, D.C.
  • 18 Embassy
  • 19 Mount Vernon
  • 20 The Taste of Honey
  • 21 Calindy
  • 22 The Ghost from the Grand Banks
  • 23 Akhenaten and Cleopatra
  • 24 Party Games
  • 25 The Rivals
  • 26 The Island of Dr Mohammed
  • 27 Golden Reef
  • 28 Sleuth
  • 29 Star Day
  • 30 A Message from Titan
  • 31 The Eye of Allah
  • 32 Meeting at Cyclops
  • 33 The Listeners
  • 34 Business and Desire
  • 35 Argus Panoptes
  • 36 Independence Day
  • 37 The Mirror of the Sea


  • 38 Homecoming
  • Acknowledgements and Notes
Full title Infidel: My Life [permalink]
Original title Mijn Vrijheid
Language English
Author Ayaan Hirsi Ali (author)
Publisher Simon & Schuster
Categories Autobiography and religion
Publication year 2007
Original publication year 2006
ISBN 978-1-4165-2624-7 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 353

The first part of the book is all about Ayaan's upbringing in Somalia (and her later emigrations elsewhere), while the latter part is about her career in the Netherlands and beyond.


Ayaan describes her life in such vivid detail that it's impossible not to be drawn in by her writing. I found the first part of the book, if not boring, then at least not gripping, but by the latter part of the book, I was totally absorbed. She writes with intelligence and wit, and hers is a most amazing story. Highly recommended reading.

Images Back of Infidel.Spine of Infidel.Front of Infidel.
Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • Foreword by Christopher Hitchens
  • Introduction

Part I: My Childhood

  • Chapter 1: Bloodlines
  • Chapter 2: Under the Talal Tree
  • Chapter 3: Playing Tag in Allah's Palace
  • Chapter 4: Weeping Orphans and Widowed Wives
  • Chapter 5: Secret Rendezvous, Sex, and the Scent of Sukumawiki
  • Chapter 6: Doubt and Defiance
  • Chapter 7: Disillusion and Deceit
  • Chapter 8: Refugees
  • Chapter 9: Abeh

Part II: My Freedom

  • Chapter 10: Running Away
  • Chapter 11: A Trial by the Elders
  • Chapter 12: Haweya
  • Chapter 13: Leiden
  • Chapter 14: Leaving God
  • Chapter 15: Threats
  • Chapter 16: Politics
  • Chapter 17: The Murder of Theo
  • Epilogue: The Letter of the Law
  • Acknowledgments
Full title Isaac Asimov's Treasury of Humor: 640 Jokes, Anecdotes, and Limericks, Complete with Notes on How to Tell Them [permalink]
Language English
Author Isaac Asimov (author)
Publisher Houghton Mifflin
Categories Anthology and humor
Publication year 1971
ISBN 978-0-395-57226-9 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 420

As advertised on the front cover, the book contains 640 jokes, anecdotes, and limericks, complete with notes on how to tell them. The jokes are sorted into eleven chapters (Anticlimax, Shaggy Dog, Paradox, Put-down, Word Play, Tables Turned, Jewish, Ethnic, Religion, Marriage, and Bawdy), more or less successfully (apparently it's hard to classify jokes).


Most of the jokes are pretty good, and some stand out. Here's a little selection:

Science has a language of its own which sometimes puzzles laymen. The word "obvious" is a case in point.

Thus a professor of physics, deriving some profound point of theory for the class, scribbled an equation on the board and said, "From this, it is obvious that we can proceed to write the following relationship —" and he scribbled a second equation on the board.

Then he paused. He stared hard at the two equations and said, "Wait a while. I may be wrong —"

He sat down, seized a pad and started to write furiously. He paused for thought, crossed out what he had written, and began over. In this fashion, half an hour passed while the class held its breath and sat in absolute silence.

Finally, the professor rose with an air of satisfaction and said, "Yes, I was right in the first place. It is obvious that the second equation follows from the first."

Two gentlemen, both hard of hearing and strangers to each other, were about to ride the London Underground. One of them, peering at the station they were entering, said, "Pardon me, sir, but is this Wembley?"

"No," said the other, "Thursday."

"No, thank you," said the first, "I've already had my little drink."

The Latin professor arrived home in a state of utter confusion, and much the worse for wear. His jacket was torn, his trousers muddy, his hat a battered ruin, his eyeglasses bent askew.

His wife ran to him, startled. "Septimus," she cried, "whatever has happened to you?"

"Why, my dear," said the professor, seating himself carefully, "I scarcely know. I was passing the corner of Second and Main when, without provocation of any sort on my part, I was suddenly assaulted by two hoodla."

The curator of one zoo was shipping several animals to another zoo, and wrote an accompanying letter which said in part, "Included are the two mongeese you asked for."

The curator paused. "Mongeese" looked funny.

He tore up the letter and tried again, saying, "Included are the two mongooses you asked for."

That looked funny, too.

After long thought, the curator began a third time and now completed it without trouble. He wrote in part, "Included is the mongoose which you requested. Included is also the other mongoose which you also requested."

Tell me why the stars do shine;
Tell me why the ivy twines;
Tell me why the skies are blue;
And I will tell you why I love you.

Nuclear fusion makes the stars to shine;
Tropisms make the ivy twine;
Rayleigh scattering makes skies so blue;
Testicular hormones is why I love you.

I highly recommend the book.

Images Back of Isaac Asimov's Treasury of Humor.Spine of Isaac Asimov's Treasury of Humor.Front of Isaac Asimov's Treasury of Humor.
Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • Introduction
  • I Anticlimax
  • II Shaggy Dog
  • III Paradox
  • IV Put-Down
  • V Word Play
  • VI Tables Turned
  • VII Jewish
  • VIII Ethnic
  • IX Religion
  • X Marriage
  • XI Bawdy
  • Index
Full title Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell [permalink]
Language English
Author Susanna Clarke (author)
Publisher Bloomsbury
Categories Alternate history and novel
Publisher series Bloomsbury Modern Classics
Publication year 2017
Original publication year 2004
ISBN 978-1-4088-9146-9 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 1009
Images Back flap of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell.Back of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell.Spine of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell.Front of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell.Front flap of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell.
Full title Kilden [permalink]
Alternative title Brevet om fiskeren Markus
Translated title The Source; or, The Letter Concerning Mark the Fisherman
Language Norwegian
Author Gabriel Scott (author)
Publisher Aschehoug
Category Novel
Publication year 2009
Original publication year 1918
ISBN 978-82-03-19498-6 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 166

Follows the life of a simple fisherman named Mark, interspersed with his thoughts and commentaries.


Even though the story is simple, it's very gripping. Gabriel Scott has a very engaging way of writing, and is especially good at describing situations.

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Full title Kunstformen der Natur [permalink]
Translated title Art Forms of Nature
Language English
Author Ernst Haeckel (author)
Categories Biology and science
Publication year 1904
Online version Link

A beautifully illustrated book about the various life forms found on our planet.


I wish I could read the original German, but I can't claim to have read the book. Maybe I'll someday find a good translation, but in the mean time, if you too don't read German, enjoy the wondrous images! See Kurt Stüber's wonderful 300 DPI scans, which are simply amazing.

Full title Letter to a Christian Nation [permalink]
Language English
Author Sam Harris (author)
Publisher Alfred A. Knopf
Category Religion
Publication year 2006
ISBN 0-307-26577-3 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 96

This book is a criticism of religion. Specifically, it criticizes the inherently stupid things being done by humans in the name of the particular branch of religion that they happen to have been brought up with (like opposing abortion, stem-cell research, and embracing the idea of martyrdom). It's written as an open letter to a Christian, so it didn't particularly speak to me, but I imagine a Christian might have a mind-opening experience if he read it.

Images Back flap of Letter to a Christian Nation.Back of Letter to a Christian Nation.Spine of Letter to a Christian Nation.Front of Letter to a Christian Nation.Front flap of Letter to a Christian Nation.
Full title Letters to a Young Contrarian [permalink]
Language English
Author Christopher Hitchens (author)
Publisher Basic Books
Categories Journalism and philosophy
Publisher series Art of Mentoring (1/15)
Publication year 2005
Original publication year 2001
ISBN 978-0-465-03033-0 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 141

A collection of imaginary letters to a young contrarian. The beginning of each letter imagines that the reader has sent a reply to the previous one, and the current one is a reply to that, so that reading the book seems to be a conversation. The book deals with how to be a public intellectual with contrary views, and how to deal with all the hardships that come with that obligation.


It's a very short book, and once started, it's very hard to put it down. Hitchens is a very eloquent writer, besides being knowledgeable and engaged. In the book he deals a little bit with his public confrontations (his criticism of Mother Theresa and Henry Kissinger, for instance), really as examples for pontificating on the life of a contrarian. There's a little part of the book that I liked where he explores various words for a contrarian, such as rebel, revolutionary, and an "angry young man".

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Full title Letters to a Young Mathematician [permalink]
Language English
Author Ian Stewart (author)
Publisher Basic Books
Categories Mathematics and science
Publisher series Art of Mentoring (1/15)
Publication year 2007
Original publication year 2006
ISBN 978-0-465-08232-2 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 203

Letters to a Young Mathematician is written as an update on G. H. Hardy's classic A Mathematician's Apology, but the book is not an exercise in apologetics.

"Attitudes change. No longer do mathematicians believe that they owe the world an apology."

It follows an imaginary girl, Meg, from her school years through her ensuing career, and each chapter is a letter to her at crucial steps in her career. Some parts are musings on math (pure vs applied) while others are specific career tips (solitary work vs collaboration). The book is virtually devoid of any actual math, so I think it's safe for mathophobes. In fact, for this very reason, it might even help to partially cure the phobia of those unfortunately inflicted.


I really liked the light-hearted way the book is written. Perhaps someone who is planning on embarking on a mathematical career would enjoy it even more.

Images Back of Letters to a Young Mathematician.Spine of Letters to a Young Mathematician.Front of Letters to a Young Mathematician.
Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • Preface
  • 1 Why Do Math?
  • 2 How I Almost Became a Lawyer
  • 3 The Breadth of Mathematics
  • 4 Hasn't It All Been Done?
  • 5 Surrounded by Math
  • 6 How Mathematicians Think
  • 7 How to Learn Math
  • 8 Fear of Proofs
  • 9 Can't Computers Solve Everything?
  • 10 Mathematical Storytelling
  • 11 Going for the Jugular
  • 12 Blockbusters
  • 13 Impossible Problems
  • 14 The Career Ladder
  • 15 Pure or Applied?
  • 16 Where Do You Get Those Crazy Ideas?
  • 17 How to Teach Math
  • 18 The Mathematical Community
  • 19 Pigs and Pickup Trucks
  • 20 Pleasures and Perils of Collaboration
  • 21 Is God a Mathematician?
  • Notes and References
Full title Life, the Universe and Everything [permalink]
Language English
Author Douglas Adams (author)
Categories Humor and science fiction
Publication year 1982
Pages 160
Full title The Lost Gospel of Judas Iscariot: A New Look at Betrayer and Betrayed [permalink]
Language English
Author Bart D. Ehrman (author)
Categories History and religion
Publication year 2006
ISBN 978-0195343519 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Full title The Man in the High Castle [permalink]
Language English
Author Philip K. Dick (author)
Publisher Vintage Books
Categories Alternate history and science fiction
Publication year 1992
Original publication year 1962
ISBN 0-679-74067-8 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 259

The Axis powers of Japan and Germany win WWII and divide the world among themselves. The story follows a small number of characters in this alternate history. The title comes from a fictitious novel called The Grasshopper Lies Heavy, written by Hawthorne Abendsen. Grasshopper is about an alternate history (from the novel's point of view) where the Allied forces won WWII. Being a heretical notion, Abendsen perpetuates a myth that he lives in a fortified house (castle); hence the title.


It was a riveting read, but I was left wondering what the point of the novel was.

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Full title The Martian Chronicles [permalink]
Language English
Author Ray Bradbury (author)
Publisher William Morrow
Categories Anthology, science fiction and short stories
Publication year 2006
Original publication year 1950
ISBN 978-0-380-97383-5 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 268

A collection of short stories woven together into a coherent whole. The stories concern Mars, and humanity's efforts to colonize it.


I really enjoyed all the "chapters" (short stories), but "Usher II" really stood out, being an homage to E. A. Poe. Definitely recommended.

Images Back flap of The Martian Chronicles.Back of The Martian Chronicles.Spine of The Martian Chronicles.Front of The Martian Chronicles.Front flap of The Martian Chronicles.
Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • January 2030: Rocket Summer
  • February 2030: Ylla
  • August 2030: The Summer Night
  • August 2030: The Earth Men
  • March 2031: The Taxpayer
  • April 2031: The Third Expedition
  • June 2032: —And The Moon Be Still As Bright
  • August 2032: The Settlers
  • December 2032: The Green Morning
  • February 2033: The Locusts
  • August 2033: Night Meeting
  • October 2033: The Shore
  • November 2033: The Fire Balloons
  • February 2034: Interim
  • April 2034: The Musicians
  • May 2034: The Wilderness
  • 2035-2036: The Naming of Names
  • April 2036: Usher II
  • August 2036: The Old Ones
  • September 2036: The Martian
  • November 2036: The Luggage Store
  • November 2036: The Off Season
  • November 2036: The Watchers
  • December 2036: The Silent Towns
  • April 2057: The Long Years
  • August 2057: There Will Come Soft Rains
  • October 2057: The Million-Year Picnic
Full title Mathematical Puzzles and Diversions [permalink]
Language English
Author Martin Gardner (author)
Publisher Penguin Books
Categories Mathematics and puzzle
Publication year 1965
Original publication year 1959
ISBN 0-14-02-0713-9 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 154

Based on articles written for Scientific American, every chapter has an addendum, explaining further points or elaborating new ones, and some chapters have letters from people sent in after the article in question was published.


An awesome book with lots of interesting things. Read the chapter titles in the Structures for a preview.

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Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • Introduction
  1. Hexaflexagons
  2. Magic with a Matrix
  3. Nine Problems
  4. Ticktacktoe, or Noughts and Crosses
  5. Probability Paradoxes
  6. The Icosian Game and the Tower of Hanoi
  7. Curious Topological Models
  8. The Game of Hex
  9. Sam Loyd: America's Greatest Puzzlist
  10. Mathematical Card Tricks
  11. Memorizing Numbers
  12. Nine More Problems
  13. Polyominoes
  14. Fallacies
  15. Nim and Tac Tix
  16. Left or Right?
  • References for Further Reading
Full title The Metamorphosis of Prime Intellect [permalink]
Language English
Author Roger Williams (author)
Categories Novel and science fiction
Publication year 1994
Online version Link
Pages 175
Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • Chapter 1: Caroline at Play
  • Chapter 2: Lawrence Builds a Computer
  • Chapter 3: Caroline and Anne-Marie
  • Chapter 4: After the Night of Miracles
  • Chapter 5: Caroline Approaches
  • Chapter 6: After the Change
  • Chapter 7: Caroline and Lawrence
  • Chapter 8: After the Fall
Full title Microsoft Visual C# 2013 Step by Step [permalink]
Language English
Author John Sharp (author)
Publisher Microsoft Press
Categories Computing, programming and textbook
Publication year 2014
Original publication year 2013
ISBN 978-0-7356-8183-5 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 787
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Structure [Toggle visibility]


  • Chapter 1: Welcome to C#
  • Chapter 2: Working with variables, operators, and expressions
  • Chapter 3: Writing methods and applying scope
  • Chapter 4: Using decision statements
  • Chapter 5: Using compound assignment and iteration statements
  • Chapter 6: Managing errors and exceptions


  • Chapter 7: Creating and managing classes and objects
  • Chapter 8: Understanding values and references
  • Chapter 9: Creating value types with enumerations and structures
  • Chapter 10: Using arrays
  • Chapter 11: Understanding parameter arrays
  • Chapter 12: Working with inheritance
  • Chapter 13: Creating interfaces and defining abstract classes
  • Chapter 14: Using garbage collection and resource management


  • Chapter 15: Implementing properties to access fields
  • Chapter 16: Using indexers
  • Chapter 17: Introducing generics
  • Chapter 18: Using collections
  • Chapter 19: Enumerating collections
  • Chapter 20: Decoupling application logic and handling events
  • Chapter 21: Querying in-memory data by using query expressions
  • Chapter 22: Operator overloading


  • Chapter 23: Improving throughput by using tasks
  • Chapter 24: Improving response time by performing asynchronous operations
  • Chapter 25: Implementing the user interface for a Windows Store app
  • Chapter 26: Displaying and searching for data in a Windows Store app
  • Chapter 27: Accessing a remote database from a Windows Store app
Full title Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why [permalink]
Language English
Author Bart D. Ehrman (author)
Publisher HarperCollins
Categories History and religion
Publication year 2005
ISBN 978-0-06-073817-4 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 242
Images Back flap of Misquoting Jesus.Back of Misquoting Jesus.Spine of Misquoting Jesus.Front of Misquoting Jesus.Front flap of Misquoting Jesus.
Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction
  1. The Beginnings of Christian Scripture
  2. The Copyists of the Early Christian Writings
  3. Texts of the New Testament: Editions, Manuscripts, and Differences
  4. The Quest for Origins: Methods and Discoveries
  5. Originals That Matter
  6. Theologically Motivated Alterations of the Text
  7. The Social Worlds of the Text
  • Conclusion: Changing Scripture: Scribes, Authors, and Readers
  • Notes
  • Index
Full title The Missionary Position: Mother Theresa in Theory and Practice [permalink]
Language English
Author Christopher Hitchens (author)
Publisher Verso
Categories Biography, politics and religion
Publication year 1995
ISBN 978-1-85984-054-2 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 98

This 98-page little book is a very short, critical introduction to the life of Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu, known popularly as Mother Theresa.

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Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • Foreword and Acknowledgments
  • Introduction
  • A Miracle
  • Good Works and Heroic Virtues
  • Ubiquity
  • Afterword
Full title The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values [permalink]
Language English
Author Sam Harris (author)
Publisher Black Swan
Categories Philosophy and science
Publication year 2012
Original publication year 2010
ISBN 978-0-552-77638-7 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 380
Images Back of The Moral Landscape.Spine of The Moral Landscape.Front of The Moral Landscape.
Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • Introduction: The Moral Landscape
  • Chapter 1: Moral Truth
  • Chapter 2: Good and Evil
  • Chapter 3: Belief
  • Chapter 4: Religion
  • Chapter 5: The Future of Happiness
  • Acknowledgments
  • Notes
  • References
  • Index
Full title More Mathematical Puzzles and Diversions [permalink]
Language English
Author Martin Gardner (author)
Publisher Penguin Books
Categories Mathematics and puzzle
Publication year 1963
Original publication year 1961
ISBN 0-14-02-0748-1 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 186

This book is written in the same vein as Mathematical Puzzles and Diversions.


I truly loved this book. My favorite chapters are The Five Platonic Solids, Mazes, and Eleusis: The Induction Game.

Images Back of More Mathematical Puzzles and Diversions.Spine of More Mathematical Puzzles and Diversions.Front of More Mathematical Puzzles and Diversions.
Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • Introduction
  1. The Five Platonic Solids
  2. Tetraflexagons
  3. Henry Ernest Dudeney: England's Greatest Puzzlist
  4. Digital Roots
  5. Nine Problems
  6. The Soma Cube
  7. Recreational Topology
  8. Phi: The Golden Ratio
  9. The Monkey and the Coconuts
  10. Mazes
  11. Recreational Logic
  12. Magic Squares
  13. James Hugh Riley Shows, Inc.
  14. Nine More Problems
  15. Eleusis: The Induction Game
  16. Origami
  17. Squaring the Square
  18. Mechanical Puzzles
  19. Probability and Ambiguity
  • References for Further Reading
Full title Naiv. Super. [permalink]
Language Norwegian
Author Erlend Loe (author)
Category Novel
Publication year 1996
Pages 243

This book tells the story of a man in his mid-twenties who suddenly feels that nothing in his life matters and describes the things he does to combat this feeling.

Full title Napalm and Silly Putty [permalink]
Language English
Author George Carlin (author)
Category Humor
Publication year 2001
Full title Nattmennesket [permalink]
Translated title The Night Person
Language Norwegian
Author André Bjerke (author)
Publisher Aschehoug
Categories Crime and novel
Publication year 2009
Original publication year 1941
ISBN 978-82-03-19479-5 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 181
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Full title The Nine Billion Names of God [permalink]
Language English
Author Arthur C. Clarke (author)
Publisher Signet Books
Categories Anthology and science fiction
Publication year 1974
Pages 240
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Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • Introduction
  • The Nine Billion Names of God
  • I Remember Babylon
  • Trouble with Time
  • Rescue Party
  • The Curse
  • Summertime on Icarus
  • Dog Star
  • Hide and Seek
  • Out of the Sun
  • The Wall of Darkness
  • No Morning After
  • The Possessed
  • Death and the Senator
  • Who's There?
  • Before Eden
  • Superiority
  • A Walk in the Dark
  • The Call of the Stars
  • The Reluctant Orchid
  • Encounter at Dawn
  • "If I Forget Thee, Oh Earth..."
  • Patent Pending
  • The Sentinel
  • Transience
  • The Star
Full title Odd and the Frost Giants [permalink]
Language English
Author Neil Gaiman (author)
Publisher Bloomsbury
Categories Fantasy and novel
Publication year 2010
Original publication year 2008
ISBN 978-0-7475-9811-4 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 127

A pretty short book about a boy's adventures in Asgard (land of the Gods in Norse mythology).


The story is short, but thoroughly enjoyable. There's not much more to say since there's so little content.

Images Back flap of Odd and the Frost Giants.Back of Odd and the Frost Giants.Spine of Odd and the Frost Giants.Front of Odd and the Frost Giants.Front flap of Odd and the Frost Giants.
Full title The Old Man and the Sea [permalink]
Language English
Author Ernest Hemingway (author)
Publisher Arrow Books
Categories Adventure and novel
Publication year 2004
Original publication year 1952
ISBN 978-0-09-990840-1 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 99

The story of an old man setting out to sea, and his struggle when he catches the biggest fish of his life.


This is a pretty short book, and a pleasant read it is. It's about an old fisherman in Havana, Santiago, whose luck has run out (he hasn't caught a fish in several months). He has a young apprentice who is then forbidden by his parents to fish with Santiago, because of his unluckiness. The old man sets off in his skiff alone, far out in the sea, and catches a marlin, the biggest fish he's ever caught. The fish is tenacious, and the fight with him lasts for two days.

If you want to know whether or not the old man succeeds, read the book. I definitely recommend it.

Images Back of The Old Man and the Sea.Spine of The Old Man and the Sea.Front of The Old Man and the Sea.
Full title The Oxford Book of Modern Science Writing [permalink]
Language English
Author Richard Dawkins (author)
Publisher Oxford University Press
Categories Anthology and science
Publication year 2008
Pages 395

This is an anthology book of post-1900 science writings (essays, anecdotes, poetry) written by working scientists, as opposed to written by non-scientists, and it is supremely excellent. Richard Dawkins has collected them, sorted them, and written introductions to each of them, which put them in context.


I liked this book so much that I transcribed a few of these and put them on my Essays page ("On Being the Right Size", "One Self", an extract from Man in the Universe, "Seven Wonders", and an extract from The Periodic Table); you could read those if you want a short taste of what the book is about. I strongly recommend this book.

Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • Featured Writers and Extracts
  • Introduction

What Scientists Study

  • James Jeans from The Mysterious Universe
  • Martin Rees from Just Six Numbers
  • Peter Atkins from Creation Revisited
  • Helena Cronin from The Ant and the Peacock
  • R. A. Fisher from The Genetical Theory of Natural Selection
  • Theodosius Dobzhansky from Mankind Evolving
  • G. C. Williams from Adaptation and Natural Selection
  • Francis Crick from Life Itself
  • Matt Ridley from Genome
  • Sydney Brenner Theoretical Biology in the Third Millennium
  • Steve Jones from The Language of the Genes
  • J. B. S. Haldane from On Being the Right Size
  • Mark Ridley from The Explanation of Organic Diversity
  • John Maynard Smith The Importance of the Nervous System in the Evolution of Animal Flight
  • Fred Hoyle from Man in the Universe
  • D'Arcy Thompson from On Growth and Form
  • G. G. Simpson from The Meaning of Evolution
  • Richard Fortey from Trilobite!
  • Colin Blakemore from The Mind Machine
  • Richard Gregory from Mirrors In Mind
  • Nicholas Humphrey One Self: A Meditation on the Unity of Consciousness
  • Steven Pinker from The Language Instinct and How the Mind Works
  • Jared Diamond from The Rise and Fall of the Third Chimpanzee
  • David Lack from The Life of the Robin
  • Niko Tinbergen from Curious Naturalists
  • Robert Trivers from Social Evolution
  • Alister Hardy from The Open Sea
  • Rachel Carson from The Sea Around Us
  • Loren Eiseley from How Flowers Changed the World
  • Edward O. Wilson from The Diversity of Life

Who Scientists Are

  • Arthur Eddington from The Expanding Universe
  • C. P. Snow from the Foreword to G. H. Hardy's A Mathematician's Apology
  • Freeman Dyson from Disturbing the Universe
  • J. Robert Oppenheimer from War and the Nations
  • Max F. Perutz A Passion for Crystals
  • Barbara and George Gamow Said Ryle to Hoyle
  • J. B. S. Haldane Cancer's a Funny Thing
  • Jacob Bronowski from The Identity of Man
  • Peter Medawar from Science and Literature, Darwin's Illness, The Phenomenon of Man, the postscript to Lucky Jim, and D'Arcy Thompson and Growth and Form
  • Jonathan Kingdon from Self-Made Man
  • Richard Leakey and Roger Lewin from Origins Reconsidered
  • Donald C. Johanson and Maitland A. Edey from Lucy
  • Stephen Jay Gould Worm for a Century, and all Seasons
  • John Tyler Bonner from Life Cycles
  • Oliver Sacks from Uncle Tungsten
  • Lewis Thomas Seven Wonders
  • James Watson from Avoid Boring People
  • Francis Crick from What Mad Pursuit
  • Lewis Wolpert from The Unnatural Nature of Science
  • Julian Huxley from Essays of a Biologist
  • Albert Einstein Religion and Science
  • Carl Sagan from The Demon-Haunted World

What Scientists Think

  • Richard Feynman from The Character of Physical Law
  • Erwin Schrödinger from What is Life?
  • Daniel Dennett from Darwin's Dangerous Idea and Consciousness Explained
  • Ernst Mayr from The Growth of Biological Thought
  • Garrett Hardin from The Tragedy of the Commons
  • W. D. Hamilton from Geometry For the Selfish Herd and Narrow Roads of Geneland
  • Per Bak from How Nature Works
  • Martin Gardner The Fantastic Combinations of John Conway's New Solitaire Game 'Life'
  • Lancelot Hogben from Mathematics for the Million
  • Ian Stewart from The Miraculous Jar
  • Claude E. Shannon and Warren Weaver from The Mathematical Theory of Communication
  • Alan Turing from Computing Machinery and Intelligence
  • Albert Einstein from What is the Theory of Relativity?
  • George Gamow from Mr. Tompkins
  • Paul Davies from The Goldilocks Enigma
  • Russell Stannard from The Time and Space of Uncle Albert
  • Brian Greene from The Elegant Universe
  • Stephen Hawking from A Brief History of Time

What Scientists Delight In

  • S. Chandrasekhar from Truth and Beauty
  • G. H. Hardy from A Mathematician's Apology
  • Steven Weinberg from Dreams of a Final Theory
  • Lee Smolin from The Life of the Cosmos
  • Roger Penrose from The Emperor's New Mind
  • Douglas Hofstadter from Gödel, Escher, Bach: The Eternal Golden Braid
  • John Archibald Wheeler with Kenneth Ford from Geons, Black Holes, and Quantum Foam
  • David Deutsch from The Fabric of Reality
  • Primo Levi from The Periodic Table
  • Richard Fortey from Life: An Unauthorized Biography
  • George Gaylord Simpson from The Meaning of Evolution
  • Loren Eiseley from Little Men and Flying Saucers
  • Carl Sagan from Pale Blue Dot
  • Acknowledgements
  • Index
Full title Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space [permalink]
Language English
Author Carl Sagan (author)
Categories Astronomy and science
Publication year 1994
Pages 188

Pale Blue Dot is about the Earth, humans, our place in the Cosmos, and the Solar System and our exploration of it. The title comes from the eponymous image taken by the Voyager 1 spacecraft. It tries to convey a sense of how small and fragile the Earth really is (if you want to get a real sense of it, I recommend Celestia), how the Universe really isn't made for us (sulfuric acid on Venus, for instance, or the black vacuum that covers most of the Universe), and how we've traditionally viewed the Universe. A large chunk of the book goes into explaining the exploration of our solar system and the findings we've made. It also advocates that we use the other planets as warnings for what may happen to our own if we spoil it (after all, so far this is the only place we've got).


This is a very engagingly-written account of the history of space flight, as well as a beautifully arranged advocacy of prudence when it comes to dealing with our planet.

Full title The Planiverse: Computer Contact With a Two-Dimensional World [permalink]
Language English
Author A. K. Dewdney (author)
Publisher Copernicus
Categories Novel and science fiction
Publication year 2001
Original publication year 1984
ISBN 0-387-98916-1 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 246

A group of computer programmers working under a professor discovers that the 2D simulation program they've developed, 2Dworld, is somehow connected with an actual two-dimensional world inhabited by intelligent creatures. They establish contact with Yendred, and through him, they learn a lot about his world.


This book is a sort of unofficial sequel to Abbott's famous Flatland, and it's one hell of a riveting read. I'm having a hard time making up my mind as to which of the unofficial sequels (Ian Stewart's Flatterland and Dionys Burger's Sphereland) are the superior; they're all simply really, really good.

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Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • Preface to the Millennium Edition
  • 2Dworld
  1. Arde
  2. A House by the Sea
  3. On Fiddib Har
  4. Walking to Is Felblt
  5. City Below Ground
  6. The Trek
  7. The Punizlan
  8. Institute
  9. Traveling on the Wind
  10. High on Dahl Radam
  11. Drabk the Sharak of Okbra
  12. Higher Dimensions
  • Ardean Science and Technology
  • Acknowledgments
Full title The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Non-Believer [permalink]
Language English
Author Christopher Hitchens (foreword)
Publisher Da Capo Press
Categories Anthology, philosophy and religion
Publication year 2007
Pages 499

A huge collection of writings by atheists about religion, faith, non-religion, reason, science, and logic, with biographical information on each author. Some of them are pretty dated, but they're interesting nonetheless.

Images Back of The Portable Atheist.Spine of The Portable Atheist.Front of The Portable Atheist.
Full title Quirkology: The Curious Science of Everyday Lives [permalink]
Language English
Author Richard Wiseman (author)
Publisher Macmillan
Categories Psychology and science
Publication year 2007
ISBN 978-0-330-44811-6 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 299

Quirkology is a word coined by the author, and is the study of the more quirky side of human activity. The book draws a number of conclusions, such as that women van drivers are more likely to take more than ten items through the express line at supermarkets, that words containing the letter K are funny, and that women's personal ads would garner more replies if written by a man (the opposite is not true).

Richard Wiseman has spent twenty years studying these matters, but the book also briefly mentions other seminal studies in psychology (such as Milgram's obedience study and studies concerning memory and the manipulation thereof).


I can thoroughly recommend the book, although as the title suggests, it's mostly about quirky little things about human behavior. The book wasn't all that interesting, but it's definitely entertaining.

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Full title The Relativity of Wrong: Essays on the Solar System and Beyond [permalink]
Language English
Author Isaac Asimov (author)
Publisher Oxford University Press
Categories Anthology, astronomy, physics and science
Publication year 1988
Pages 225

Explains atoms and isotopes, planets and satellites, novas and supernovas. It also contains a title essay, which is available online. In it, he explains that there is a continuum from right to wrong, and that it's possible to be righter and wronger. For instance, if you think the Earth is flat you are wronger than if you think the Earth is a sphere. You're still wrong, because the Earth is more like an oblate spheroid, but even that is wrong. And so on.

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Full title Rocks of Ages: Science and Religion in the Fullness of Life [permalink]
Language English
Author Stephen Jay Gould (author)
Publisher Vintage Books
Categories Religion and science
Publication year 2002
Original publication year 1999
ISBN 978-0-099-28452-9 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 241

This is the book in which Gould lays out in full detail his concept of NOMA, Non-Overlapping Magisteria, the idea that science and religion are masters over different (and mutually incommunicable) realms. It's an attempt to reconcile the recent intellectual hostilities between scientists and people of faith by appealing to NOMA, saying that there doesn't have to be a conflict.


I'm not sure if this book is winning me over to Gould's way of thinking, but it's extremely well written, interesting, and full of siren arguments and pretty poetry. I can definitely recommend it if you're interested in the history of the conflict between science and religion.

Images Back of Rocks of Ages.Spine of Rocks of Ages.Front of Rocks of Ages.
Structure [Toggle visibility]
  1. The Problem Stated
    • Preamble
    • A Tale of Two Thomases
    • The Fate of Two Fathers
  2. The Problem Resolved in Principle
    • NOMA Defined and Defended
    • NOMA Illustrated
    • Coda and Segue
  3. Historical Reasons for Conflict
    • The Contingent Basis for Intensity
    • Columbus and the Flat Earth: An Example of the Fallacy of Warfare Between Science and Religion
    • Defending NOMA from Both Sides Now: The Struggle Against Modern Creationism
  4. Psychological Reasons for Conflict
    • Can Nature Nurture Our Hopes?
    • Nature's Cold Bath and Darwin's Defense of NOMA
    • The Two False Paths of Irenics
Full title The Satanic Rituals: Companion to The Satanic Bible [permalink]
Language English
Author Anton Szandor LaVey (author)
Publisher Avon Books
Category Religion
Publication year 1972
ISBN 0-380-01392-4 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 220
Images Back of The Satanic Rituals.Spine of The Satanic Rituals.Front of The Satanic Rituals.
Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • L'AIR EPAIS—The Ceremony of the Stifling Air
  • THE LAW OF THE TRAPEZOID—Die elektrischen Vorspiele
  • NIGHT ON BALD MOUNTAIN—Homage to Tehort
  • PILGRIMS OF THE AGE OF FIRE—The Statement of Shaitan
  • THE METAPHYSICS OF LOVECRAFT—The Ceremony of the Nine Angles and The Call to Cthulhu
  • THE SATANIC BAPTISMS—Adult Rite and Children's Ceremony
Full title The Selfish Gene [permalink]
Language English
Author Richard Dawkins (author)
Publisher Oxford University Press
Categories Biology and science
Publication year 2006
Original publication year 1976
ISBN 978-0-19-929115-1 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 360

A pretty comprehensive guide to evolution, and the second book that introduced the gene-centric view of evolution (namely, that genes use bodies — survival machines — to pass themselves on, rather than organisms using genes to pass their traits on). The main goal of the book is to explain altruistic behavior and to dispel the myth that just because genes are selfish, we must (or should) be selfish, and I think it succeeds. The book also introduced the concept of memes (supposed to rhyme with genes), which are units of culture (like a catchy tune or a piece of trivia or a certain way of walking) that are capable of being copied from mind to mind.

Images Back of The Selfish Gene.Spine of The Selfish Gene.Front of The Selfish Gene.
Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • Introduction to 30th anniversary edition
  • Preface to second edition
  • Foreword to first edition
  • Preface to first edition
  1. Why are people?
  2. The replicators
  3. Immortal coils
  4. The gene machine
  5. Aggression: stability and the selfish machine
  6. Genesmanship
  7. Family planning
  8. Battle of the generations
  9. Battle of the sexes
  10. You scratch my back, I'll ride on yours
  11. Memes: the new replicators
  12. Nice guys finish first
  13. The long reach of the gene
  • Endnotes
  • Updated bibliography
  • Index and key to bibliography
  • Extracts from reviews
Full title Sherlock Holmes: Short Stories [permalink]
Language English
Author Arthur Conan Doyle (author)
Publisher Chancellor Press
Categories Anthology, crime and short stories
Publication year 2006
Original publication year 1985
ISBN 978-07537-0912-2 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 992

A collection of all of the Sherlock Holmes short stories in one neat volume.


What struck me while reading the short stories is how ingenious Sherlock Holmes is. It's a very fun exercise to try to second-guess what Holmes' solution to each case turns out to be.

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Structure [Toggle visibility]

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

  • A Scandal in Bohemia
  • The Red-Headed League
  • The Case of Identity
  • The Boscombe Valley Mystery
  • The Five Orange Pips
  • The Man with the Twisted Lip
  • The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle
  • The Adventure of the Speckled Band
  • The Adventure of the Engineer's Thumb
  • The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor
  • The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet
  • The Adventure of the Copper Beeches

The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes

  • The Adventure of Silver Blaze
  • The Adventure of the Cardboard Box
  • The Adventure of the Yellow Face
  • The Adventure of the Stockbroker's Clerk
  • The Adventure of the 'Gloria Scott'
  • The Adventure of the Musgrave Ritual
  • The Adventure of the Reigate Squire
  • The Adventure of the Crooked Man
  • The Adventure of the Resident Patient
  • The Adventure of the Greek Interpreter
  • The Adventure of the Naval Treaty
  • The Adventure of the Final Problem

The Return of Sherlock Holmes

  • The Adventure of the Empty House
  • The Adventure of the Norwood Builder
  • The Adventure of the Dancing Men
  • The Adventure of the Solitary Cyclist
  • The Adventure of the Priory School
  • The Adventure of Black Peter
  • The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton
  • The Adventure of the Six Napoleons
  • The Adventure of the Three Students
  • The Adventure of the Golden Pince-Nez
  • The Adventure of the Missing Three-Quarter
  • The Adventure of the Abbey Grange
  • The Adventure of the Second Stain

His Last Bow

  • Wistaria Lodge
  • The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans
  • The Adventure of the Devil's Foot
  • The Adventure of the Red Circle
  • The Disappearance of Lady Frances Carfax
  • The Adventure of the Dying Detective
  • His Last Bow: The War Service of Sherlock Holmes

The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes

  • The Adventure of the Mazarin Stone
  • The Problem of Thor Bridge
  • The Adventure of the Creeping Man
  • The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire
  • The Adventure of the Three Garridebs
  • The Adventure of the Illustrious Client
  • The Adventure of the Three Gables
  • The Adventure of the Blanched Soldier
  • The Adventure of the Lion's Mane
  • The Adventure of the Retired Colourman
  • The Adventure of the Veiled Lodger
  • The Adventure of Shoscombe Old Place
Full title The Songs of Distant Earth [permalink]
Language English
Author Arthur C. Clarke (author)
Publisher HarperCollins
Categories Novel and science fiction
Publication year 1998
Original publication year 1986
ISBN 0-586-06623-3 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 238

The Earth is swallowed in the explosion of the Sun in the year 3620, and the novel begins with the landing of the starship Magellan on the now-colonized planet of Thalassa, a world covered almost entirely in ocean except for three closely linked islands. They need to repair their ship for their upcoming journey to their real destination, a planet called Sagan 2, which, with their millions of colonists in cryo-sleep, they hope to colonize.

Almost the entirety of the novel takes place on Thalassa.


A very beautiful novel full of memorable scenes. (The lifting of the kilometer-wide hexagonal ice blocks for the ship's shield comes to mind.) The pacing is good, the characters are well-developed, and the writing is excellent (but then again, this is a Clarke novel).

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Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • Author's Note


  • 1 The Beach at Tarna
  • 2 The Little Neutral One
  • 3 Village Council
  • 4 Tocsin
  • 5 Night Ride


  • 6 Planetfall
  • 7 Lords of the Last Days
  • 8 Remembrance of Love Lost
  • 9 The Quest for Superspace


  • 10 First Contact
  • 11 Delegation
  • 12 Heritage
  • 13 Task Force
  • 14 Mirissa
  • 15 Terra Nova
  • 16 Party Games
  • 17 Chain of Command
  • 18 Kumar
  • 19 Pretty Polly
  • 20 Idyll


  • 21 Academy
  • 22 Krakan
  • 23 Ice Day
  • 24 Archive
  • 25 Scorp
  • 26 Snowflake Rising
  • 27 Mirror of the Past
  • 28 The Sunken Forest
  • 29 Sabra
  • 30 Child of Krakan


  • 31 Petition
  • 32 Clinic
  • 33 Tides
  • 34 Shipnet
  • 35 Convalescence
  • 36 Kilimanjaro
  • 37 In Vino Veritas
  • 38 Debate
  • 39 The Leopard in the Snows
  • 40 Confrontation
  • 41 Pillow Talk
  • 42 Survivor
  • 43 Interrogation


  • 44 Spyball
  • 45 Bait
  • 46 Whatever Gods May Be ...


  • 47 Ascension
  • 48 Decision
  • 49 Fire on the Reef


  • 50 Shield of Ice
  • 51 Relic
  • 52 The Songs of Distant Earth
  • 53 The Golden Mask
  • 54 Valediction
  • 55 Departure
  • 56 Below the Interface


  • 57 The Voices of Time
  • Chronology
  • Bibliographical Note
  • Acknowledgements
Full title Starship Troopers [permalink]
Language English
Author Robert A. Heinlein (author)
Publisher Ace Books
Categories Novel and science fiction
Publication year 1987
Original publication year 1959
ISBN 0-441-78358-9 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 263

A classic military SF book. An alien arachnid race launches a meteor upon unsuspecting Earth which crushes Buenos Aires, plunging the two races into war.


There's a lot of monolog from the protagonist's teacher in History and Moral Philosophy, Jean V. Dubois. For me, this is really the meat of the book. The rest is character development and furtherance of the story.

There is a movie based on the novel with the same name, and it follows the novel really closely. The only things missing from it are the jump-suits the troopers wear and the so-called neo-dogs, dogs with their intelligence amped to approximately human retardedness level that are used for reconnaissance.

Images Back of Starship Troopers.Spine of Starship Troopers.Front of Starship Troopers.
Full title Stranger in a Strange Land [permalink]
Language English
Author Robert A. Heinlein (author)
Publisher Ace Books
Categories Novel and science fiction
Publication year 1987
Original publication year 1961
ISBN 0-441-79034-8 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 438

A man born of human parents but raised on Mars arrives on Earth and goes on to learn as much about it as possible. He learns about religion and eventually founds his own church (which turns out to be more of a school than a church) where he teaches Martian so that Martian concepts can be readily communicated and understood; things like levitation, teleportation, and telepathy are available so long as you learn the language. The title is a reference to the Bible. From the KJV, Exodus 2:22:

"And she bare him a son, and he called his name Gershom: for he said, I have been a stranger in a strange land."

This book is also the book from which the term 'grok' comes. See the Jargon file entry on grok.


I think the portrayal of Michael (the man from Mars) as he learns more and more about Earth is very well-written and his progression is reflected in his speech pretty well.

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Structure [Toggle visibility]
Full title The Sun Shines Bright [permalink]
Language English
Author Isaac Asimov (author)
Publisher Grafton
Categories Anthology, astronomy, chemistry, essay and science
Publication year 1987
Original publication year 1984
ISBN 0-586-05841-9 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 268
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Structure [Toggle visibility]



  • 1 Out, Damned Spot!
  • 2 The Sun Shines Bright
  • 3 The Noblest Metal of Them All


  • 4 How Little?
  • 5 Siriusly Speaking
  • 6 Below the Horizon


  • 7 Just Thirty Years


  • 8 A Long Day's Journey
  • 9 The Inconstant Moon


  • 10 The Useless Metal
  • 11 Neutrality!
  • 12 The Finger of God


  • 13 Clone, Clone of My Own


  • 14 Alas, All Human


  • 15 The Unsecret Weapon
  • 16 More Crowded!
  • 17 Nice Guys Finish First!
Full title Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!: Adventures of a Curious Character [permalink]
Language English
Author Richard Feynman (author)
Category Autobiography
Publication year 1985
Pages 205

The book is a fascinating look into the mind of one of the 20th century's top physicist, the eccentric free spirit Richard Feynman. It's a mostly chronological account of the interesting moments of his life, from his childhood when he fixed radios, to his mischief at MIT, to Princeton, to Los Alamos (where he worked on the bomb and cracked safes for fun), to Cornell, to Brazil, to Japan. The stories are engagingly told as anecdotes, which is partly why it's such an interesting read (and partly because the stories are inherently interesting).


I think I can honestly say that this book is excellent all the way through. At no point was I bored. In fact, I grinned to myself at least three times and almost cried once (honest).

Full title To Open the Sky [permalink]
Language English
Author Robert Silverberg (author)
Publisher Ballantine Books
Categories Novel and science fiction
Publication year 1967
Pages 222

The story, despite taking up a meager two hundred pages, is pretty epic, spanning almost a century, and follows a small cast of long-lived characters. Earth has colonized Venus and Mars, and two religious factions, The Brotherhood of the Immanent Radiance and its offshoot Transcendent Harmony both have a piece of the puzzle that would allow man to reach the stars. In reality, the religious orders are merely fronts for scientific research (to say much more would spoil). Their icons and litanies and prayers are entirely scientific, and merely take on the clothing of a religious order. The book opens with The Electromagnetic Litany, which I can't help but quote in its entirety:

And there is light, before and beyond our vision, for which we give thanks.

And there is heat, for which we are humble.

And there is power, for which we count ourselves blessed.

Blessed be Balmer, who gave us our wavelengths. Blessed be Bohr, who brought us understanding. Blessed be Lyman, who saw beyond sight.

Tell us now the stations of the spectrum.

Blessed be long radio waves, which oscillate slowly.

Blessed be broadcast waves, for which we thank Hertz.

Blessed be short waves, linkers of mankind, and blessed be microwaves.

Blessed be infrared, bearers of nourishing heat.

Blessed be visible light, magnificent in angstroms. (On high holidays only: Blessed be red, sacred to Doppler. Blessed be orange. Blessed be yellow, hallowed by Fraunhofer’s gaze. Blessed be green. Blessed be blue for its hydrogen line. Blessed be indigo. Blessed be violet, flourishing with energy.)

Blessed be ultraviolet, with the richness of the sun. Blessed be Xrays, sacred to Roentgen, the prober within.

Blessed be the gamma, in all its power; blessed be the highest of frequencies.

We give thanks for Planck. We give thanks for Einstein. We give thanks in the highest for Maxwell.

In the strength of the spectrum, the quantum, and the holy angstrom, peace!

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Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • Blue Fire 2077
  • The Warriors of Light 2095
  • Where the Changed Ones Go 2135
  • Lazarus Come Forth 2152
  • To Open the Sky 2164
Full title The Tragedy of the Moon [permalink]
Language English
Author Isaac Asimov (author)
Publisher Coronet Books
Categories Anthology, astronomy, chemistry, essay and science
Publication year 1975
Original publication year 1972
ISBN 0-340-19879-6 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 222
Images Back of The Tragedy of the Moon.Spine of The Tragedy of the Moon.Front of The Tragedy of the Moon.
Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • Introduction
  • A—About the Moon
    • 1—The Tragedy of the Moon
    • 2—The Triumph of the Moon
    • 3—Moon Over Babylon
    • 4—The Week Excuse
  • B—About Other Small Worlds
    • 5—The World Ceres
    • 6—The Clock in the Sky
  • C—About Carbon
    • 7—The One and Only
    • 8—The Unlikely Twin
  • D—About Micro-organisms
    • 9—Through The Microglass
    • 10—Down From The Amoeba
    • 11—The Cinderella Compound
  • E—About the Thyroid Gland
    • 12—Doctor, Doctor, Cut My Throat
  • F—About Society
    • 13—Lost in Non-Translation
    • 14—The Ancient and the Ultimate
    • 15—By The Numbers
  • G—And (You Guessed It!) About Me
    • 16—The Cruise And I
    • 17—Academe And I
Full title The Truth About Chuck Norris: 400 Facts About the World's Greatest Human [permalink]
Language English
Author Ian Spector (author)
Publisher Gotham Books
Category Humor
Publication year 2007
ISBN 978-1-592-40344-8 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 161

A compilation of the funniest Chuck Norris facts, with illustrations.


A good read if you're just looking for something to pass your time.

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Full title The Tyrannosaurus Prescription: And 100 Other Essays [permalink]
Language English
Author Isaac Asimov (author)
Publisher Prometheus Books
Categories Anthology, astronomy and science
Publication year 1989
ISBN 0-87957-540-7 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 323

A collection of 101 essays divided into seven sections: The Future, Space, Science, SciQuest, "Foreword by Isaac Asimov", Science Fiction, and Personal.


Almost all Asimov essays are excellent and when you pick up an anthology of them you're almost bound not to be disappointed, and this book is no exception except for the section "Foreword by Isaac Asimov", which is simply a collection of forewords to various books. This isn't too bad in itself (in fact, they are all rather well-written), but I, at least, when reading positive forewords and blurbs and reviews, positively want to get the book being foreworded/blurbed/reviewed. Other than that section, I can thoroughly recommend the book. (For a taste of the book, read What Is the Universe?)

In the introduction Asimov says that the title of the eponymous essay (The Tyrannosaurus Prescription) is whimsical, but I disagree. It is actually a prescription for an ill, and it's not at all whimsical. Read the essay if you want to find out why I think so.

Images Back flap of The Tyrannosaurus Prescription.Back of The Tyrannosaurus Prescription.Spine of The Tyrannosaurus Prescription.Front of The Tyrannosaurus Prescription.Front flap of The Tyrannosaurus Prescription.
Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • Introduction


  • 1 Our Future in Education
  • 2 Filling the Brain Gap
  • 3 The Global Computerized Library
  • 4 What Computers Won't Do
  • 5 The Future of Handicraft
  • 6 The Future of Chemical Engineering
  • 7 Men and Marriage


  • 8 The Lure of Exploration
  • 9 Our Second World
  • 10 All Aboard for Phobos
  • 11 What Do We Do Next in Space?
  • 12 Adventure in Space
  • 13 The Distant Flights
  • 14 The Telephone in Space
  • 15 The Average Person as Astronaut
  • 16 Other Intelligent Life?


  • 17 Giant Jupiter
  • 18 Pluto, the Constant Surprise
  • 19 A Hole in the Sky
  • 20 Our Changing Perception of the Universe
  • 21 What is the Universe?
  • 22 The One-Man Revolution
  • 23 The Fifth Force
  • 24 Two at a Time
  • 25 Ozone
  • 26 The Ravages of Nature
  • 27 The Double Discovery of Evolution
  • 28 Master Lizard, the King
  • 29 The Hot-Blooded Giants


  • 30 The Absent-Minded Professor
  • 31 Playing It Safe
  • 32 The First Scientist
  • 33 Tough Luck
  • 34 To See Is Not Enough
  • 35 The Race for Honor
  • 36 Thoughts in Prison
  • 37 Getting Started
  • 38 The Moon Hoax
  • 39 Scientific Heretics
  • 40 Gold from the Sun
  • 41 The Joys of the Unexpected
  • 42 Facing the Giant
  • 43 Scientists Are Human
  • 44 Sometimes It Takes Time
  • 45 Learning Science
  • 46 Self-Correcting
  • 47 The Knowledge of Good and Evil
  • 48 Science and Technology
  • 49 Missed Opportunities


  • 50 Shuttle
  • 51 The Good Deed of Voyager 2
  • 52 The Longest Voyage
  • 53 Spreading Through Space
  • 54 First Contact
  • 55 Welcome, Stranger!
  • 56 The Lost City
  • 57 The Bitter End
  • 58 The Tail Wags the Dog
  • 59 The Ifs of History
  • 60 The Sorry Record
  • 61 Cleverness
  • 62 In Days of Old
  • 63 Nonviolence
  • 64 Empires
  • 65 The Last Man on Earth
  • 66 Image of One's Self
  • 67 Psychology
  • 68 Show Business
  • 69 Super
  • 70 Larger Than Life
  • 71 Science Fiction Mysteries
  • 72 The Science Writer
  • 73 The Scribbling Scientists
  • 74 Neanderthal Man
  • 75 The Nonhuman Brains
  • 76 Computer Envy
  • 77 Dogs
  • 78 Dragons!
  • 79 The New Beginning
  • 80 Valentine's Day
  • 81 Hobgoblins
  • 82 All the Ways Things Can't Happen
  • 83 Is Fantasy Forever?
  • 84 Wishing Will Make it So
  • 85 Wizards
  • 86 Witches
  • 87 Curses!
  • 88 The Forces of Evil
  • 89 Monsters
  • 90 The Power of Evil
  • 91 The Devil


  • 92 Science Fiction Finds its Voice
  • 93 The Five Greats of Science Fiction
  • 94 The Success of Science Fiction
  • 95 Science Fiction Today
  • 96 The Feminization of Science Fiction
  • 97 Back Through Time


  • 98 Our Shangri-La (with Janet Asimov)
  • 99 The Tyrannosaurus Prescription (with Janet Asimov)
  • 100 Ellis Island and I
  • 101 Seven Steps to Grand Master
Full title Ubik [permalink]
Language English
Author Philip K. Dick (author)
Publisher Victor Gollancz Ltd
Categories Novel and science fiction
Publisher series SF Masterworks
Publication year 2004
Original publication year 1969
ISBN 978-1-8579-8853-6 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 224
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Full title Unweaving the Rainbow: Science, Delusion and the Appetite for Wonder [permalink]
Language English
Author Richard Dawkins (author)
Publisher Penguin Books
Categories Astronomy, biology and science
Publication year 1999
Original publication year 1998
ISBN 0-14-026408-6 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 336

This book is a celebration of science, and an explanation of its beauty.

Dawkins discusses the probability of your birth (it turns out to be very low), the notion that knowing things about the universe diminishes its beauty (like Feynman before him), sound waves, DNA fingerprinting, astrology (always witty to condemn), genes, brains, and, finally, memes.

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Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • Preface
  1. The Anaesthetic of Familiarity
  2. Drawing Room of Dukes
  3. Barcodes in the Stars
  4. Barcodes on the Air
  5. Barcodes at the Bar
  6. Hoodwink'd with Faery Fancy
  7. Unweaving the Uncanny
  8. Huge Cloudy Symbols of a High Romance
  9. The Selfish Cooperator
  10. The Genetic Book of the Dead
  11. Reweaving the World
  12. The Balloon of the Mind
  • Selected Bibliography
  • Index
Full title The Varieties of Religious Experience: A Study in Human Nature — Being the Gifford Lectures on Natural Religion Delivered at Edinburgh in 1901–1902 [permalink]
Language English
Author William James (author)
Categories Philosophy, psychology and religion
Publication year 1902
Online version Link

This is the manuscript version of a series of lectures that the Harvard psychologist and philosopher William James gave in Edinburgh between 1901 and 1902 (the so-called Gifford series of lectures given annually at a number of Scottish universities). It explores, as the title implies, varieties of religious experience, from different parts of the world in different times and by different means (although, perhaps only to modern readers, the absence of a full discussion on animistic or primitive or tribal religion is conspicuous). These lectures contain a plethora of case studies, excerpts, and poignant vignettes on whatever the subject happens to be, which really helps give the expositions more context.


I think I will have to re-read this book eventually, as I don't feel I can give a proper review not having really understood it completely.

Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • LECTURE I: Religion and Neurology
  • LECTURE II: Circumscription of the Topic
  • LECTURE III: The Reality of the Unseen
  • LECTURES IV AND V: The Religion of Healthy-mindedness
  • LECTURES VI AND VII: The Sick Soul
  • LECTURE VIII: The Divided Self, and the Process of its Unification
  • LECTURE IX: Conversion
  • LECTURE X: Conversion—concluded
  • LECTURES XI, XII, AND XIII: Saintliness
  • LECTURES XIV AND XV: The Value of Saintliness
  • LECTURE XVIII: Philosophy
  • LECTURE XIX: Other Characteristics
  • LECTURE XX: Conclusions
  • Postscript
Full title View From a Height [permalink]
Language English
Author Isaac Asimov (author)
Publisher Avon Books
Categories Anthology, biology, chemistry, physics and science
Publication year 1975
Original publication year 1963
ISBN 0-380-00356-2 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 224

This is an essay collection broken into four parts: Biology, chemistry, physics, and astronomy. As the subtitle says, it's a brilliant overview of the exciting realms of science. The title invokes the image of viewing science from above, to get an overview of it, and in the introduction Asimov likens science before 1800 to a well-managed orchard. After 1800, it's overgrown and even though there's still an underlying order to it, each wanderer through the orchard only gets to see a small part of it.

"So I have here a collection of essays with little internal unity. They are glimpses, here and there, of the orchard of science, as viewed from a height."

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Structure [Toggle visibility]
    • 1 That's About the Size of It
    • 2 The Egg and Wee
    • 3 That's Life!
    • 4 Not as We Know It
    • 5 The Element of Perfection
    • 6 The Weighting Game
    • 7 The Evens Have It
    • 8 Now Hear This!
    • 9 The Ultimate Split of the Second
    • 10 Order! Order!
    • 11 The Modern Demonology
    • 12 The Height of Up
    • 13 Hot Stuff
    • 14 Recipe for a Planet
    • 15 The Trojan Hearse
    • 16 By Jove!
    • 17 Superficially Speaking
Full title We'll Always Have Paris [permalink]
Language English
Author Ray Bradbury (author)
Publisher Voyager
Categories Anthology, science fiction and short stories
Publication year 2009
ISBN 978-0-00-730364-9 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 210
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Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • Introduction: Watching and Writing
  • Massinello Pietro
  • The Visit
  • The Twilight Greens
  • The Murder
  • When the Bough Breaks
  • We'll Always Have Paris
  • Ma Perkins Comes to Stay
  • Doubles
  • Pater Caninus
  • Arrival and Departure
  • Last Laughs
  • Pietà Summer
  • Fly Away Home
  • Un-pillow Talk
  • Come Away with Me
  • Apple-core Baltimore
  • The Reincarnate
  • Remembrance, Ohio
  • If Paths Must Cross Again
  • Miss Appletree and I
  • A Literary Encounter
  • America
Full title What Is the Name of This Book?: The Riddle of Dracula and Other Logical Puzzles [permalink]
Language English
Author Raymond M. Smullyan (author)
Publisher Dover Publications
Categories Logic and puzzle
Publication year 2011
Original publication year 1978
ISBN 978-0486-48198-2 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 241

A book of puzzles, a lot of the A-always-lies, B-always-tells-the-truth variety.

Each section introduces the topic under discussion with a story, with small vignettes strewn between the puzzles themselves to give context.

The last chapter is a more free-flowing story-telling chapter, with a complete explanation of Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem.


There's not all that much to say about this book. I found it an interesting read, and it's fun to try the puzzles out on friends. Go buy it if you like these kinds of books.

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Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • Introduction

Part One: Logical Recreations

  • 1. Fooled?
  • 2. Puzzles and Monkey Tricks
  • 3. Knights and Knaves
  • 4. Alice in the Forest of Forgetfulness

Part Two: Portia's Caskets and Other Mysteries

  • 5. The Mystery of Portia's Caskets
  • 6. From the Files of Inspector Craig
  • 7. How to Avoid Werewolves—And Other Practical Bits of Advice
  • 8. Logic Puzzles
  • 9. Bellini or Cellini?

Part Three: Weird Tales

  • 10. The Island of Baal
  • 11. The Island of Zombies
  • 12. Is Dracula Still Alive?

Part Four: Logic Is a Many-Splendored Thing

  • 13. Logic and Life
  • 14. How to Prove Anything
  • 15. From Paradox to Truth
  • 16. Gödel's Discovery
Full title Why Evolution is True [permalink]
Language English
Author Jerry Coyne (author)
Publisher Oxford University Press
Categories Biology and science
Publication year 2010
Original publication year 2009
ISBN 978-0-19-923085-3 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 309

This book lays out in a systematic way the evidence for evolution. The first chapter, What Is Evolution?, lays out the basics tenets of the theory. The second, Written in the Rocks, are about (as you might guess) fossils and how they give good evidence of evolution (which wasn't available in Darwin's time). The third chapter goes into vestigial organs and functions, and the various bad designs we find in nature. The rest of the book lays out evidence from the geobiography of life, sexual selection, and so on.

The book is a response to the (on-going) anti-evolution tendency, and directly answers criticisms from that wing, in a detailed and interesting way.


One of the better books on evolution I've read. If you're looking for an explanation of exactly why scientists believe the theory of evolution best explains the adaptations in life (as opposed to intelligent design), then this book is for you.

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Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • Preface
  • Introduction
  1. What Is Evolution?
  2. Written in the Rocks
  3. Remnants: Vestiges, Embryos, and Bad Design
  4. The Geography of Life
  5. The Engine of Evolution
  6. How Sex Drives Evolution
  7. The Origin of Species
  8. What About Us?
  9. Evolution Redux
  • Notes
  • Glossary
  • Suggestions for Further Reading
  • References
  • Illustration Credits
  • Index
Full title The Winds of Change: ...And Other Stories [permalink]
Language English
Author Isaac Asimov (author)
Publisher Ballantine Books
Categories Anthology and science fiction
Publication year 1984
ISBN 0-345-31188-4 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 277
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Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • Introduction
  1. About Nothing
  2. A Perfect Fit
  3. Belief
  4. Death of a Foy
  5. Fair Exchange?
  6. For the Birds
  7. Found!
  8. Good Taste
  9. How It Happened
  10. Ideas Die Hard
  11. Ignition Point!
  12. It Is Coming
  13. The Last Answer
  14. The Last Shuttle
  15. Lest We Remember
  16. Nothing for Nothing
  17. One Night of Song
  18. The Smile That Loses
  19. Sure Thing
  20. To Tell at a Glance
  21. The Winds of Change
Full title The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts [permalink]
Language English
Author Maxine Hong Kingston (author)
Publisher Vintage Books
Category Memoir
Publication year 1989
Original publication year 1975
ISBN 978-0-679-72188-8 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 209

This book is part-novel and part-autobiography, interspersed with Chinese folktales. It describes life for a Chinese-American woman living in California.


The style of the narration (with fantastic tales woven seamlessly into the main autobiography) was at first a little confusing, but one soon gets used to it, and then the book becomes a delight to read. I can definitely recommend it, though I prefer the more traditional form of autobiographical writing.

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Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • No Name Woman
  • White Tigers
  • Shaman
  • At the Western Palace
  • A Song for a Barbarian Reed Pipe
Full title Words of Science and the History behind Them [permalink]
Language English
Author Isaac Asimov (author)
Publisher Houghton Mifflin
Categories Encyclopedia and science
Publication year 1959
Pages 266

An alphabetical listing of common words in science, with one page of explanation for each of them.


Asimov explains a whole bunch of common scientific words, from abacus to zodiac, in great detail and with particular care to their etymologies (it should be no surprise that many of today's English words are derived from either Latin or Greek, and this book makes that point more than clear). The book is in a sense an encyclopedia, and it can be read straight through or used as, well, an encyclopedia.

Images Back flap of Words of Science and the History behind Them.Back of Words of Science and the History behind Them.Spine of Words of Science and the History behind Them.Front of Words of Science and the History behind Them.Front flap of Words of Science and the History behind Them.
Full title The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection From the Living Dead [permalink]
Language English
Author Max Brooks (author)
Category Humor
Publication year 2003
Pages 288

How to survive the zombie onslaught, written in a modern Art of War-esque style. Although a work of fiction, it's written as non-fiction which makes it all the more eerie. So if zombies do exist and they do attack, you should be ready for them.

Full title Artemis Fowl and the Arctic Incident [permalink]
Language English
Author Eoin Colfer (author)
Publisher Penguin Books
Categories Fantasy, novel and youth
Series Artemis Fowl (2/7)
Publication year 2006
Original publication year 2002
ISBN 978-0-14-132132-5 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 288
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Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • Artemis Fowl: A Psychological Assessment
  • Prologue
  • Chapter 1: Family Ties
  • Chapter 2: Cruisin' for Chix
  • Chapter 3: Going Underground
  • Chapter 4: Fowl Is Fair
  • Chapter 5: Daddy's Girl
  • Chapter 6: Photo Opportunity
  • Chapter 7: Joining the Dots
  • Chapter 8: To Russia with Gloves
  • Chapter 9: No Safe Haven
  • Chapter 10: Trouble and Strife
  • Chapter 11: Mulch Ado About Nothing
  • Chapter 12: The Boys Are Back
  • Chapter 13: Into the Breach
  • Chapter 14: Father's Day
  • An Epilogue or Two
Full title Artemis Fowl and the Eternity Code [permalink]
Language English
Author Eoin Colfer (author)
Publisher Penguin Books
Categories Fantasy, novel and youth
Series Artemis Fowl (3/7)
Publication year 2006
Original publication year 2003
ISBN 978-0-14-132131-8 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 329
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Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • Prologue
  • Chapter 1: The Cube
  • Chapter 2: Lockdown
  • Chapter 3: On Ice
  • Chapter 4: Running in the Family
  • Chapter 5: The Metal Man and the Monkey
  • Chapter 6: Assault on Fowl Manor
  • Chapter 7: Best-laid Plans
  • Chapter 8: Hooks, Lines, and Sinkers
  • Chapter 9: Ghosts in the Machine
  • Chapter 10: Fingers and Thumbs
  • Chapter 11: The Invisible Man
  • Chapter 12: Mind Wipe
  • Epilogue
Full title Artemis Fowl and the Opal Deception [permalink]
Language English
Author Eoin Colfer (author)
Publisher Penguin Books
Categories Fantasy, novel and youth
Series Artemis Fowl (4/7)
Publication year 2006
Original publication year 2005
ISBN 0-141-31549-0 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 343
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Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • Prologue
  • Chapter 1: Totally Obsessed
  • Chapter 2: The Fairy Thief
  • Chapter 3: Nearly Departed
  • Chapter 4: Narrow Escapes
  • Chapter 5: Meet the Neighbours
  • Chapter 6: Troll Nasty
  • Chapter 7: The Temple of Artemis
  • Chapter 8: Some Intelligent Conversation
  • Chapter 9: Daddy's Girl
  • Chapter 10: Horse Sense
  • Chapter 11: A Last Goodbye
  • Epilogue
Full title Consider Phlebas [permalink]
Language English
Author Iain M. Banks (author)
Publisher Orbit Books
Categories Novel, science fiction and space opera
Series Culture (1/10)
Publication year 1987
ISBN 1-85723-138-4 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 471

A hunted Mind is forced to escape to Schar's World and both the Culture and the Idirans (fierce tripedal warriors) want it. The book's protagonist, Bora Horza Gobuchul, is a Changer who works for the Idirans to retrieve the Mind, and the book follows his adventure.

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Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • Prologue
  • 1. Sorpen
  • 2. The Hand of God 137
  • 3. Clear Air Turbulence
  • 4. Temple of Light
  • State of play: one
  • 5. Megaship
  • 6. The Eaters
  • Interlude in darkness
  • 7. A Game of Damage
  • 8. The Ends of Invention
  • State of play: two
  • 9. Schar's World
  • 10. The Command System: Batholith
  • State of play: three
  • 11. The Command System: Stations
  • 12. The Command System: Engines
  • 13. The Command System: Terminus
  • 14. Consider Phlebas
  • Appendices: the Idiran-Culture war
    • Reasons: the Culture
    • Reasons: the Idirans
    • The war, briefly
  • Dramatis personae
  • Epilogue
Full title The Player of Games [permalink]
Language English
Author Iain M. Banks (author)
Publisher Orbit Books
Categories Novel, science fiction and space opera
Series Culture (2/10)
Publication year 1988
ISBN 1-85723-146-5 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 309

Jernau Morat Gurgeh, a Culture citizen, has played games all his life, and is an expert at it. Being bored with success, he accepts to travel to the Empire of Azad to play one the most complex games known to the galaxy, coincidentally named Azad. The game is played on multi-layered checker boards with dice and cards, and features several different pieces, all with different strengths, weaknesses, and attributes. It is said that the moves one is able to execute in the game are so subtle that an experienced player would be able to figure out a lot about his opponent by watching him play (such as his outlook on life and his political stance). The game is so central to the society of Azad that the winner of the game is automatically the next Emperor.

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Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • One: Culture Plate
  • Two: Imperium
  • Three: Machina Ex Machina
  • Four: The Passed Pawn
Full title Use of Weapons [permalink]
Language English
Author Iain M. Banks (author)
Publisher Orbit Books
Categories Novel, science fiction and space opera
Series Culture (3/10)
Publication year 1990
ISBN 1-85723-135-X [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 368

The Culture hires a mercenary, Cheradenine Zakalwe, to do their dirty work, while Zakalwe tries to piece together a terrible secret in his past.


Banks fans apparently see this novel as the epitome of Culture novels. I hated it, save for the weird party in which people deliberately mutilate themselves and the curious method by which Zakalwe's body is being rebuilt after he's been beheaded. Why do I hate it? The structure. The story follows two threads, one going forward in time and another going backward; the chapters alternate between these two. I wasn't too confused by this, but I was annoyed. Perhaps I should re-read it. If you plan on reading the Culture novels, don't start with this one.

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Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • Acknowledgment
  • 'Slight Mechanical Destruction'
  • Prologue
  • 1. The Good Soldier
    • One
      • XIII
    • Two
      • XII
    • Three
      • XI
    • Four
      • X
    • Five
  • 2. An Outing
      • IX
    • Six
      • VIII
    • Seven
      • VII
    • Eight
      • VI
    • Nine
      • V
  • 3. Remembrance
    • Ten
      • IV
    • Eleven
      • III
    • Twelve
      • II
    • Thirteen
      • I
    • Fourteen
  • Epilogue
  • Zakalwe's Song
Full title The State of the Art [permalink]
Language English
Author Iain M. Banks (author)
Publisher Orbit Books
Categories Anthology, science fiction and short stories
Series Culture (4/10)
Publication year 1991
ISBN 1-85723-030-2 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 216
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Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • 1. Road of Skulls
  • 2. A Gift from the Culture
  • 3. Odd Attachment
  • 4. Descendant
  • 5. Cleaning Up
  • 6. Piece
  • 7. The State of the Art
  • 8. Scratch
Full title Inversions [permalink]
Language English
Author Iain M. Banks (author)
Publisher Orbit Books
Categories Novel and science fiction
Series Culture (6/10)
Publication year 1998
ISBN 1-85723-763-3 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 406

The chapters alternate between telling the story of Vosill, a king's physician, and DeWar, a Protector's bodyguard. Vosill and DeWar reside on opposite sides of a mountain where they tend to their masters (in their own ways), and although they never actually meet, there is subtle evidence that they know each other (but to say more would spoil).


This isn't a Culture novel per se. It isn't even a science fiction novel, per se. The entire story is set in something resembling medieval Earth, with kings, generals, horse riding, and concubines. That having been said, there are subtle hints at the novel's SFness, but to pick them up you need to read the previous Culture novels.

Overall, I really enjoyed it, despite its non-SFness. I think Vosill may have saved it.

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Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • Prologue
  • 1. The Doctor
  • 2. The Bodyguard
  • 3. The Doctor
  • 4. The Bodyguard
  • 5. The Doctor
  • 6. The Bodyguard
  • 7. The Doctor
  • 8. The Bodyguard
  • 9. The Doctor
  • 10. The Bodyguard
  • 11. The Doctor
  • 12. The Bodyguard
  • 13. The Doctor
  • 14. The Bodyguard
  • 15. The Doctor
  • 16. The Bodyguard
  • 17. The Doctor
  • 18. The Bodyguard
  • 19. The Doctor
  • 20. The Bodyguard
  • 21. The Doctor
  • 22. The Bodyguard
  • 23. The Doctor
  • 24. The Bodyguard
  • Epilogue
Full title Look to Windward [permalink]
Language English
Author Iain M. Banks (author)
Publisher Pocket Books
Categories Novel, science fiction and space opera
Series Culture (7/10)
Publication year 2002
Original publication year 2000
ISBN 0-7434-2192-2 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 483

During one of the most violent skirmishes in the Culture-Idiran War, a binary star system is blown up, and as the light from that event reaches the Orbital Masaq', the renowned composer Mahrai Ziller (an alien, a Chelgrian) is slated to conduct his latest masterpiece in coincidence with it. Meanwhile, another Chelgrian, the Major Quilan, is tasked with a mission (and a cover-story for that mission) whose objectives are unknown to him but which are gradually revealed (both to him and the reader).


As this is a Culture novel I could almost have recommended it without reading it, and the verdict after having read it is still the same. This is an excellent story, one of political intrigue, love lost, secret missions, espionage, and huge sceneries. I particularly enjoyed the light-hearted chapters about Uagen Zlepe and 974 Praf, the former a human-turned-simian scholar (and an all-around twitchy and funny character), the latter a pterodactyl-like sentient creature and Zlepe's companion (also pretty incompetent and funny because of that). Their extremely serendipitous doings and fallings (don't ask) did much to lighten the otherwise heavy mood.

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Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • Prologue
  • 1 The Light of Ancient Mistakes
  • 2 Winter Storm
  • 3 Infra Dawn
  • 4 Scorched Ground
  • Airsphere
  • 5 A Very Attractive System
  • 6 Resistance Is Character-Forming
  • 7 Peer Group
  • 8 The Retreat at Cadracet
  • Dirigible
  • The Memory of Running
  • 9 Pylon Country
  • 10 The Seastacks of Youmier
  • 11 Absence of Gravitas
  • 12 A Defeat of Echoes
  • Flight
  • 13 Some Ways of Dying
  • 14 Returning to Leave, Recalling Forgetting
  • 15 A Certain Loss of Control
  • 16 Expiring Light
  • Space, Time
  • Closure
  • Epilogue
Full title The Stars, Like Dust [permalink]
Language English
Author Isaac Asimov (author)
Publisher Orb Publications
Category Science fiction
Series Empire (1/3)
Publication year 2009
Original publication year 1951
ISBN 978-0-7653-1915-9 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 235

Biron Farrill wakes up in his dorm room in the University of Earth to discover a radiation bomb. He then has to quickly escape and figure out who the assassin is.

The title is taken from a (fictional, to my best knowledge) poem:

"The stars, like dust, encircle me
In living mists of light;
And all of space I seem to see
In one vast burst of sight."

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Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • 1. The Bedroom Murmured
  • 2. The Net Across Space
  • 3. Chance and the Wrist Watch
  • 4. Free?
  • 5. Uneasy Lies the Head
  • 6. That Wears a Crown
  • 7. Musician of the Mind
  • 8. A Lady's Skirts
  • 9. And an Overlord's Trousers
  • 10. Maybe!
  • 11. And Maybe Not!
  • 12. The Autarch Comes
  • 13. The Autarch Remains
  • 14. The Autarch Leaves
  • 15. The Hole in Space
  • 16. Hounds!
  • 17. And Hares!
  • 18. Out of the Haws of Defeat!
  • 19. Defeat!
  • 20. Where?
  • 21. Here?
  • 22. There!
  • Afterword
  • About the Author
Full title Pebble in the Sky [permalink]
Language English
Author Isaac Asimov (author)
Publisher Grafton
Categories Novel and science fiction
Series Empire (3/3)
Publication year 1987
Original publication year 1950
Pages 226

Asimov almost never disappoints, and this book is no exception. It's a well-paced and thrilling novel with interesting characters. In particular (as is common with Asimov's novels), the dialog is excellent and abundant.

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Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • Chapter One: Between One Footstep and the Next
  • Chapter Two: The Disposal of a Stranger
  • Chapter Three: One World — Or Many?
  • Chapter Four: The Royal Road
  • Chapter Five: The Involuntary Volunteer
  • Chapter Six: Apprehension in the Night
  • Chapter Seven: Conversation With Madmen?
  • Chapter Eight: Convergence at Chica
  • Chapter Nine: Conflict at Chica
  • Chapter Ten: Interpretation of Events
  • Chapter Eleven: The Mind That Changed
  • Chapter Twelve: The Mind That Killed
  • Chapter Thirteen: Spider Web at Washenn
  • Chapter Fourteen: Second Meeting
  • Chapter Fifteen: The Odds That Vanished
  • Chapter Sixteen: Choose Your Side!
  • Chapter Seventeen: Change Your Side!
  • Chapter Eighteen: Duel!
  • Chapter Nineteen: The Deadline That Approached
  • Chapter Twenty: The Deadline That Was Reached
  • Chapter Twenty-One: The Deadline That Passed
  • Chapter Twenty-Two: The Best is Yet to Be
  • Afterword
Full title Ender's Game [permalink]
Language English
Author Orson Scott Card (author)
Publisher Tor Books
Categories Novel and science fiction
Series Ender's Game (1/6)
Publication year 1994
Original publication year 1985
ISBN 0-812-55070-6 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 324

Three brilliant children, Ender, Peter, and Valentine Wiggin, all rise to excellence and help the human race in their own ways. The book primarily follows Ender as he advances to become a great military leader and strategist. It is set against the backdrop of a major inter-stellar war with the Buggers, a hive-mind entity of insect-like beings, who, humanity believes, wish to wipe them all out.

The military leaders in the International Fleet (I.F.) monitor children and pick out exceedingly bright ones to go to Battle School to become commanders, and Ender is picked out after he successfully defends himself against a school bully, determined to beat him down so badly that neither he (nor his entourage) would dare mess with him again. He accepts and is shipped to the Battle School, where he rises through the ranks quickly and starts winning more and more mock battles.

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Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction
  • 1. Third
  • 2. Peter
  • 3. Graff
  • 4. Launch
  • 5. Games
  • 6. The Giant's Drink
  • 7. Salamander
  • 8. Rat
  • 9. Locke and Demosthenes
  • 10. Dragon
  • 11. Veni Vidi Vici
  • 12. Bonzo
  • 13. Valentine
  • 14. Ender's Teacher
  • 15. Speaker for the Dead
Full title Speaker for the Dead [permalink]
Language English
Author Orson Scott Card (author)
Publisher Tor Books
Categories Novel and science fiction
Series Ender's Game (2/6)
Publication year 1994
Original publication year 1986
ISBN 0-812-55075-7 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 382

The book follows a family on the Catholic colony planet Lusitania and centers around the xenologers who find an intelligent porcine alien race there which does some (to them) bizarre things. In a manner that I won't spoil, Ender is entwined into the story.


I like Speaker for the dead better than Ender's Game. There are more major characters, which is good, but also many more minor characters, which I didn't like. But the porcine alien race, which the inhabitants of Lusitania call pequeninos, were interesting enough to save the book for me. I also think Ender is an excellent speaker, and he's a likeable character.

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Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • Introduction
  • Some People of Lusitania Colony
  • Pronouncing Foreign Names
  • Prologue
  • 1. Pipo
  • 2. Trondheim
  • 3. Libo
  • 4. Ender
  • 5. Valentine
  • 6. Olhado
  • 7. The Ribeira House
  • 8. Dona Ivanova
  • 9. Congenital Defect
  • 10. Children of the Mind
  • 11. Jane
  • 12. Files
  • 13. Ela
  • 14. Renegades
  • 15. Speaking
  • 16. The Fence
  • 17. The Wives
  • 18. The Hive Queen
Full title Xenocide [permalink]
Language English
Author Orson Scott Card (author)
Publisher Tor Books
Categories Novel and science fiction
Series Ender's Game (3/6)
Publication year 1992
Original publication year 1991
ISBN 0-812-50925-0 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 592
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Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • Acknowledgments
  • Pronunciation
  • 1. A Parting
  • 2. A Meeting
  • 3. Clean Hands
  • 4. Jane
  • 5. The Lusitania Fleet
  • 6. Varelse
  • 7. Secret Maid
  • 8. Miracles
  • 9. Pinehead
  • 10. Martyr
  • 11. The Jade of Master Ho
  • 12. Grego's War
  • 13. Free Will
  • 14. Virus Makers
  • 15. Life and Death
  • 16. Voyage
  • 17. Ender's Children
  • 18. The God of Path
Full title Children of the Mind [permalink]
Language English
Author Orson Scott Card (author)
Publisher Tor Books
Categories Novel and science fiction
Series Ender's Game (4/6)
Publication year 1997
Original publication year 1996
ISBN 0-812-52239-7 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 370
Images Back of Children of the Mind.Spine of Children of the Mind.Front of Children of the Mind.
Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • Acknowledgments
  • 1. "I'm Not Myself"
  • 2. "You Don't Believe in God"
  • 3. "There Are Too Many of Us"
  • 4. "I Am a Man of Perfect Simplicity!"
  • 5. "Nobody Is Rational"
  • 6. "Life Is a Suicide Mission"
  • 7. "I Offer Her This Poor Old Vessel"
  • 8. "What Matters Is Which Fiction You Believe"
  • 9. "It Smells Like Life to Me"
  • 10. "This Has Always Been Your Body"
  • 11. "You Called ME Back from Darkness"
  • 12. "Am I Betraying Ender?"
  • 13. "Till Death Ends All Surprises"
  • 14. "How They Communicate with Animals"
  • 15. "We're Giving You a Second Chance"
  • 16. "How Do You Know They Aren't Quivering in Terror?"
  • 17. "The Road Goes On without Him Now"
  • Afterword
Full title Ender's Shadow [permalink]
Language English
Author Orson Scott Card (author)
Publisher Tor Books
Categories Novel and science fiction
Series Ender's Shadow (1/4)
Publication year 2000
Original publication year 1999
ISBN 0-812-57571-7 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 469

Ender's Shadow follows Bean, a friend of Ender's in Battle School, as he grows up on the harsh streets of Rotterdam, gets accepted by the I.F., and is taken to Battle School. From there it's basically another view of Card's first book in the Ender series, Ender's Game.


Card is very good at drama and dialog, and I think this book showcases that very well. I also like the characters he develops very much. A good read.

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Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • Foreword
    • 1. Poke
    • 2. Kitchen
    • 3. Payback
    • 4. Memories
    • 5. Ready or Not
    • 6. Ender's Shadow
    • 7. Exploration
    • 8. Good Student
    • 9. Garden of Sofia
    • 10. Sneaky
    • 11. Daddy
    • 12. Roster
    • 13. Dragon Army
    • 14. Brothers
    • 15. Courage
    • 16. Companion
    • 17. Deadline
    • 18. Friend
    • 19. Rebel
    • 20. Trial and Error
    • 21. Guesswork
    • 22. Reunion
    • 23. Ender's Game
    • 24. Homecoming
  • Acknowledgments
Full title Shadow of the Hegemon [permalink]
Language English
Author Orson Scott Card (author)
Publisher Tor Books
Categories Novel and science fiction
Series Ender's Shadow (2/4)
Publication year 2001
Original publication year 2000
ISBN 0-812-56595-9 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 451
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Structure [Toggle visibility]
    • 1. Petra
    • 2. Bean
    • 3. Message in a Bottle
    • 4. Custody
    • 5. Ambition
    • 6. Code
    • 7. Going Public
    • 8. Bread Van
    • 9. Communing with the Dead
    • 10. Brothers in Arms
    • 11. Bangkok
    • 12. Islamabad
    • 13. Warnings
    • 14. Hyderabad
    • 15. Murder
    • 16. Treachery
    • 17. On a Bridge
    • 18. Sayagraha
    • 19. Rescue
    • 20. Hegemon
  • Afterword
Full title Shadow Puppets [permalink]
Language English
Author Orson Scott Card (author)
Publisher Tor Books
Categories Novel and science fiction
Series Ender's Shadow (3/4)
Publication year 2003
Original publication year 2002
ISBN 0-765-34005-4 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 375

The novel follows Bean, Petra, Achilles, Peter, and Suriyawong and the political developments on Earth after the Formics are defeated.

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Structure [Toggle visibility]
  1. GROWN
  11. BABIES
  13. CALIPH
  16. TRAPS
  20. HOME
Full title Shadow of the Giant [permalink]
Language English
Author Orson Scott Card (author)
Publisher Tor Books
Categories Novel and science fiction
Series Ender's Shadow (4/4)
Publication year 2006
Original publication year 2005
ISBN 0-812-57139-8 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 371

The story of Ender's jeesh (comrades) is further elaborated, taking place entirely on Earth.


I hesitate a little to classify this as science fiction, because it feels more like a political thriller. It was a good read, but in the end I was left disappointed. I'm no Card fan, but if you are, perhaps you'll get something more out of it.

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Structure [Toggle visibility]
  3. COUP
  5. SHIVA
  8. ENDER
  10. GRIEF
  13. FOUND
  16. JEESH
  17. BOATS
  20. PLANS
  21. PAPERS
Full title Flood [permalink]
Language English
Author Stephen Baxter (author)
Publisher Victor Gollancz Ltd
Categories Novel and science fiction
Series Flood/Ark (1/2)
Publication year 2009
Original publication year 2008
ISBN 978-0-575-08482-7 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 538

The book's first two chapters are over briefly, describing how a group of four hostages (Lily Brooke, Piers Michaelmas, Helen Gray, and Gary Boyle) are rescued by AxysCorp after five years of imprisonment in various cellars in Barcelona by a Christian extremist group called the Fathers of the Elect (who don't play a prominent part in the story). Lily, Piers, Helen, and Gary vow to stay in touch after their long imprisonment, and the rest of the book is about a world-wide flood which seems to be rising inexorably, and without an end in sight. The chapters alternate between the characters and events haphazardly.

Interspersed between some of the chapters are small vignettes, excerpts from Kristie's journal, describing how the situation looks on the ground in various parts of the world as it floods. At some points in the book there are edited world maps showing the effects of a sea-level rise of a certain magnitude above the 2010 datum.


This is a long novel, with lots of space to really flesh out the characters and paint a picture of how a world-wide flood in the not-too-distant future would look. And what a picture Baxter paints! This really is more of a thriller/drama than science fiction, although the SF is there in the form of speculations about what causes the sea too rise so drastically, but it's really the human drama that is the main driving force of the novel.

Go read it!

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Full title Ark [permalink]
Language English
Author Stephen Baxter (author)
Publisher Victor Gollancz Ltd
Categories Novel and science fiction
Series Flood/Ark (2/2)
Publication year 2010
Original publication year 2009
ISBN 978-0-575-09413-0 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 537

Ark picks up where Flood left off. Unfortunately, the cover art sort of gives the ending of Flood away (although it's not that much of a spoiler, really). It follows the exploits of the survivors of the world wide flood, both on Earth and on the spaceship.


Like the previous book, this one is excellent. It's thick, and uses the space well to flesh out the characters and describe the drama. If you liked Flood, then you'll like the sequel. The ending was particularly satisfying.

Images Back of Ark.Spine of Ark.Front of Ark.
Full title Prelude to Foundation [permalink]
Language English
Author Isaac Asimov (author)
Categories Novel and science fiction
Series Foundation (1/7)
Publication year 1988
Pages 528
Full title Forward the Foundation [permalink]
Language English
Author Isaac Asimov (author)
Categories Novel and science fiction
Series Foundation (2/7)
Publication year 1993
Pages 464
Full title Foundation [permalink]
Language English
Author Isaac Asimov (author)
Publisher Panther Books
Categories Novel and science fiction
Series Foundation (3/7)
Publication year 1974
Original publication year 1951
Pages 189
Images Back of Foundation.Spine of Foundation.Front of Foundation.
Full title Foundation and Empire [permalink]
Language English
Author Isaac Asimov (author)
Publisher Panther Books
Categories Novel and science fiction
Series Foundation (4/7)
Publication year 1974
Original publication year 1952
Pages 172
Images Back of Foundation and Empire.Spine of Foundation and Empire.Front of Foundation and Empire.
Full title Second Foundation [permalink]
Language English
Author Isaac Asimov (author)
Publisher Bantam Books
Categories Novel and science fiction
Series Foundation (5/7)
Publication year 1991
Original publication year 1953
ISBN 0-553-29336-2 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 279
Images Back of Second Foundation.Spine of Second Foundation.Front of Second Foundation.
Structure [Toggle visibility]


    First Interlude
    Second Interlude
    Third Interlude
    Fourth Interlude
    Last Interlude


  • 12 LORD
  • 13 LADY
  • 14 ANXIETY
  • 17 WAR
  • 19 END OF WAR
  • 20 "I KNOW..."
Full title Foundation's Edge [permalink]
Language English
Author Isaac Asimov (author)
Publisher Bantam Books
Categories Novel and science fiction
Series Foundation (6/7)
Publication year 2004
Original publication year 1982
ISBN 0-553-29338-9 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 449
Images Back of Foundation's Edge.Spine of Foundation's Edge.Front of Foundation's Edge.
Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • Prologue
  • 1. Councilman
  • 2. Mayor
  • 3. Historian
  • 4. Space
  • 5. Speaker
  • 6. Earth
  • 7. Farmer
  • 8. Farmwoman
  • 9. Hyperspace
  • 10. Table
  • 11. Sayshell
  • 12. Agent
  • 13. University
  • 14. Forward!
  • 15. Gaia-s
  • 16. Convergence
  • 17. Gaia
  • 18. Collision
  • 19. Decision
  • 20. Conclusion
  • Afterword by the Author
Full title Foundation and Earth [permalink]
Language English
Author Isaac Asimov (author)
Publisher Bantam Books
Categories Novel and science fiction
Series Foundation (7/7)
Publication year 2004
Original publication year 1986
ISBN 0-553-58757-9 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 499
Images Back of Foundation and Earth.Spine of Foundation and Earth.Front of Foundation and Earth.
Structure [Toggle visibility]
    • 1. The Search Begins
    • 2. Toward Comporellon
    • 3. At the Entry Station
    • 4. On Comporellon
    • 5. Struggle for the Ship
    • 6. The Nature of Earth
    • 7. Leaving Comporellon
    • 8. Forbidden World
    • 9. Facing the Pack
    • 10. Robots
    • 11. Underground
    • 12. To the Surface
    • 13. Away from Solaria
    • 14. Dead Planet
    • 15. Moss
    • 16. The Center of the Worlds
    • 17. New Earth
    • 18. The Music Festival
    • 19. Radioactive?
    • 20. The Nearby World
    • 21. The Search Ends
Full title Halo: The Flood [permalink]
Language English
Author William C. Dietz (author)
Categories Novel and science fiction
Series Halo (2/7)
Publication year 2003
Pages 352

A spaceship, The Pillar of Autumn, takes a wrong turn in hyperspace (called Slipstream Space in the Haloverse) and ends up having to crash-land on a ringworld nearby. John-117 (a super soldier popularly called Master Chief, in a battle armor) is tasked with the safe-keeping of the ship's enigmatic AI, Cortana, and the novel chronicles his attempts at rendezvousing with The Pillar of Autumn after having used an escape pod to disembark from it.


The book is a straight novelization of the game, and it suffers a bit from that fact (if you've played the game then you know that a good deal of the game is repetitive shooting). A good chunk of the book is devoted to viewing the action from other perspectives, which is good. In the end, though, it's a mediocre book. I can't recommend it if you're not a Halo fan.

Full title Old Man's War [permalink]
Language English
Author John Scalzi (author)
Publisher Tor Books
Categories Novel and science fiction
Series Old Man's War (1/6)
Publication year 2007
Original publication year 2005
ISBN 978-0-7653-4827-2 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 362
Images Back of Old Man's War.Spine of Old Man's War.Front of Old Man's War.
Full title The Ghost Brigades [permalink]
Language English
Author John Scalzi (author)
Publisher Tor Books
Categories Novel and science fiction
Series Old Man's War (2/6)
Publication year 2007
Original publication year 2006
ISBN 978-0-7653-5406-8 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 374
Images Back of The Ghost Brigades.Spine of The Ghost Brigades.Front of The Ghost Brigades.
Full title The Last Colony [permalink]
Language English
Author John Scalzi (author)
Publisher Tor Books
Categories Novel and science fiction
Series Old Man's War (3/6)
Publication year 2008
Original publication year 2007
ISBN 978-0-7653-5618-5 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 324
Images Back of The Last Colony.Spine of The Last Colony.Front of The Last Colony.
Full title Zoe's Tale [permalink]
Language English
Author John Scalzi (author)
Publisher Tor Books
Categories Novel and science fiction
Series Old Man's War (4/6)
Publication year 2009
Original publication year 2008
ISBN 978-0-7653-5619-2 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 406
Images Back of Zoe's Tale.Spine of Zoe's Tale.Front of Zoe's Tale.
Full title Planetes 1 [permalink]
Original title プラネテス
Transliterated title Puranetesu
Language English
Author Makoto Yukimura (author)
Publisher Tokyopop
Categories Manga and science fiction
Series Planetes (1/5)
Publication year 2003
ISBN 1-59182-262-9 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 238
Images Back of Planetes 1.Spine of Planetes 1.Front of Planetes 1.
Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • //Phase 1// A Stardust Sky
  • //Phase 2// A Girl from Beyond the Earth
  • //Phase 3// A Cigarette Under Starlight
  • //Phase 4// Scenery for a Rocket
  • //Phase 5// Ignition
Full title Planetes 2 [permalink]
Original title プラネテス
Transliterated title Puranetesu
Language English
Author Makoto Yukimura (author)
Publisher Tokyopop
Categories Manga and science fiction
Series Planetes (2/5)
Publication year 2004
ISBN 1-59182-509-1 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 238
Images Back of Planetes 2.Spine of Planetes 2.Front of Planetes 2.
Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • //Phase 6// Running Man
  • //Phase 7// Tanabe
  • //Phase 8// A Black Flower Named Sakinohaka (Part 1)
  • //Phase 9// A Black Flower Named Sakinohaka (Part 2)
  • //Phase 10// Lost Souls
  • //Phase 11// СПАСИБО
Full title Planetes 3 [permalink]
Original title プラネテス
Transliterated title Puranetesu
Language English
Author Makoto Yukimura (author)
Publisher Tokyopop
Categories Manga and science fiction
Series Planetes (3/5)
Publication year 2004
ISBN 1-59182-510-5 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 227
Images Back of Planetes 3.Spine of Planetes 3.Front of Planetes 3.
Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • //Phase 12// A Cat in the Evening
  • //Phase 13// Windmillville
  • //Phase 14// Boy and Girl
  • //Phase 15// A Day of Kyakurai
  • //Phase 16// Hachimaki
  • //Extra Phase// Red Star/While Ball
Full title Planetes 4/1 [permalink]
Original title プラネテス
Transliterated title Puranetesu
Language English
Author Makoto Yukimura (author)
Publisher Tokyopop
Categories Manga and science fiction
Series Planetes (4/5)
Publication year 2004
ISBN 1-59532-208-6 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 197
Images Back of Planetes 4/1.Spine of Planetes 4/1.Front of Planetes 4/1.
Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • //Phase 17// How to Make a Hundred Friends
  • //Phase 18// Just Like Guskou Sudori
  • //Phase 19// Dog Days
  • //Phase 20// Man's Best Friend
  • //Phase 21// Little Girls and Underdogs
Full title Planetes 4/2 [permalink]
Original title プラネテス
Transliterated title Puranetesu
Language English
Author Makoto Yukimura (author)
Publisher Tokyopop
Categories Manga and science fiction
Series Planetes (5/5)
Publication year 2005
ISBN 1-59532-467-4 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 195
Images Back of Planetes 4/2.Spine of Planetes 4/2.Front of Planetes 4/2.
Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • //Phase 22// A Crying Dog
  • //Phase 23// A Running Dog
  • //Phase 24// A Barking Dog
  • //Phase 25// 45 Minutes at the Speed of Light
  • //Phase 26// What a Wonderful World
Full title Rendezvous with Rama [permalink]
Language English
Author Arthur C. Clarke (author)
Publisher Bantam Books
Categories Novel and science fiction
Series Rama (1/4)
Publication year 1990
Original publication year 1972
ISBN 0-553-28789-3 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 243

A large cylindrical object is spinning so fast through the solar system that humans want to take a look at it before it whizzes past them. They dispatch the Endeavour to intersect its orbit and quickly discover that the cylinder is a spaceship of some kind designed by an intelligent species. Once they make it aboard Rama, the crew meticulously describe the interior of it and you should eventually get a really good feel for its construction. The novel details the crew's discoveries aboard Rama.

Images Back of Rendezvous with Rama.Spine of Rendezvous with Rama.Front of Rendezvous with Rama.
Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • Chapter 1 * Spaceguard
  • Chapter 2 * Intruder
  • Chapter 3 * Rama and Sita
  • Chapter 4 * Rendezvous
  • Chapter 5 * First EVA
  • Chapter 6 * Committee
  • Chapter 7 * Two Wives
  • Chapter 8 * Through the Hub
  • Chapter 9 * Reconnaissance
  • Chapter 10 * Descent into Darkness
  • Chapter 11 * Men, Women, and Monkeys
  • Chapter 12 * The Stairway of the Gods
  • Chapter 13 * The Plain of Rama
  • Chapter 14 * Storm Warning
  • Chapter 15 * The Edge of the Sea
  • Chapter 16 * Kealakekua
  • Chapter 17 * Spring
  • Chapter 18 * Dawn
  • Chapter 19 * A Warning from Mercury
  • Chapter 20 * Book of Revelation
  • Chapter 21 * After the Storm
  • Chapter 22 * To Sail the Cylindrical Sea
  • Chapter 23 * N.Y., Rama
  • Chapter 24 * Dragonfly
  • Chapter 25 * Maiden Flight
  • Chapter 26 * The Voice of Rama
  • Chapter 27 * Electric Wind
  • Chapter 28 * Icarus
  • Chapter 29 * First Contact
  • Chapter 30 * The Flower
  • Chapter 31 * Terminal Velocity
  • Chapter 32 * The Wave
  • Chapter 33 * Spider
  • Chapter 34 * His Excellency Regrets...
  • Chapter 35 * Special Delivery
  • Chapter 36 * Biot Watcher
  • Chapter 37 * Missile
  • Chapter 38 * General Assembly
  • Chapter 39 * Command Decision
  • Chapter 40 * Saboteur
  • Chapter 41 * Hero
  • Chapter 42 * Temple of Glass
  • Chapter 43 * Retreat
  • Chapter 44 * Space Drive
  • Chapter 45 * Phoenix
  • Chapter 46 * Interlude
Full title Ringworld [permalink]
Language English
Author Larry Niven (author)
Publisher Ballantine Books
Categories Novel and science fiction
Series Ringworld (1/4)
Publication year 1970
ISBN 0-345-33392-6 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 342

A group of four individuals (two humans and two aliens) end up together on an expedition to a ringworld, a huge structure around a sun, akin to a slender rubber band around a speck of sand. The book chronicles their adventures on it.

Images Back of Ringworld.Spine of Ringworld.Front of Ringworld.
Structure [Toggle visibility]
  1. Louis Wu
  2. And His Motley Crew
  3. Teela Brown
  4. Speaker-to-Animals
  5. Rosette
  6. Christmas Ribbon
  7. Stepping Discs
  8. Ringworld
  9. Shadow Squares
  10. The Ring Floor
  11. The Arch of Heaven
  12. Fist-of-God
  13. Starseed Lure
  14. Interlude, with Sunflowers
  15. Dream-Castle
  16. The Map Room
  17. The Eye of the Storm
  18. The Perils of Teela Brown
  19. In the Trap
  20. Meat
  21. The Girl from Beyond the Edge
  22. Seeker
  23. The God Gambit
  24. Fist-of-God
Full title The Caves of Steel [permalink]
Language English
Author Isaac Asimov (author)
Publisher Bantam Books
Categories Novel and science fiction
Series Robot (1/4)
Publication year 1991
Original publication year 1954
ISBN 0-553-29340-0 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 270
Images Back of The Caves of Steel.Spine of The Caves of Steel.Front of The Caves of Steel.
Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • Introduction
  • 1. Conversation with a Commissioner
  • 2. Round Trip on an Expressway
  • 3. Incident at a Shoe Counter
  • 4. Introduction to a Family
  • 5. Analysis of a Murder
  • 6. Whispers in a Bedroom
  • 7. Excursion into Spacetown
  • 8. Debate over a Robot
  • 9. Elucidation by a Spacer
  • 10. Afternoon of a Plain-clothes Man
  • 11. Escape along the Strips
  • 12. Words from an Expert
  • 13. Shift to the Machine
  • 14. Power of a Name
  • 15. Arrest of a Conspirator
  • 16. Questions Concerning a Motive
  • 17. Conclusion of a Project
  • 18. End of an Investigation
Full title The Naked Sun [permalink]
Language English
Author Isaac Asimov (author)
Categories Novel and science fiction
Series Robot (2/4)
Publication year 1957
Pages 288
Full title The Robots of Dawn [permalink]
Language English
Author Isaac Asimov (author)
Publisher Bantam Books
Categories Novel and science fiction
Series Robot (3/4)
Publication year 1994
Original publication year 1983
ISBN 0-553-29949-2 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 435
Images Back of The Robots of Dawn.Spine of The Robots of Dawn.Front of The Robots of Dawn.
Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • 1 Baley
  • 2 Daneel
  • 3 Giskard
  • 4 Fastolfe
  • 5 Daneel and Giskard
  • 6 Gladia
  • 7 Again Fastolfe
  • 8 Fastolfe and Vasilia
  • 9 Vasilia
  • 10 Again Vasilia
  • 11 Gremionis
  • 12 Again Gremionis
  • 13 Amadiro
  • 14 Again Amadiro
  • 15 Again Daneel and Giskard
  • 16 Again Gladia
  • 17 The Chairman
  • 18 Again the Chairman
  • 19 Again Baley
Full title Robots and Empire [permalink]
Language English
Author Isaac Asimov (author)
Categories Novel and science fiction
Series Robot (4/4)
Publication year 1985
Pages 383
Full title Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life [permalink]
Language English
Author Bryan Lee O'Malley (author)
Publisher Oni Press
Category Graphic novel
Series Scott Pilgrim (1/6)
Publication year 2004
ISBN 978-1-932664-08-9 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Images Back of Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life.Spine of Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life.Front of Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life.
Full title Scott Pilgrim vs. The World [permalink]
Language English
Author Bryan Lee O'Malley (author)
Publisher Oni Press
Category Graphic novel
Series Scott Pilgrim (2/6)
Publication year 2005
ISBN 978-1-932664-12-6 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Images Back of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World.Spine of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World.Front of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World.
Full title Scott Pilgrim & The Infinite Sadness [permalink]
Language English
Author Bryan Lee O'Malley (author)
Publisher Oni Press
Category Graphic novel
Series Scott Pilgrim (3/6)
Publication year 2006
ISBN 978-1-932664-22-5 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Images Back of Scott Pilgrim & The Infinite Sadness.Spine of Scott Pilgrim & The Infinite Sadness.Front of Scott Pilgrim & The Infinite Sadness.
Full title Scott Pilgrim Gets It Together [permalink]
Language English
Author Bryan Lee O'Malley (author)
Publisher Oni Press
Category Graphic novel
Series Scott Pilgrim (4/6)
Publication year 2007
ISBN 978-1-932664-49-2 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Images Back of Scott Pilgrim Gets It Together.Spine of Scott Pilgrim Gets It Together.Front of Scott Pilgrim Gets It Together.
Full title Scott Pilgrim vs. The Universe [permalink]
Language English
Author Bryan Lee O'Malley (author)
Publisher Oni Press
Category Graphic novel
Series Scott Pilgrim (5/6)
Publication year 2009
ISBN 978-1-934964-10-1 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Images Back of Scott Pilgrim vs. The Universe.Spine of Scott Pilgrim vs. The Universe.Front of Scott Pilgrim vs. The Universe.
Full title Scott Pilgrim's Finest Hour [permalink]
Language English
Author Bryan Lee O'Malley (author)
Publisher Oni Press
Category Graphic novel
Series Scott Pilgrim (6/6)
Publication year 2010
ISBN 978-1-934964-38-5 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Images Back of Scott Pilgrim's Finest Hour.Spine of Scott Pilgrim's Finest Hour.Front of Scott Pilgrim's Finest Hour.
Full title 2001: A Space Odyssey [permalink]
Language English
Author Arthur C. Clarke (author)
Publisher Roc Books
Categories Novel and science fiction
Series Space Odyssey (1/4)
Publication year 2000
Original publication year 1968
ISBN 0-451-45799-4 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 297
Images Back of 2001.Spine of 2001.Front of 2001.
Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • To Stanley: In Memoriam
  • Foreword to the Millennial Edition
  • Foreword
  • Part One: Primeval Night
    • Chapter 1: The Road to Extinction
    • Chapter 2: The New Rock
    • Chapter 3: Academy
    • Chapter 4: The Leopard
    • Chapter 5: Encounter in the Dark
    • Chapter 6: Ascent of Man
  • Part Two: TMA-1
    • Chapter 7: Special Flight
    • Chapter 8: Orbital Rendezvous
    • Chapter 9: Moon Shuttle
    • Chapter 10: Clavius Base
    • Chapter 11: Anomaly
    • Chapter 12: Journey by Earthlight
    • Chapter 13: The Slow Dawn
    • Chapter 14: The Listeners
  • Part Three: Between Planets
    • Chapter 15: Discovery
    • Chapter 16: Hal
    • Chapter 17: Cruise Mode
    • Chapter 18: Through the Asteroids
    • Chapter 19: Transit of Jupiter
    • Chapter 20: The World of the Gods
  • Part Four: Abyss
    • Chapter 21: Birthday Party
    • Chapter 22: Excursion
    • Chapter 23: Diagnosis
    • Chapter 24: Broken Circuit
    • Chapter 25: First Man to Saturn
    • Chapter 26: Dialogue with Hal
    • Chapter 27: "Need to Know"
    • Chapter 28: In Vacuum
    • Chapter 29: Alone
    • Chapter 30: The Secret
  • Part Five: The Moons of Saturn
    • Chapter 31: Survival
    • Chapter 32: Concerning E.T.'s
    • Chapter 33: Ambassador
    • Chapter 34: The Orbiting Ice
    • Chapter 35: The Eye of Japetus
    • Chapter 36: Big Brother
    • Chapter 37: Experiment
    • Chapter 38: The Sentinel
    • Chapter 39: Into the Eye
    • Chapter 40: Exit
  • Part Six: Through the Star Gate
    • Chapter 41: Grand Central
    • Chapter 42: The Alien Sky
    • Chapter 43: Inferno
    • Chapter 44: Reception
    • Chapter 45: Recapitulation
    • Chapter 46: Transformation
    • Chapter 47: Star-Child
Full title 2010: Odyssey Two [permalink]
Language English
Author Arthur C. Clarke (author)
Publisher Ballantine Books
Categories Novel and science fiction
Series Space Odyssey (2/4)
Publication year 1984
Original publication year 1982
ISBN 0-345-30306-7 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 335
Images Back of 2010.Spine of 2010.Front of 2010.
Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • Author's Note
  • I * Leonov
    • 1. Meeting at the Focus
    • 2. The House of the Dolphins
    • 3. SAL 9000
    • 4. Mission Profile
    • 5. Leonov
  • II * Tsien
    • 6. Awakening
    • 7. Tsien
    • 8. Transit of Jupiter
    • 9. The Ice of the Grand Canal
    • 10. A Cry from Europa
    • 11. Ice and Vacuum
  • III * Discovery
    • 12. Downhill Run
    • 13. The Worlds of Galileo
    • 14. Double Encounter
    • 15. Escape From the Giant
    • 16. Private Line
    • 17. Boarding Party
    • 18. Salvage
    • 19. Operation WINDMILL
    • 20. Guillotine
    • 21. Resurrection
  • IV * Lagrange
    • 22. Big Brother
    • 23. Rendezvous
    • 24. Reconnaissance
    • 25. The View From Lagrange
    • 26. Probation
    • 27. Interlude: True Confessions
    • 28. Frustration
    • 29. Emergence
  • V * A Child of the Stars
    • 30. Homecoming
    • 31. Disneyville
    • 32. Crystal Spring
    • 33. Betty
    • 34. Valediction
    • 35. Rehabilitation
    • 36. Fire in the Deep
    • 37. Estrangement
    • 38. Foamscape
    • 39. In the Pod Bay
    • 40. "Daisy, Daisy..."
    • 41. Graveyard Shift
  • VI * Devourer of Worlds
    • 42. The Ghost in the Machine
    • 43. Thought Experiment
    • 44. Vanishing Trick
    • 45. Escape Maneuver
    • 46. Countdown
    • 47. Final Flyby
    • 48. Over the Nightside
    • 49. Devourer of Worlds
  • VII * Lucifer Rising
    • 50. Farewell to Jupiter
    • 51. The Great Game
    • 52. Ignition
    • 53. A Gift of Worlds
    • 54. Between Suns
    • 55. Lucifer Rising
  • Epilog: 20,001
  • Acknowledgments
Full title 2061: Odyssey Three [permalink]
Language English
Author Arthur C. Clarke (author)
Publisher Ballantine Books
Categories Novel and science fiction
Series Space Odyssey (3/4)
Publication year 1989
Original publication year 1988
ISBN 0-345-35879-1 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 271
Images Back of 2061.Spine of 2061.Front of 2061.
Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • Author's Note
  • I * The Magic Mountain
    • 1. The Frozen Years
    • 2. First Sight
    • 3. Reentry
    • 4. Tycoon
    • 5. Out of the Ice
    • 6. The Greening of Ganymede
    • 7. Transit
    • 8. Starfleet
    • 9. Mount Zeus
    • 10. Ship of Fools
    • 11. The Lie
    • 12. Oom Paul
    • 13. "No One Told Us to Bring Swimsuits..."
    • 14. Search
  • II * The Valley of Black Snow
    • 15. Rendezvous
    • 16. Touchdown
    • 17. The Valley of Black Snow
    • 18. Old Faithful
    • 19. At the End of the Tunnel
    • 20. Recall
  • III * Europan Roulette
    • 21. The Politics of Exile
    • 22. Hazardous Cargo
    • 23. Inferno
    • 24. Shaka the Great
    • 25. The Shrouded World
    • 26. Night Watch
    • 27. Rosie
    • 28. Dialog
    • 29. Descent
    • 30. Galaxy Down
    • 31. The Sea of Galilee
  • IV * At The Water Hole
    • 32. Diversion
    • 33. Pit Stop
    • 34. Car Wash
    • 35. Adrift
    • 36.The Alien Shore
  • V * Through the Asteroids
    • 37. Star
    • 38. Icebergs of Space
    • 39. The Captain's Table
    • 40. Monsters from Earth
    • 41. Memoirs of a Centenarian
    • 42. Minilith
  • VI * Haven
    • 43. Salvage
    • 44. Endurance
    • 45. Mission
    • 46. Shuttle
    • 47. Shards
    • 48. Lucy
  • VII * The Great Wall
    • 49. Shrine
    • 50. Open City
    • 51. Phantom
    • 52. On the couch
    • 53. Pressure Cooker
    • 54. Reunion
    • 55. Magma
    • 56. Perturbation Theory
    • 57. Interlude on Ganymede
  • VIII * The Kingdom of Sulfur
    • 58. Fire and Ice
    • 59. Trinity
  • IX * 3001
    • 60. Midnight in the Plaza
  • Addendum
Full title 3001: The Final Odyssey [permalink]
Language English
Author Arthur C. Clarke (author)
Publisher Ballantine Books
Categories Novel and science fiction
Series Space Odyssey (4/4)
Publication year 1998
Original publication year 1997
ISBN 0-345-42349-6 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 274
Images Back of 3001.Spine of 3001.Front of 3001.
Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • Prologue: The Firstborn
  • I. Star City
    • 1. Comet Cowboy
    • 2. Awakening
    • 3. Rehabilitation
    • 4. A Room with a View
    • 5. Education
    • 6. Braincap
    • 7. Debriefing
    • 8. Return to Olduvai
    • 9. Skyland
    • 10. Homage to Icarus
    • 11. Here Be Dragons
    • 12. Frustration
    • 13. Stranger in a Strange Time
  • II. Goliath
    • 14. A Farewell to Earth
    • 15. Transit of Venus
    • 16. The Captain's Table
  • III. The Worlds of Galileo
    • 17. Ganymede
    • 18. Grand Hotel
    • 19. The Madness of Mankind
    • 20. Apostate
    • 21. Quarantine
    • 22. Venture
  • IV. The Kingdom of Sulfur
    • 23. Falcon
    • 24. Escape
    • 25. Fire in the Deep
    • 26. Tsienville
    • 27. Ice and Vacuum
    • 28. The Little Dawn
    • 29. The Ghosts in the Machine
    • 30. Foamscape
    • 31. Nursery
  • V. Termination
    • 32. A Gentleman of Leisure
    • 33. Contact
    • 34. Judgement
    • 35. Council of War
    • 36. Chamber of Horrors
    • 37. Operation DAMOCLES
    • 38. Preemptive Strike
    • 39. Deicide
    • 40. Midnight: Pico
    • Epilogue
  • Sources and Acknowledgments
  • Valediction
Full title The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy [permalink]
Language English
Author Douglas Adams (author)
Categories Humor, novel and science fiction
Series The Hitchhiker's Guide
Publication year 1979
Pages 224
Full title The Restaurant at the End of the Universe [permalink]
Language English
Author Douglas Adams (author)
Categories Humor and science fiction
Series The Hitchhiker's Guide
Publication year 1980
Pages 208
Full title So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish [permalink]
Language English
Author Douglas Adams (author)
Categories Humor, novel and science fiction
Series The Hitchhiker's Guide
Publication year 1984
Pages 224
Full title The Shining [permalink]
Language English
Author Stephen King (author)
Publisher Hodder & Stoughton
Categories Horror and novel
Series The Shining (1/2)
Publication year 2011
Original publication year 1977
ISBN 978-1-444-7207-3 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 497
Images Back of The Shining.Spine of The Shining.Front of The Shining.
Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • Introduction

Part One: Prefatory Matters

  • Chapter One: Job Interview
  • Chapter Two: Boulder
  • Chapter Three: Watson
  • Chapter Four: Shadowland
  • Chapter Five: Phonebooth
  • Chapter Six: Night Thoughts
  • Chapter Seven: In Another Bedroom

Part Two: Closing Day

  • Chapter Eight: A View of the Overlook
  • Chapter Nine: Checking It Out
  • Chapter Ten: Hallorann
  • Chapter Eleven: The Shining
  • Chapter Twelve: The Grand Tour
  • Chapter Thirteen: The Front Porch

Part Three: The Wasps' Nest

  • Chapter Fourteen: Up On the Roof
  • Chapter Fifteen: Down in the Front Yard
  • Chapter Sixteen: Danny
  • Chapter Seventeen: The Doctor's Office
  • Chapter Eighteen: The Scrapbook
  • Chapter Nineteen: Outside 217
  • Chapter Twenty: Talking to Mr. Ullman
  • Chapter Twenty-One: Night Thoughts
  • Chapter Twenty-Two: In the Truck
  • Chapter Twenty-Three: In the Playground
  • Chapter Twenty-Four: Snow
  • Chapter Twenty-Five: Inside 217

Part Four: Snowbound

  • Chapter Twenty-Six: Dreamland
  • Chapter Twenty-Seven: Catatonic
  • Chapter Twenty-Eight: 'It Was Her!'
  • Chapter Twenty-Nine: Kitchen Talk
  • Chapter Thirty: 217 Revisited
  • Chapter Thirty-One: The Verdict
  • Chapter Thirty-Two: The Bedroom
  • Chapter Thirty-Three: The Snowmobile
  • Chapter Thirty-Four: The Hedges
  • Chapter Thirty-Five: The Lobby
  • Chapter Thirty-Six: The Elevator
  • Chapter Thirty-Seven: The Ballroom

Part Five: Matters of Life and Death

  • Chapter Thirty-Eight: Florida
  • Chapter Thirty-Nine: On the Stairs
  • Chapter Forty: In the Basement
  • Chapter Forty-One: Daylight
  • Chapter Forty-Two: Mid-Air
  • Chapter Forty-Three: Drinks on the House
  • Chapter Forty-Four: Conversations at the Party
  • Chapter Forty-Five: Stapleton Airport, Denver
  • Chapter Forty-Six: Wendy
  • Chapter Forty-Seven: Danny
  • Chapter Forty-Eight: Jack
  • Chapter Forty-Nine: Hallorann, Going Up the Country
  • Chapter Fifty: Redrum
  • Chapter Fifty-One: Hallorann Arrives
  • Chapter Fifty-Two: Wendy and Jack
  • Chapter Fifty-Three: Hallorann Laid Low
  • Chapter Fifty-Four: Tony
  • Chapter Fifty-Five: That Which Was Forgotten
  • Chapter Fifty-Six: The Explosion
  • Chapter Fifty-Seven: Exit
  • Chapter Fifty-Eight: Epilogue/Summer

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