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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
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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 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
Synopsis

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 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
Synopsis

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.

Review

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
Synopsis

A history book about life, in reverse chronology.

Review

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 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
Synopsis

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.

Review

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."

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Full title Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson: Dikt i utvalg [permalink]
Translated title Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson: Selected Poems
Language Norwegian
Authors Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson (author), Olav Christopher Jenssen (illustrator) and Knut Ødegård (foreword)
Publisher Den Norske Bokklubben
Categories Anthology and poetry
Publication year 1979
ISBN 82-525-0295-4 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 124
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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
Synopsis

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).

Review

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
Review

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 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 Cosmic View: The Universe in Forty Jumps [permalink]
Language English
Authors Kees Boeke (author), Els de Bouter (illustrator) and Arthur H. Compton (introduction)
Publisher John Day Company
Categories Children's and science
Publication year 1957
ISBN 0381980162 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Online version Link
Pages 48
Synopsis

Cosmic View is the inspiration for the 1977 IBM short video Powers of Ten. It's a pretty short book written for children (though it's very interesting for adults as well) about the relative sizes of things in the universe. The book differs a bit from the video, mainly in that it explores each scale at more depth.

The book starts out showing a girl in Holland, zooming outwards, each time by a factor of ten, 25 times (so that the scale ends up being 1:1025). Each image is accompanied by a bit of explanatory text. Halfway through, the book then zooms inwards, ending at a scale of 1012:1, about the size of an atomic nucleus.

Review

I found the book pretty fascinating, if a bit short and not as detailed as I'd wished it to be. However, I can't hold that against it as it's really a children's book. I can heartily recommend it.

Images Back flap of Cosmic View.Back of Cosmic View.Spine of Cosmic View.Front of Cosmic View.Front flap of Cosmic View.
Full title The Dawkins Delusion?: Atheist fundamentalism and the denial of the divine [permalink]
Language English
Authors Alister McGrath (author) and Joanna Collicutt McGrath (co-author)
Publisher SPCK
Category Religion
Publication year 2007
ISBN 978-0-281-05927-0 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 78
Synopsis

A review, synopsis, and a criticism of Dawkins' The God Delusion, The Dawkins Delustion? examines the issues raised there.

Review

The book is pretty well presented, but unfortunately it was very boring and lacks substance. It really could be shortened down to an essay. The main message from the book is that Dawkins' book doesn't take enough into account, and that his criticism of religion is unfounded.

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Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • Introduction
  1. Deluded about God?
  2. Has science disproved God?
  3. What are the origins of religion?
  4. Is religion evil?
  • Notes
  • For further reading
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
Synopsis

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 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
Synopsis

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).

Review

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.

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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 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
Synopsis

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.

Review

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.

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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
Review

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 Fantastic Voyage II: Destination Brain [permalink]
Language English
Author Isaac Asimov (author)
Categories Novel and science fiction
Publication year 1987
Pages 385
Synopsis

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.

Review

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 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
Synopsis

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.

Review

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 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
Synopsis

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.

Review

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
Synopsis

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.

Review

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 Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything [permalink]
Language English
Authors Stephen J. Dubner (author) and Steven D. Levitt (author)
Categories Science and statistics
Publication year 2005
Pages 336
Synopsis

This is a book about applying statistics to unconventional problems and seeing where that leads you. For instance, the book argues that Roe v. Wade was a more contributing factor to the recent drop in crime rates in the US than any other. The explanation? The people who are most inclined to become criminals (children of poor single-parent blacks) simply aren't there when, had they been born, they would have begun their criminal careers.

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
Synopsis

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.

Review

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]
  • PREFACE
  • INTRODUCTION
  • "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
  • "PROPERTY"
    • 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
  • PUZZLES
    • CHAPTER ELEVEN: Chimera
    • CHAPTER TWELVE: Harms
      • Constraining Creators
      • Constraining Innovators
      • Corrupting Citizens
  • BALANCES
    • CHAPTER THIRTEEN: Eldred
    • CHAPTER FOURTEEN: Eldred II
  • CONCLUSION
  • AFTERWORD
    • 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
  • NOTES
  • ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
  • 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 God Particle: If the Universe Is the Answer, What Is the Question? [permalink]
Language English
Authors Leon Lederman (author) and Dick Teresi (co-author)
Publisher Mariner Books
Categories Physics and science
Publication year 2006
Original publication year 1993
ISBN 978-0-618-71168-0 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 434
Synopsis

Details the history of physics from Thales in antiquity up to the present.

Review

The title of the book refers to the Higgs boson, a particle now (at the time of writing, September 2009) being sought by the LHC (Large Hadron Collider) particle accelerator in Geneva. The book does a good job of explaining particle physics, and it's funny, too. The book is a little out-dated in that it refers to the now-cancelled SSC (Superconducting Super Collider) accelerator. There are some very entertaining passages in the book where Leon talks physics with an imaginary Democritus (Democritus of Abdera was the first Greek to suggest that the world was made of atoms), which I immensely enjoyed.

I heartily recommend this book if you want to learn a little bit of particle physics.

Images Back of The God Particle.Spine of The God Particle.Front of The God Particle.
Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • Preface
  • Dramatis Personae
  • 1 The Invisible Soccer Ball
  • 2 The First Particle Physicist
  • Interlude A: A Tale of Two Cities
  • 3 Looking for the Atom: The Mechanics
  • 4 Still Looking for the Atom: Chemists and Electricians
  • 5 The Naked Atom
  • Interlude B: The Dancing Moo-Shu Masters
  • 6 Accelerators: They Smash Atoms, Don't They?
  • Interlude C: How We Violated Parity in a Weekend ... and Discovered God
  • 7 A-tom!
  • 8 The God Particle at Last
  • 9 Inner Space, Outer Space, and the Time Before Time
  • Acknowledgments
  • A Note on History and Sources
  • Index
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
Synopsis

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 Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch [permalink]
Language English
Authors Neil Gaiman (author) and Terry Pratchett (author)
Publisher Ace Books
Categories Fantasy and humor
ISBN 0-441-00325-7 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Synopsis

A demon and an angel, Crowley and Aziraphale, having become good friends on Earth, decide to postpone the end of the world by keeping a close eye on the Antichrist, making sure he doesn't make a choice between good and evil.

Images Back of Good Omens.Spine of Good Omens.Front of Good Omens.
Full title The Great Scientists: From Euclid to Stephen Hawking [permalink]
Language English
Authors John Farndon (author), Alex Woolf (co-author), Anne Rooney (co-author) and Liz Gogerly (co-author)
Publisher Eagle Editions
Categories History and science
Publication year 2006
ISBN 978-1-84193-300-9 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 158
Synopsis

A book about scientists from Euclid, Archimedes, and Ptolemy to Faraday, Darwin, and Hawking, and the science they invented or practiced.

Images Back flap of The Great Scientists.Back of The Great Scientists.Spine of The Great Scientists.Front of The Great Scientists.Front flap of The Great Scientists.
Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • Introduction
  • The Ancients
    • Euclid
    • Archimedes
    • Hipparchus & Claudius Ptolemy
  • The Middle Ages
    • The Medieval Arab Scientists
  • The Renaissance
    • Leonardo da Vinci
    • Nicolas Copernicus
    • Andreas Vesalius
    • Galileo Galilei
  • The Seventeenth Century
    • Christiaan Huygens
    • Anton van Leeuwenhoek
    • Robert Hooke
    • Sir Isaac Newton
  • The Eighteenth Century
    • Carolus Linnaeus
    • James Hutton
    • Antoine Lavoisier
    • John Dalton
  • The Nineteenth Century
    • Michael Faraday
    • Charles Babbage
    • Charles Darwin
    • Louis Pasteur
    • Gregor Mendel
    • Dmitri Mendeleyev
    • James Clerk Maxwell
  • The Twentieth Century
    • Max Planck
    • Marie Curie
    • Ernest Rutherford
    • Albert Einstein
    • Alfred Wegener
    • Niels Bohr
    • Edwin Hubble
    • Werner Heisenberg
    • Linus Pauling
    • The DNA Team: Francis Crick, James Watson, and Rosalind Franklin
    • Stephen Hawking
  • Index
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
Synopsis

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.

Review

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
Synopsis

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 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 The Human Body: Its Structure and Operation [permalink]
Language English
Authors Isaac Asimov (author) and Anthony Ravielli (illustrator)
Publisher Signet Books
Categories Biology and science
Publication year 1963
ISBN 978-0451617743 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 309
Synopsis

Goes through the human body, from head to torso, muscles to blood, skin to genitalia, explaining in good detail how it all works.

Review

As always, it's written in clear prose, and is easily accessible. If you have a moderate interest in human anatomy, this is the book for you.

Images Back of The Human Body.Spine of The Human Body.Front of The Human Body.
Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • 1 Our Place
    • Distinctions
    • The Phyla
    • The Development of Phyla
    • The Chordates
    • The Vertebrates
  • 2 Our Head and Torso
    • The Vertebral Column
    • The Vertebrae and Ribs
    • The Skull
    • The Teeth
  • 3 Our Limbs and Joints
    • The Arms
    • The Legs
    • Cells
    • Bone Structure
    • Tooth Structure
    • Bone Movement
  • 4 Our Muscles
    • Living Motion
    • Muscle Contraction
    • Striated Muscle
    • Tendons
    • Muscles in Action
    • Some Individual Muscles
  • 5 Our Lungs
    • The Entrance of Oxygen
    • The Nose and Throat
    • The Voice
    • The Bronchial Tree
    • Breathing
  • 6 Our Heart and Arteries
    • The Inner Fluid
    • The Circulation
    • The Heartbeat
    • Blood Pressure
  • 7 Our Blood
    • The Liquid Tissue
    • The Erythrocyte
    • Anemia
    • Leukocytes and Thrombocytes
    • Lymph
  • 8 Our Intestines
    • Food
    • The Mouth
    • The Stomach
    • The Pancreas and Liver
    • Absorption
    • The Colon
  • 9 Our Kidneys
    • Carbon Dioxide and Water
    • The Excretory System
    • Urine
  • 10 Our Skin
    • Scales and Epidermis
    • Perspiration
    • Hair
  • 11 Our Genitals
    • Reproduction
    • The Egg
    • The Placenta
    • The Human Female
    • The Human Male
  • Postscript: Our Longevity
  • Index
Full title The Hunting of the Snark: An Agony in Eight Fits [permalink]
Language English
Authors Lewis Carroll (author) and Mervyn Peake (illustrator)
Publisher Lighthouse Books
Categories Nonsense and poetry
Publication year 1948
Original publication year 1876
Pages 46
Synopsis

A group of people (a Bellman, a Boots, a Bonnet-maker, a Barrister, a Broker, a Billiard-marker, a Banker, a Butcher, a Baker, and a Beaver) leave on a ship to hunt the eponymous snark, a strange creature which, if it is of the Boojum type, will make you vanish and never be seen from again!

Review

A very short, humorous, and entertaining absurd poem; the helmsman's brought a blank map (much easier to read, you see), the Baker forgets his name and luggage, the captain gives contradictory navigation orders, etc. Some words are just made up, like Snark, Boojum, and fromious. The general feel of the poem is of playful punning and light-hearted rhymes. I definitely recommend it, though since it's so short, there's not much to say about it.

Images Back of The Hunting of the Snark.Spine of The Hunting of the Snark.Front of The Hunting of the Snark.
Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • Preface
  • Fit the First: The Landing
  • Fit the Second: The Bellman's Speech
  • Fit the Third: The Baker's Tale
  • Fit the Fourth: The Hunting
  • Fit the Fifth: The Beaver's Lesson
  • Fit the Sixth: The Barrister's Dream
  • Fit the Seventh: The Banker's Fate
  • Fit the Eigth: The Vanishing
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
Synopsis

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.

Review

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 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
Synopsis

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.

Review

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
Synopsis

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).

Review

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 Last and First Men: A Story of the Near and Far Future [permalink]
Language English
Authors Olaf Stapledon (author), Gregory Benford (foreword) and Doris Lessing (afterword)
Publisher Victor Gollancz Ltd
Categories Novel and science fiction
Publisher series SF Masterworks
Publication year 1999
Original publication year 1930
ISBN 978-1-85798-806-2 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 312
Images Back of Last and First Men.Spine of Last and First Men.Front of Last and First Men.
Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • Foreword by Gregory Benford
  • Preface
  • Introduction by One of the Last Men

Chapter I: Balkan Europe

  1. The European War and AFter
  2. The Anglo-French War
  3. Europe after the Anglo-French War
  4. The Russo-German War

Chapter II: Europe's Downfall

  1. Europe and America
  2. The Origins of a Mystery
  3. Europe Murdered

Chapter III: America and China

  1. The Rivals
  2. The Conflict
  3. On an Island in the Pacific

Chapter IV: An Americanized Planet

  1. The Foundation of the First World State
  2. The Dominance of Science
  3. Material Achievement
  4. The Culture of the First World State
  5. Downfall

Chapter V: The Fall of the First Men

  1. The First Dark Age
  2. The Rise of Patagonia
  3. The Cult of Youth
  4. The Catastrophe

Chapter VI: Transition

  1. The First Men at Bay
  2. The Second Dark Age

Chapter VII: The Rise of the Second Men

  1. The Appearance of a New Species
  2. The Intercourse of Three Species
  3. The Zenith of the Second Men

Chapter VIII: The Martians

  1. The First Martian Invasion
  2. Life on Mars
  3. The Martian Mind
  4. Delusions of the Martians

Chapter IX: Earth and Mars

  1. The Second Men at Bay
  2. The Ruin of Two Worlds
  3. The Third Dark Age

Chapter X: The Third Men in the Wilderness

  1. The Third Human Species
  2. Digressions of the Third Men
  3. The Vital Art
  4. Conflicting Policies

Chapter XI: Man Remakes Himself

  1. The First of the Great Brains
  2. The Tragedy of the Fourth Men
  3. The Fifth Men
  4. The Culture of the Fifth Men

Chapter XII: The Last Terrestrials

  1. The Cult of Evanescence
  2. Exploration of Time
  3. Voyaging in Space
  4. Preparing a New World

Chapter XIII: Humanity on Venus

  1. Taking Root Again
  2. The Flying Men
  3. A Minor Astronomical Event

Chapter XIV: Neptune

  1. Bird's-Eye View
  2. Da Capo
  3. Slow Conquest

Chapter XV: The Last Men

  1. Introduction to the Last Human Species
  2. Childhood and Maturity
  3. A Racial Awakening
  4. Cosmology

Chapter XVI: The Last of Man

  1. Sentence of Death
  2. Behaviour of the Condemned
  3. Epilogue
  • Afterword by Doris Lessing
  • Time Scales
Full title Livingstone: Oppdageren — Forskeren — Misjonæren [permalink]
Original title Livingstone, Trail Blazer for God
Language Norwegian
Authors Leslie Morrill (author) and Madge Morrill (author)
Category Biography
Publication year 1972
Original publication year 1959
ISBN 82-7007-004-1 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 224
Synopsis

A biography of David Livingstone, written as part novel, part history.

Review

The book gives a good account of the life of Livingstone, from his early years in Scotland to his arrival in Cape Town, South Africa, and his subsequent journey across Africa. However, the book I read is a Norwegian translation of the original, and it's evident that the translator made a poor job of it (never mind the simple spelling errors; if you're bilingual like me and read this book, you'll see that a lot of passages look like direct translations, instead of having been adapted to the language). The most damning part of the translation job is the way "Dr. Livingstone, I presume?" is rendered. The accepted translation to Norwegian is "Dr. Livingstone, formoder jeg?". This book renders it "Dr. Livingstone, hvis jeg ikke tar feil?" which means "Dr. Livingstone, if I'm not mistaken?"

I might get my hands on the original English version, but until then, the only point on which I can recommend the book is that it's a nice, concise history of the man's life.

Images Back of Livingstone.Spine of Livingstone.Front of Livingstone.
Full title Logicomix: An Epic Search for Truth [permalink]
Language English
Authors Apostolos Doxiadis (author), Christos H. Papadimitriou (author), Alecos Papadatos (illustrator) and Annie Di Donna (illustrator)
Publisher Bloomsbury
Categories Graphic novel and logic
Publication year 2009
ISBN 978-1-59691-452-0 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 347
Synopsis

A (very fictionalized) account, in comic form, of the life of Bertrand Russell. The book opens with one of the authors explicitly breaking the fourth wall, talking to the reader, and explaining the purpose of the work. The rest of the book follows an old Russell as he's giving a lecture in 1939, three days after Hitler's invasion of Poland, about his journey from childhood to established mathematician. It's this journey that forms the meat of the book.

Review

I really enjoyed this work, but not particularly being a fan of graphic novels, I don't know about the quality. In any event, if you want to learn about the life of Bertrand Russell, the history of logic, and something about the tortured lives of the early logicians (excluding the Greeks, of course), and you don't want to read a text book, this one's for you.

And besides, how often do you see a comic book with a bibliography?

Images Back flap of Logicomix.Back of Logicomix.Spine of Logicomix.Front of Logicomix.Front flap of Logicomix.
Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • Overture
  • 1. Pembroke Lodge
  • 2. The Sorcerer's Apprentice
  • 3. Wanderjahre
  • 4. Paradoxes
  • Entracte
  • 5. Logico-Philosophical Wars
  • 6. Incompleteness
  • Finale
  • Notebook
  • Bibliography
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 Magic of Reality: How We Know What's Really True [permalink]
Language English
Authors Richard Dawkins (author) and Dave McKean (illustrator)
Categories Children's and science
Publication year 2011
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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
Synopsis

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

Images Back of The Missionary Position.Spine of The Missionary Position.Front of The Missionary Position.
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 Odd John: A Story Between Jest and Earnest [permalink]
Language English
Authors Olaf Stapledon (author) and Adam Roberts (introduction)
Publisher Victor Gollancz Ltd
Categories Novel and science fiction
Publisher series SF Masterworks
Publication year 2012
Original publication year 1935
ISBN 978-0-575-07224-4 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 208
Synopsis

John Wainwright is born several months late, a seemingly normal child who, it's quickly discovered, is anything but. His mental powers are off the charts, and he learns at a tremendous rate. As a consequence of all this accelerated mentation, his physical body's maturation is severely hampered such that by age 16 he looks like a ten-year-old.

As John learns quickly, he very soon becomes bored with whatever object is holding his attention. For instance, he soon tires of language:

It had ceased to be a new art, and had become merely a useful means of communication, to be extended and refined only as new spheres of experience came within his ken and demanded expression.

The novel follows him throughout his life, narrated by a free-lance journalist friend of his. The book proposes to be published long after the events contained in it. In fact, the end of the novel is flatly stated in the first chapter (but not to worry, I won't spoil it; I'll let Stapledon do that).

Much of the novel is spent ruminating on what it means to be superhuman (they call themselves supernormals and Homo superior). From our narrator's perspective, many of Odd John's actions seem flat out amoral, and even though John can't properly explain the situation to the narrator (for the simple reason that John's logic is superior to his), one nevertheless is left with a feeling that maybe John is right.

Review

I immensely enjoyed this novel. It's really interesting to follow John through his life, and Stapledon does a wonderful job of conveying the various parts of John's life to us, through a sympathetic and competent narrator. I have only one complaint: The latter parts of the book are about John's voyages around the world to find fellow-supernormals to populate and keep his Colony running. I wish this part comprised more of the book, as I think those chapters were the most interesting. Nevertheless, I can thoroughly recommend it!

Images Back of Odd John.Spine of Odd John.Front of Odd John.
Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • Introduction
  • I John and the Author
  • II The First Phase
  • III Enfant Terrible
  • IV John and his Elders
  • V Thought and Action
  • VI Many Inventions
  • VII Financial Ventures
  • VIII Scandalous Adolescence
  • IX Methods of a Young Anthropologist
  • X The World's Plight
  • XI Strange Encounters
  • XII John in the Wilderness
  • XIII John Seeks his Kind
  • XIV Engineering Problems
  • XV Jacqueline
  • XVI Adlan
  • XVII Ng-Gunko and Lo
  • XVIII The Skid's First Voyage
  • XIX The Colony is Founded
  • XX The Colony in Being
  • XXI The Beginning of the End
  • XXII The End
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
Synopsis

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).

Review

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
Synopsis

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.

Review

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.

Images Back of The Planiverse.Spine of The Planiverse.Front of The Planiverse.
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 Plato and a Platypus Walk Into a Bar...: Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes [permalink]
Language English
Authors Daniel Klein and Thomas Cathcart
Publisher Penguin Books
Categories Humor and philosophy
Publication year 2008
Original publication year 2007
ISBN 978-0-14-311387-4 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 215
Synopsis

The book is divided into ten chapters, each dealing with a different area of philosophy. The chapters explain concepts concerning each area, interspersed with banter and jokes.

Review

As many people have observed, a session of jokes can often illuminate a subject more than hours of discussion can, and this book is an example of that. The book is essentially a string of jokes with banter to connect them and explain the concepts introduced in the jokes. The explanations themselves are light-hearted and full of puns. An example of a joke illustrating the difference between what philosophers call essential and accidental attributes:

"Why is an elephant big, hairy, and wrinkled?"

"Because if he was small, white, and round, he'd be an aspirin."

And another on skepticism and the scientific method (or inductive reasoning, if you will):

A scientist and his wife are out for a drive in the country. The wife says, "Oh look! Those sheep have been shorn."

"Yes," says the scientist. "On this side."

In the section on the philosophy of religion are also jokes, of course, and I found this Jewish one pretty funny:

Two women are sitting on a bench. After a while the first woman says, "Oy!"

The second woman replies, "Oy!"

The first woman says, "All right, enough about the children."

And a final one, on the relativity of time:

A snail was mugged by two turtles. When the police asked him what happened, he said, "I don't know. It all happened so fast."

Go read it if you've got time to kill.

Images Back of Plato and a Platypus Walk Into a Bar....Spine of Plato and a Platypus Walk Into a Bar....Front of Plato and a Platypus Walk Into a Bar....
Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • Philogaggin: An Introduction
  • I. Metaphysics
  • II. Logic
  • III. Epistemology
  • IV. Ethics
  • V. Philosophy of Religion
  • VI. Existentialism
  • VII. Philosophy of Language
  • VIII. Social and Political Philosophy
  • IX. Relativity
  • X. Meta-Philosophy
  • Summa Time: A Conclusion
  • Final Exam
  • Great Moments in the History of Philosophy
  • Glossary
  • Suggestions for Further Reading
  • Index
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
Synopsis

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 QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter [permalink]
Language English
Authors Richard Feynman (author), Leonard Mautner (foreword) and Ralph Leighton (preface)
Publisher Penguin Books
Categories Physics and science
Publication year 1990
Original publication year 1985
ISBN 978-0-140-12505-4 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 158
Images Back of QED.Spine of QED.Front of QED.
Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • Foreword by Leonard Mautner
  • Preface by Ralph Leighton
  • Acknowledgment
  1. Introduction
  2. Photons: Particles of Light
  3. Electrons and Their Interactions
  4. Loose Ends
  • Index
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
Synopsis

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).

Review

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.

Images Back of Quirkology.Spine of Quirkology.Front of Quirkology.
Full title The Reason-Driven Life: What Am I Here on Earth For? [permalink]
Language English
Authors Robert M. Price (author) and Julia Sweeney (foreword)
Publisher Prometheus Books
Categories Bible, philosophy, religion and skepticism
Publication year 2006
ISBN 978-1-59102-476-7 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 363
Synopsis

The Reason-Driven Life is written as a response and critique of Rick Warren's similarly-titled book, The Purpose-Driven Life. It's structured in much the same way as Warren's book, with 40 chapters meant to be read over 40 days. At the end of each chapter is a Point to Ponder, a Quote to Remember, and a Question to Consider. It's written mainly for Christians who have actually read Warren's book, which I'm not and which I haven't.

Review

It's a somewhat interesting read in that Price is a Bible scholar and really knows his stuff, however the book is meant for someone with a different mentality than my own. So I had to imagine I was a fundamentalist Christian for most of the book. The tone of the book is very respectful, though forceful and to-the-point (all this to say that it's a very personal and honest book). I imagine a wavering intelligent (fundamentalist) Christian would really enjoy it, and maybe even be deconverted by it. Go for it if you're curious, but if you're like me (skeptical and non-religious by nature) you can safely skip it! There are other, better, Price books.

Images Back flap of The Reason-Driven Life.Back of The Reason-Driven Life.Spine of The Reason-Driven Life.Front of The Reason-Driven Life.Front flap of The Reason-Driven Life.
Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • Foreword
  • Introduction
  1. It Is about You
  2. You Are a Work of Art
  3. One-Track Mind?
  4. Sons of Dust
  5. My View Is God's View
  6. No Changes Are Permanent, but Change Is
  7. The Mystery of Everything
  8. God: Planned for Our Pleasure
  9. What Makes Me Sick
  10. The Achilles' Heel of Worship
  11. Becoming Imaginary Friends with God
  12. Providence and Superstition
  13. Worship That Creates God
  14. I Can't Get No Sanctification
  15. Joining the Sect
  16. The Greatest of These
  17. A Place to Conform
  18. Heretics Anonymous
  19. Price's Ten Commandments
  20. Healing Religious Divisions
  21. Damage Control
  22. The Character of Christ
  23. When Is a Religion Not a Religion?
  24. This Paper Idol
  25. Jesus with a Jackhammer
  26. Satan's Sunday School
  27. Temp Job
  28. Jerusalem Wasn't Built in a Day
  29. Service Industry
  30. Cut Out the Holy Ghost Noise!
  31. Cogs for Christ
  32. Being Who You Are
  33. How Twisted Texts Scream
  34. Meetings with Unremarkable Men
  35. Was Is Peace/Freedom Is Slavery/Weakness Is Strength
  36. Made into Missionaries
  37. Fabricating Your Life Message
  38. The Hidden Agenda of Witnessing
  39. Juggling Your Life
  40. Not without Reason
  • Bibliography
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
Synopsis

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 River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life [permalink]
Language English
Authors Richard Dawkins (author) and Lalla Ward (illustrator)
Publisher Basic Books
Categories Biology and science
Publication year 1995
ISBN 978-0-465-06990-3 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 161
Synopsis

This is only partly a book about evolution. In the last chapter (The Replication Bomb) Dawkins speculates on ten thresholds that life goes through on its way to interstellar emigration. (The analogy is to a supernova. Just as a star can go supernova, a planet might explode with life.)

The book also goes through some very neat experiments on bees and the evolution of a bee dance that codes for location of food.

Images Back of River Out of Eden.Spine of River Out of Eden.Front of River Out of Eden.
Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • Preface
  • 1 The Digital River
  • 2 All Africa and Her Progenies
  • 3 Do Good by Stealth
  • 4 God's Utility Function
  • 5 The Replication Bomb
  • Bibliography and Further Reading
  • Index
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
Synopsis

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.

Review

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]
  • INTRODUCTION
  • CONCERNING THE RITUALS
  • THE ORIGINAL PSYCHODRAMA—Le Messe Noir
  • L'AIR EPAIS—The Ceremony of the Stifling Air
  • THE SEVENTH SATANIC STATEMENT—Das Tierdrama
  • 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
  • THE UNKNOWN KNOWN
Full title The Sex Revolts: Gender, Rebellion and Rock'N'Roll [permalink]
Language English
Authors Joy Press (author) and Simon Reynolds (author)
Publisher Harvard University Press
Categories History and music
Publication year 1995
Original publication year 1994
ISBN 0-674-80272-1 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 410
Synopsis

Details the history of rock'n'roll from the perspective of gender and sex, and tracks musical trends from the beginning of rock'n'roll until the present.

Review

A good work with lots of wit and detail. I'm not that interested in the history of music (I just listen to it), so perhaps this book will be more interesting for someone whose interests lie in that direction.

Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • Introduction

part 1: rebel misogynies

  • 1 Angry Young Men: Precursors and Prototypes for Rock Rebellion
    Rebel Without A CauseLook Back In Anger•Jack Kerouac•Timothy Leary•Ken Kesey•Rolling Stones•
  • 2 She's Hit: Songs of Fear and Loathing
    •Rolling Stones•John's Children•Garage Punk•Led Zeppelin•Roxy Music•Tim Rose•Nick Cave•River's Edge
  • 3 Careers in Misogyny: The Stranglers and Malcolm McLaren
  • 4 Born to Run: Wanderlust, Wilderness and the Cult of Speed
    •The Doors•Rolling Stones•PiL•Gang of Four•Morrissey•Bob Dylan•Bruce Springsteen•Tom Petty•Iggy Pop•Lynyrd Skynyrd•Easy Rider•Neil Young•Kraftwerk•Hardcore Techno•
  • 5 Brothers in Arms: Combat Rock and Other Stories for Boys
    •The Clash•Thin Lizzy•Manic Street Preachers•Public Enemy•U2•
  • 6 Flirting With the Void: Abjection in Rock
    •The Stooges•Sex Pistols•Throbbing Gristle•Birthday Party•Scratch Acid•Grindcore•Alice in Chains•Nirvana•Henry Rollins•Devo•
  • 7 Wargasm: Metal and Machine Music
    •Futurists•Kraftwerk•Techno•Motorhead•Iggy Pop•Radio Birdman•David Bowie•Led Zeppelin•Young Gods•
  • 8 I Am the King: Delusions of Grandeur from Jim Morrison to Gangsta Rap
    •Jim Morrison•Sex Pistols•Guns N'Roses•Nick Cave•Lou Reed•Jane's Addiction•Eldridge Cleaver•LL Cool J•Miles Davis•Sly Stone•Gansta Rap•
  • 9 My Way: The Cult of the Psychopath
    •The White Negro•Jim Morrison•Charles Manson•Sid Vicious•Big Black•Slacker•Apocalypse Culture•

part 2: into the mystic

  • 1 From Rebellion to Grace: The Psychedelic Mother's Boy
  • 2 Back to Eden: Innocence, Indolence and Pastoralism
    •Mod•Marc Bolan•Incredible String Band•The Byrds•West Coast Psychedelia•Van Morrison•Pink Floyd•Dreampop•Rave•Ambient House•The Orb•Dub Reggae•Ultramarine•
  • 3 Starsailing: Cosmic Rock
    •John Cage•John Coltrane•The Byrds•Jimi Hendrix•Tim Buckley•Pink Floyd•
  • 4 Flow Motion: Can, Eno and Oceanic Rock
    •Can•Brian Eno•Robert Wyatt•Miles Davis•A.R. Kane•
  • 5 Soft Boys: Nostalgia, Incest and Zen Apathy
    •Jimi Hendrix•Morrissey•John Lennon•Elvis•My Bloody Valentine•

part 3: lift up your skirt and speak

  • 1 Double Allegiances: The Herstory of Rock
  • 2 One of the Boys: Female Machisma
    •Patti Smith•Chrissie Hynde•Kate Bush•PJ Harvey•Suzi Quatro•Joan Jett•Heart•Kim Gordon•L7•
  • 3 Open Your Heart: Confession and Catharsis from Janis Joplin to Courtney Love
    •Sinead O'Connor•Suzanne Vega•Joni Mitchell•Liz Phair•Lydia Lunch•Babes in Toyland•Tori Amos•Janis Joplin•Bessie Smith•
  • 4 Woman Unbound: Hysterics, Witches and Mystics
    •Lydia Lunch•Diamanda Galas•Stevie Nicks•Kate Bush•Siouxsie•Sandy Denny•Cocteau Twins•
  • 5 Who's That Girl?: Masquerade and Mastery
    •X-Ray Spex•Siouxsie•Grace Jones•Donna Summer•Annie Lennox•Joan Armatrading•Janet Jackson•Queen Latifah•Salt-n-Pepa•Grace Slick•Nico•
  • 6 Un-typical Girls: Post-Punk Demystification
    •The Slits•The Raincoats•The Au Pairs•Delta 5•Bush Tetras•
  • 7 What a Drag: Post-feminism and Pop
    •Altered Images•Madonna•Paris Is Burning
  • 8 There's a Riot Going On: Grrrls Against Boy-Rock
    •Riot Grrrl•Bikini Kill•Huggy Bear•
  • 9 Body's In Trouble
    •Mary Margaret O'Hara•Suzanne Vega•Hugo Largo•PJ Harvey•Throwing Muses•Babes In Toyland•Siouxsie•Hole•Lunachicks•
  • 10 Adventures Close to Home: Domesticity's Tender Trap
    •Kate Bush•Lunachicks•Throwing Muses•Siouxsie•Marianne Faithfull•The Slits•
  • 11 All Fluxed Up: Rebels Against Structure
    •Patti Smith•Joni Mitchell•Rickie Lee Jones•The Raincoats•Throwing Muses•Mary Margaret O'Hara•Dead Can Dance•Bjork•Diamanda Galas•Yoko Ono•
  • Afterword
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Index
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
Synopsis

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

Review

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.

Images Back flap of Sherlock Holmes.Back of Sherlock Holmes.Spine of Sherlock Holmes.Front of Sherlock Holmes.Front flap of Sherlock Holmes.
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 Sirius: A Fantasy of Love and Discord [permalink]
Language English
Authors Olaf Stapledon (author) and Graham Sleight (introduction)
Publisher Victor Gollancz Ltd
Categories Novel and science fiction
Publisher series SF Masterworks
Publication year 2010
Original publication year 1944
ISBN 978-0-575-09942-5 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Online version Link
Pages 194
Images Back of Sirius.Spine of Sirius.Front of Sirius.
Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • Introduction
  1. First Meeting
  2. The Making of Sirius
  3. Infancy
  4. Youth
  5. Sheep-Dog Apprentice
  6. Birth-Pangs of A Personality
  7. Wolf Sirius
  8. Sirius At Cambridge
  9. Sirius And Religion
  10. Experiences in London
  11. Man As Tyrant
  12. Farmer Sirius
  13. The Effects of War
  14. Tan-Y-Voel
  15. Strange Triangle
  16. Plaxy Constripted
  17. Outlaw
Full title Sphereland: A Fantasy About Curved Spaces and an Expanding Universe [permalink]
Language English
Authors Dionys Burger (author) and Cornelie J. Rheinboldt (translator)
Publisher Thomas Y. Crowell Company
Categories Mathematics and science fiction
Publication year 1968
Original publication year 1965
Pages 205
Synopsis

Somewhat of a sequel to Flatland, Sphereland continues in the same vein, explaining three dimensions to two-dimensional creatures. The pace and mode of writing is pretty similar to the original, and I very much liked that. The novel things that Sphereland does is two-dimensional space exploration and explaining a curved line to a one-dimensional being (and thus setting up the explanation for why two-dimensional beings would have problems understanding a plane curved into a sphere, and by extension how three-dimensional beings would have trouble understanding how to curve a sphere around a hyper-sphere).

Images Back of Sphereland.Spine of Sphereland.Front of Sphereland.
Structure [Toggle visibility]

A Look at FLATLAND A Fantasy About the Fourth Dimension by A. Square

  • 1 Flatland and Its Inhabitants
  • 2 Dream Vision of Lineland
  • 3 The Visit of the Sphere
  • 4 To the Land of Three Dimensions
  • 5 Dishonored

SPHERELAND A Fantasy About Curved Spaces and and Expanding Universe by A. Hexagon

  • PART I The Straight World
    • 1 Changed Times
    • 2 Easing of Class Consciousness
    • 3 Explorers' Trips
    • 4 The Trees, the Wildlife, and the Sea
    • 5 The Trip Around the World
    • 6 The Earth Is Round
    • 7 New Year's Eve
    • 8 The Sphere Reformed
  • PART II Congruence and Symmetry
    • 9 Pedigrees and Mongrels
    • 10 Little Red Riding Shoe
    • 11 A Magic Trick
    • 12 Vision of Lineland
    • 13 The Vertato Case
    • 14 Experiments in Spaceland
  • PART III Curved Worlds
    • 15 A Rumor
    • 16 The Visit
    • 17 Amazing Results
    • 18 An Impossible Problem
    • 19 Strange Triangles
    • 20 The Faculty
    • 21 Vision of Circleland
    • 22 Revelations by the Sphere
    • 23 Problems
    • 24 The Shortest Way
  • PART IV Expanding Worlds
    • 25 Distant Views
    • 26 Telemetry
    • 27 Increasing Distances
    • 28 Hunting for the Cause
    • 29 Expanding Circleland
    • 30 Expanding Sphereland
    • 31 Miracles in Spaceland
    • 32 Misunderstood
  • Index
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
Synopsis

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).

Review

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 Tilslørt. Avslørt: Et oppgjør med norsk naivisme [permalink]
Translated title Veiled. Revealed: A Settlement with Norwegian Naiveté
Language Norwegian
Authors Hege Storhaug (author) and Solveig Lid Ball (illustrator)
Publisher Kagge Forlag
Categories Politics and religion
Publication year 2007
ISBN 978-82-489-0740-4 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 178
Images Back flap of Tilslørt. Avslørt.Back of Tilslørt. Avslørt.Spine of Tilslørt. Avslørt.Front of Tilslørt. Avslørt.Front flap of Tilslørt. Avslørt.
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
Synopsis

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

Review

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

Images Back of The Truth About Chuck Norris.Spine of The Truth About Chuck Norris.Front of The Truth About Chuck Norris.
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
Synopsis

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

Review

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

THE FUTURE

  • 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

SPACE

  • 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?

SCIENCE

  • 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

SCIQUEST

  • 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

"FOREWORD BY ISAAC ASIMOV"

  • 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

SCIENCE FICTION

  • 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

PERSONAL

  • 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 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
Synopsis

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.

Images Back of Unweaving the Rainbow.Spine of Unweaving the Rainbow.Front of Unweaving the Rainbow.
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 Utopia: Concerning the Best Condition of the Commonwealth and the New Island of Utopia — A Truly Golden Little Book, No Less Beneficial than Entertaining [permalink]
Original title Libellus vere aureus, nec minus salutaris quam festivus, de optimo rei publicae statu deque nova insula Utopia
Language English
Authors Thomas More (author) and Stephen Duncombe (introduction)
Publisher [self-published]
Categories Novel and science fiction
Publication year 2010
Original publication year 1516
Online version Link
Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1: Discourses of Raphael Hythloday, of the Best State of a Commonwealth
  • Chapter 2: Of Their Towns, Particularly of Amaurot
  • Chapter 3: Of Their Magistrates
  • Chapter 4: Of Their Trades, and Manner of Life
  • Chapter 5: Of Their Traffic
  • Chapter 6: Of the Travelling of the Utopians
  • Chapter 7: Of Their Slaves, and of Their Marriages
  • Chapter 8: Of Their Military Discipline
  • Chapter 9: Of the Religions of the Utopians
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
Synopsis

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.

Review

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
  • LECTURES XVI AND XVII: Mysticism
  • LECTURE XVIII: Philosophy
  • LECTURE XIX: Other Characteristics
  • LECTURE XX: Conclusions
  • Postscript
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
Synopsis

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.

Review

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.

Images Back of What Is the Name of This Book?.Spine of What Is the Name of This Book?.Front of What Is the Name of This Book?.
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 What We Believe But Cannot Prove: Today's Leading Thinkers on Science in the Age of Certainty [permalink]
Language English
Authors John Brockman (editor) and Ian McEwan (foreword)
Publisher Pocket Books
Categories Anthology and essay
Publication year 2005
ISBN 978-1-4165-2261-4 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 266
Synopsis

This book is a collection of very small essays by a bunch of leading scientists, philosophers, writers, and intellectuals on the title question. The topics range from artificial intelligence to consciousness to epistemology (and a lot in between).

Review

This was an immensely satisfying read. You get a lot of perspective just reading the speculations of these people. I highly recommend this book!

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Full title Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusions of Our Time [permalink]
Language English
Authors Michael Shermer (author) and Stephen Jay Gould (foreword)
Publisher W. H. Freeman and Company
Categories Philosophy, science and skepticism
Publication year 1997
ISBN 0-7167-3387-0 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 306
Images Back flap of Why People Believe Weird Things.Back of Why People Believe Weird Things.Spine of Why People Believe Weird Things.Front of Why People Believe Weird Things.Front flap of Why People Believe Weird Things.
Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • Foreword: The Positive Power of Skepticism by Stephen Jay Gould
  • Introduction to the Paperback Edition: Magical Mystery Tour: The Whys and Wherefores of Weird Things
  • Prologue: Next on Oprah

Part 1: Science and Skepticism

  • 1. I Am Therefore I Think: A Skeptic's Manifesto
  • 2. The Most Precious Thing We Have: The Difference Between Science and Pseudoscience
  • 3. How Thinking Goes Wrong: Twenty-five Fallacies That Lead Us to Believe Weird Things

Part 2: Pseudoscience and Superstition

  • 4. Deviations: The Normal, the Paranormal, and Edgar Cayce
  • 5. Through the Invisible: Near-Death Experiences and the Quest for Immortality
  • 6. Abducted!: Encounters with Aliens
  • 7. Epidemics of Accusations: Medieval and Modern Witch Crazes
  • 8. The Unlikeliest Cult: Ayn Rand, Objectivism, and the Cult of Personality

Part 3: Evolution and Creationism

  • 9. In the Beginning: An Evening with Duane T. Gush
  • 10. Confronting Creationists: Twenty-five Creationist Arguments, Twenty-five Evolutionist Answers
  • 11. Science Defended, Science Defined: Evolution and Creationism at the Supreme Court

Part 4: History and Pseudohistory

  • 12. Doing Donahue: History, Censorship, and Free Speech
  • 13. Who Says the Holocaust Never Happened, and Why Do They Say It?: An Overview of a Movement
  • 14. How We Know the Holocaust Happened: Debunking the Deniers
  • 15. Pigeonholes and Continuums: An African-Greek-German-American Looks at Race

Part 5: Hope Springs Eternal

  • 16. Dr. Tipler Meets Dr. Pangloss: Can Science Find the Best of All Possible Worlds?
  • 17. Why Do People Believe Weird Things?
  • Bibliography
  • Index
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
Synopsis

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

Review

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.

Images Back of The Woman Warrior.Spine of The Woman Warrior.Front of The Woman Warrior.
Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • No Name Woman
  • White Tigers
  • Shaman
  • At the Western Palace
  • A Song for a Barbarian Reed Pipe
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
Synopsis

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 The Solaris Book of New Science Fiction: Volume Two [permalink]
Language English
Authors George Mann (editor), Brenda Cooper, Chris Roberson, Dan Abnett, David Louis Edelman, Dominic Green, Eric Brown, Karl Schroeder, Kay Kenyon, Mary Robinette Kowal, Michael Moorcock, Neal Asher, Paul Di Filippo, Peter Watts and Robert Reed
Publisher Solaris Books
Categories Anthology, science fiction and short stories
Publication year 2008
ISBN 978-1-84416-542-1 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 413
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Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • Introduction (George Mann)
  • iCity (Paul Di Filippo)
  • The Space Crawl Blues (Kay Kenyon)
  • The Line of Dichotomy (Chris Roberson)
  • Fifty Dinosaurs (Robert Reed)
  • Mason's Rats: Black Rat (Neal Asher)
  • Blood Bonds (Brenda Cooper)
  • The Eyes of God (Peter Watts)
  • Sunworld (Eric Brown)
  • Evil Robot Monkey (Mary Robinette Kowal)
  • Shining Armor (Dominic Green)
  • Book, Theatre, and Wheel (Karl Schroeder)
  • Mathralon (David Louis Edelman)
  • Mason's Rats: Autotractor (Neal Asher)
  • Modem Times (Michael Moorcock)
  • Point of Contact (Dan Abnett)
Full title H. P. Lovecraft Omnibus Vol. 2: Dagon and Other Macabre Tales [permalink]
Language English
Authors H. P. Lovecraft (author) and August Derleth (introduction)
Publisher Voyager
Categories Anthology, horror and short stories
Series H. P. Lovecraft Omnibus (2/3)
Publication year 2000
Original publication year 1965
ISBN 978-0-586-06324-8 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 512
Synopsis

This collection contains a bunch of short stories, as well as a very interesting essay by August Derleth called Supernatural Horror in Literature. Also in there are some stories under the heading Early Tales and four really small stories under Fragments, stories not really completed (and therefore not that interesting).

Most of the stories are first-person accounts of some horrible fate befalling the protagonist (such as Dagon, The Temple, and Imprisoned with the Pharaohs) while a few are third-person narratives over a span of time (like The Doom that came to Sarnath, The Cats of Ulthar, and The Quest of Iranon).

Review

This collection represents my first foray into Lovecraft's literature (except for The Call of Cthulhu, which I read ages ago). As I'm not really well read in horror literature, I don't know how it stacks up against other authors, but I know I like it! Lovecraft has a very peculiar way of writing, and virtually every story manages to draw you in and keep your attention throughout. Also, most of the stories have a twist at the end that's not always easy to predict, which makes them all the more enjoyable.

This collection, as opposed to the first and third in this series, is a little bit special in that there are a lot of stories, so if you don't have that much time to read, this book is excellent. The stories are short and almost all are engaging and very fun to read.

Images Back of H. P. Lovecraft Omnibus Vol. 2.Spine of H. P. Lovecraft Omnibus Vol. 2.Front of H. P. Lovecraft Omnibus Vol. 2.
Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • Introduction, by August Derleth
  • Dagon
  • The Tomb
  • Polaris
  • Beyond the Wall of Sleep
  • The Doom that came to Sarnath
  • The White Ship
  • Arthur Jermyn
  • The Cats of Ulthar
  • Celephais
  • From Beyond
  • The Temple
  • The Tree
  • The Moon-bog
  • The Nameless City
  • The Other Gods
  • The Quest of Iranon
  • Herbert West - Reanimator
  • The Hound
  • Hypnos
  • The Festival
  • The Unnamable
  • Imprisoned with the Pharaohs
  • He
  • The Horror at Red Hook
  • The Strange High House in the Mist
  • In the Walls of Eryx
  • The Evil Clergyman

Early Tales

  • The Beast in the Cave
  • The Alchemist
  • Poetry and the Gods
  • The Street
  • The Transition of Juan Romero

Fragments

  • Azathoth
  • The Descendant
  • The Book
  • The Thing in the Moonlight
  • Supernatural Horror in Literature
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
Synopsis

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.

Review

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 Rama Revealed: The Ultimate Encounter [permalink]
Language English
Authors Arthur C. Clarke (author) and Gentry Lee (co-author)
Publisher Bantam Books
Categories Novel and science fiction
Series Rama (4/4)
Publication year 1995
Original publication year 1994
ISBN 0-553-56947-3 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 602
Images Back of Rama Revealed.Spine of Rama Revealed.Front of Rama Revealed.
Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • Acknowledgments
  • Prologue
  • Escape
  • The Rainbow Connection
  • The Emerald City
  • War in Rama
  • Return to the Node
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
  • ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
  • 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 Uzumaki Volume 1: Spiral into Horror [permalink]
Original title うずまき
Translated title Spiral
Language English
Authors Gary Leach (editor), Yuji Oniki (translator), Junji Ito (creator) and Susan Daigle-Leach (letterer)
Publisher VIZ Media
Categories Horror and manga
Series Uzumaki (1/3)
Publication year 2011
Original publication year 1998
ISBN 978-1-4215-1389-8 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 202
Images Back of Uzumaki Volume 1.Spine of Uzumaki Volume 1.Front of Uzumaki Volume 1.
Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • Chapter 1: The Spiral Obsession Part 1
  • Chapter 2: The Spiral Obsession Part 2
  • Chapter 3: The Scar
  • Chapter 4: The Firing Effect
  • Chapter 5: Twisted Souls
  • Chapter 6: Medusa
  • Afterword
Full title Uzumaki Volume 2: Spiral into Horror [permalink]
Original title うずまき
Translated title Spiral
Language English
Authors Gary Leach (editor), Yuji Oniki (translator), Junji Ito (creator) and Susan Daigle-Leach (letterer)
Publisher VIZ Media
Categories Horror and manga
Series Uzumaki (2/3)
Publication year 2010
Original publication year 1999
ISBN 978-1-4215-1390-4 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 197
Images Back of Uzumaki Volume 2.Spine of Uzumaki Volume 2.Front of Uzumaki Volume 2.
Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • Chapter 7: Jack-in-the-Box
  • Chapter 8: Snail People
  • Chapter 9: The Black Lighthouse
  • Chapter 10: Mosquitoes
  • Chapter 11: The Umbilical Cord
  • Chapter 12: The Storm
  • Afterword
Full title Uzumaki Volume 3: Spiral into Horror [permalink]
Original title うずまき
Translated title Spiral
Language English
Authors Gary Leach (editor), Yuji Oniki (translator), Junji Ito (creator) and Susan Daigle-Leach (letterer)
Publisher VIZ Media
Categories Horror and manga
Series Uzumaki (3/3)
Publication year 2012
Original publication year 1998
ISBN 978-1-4215-1391-1 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 253
Images Back of Uzumaki Volume 3.Spine of Uzumaki Volume 3.Front of Uzumaki Volume 3.
Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • Chapter 13.The House
  • Chapter 14.Butterfly
  • Chapter 15.Chaos
  • Chapter 16.Erosion
  • Chapter 17.Escape
  • Chapter 18.Labyrinth
  • Chapter 19.Completion
  • Lost chapter: Galaxies
  • Afterword

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