News and Weekly Reading 4.13.12

April 13th, 2012  |  Published in Reading

First of all, a bit about what has been going on with me. I’ve finished the rough draft and first pass revision of the next Broken Shores story, so that should be posted by the end of the month, if all goes well. I’ve also started the next Horizon story, and hope to have that done by the end of the month as well. In addition, I have been doing a bit of work on the ShoStoWriMo site, which I hope to have ready sometime next week.


  • Ashes, by Ilsa J. Bick – A YA book that combines zombies and an EMP pulse that wipes out much of civilization. It was fun, but be warned, it feels like a prequel. It made me want to write a story where zombies come and do a lot of damage and then die off, leaving people to rebuild.
  • Feed, by M.T. Anderson – Another YA book, this one a look at a dystopian post-literate society. The first half was fun, and the second half was depressing, mostly because I didn’t feel that the main character was making any attempt to change things that he knew were broken. The audiobook production of this was phenominal.
  • Just My Type, by Simon Garfield – A book about fonts. More fun than it sounds, really. My only complaint was that it was a bit light on the history (for example, I would like to know a bit more about the history of serif and sans-serif fonts or why the letter J was eventually added to the alphabet).
  • Animal Farm, by George Orwell – I wasn’t really expecting to like this one, but I ended up loving it. I had expected it to be a critique of socialist ideas, but in the end I took the message to be: Once you stop struggling forward, you start to slip backward. In addition, this book is a prime example of why you shouldn’t read forewords or introductions, I don’t like being told what to think about something before I read it.


  • Welcome to the New Third World of Energy, the US – Depressing but relevant.
  • Why e-books cost so much – Interesting article that argues that the main cost in books isn’t paper, but rather marketing, editing, art, etc. and therefore e-books are being underpriced. There is probably some truth in this, but until I see evidence of publishers maketing (when was the last time you saw advertisement for something that wasn’t already a huge hit?) or editing (how often do you read a new book by a popular author and wonder why an editor didn’t request a rewrite?), I’ll remain skeptical.
  • The rise of e-reading – Pew just released a study indicating that people who read e-books read more (e-books and paper books) than people who read only paper books, which is heartening.

For next week, I am in the process of reading The Art of Memory, which is just as dense as it sounds, so I may not have much for you. Be warned.

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Weekly Reading 4.6.12

April 6th, 2012  |  Published in Reading, Uncategorized

Books and Novellas

  • Sauerkraut Station, by Ferret Steinmetz – Described as Prarie Home Companion in space, this story was a lot of fun. Plus, GigaNotoSaurus allows you to download epubs of their stories, which makes them much more readable.
  • A Web of Air, by Phillip Reeve – After enjoying Fever Crumb, I thought that I would give the sequel a try. I was disappointed. First, the audiobook had a different narrator (the author did the first one, and was fantastic). Second, the simplistic view of spirituality that it portrayed (summed up as religion always hinders progress) annoyed me. Third, the most interesting part, birds with human intelligence that had decayed since their creation (but with the possibility of redemption) weren’t very well explored. Finally, the main character shoots someone by clamping a bullet in a vice and setting it off. Since the character is trained as an engineer, she should know that the bullet would need a barrel to achieve any sort of velocity. I won’t be reading the next one.
  • A Planet of Viruses, by Carl Zimmer – An excellent introduction to the world of viruses. Informative without being dry.
  • Palimpsest, by Charles Stross – This novella makes me look at every time travel story I’ve ever read and think that the authors lacked in ambition. I cannot overstate how much I enjoyed this book.


  • Real Spending, Real Dollars – Our spending priorities are just scary.
  • The $30 Billion Social Security Hack – I imagine that we will see a lot more of this in the future.
  • The Inadmissible Assumptions – Like a tiny Jaron Lanier sitting on my shoulder.
  • Not an April Fool – You know that saying about never attributing to evil what is more easily explained by stupidity? Well the corollary is that there is no functional difference between stupidity (or ignorance or incompetence) and evil.
  • It’s the Economics, Stupid! – Interesting look an energy prices and politics, although I think that he doesn’t take into account the effect of staring at a pump for a minute or two as you pump your gas, rather than simply seeing one number one time each month when you get your natural gas bill.
  • What Book Publishers Should Learn From Harry Potter – Namely that readers want to be your advocates, and that perhaps abject fear isn’t the correct response.


Weekly Reading 3.20.12

April 3rd, 2012  |  Published in Reading, Uncategorized

This was supposed to be posted on the 20th of last month, but due to operator error, it wasn’t. Oops.


Last Week: The Statues That Walked, Ship Breaker, The Quantum Thief, The Third Reich, and One Way Forward. Of these five, my favorites were definitely The Statues That Walked, which made a rather persuasive argument that rather than polluting themselves to death/killing each other, the people of Easter Island were both peaceful and remarkably good stewards of the environment, and One Way Forward, which was one of the most hope-inducing political book that I’ve read in a long time.

This Week: Ragamuffin, Fever Crumb, and Dark Life. All of them were good, but nothing really bit me.



Weekly Reading 3.2.12

March 2nd, 2012  |  Published in Reading

As an experiment, I’m going to start keeping track of the various articles that I read and post them on Fridays. This week you get a short list because I only came up with the idea on Thursday.  Without further ado:


February 29th, 2012  |  Published in Reading

One of the things that I want to do better going forward is to post more about what I’m reading. I had some sort of system worked out on my old site, with a widget that displayed the last ten or so articles that I had shared on Google Reader, but with Reader’s redesign, that appears to be a thing of the past (although I imagine that hivemined will fix that, once it is available). But enough of that.

Back when I lived in San Francisco and listened to a lot of podcasts on my walks to and from work, I heard about a novella by James Patrick Kelly that he had released as a podcast on his site and which went on to win the Nebula. It is called Burn, and it is a far-future science fiction story centered around a world that had been structured around the ideas set forth by Thoreau in Walden. Well, I finally got around to listening to it. It didn’t go into what I expected it to go into, and I’m still trying to unpack how I feel about it, but it was good, and you can get it for free, so you should give it a listen.

Currently, I’m listening to Richard Matheson’s Other Kingdoms, and I’ll tell you how that went in a week or so.

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