I really expected more of a political polemic, but I found this very thoughtful. Not a campaign book, but more of a book to rally the liberal cause. the policy sections are different from the normal bipolar positions, the discussion of the way politics works is very thoughtful (as though Obama were an observer, not a participant), and the biographical sketches are interesting. I listened to this twice.
I had put this off until it was nominated for a Hugo, thinking it would be a light read but not high merit. I was wrong. The first 75% of the book is an entertaining pastiche on the tropes of Star Trek, and how someone might react if their life were like the characters in worst of Star Trek episodes. I laughed out loud several times, and couldn't resist telling my wife about parts. Then the three codas did something I didn't expect -- showed the longer term impact of the story on 3 people, with a depth that made me care. I'm coming to think that Scalzi has a skill specifically for showing us the power of different points of view on the same event. In a year of good novels, this one got my vote for the Hugo.
If I were reading, I'd call it a page turner. This one has everything for classic space adventure -- an interplanetary war, Belters-Mars-Earth tensions, space battles, gritty space lines, and eventually the unlikely aliens that change everything. Well worth the time, the characters are interesting enough, but this is mainly about the plot, the action, and the mystery of where it is going. The obsessiveness of the detective -- one of the two focus characters -- was a bit hard to swallow at first, but proves meaningful to the plot. Glad it was nominated for the Hugo so I would read it.
I love this feature. It is worth the entire $15/month membership just to get the NYT. This is a great selection of the NYT. I find that when people at work and my wife tell me about what they read in the Times, I've always heard it on this. Listening to this on the way in is so much better than talk radio or news radio -- thoughtful stories about things that will be discussed during the day. It is great!
It's been 20 years since I last read a Dream Park novel, and I was glad to see a new take on the ideas of the original books. And I think it is the best one since the first one. The idea of doing a Game on the Moon makes a lot of sense (loonies would need the recreation). It was more of a techno-thriller than deep SF, but I liked it a lot. I've been needing some easy "SF Adventure" to take my mind off a lot of things, and this was just right.
As a Clancy-style techno-thriller, this is a very good book. As usual, with Stephenson, the characters are unique but believable in the "real people are weird" view of the world. I enjoyed the flow of the book, the writing approach with its "okay, now I'll give you the backstory you need to understand what just happened," and the story itself.
My only real disappointment is that I expected something sci-fi or fantastic to happen, and it never did. In my mind, this is not a typical Stephenson book for that reason. Not that he always writes in genre, but it is what I expected. After ANATHEM, I was prepared for another "this book should win the Hugo" experience. So don't expect that, and you'll probably be pretty pleased.
Treating it as a techno-thriller, I think it is the most fun I've had with a book like that since HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER.
I only listened because of the Hugo nomination. I, for one, resent our new zombie overlords. But this really wasn't a zombie book, more of a "humans can adapt to anything, and still be bastards" kind of book. Fun to read, thought-provoking, and, to my surprise, with an emotional punch that had me mourning at one point in the book, really grieving for a character. Impressive.
Two very smart, interesting writers discussing how they got that way, what they do now, and what they might did differently. Interesting discussion from start to finish.
This reminded me of how powerful a good short story can be. The story has been made into movies twice, and neither have the power that this did. The story is told with an economy of words, but it had me from the opening.
It is rare to see a grant study turn into such a readable book. Making clear what the problems are with treatment of native Americans, Reconstruction, the causes of the Civil War in a very readable style, the book kept me focused and interested throughout. Well worth the time. While the book is criticized as either "politically correct" history or as focusing too much on what is left out, I think the author does a good job of arguing that he is talking about the major issues of history as understood at the time, even if it is now hidden (in many cases by outdated perceptions of the early 20th century). I was less interested in his discussion of why textbooks are like this, but inspired by his call for people of all ages to simply do American history locally.
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