This was a good book. There were two or three really mind-blowing concepts that I hadn't heard before. But I give it fewer stars because (1) it doesn't really spend very much time on the titular question -- specifically "free will". It's really a book about how the brain works, which is really interesting to me, but this book's not as good as David Eagleman's "Incognito", in my opinion. (2) It spends quite a bit of time on how current neuroscience impacts law and courtroom proceedings. Those parts seemed repetitive and dull to me.
This book is good, but it's not The Shining. Also, I felt it petered out a bit too early.
I found this book thoroughly interesting, engaging, and thought-provoking. To be perfectly honest, I'm not sure whether to believe everything Jang Jin-sung has written here. At several points, it was gut wrenching in the way that those old WWII newsreels are ... you know the ones I mean ... you can't bear to keep looking, but can't bear to look away either. Like with those old films, the most horrifying thing to realize is that this is actually going on in the world right now -- people are living in that place, so deeply deceived and kept under the thumb of one of the most vile regimes known to man.
If everything Mr. Jin-sung has related here is true, North Korea is a terrible place to live, and its leader(s) are the scum of the earth -- the scum of the scum of the earth. It will indeed be a joyous day when that regime is overthrown.
It was cool to hear Ben Stiller (who starred in the movie adaptation) read this book, but the story in the book is nothing like the movie.
There's a guy who sometimes daydreams of a life different than his own. That's literally the ONLY similarity between this story and the movie version.
The story here is much more depressing than the movie. A sad story about a person who dreams of a different life, but never does anything about it. The ending of this story is very sad and depressing. That's not to say it's poorly written, or not interesting, or anything -- just don't get this thinking you're going to relive the movie experience.
Everyone's heaping praise on this book, and it got a Pulitzer I think, so I picked it up, hoping for a great story.
For one thing, it was often hard for me to understand the narrator.
Another problem is that the narrative seems to jump around without enough cues to let me know what's happening. I had a very difficult time following it.
It may be a cultural disconnect on my part, but I just had the hardest time understanding what people were doing, and why they were acting the way they were. Many times things that were happening just didn't seem to make any sense to me.
I stopped listening about 3/4 or maybe 4/5 in. Just couldn't stay interested.
This is one of my favorite sci-fi books of all time. I read it (print version) many years ago and it blew me away.
I was very exited to find this available on Audible, so I got it, but I was less than thrilled with the audio version because of the narrator. She sounds too young and ... well, kind of valley-girl-ish. I don't know if that's an apt description -- she did not sound like I expected Priscilla Hutchins to sound. Not enough gravitas. Too teeny-bopper-ish, or something.
I did not get the same vibe from "Deepsix", yet I see that it's narrated by the same person. "The Engines of God" has a different narrator, and it is far and away the best of the series so far, in audiobook form.
Parts of this book were excellent, parts a little dry. I learned a lot about blindness, and how blind people operate, and was entranced by several parts where life at a blind school, led by blind administrators, was described in detail.
The scene where the power goes out at the school, and she contrasts her experience with the blind students and administrators (who didn't even know the power had gone out, and were going about their normal routines) brought me to tears, and I will not soon forget it.
Ms. Mahoney delivers an excellent performance reading her own book.
I might have given it 5 stars, if it weren't for some fairly long stretches where she just seemed to go into far too much detail. At one point a walk down the street goes on for half an hour or so as she describes every pot hole, every insect and virtually every blade of grass. This kind of thing happens several times and I was sorely tempted to fast-forward a few times.
I think I understand what she was trying to do in those parts, but at times I felt she was just going a bit too far with the detail.
This book starts out like a good Twilight Zone episode. It maintains that feel for several chapters before revealing itself as a sci-fi story. I think maybe the author was trying to interject some "horror" elements, but if so he failed. By that I mean that the horror elements are delivered in such a way that the reader is not invested in them, and knows the outcome ahead of time, so there's no real "horror" to be had.
I will not give away the ending, except to say that it left this listener very dissatisfied.
Also, there are several points where the certain ridiculous story elements had me laughing at points that were not supposed to be funny.
For example, at one point a character is shut up in a mausoleum with concrete walls thick enough to block all radio transmissions, but when old-style land-line telephones begin ringing all over town (keep in mind that he's deep in a cemetery at the time, far from any of these phones), they make a loud noise he's able to hear.
Anyway, the negatives were not enough to make me stop listening. I've no doubt that many will find this book enjoyable. For me though, I guess I would say that it's just instantly forgettable.
I am a big fan of sci-fi, and of Douglas Adams, but I will readily admit that I would never have bought this book on it's summary description alone. A lawyer for the music industry represents aliens hooked on pop music? For some reason, any book involving a lawyer sounds boring to me.
It took a friend's exuberant recommendation to get me to take the risk and spend a credit on this audiobook. I was glad I did! This book is far from boring. And not only that, once you get into it, the premise actually makes sense! The book is surprisingly grounded in believable scientific concepts, and the premise, which sounds ludicrous in the summary blurb, actually becomes believable when you read it in context.
This book is hilarious, entertaining, bizarrely scientifically grounded, and ends with a fourish that actually had me laughing out loud! This is not the first book I've read that was heralded as "the next Hitchhiker's Guide", but it's the first that truly deserves that comparison.
I found this book disappointing, mainly because the author does not even begin to address his supposedly ground-breaking, controversial new theory until about 3/4 through the book. Everything before that is review. If you've studied physics and cosmology, or read a lot of Hawking, Greene, Mlodinow, etc., you will be bored through this part (which, I repeat, is most of the book). If this is the first book you've read on the subject, you might not mind this.
I will also say that Mr. Tegmark dips into some pretty far-out ideas from time to time, and I felt like he was trying to defend as science, some ideas that were plainly not science. Of course, he says they are science, so maybe I'm just wrong about that.
When he does finally get to talking about "Our Mathematical Universe" (there's a chapter in the book where he clearly announces something like "now I'm going to start talking about my new theory...". Again, that's about halfway through the second part of the audiobook), it's pretty interesting for a while. But it seemed like it quickly became hard to hold my attention to the reading. This may have been my own fault, but it seemed like he was just getting too far into fringe science for me, and kind of rambling. It's not that I reject his theory. Actually, he may be on to something (his "new theory" was covered briefly in one of Brian Greene's books, by the way, so it's not that new -- or maybe Greene got it from him?)
Anyway, I did find Mr. Tegmark's many anecdotes about his life as a student, a scientist and a father interesting and it was cool how he integrated his own experiences with the science he was presenting. I did feel that I learned some things from this book, so I can't give it that bad of a review.
In general, I would just warn the reader: if you're not new to physics and cosmology, be ready to wade through a LOT of review before getting to anything new.
Right up front I will admit: I did not finish this book. I got about 2/3 through and stopped.
Daniel Dennett may be one of the "four horsemen" of the new atheism, but if so, he's the most boring of the four. He obviously idolizes Richard Dawkins. Everything Dawkins ever said is profound in the extreme. There's no need to read "The Blind Watchmaker" or "The Selfish Gene" if you read this, because Dennett quotes virtually every sentence in those books, and wastes no opportunity to tell us how profound and original each one is.
On the other hand, he absolutely despises Steven Jay Gould. He spends a majority of the latter half of the book outlining everything that's wrong with everything Gould ever said or did.
The first half of the book did have some interesting stuff. There was a chapter about John Conway's Life simulation that was very interesting. Some interesting stuff about memes (that I'd already read in Dawkins, of course, but still interesting). But then he decided to dedicate the rest of the book (or a very large chunk of it) to lambasting S. J. Gould, and to a lesser extent Noam Chomsky. Also, everyone who ever said a word in support of Gould is an idiot. I fast-forwarded to close to the end and he was still at it. At that point I called it quits.
I'm giving the book three stars mainly because I did enjoy the first half.
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