I highly recommend this book for persons exploring their faith or the impact of religion on government.
I purchased this was some trepidation- Hitchens persona on the late night shows is amusingly snarky and bon vivant. But his articles in Vanity Fair are thoughtful and readable, suggesting the persona is merely affect. Having just read Garry Wills' series What Jesus Meant and What Paul Meant, I thought to get the other view. I found Hitchens to be highly informed and actually consistent with Wills. I enjoyed this book, both the thought-provoking content and the delivery (not snarky and no cheap shots, but not without wit either), though I disagree with atheism as the "logical" conclusion. I can't imagine anyone but Hitchens narrating and despite his gravely rumblings, well worth turning up the volume in the few places he drifts.
I would love to see Wills and Hitchens in a true conversation. Wills concludes that religion killed Jesus and Paul- and their true meaning. Yet, Wills is a practicing Catholic. Hitchens concludes that religion kills all true spiritual leaders and meaning, thus we should be atheists.
I saw the movie and got the book hoping to learn more about the fashion industry (I loved Meryl Streep’s discourse on how fashion trickles down to Casual Corner- a view which the NY Times rebutted in “The Devil Knows Nada”). This isn’t one of those learn- by-osmosis books written by James Michener or Alex Hailey. But it is entertaining and, even though I sometimes sided with Miranda that Andrea was a slacker, I thought it actually more compelling than the movie (which changed everything). The narration was ok- the narrator didn’t do so well with male voices but was clear and understandable.
This book is lower key than Gibson's Neuromancer series, which created cyberpunk, but yet as well-written, creative, and perhaps more compelling because in the end, it becomes more Tom Clancy than Tom Clancy about current events. Gibson avoids moralizing and trusts his audience to "get it." When we finally figure out the heroes and the villains, we are left praying that there still exists Americans like that. A bit more Le Carre and Greene than Clancy, hard care techophiles bear with it, the high tech war of spies unfolds and then builds. For hard core literati, no fears, the tech never overwhelms the story.
Art, as always, remains a major motif, and his take on virtual reality (the emerging locative art set) as the potential to be cluttered with a thousand uninteresting visions from mediocre artists is a strong contrast to the exuberant geekiness in Vinge's equally brilliant Rainbow's End. His bon mots on music are breathtaking.
The narration is good, not outstanding, but the book is so good, heck I could probably read it out loud and people would still enjoy it.
This book is factual, well-meaning... and ultimately a bit dry. I recommend this for anyone with an interest in the space program, but don't expect it to be riveting or have much emotional impact. A review in the NY Times (which was how I came upon this) indicated it was a fabulous long article that was now expanded into a book. I can certainly believe that it was a brilliant article- the book has good sources and details, and loses its way in presenting them. I had read Challenger Park earlier and it was fun seeing the amount of "fiction" in that book was actually truth.
These effortless comedy relies on real self-help books to skewer the self-help craze. And given the religious wars between different self-help gurus, Chopra, Covey, and such, what better venue than a monastery? Laugh out loud!
This book was a treat and to have it read by the author in perfect English and to hear Farsi pronounciations was a gift. The story is nothing like the classic To Kill a Mockingbird and yet has the same emotional impact with similar themes (prejudice, relationships, love, honor, standing up to bullies), the same elegance of structure and trust that the reader will connect the dots on a deeper level, and same transportation to a different community.
Altered Carbon turns out to be an excellent and thoughtful sci-fi book, well deserving of its Hugo nomination. Thought provoking themes suddenly emerge out of the film noire/Bladerunner genre to make this more than an action tale.
Don't let the a bit over-the-top noir first chapter or the truly awful narration scare you off (listen for Mr. Burnes, Principal Skinner, and other voices from the Simpsons being channeled here!). The book quickly settles down and eventually you get used to the narrator. The material is fine and actually sheds light on the appeal of the whole noir genre-- the protagonist is hard-boiled but still at some level innocent.
The book is well worth listening too, especially for women who are trying to be super moms with indifferent self-absorbed husbands, and people who are interested in the space program. The details are amazing and seem dead on.
The book was inches from being great. I struggled to figure out why. Her children seemed a bit too needy- wouldn't they have been raised to be proud that Mom was an astronaut rather than everyone being apologetic? Wouldn't Lucy have been more focused and thrilled with being in space- and in earning a huge place in the pantheon?
In the end, I think the author conveyed the operations, but not the wonder, of space.
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