Matt Ridley writes great books. What makes them great is the abundance of information he presents to justify his conclusions as well as his willingness to admit when a conclusion is mere speculation. For anyone interested in evolutionary biology, this is a great book. Two thumbs up (though he does not focus on why only apes have opposable thumbs).
The first 100 (literally!) minutes of the audio book is nothing but an autobiography of the author showing in his own words how much smarter he is than everyone else. Tiresome is far too weak a word.
The observation that great uncertainty generally cannot be quantified surely is true but does not require a book to say. Do most people forget this fact? Sure. Does the author offer any practcal advice? No.
For a lesson in smug, read this book.
I read this story many years ago shortly after reading Downbelow Station and a few of the other, related novels in the Alliance Space universe. The world depicted in Cyteen made a nice contrast with the other societies created by Cherryh. But listening to it by itself, I found the story excrutiatingly slow with very little plot. If you are an Asimov fan, this book will put you to sleep. If you prefer Heinlein, you might like the introspective nature of the book. I recently purchased the sequel to this book (Regenesis), and I doubt I will give it a try. Of the related novels, I most enjoyed Merchanter's Luck.
I am listening to the entire Miles Vorkosigan series after having read them over many years. While I generally prefer those that have more Miles and less Mark, I found this installment to be the best so far even though the middle third was all about Mark. And I even grew found of Mark and his personal development! The entire series makes for a great listen, and I am sad that I have only a few more to go.
I did not know much about the state ratification process, and so it was interesting to learn how detailed the debates were (including, for example, the appropriate limits of diversity jurisdiction). The fights generally centered on a strong central government versus state variation and local control, pretty much what is going on today. The book was a bit too long but otherwise quite good.
I gave up after 90 minutes. The authors paint theories with which they disagree in cartoonish strokes and then assert their conclusions without any supporting data or argument. Perhaps it gets better but would anyone with anything to say really spend the first hour and a half wasting the listener's time? And the occasional turn of phrase the authors think is clever is anything but. Just a really, really bad book. Try the Selfish Gene, the Blank Slate, the Red Queen (by Matt Ridley), or anything by E. O. Wilson.
I read this book three or more decades ago and enjoyed it very much. But when I listened to it this week, I was surprised at how sad it now seemed: Asimov's view of the future was so far off (punch tape thousands of years in the future???) and his treatment of gender issues made the listening tough at times. The reader did not trouble me much though the obvious logical inconsistencies were hard to ignore (probably inevitable in any time-travel story).
I am a very big fan of Jack McDevitt's, but this book was disappointing. It had his usual clever mystery with a nice ending, but the story was just much too slow. And while I usually am indifferent to the reader, in this case (perhaps because I had so much time on my hands) I was particularly bothered by the many mispronunciations.
I read fiction to learn something. But what can I learn from people who face without suprise things that simply cannot happen (such as strangers manipulating their dreams)? Far too much graphic violence for my taste as well. I am now almost 20 hours into this book without any idea why I should care what happens or how I will be improved by reading this book. I have learned a lot about multiple characters without learning why I am being told their stories. I just don't get it.
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