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Just Finished Reading: The Dispossessed #books

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The Dispossessed

Another book rescued from a second hand store. The Dispossessed is an absolutely brilliant book, I hadn’t previously read anything by Ursula le Guin and would certainly read another book by this author.

An Utopian society develops after a self imposed exile on a moon. As with the socialist experience on our Earth the Utopian society keeps itself in line by social pressure and an interventionist attitude of the local organization. With in the confines of this society a physicist reads papers being send from the home planet and dreams of been able to go to the mother planet and communicate with it’s scientists fractured by borders, capitalism and wars.

The lunar society as initially described sounds great, the book can be said to have some elements in common with the submission to Utopia that characterizes Logan’s Run.

Written by Daniël W. Crompton (webhat)

July 1, 2011 at 7:20 am

Just Finished Reading: Flash Forward #books

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Flashforward

I saw the TV series Flash Forward before I got to read the book Flashforward by Robert Sawyer, I was lucky to receive the book in a box of books which were being thrown out during a move. I thought the TV series was very good, albeit US centric, the book is more Eurocentric and focuses on the Large Hadron Collider. A bizarre twist on the fears that gripped the world during the run up to the LHC being turned on.

Every man, woman and child on the world is suddenly knocked unconscious by an “accident” in the LHC, which causes everybody to have a vivid dream of the future. Many die due to accidents. The scientists at the LHC try to discover what happened, and whether it can happen again.

Naturally the premise and the science in the book are charmingly flawed in some ways, the TV series has the advantage that it aims at the lowest common denominator in terms of the science, a mistake or leap of faith that the book needs to make. Not that it detracts from the book, which is intelligently written and contains a level of humour and speculation which can be expected from a book.

I have read nothing else from Sawyer, based on this book I compare him quite favourably to Michael Crichton.

Image source: Amazon

Written by Daniël W. Crompton (webhat)

June 17, 2011 at 9:00 am

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Just Finished Reading: Mariposa #books

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Mariposa - Greg Bear - Book Cover

I received Mariposa, by Greg Bear, from a friend who was cleaning out his bookcase for his move to a different apartment. I had spend last weekend helping him with an issue he was having, and drinking coffee.

This book looked interesting in that it main theme is that big government consists of bureaucrats and big corporations consist of henchmen. The secondary theme a commentary on the world’s reliance on technology and the entanglement of it in our lives.

The last theme highlight is Mariposa, which is the Spanish word for butterfly. Taking multiple innocuous sources: programmers; cola; politician; FBI; banking and morphs them into something unexpected, in the world Bear creates even a bullet is not what it seems.

A good read.

Written by Daniël W. Crompton (webhat)

March 23, 2011 at 12:47 pm

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Science Fiction Authors: The Architects of the Future

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Communicator

As I was watching recently and I think it was Tom Merritt who said this, it inspired me to continue on this theme. I believe it’s correct, however misguided people may think that the current opinion or the knowledge of current technology of science fiction writes is. Science fiction writers are the inventors of the ideas that are considered improbable or impossible.

They are still the inspirers of the scientists on inventors of the future, whether it’s the space travel of Jules Verne, the extra dimensional spaces of Robert Heinlein, the robots of Isaac Asimov or the Start Trek communicator. These ideas and many others have continued to inspire me and others.

What did Science Fiction inspire you to do?

Image source: Don Pezzano

Written by Daniël W. Crompton (webhat)

January 30, 2011 at 10:06 am

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Just Finished Reading “Anathem” #books

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Anathem - Neal Stephenson

As I previously said I bought Anathem at the same time I bought Cryptonomicon, it was quite funny when I came to the counter the shop employee was an old friend of mine who I hadn’t seen in a while. We wanted to chat, but as it was the week before Christmas it was far too busy. A week later I was walking over a secondhand book market I saw a different friend selling books. It seems many of my friends are in the book trade.

Reading Anathem was a profound experience, the book is similar in form to many popular novels – Harry Potter, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings – following a young man, Erasmas, who is a novice to the real world, and is forced by an unseen power and/or destiny to leave his home and make a profound difference to the world. Like the stories mentioned it contains some elements of fantasy magic, although they are explained away scientifically in some cases. The protagonist, Erasmas, is part of a science based monastic order, who follow the Discipline of the mathic world.

As with many stories of this type it appeals to me and to others, although it is clear that they are formulaic in essence. The thing that most made an impact on me was a semi-religious order based on mathematics and philosophy, it’s the way I was sucked into the book and was (re-)introduced to many of the theories in mathematics, physics and philosophy of which I had not thought in a long time. It is much like reading Juvenal or Shakespeare and discovering the source and context of many well-known sayings. Only in reverse.

I believe that learning could be like this, in story form creating a source and context for much of the knowledge presented. I can certainly say I understand many of the concepts discussed better that I did when I was first introduced to them, although I might be prone to say Hemn spaces rather than configuration spaces.

A fantastic book, and a must read!

Written by Daniël W. Crompton (webhat)

April 2, 2010 at 9:58 am

Just Finished Reading “Cryptonomicon” #books

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Cryptonomicon - Neal Stephenson

As an early Christmas gift my father gave me vouchers he didn’t want to get him and myself some books we would enjoy. I went out and bought Anathem – which I will discuss in a following blog – and Cryptonomicon. He was very happy with my choice, we had both enjoyed and , and would be sure to enjoy these.

The book starts just before the age of modern cryptography, in a time when computers were people who performed computations, and weaves a story of the Waterhouse clan from grandfather’s fumbled first meetings with Alan Turing, through the cracking of the Enigma code, up to the modern age of fibre optics and Van Eck phreaking. It is ranges from witty to down-right hilarious, with lines like

“War is hell, but smoking cigarettes makes it all worthwhile.”

And it covers the art of cryptography in a way that I, a geek with some knowledge of cryptography, understand.

The story itself reads like a spy novel, with as much subterfuge in the WWII periode as in the modern age, where the discovery of information by lawyers and dentists can be as bad if not worse that the discovery by Nazis. In the end the WWII characters have died leaving legacies which ripple into the future, and those left alive are left fighting an enemy much worse than the Third Reich, corporations.

I really liked Cryptonomicon.

Written by Daniël W. Crompton (webhat)

March 29, 2010 at 11:03 am

Just Finished Reading “Counter-Clock World”

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Counter-Clock World is a nice book, although I was a little confused by the storyline in the beginning. I love Philip K. Dick!

The inlay on my copy, which is a first edition paperback, is:

Time has reversed its flow: the dead are coming back to life, and people grow younger instead of older.

And this says it all, and still it’s this flow which is well described. From eating to sleeping, and even children being unborn.

A very good read, although being Philip K. Dick it moves you in a way you haven’t been moved before.

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Written by Daniël W. Crompton (webhat)

March 20, 2009 at 6:49 pm

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