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Archive for June, 2007

Transferring info through bones: security? disruption?

Rice University here in Houston announced an interesting research project and technology called “OsteoConduct: Musculo-Skeletal Conduction for Secure Data Communication“, transferring sound waves through bones. The project is has been awarded funding from Microsoft Research.

As I understand it, the project centers around using sound waves at low frequencies to transfer data through bones and across joints. Theoretically, you could have a sound wave generator (such as your teeth clicking together) connected to a receiver (a cell phone transmitter hooked) and transmit some type of data through your body. (more…)

bookrev: The Chronoliths by Robert Charles Wilson

5 stars: Couldn’t put it down, and it made me go look up Calabi-Yau

I’ve been working hard to read a lot of the ARC’s I received at Book Expo America and have read and reviewed three. But on a recent trip, I finished one and had only my trusty backup emergency paperback in my bag. It was The Chronoliths by Robert Charles Wilson, recommended to me by my friend Christopher (who also turned me on to Illium).

Christopher is 2 for 2; I could not put this book down. And he made me use the Internet to connect the dots of my long ago Physics degree and go back and refresh my old brain on manifolds and their relationship to quantum mechanics (yeah, I know…geek boy). (more…)

bookrev: The Dark River by John Twelve Hawks

Tried really, really hard to love it, almost succeeded…maybe my expectations were too high from The Traveler

Please note that the copy of this novel reviewed is an “Advanced Reading Copy” that I received at Book Expo America June 1st. The book cover also states that the book will
officially be on sale July 10, 2007.

I enjoyed The Traveler, John Twelve Hawks first novel, because it possessed many elements that I enjoyed; these are not new ideas, but combining them together is somewhat unique. I had very high expectations for The Dark River by John Twelve Hawks (or someone like him since apparently no one knows who he really is) as it had many of these same pieces: (more…)

Quantum Computing article on The Global Intelligencer

This months Global Intelligencer features an article I penned on Quantum Computing, constrasting its development with that of classical computing as we have known it.

I am working on a much longer article, but still have a lot to learn. As in the early days of our current computing technology, quantum computing exists as much theory and experimentation, and little practical implementation. There is a lot to know, digest and understand.

Take a gander, let me know what you think.

My novel reviewed at SF Signal

John DeNardo at SF Signal just posted a nice review of my novel, Dusk Before the Dawn. You can read it here and make sure and leave John lots of comments…he likes that a lot.

SF Signal is a very entertaining site, my son and I get lots of laughs outof their Thursday YouTube findings and commentary!

The Cutting Season

bookrev: The Cutting Season by Arthur Rosenfeld

An excellent example of martial arts fiction

Most readers (or watchers of movies/TV) have preconceived notions about martial arts: it’s violeThe Cutting Seasonnt (UFC, Pride); it’s hokey (chop suey martial arts movies with bad sound tracks); it’s mystical (warriors flying through the air like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, which is an excellent movies, BTW).

What martial artists enjoy (or at least what I enjoy) about the martial arts is the integration of mind, body and spirit. And this is not something that is solely the realm of martial artists; dancers, yoga practitioners, even piano players and other musicians experience the clarity of thought when mind, body and spirit come together. Most media representations either show too much fighting (body), too much mysticism (spirit), or simply miss the mark by representing a martial artist as a one-dimensional human.

Arthur Rosenfeld’s new book The Cutting Season gets the balance right. It is classified as “martial arts fiction”; rightly so.

The story begins with a doctor who is sometimes a martial arts practitioner, and ends with the man being a martial artist, integrating the concepts of martial arts throughout his life, not just on the side. (more…)

The Almost Moon

bookrev: The Almost Moon by Alice Sebold

The Almost MoonExtremely well written, scary subject matter handled like the pro she is

Let me get this out of the way up front: Alice Sebold is an extraordinary author. As a fellow writer, I learn a lot from both of her novels just walking through how she handles a scene, or a flashback, or a set of dialog.

Let me also get this out of the way: her subject matter bothers me on levels that I can barely describe. The Lovely Bones was extremely well-written, but, as a father with a daughter, it brought a parent’s nightmares to the page. The Almost Moon comes at your from a different tragic perspective, from a middle-aged mother who murders her dementia inflicted invalid mother.

The copy I have read is an Advanced Reading Copy graciously given to me at the recent Book Expo America, so the excerpts that I quote may change in the final copy (coming out in October 2007 according to the book’s cover). (more…)

The Modern World

bookrev: The Modern World (or Dangerous Offspring) by Steph Swainston

Intricate descriptions, and a fast paced plot that moves the story, fills inThe Modern World some gaps but leaves some large questions

After I read and reviewed Ms. Swainston’s first two books (The Year of Our War and No Present Like Time), I corresponded with her. In the interest of full disclosure, we traded signed copies of our books (that is how I got my hands on the UK Version!).

As I have said in reviews of the first two books, Steph creates a unique fantasy vision. The world called the Fourlands itself is not unique; but there are immortals in it, held together in the Circle by the emperor San who may be thousands of years old (the “may be” part is my only peeve on the book, but that comes later). The main character, Jant, is the immortal called Comet, the Messenger, and he works hard to control a very mortal-like drug addiction. There are parallel worlds, which Jant can visit during his drug trips, and he finds out in earlier books they are real. And there are starship troopers-like Insects, that have infested the northmost part of the Fourlands (and have come from one of the parallel worlds).

In this book, the armies of the Fourlands (and their architect) believe they can push the Insects back with a dam, push them back with water. No spoilers here, but this turns out to be a very bad thing. This bad thing happens while Jant is off to find his best immortal friend Lightning’s teenage daughter Cyan, who happens to be on a drug trip of her own and Jant ends up chasing her into one of the parallel worlds.

Steph SwainstonIn the end, the battle to end all battles against the Insects ensue, some immortals are killed (they can be killed, they just do not age) and more mystery is added.

My favorite part of Steph’s writing is her descriptions: Jant flying, the palaces, even battles. Take a look at Steph’s picture…where does this lovely young Brit ever get the background and experience to write a battle sequence like one where Jant has been sliced across the middle by one of the Insects: (more…)

essay: Book Expo America, NYC, June 2007

A first time novelist’s first time at the show

I went to BEA (and took my wife and son) for many reasons:

  • My first book (Dusk Before the Dawn) was up for a 2006 Book of the Year Award from ForeWord Magazine;
  • I love books;
  • I wanted to meet a few of the friends I’d made in the book business;
  • It was in New York City and we like to visit;
  • Did I mention we like books?

I’ve visited and exhibitted at many software and technology conferences, but few had the excitement and sheer hectic nature of BEA. It was a three-day conference preceeded by meetings and seminars; we only attended the first day (Friday), and we were worn out, my son especially for playing sherpa and carrying the books!

Now, let me emphasize that we did not go to BEA with the intention of grabbing every book in sight. It just felt like that is what we did! We ended up with forty books, some ARC/AREs (Advanced Reading Copies/Editions), some unedited, some fully released. I have almost one hundred reviews on this site, with more coming, so hopefully the authors and publishing houses will feel some benefit from the publicity. My wife and son are going to contribute some reviews as well.

Some of the books we got (that we will be posting reviews for) were:

  • The Dark River by John Twelve Hawks (the book after Traveler); my review
  • The Orc King by R. A. Salvatore (the next Drizzt novel);
  • The Day of Battle by Rick Atkinson (the book after the Army at Dawn, about the liberation of Europe in WWII);
  • The Almost Moon by Alice Seybold (author of The Lovely Bones); my review
  • The Crocodile and the Crane by Authur Rosenfield (from YMAA books, publisher of some of the best martial arts books available);
  • Exit Ghost by Philip Roth;
  • The Spanish Bow by Andromeda Romano-Lax (story summary reminds me of The Shadow and the Wind);
  • How Life Imitates Chess by Garry Kasparov
  • The Human, The Orchid and The Octopus by Jacques Cousteau and Susan Schiefelbein
  • Dragons of the Highlord Skies by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman (The Lost Chronicles Vol. 2)

I also got to meet in person several author friends, including: (more…)

bookrev: The Ghost Brigades by John Scalzi

bookrev: The Ghost Brigades by John Scalzi

5 stars: That does it, I am officially envious of Scalzi’s talent

 John Scalzi won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. Gee, I wonder why?

While not as fantastic as his debut, Old Man’s War, Scalzi still sets the bar high with his followup novel, set in the same universe where mankind has ventured out into a hostile universe populated with hundreds of alien species, and responds with engineering, perserverance, and small feats of bio engineering like the Ghost Brigades.

The Ghost Brigades were introduced briefly in Old Man’s War in the form of Jane Sagan, a nine year old with some of the DNA of the lead character’s dead wife. The soldiers in the Ghost Brigade are grown, given “BrainPal” computers in their head, and then linked to their squad mates.

Jane Sagan plays a back-up role here. The main plot follows Jared Dirac, a Ghost Brigade soldier who is built to put a presumed dead traitor’s consciousness inside his head. It doesn’t take at first, so he becomes a member of the Ghost Brigades. It does take later, but to detail more would mean spoiling the story.

Scalzi continues to expand upon the universe of aliens he has created, and to explain the science the humans are using to combat them in clear, logical terms. (Science and fiction, get it?) The humans seem to be beset on all sides by agressive aliens, but which side is really the aggressor?

John gets into some excellent philosophical discussions about choice and right to choose, which is right in line with the “created for a purpose” ghost brigades.

An excellent story, a quick read, a new fav author. On to the third in the series.
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Re-reading MSandT

Re-reading Tad William's Memory, Sorrow and Thorn

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Dusk Before the Dawn

Dusk Before the Dawn

Software By the Kilo

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