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Archive for January, 2008

The Silent Blade

bookrev: The Silent Blade by R.A. Salvatore

Book XI in the Legend of Drizzt The Silent Blade

There are eighteen books in this series, and with that many pages a reader would expect to encounter two aspects: deeper characterizations and repetition. Both are on full display in The Silent Blade, the eleventh in the Drizzt Do’Urden series.

The previous book (Passage to Dawn) ended with Wulfgar being rescued from the demon Urtuu. One of the best features of this new book is Wulgar’s struggles against his feelings of defeat and guilt brought about by his many years of torture at the hands of the demon. In a telling scene he beats his once fiance’ Catti-brie, thinking she is actually a succubus, a tactic that Urtuu tormented him with. Wulfgar leaves the group and falls into alcoholism and brawling, both of which give him some release from his inner conflict. (more…)

Carl Landry

Rockets emerge, but not the ones we expected

Carl LandryAfter beating Portland on the road last night, the Rockets wake up to find themselves one game out of the playoff picture and a game and a half behind the 7th seed. They’ve won 4 in a row, and 8 of their last ten; if not for a let down at home against Philly, their recent string (including a win at home against the Spurs) would have all taking notice.

But it is not the players who were heralded as the ones to take the team over the top at the beginning of the season that are making a difference. Stevie Franchise and Mike James, proclaimed as difference makers, are getting little to no playing time.

It is the kids, Carl Landry and Aaron Brooks and Luis Scola who are proving to be the difference makers. Though they are rookies and make rookie mistakes, they are bringing energy and desire to the talent that Yao and McGrady have, and seem to be energizing the old timers on the team. (more…)

Splinter Cell

bookrev: Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell by David Michaels

Sometimes you just gotta run through a fun, throw down book, especially after some Splinter Cell interesting but thick material. I’ve read almost all of Tom Clancy’s novels (they got kinda slow around Red Rabbit, never made it through that one) but had never attempted one of his franchise series (Splinter Cell, Op Center, Power Plays, Net Force), created by him and written by a series of writers under on pseudonym.

Splinter Cell is based on a well know game of the same name (which I think I have actually played with my son), featuring Sam Fisher, intelligence gatherer extra-ordinaire of the black ops group Third Echelon.

The story is predictable, but a quick read. (more…)

Programming the Universe

bookrev: Programming the Universe: A Quantum Computer Scientist Takes on the Cosmos by Seth Lloyd

Programming the UniverseI’ve been reading this book for a while. Non-fiction books (except history books) always take me longer, as I like to check the facts, absorb the ideas…yeah, I know, it reminds some of you of schoolwork.

Dr. Lloyd’s book is full of ideas worth absorbing, the main one being that the universe is a continually running quantum computer. His book is an excellent mix of computer science, quantum mechanics and information theory, three subjects that can get quite difficult to explain separately, let alone combined. Dr. Lloyd does an excellent job of laying out the groundwork of past and current science, then using that foundation to theorize his ideas. It is a short (211 pgs, PB) little book that is dense with concepts and ideas. (more…)

Embryonic Breathing

bookrev: Embryonic Breathing (Qigong Meditation) by Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming

Embryonic BreathingQi (or chi) is viewed with skepticism by some, as reality by others or as mysticism. This series of books (starting with Embryonic Breathing and continuing with Small Circulation) presents data and perspectives from both translated historical Chinese documents and scientific background perfect for personal research. It also provides an instructional approach on how to practice this stomach based breathing as part of your martial arts or meditation practice.

Dr. Yang is not only a highly trained martial artist, but also has a PhD in Mechanical Engineering from Purdue, spending some time working at Texas Instruments. His writing relies on both parts of his education: he gives historical descriptions of different aspects of his topic, and then uses science and technology to give modern theories. (more…)

SFSignal

SF Signal Mind Meld, me but no vulcans

SFSignal is running their Tuesday Mind Meld feature with the question: are we headed forSFSignal a Technological Panopticon?

My response is there, along with the august company of Vernor Vinge, Charles Stross and David Brin (none of whom I believe are Vulcans either).

I’m not sure that technology alone will allow the little guy to fight back, but innovation, ingenuity and man’s sense of self-preservation will.

A panopticon is a prison where everyone can see you; in the case of privacy it’s a voluntary prison, one of choice. Given such a choice, some people in the world will not worry about it, some will believe it is inevitable; people are proving this today as the herd mentality brings acceptance of national security cards, CCTV cameras, the poorly named “Patriot Act” and other privacy intrusions. (more…)

American Shaolin

bookrev: American Shaolin by Matthew Polly

Almost every martial artist has some wayward fantasy or frequent daydream aboutAmerican Shaolin dropping out of life and dropping into the Shaolin Temple, to emerge some undetermined time later as a well-tuned, philosophy spouting fighting machine. Matthew Polly did just that, leaving his junior year from college and heading to China in 1992.

My expectation of this book was that this would be a martial arts, culture clash and personal transformation story. And it was certainly all three and more. In addition, drinking games, language, sex (or at least attempts), “the sixth race”, the Chinese Triads and other topics are intertwined with this very enjoyable story. (more…)

Vor Game

bookrev: The Vor Game by Lois McMaster Bujold

Winner of the 1991 Hugo Award

When I did my list of the science fiction / fantasy authors with the most number of HugosVor Game and Nebulas in the novel category, I was somewhat surprised the Ms. Bujold topped the list with six (4 Hugos and 2 Nebulas). I had not read any of her works, and picked up The Vor Game to add to my reading stack.

Of the her five novels on the list (one won both awards) four of them feature Miles Vorkosigan, his parents and his worlds. The Vor Game starts with Miles graduating from the academy (at about 20 years old) and, instead of getting a ship assignment, he gets sent to man a weather station in a cold, icy location. I had no background in the character reading this book, but the reader rapidly finds out that Miles is friends with the emperor and that his father is the emperor’s main battle strategist. Miles apparently has demonstrated a problem with insubordination, and this is why he gets sent away.

This book almost lost me at this point, as, other than some brief character introduction, the first 84 pages have a very un-exciting plot. (more…)

Apex Digest

Review in Apex Digest Online

The January 2008 edition of Apex Digest Online is up, and it contains an outstanding andApex Digest in-depth review of my novel:

Itís the end of the world as we know, but not everything is fine. In Dusk Before the Dawn, first-time novelist Larry Ketchersid takes on some lofty issues while delivering a fast-paced, intriguing tale of a near-apocalypse.

Music to my ears after a long day!

Seeker

bookrev: sEEkEr by Jack McDevitt

Winner of the 2006 Nebula for best novel.Seeker

My first McDevitt read certainly won’t be my last. Seeker is a page-turner, a combo mystery/sci-fi novel that was an excellent first read for me of 2008.

sEEkEr is the third of McDevitt’s Alex Benedict novel. Benedict is a seeker himself of antiquities, and has a knack for piecing the mystery of ancient civilization together and figuring out where in the known universe to look. This novel is told from the perspective of Chase Kolpath, Benedict’s partner, pilot and swell looker (to believe the text). Since I have not read the first two Benedict novels, I do not know whose perspective they are written in.

The titular sEEkEr (and I never figured why it was spelt that way on the title) is a ship that left earth many millineum ago with a group of folks unsatisfied with the politics and culture of earth at that time. (more…)

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

Software by the Kilo

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