Reviews of the books I've read

A list of all the books I've read this year. For these reviews, this is my book review scale:

burn Burn any copy you find of this book, it is horrific.
mock This book is awful. Don't read this book and mock anyone you see reading this book.
don't Don't read this book.
desert If you're on a desert island and are bored out of your mind, this book is okay to read.
fan If you're a fan of this author / genre, this book is worth reading.
worth This book is interesting, fun, entertaining, and thus worth reading. I would hand this book to a friend who asked for a _____ type book.
strongly I strongly recommend this book
amazing OMG, this book is amazing and/or life-changing, let me buy you a copy.

Post date:

Chimera

Book Review

Well, at least this book wasn't quite as tiresome as the previous book in the series, but that doesn't mean it was actually good. I mean, yes, if you're a fan of Mira Grant, then, no, wait, not even if you're a fan of Mira Grant. I'm a fan of Mira Grant's books from the Feed trilogy, and I found these books so incredibly sloooooooow.

Yes, we know that all life wants to live. We get that.

Yes, we know you're a worm who is in a human body and there are ethical issues surrounding that takeover. We get that.

Yes, we know that you love Nathan, tolerate Cale, and can't stand Sherman. We get that.

But say it all in fewer words.

Again, this book feels like each chapter was written as a short story, with Grant (not her real name) needing to explain (again) each part of the story's history in order to give some action. No, it wasn't needed. A small saving grace is that at least there's more action in this book than the last one.

Both of these books needed an editor who was willing to actually use her powers of editing to cut down on the repetitions. If I said this about Rowling, I can say it about Grant: Too. Many. Words.

Not recommended.

The point of no return is a philosophical construct, an idea that looks beautiful on paper or in a computer model, but which cannot hold up under the bearing strain of reality. The point of no return is reached in a thousand places at the same time, a thousand little fractal iterations all coming together and collapsing until the center cannot hold.
Page 7

"I had lived the first six years of my life going along the path of least resistance and letting other people make my decisions for me."
Page 19

Welcome to most people's first 18 years of life.

The human tendency to focus on the inconsequential to avoid focusing on the traumas at hand could be completely ridiculous at times.
Page 21

"Breaking things is human. It’s stupid and dangerous and irresponsible, but it’s human."
Page 85

That was human nature rearing its ugly head again: Break what you can’t control; destroy what you can’t understand.
Page 85

I wanted to live. I wanted to make it home. I wanted to see how this was going to end.
Page 138

YAWN. Yes. We know. We f'ing know this already. This is, by the way, the only reason I kept reading this book, even though I did so at lightning speed. In retrospect, I should have just read the summary from some website.

"Being a monster is not the same as being a bad person. It just means you’re willing to eat the world if that’s what you have to do to keep yourself alive. You really want to tell me that you wouldn’t eat the world if that was what you had to do?"
Page 163

"You’re insane.”

“I hate that word. All it means is ‘you don’t think like I do,’ and by that standard, everyone is insane."
Page 163

While the book is slow going, it does have a few zingers, bits of truth in it.

People would always be telling her who and what she had to be. At least this way, she could choose one of the things that would define her to the rest of the world.

Page 173

I wanted to ask why it was our good luck, and not the bad luck of the original owner — who had clearly either become a sleepwalker or been devoured by them—that mattered here.
Page 190

“Knowing the direction doesn’t mean you have to go.”
Page 194

"This is not what I intended. This is all her fault."
STAGE I: GENETIC DRIFT
Page 201

Unsurprisingly, this completely fits with the Sherman character: arrogant and impulsive, and completely unable to accept responsibility for his own actions. Grant got this part right.

"What if I did something wrong, and messed up Juniper the way the Mitchells had damaged me?"
Page 209

Blah blah blah, no, the Sal character isn't special. ALL parents feel this way. Every. Fucking. One.

Science is a powerful tool, but like any tool, it doesn’t care whether it hurts you. Fire warms us, cooks our food, protects us from predators, but it will burn us if we let it. Fire is more than happy to eat us all alive. Science is fire writ large.
Page 227

Humanity has always been disturbingly happy to sacrifice its future on the altar of right now.
Page 227

Hello, block of chocolate, meet my hips.

I had said it before.
Page 240

Yes, and sadly, we heard it. Over and over and over and over and over again.

It was nothing compared to what came next.
Page 262

JEEZ, this was another annoying part of this book. It was full of "and you won't believe what happens next." Ooooooo, foreshadowing. Editor, cut out all of these, except maybe (MAYBE) one.

“So… I’m doing this?”

The drums had stopped.

Everything was silence.

“This is me, somehow?”
Page 264

You know what? I have no idea what I was thinking when I highlighted this passage. I could go back and find it, but I don't care enough about this book to do so.

"When he came to USAMRIID to break me out, I could have screamed. I could have refused to go."
Page 265

Ah. This part. This is where Sal tries to argue that despite making the best decision should possibly could at the time she made it, no, it wasn't the best decision in retrospect.

Except, YOU CAN'T KNOW THAT. Looking back like this is complete bullshit. No, you couldn't have done better. No, you couldn't have made a better choice. No, you couldn't have screamed or refused to go, because youre priorities were different at that moment and those were the choices you made.

I can't stand this historical rewriting that everyone does.

So I went with him willingly,
Page 265

No, you didn't. You went under duress. There's a difference. There's a huge f'ing difference.

Who writes this crap?

Oddly, she was perfectly happy to have Beverly accompany me while she stayed behind. As long as there was a dog with me, she believed I would come back.
Page 272

Dogs are like that.

Haven’t you ever noticed how when a man says one thing, and the woman says another thing, people will almost always believe the man is the one who’s telling the truth? Even if she has more proof than he does.
Page 278

Yep. Same in the real world. Grant nailed that one.

“It’s interesting, isn’t it, how facts fall down in the face of appearances?
Page 286

All about marketing. Thought for another post, I'm sure.

“Amateurs. Evil amateurs, which is the worst kind. Couldn’t we have had the villains we deserved?”
Page 352

dead. How much time were we going to spend arguing about the dead before we started to understand how unimportant they were compared to the living?
Page 355

But still, I should have found a way to stop him.
Page 379

More annoying history rewriting. You know what? Sometimes you CAN'T. Especially when the author just wants to write a whiny character.

“She’s a spitfire and a half,” he said. “Always running for the hills and shouting when they don’t come to meet her.”
Page 380

“It’s weird when you say things that make sense,” I said.

Fishy beamed. “I am the living incarnation of the Konami Code.”
Page 403

This cracked me up.

I had asked once whether amnesia was a form of dying, and I had been assured that no, no, it was just a second chance at figuring out who you really were.
Page 415

Putting yourself in harm’s way over and over again is not the most effective means of committing suicide.
Page 429

Survival is the main drive of any living organism.
Page 433

If we didn't know this fact before reading this book, WE F'ING KNOW IT NOW.

I considered telling him what Fishy had said, about not blaming babies for the things they did before they were born. Babies didn’t ask to exist, but once they did, they wanted to keep going.
Page 433

SEE?

We walk on the graves of our unborn selves, the futures we never got to live, and some of those people wouldn’t get along very well with the ones we actually decided to be.
Page 452

The thought was sobering. How many people’s motives didn’t match up with what I’d taken for their actions? How many villains were the heroes of their own stories?
Page 457

Every. F'ing. One. Of. Them.

Death Masks

Book Review

The Dresden Files, book 5

Rereading books you've read before is always interesting, because you pick up on details you missed the previous times. Good books are ones where you learn something new, find something new to reflect upon, or revisit a thought you had before when reading the book previously.

I am rather enjoying rereading the Dresden series. I keep noticing details I might have missed before, subtle foreshadowing (or deliberate referral in later books by Butcher), and entertaining parts in the series.

This is the book that introduces Nicodemus, along with Ortega, Ivy, Kincaid, and Shiro. We see Susan Rodriguez again, which gives Dresdent some relief from the overbearing (and I'd argue misplaced) guilt he had in previous books. We have Michael Carpenter and Sanya, and oh boy this is one of those books in the series where we are introduced to just so many players in the game.

I enjoyed this book, and keep it as fan in the recommend column. If you're a Dresden fan, you won't be disappointed. I don't know how you'd take urban fantasy, though, if you prefer historical crime non-fiction, say.

Based on my notes in the book, I'm amused by a typo that's been around for a while.

The priest left my car almost before I’d set the parking break, hurried to the nearest door, and ducked inside as quickly as he could open the lock."
Page 24

Pretty sure that was supposed to be a parking brake.

And why this book is called UC_Death Masks on both kindle and audible, I will likely never know. Annoys me when I'm looking for the book.

“So if you’re not religious, you risk your life to help other people because…?”

“Because it must be done,” he answered without hesitation. “For the good of the people, some must place themselves in harm’s way. Some must pledge their courage and their lives to protect the community.”
Page 74

Sanya is awesome.

“Perhaps some could argue that I am agnostic.”

“Agnostic?”

“One who does not commit himself to the certain belief in a divine power,” he said.

“I know what it means,” I said. “What shocks me is that you think it applies to you. You’ve met more than one divine power. Hell, one of them broke your arm not half an hour ago.”

“Many things can break an arm. You yourself said that you do not need a god or goddess to define your beliefs about the supernatural.”

Page 75

“But there is a better choice.”

“What?”

“Don’t fight. Can’t lose a fight you don’t have.”
Page 177

“Fighting is never good. But sometimes necessary.”
Page 177

"The blood on their hands does not make it right to bloody my own. My choices are measured against my own soul. Not against the stains on theirs."
Page 297

How many times do we make poor choices because of others' actions? Realizing that each is responsible for his own actions, and that we are responsible for ours, and can choose only our own responses not others responses, can help us make fewer of those poor choices.

It isn’t good to hold on too hard to the past. You can’t spend your whole life looking back. Not even when you can’t see what lies ahead. All you can do is keep on keeping on, and try to believe that tomorrow will be what it should be—even if it isn’t what you expected.
Page 373

Indeed.

Symbiont

Book Review

I had read Parasite from Mira Grant when it came out, a number of years ago. I was such a fan of her Feed trilogy and independently fascinated by the different forms of zombie fiction, so was going to read this trilogy, too.

I recall thinking Parasite was okay, not great, not as good as the Feed books, but okay. This one, ugh, this one had too many words.

Do you really need two pages of description about how you walked into a building, your brother was standing behind a plant in the entrance way, watching you, and stepped out when he recognized you? I would argue, YOU DON'T.

And YES, yes, yes, yes, we know that Sherman is a bad guy and that he did bad things, and yes, everything is about survival. Yes, we know this, because you've told us a million times.

I swear this book was written as 20 separate stories, with Grant (yes, not her real name), forgetting the previous books when writing each one. So much repetition over and over again about the same things. Too. Many. Words.

This is book two of a trilogy. I'll read the next book because my philosophy on series of which I have enjoyed one book, is that two bad books in a row and I'll stop. This would be book one of the two that would make me stop reading.

You will not find information to exonerate me. You may find more proof that I should be reviled by history. It’s all right. The broken doors are open now, and I was the one who opened them.
Page 4

Adam nodded. “Mom says you know someone is getting tired of living when they stop asking questions.”
Page 27

I wanted to tell him that he was wrong, and that his absence wouldn’t make anything easier at all—that no one ever made anything easier by walking away from it. I couldn’t.
Page 31

disheveled. “I don’t think either of us has had a life that made sense in years,” he said. “We’ve just started noticing how strange everything is.”
Page 55

I was standing in the present, and when you’re only thinking about today, history is always so far away.
Page 61

It was easy to pretend to follow social rules when you didn’t really believe that they applied to you.
Page 69

You can move out any time you need to, and that means pain is nothing but an inconvenience. Now breathe.
Page 88

The whole point of going to where the monsters are is that the monsters will always let you in.”
Page 103

Being a human was hard. It was sharp and cold and filled with choices that had no good outcomes, just varying shades and shapes of badness. No matter what you chose, you were choosing wrong for someone.
Page 157

“Humans have been trying to clean up the world ever since they figured out soap and water. I think that’s what their Devil really taught them. There’s a lot of bollocks in the Bible about humans learning modesty and shame when they first sinned, but I don’t think they went ‘oh no, I’m naked.’ I think they went ‘oh no, I’m filthy.’ That was the true fall from grace. You can’t be a part of nature if you’re trying to be clean all the time.”
Page 189

It is an unfortunate truth that the inconvenient, when ignored, tends to become worse rather than becoming better.
Page 314

“Help is commonly reciprocal between equals, a matter of duty from inferiors, and a matter of obligation from superiors,” said Anna, in the same calm, barely inflected tone that she had used before.
Page 345

“We become entirely different people every seven years, and our minds let it happen because it’s slow, it’s graceful, and even then, we cling to childhood pleasures and high school goals like they somehow had more relevance just because they happened earlier in our developmental cycles."
Page 353

It’s not selfish to want to exist. It’s a function of the survival instinct buried in all complicated organisms.”
Page 362

The reality of her original identity’s death was years behind her, taking most of the anger with it. But not, I realized, the rage. They were two different beasts, close enough to seem identical when seen together, but unique enough that one could endure without the other.
Page 378

“Because it’s easier. It’s so much easier to say, ‘This is a story, and there are heroes and villains, and there’s an ending, and when we get there the book will close and we’ll all live happily ever after.’”
Page 394

It would be terrible to have an entire species with bellies full of mingled love and hate, anger and fear, walking around and thinking that they controlled the world.
Page 399

Every human was the result of social and cultural recombination, picking up a turn of phrase here, an idea or a preconception there, the same way bacteria picked up and traded genes. Nothing was purely its own self. Nothing would ever want to be.
Page 400

Even when things were at their worst, some people could be counted on to be absolutely terrible.
Page 425

This day just kept on getting worse, and I was ready for it to stop anytime now.
Page 438

The urge to survive is a powerful thing. It can drive even the most primitive of organisms to do things that should have been impossible, because they don’t want to die.
Page 449

That’s my fault as much as it is anyone else’s, but as I do not have the power to revise the past, I choose not to dwell on that.
Page 479

“I promise I’ll do my best not to,” he said, and that was somehow better than an outright pledge to never do it, ever, under any circumstances would have been: he was human, and fallible, just like all of us. He could make mistakes. Pretending that was never going to happen wouldn’t do anybody any good, but it could leave us unprepared for what was yet to come.
Page 496

Neuromancer

Book Review

I swear I have read this book before. I mean, how could I not have read this book before? It is the vanguard of cyberpunk from which so many following books expand.

Yet, when I started reading this book, I was puzzled that it didn't seem familiar.

How could I not have read this book? I am no longer sure I had, to be honest. Case is a hustler, stole from his employer, was blacklisted. He's hired by Armitage and Molly, and takes on a project where they break into some high security place (digital and physical) to steal something. The book is about that mission.

Reading Neuromancer now, 30+ years after its initial publication is an odd experience, given that many of the terms and concepts Gibson describes are just common place. While avant-garde when published, so much has been become modern technologies, maybe inspired by the book? Unsure, but likely.

I really like Gibson's style of writing, similar to Kay's style of show-don't-tell. Of course, I like the book. Of course, it's recommended.

‘How you doing , Dixie?’
‘I’m dead, Case. Got enough time in on this Hosaka to figure that one.’
‘How’s it feel?’
‘It doesn’t.’
‘Bother you?’
‘What bothers me is, nothin’ does.’
‘How’s that?’
‘Had me this buddy in the Russian camp, Siberia, his thumb was frostbit. Medics came by and they cut it off. Month later he’s tossin’ all night. Elroy, I said, what’s eatin’ you? Goddam thumb’s itchin’, he says. So I told him, scratch it. McCoy, he says, it’s the other goddam thumb.’ When the construct laughed, it came through as something else, not laughter, but a stab of cold down Case’s spine. ‘Do me a favor, boy.’
‘What’s that, Dix?’
‘This scam of yours, when it’s over, you erase this goddam thing.’
Chapter 8 somewhere

“Doesn’t hurt?” The bright eyes met his. “Of course it does. That’s part of it, isn’t it?”
Page 108

"I try to plan, in your sense of the word, but that isn't my basic mode, really. I improvise. It's my greatest talent. I prefer situations to plans, you see..."
Page 118

The Finn grinned. “It doesn’t much matter. You gotta hate somebody before this is over.” He turned and headed for the back of the shop.
Page 166

“And the Yak, they can afford to move so fucking slow, man, they'll wait years and years. Give you a whole life, just so you'll have more to lose when they come and take it away. Patient like a spider. Zen spiders.

"I didn't know that then. Or if I did, I figured it didn't apply to us. Like when you're young, you figure you're unique. I was young."
Page something

"How do you cry, Molly? I see your eyes are walled away. I'm curious." His eyes were red-rimmed, his forehead gleaming with sweat. He was very pale. Sick, Case decided. Or drugs.
"I don't cry, much."
"But how would you cry if someone made you cry?"
"I spit," she said. "The ducts are routed back into my mouth."
"They you've already learned an important lesson, for one so young... That is the way to handle tears."
Page 177

Gettings Things Done

Book Review

This book is a classic on Getting Things Done.

It is the first majorly-popular business book that outlined an effective strategy for dealing with paper and prioritization of said information overload. The processes outlined are, as near as I can tell, guaranteed to work if actually done. Amusingly enough, however, nearly all the details are for a world that doesn't really exist any more. The copy I read was from the nineties, before the Intarwebs became a household phenomenon. As such, there are a lot of paper handling tasks, a lot of folders, the use of a label maker, and many techniques that aren't specifically applicable any more.

Also, the focus of the book is more for managers, and less for, say, the workers, the coders, the engineers. Oh, many of the techniques do apply, but they aren't all relevant.

Given this book is a classic, and given that I did get good use, ideas, and processes from reading it, I do recommend it.

Just not the paper parts.

Forever War

Book Review

I've had this book on my shelf for a great number of years. I'm pretty sure I bought it some time when I was reading Scalzi's Old Man's War, as people made comparisons between the Forever War and Old Man's War, hey, likely because they both had war and distorted times as theme elements.

The Forever War is an author-described commentary on the Vietnam War, where on the lowest level, none of the soldiers know why they are fighting. There was an interstellar ship that disappeared, and boom, now the entire planet is at war with the other race. The other race is somewhat baffling, in that none of their actions are smart in terms of war.

I can understand the comparisons of Old Man's War to the Forever War, even as I think they are both great science fiction books from the perspective (nominally) of the soldier. Haldeman's Mandella is less witty and less self-aware than Scalzi's Perry, likely because the latter is actually an old man, with a lifetime of experience before he entered the military, while Mandella is a two-tour, everyone-f'ing-died, seasoned vet by the time he's 25. Yet, we are still cheering for Mandella as his world just completely messed up.

I haven't and won't read the sequels, Forever Free and Forever Peace, as I feel the story is self-contained and ends well. While I have to say, "Wow, after all the shit that happened in your world, you end up in a sufficiently happy place, life just doesn't work out that way," I'm okay with this book's ending being relatively happy.

All those reams of theory crammed in my brain; there was plenty of tactical advince about envelopment and encirclemnet, but from the wrong point of view. If you were the one who was being encircled, you didn't have may options. Sit tight and fight. Respond quickly to enemy concentrations of force, but stay flexible so the enemy can't employ a diversionaly force to divert stregth from some predictable section of your perimeter. Make full use of air and space support, always good advice. Keep your head down and your chin up and pray for the cavalry. Hold your position and don't contemplate Dienbienphu, the Alamo, the Battle of Hastings.

Which lead down the rabbit hole of Battle of Dien Bien Phu. Wow. "After several days the French artillery commander, Charles Piroth, unable to respond with any effective counterbattery fire, committed suicide." There's a history lesson for one to learn.

"I've seen your psych profile," he said.

...

"What, it says I won't make a good officer? I told them that from the beginning. I'm no leader."

"Right in a way, wrong in a way. Want to know what that profile says?"

...

"I don't suppose it has any big surprises." But I was a little curious. What animal isn't fascinated by a mirror?

"No, it says you're a pacifist. A failed one at that, which gives you a mild neurosis. Which you handle by transferring the burden of guilt to the army."

The fresh beer was so cold it hurt my teeth. "No surprises yet."

"And as far as being a leader, you do have a certain potential. But it would be along the lines of a teacher or a minister; you would have to lead from empathy, compassion. You ahve the desire to impose your ideas on other people, but not your will. Which means, you're right, you'll make one hell of a bad officer unless you shape up."

We ticked off the things that bothered us: violence, high cost of living, too many people everywhere. I'd have added homolife, but Marygay said I just didn't appreciate the social dynamic that had led to it; it had been inevitable. The only thing she said she had against it was that it took so many of the prettiest men out of circulation.

And the main thing that was wrong was that everything seemed to have gotten just a little worse, or at best remained the same. You would have predicted that at least a few facets of everyday life would improve markedly in twenty-two years. Her father contended the War was behind it all: any person who showed a shred of talent was sucked up by UNEF; the very best fell to the Elite Conscription Act and wound up being cannon fodder.

It was hard not to agree with him. Wars in the past often accelerated social reform, provided technological benefits, even sparked artistic activity. This one, however, seemed tailor-made to provide none of these positive by-products. Such improvements as had been made on late-twentieth-century technology were—like tachyon bombs and warships two kilometers long—at best, interesting developments of things that only required the synergy of money and existing engineering techniques. Social reform? The world was technically under martial law. As for art, I'm not sure I know good from bad. But artists to some extent have to reflect the temper of the times. Paintings and sculpture were full of torture and dark brooding; movies seemed static and plotless; music was dominated by nostalgic revivals of earlier forms; architecture was mainly concerned with finding someplace to put everybody; literature was damn near incomprehensible. Most people seemed to spend most of their time trying to find ways to outwit the government, trying to scrounge a few extra K'S or ration tickets without putting their lives in too much danger.

And in the past, people whose country was at war were constantly in contact with the war. The newspapers would be full of reports, veterans would return from the front; sometimes the front would move right into town, invaders marching down Main Street or bombs whistling through the night air-but always the sense of either working toward victory or at least delaying defeat. The enemy was a tangible thing, a propagandist's monster whom you could understand, whom you could hate.

But this war … the enemy was a curious organism only vaguely understood, more often the subject of cartoons than nightmares. The main effect of the war on the home front was economic, unemotional, more taxes but more jobs as well. After twenty-two years, only twenty-seven returned veterans; not enough to make a decent parade. The most important fact about the war to most people was that if it ended suddenly, Earth's economy would collapse.

Summer Knight

Book Review

The Dresden Files, book 4

I might be rereading the Dresden Files.

Okay, yes, I am.

This is book four, and, oh my wow, can I not stand how Dresden is feeling guilty over the plight of Susan Rodriguez. Okay, she been partially turned into a Red Court vampire. Okay, her life is now going to be one of constant denial of the internal hunger to kill. Okay, yes, Dresden withheld information from the people close to him in order to protect them and that withholding contributed to their going into dangerous situations without full knowledge of just how dangerous the situations were.

But COME ON.

There's only so much guilt one person can take for THE CHOICES ANOTHER PERSON MAKES. The guilt that Butcher writes into Dresden abdicates Susan of the responsibility for her own choices, which is bunk. While I'm not saying he didn't contribute to the situation she was in, and that his attempts to reverse the damage aren't admirable (yes, yes, fictional character and all that), the guilt thing was a bit tiresome after the fifth or sixth woe is me.

That said, Dresden. Love it.

Less about all the death and dying in the book as the faerie go to war, but the humour and characters and plot movement are top notch.

“But this is where it always begins. Monsters are born of pain and grief and loss and anger. Your heart is full of them.” I shrugged. “And?” “And it makes you vulnerable. Vulnerable to Mab’s influence, to temptations that would normally be unthinkable.”
Page 202

“You’ll get through it.” “What if I don’t?” I squeezed her fingers. “Then I will personally make fun of you every day for the rest of your life,” I said. “I will call you a sissy girl in front of everyone you know, tie frilly aprons on your car, and lurk in the parking lot at CPD and whistle and tell you to shake it, baby. Every. Single. Day.”
Page 219

Sometimes the most remarkable things seem commonplace. I mean, when you think about it, jet travel is pretty freaking remarkable. You get in a plane, it defies the gravity of an entire planet by exploiting a loophole with air pressure, and it flies across distances that would take months or years to cross by any means of travel that has been significant for more than a century or three. You hurtle above the earth at enough speed to kill you instantly should you bump into something, and you can only breathe because someone built you a really good tin can that has seams tight enough to hold in a decent amount of air. Hundreds of millions of man-hours of work and struggle and research, blood, sweat, tears, and lives have gone into the history of air travel, and it has totally revolutionized the face of our planet and societies. But get on any flight in the country, and I absolutely promise you that you will find someone who, in the face of all that incredible achievement, will be willing to complain about the drinks.
Page 333

Mockingbird

Book Review

I read this book on Cal's recommendation. It was on his list of recently read and recommended books, so I picked it up, and read it relatively soon afterward (how unusual for me). It is a science fiction dystopian novel where the world is run by robots and privacy norms keep everyone isolated from everyone else.

The book opens with the last of the Make9 robots climbing to the top of a skyscraper, wanting to jump off, commit suicide, and being unable to do so. We then discover his world where robots run everything, and the world is deteriorating, because no one knows how to do anything, make anything, or, hell, even read.

We discover later that there are no children, to later discover why there are no children, having to do with the opening scene, actually.

I struggled with this book in the beginning, mostly because the implementation of the dystopia seemed wrong. When the future was everyone watching television and taking drugs (pot maybe to mellow everyone out?), I was like, "Television? Uh..." The book was published in 1980, so, okay, no Internet in this future. But a few other nuances about taking privacy to extremes felt completely off, too.

Eventually, I realized that while the details were wrong, the book was a commentary about the dangers of human isolation. Once I realized that, I was able to let go of the frustration with the details and just read the book.

While the details don't survive the test of time, the commentary does. If you're a fan of social commentary in the form of science-fiction dystopia, this is a book to read.

"You ought to memorize your life, the way I am doing. You ought to dictate your whole story into a recorder. I could write it down for you, and teach you how to read it."

He looked back toward me and his face now seemed very old and sad.

"I have no need to, Mary. I can't forget my life. I have no means of forgetting. That was left out."

"My god," I said. "That must be awful."

"Yes, it is," he said. "It is awful."

Sometimes Bob (the Make9 robot) is more human than any human I have ever known.

Dead Mountaineer's Inn

Book Review

The full title of this book is "The Dead Mountaineer's Inn: One More Last Rite for the Detective Genre". It is the first Russian science fiction book I recall that I have read. I picked it up on the recommendation of Rob Brackett, who had read it and was enthusiastic while reading it, and less enthusiastic after the ending, which intrigued me. I had the book a while before reading it, but I'm not sure why the delay (wait, no, yes, I am).

The story starts with the protagonist, Inspector Glebsky, arriving at a remote mountain inn for a couple weeks relaxation away from his job, his wife, his life. He went to the inn on the recommendation of a colleague, Zgut. A few other guests appear before a murder happens, followed by an avalanche, which traps the guests in the inn until rescue.

Now, the genre of the book is science fiction, but it reads as a mystery. The ending makes it science fiction. The book also reads a little absurd, which I think is part of its appeal. Some of the internal monologues of Glebsky (Is he a police officer or a second-hand sink salesman? I couldn't tell.) are hysterical.

I made the mistake of attempting to read the introduction by Jeff Vandermeer, the author of The Southern Reach trilogy. I found his books boring, and his introduction just as awful. He goes into the plot of the book and saying "isn't this great!" before I know anything about the book, and I'm like, "Uh..." The man even gives away some plot points, along with his usual convoluted writing style. I am so not of a fan of that author.

The book is an entertaining read, not sure I'd recommend it if you're not already a fan of Russian science-fiction, though. If you are, though, you probably have already read this one.

In my new scale of book recommendations, this has a fan rating.

Unfortunately, in my quotes export, there aren't any pages, just Kindle locations provided. Double unfortunately, I'm not motivated enough to translate locations to pages. Quotes anyway:

“Two vices, to be precise: first, the pettiness of any criminal motive, and second, the imminence of a boring, disappointingly dull, plausibility-killing, awkward explanation. You can count all possible motives on the fingers of one hand … Your interest inevitably declines as soon as whos and whys are revealed.”
Location 170

“Haven’t you ever noticed, Mr. Glebsky, how much more interesting the unknown is than the known? The unknown makes us think—it makes our blood run a little quicker and gives rise to various delightful trains of thought. It beckons, it promises. It’s like a fire flickering in the depths of the night. But as soon as the unknown becomes known, it’s just as flat, gray and uninteresting as everything else.”
Location 289

"No doubt my gracious host couldn’t care less. Kaisa’s dumb. To ask Simone would be to bring his undead laughter back to life … But then what am I doing? Why do I care? Should I grab more roast? Kaisa is dumb, that’s for certain, but she knows a lot about cooking …"
Location 516

"Mr. Simone has provided me with an inexhaustible source of reflection on the glaring discrepancy between a man’s behavior when he’s relaxing, and the value for humankind of that same man when he’s at work.”
Location 651

At the height of his triumph, when the Viking was already towering over the porch, leaning picturesquely on one ski pole as he smiled dazzlingly at Mrs. Moses, fortune gave her wheel a little tap. Lel the St. Bernard made his way to the winner, gave him an intent sniff and then suddenly, with a quick, precise gesture extended his right paw out directly over his ski boots. I couldn’t have scripted it better myself. Mrs. Moses screamed, the crowd burst into a series of hearty curses, and I went back inside. I am not a gloating man by nature.
Location 738

“Do you remember what Hannibal did to the Romans near Cannes?”
Location 881

“All right. I suppose you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do,” the owner said.
Location 2335

“When a murder is being investigated, good citizens have a responsibility to provide the police with the desired information,” I said strictly. “Failure to do so could be seen as complicity.”
Location 2565

The only problem was that, if this was the case then there was nothing left for me to do but turn in my weapon: as some writer or another said, the afterlife is the church’s business, not the police’s.
Location 2707

“To giving me a few minutes. It’s important to me.” “It’s important to you,” I repeated, continuing to make my way towards the stairs. “If it’s important only to you, then to me, it’s not that important.”
Location 2717

Within the frame of his craziness all the means eventually became ends.
Location 3085

The thing is, my conscience bothers me. This never happens to me: I act properly, I obey God, the law and the people, but my conscience bothers me. Sometimes it gets really bad, and I want to find one of them and ask them to forgive me.
Location 3547

Bound

Book Review

This is book 8 of the Alex Verus series.

The latest in the Alex Verus series, I have to say, I am really delighted that Jacka doesn't make us wait two years between books. Nor does he wait so long that re-reading the previous book is necessary to remember where one is in Verus' life saga.

As with previous books, the book is action packed. There is small bit of Verus' wallowing in "I have caused all of this anguish on my friends" guilt, but much of it is followed with the realization that, "Hey, my friends are adults, they can make their own choices," which, let's be honest, makes life much better. That whole respect thing.

We see the return of Drakh, along with his various compatriots and expected manueverings. We also see the various parts of Verus' life fold back in on itself, with different parts of previous books woven into the current plot. I really like when that happends. Jordan did that a lot with the Wheel of Time series; and I'm discovering how much Butcher has done that with my recent rereadings of the Dresden series. It's like a beautiful long con being exposed.

Of course the book is full of action. I keep expecting Jacka to pull a Martin and kill off a main character or something. He nearly does, but, well, won't the series be a shock when he does (Jacka, god, man, please don't). The la-la-la-the-hero-will-survive aspects make the series a fun read, of COURSE Verus will pull through. Except he doesn't in the way we expect. Which is great, of course.

I'll keep reading, I'm totally enjoying the series. Especially the unexpected nuggets of truth that just pop out.

There are four basic responses to a threat. Fight, flee, deceive, submit.
Page 36

Those are all important, but they’re reactive. I deal with them, but once I’ve dealt with them, then all that does is make the problem go away. It doesn’t make things any better.” “And what would make things better?”
Page 66

You said I had three options.” “Align yourself with a greater power,” Arachne said. “Become a greater power. Or die.” I nodded.
Page 67

“First and foremost is self-knowledge. Understanding who you are and what you can do. Recognising when you are being influenced. Knowing when to walk away.”
Page 71

“You told me that you woke up one morning and couldn’t think of any reason to get out of bed,” I said. “And you decided that you needed to find someone who could help. Because if you didn’t change something, then one day you’d just stop getting out of bed altogether.”
Page 82

“Then what do you want to do?” Luna shrugged helplessly. “Okay,” I said. “Then the first thing you’re going to have to do is answer that question.” “How?”
Page 83

“Most important is aggression and willingness to hurt the other person. Second most important is willingness to be hurt yourself. Third would be skill and knowledge, fourth would be strength and power.”
Page 114

“Because everyone’s got their limits,” I said at last. “The one thing they just won’t do.”
Page 118

Probably my biggest surprise in the five months I’d spent working for Morden had been coming to realise that he wasn’t actually a bad boss. He was ruthless with any challenges to his authority, but as long as I didn’t do that, he was fairly easygoing. He didn’t threaten or bully, or give me pointless tasks just for the sake of it. Oddest of all, he actually seemed willing to listen. He’d rarely change his plans based on my input, but he did pay attention, and if I didn’t understand what he was doing, then he’d take the time to fill me in.
Page 136

When you’re surrounded week in, week out by people constantly lumping you in with a particular group, it’s hard not to start thinking of that group as “your side” and the others as “their side.”
Page 136

“If you write down someone’s life, do they live forever?”
Page 192

Now that I look back on the whole thing, I wonder if there was anything I could have done. Maybe there was, but it’s a lot easier to see warning signs in hindsight.
Page 209

“The powerful and the great can be as petty as anyone else,”
Page 235

They would have had to genuinely care for the jinn they were dealing with. Inner nature isn’t so malleable.”
Page 239

“If you’re competent, then violence is your first option and last resort.”
Page 245

Every now and then you wind up in a situation that calls for violence, and when that happens, you need to know what you’re doing. But even if you live an especially dangerous life—which, to be fair, Luna and I do—all of those times put together are going to average to less than twenty-four hours per year. The other ninety-nine-point-something percent of the time you’re going to spend doing something else. And if you try to solve problems with violence when you don’t need to, it really doesn’t take long before you turn into the kind of person other people are worried about protecting against.
Page 245

Everything changes. Pick any constant about your life and wait long enough, and it’ll be different. We all know that, but for some reason, it’s a hard lesson to remember. I suppose it’s because to do anything, we have to assume that things won’t change—you can’t make plans without assuming a certain degree of permanence. And for the most part, that assumption turns out to be true. Until it isn’t.
Page 248

But one of the things I’ve noticed as I’ve grown older is that while everything changes, the change usually isn’t obvious. Sometimes that’s because the change is so slow and gradual. A pair of shoes wears out, a person ages, the tree outside your window grows; every day it’s different, but in such tiny increments that you never notice.
Page 248

When you know what’s relevant and what you can ignore, then everything is obvious, but it’s not so obvious when you’re caught up in surviving from day to day. At least until life reaches out and smacks you over the head.
Page 249

The city’s a busy place, and if you wait for people to notice your problems, you’ll be waiting a long time. You want to fix your life, you have to do it yourself.
Page 253

George Carlin Reads To You

Book Review

I had this book in audio format, so I'm not really sure it counts as having been "read," but let's just go with it. I "read" this book because I had it, and, well, pretty much have listened to every book I have in my audio collection.

So, okay, I had the book, I might as well listen to it before I start in on another book. I was curious how the man could top his Seven Dirty Words (and no, in the shit, piss, fuck, cocksucker, motherfucker, and tits world, I am still not going to use the word c---, I don't care how much the Game Of Thrones makes it acceptable to today's youth or how much it is used naturally in England or Australia or wherever it is a common speech pattern.

And here's the thing about George Carlin: in small doses, the man is hysterical. Like gut-splitting, stop stop I can't breathe, stomach aches for days hysterical. In large doses, good lord, the man is an asshat.

So, the book is three of his smaller books, read by Carlin himself. I like that part of the audio book, the man himself, immortalized (somewhat, all things end, his works will, too) in these recordings. And there are a large number of laugh out loud lines in the books. There were a few repetitions, too, which was fine if you didn't listen to the whole thing in two days of walking.

I don't know. The book had its moments. I'm glad to have finished it, I'm not sure I recommend it. I'd be more inclined to recommend watching his standups on Youtube, to be frank about it.

The Shepherd's Life

Book Review

Okay.

Wow.

This book.

Highly recommended.

Unsurprising, given that it is a bestseller, but I hadn't heard of it before, and, well, it likely wouldn't have caught my attention at all except that Kris has been talking a lot about his desire for a sheep farm and Ryan Holiday recommended it in his last book newsletter. The serendipity of the two occurences caused me to pick up the book and I am very glad I did.

On the surface, Rebanks tells us about a year in the life of sheep farmer. Under the surface, he tells us about the world that has existed for centuries, about the world where boredom created by modern society doesn't exist, about the world where a community exists because the only way to survive is with that community intact, about the world that exists not the world that has been romanticized into a rom-com.

And Rebanks shows us what a life where you know who you are and where you want to be and what you want to do can be like.

I remember hiking at dusk one evening with Kevin, college-roommate-Lisa's boyfriend, to Sturtevant Falls, where we were planning on camping at the bottom (totally illegal, by the way). We were talking about a mutual friend who commented he didn't want to hear about the plight of some tribe somewhere because if he knew too much about them, he'd want to dedicate his life to helping them. My reaction was, "WOW, if that's the outcome, I would WANT to hear about them, imagine having something you're willing to dedicate your entire life to! That's something worth having!" Kevin's reaction to my reaction was, "I KNOW! I think the same."

My reaction to Rebanks story is much the same. I am sad that I don't have that all-consuming love to return to, that guides me, that challenges me, and that keeps me going. Modern life, or maybe just human life, is kinda sucky in that way. Very very few people have that passion (and not in the over-used cliche use of the term). I am envious, but also in awe and wonderment of him.

Highly recommended, this book.

Hell, let me buy you a copy.

Quotes from the book. I actually used up 1% of the publisher allowed export of the book with these. So many good things in it.

The Arrows Of Time

Book Review

This is book three, and the conclusion, of the Orthogonal series.

Having become invested in the storyline of Egan's Eternal Flame (read: fission reactor), I, of course needed to finish the series. No, no, not of course, but in this case, worth finishing.

We still have some of the physics going on, so realizing Egan had written up the physics of his world in more depth and posted it on his website was a delightful discovery.

This book continues another three or so generations past the previous generations book, with women being able to survive childbirth instead of splitting into their children, dying in the process. Which is great, yay, women are on more equal footing, though the society does have the echos of "better when" and "oh, shit, how do we integrate our progressive thinking with the antiquated beliefs of the homeworld when we return?"

In this book, time travel is possible, with people being able to send messages back to their own selves. Information can't just create itself, however, and the mountain becomes stagnant, with the utter domination of the council and its control of information backward in time.

Just the sort of thing rebels would work to destroy, lest the world stagnate. Which it does. Of course.

I liked this book more than the first one, less than the second one, with the conclusion being realistically improbable and fictionally necessary. I ended up enjoying this series and recommend it to anyone who likes science in their science fiction.

Eternal Flame

Book Review

This is book two of the Orthogonal series.

Okay, this book continues the Orthogonal series, following the Clockwork Rocket. The premise of the last book was that the world the heroine, Yalda, lived in was threatened by emmient destruction by hurtling stars invading their solar system, so they launched a mountain top to relativistic speeds so that time will slow for the occupants of the mountain and they will have time for intellectual pursuits. The expectation is that the people in said mountain will advance beyond the linear years of the homeworld, and return with technology needed to save it.

Great. With you there. This book continues where we are three generations into the flight. While Egan delightfully continues with the exploration of advancements in physics, mirroring much of our discovery of physics in the twentieth century, Egan also explores some of the cultural issues an isolated society with restricted resources might encounter.

And there is where I become emotionally invested in the book.

The characters of the book are shapeshifting amoeba-like sentient beings whose natural form is six limbs and four eyes. They give birth by the mother splitting into four parts, two girls and two boys, one of each of which are bonded into pairs that continue the cycle.

Okay, fine. Except that if a woman of this species doesn't want the cycle to continue, if she wants to delay fission, she has two options: take a drug holden, or starve herself. And here is where the commentary starts. That the male of the species could starve himself and not trigger the fission is considered and discarded. That a woman of the species has a right to choose not to split (and hence immediately die) isn't allowed, she is only borrowing the flesh of her mother to give to her daughter.

You might be able to see where this would catch my attention just a bit.

I liked this book better than the first of the series. I liked the characters better, was more outraged at the injustice that happened in the book, and was overall more invested in this book. I'll read the third book to see how the story ends. I know this series is recommended by a lot of science fiction readers, but the science is a turn-off for some. One can skip the science parts and still enjoy the book, if that matters.

Clockwork Rocket

Book Review

This is book one of the Orthogonal series.

I am struggling to remember where this book was recommended, but I know that it was recommended at least twice, as when I went to buy it a second time, I realized I already owned it. Given I'm known to buy books multiple times, it was refreshing not to buy yet another one multiple times accidentally. On purpose, that's fine.

Anyway, the book, and it's subsequent two books, are not about the human world, but rather about a world, a universe, where time is an extra spacial dimension, which means it has a direction (hence the name of the series, "Orthogonal"). I was really unsure about reading a book about non-people, such worlds pretty much don't interest me, but the physics in the book totally caught my attention.

Yeah, the physics described in the book are pretty much the physics I learned in my first year at college, and wow, what fun it was to revisit the discoveries.

One of the quirks of the characters of the books is that the women split into their sons and daughters to give birth, no child has seen her mother as the mothers die in the splitting into two to four kids. The men raise the children, that's what their life goal is all about, and part of the presented culture and tension in the book.

I didn't save any notes from the book, which is odd for me recently. I am uncertain about continuing the series, but do have books two and three, so likely will read the next two.

Blindsight

Book Review

I picked this book up on BenCody's recommendation. I had it in my inbox for I don't know how many months (quite possibly a year), before I started reading it.

Entertainingly enough, Cal recommended it to me as I was about half way through. "What was it about again? I read it years ago." "Vampires in space?" "??? OH, yeah!"

Except, it wasn't really about vampires in space. Vampires are a small part of the book, mostly there to give plausibility to plot, but also to add a number of critical plot twists. I probably shouldn't have mentioned the vampire part, because that wasn't anywhere near the interesting part of the book, where we begin to ponder what it is that makes us human, to ponder what exists in the gaps of our perception, to ponder where the self ends when there are multiple selves, and wow, just what defines the self.

The end of the book was all O_O.

That the main character's name is Siri, and the book came out before the Siri of talking fame, cracked me up. The book is available under a generous Creative Commons license. Said license did what I believe it should do, it rewarded the author: I bought the book, even though I could read it for free. I want to support the author. A book I recommend.

You needed someone real at your side, someone to hold on to, someone to share your airspace along with your fear and hope and uncertainty.
Page 27

I am not an entirely new breed. My roots reach back to the dawn of civilization but those precursors served a different function, a less honorable one. They only greased the wheels of social stability; they would sugarcoat unpleasant truths, or inflate imaginary bogeymen for political expedience. They were vital enough in their way. Not even the most heavily-armed police state can exert brute force on all of its citizens all of the time. Meme management is so much subtler; the rose-tinted refraction of perceived reality, the contagious fear of threatening alternatives. There have always been those tasked with the rotation of informational topologies, but throughout most of history they had little to do with increasing its clarity.
Page 35

I'm just fatalistically cheerful. We all come into the story halfway through, we all catch up as best we can, and we're all gonna die before it ends.
Page 104

Humans didn't really fight over skin tone or ideology; those were just handy cues for kin-selection purposes. Ultimately it always came down to bloodlines and limited resources.
Page 107

There was a model of the world, and we didn't look outward at all; our conscious selves saw only the simulation in our heads, an interpretation of reality, endlessly refreshed by input from the senses. What happens when those senses go dark, but the model—thrown off-kilter by some trauma or tumor—fails to refresh? How long do we stare in at that obsolete rendering, recycling and massaging the same old data in a desperate, subconscious act of utterly honest denial? How long before it dawns on us that the world we see no longer reflects the world we inhabit, that we are blind.
Page 160

It had been my mistake, all along. I'd been so focused on modelling other systems that I'd forgotten about the one doing the modelling. Bad eyes are only one bane of clear vision: bad assumptions can be just as blinding...
Page 234

Unbroken Brain

Book Review

When I bought this book, I made the "mistake" of buying it in Kindle and audio format. Wasn't really a mistake to buy it in audio format, as I really like being able to switch from reading to listening (when I can't read) and back to reading. Reading a book is preferable to reading an ebook is preferable to listening to audio, but being able to progress through a book without stopping is preferable to not reading, so, digital formats it was. Taking notes, however, is really hard with the audio version, hence, my "mistake."

Claire recommended this book. I am glad I listened to her recommendation, as I highly recommend this book. I recommend this book not only for anyone with an addiction, but also for anyone with friends, family, coworkers, neighbors, acquaintances, students, or awareness of someone with an addiction (which, if you're counting, is everyone).

This book presents addiction not as a moral failing, as is how the United States treats all addictions, but as a learning disability. Before you go, "Poo poo, what the f---?" the book is worth a read. It is backed by study after study after study. Along with examples of how the current system does not work, examples of how approaching the problem of addiction from a learning disability changes the whole solution of addiction are given.

I spent much of this book highlighting sections, bookmarking parts, and thinking, "Yes, yes, yes." A couple times, my thoughts went to "hoollllllleeeee sheeeeeeeeeeeet," when the revelation happened. I'm positive I didn't capture all of these moments, and I'm not summarizing the book well. The author doesn't present new research, but she does provide a good layman's interpretation of the studies, with lots of references that can be independently reviewed.

I want to buy a zillion copies of this book and insist that anyone who thinks punishment is an appropriate response to addiction read this book. Harm reduction, empathy development, recognizing racial prejudices with drug law enforcement, and understanding the _why_ of addicton, instead of treating the people who already hate themselves for the addiction as criminals, all ring true as needed for actually fixing the problems of addiction.

Given that opiate addictions are FINALLY being openly discussed, finding statistic-based ways of helping people out of the addictions seems even more needed these days. I can recommend this book as a starting point all day and not come close to recommending it enough.

I had close to all of the book bookmarked or noted in some way or another. If I included them all, you'd have the whole book right here, so, no.

Some I did grab though:

Moreover, as parents and teachers everywhere know well, it’s almost impossible to force or coerce learning—especially to alter behavior that has already become habitual.
Page 6

Childhood ideas about oneself shape later self-concepts, in ways that can either increase or decrease resilience... Early interactions shape later ones, and over time, families aren’t just reacting to the person’s current behavior, but to their own interpretations of the person’s past behavior and the results of this whole iterated process.
Page 47

Here are a few cocaine addicts’ descriptions of what it feels like:

“I can remember many, many times driving down to the projects telling myself ‘You don’t want to do this! You don’t want to do this!’ But I’d do it anyway.”

“My body’s saying no and my mind’s saying no, but … we started all over again. I didn’t need it, I didn’t want it … it’s like some kind of molecular thing in my cells would go for it, you know. I felt like a fucking robot.”
Page 114

Instead, addiction is defined by using a drug or activity in a compulsive manner despite negative consequences. And “negative consequences,” of course, is simply a less morally charged phrase for a whole range of experiences that can be experienced as punishing; the terms are fundamentally synonymous. In other words, if punishment worked to fight addiction, the condition itself couldn’t exist.
Page 171

Harm reduction’s fundamental principles are these: stop trying to fight drug use, most of which does not cause harm. Don’t focus on whether getting high is morally or socially acceptable; recognize that people always have and probably always will take drugs and this doesn’t make them irrational or subhuman. Instead, work to find practical methods that reduce risk and minimize damage—and understand that everyone can learn, just not all in the same way.
Page 232

An Obvious Fact

Book Review

Walt Longmire, Book 12

Well, this one, too, didn't take me long to read. For some reason I do not understand, I felt like reading five books this week. This means either I'm prioritizing reading well, or I'm working to escape something. Given I've been reading Meditations, too, I'm not escaping, so there's that.

I've also been "watching" (ne, listening) to the Longmire television series and hate, hate, hate what they've done with the Longmire character. He is such an ass in the show And Branch? Stupid rewrite.

ANYWAY. This book.

Loved it. Still enjoying the wit (so many laughs out loud), cultural references (love these, and the rabbit holes of Wikipedia that I go down), and history lessons in these books, with this book being no exception. This time, I wrote down most of the references, because I'm doing that lately. This book is about how Standing Bear goes to race in a vertical-mountain motorbike race near and during Sturgis, and Walt walks into a crime to be solved, even though everyone warns him away. The mystery was well unrolled, making the surrounding character development interesting.

Again, if you're a Longmire fan, keep reading, this is one of the good ones. If you haven't tried the Longmire books yeet, read one of the earlier books to see if you like them. Well, read one of the good ones at least.

Now, on to the extracted quotes and history lessons!

“He’s calling it the Pequod; even ordered up decals to put the name on the side. Now where did he get that name from?”
page 70

Pequod is the name of Moby Dick's Captain Ahab's ship.

"Better than the Andrea Doria.”
page 70

Andrea Doria is an Italian ship that sank in 1956, killing 46 people.

He crossed back and sat, reaching a hand out to Dog, who pulled back a lip, giving his interpretation of the night of the long knives.
page 73

Night of the Long Knives was a Nazi Germany purge from June 30 to July 2, 1934, where the Nazi regime carried out a series of political extrajudicial executions intended to consolidate Hitler's absolute hold on power in Germany.

Was not expecting that reference in a Longmire book, but it fits with parts of the book.

“Not all fair maidens are worthy of rescue, Walt.”
page 76

Sometimes it was like that, I suppose; some people become so important in your life that they’re almost like a trademark, but then they’re gone. Sometimes they might reappear, but they’re nothing at all like what you’ve assembled in your mind since their departure; sometimes you can’t even stand them anymore, because they break up the legend and nothing dies harder than a good, personal legend.
page 76

“Then don’t you get involved.”
“I wasn’t planning on it.”
“Planning has nothing to do with it.”
page 78

Maybe it didn’t have anything to do with Lola. Maybe it was just what happens when you finally get something you want and it turns out not to be what you wanted after all. You spend most of the time in life running after things that aren’t that important, and the pursuit becomes more desirable than the prize.
page 100

Friedkin film.
page 110

William Friedkin is the director of The French Connection and The Exorcist.

"'There is no hunting like the hunting of man, and those who have hunted armed men long enough and liked it, never care for anything else thereafter.’”
page 158

Quoting Conan Doyle.

... let slip the Dog of War.
page 175

This one is a play on words. "Dog" is the name of Longmire's dog, where "dogs of war" is a quote from Shakesspeare's Julius Caesar, "Cry 'Havoc!', and let slip the dogs of war".

“One of the disadvantages of operating in the contemporary American West is that not all the bad guys have handlebar mustaches.”
page 182

We stared at each other. “Look, I know she hurt your feelings, but do you really think she’s involved in the criminal element of this investigation?” His dark eyes went back to the table. “Why not? What, other than her gender, leads you to believe that she is in any way innocent?”
page 201

This one stopped me because it explicitly calls out Longmire's bias. We all have biases, but how often are they called out, much less accepted?

“You care.”
“Yep, I do.”
“It is one of your most annoying traits. ... Don't change.”
page 202

Herodotus’s The Histories... “I taught world history at Black Hills State.”
“‘Men trust their ears less than their eyes.’”
page 236

Yep, need to add The Histories to my list of books to read. Assuming I can get a "good" translation.

... the fourth estate ...
page 247

The media.

... his trophy tied to the headlight a la Marlon Brando in The Wild One.
page 311

Adding watching this movie to my to-do list.

Pines

Book Review

I bought this book twice. I don't know why I did this, other than something must have caught my attention. Might have been the Wayward Pines show, which has M Night as a producer of some sort (could be in name only, could be active participation, only the people who are doing the work really know). Might have been the placement of the book in a stack in the bookstore. I don't actually know why I purchased the book not once but twice.

That all said, I read it in two nights. Would have been one night of reading, the book was that interesting, but, well, sleep and work caught up to me, and I couldn't finish it.

The book is about Ethan Burke who wakes up from a car accident not quite remembering where he is who he is, that sort of thing. He remembers parts, but not enough of it.

I liked the Twin Peaks feel of the book, only to realize at the end of book in the author's note that Twin Peaks was, indeed, the inspiration for the book.

I'll be checking out books 2 and 3 in this (just realized) series.

Perfection was a surface thing. The epidermis. Cut a few layers deep, you begin to see some darker shades.
Page 28

How many lived day to day, in the moment, banishing any thought or remembrance of the life they had known before? It was easier to accept what could not be changed than to risk everything and seek out the unknown. What lay beyond. Long-term inmates often committed suicide, or reoffended, when faced with the prospect of life outside the prison walls. Was it so different here?
Page 167

There were moments when you saw the people you loved for who they really were, separate from the baggage of projection and shared histories. When you saw them with fresh eyes, as a stranger might, and caught the feeling of the first time you loved them. Before the tears and the armor chinks. When there was still the possibility of perfection.
Page 217

Mindfulness in Plain English

Book Review

I f'ing love this book. If I could, I would have this as required reading for every school-aged kid (not just this country, every country). Well, no, I'd have it required reading for everyone, not just kids. Yeah. That.

I read this book a number of years ago after having it recommended to me by Tom Croucher. He had a stack of them at his place, and would hand them out when someone asked him for recommendations for books on how to meditate. I read the book, enjoyed it, practiced a bit, but wasn't nearly the student of the process that Tom is. Not then, likely not yet.

But when the student is ready, the teacher arrives. I've been more than a bit lost these last few years. I had the luck of being at the right place at the right time to help a friend through a rough patch, and he's returned the favor, reminding me that I will change only when I choose to change. And so, I picked up this book again.

Love this book. Highly recommended.

As is my way recently, parts of the book that caught my attention. This was hard, as pretty much the whole book had my engrossed attention.

It allows you to blow aside the illusions and free yourself from all the polite little lies you tell yourself all the time. What is there is there. You are who you are, and lying to yourself about your own weaknesses and motivations only binds you tighter to them.
MISCONCEPTION 7: MEDITATION IS RUNNING AWAY FROM REALITY. Page 25 · Location 424

Somewhere in this process, you will come face to face with the sudden and shocking realization that you are completely crazy. Your mind is a shrieking, gibbering madhouse on wheels barreling pellmell down the hill, utterly out of control and helpless. No problem. You are not crazier than you were yesterday. It has always been this way, and you just never noticed. You are also no crazier than everybody else around you. The only real difference is that you have confronted the situation; they have not. So they still feel relatively comfortable. That does not mean that they are better off. Ignorance may be bliss, but it does not lead to liberation.
What to Do with Your Mind, Page 75 · Location 1080

You must remember that you practice loving friendliness for the purification of your own mind, just as you practice meditation for your own attainment of peace and liberation from pain and suffering.
UNIVERSAL LOVING FRIENDLINESS > Page 93 · Location 1335

We humans are very odd beings. We like the taste of certain poisons, and we stubbornly continue to eat them even while they are killing us.
Dealing with Distractions II, Page 135 · Location 1903

Related: sugar.

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