Saturday, August 31, 2013

Bookworming: Leviathan Wakes

Leviathan Wakes, James S. A. Corey, ***
Mix a little bit of hard sci-fi with some police procedural, and toss in some body horror and you get a fairly unique book. Interesting world building and nice pacing round out a good read. The characters were rather shallow and the tone a touch muddled by the genre mixing, but there is quite a bit going on here. And of course it is the first of a series. An easy recommendation for sci-fi fans, especially those like myself who are itching for some space opera goodness.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Bookworming: Suppressed Transmission

Suppressed Transmission: The First Broadcast, Kenneth Hite, ***
This is a collection of columns about incorporating High Weirdness into stories (the high is used in the sense as High Fantasy). It is also a bit more than that. Primarily aimed at pencil and paper role players, the collection is as much about making connections and rising stakes as anything else. As a game supplement, there are more than enough ideas here to pilfer for decades. As a tool in piecing together alternate history, or zooming in on the weird that is real history, it is a collegiate level course from one of the best scholars of the field. This is a book for those who like to weave conspiracy theories. Dense and heavily self-referential (much like the Conspiracy itself), but highly entertaining.

Monday, August 19, 2013

A Programming Post, Not From Me

I still don't have time to dwell on programming, or much of anything else, outside of work right now. That said, Drew Crawford's "Of Wizards and Magical Machines" resonates very strongly. It may even be of interest to non-programmers, if only for the glimpse into the madness.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Bookworming: The Irresistible Revolution

The Irresistible Revolution, Shane Claiborne, ***
A tale in the bible* relates the story of a rich man coming to Jesus and asking him how to attain eternal life. Jesus tells him to follow the commandments, and the man replies that he does. But the man keeps pushing, asking what else he must do. Jesus tells him to sell all his possessions, give his money to the poor, and come with Jesus as a follower. The man walked away saddened.

In The Irresistible Revolution, Claiborne advocates for a new kind of activism by the church, or as he would say, an old kind. He wants church people to form personal relationships with those they help, and focus their lives and work on doing so. By his own profession, he calls for a kind of monasticism that focuses outward rather than inward. A worthy read for Christians, if only because it is a very convicting one for the vast majority of church goers.

That said, the book didn't sit too well with me. Testimony about forming personal relationships is by its nature anecdotal. Many of the events in the book are things that happened, and can only happen, to a privileged college student. The actions he takes and life he advocates are indeed radical in today's society, and for those who find that calling, it must be a wonderful thing. But that life is not, can not, be for everyone. (How much better would the world be if it was? That's pretty much the point of the book.)

In the end, I put down the book feeling like the rich man in the bible story. I suspect that is exactly how I should feel, because the parallel is perhaps a little too accurate. And that is why I think Christians should read this book.

* This story is in Matthew 19, Mark 10, and Luke 18

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Quote of the Moment

"Unfortunately, as you probably already know, people"
—a tweet from Horse ebooks (a twitter spam bot with over 175 thousand followers at the time of this writing)