Book Recommendations?

Just finished reading Black Spartacus - The Epic Life of Toussaint Louverture and I cannot recommend it enough. It's up there with The Anarchy for the best book I've read this year.

Naomi Novik’s latest, A Deadly Education, was incredibly fun! Start of a series. Book 2 next summer

MathGoddess wrote:

Naomi Novik’s latest, A Deadly Education, was incredibly fun! Start of a series. Book 2 next summer :)

I've got the audiobook from the library to start soon. Looking forward to it.

Sabine Hossenfelder's Lost in Math makes a good case that the current boundaries of physics have been floundering for decades, partially due to a lack of empirical grounds for the leading less-than-hypotheses of supersymmetry and string theory. Sabine doesn't suggest a crank alternative, but travels around the wold to see what other physicists think about a whole branch of science uniformly pursuing a few leads which are overtly championed for fuzzily-defined reasons like beauty, elegance, and simplicity.

She's also quite funny in a super dry way, that kinda comes across as a resigned, "oh god what have I done with my life?" Would recommend if you need some anti-Brian Greene.

Danjo Olivaw wrote:

Sabine Hossenfelder's Lost in Math makes a good case that the current boundaries of physics have been floundering for decades, partially due to a lack of empirical grounds for the leading less-than-hypotheses of supersymmetry and string theory. Sabine doesn't suggest a crank alternative, but travels around the wold to see what other physicists think about a whole branch of science uniformly pursuing a few leads which are overtly championed for fuzzily-defined reasons like beauty, elegance, and simplicity.

She's also quite funny in a super dry way, that kinda comes across as a resigned, "oh god what have I done with my life?" Would recommend if you need some anti-Brian Greene.

That sounds very interesting. I stopped being interested in string theory once it started to get criticized by experts in the field. Then you have characters like Michio Kaku who are basically running PR campaigns to keep the idea alive, which turned me off even further.

I mean even Sheldon Cooper changed his focus to more plausible areas of physics.

This story seems like something I would really enjoy.

Prof. David Saltzberg of UCLA was the brain behind the physics on BBT, if you are curious.

Ya Michio Kaku was the first big voice to make me think the 'ambassador to the science' role carries with it a responsibility to avoid falling down a well of neato metaphors.

MathGoddess wrote:

Naomi Novik’s latest, A Deadly Education, was incredibly fun! Start of a series. Book 2 next summer :)

Put a hold out for a copy! Thanks for the heads up!

Hah, that's the Scholomance Book 1.... I wonder if Novik was a WoW player?

Malor wrote:

Hah, that's the Scholomance Book 1.... I wonder if Novik was a WoW player?

The Scholomance in WOW was based on a real eastern European legend. In the legend, Scholomance was a school built on an island in a lake, guarded by a water monster. Every year (or was it every ten years?) ten students were taken in, to be taught magic by the Devil himself. At the end of the year (decade?), the Devil would pick one student to take back to Hell with him, and the other nine would be free to wander the world as master wizards.

Novik has used legends from her own eastern European heritage in her earlier books, so I expect that was the origin of the name here. The Scholomance in the book was built in the 19th century, so presumably was named after the legend Watsonially as well as Doylistically.

I thought the book was a lot of fun too. Galadriel Higgins ("the name wasn't my idea, don't look at me like that") is the kind of snarky first person narrator I love reading.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naomi_...

She was apparently a designer for a Neverwinter Nights expansion, so I suspect she may have played a bit of WoW. But I'd bet Captain Crowbar's right about her inspiration. Her wikipedia is kind of an interesting read. Her daughter is named Evidence Novik Ardai, which is about as badass a name as I've ever heard.

A few sci-fi Kindle titles are on sale today, and I'd appreciate any advice:

Luna: New Moon by Ian McDonald
War Girls by Tochi Onyebuchi
Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by
Kwame Mbalia

I only recognize Onyebuchi. I've had him recommended to me, but not got around to trying any of his work yet.

Luna: New Moon is one of my favorite sci-fi books. I will say that McDonald is more of a literary writer, so even though LNM has a lot of action in it, some people will find it sort of slow-paced. It reminds me a bit of Dune in that way, though I would say it's actually a better overall book and series.

Luna: New Moon is spectacular. I’ve recommended it here several times. MacDonald’s ability is to portray cultural futures, as well as technological, and the societies that result from changes in both. These books are (so far) the pinnacle of his writing. Cannot recommend them highly enough.

Thanks, all! Lovely to see such enthusiastic responses. Btw, I checked out the Audible narrations and the second book is free for members.

Ranalin, I have a hunch the political and social setting of the Luna trilogy will intrigue you.

Robear wrote:

Ranalin, I have a hunch the political and social setting of the Luna trilogy will intrigue you. :-)

I like what i'm seeing posted here. It's now on my list!

I'm on book 2 of Becky Chambers's Wayfarers trilogy. Fairly undemanding, but they're good clean fun. They follow a Firefly type working vessel, but in a big eclectic galaxy full of different aliens like Tanya Huff's Torin Kerr series.

I'm rereading the Stormlight books too quickly in preparation for Rhythm of War next month, so I've been picking up some new stuff.

Just finished Naomi Novik's Deadly Education. It was delightful, and I strongly recommend it.

It's much more YA than her normal fare, but I enjoyed it every bit as much as her last two books. Unlike those, I don't think this one will get a Nebula nomination, because it just doesn't feel like a book they'd appreciate. It's a little too popcornish for them, I think.

It's about a young lady, Galadriel Higgins(as mentioned upthread, not her idea), who is going to school at the Scholomance. This is a terrible place, insanely dangerous, full of monsters that desperately want to eat wizards. She's got maybe a 25% chance of surviving to graduation. The reason that teenagers voluntarily go here, of course, is that the odds in the outside world are even worse; there are a huge number of things that go bump in the night, and they all want Purina Wizard Chow, Made From Real Wizards™. The chance of surviving to adulthood on the outside is slim, but with the training the Scholomance gives them, if they can survive to graduation, they can protect themselves in the real world too. It's an animated magical construct, tricksy and malicious; there are no faculty, only students and the school. And the monsters, who have broken in and taken up residence because it's full of young, delectable Wizard Bites™.

Our heroine is unpopular, not least because she's snide toward almost everyone. And she's got a fundamental problem in that she's attuned to destruction, instead of the more peaceful arts. A mending spell is hard for her, but something that blows you into goo is dead simple. Which sounds great, except that these spells cost terrific amounts of mana, and mana is hard to generate. Unless, of course, you just rip it out of other wizards, which is something she has an extraordinary aptitude for. Most maleficers need your permission to steal your power, but she can kill everyone in a room without even blinking, and then use that power to blow big, big holes in things. This, however, rots you from the inside; do much of that, and you will literally collapse on yourself in a puddle of ick.

So, partly because of the long-term consequences, and partly because her mom raised her that way, she's committed to only using clean mana sources, which means she has only a trickle of power, poor proficiency in most spells that don't blow people up, low social status, and she's stuck in a malicious school that really likes to screw with its students. It powers itself from their ongoing discomfort.

This could be grimdark real easy, but it's not, it's almost pure fun, start to finish. I bet I was grinning half the time I was reading it. The humor is very dry, but pervasive.

This is a series book, and the last sentence in it sets up the next volume, one of the better closing lines I've read. It's not a traditional cliffhanger, but I am damnably curious to read what comes next, and I hope she writes faster than usual.

If you don't mind being equally curious, buy this one for sure.

Just popping in to say that "Zoey Punches the Future in the Dick: A Novel (Zoey Ashe Book 2)" is out in 5... 4... 3... 2... Now!

I know what I'm doing tomorrow!!!

I love the Becky Chambers Wayfarers books, even if my memory of them is hazy...I read the first one in my book club not long after its release (maybe 2015?), and read the second one early last year and am just now reading the third one, and even while reading the third one, I would be hard pressed to tell you whether any of the characters from either of the first two books are in this one because I don't really remember any of them? I just know I enjoyed the hell out of them when I read them. I think her universe would be a great setting for a video game series.

mrlogical wrote:

I love the Becky Chambers Wayfarers books, even if my memory of them is hazy...I read the first one in my book club not long after its release (maybe 2015?), and read the second one early last year and am just now reading the third one, and even while reading the third one, I would be hard pressed to tell you whether any of the characters from either of the first two books are in this one because I don't really remember any of them? I just know I enjoyed the hell out of them when I read them. I think her universe would be a great setting for a video game series.

I had a similar experience with the third one. It took me a long while to work out that one set of the characters is related to the captain from the first novel...but even after they said his name, it took me some time to place what he was like etc. since it had been so long.

Haha, that is good to know, as I'm about 20% in to the third book and definitely have not made any connection to characters from the other books. I should probably look up a summary on wikipedia or something. I remember loving the first book and that it was very Firefly-like, and I remember there was a crew and ship AI and...that's pretty much it? The second book I remember the plot outlines more strongly, but still couldn't name a single character from it with a gun to my head. I don't think any of that reflects poorly on the books, just my brain is bad/I read a lot of books.

Tessa is Ashby's (the captain from the first book) sister. That link is not significant to the plot. She's said that she's not intending to go back to the crew of the Wayfarer, and her 4th book in the universe (coming next year) isn't about them either.

This showed up today! Excited!

IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/xy2PBA9.jpg)

I have finally finished all ~950 pages of Reaganland.

What a great book. Fantastically researched, thorough, and just broad enough in scope. It covers in exhaustive detail the people and events involved in creating the New Right, the Moral Majority, and the disastrous changes to the way election campaigns were run.

It is impossible to read without seeing myriad similarities to the way events 2016 and 2020 especially have and are unfolding. Everything from a President who was so busy trying to remain in the center and placate both sides of the aisle that he ended up pleasing next to nobody, to Democrats callously and pridefully dismissing the "actor," to ridiculously inadequate oppo research into a candidates past words and actions, to special interest groups and PACs spreading misleading and/or completely false information about both the opponent and supported candidates knowing that the damage would be done regardless of them being forced to pull the ads.

It's obviously not an easy nor a quick read, but I'm of the opinion that it's worth the effort. Knowing more clearly how we got to where we are, even if there is very little you feel you can do about it in the short term, somehow makes it all easier to process and deal with.

Kind of like reading a book about the rise of the NSDAP in the late 20's in, say, 1944 Germany... It might be a really cogent account, but I've been waving the warning flag since the early 80's and frankly I'm exhausted by the outcome.

Robear wrote:

Kind of like reading a book about the rise of the NSDAP in the late 20's in, say, 1944 Germany... It might be a really cogent account, but I've been waving the warning flag since the early 80's and frankly I'm exhausted by the outcome.

Yep. I tried to get everyone I know to read In the Garden of Beasts when it came out.
Very few people are interested, turns out.

r013nt0 wrote:
Robear wrote:

Kind of like reading a book about the rise of the NSDAP in the late 20's in, say, 1944 Germany... It might be a really cogent account, but I've been waving the warning flag since the early 80's and frankly I'm exhausted by the outcome.

Yep. I tried to get everyone I know to read In the Garden of Beasts when it came out.
Very few people are interested, turns out.

I think that book in particular is going to become SUPER relevant in the weeks and months ahead. There is no reason to think Trump or the GOP will cede power when they have everything to lose by doing so.