Book reviews for December 2021
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I've been trying to put my finger on why Scot Harvath is only OK and I think it's because he's so awesome that he never really suffers from any setbacks. Everything kind of clicks into place for him and he always remembered to bring the right tactical dodad for the job. Nearly there...
The Revenger series comes to a close and my only regret is reading the books when published - with a sizable gap in between it can be a challenge to come back up to speed. It's a thrilling swashbuckling ride and wraps up the mystery of the quoins and the occupations. I hope he comes back to this universe at some point.
Excellent sequel to 2016's Revenger. If you tried to sell this series to me - runaway sisters become fearsome space pirates while trying to figure out various mysteries about the rise and fall of a far future civilization and some truly funky currency - I'd put them someone pretty far down my to do list. But in Alastair Reynolds' hands it's a space opera masterpiece. Can't wait for the next installment.
The overall message is good - focus on making your users actually awesome rather than you looking awesome with some concrete strategies to find out what that is and how to get there. A central theme is removing barriers to effective usage. The product here is a book. It was hell to read on my phone. Now if the graphics were large and central to the message and couldn't be done other than in some weird non-standard way I might forgive this. But all I needed to on every page was zoom in to get rid of the needless massive borders. That's all it took. Hundreds of times. So I'd recommend this if you still like paper books or are some sort of tablet toting throwback but on phone? No.
I don't normally do SciFi series books... but this is Alastair Reynolds doing Doctor Who. Jon Pertwee era with UNIT and The Master. If the BBC had a 300 million Pound budget for a Doctor Who story line in the 70's this is what they would have made.
I always enjoy Po Bronson and he's typically on form here with fascinating research and anecdotes around the topic of competition. There is a lot of new evidence on how hormones work that I'd never seen before and an interesting theory that competitive sports are a precursor to democracy. Much of this book is about how competition brings out creativity and drive. I wonder it it's missing a trick here and that the real factor is operating under constraint with competition being just one of many possible forms of constraint. In addition to the studies showing that art was better when a competition was involved I'd like to see how this worked out when one set of artists was limited to using just brown and silver... I'd bet the results would look pretty similar.
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