Book Reviews, Reviews

Freedom™ by Daniel Suarez

★★★★

Since Freedom™ is a sequel, it’s hard to talk about it without first talking about the first book: Daemon. Daemon is the kind of book that hits right in my wheelhouse. It’s full of action and violence, but it’s also smart, very well thought out, semi-feasible sci-fi. Daemon is a fantastic book, and one I recommend to any nerds looking for a fun read. When I think of my favorite science fiction in terms of the technology it introduces, Daemon ranks among other favorites like Altered Carbon, Snow Crash, and Neuromancer (which I just recently read and reviewed). In fact, Daemon is at least part of the inspiration for this short story I wrote not long after I finished reading it. If you haven’t read Daemon, read it at your first opportunity. If you have, read Freedom™
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Book Reviews, Reviews

When Sysadmins Ruled the Earth by Cory Doctorow

★★★★

When I was still in school, I remember Adrian telling me about a story he read where some sort of global Armageddon-level catastrophe happened, and the only survivors were the System Administrators who happened to be in their hermetically sealed, climate controlled, battery backed-up data centers. They communicated with each other via Usenet and IRC.

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Book Reviews, Reviews

Infamous Reign by Steve McHugh (Hellequin 2.5)

★★★★★

I am a total sucker for fantasy novels in an urban setting. I blame The Dresden Files. I’ve read tons of series in this vein. The Nightside, Iron Druid, etc. The Hellequin series is about Nate Garrett, a wizard living in modern England that is several hundreds of years old. The name of the series is just awful. “Hellequin” is Nate’s title, handed down by Merlin (yes, that Merlin). Its hard enough telling people you’re reading a book about magic, but the series could at least have a cooler name. Anyway, in the proper novels, the majority of the story takes place in the modern era with flashbacks to some semi-relevant event from centuries past. Since this is a short story, there apparently aren’t enough pages to do that, so it takes place solely in the 15th century.

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Book Reviews, Reviews

The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less by Barry Schwartz

★★★★

I hate grocery shopping. I never know what I want to eat and I don’t have a list, so I wander the isles looking at the choices and trying to figure out how to turn all the food into meals. There is a practically infinite number of meals you could make out of the food in even the smallest of grocery stores. I find the infinite possibilities overwhelming. I remember I once almost had a panic attack in a pharmacy while looking at their enormous selection of toothpaste. I finally grabbed a tube that was the shiniest, and I have stuck with that brand ever since because I can remember what it is. It turns out, while my particular case is extreme, I am not alone in being overwhelmed by choice.

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Book Reviews, Reviews

The Circle by Dave Eggers

★★★★

I thought I first heard about this book on BoingBoing before it was even released. Except the only mentions of it I can now find on the site are for a bad review. Either I’m incorrectly remembering how I heard about it, or the BB editors realized their terrible mistake and took the post down. Whoever it was that told me about this book, I was intrigued enough to pre-order it. On paper, I should really like this book. It’s (as far as I can infer — we’ll get to this later) a pro-privacy, anti-Google/Facebook/etc, novel about a girl named Mae who goes to work for The Circle, a social network so big it puts the aforementioned web giants to shame. In practice, I hated just about everything about this book.

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Book Reviews, Reviews

The Great Dissent: How Oliver Wendell Holmes Changed His Mind–and Changed the History of Free Speech in America by Thomas Healy

★★★★

I’m not sure when I first heard the phrase about not “shouting fire in a crowded theater.” I do know I’ve heard Penn Jillette say that he and Teller have actually done it. Maybe that’s where I came to know it. At any rate, I also didn’t know that it was from the unanimous opinion in a Supreme Court free speech case.

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Book Reviews, Reviews

Book Review: William Gibson’s Neuromancer

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

A few months ago, my coworkers and I started a Shadowrun campaign. Shadowrun is a tabletop RPG (think Dungeons & Dragons), but in addition to elves and dragons and whatnot, this game also has hackers, cybernetic body parts, and drones. What’s not to love? Anyway, when we first started playing, I was inspired to re-read Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson. One of the few books  I’ve ever read more than once. While I was in the process of re-reading Snow Crash, I happened upon  an interview with William Gibson. I greatly enjoyed the interview, and decided it was probably about time I read Neuromancer; having been aware of it at least since Snow Crash was originally recommended to me back in college.

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Book Reviews, Reviews

When I became a man, I put away childish things

Perhaps because I read The Art of Manliness too much today, perhaps because I spent a miserable 36 hours at work where this was a theme, perhaps because I just paid my taxes as a non-dependent for the first time this month, or perhaps because I live in Williamsburg – the capital of people who dress like children playing in their parent’s 1983 closet, I have been thinking a great deal about the childishness of American culture recently.
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Book Reviews, Reviews

If I ever see Chuck Klosterman (again)…

About six weeks ago I was at a concert; Drive By Truckers and The Hold Steady were playing. Early in the show, one of the people I was with pointed past me, to my right, and said “That’s Chuck Klosterman over there,” to which I eloquently responded “huh.” then turned my head back to the band and didn’t give it a second thought until Monday. Note that I said “huh.” and not “huh?” This is because I recognized the name, but I had no idea why. I gave it a second thought on Monday, because I was in a bookstore, and I saw Sex Drugs and Cocoa Puffs on the shelf. I had stumbled upon this book on the Internet months ago, added it to my Amazon wish list, and then promptly forgot it existed.
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