Required Reading

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Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Turing Option by Harry Harrison and Marvin Minsky

The Turing Option (Questar Science Fiction)
True artifical intelligence is within reach when Brian Delaney, prodigy, is left for dead and his life’s work is stolen. The ensuing search for the dastardly villains (truly dastardly) and recreation of his work is the thrust of the book.

Brian Delaney is not very likeable but his life was not started a foundation of love and trust. This may be a prime example of love and nurture’s difficulty in overcoming early abusive situations.

The copyright of 1992 helps to explain some of the dated technology. The irony is that a lot of that technology was pure speculation in 1992 and is now passé.

There is thought provoking speculation in this book along with calculated ruthlessness that sadly seems to characterize some current governments and corporations. Harry Harrison is always thought provoking. I am not familiar with anything else from Marvin Minsky so I can comment on his part of the book.   However after googling him, I see he is a well known  expert on AI so his part may be self explanatory.

The ironic ending between man and machine is superbly done.

The book moves at a realistic pace and is well worth reading.

I recommend the book.

Body of work of Harry Harrison

Body of work of Marvin Minsky

Web site:

Monday, January 17, 2011

Toys by James Patterson and Neil McMahon

A future ruled by enhanced beings who recognize their connection with humanity but deeply resent and fear that connection.  

This is a light weight fast read that is entertaining but not in any way intellectually challenging.   Hays is well portrayed as a confused elitist who comes to grips with his root humanity.   There is plenty of action and heroic feats.   Hays Baker, special agent, comes face to face with his worst nightmare and his unknown sister when confronting a rebellious populace.  

Perhaps requiring this book to be read by some of the wild child Hollywood stars or pro athletes would enable them to develop enough humility to avoid jail and self destruction.   It is possible though that I give more than reasonable credence to the potential for learning that we all should have.   I liked the book just as I like glazed donuts,  delicious without a great deal of substance.

I recommend the book.

Body of work of Cameron Stracher

Friday, January 14, 2011

Water Wars by Cameron Stracher

Global warming leads to a world without fresh water. The conflict between those who have water and those who don’t is featured in this dismal future world.

This book paints a very depressing picture of the future. I found myself refilling my ubiquitous glass of water far more frequently as I read it. Vera and Will’s sibling relationship was endearing. Kia was the mysterious stranger. I enjoyed the fact that the author was able to portray such a dusty, parched future environment while demonstrating the resiliency of human nature.

The book abounds with villains from water pirates, drillers, demented environmental activists, lock stepping capitalists to slavers. Loyalty, perseverance and ingenuity characterize the protagonists.

The book is purported to be young adult oriented but I’m not sure it should be limited to kids. There is a clear message about greed and green that should be heard by all.

I highly recommend the book.

Body of work of Cameron Stracher

Web site: None found

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Thrall by Steven Shrewsbury

The press release suggested this book was in the vein of Conan but Thrall would kick Conan’s butt. A dark heroic fantasy with an aging protagonist.

While not an aging warrior, I am aging and feel some of the aches that plagued Thrall throughout the book. I thought Shrewsbury did an excellent job of portraying an aging warrior. He shows that treachery, deceit and experience can thwart youth and bravado. Thrall isn’t exactly likeable but he is admirable. He soldiers on when lesser men have curled up and died. I liked his perseverance and attitude.

The family interaction was certainly eye opening. The characters were well portrayed and the action and violence certainly fit the genre. I liked the book and hope to see a sequel.

I highly recommend the book.

Body of work of Steven Shrewsbury

Web site: None found

See my interview with the author.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Unto The Breach by John Ringo

The Kildar and the Keldara are back. Another WMD needs corralled and Mike Harmon and his Keldara are just the people who can prevent Armageddon. Action and battle scenes galore characterize the book.

Ringo has the ability to create an astoundingly vivid image with his prose. Although some books in this series seemed preoccupied with the darker side of sex, this book was a down and gritty battle book. The action is superb, the descriptive aspects of Ringo’s Warrior Creed are emotionally moving. Books that exalt loyalty, courage, honor and respect seem all too rare in today’s fiction.

I like how each book in this series revels a little more in the background and ethos of the Keldara.

I highly recommend this book.

Body of work of John Ringo

Web site:

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Dragon in Lyonesse by Gordon Dickson

I’ve mentioned Gordon Dickson is one of my all time favorite authors in an early post. The versatility of the man is simply awesome. From hard scifi to fantasy is a leap many authors are unable to make successfully. This book is the eighth in a nine book series. They are all entertaining, sometimes simplistic, often humorous but always entertaining. The protagonist is a changeling, man to dragon version. The stories are all focused on his adventures in Arthurian times. They are an absolutely delightful read, don’t expect to be challenged or to find your thoughts provoked but do expect to be entertained.

Titles in the series in order of publication are:
Dragon & The George Dragon Series #1
Dragon Knight Dragon Series #2
Dragon on the Border Dragon Series #3
Dragon At War Dragon Series #4
Dragon Earl and Troll Dragon Series #5
Dragon and the Djinn Dragon Series #6
Dragon & The Gnarly King Dragon Series #7
Dragon and the Fair Maid of Kent Dragon Series #9

Body of work of Gordon Dickson

Overview of Dickson’s Work:

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Choosers of the Slain by John Ringo

Politics and black mail fuel the action in this Ringo follow up to the Kildar. Mike is at it again, facing daunting odds with ambivalence in his heart but courage and fire in his action. Hookers are being snuffed and it is impacting his people and the politics of his world.

Ringo dives in were fools fear to tread. He attacks the structure of Albanian prostitution but in essence he attacks the forcible implementation of the entire industry. According to Wikipedia Albania is known for being a major player in human trafficking. Mike Harmon and his Mountain Tigers expose a sordid business and out guns, out fights and just is more ruthless than the bad guys. He takes them on in a no holds barred manner.

Meantime back in Georgia (not the USA Georgia), Mike is developing brewing to improve the living conditions of his Keldara. In some ways you have to wonder if John Ringo’s tactics in nation building (microcosm) and terrorist eradication aren’t far superior to what is actually occurring.

This is not a book for kids, the sex is rough and often explicit but it fits with the plot of the book.

I recommend this book.

Body of work of John Ringo

Web site: