‘Optimism In A Book’

Score: 5/5

Hans Rosling’s TED Talk was the first TED Talk I ever saw, and was (I think) one of the first they ever released. I’ve watched other talks by him (TED and non-TED) and he always brought insight and warmth to what could easily have been dry statistics.

This book collects some of those insights, with some great anecdotes. There are some hard stories in there too, but overall it’s a description of the world as it is today plus a positive outlook for the future.

Well worth reading to understand the world as it is, not how we think it is or want it to be.

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‘Series Keeps Getting Better’

Score: 4/5

Another very enjoyable book in this series.

And yes, I still have questions over some of the physics, and a bunch of ‘Why don’t they...?’, but it was still fun.

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‘Series Back On Track’

Score: 4/5

I didn’t much enjoy this series’ foray into different characters in a different country, so I enjoyed this move back to the known characters and settings.

But it’s better than that. I wasn’t overly fond of the H2G2 references popping up everywhere (and I say that as a big H2G2 fan), but the plot and pace felt much more compelling than previous novels in the series.

Hope it keeps up!

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‘Kinda Getting Into This’

Score: 4/5

I’m getting more into this series. I like the way it’s a bit varied - the settings, the threats. It’s not repetitive the way I felt Craig Alanson’s Expeditionary Force series became.

I did still have the occasional ‘Why don’t they...?’ as well as skepticism over use of infantry, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.

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‘More Smart US Detection’

Score: 4/5

I enjoyed the first ‘IQ’ book so I was expecting to enjoy this one too. And I did.

There’s something a little different in this one though. I can’t quite put my finger on it. It maybe has a bit less depth than the first one. Or maybe I’m mis-remembering the depth of the previous book and I’ll look back fondly on this one too.

In any case, it was enjoyable and nicely readable.

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‘Different Infantry Space Battles’

Score: 4/5

OK, this is another science fiction infantry story. I’ve written before that I don’t think battles with aliens will involve infantry, but this story at least has a credible reason for there being infantry at all.

It’s a bit grittier than Alanson’s infantry books too. This, the first in a series, covers a lot of boot camp as well as battles, and it talks about soldiering in a voice that seems wearily experienced.

It’s nicely written and very readable. I still don’t think alien battles will involve much infantry, but I enjoy Star Wars and I don’t believe in the Force so I guess I’m flexible.

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‘Absurd Past/Future Mashup’

Score: 4/5

What an absurd book this is!

I bought this after I read Cory Doctorow’s recent mention of it and I’m glad I did. The premise is absurd, the actions absurd, and the characters absurd. Love it!

The absurdity is there to satirise some aspects of society and business (as seen from the 1992 perspective when the book was written) and that works very well.

Other bits of the book are patchier. Some bits seem random diversions, some bits projections on things the author expected to have happened by 2002, when the book is set. And, of course, some projections were spot on and others remarkably close.

A very readable, enjoyable book.

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‘Beautifully Written, Desperately Sad’

Score: 2/5

I didn’t enjoy this book. It’s not that it’s badly written - it’s beautifully written, it really brings across the textures of the Australian outback and the people involved.

It was all just so sad though. Such pain and misery on every page. I don’t think I could bring myself to read another book from this author.

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‘Far Too Many Clichés’

Score: 3/5

I enjoyed the previous books by this author but this one felt a bit ‘forced’. I’m not sure how best to describe it.

The first few chapters were really not good. They felt very clichéd, and the awful ‘CIA Agent Profile’ at the beginning of the book did not help matters.

The book did warm up, improving right up until the end. But it was starting from a very low beginning. I know folks don’t buy these books for their depth of originality, but the other books I’ve read by this author were much better.

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‘First Of The Reachers’

Score: 4/5

Yeah, another Jack Reacher book. I still have about a dozen of these to go, all in a stack, waiting for me.

It’s lucky they’re so readable.

This is the first book in the Jack Reacher series, so I found out a bit more about his background. It still amazes me how plainly Tom Cruise plays him in films when there’s a lot more going on than appears. And also that Jack Reacher is 6’ 5” and Tom Cruise... isn’t.

Ignore the films and read the books, that’s what I say.

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