drneutron's (Jim's) Reading to Avoid Work - Chapter 7
This is a continuation of the topic drneutron's (Jim's) Reading to Avoid Work - Chapter 6.
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Post-launch edition of the thread! Here's one last PSP pic for a topper.
List so far (part 1):
Artemis by Andy Weir
Lightning Men by Thomas Mullen
The Trouble with Reality by Brooke Gladstone
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Emerald Labyrinth by Eli Greenbaum
The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner
The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry
Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly
For We Are Many by Dennis E. Taylor
Black Hammer Vol 1 by Jeff Lemire
Theft of Swords by Michael J. Sullivan
Hedy's Folly by Richard Rhodes
White Mountain by Robert Twigger
UNSUB by Meg Gardiner
The Bullet-Catcher's Daughter by Rod Duncan
Dreamland: Adventures in the Strange Science of Sleep by David K. Randall
This Book is Full of Spiders by David Wong
All These Worlds by Dennis E. Taylor
Black Mass by Dick Lehr and Gerard O'Neill
List so far (part 2):
Terminal Alliance by Jim C. Hines
The Waking Land by Callie Bates
Hellbent by Gregg Hurwitz
Zodiac Station by Tom Harper
Beneath the Mountain by Luca D'Andrea
Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer
Strange Weather by Joe Hill
The Dark Net by Benjamin Percy
The Demon Crown by James Rollins
Be Like the Fox by Erica Benner
Graveyard Shift by Michael F. Haspil
Terrible Typhoid Mary by Susan Campbell Bartoletti
Indigo by Charlaine Harris
The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
The Fortune Teller by Gwendolyn Womack
The Dark Net by Jamie Bartlett
The Sleep of Reason by David James Smith
The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North
What the Hell did I Just Read by David Wong
The Masked City by Genevieve Cogman
Snowblind by Ragnar Jonasson
Going Clear by Lawrence Wright
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
The Manson Women and Me by Nikki Meredith
The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson
An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon
Damnation by Peter Beck
Good Guys by Steven Brust
The Last Templar by Raymond Khoury
List so far (part 3):
Chosen Country by James T. Pogue
Binti by Nnedi Okorafor
The Wright Brothers by David McCullough
Rise of Empire by Michael J. Sullivan
The Night Market by Jonathan Moore
Monstress, vol 2 by Marjorie Liu
The Oriental Casebook of Sherlock Holmes by Ted Richard
The Sandman, vol 1 by Neil Gaiman
The Secret Life of the Mind by Mariano Sigman
Blue Latitudes by Tony Horwitz
The Death House by Sarah Pinborough
The Wicked Boy by Kate Summerscale
Fallout by Fred Pearce
Authority by Jeff Vandermeer
The Bathwater Conspiracy by Janet Kellough
The Alienist by Caleb Carr
The Talented Mr Ripley by Patricia Highsmith
The Officially Unofficial Files of Dr Gordon B. Gray by Darcy Fray
My Brother Moochie by Issac J. Bailey
The Usual Stats
Total Books: 67
Male: 49 (64%)
Female: 28 (36%)
Living: 76 (99%)
Dead: 1 (1%)
Hardback: 5 (7%)
Trade: 20 (32%)
Mass Market: 2 (3%)
eBook: 40 (60%)
Fiction: 47 (70%)
Nonfiction: 20 (30%)
Library: 46 (69%)
Mine: 21 (31%)
Group Read: 2
I have meant to drop by and holler a "congrats" on the launch. When I saw the launch news I went oooh that hasta be Jim's. So so cool.
68. THe World of Gerard Mercator by Andrew Taylor
Pretty much anyone who's seen a map has at one time or another seen the world represented in the Mercator projection. See, it's really hard to turn the surface of a sphere into a flat map - you either get directions between points right or you get distances right, never both. Mercator was the first to develop a map that navigators could use to plot straight-line courses, which was a huge development that, weirdly, didn't catch on for 50 years or so after his death. Yeah, the map has its flaws, like overly emphasizing the size of Europe and underemphasizing out America and Africa, but this was the gateway to a modern understanding of projective geometry and a great stride forward in geography.
But Mercator was more than a one-off creator of a map. Most of his life was spent collecting and collating geographic data from a wide variety of sources to produce accurate maps and intricately made globes, with a hand in scientific instruments. He was a businessman first, but also proponent of Church reform in a time when that could (and for him, did) result in interference by the Inquisition. Taylor's biography is a good retelling of an interesting life, though I wish there were more sources available to give more detail.
69. Bimbos of the Death Sun by Sharyn McCrumb
Yeah, the title. *Sigh* In reality, McCrumb's book is a satirical mystery that pokes fun at the mid-90s fan and con culture. Fun - at points, laugh out loud - and frothy, there's not much mystery here. But really, that's not the point. Nice brain candy.
70. Badass Librarians of Timbuktu by Joshua Hammer
Timbuktu was quite the academic center in it's heyday, and one of the results was the production of many, many manuscript works in Arabic and regional languages from the period when Europe was Medieval. And surprisingly, these manuscripts were mostly saved as treasures kept within families. In the late 20th century and several centers were built in Timbuktu were built to collect and preserve these manuscripts. But times change, and when Al Qaeda and other fundamentalist groups formed in Mali, the manuscripts became the target of these groups. Hammer's book tells the story of how these ancient treasures were saved.
Happy new thread, Jim!
It was so special to see the launch & knowing someone in the team :-)
>10 drneutron: What?! You have had time to read during all the launch hoopla? You are Super Man! : ) Happy new thread.
>18 thornton37814: Yeah, I've got 71 and 72 in the works.
Happy new thread.
I suppose it is too early to say how well PSP is doing but it is exciting to think that you will start getting data before the end of the year.
Happy new thread, Jim. That is a topper to be proud of!
>10 drneutron: Great strategy to sneak something fluffy in between the two more serious reads. Although, I thought that The Badass Librarians of Timbuktu was easy to read because it delivered the information it had to between the events of what seemed like and adventure story at times.
>22 jnwelch: THey're definitely on my list! I'm still trying to clean out my pile of TBRs before getting more, though... 😀
>22 jnwelch: Thanks!
>23 RebaRelishesReading: PSP's doing well right now. We're commissioning, i.e., trying everything out and learning how to fly it.
>25 Familyhistorian: It definitely was easy to read, but the thought of all that destruction of manuscripts (and other stuff and people) gets to me. So brain candy!
Saw this on another thread - NPR's recommendations for horror and scary stuff. Pretty much all great selections!
>26 drneutron: ... um ... shouldn’t you have learned to fly it before you launched it?
>28 humouress: Unfortunately, until we actually get spacecraft in space, not everything is completely testable - gravity and atmosphere, for instance, change the way the spacecraft behaves. So we always find quirks in behavior that we need to understand. This is what gives a spacecraft personality!
Congratulations on the launch!
>10 drneutron: I am a huge fan of Bimbos of the Death Sun and its sequel Zombies of the Gene Pool. Yeah. The titles. But they make me laugh.
The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu was interesting, but that's definitely a title I didn't love.
>28 humouress: Snort. You made me laugh, Nina, because I was thinking something along those lines....
>34 Dejah_Thoris: Thanks!
Bimbos was a reread, but I’ve never read the sequel. Time to track it down!
Hat's off to you and your colleagues, doctor. Hope your highly sophisticated gizmo continues to work excellently.
Thumbs up too on your reading numbers.
Happy Sunday, Jim. Happy New Thread! Love that topper. I got seriously behind on the threads, so it is going to take me awhile to catch up.
Hooray for The Fireman in October! Lets do it!
>36 weird_O: So far so good! We completed our biggest propulsion burn to target Venus yesterday morning - it was a great success!
>37 msf59: Yep, I want to make sure that group read happens! Started Bearskin last night. Five chapters in - so far it's great!
>38 karenmarie: Thanks! Yeah, those are some pretty good titles. Fortunately, the books live up to them. 😀
What a great photo topper, Jim! I'm back home now and catching up with everyone, slowly but surely. I really enjoyed the McCrumb books back in the day (circa 1988) but think the first book is better than the second. They are fun, regardless.
Jim, thanks to your review, I've just ordered Bad Ass Librarians of Timbuktu. I'm looking forward to it.
>29 drneutron: I never thought of spacecraft as having personality but, when I really think about it, most of our vehicles have some type of personality. I have just been doing research on the Empress of Ireland which was sunk in 1914 and ocean liners definitely had their own quirks as well. That ship had one personality above the water and a different personality for the divers that explore the wreck where it lies in the St. Lawrence.
>40 ronincats: I suspected that might be the case - it strikes me that the idea might get stretched a bit thin. 😀
>41 figsfromthistle: Thanks!
>42 Oregonreader: Cool! I hope you enjoy it!
>43 Familyhistorian: Oh, yeah. Every one is unique with it’s own personality. PSP is flying well, but likes to spin in the sunlight a little more than we’d like. 😀
71. Irresistible North by Andrea di Robilant
About 150 years before Columbus sailed the ocean blue, a guy named Nicholó Zen, sailed from his native Venice to the north to do some trading, and on subsequent trips joined by his brother. Their journey took them from the Orkneys and Faroe Islands to Iceland, Greenland, and maybe to the northern stretches of North America, producing a map that shows these Venetians really discovered America that influenced mapmakers for centuries afterward.
Or maybe not. The only record we have of this is a book written some generations later - well after the exploration of the New World and successful voyages around Africa - by a descendant based on five letters that were preserved by the Zen family. And the map? It's a struggle to connect the geography shown on the map with anything we know about the actual geography of the supposed trip. So there is, naturally, quite a bit of academic controversy (bring the popcorn!) about the story and whether these voyages really happened.
di Robilant is clearly in the camp of those who believe the Zens really did make it to America, and from what I've gathered, that's definitely a minority opinion. He makes a good case, though, and it's fun to see how he spins gold from so little straw (mostly from interpreting place names on the map). Controversy aside, it's clear that there was more trade and travel going on by the Norse across the centuries across the region than the naive picture usually taught about Columbus sailing off into the unknown and discovering something nobody else had ever seen - indigenous people aside...
72. Stonehenge by Francis Pryor
Short history of the development of Stonehenge in the context of other local sites and the spiritual/communal uses of these sites. Has some more up to date archaeology that I hadn't seen before, and the breakdown of how the features were built up across the prehistoric eras when it was used.
73. The Flanders Panel by Arturo Pérez-Reverte
An art restorer preparing a painting for auction discovers a hidden message under the layers of paint. It appears the painting may be a message giving the identity of the murderer of one of the people in the painting - a knight from hundreds of years ago. The key to the mystery, though, is in a chess game being played in the painting. And when the painting leads to a modern day murder, the restorer must solve both mysteries before the killer gets her.
74. Kindred: A Graphic Novel Adaptation by Octavia E. Butler
Fantastic visual adaptation of the classic sf story - a great representation of the story!
Hi Jim, I've started the annual September Series & Sequels thread.
It's over at: https://www.librarything.com/topic/295308
Hoping interested people will stop by.
>45 drneutron: The Flanders Panel put me onto a huge Perez-Reverte kick. I especially liked his Alatriste series.
Hey Jim, I know this is "preaching to the choir" for you, but I thought all the rest of us might enjoy this video from the YT channel Smarter Every Day. The host, Destin went to Florida before the launch and interviewed a bunch of your fellow scientists about the design of PSP. Pretty cool stuff...
>45 drneutron: Ah, I'm adding that Stonehenge book to my TBR. I read the Bernard Cromwell fictionalization a while back and found it somewhat lacking in actual, you know, facts. :-)
😀 The author has other books on British archaeology out - i’m Going to see if I can find them. I liked his writing style and his science seems well founded.
I really should read some more of Francis Pryor's work, I really liked the 2 I have read. He's also appeared on TV ... I first saw him on Time Team, a UK archaeology program.
Which two did you read? I’ve heard of a time Team, but never watched it. I should check to see if it’son Any of our streaming services.
Britain BC: Life in Britain and Ireland before the Romans and The Making of the British Landscape : how we have transformed the land, from prehistory to today and I actually read both of them when I was reviewing books.
Time Team was a really interesting series - a team of archaeologists had 3 days to dig a site of interest. Francis Pryor wasn't in all of them, I think it depended on what sort of site they were investigating, so if it was prehistoric he was more likely to be involved. It was presented by Tony Robinson (Baldrick from Blackadder) and I still watch the occasional re-run episode when it shows up on TV.
Hello Jim! I hope all is well.
Did I mention 'The Expanse'? I finally completed season 3 and, WOW!, what a cool show. Have you seen it or read the books? I can't remember if I asked about it before.
Yup! I’ve seen the first two seasons - it’s really good. Books are on my Overdrive wish list.
I accidentally put this on the wrong DrJim thread. Trying again ...
Hi, Jim! The student newspaper at the University of Iowa, where I work, had an article in today's paper about the Solar Probe:
UI Experiments on Board NASA's Trip to the Sun
I'm sure you know that UI is the home university of James Van Allen, who discovered those pesky radiation belts. It's very cool that we continue to have a role in current space magic.
Nice! We should be turning on their instruments in a few days.
Van Allen worked at APL, where I work, off and on in his career. He always had close association with the scientists here - and we built and operate the Van Allen Probes studying the radiation belts.
By the way, for the first 15 years or so of my career, my job was to model and predict space radiation exposure for spacecraft and make sure that systems would survive that exposure!
>60 drneutron: I'm sure you know way more about Dr. Van Allen than I ever could, especially since you started your career in space radiation, Jim. I'm sure you got glowing reviews! (Sorry, I had to do it.) :-D
No doubt those glowing reviews were due to that radiant personality of yours. Your career seems to be on a firm trajectory, with the sky (not) the limit.
And now for
Bearskin by James A. McLaughlin
Rice Moore is hiding from his past as a runner for a drug cartel - and from a violent act of revenge he committed against them. He's now caretaker for a wilderness preserve in Appalachia. But when he finds a series of bear kills - for paws and gall bladders to sell on the black market - he decides it has to stop, and he's the only person who can do it.
Thanks to Mark for sending me this one - it's a really good thriller, full of suspense. At times very violent, it'll keep you on the edge of your seat. McLaughlin's a new author and I'll be watching for more from him!
Congrats on 75, Jim! (I saw over on the Bragging & Backslapping thread that you'd hit the mark and wanted to come see the title of the milestone book!)
Congratulations on reaching 75, Jim!
And thank you for your work for this georgeous group!
Keep on reading and doing!
Thanks, everyone! I'm surprised given the year I'e had, that I'm on track with my reading to make a personal best since I started counting. 😀
Congratulations -- on reaching your goal even early in a very demanding year AND on being on track for a personal best. Way to go!!
76. Report to Megalopolis by Tod Davies
Fourth (though largely stand-alone) in a series giving the history of a land called Arcadia, Davies has adapted and manipulated the story of Frankenstein to talk about civilizations and ambition and how we treat each other.
Honestly, I don't think the author could have been any more heavy-handed, which ruined what could have been a great fantasy tale. I'm a fan of stories with unreliable or morally questionable narrators - these stories often explore some really interesting aspects of psychology. But instead, this just came off strident more than anything else.
77. Binti: Home by Nnedi Okorafor
The second volume of Okorafor's series of novellas talks about many of these same themes. And the contrast couldn't be starker. Binti's story is compelling and thought-provoking with out the stridency of Davies' writing. This is a beautiful piece of work with characters, not caricatures, and worlds, not stereotypes. These are must-reads!
Woo hoo on blowing past the 75 book mark, especially with the workload you've had this year!!
>78 drneutron: I read the first book in that Arcadia series many years ago, because I got it from LTER (as I imagine you did with this one). Boy, was it awful. I feel your pain!
When I saw the 4th one available from LTER recently I was surprised anyone would publish more of them! And then I remembered....the author owns her own publishing company.
Congrats on 75!
Here's another Smarter Every Day video. Destin got to be on the platform with the CEO of ULA when they did rollback prior to launch. This stuff never gets old...
^Congrats on hitting our magic number, Jim. And I think Bearskin was the perfect choice. I am glad you enjoyed it.
Happy Labor Day, my friend. I hope you had a great holiday weekend.
>87 msf59: Thanks! I did have a good weekend. In spite of a friend's daughter's wedding all day Saturday, I was able to get in about 250 pages of reading, mostly on Monday. I'm just about finished with The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O - which I loved - and am a pretty good way into The Mechanical. Plus steaks on the grill yesterday! 😀
>88 Berly: Thanks!
Wow it's been that long since I posted?
- All instruments on PSP have been turned on and checkout has begun. So far so good!
- First Venus gravity assist is coming up, so preps are beginning.
- Mostly just working around the house on my off hours to catch up on things missed over the summer. And mowing. Always mowing.
- Went to the first home football game of the season at the Naval Academy. Rained on us the whole time. Still enjoyed a good game!
- Finished The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. Am most of the way through my next two - a clockpunk thing by Tregillis and a book on the interplay between science and magical belief during the Renaissance period (which has been a little disappointing, but not bad).
Oh, there you are! Welcome back. And thanks for the update. Good luck with the mowing. And all the rest of the stuff you mentioned. : )
"the interplay between science and magical belief during the Renaissance period"
That sounds interesting, looking forward to seeing your thoughts on it
Been a bit since I’ve posted an update, so...
78. The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. by Neal Stephenson and Nicole Galland
This one punches all the right tickets for me: time travel, quantum physics, satire of government bureaucracy... I’m seriously hoping for a second!
79. A Magical World: Superstition and Science from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment by Derek K. Wilson
Not at all what was promised. Apparently “magic” includes any and all “non-rational” thinking. So what this really covers is the interplay of scientific and (mainstream Christian) religious thought during the time period called out with a bit of alchemy and radical apocalyptic prophecy thrown in. Not a bad book - it reminded me that the people (white males) who were leading the scientific and rational philosophical changes were embedded in a wider culture, and our attempts to understand them have to take this into account.
80. The Mechanical by Ian Tregillis
Jax is a servitor made by alchemists of the Dutch Empire. Now, servitors are controlled by punishing “geasa” , so must do what humans command, and are completely devoid of free will. Except every so often, something happens to a servitor, and this control is broken; rogues have free will, but cannot be allowed to continue existing. And Jax has stumbled across a hidden bit of alchemy that has freed him...
Very good clockpunk!
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