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Joined 4 months, 1 week ago

I'm just starting to read again, children permitting

2021 Reading Goal

50% complete! phooky has read 6 of 12 books.

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Hero of Two Worlds (Hardcover, 2021, PublicAffairs) 4 stars

An object lesson in trying to be a fixed point in a fluid environment. Mike Duncan does a wonderful job of researching and presenting his story, but the "podcast voice" writing style is a bit jarring.

Best WTF: Jefferson offered to make Lafayette governor of the Louisiana territory. As my spouse put it, "strong token French friend vibes".

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (Softcover) 3 stars

Welcome back to a Wonderland that is as astonishingly new as it is joyously familiar. …

Usually a fan of Oxenbury, but perhaps Tenniel has eaten my brain

3 stars

Look, illustrating Alice is hard. You're laboring in the shadow of Tenniel, and the comparison is going to be made. You can lean into the Tenniel iconography and add your own spin to it, as Disney did, or you can fight it tooth and nail. That's what Oxenbury's doing here, but she's working so hard to be Not Tenniel that she's forgetting to have any fun with it. Thus we have a Cheshire Cat that somehow "grins" without showing any teeth, playing-card people who just look like they're wearing playing cards, and weirdly sterile environments that seem terrified to include any imagery that isn't explicitly detailed in the text. Characters often float along with minimal background. Their expressions seem muted. If anything, it feels like Oxenbury is trying to bring a sort of naturalism to her illustrations here, which is, frankly, kind of a bonkers way of going about illustrating …

Four-Day Planet (Paperback, 2007, Wildside Press) 2 stars

Fenris isn't a hell planet, but it's nobody's bargain. With 2,000-hour days and an 8,000-hour …

Whalers on the Moon

2 stars

Trouble's brewing at the whaler's co-op-- in space! Simple solid old school sci-fi, from before sci-fi got trippy and cool. People fight with fists and guns, light or put out fires, and argue about price fixing in a frontier town. In spaaaaaace. It's fun, I guess.

commented on Four-Day Planet

Jul 29 Public

Four-Day Planet (Paperback, 2007, Wildside Press) 2 stars

Fenris isn't a hell planet, but it's nobody's bargain. With 2,000-hour days and an 8,000-hour …

I know that this book is essentially "Whalers on the Moon" made flesh, so it gets away with it most of the time, but I'm nearly done with this book and there are no female characters. Not "no female characters with plot beats" or even "no female characters with speaking lines". They're just... not there. There is one woman named in the book. Her name is Martha. She is married to a whaling captain, and her entire appearance consists of her husband basically saying "Martha, call us a cab." There is no prior or subsequent reference to her being in the room. That is impressive dedication to dudestown.

Discrete mathematics (2003, Springer) 3 stars

Not very deep, a fun if meandering overview

3 stars

The topics are clearly explained at a leisurely pace, and I enjoyed the frequent, well thought out exercises. This is the rare mathematics textbook that includes answers to all the exercises, instead of, say, leaving you scratching your head for a month before you figure out you're chasing a careless typo.

One quibble: so many combinatorics problems are posed along the lines of "match up every girl with every boy" etc. and it's like, it's the 21st century, can we just, y'know, not?