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Jonathan Hartley

Joined 1 year, 4 months ago

Made out of meat.


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Jonathan Hartley's books

Currently Reading

Sheila K. McCullagh, Mary Gernat: The Three Pirates Meet (Griffin Pirate Stories) (Paperback, 1970, Hodder & Stoughton General Division) 5 stars

Nostalgic early childhood bedtime reading

5 stars

My OCD completionist tendencies have driven me to add this, the earliest book I can remember. My Dad read it to me at bedtime, when I was a small child in the early 1970s. We also had a few sequels. Googling around for them, I'm delighted to realize that I recognize the titles, covers, and illustrations. Amazing what is retained in the old noggin.

reviewed The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu (Remembrance of Earth's Past, #1)

Cixin Liu: The Three-Body Problem (Hardcover, 2014, Tor Books) 4 stars

Within the context of the Chinese Cultural Revolution, a military project sends messages to alien …

Not just bizarrely nihilistic and cynical, but also pro-authoritarian propaganda

1 star

Content warning This book is intensely political.

Susanna Clarke: Piranesi (2020, Bloomsbury Publishing Plc) 4 stars

Piranesi's house is no ordinary building; its rooms are infinite, its corridors endless, its walls …

Splendid tale, in a symbolic setting which is strikingly and evocatively minimal.

4 stars

Content warning Minor spoiler, which reveals a mid-book event which is very different in setting than the consistency of the opening chapters might suggest.

William F. Gibson, Johnnie Christmas, Tamra Bonvillain: William Gibson's Alien 3 (2019, Dark Horse Comics) 3 stars

Some potential, but didn't gel for me

2 stars

Some interesting ideas, but as perhaps gently hinted at by Gibson's own genial, generous and self-aware introduction, despite his love for the Alien universe, writing a screenplay under contract was not familiar territory for him, he had constraints, and it's perhaps not his best work.

I found both the dialog and the visual composition to be needlessly confusing. I was trying too hard to understand things like people's relative positions in the room, and which characters are even present in the scene, and whether I was even reading the dialog in the right order. Maybe it's whip smart and I'm just not keeping up?

As an example, the first time we see Bishop, his top half has been put back on a cheap set of legs, his memory has been strip mined, he's been through a lot, and his eyes are just pitch black. I thought this was maybe a …

reviewed Fullmetal Alchemist by Hiromu Arakawa (Fullmetal Alchemist, #1)

Hiromu Arakawa: Fullmetal Alchemist (GraphicNovel, 2005, VIZ Media LLC) 4 stars

I really wanted to like it, but just couldn't

2 stars

I had high hopes, and it was pressed into my hands by an acquaintance, in exchange for me forcing "Watchmen" on them, so expectations were high. But I just couldn't get along with it at all.

On a frame-by-frame level, I'm unused to the Manga style of dialog and presentation (eg overblown reaction shots when a character is outraged, etc), which presumably is all heavily dependant on conventions of Japanese language and culture. To me it just seems, at times, puzzlingly opaque and juvenile. No doubt the fault is mine.

At a higher level, I was failing to pick up on any interesting themes or symbolic content. It's just a ripping yarn about some boys in a world of magic. Which has its place! It wouldn't surprise me if a reader with relevant experience tells me I'm missing important things here. But, lacking that insight, this one wasn't for me. …

reviewed Hyperion by Dan Simmons (Hyperion Cantos, #1)

Dan Simmons: Hyperion (Paperback, 1995, Bantam Spectra) 4 stars

On the world called Hyperion, beyond the reach of galactic law, waits a creature called …

A smashing, gripping story, with prominent elements I'm unable to decode.

4 stars

Content warning Major recapitulation of the first of the book's six interwoven tales, short phrases describing three characters, one of whom only appears late in the book, and some fruitless discussion of the novel's many connections with John Keats.

Review of 'Python Beyond the Basics' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

This book is a brilliant "next step" for people who are learning the Python programming language. If you've read a book or some tutorials about the language itself, or are writing your first programs, then this book is for you. It will expand your awareness of the sort of things you ought to know about, beyond the basics of the Python language itself.

It collects together wisdom from a wide range of topics, such as characterizing good code versus bad, the absolute bare minimum nuggets extracted from a computer science degree that you really might need from time to time (presented very approachably), and introductions to common tools from the Python ecosystem, like the code formatter "Black", or source control with "Git", and why you might want to get to grips with them. Many other topics are covered - see the contents:

Chapter 1: Dealing with …