User Profile

David Hughes

Joined 1 year, 3 months ago

Grumpy Scottish late career librarian living in Dublin and working in Further Education. Open scholarship enthusiast. Shill for Big Library. Power-hungry gatekeeper. King of infinite space. He/him/his. I read a lot. I "like" (some) sport, politics, walking and my family. Happy to be here and eager to see what happens next ...with everything.

This link opens in a pop-up window

David Hughes's books

reviewed Walled culture by Glyn Moody

Glyn Moody, Glyn Moody: Walled culture (Paperback, 2022) 4 stars

Walled Culture is the first book providing a compact, non-technical history of digital copyright and …

Turgid but essential reading

5 stars

Despite the undergraduate essay level of writing, this book is essential reading for anyone interested in the future of the Internet. Some may find the the chapter on academic publishing a real eye-opener and the discussion of the EU copyright directive terrifying. Though heavy going at times, the book is extensively referenced (with all links using the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine). It's a pity that the book's publication preceded the rise of generative AI, as the liberal use of ChatGPT and suchlike does raise some interesting questions about copyright.

reviewed Recursion by Blake Crouch

Blake Crouch: Recursion (Hardcover, 2019, Crown Publishing) 4 stars

Memory makes reality.

That’s what New York City cop Barry Sutton is learning as he …

Actually quite good.

5 stars

The other Crouch books I've read have been better plotted than written. Happily that isn't the case here. I wasn't expecting much, but the whole false memory premise does take very interesting and thoughtful directions. Happy to give it five stars, for the plot, the exploration of the central conceit and the open-ended... ending which is bound to disappoint all those who like things wrapped up neatly (I like to think of "Don't Stop Believin'" playing on the jukebox in the bar), but it really is a pale imitation of Ken Grimwood's 'Replay', which I heartily recommend to the two or three people who'll see this review (and to everyone else who won't).

Mary Roach, Mary Roach: Packing for Mars (Hardcover, 2010, Norton) 4 stars

The author of Stiff and Bonk explores the irresistibly strange universe of space travel and …


5 stars

Mary Roach hits the sweet spot of being informative and entertaining; I really love her sense of humour. It's written with a light touch that often brings through the personalities of the astronauts. As a librarian who gives classes on digital literacy, I especially enjoyed the shredding of the Enos the chimp anecdote - check the sources, people. Not sure I can use it in class though.

Craig Russell: Lennox (2010, Quercus) 3 stars

Shady private investigator Lennox is a hard man in a hard city at a hard …

Fails to transcend the cliches of the genre

2 stars

The eponym is a hard-boiled Canadian ex-serviceman plying his trade as a private dick in early 1950s Glasgow. He's also a gangland gopher for the three bosses who run crime in the city. When a second-tier gangster with aspirations is murdered, Lennox investigates. Femme fatales, thuggish cops, morally ambiguous heroes; the author rummages through the big bag of noir tropes to serve up a bland and convoluted tale with too high a body count. I didn't find the period setting authentic and do Canadians really play "ice" hockey? The constant dissing of Glasgow, the Scots and Scotland was very tedious and the distal good guys were not to my taste. Lennox has potential and the first in a series always suffers from the world-building that has to be done. Reading subsequent books in series might be a worthwhile journey, but not one I'll be undertaking.

Robert Douglas: Whose Turn For The Stairs (Headline Book Publishing) 4 stars

This is an utterly charming story about twelve families and their tightly knit street in …


4 stars

Charming, if quite anodyne, tale of life in a Glasgow tenement in the immediate post-WWII period. Outside of those - like myself - who have a link to [Glasgow] tenement life, perhaps this is more interest for its historical aspects. Yeah there's a little "poverty, religious bigotry, racism, heartbreak, lies, violence, and death" but its mostly quite ...cosy. There's a rank bad yin, whom to call one-dimensional would be to grossly overstate his depth. Potentially interesting storylines are often resolved too quickly and without any great drama. Still, it rattles along and the author provides plenty of verisimilitude. I'll happily look out for the sequels. With a little tinkering would make a decent TV miniseries.

Greg van Eekhout: California Bones (Daniel Blackland) (2015, Tor Books) 2 stars

When Daniel Blackland was six, he ingested his first bone fragment, a bit of kraken …

Middle of the road

2 stars

Every year, on my summer holiday, I read a lot of books; there are days where I do nothing but read. Reading so many books in such a short space of time, you get a real feel for author styles and ability to turn a phrase. Therefore I might have enjoyed this more if I'd read it more in isolation, but it suffered by being read immediately after the Connolly and Kadrey books. There's nothing particularly wrong with it, but it doesn't stand it out. It chugs along at a decent pace but is all a bit meh - doesn't transcend its tropes.

Andy Weir: Project Hail Mary (Paperback) 4 stars

A lone astronaut must save the earth from disaster in this incredible new science-based thriller …

For those who like this sort of thing...

2 stars

The hype over The Martian passed me by. If it hadn't, then I wouldn't have read this. Having read this, I shan't be reading any other Andy Weir books in the immediate future. There is the kernel of a good book in here, but it's ruined - for me - by firstly, excessive attention to detail. It's the textual equivalent of one of those less interesting Star Trek TNG episodes where the crew encounter a Problem which is eventually solved by the appliance of science. Sadly, the Enterprise crew were far more engaging than the underdeveloped protagonist here who is merely seems a frame on which to hang calculations. Secondly, Weir's problem solving is at his strongest when examining physical & engineering problems, but the biological nature of the Problem I found a bit silly. Thirdly and this is a problem that extends to a lot of science fiction, Weir's …