User Profile


Joined 1 year, 7 months ago

A mix of academic (philosophy, cognitive science, some science and technology studies) and science fiction or fantasy. A bit of pop science for giggles.

Academic tastes: Enactive approach, embodied cognitive science, ecological psychology, phenomenology Fiction: Iain M. Banks, Ursula le Guin, William Gibson, Nnedi Okorafor, China Miéville, N.K. Jemisin, Ann Leckie

Love space opera but mostly disappointed by what I read there. Somehow didn't read Pratchett until recently, and now methodically working my through in sequence (I know sequence is not necessary, but ...).

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Marek's books

2024 Reading Goal

52% complete! Marek has read 21 of 40 books.

reviewed The Bezzle by Cory Doctorow (Martin Hench, #2)

Cory Doctorow: The Bezzle (EBook, 2024, Tor Books) 4 stars

The year is 2006. Martin Hench is at the top of his game as a …

Blood boiling financial thriller

4 stars

Content warning No specific spoilers, but commentary which you might want to avoid if you want to read it wholly fresh.

@jadebees Yeah, when I read the first book it was on the second try. I ground to a halt after about 50 or 60 pages the first time, just because of how mean-spirited it all felt.

All of my friends seemed to love it though, and last year a one made a particular comment that intrigued me, which made me give it another try. The second book definitely pushes more heavily against the tropes. I'm curious as to what the third will bring.

reviewed Fugitive Telemetry by Martha Wells (The Murderbot Diaries, #6)

Martha Wells: Fugitive Telemetry (2021, Doherty Associates, LLC, Tom) 4 stars

No, I didn’t kill the dead human. If I had, I wouldn’t dump the body …

A solid episode of your dependable comfort read.

3 stars

Not much to say beyond the title. There's nits to pick, but you know what you're getting and you're not likely to be disappointed.

Nick Sousanis: Unflattening 4 stars

Unflattening is a graphic novel by artist and researcher Nick Sousanis that was originally the …

A superb philosophical exploration of identity, being, and knowledge

5 stars

I was given this as a gift, and thoroughly enjoyed it. It's a delightful graphical text, winding together of threads from across a number of different fields of philosophy.

As a demonstration of the medium, it's a compelling existence case for effective philosophical communication in sequential art. The monochrome imagery really helps capture complexity and nuance. Making ideas accessible, while there is a certain exploratory, introductory character to them, it would be very wrong to call the effect superficial. The artwork, rather, draws the reader in, invites further consideration and contemplation.

The themes are some that are of particular interest to me, on the dynamism and radically incomplete character of being, identity, and knowledge. I work in the area, and would consider this a rich and worthy way of getting into these issues. I think this would make an excellent text to work with with students, for instance - certainly …

reviewed Before They Are Hanged (The First Law: Book Two) by Joe Abercrombie (The first law. Book 2)

Joe Abercrombie: Before They Are Hanged (The First Law: Book Two) (Paperback, 2008, Pyr) 4 stars

Superior Glokta has a problem. How can he defend a city surrounded by enemies and …

Like it's predecessor, a solid third of a story

4 stars

With perhaps a little more understanding of how things will go, I found this book perhaps a bit better than the first volume (

What I didn't fully understand about the first book, and which took me a surprisingly long time to realise reading this one, is that the lack of awareness or knowledge of the "big picture" in this epic tale is the whole point. The point of view characters each has their arc, all of them dealing with difficulties and unpleasantness that is much greater than they can ken or manage. The result is that the grand sweep of history is unfolding, but there's no way for the characters or reader to fully grasp it.

Both because we've got to know them better, and because of development, the characters themselves are more appealing. They are rounded, often messy, and so the more compelling for it, though …

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Ursula K. Le Guin: The Eye of the Heron (Paperback, 2003, Starscape) 4 stars

In Victoria on a former prison colony, two exiled groups—the farmers of Shantih and the …

Social sci-fi about non-violence

5 stars

(em português: )

Ursula K. Le Guin often writes some of the best science fiction books on specific themes: “The Dispossessed”, about anarchism; “The Left Hand of Darkness”, about gender fluidity; and “The Eye of The Heron” (1978), about non-violence.

In the latter, two groups are exiled from Earth as a kind of scum: people convicted of crimes and pacifist activists who refused to participate in society in nations at war. The convicts arrived a few generations earlier. They had been expelled from a self-destructing Earth with no more prison capacity, on a one-way trip to the prison planet. So they recreate an authoritarian and hierarchical society.

The activists, on the other hand, were adherents of non-violent direct action and gave rise to an essentially anarchist community. I'm not going to comment any further because the revelation about their history and how their exile came about are among the …

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reviewed The Fall of Hyperion by Dan Simmons (Hyperion Cantos)

Dan Simmons: The Fall of Hyperion (Paperback, 1992, Headline Book Publishing) 4 stars

On the world called Hyperion, beyond the law of the Hegemony of Man, there waits …


5 stars

Not without its flaws, but this, like its predecessor, stands up to time (no pun intended).

Representation of women is good for the late 80's, not great for today. Ethnicity is reasonably diverse, though you'd have to suspect the leads were all intended as white it would be quite possible to cast most of them them however you'd like to. Certainly Simmons very clearly believes an advanced human civilisation is varied across the scale, and will only get more and more varied as time goes on (this is explicitly represented in very positive terms).

The book remains an impressive combination of character drama and epic scale science fiction war. Space opera in the fantastical sense, and very explicitly and deliberately romantic (in the literary rather than relationship sense). Things certain go a bit wild, and possibly a little too magical if your tastes run to the harder stuff in speculative …

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