Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Books - Recommendations from Various Folks

A lot of my time has been spent lately thinking about what I want to read next.  I dare say I spend more time worrying about what I want to read than actually reading.  One of the developers I work with solved part of the problem by writing his own book and publishing it on Amazon.  So I'm reading Erik Hyrkas' Tritium Gambit.  Unfortunately, it's a damn quick read and after a (week) day I'm already half way through it.  I'm enjoying it so far. Sort of Men In Black, but with aliens instead of humans, set in Minnesota.  I hear it may be free for your Kindle on Amazon this weekend.  $0.00 is a pretty good deal.

And I also read the Leviathan series - Leviathan, Behemoth, Goliath - by Scott Westerfeld.  Mean Mr. Mustard recommended it.  Young adult, but well worth the read.  Puts The Hunger Games to shame in my opinion.  Not nearly so whiny.  And that's from someone with a predilection for dystopic literature (so I'd trend toward The Hunger Games).  It's a steampunk alt history novel about WWI being fought between Darwinists, who manipulate life, and Clankers, who manipulate machines.  The lines follow the political lines of WWI (Britain/Russia = Darwinists, Germany/Austria = Clankers, US/Japan = amalgam), but it's much more complicated than that.  He does a great job of interspersing actual history with his steampunk vision.  I've been harassing Eryn and my wife to read it with assurances that they'll love it.

I read this article, about what book introduced various authors to science fiction and fantasy.  I'm interested to read The Wonderful Trip to the Mushroom Planet and Planetoid, The Riddle-Master of Hed, and The World of Tiers.  I apologize with characteristic Minnesota niceness to Galen Dara, but no one should consider their intro to sci fi to be Anne McCaffrey and The Wheel of Time.

I think this article on alternative families in fantasy and science fiction only told me what not to read.

Which brings me to the icing on the cake.  David Brin wrote a damn splendid write up of his favorite sci fi books.  In categories.  Huxley.  Banks.  Vinge.  Heinlein.  Bear.  Asimov.  Niven.  Sheffield.  Wilson. Gaiman.  Mieville. Haldeman. Dick.  Westerfeld!  This is a f*ing fine list.  The only immediate book that jumps to mind that I disagree with is Harry Turtledove's Great War Series.  And to be honest, I don't know that it's a bad series.  I only know I hated the first book of the World War series so much it still makes me angry.  Mean Mr. Mustard can attest to that as I brought it up outside his workplace.  The only book that ever made me angrier was a Hammer's Slammers book by David Drake a friend game me where the protagonist was rewarded for trying to rape a lesbian by having sex with her and her partner in the end for saving their lives. Ick.  Anyway - Brin's list.  Print it.  Read all of them.  It's the best list I've ever seen.

And finally, something for the not so scifi/fantasy inclined.  Beyond Budgeting: How Managers Can Break Free From the Annual Performance Trap by Jeremy Hope and Robin Fraser.  It comes to late for this year's review process, and I haven't read it yet, but it came highly recommended by the speakers at the Code Freeze Conference and it's on my Kindle (iPad).

And 30 Books Everyone in Software Business Should Read (and why).  This is actually a very good list as far as software development lists go.  Spolsky's books were important to me, and I still quote them and explain to people how the ideas in his books explain much of the software we work with every day at my workplace.  I've read a number of the others on this list and I'm currently reading the Pragmatic Programmer.  While developer books can quickly show their age, if you get past worrying about the specifics and focus on the generalities of what never changes, you gain some valuable insight.

1 comment:

Larry Rubinow said...

You'll have to let me know what you think of "World of Tiers". I read it (or some of it) 30ish years ago, when I still thought P.J.Farmer had something interesting to say, but my later recollection was that he had insanely crazy concepts that he then thoroughly failed to make into well-constructed stories. (For instance, I can still, decades later, tell you in great detail about how the Riverworld series started, but by the end I was so incredibly put off by it that I can't remember how he explained it all, if he even did. I was just annoyed that I had to buy the damned books to find out.)