Saturday, July 29, 2006

Night by Elie Wiesel

Night is the recounting of Elie Wiesel's experience when he and his family were taken from their home in Transylvania in 1944 to the Auschwitz concentration camp, and then to Buchenwald.

Unbelievably powerful and painful, Night serves as a testimonial to what happened in the camps and is one of those few books I think everyone — everyone — should read.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Sin Episodes: Emergence

Sin Episodes: Emergence plays like a poor man's Half-Life 2, but that's not all bad as the game offers fun, action-packed episodic SF shooter game play.

The game features by-the-numbers shooter sequences and uses the Half-Life 2 engine. Released as the first episode of the new Sin Episodes game, it takes about four to five hours to complete the single player chapter.

Good graphics and a reasonable budget price make it worth checking out for those who enjoy shooters.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Zodiac by Neil Stephenson

Zodiac is a very fun eco-thriller about hazardous industrial waste and an environmental action group that exposes polluting companies.

The lead character is Sangamon Taylor, an improbable anti-hero who inhales nitrous oxide for kicks and rides around Boston Harbor on a 40-horsepower Zodiac raft, scouting for toxic sludge and other evidence of pollution.

Richly set in Boston, the novel is a great ride in the tradition of a fast-paced thriller. Beyond that, it is also funny, with humorous dialogue and unconventional characters. Finally, beneath the action and the humor, the text makes its point, about the all-too-conceivable dangers of unchecked industrial pollution.

Friday, July 14, 2006

The Ghost Brigades by John Scalzi

The Ghost Brigades is Scalzi's fast-paced sequel to Old Man's War.

The novel follows Jared Dirac, an altered Special Forces clone of a military scientist who betrayed humankind to alien aggressors, who is created to provide insight into the original scientist's mind and strategic information for the human alliance to use against the alien enemies.

Like its predecessor, The Ghost Brigades is fast and fun, and combines taut military action with moral questions about eugenics and technology. Definitely recommended.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Bait and Switch by Barbara Ehrenreich

Bait and Switch is Barbara Ehrenreich's loose follow up to her celebrated Nickel and Dimed, and is about the problems faced by unemployed white-collar Americans looking for new jobs.

In this volume, Ehrenreich goes through the process of building up a resume, meeting with career coaches, attending networking events, and sending out her resume, all for the purpose of landing an executive position in the corporate workplace.

I hate to say it -- because I love what Ehrenreich did with Nickel and Dimed -- but Bait and Switch is very disappointing. The text offered limited insights about the struggles of unemployed white collar workers beyond what has already been reported or published.

The author's process for trying to find a job also seemed more about gathering material and padding the book than in replicating the steps a real unemployed person would take. I found myself wondering at many points in the text why the author didn't just set up a meeting with a staffing agency or a headhunter instead of bouncing off so many clearly inadequete coaching consultants.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Buried Deep by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

The fourth Retrieval Artist novel takes the series to Mars and an investigation to examine skeletal remains recently discovered on the red planet.

The investigation soon leads to the discovery of a mass grave and complications with the resident Disty aliens, who hold long-standing and rigid beliefs that death and dead bodies cause extreme contamination.

Buried Deep is another well-written soft SF novel that fans of the Retrieval Artist series will likely enjoy.