Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Prefect by Alastair Reynolds

The Prefect is big, smart, and fun -- and really has everything you'd want in a speculative fiction novel. The novel begins with Prefect Dreyfus (Prefects are like detectives) investigating the recent destruction of a habitat. The investigation ultimately leads Dreyfus to information of a takeover plot from a hostile AI that threatens the entire collection of habitats in the system.

Buttressing the drama of the main plot is Reynolds' fascinating imagining of a 25th Century society of thousands of orbital habitats and evolved technology.

Note: The Prefect is set in the Revelation Space universe but as near as I can tell (without having read all the other books), it's completely standalone.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Fruitless Fall by Rowan Jacobsen

Fruitless Fall explores the perilous state of honey bees, which in recent years have been dying at unprecedented levels. Jacobsen sifts through the evidence and current theories for the decline -- dubbed Colony Collapse Disorder -- and concludes that a number of factors are contributing.

In addition to harmful mites, which have played a significant role in decimating hives, the author spends much of his focus on the components and byproducts of industrial agriculture, particularly pesticides and the modern apiary practice of working bees almost year-round and sending them to different states to pollinate different crops based on the season. The net result, quite literally, is sick, over-stressed bees.

Jacobsen concludes the book with a skein of hope by showing what some innovative beekeepers are doing to reverse the alarming trend. These practices include re-breeding hives with hardy, Russian honey bees and allowing bees to build more natural hives.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Emerging

The mother of all work projects has kept me away from this blog for about two months now, but we're nearing the end of the project, and I wanted to resurface to signal that I will be posting again soon. I've still been reading during this busy period at work and have built up quite a list of belated reviews. Below is a partial list of posts I'm planning.

Books

Fruitless Fall by Rowan Jacobsen
The Prefect by Alastair Reynolds
The Big Necessity by Rose George
The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas J. Stanley & William D. Danko
This Land Is Their Land by Barbara Ehrenreich
Snoop by Sam Gosling
The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

Music

Green Day ~ 21st Century Breakdown

Computer Games

Fallout 3
Neverwinter Nights 2

travisbelrose.com

My friend Travis Belrose -- who I have written about previously on this blog -- has launched a new website and blog. In his own words, the site "is devoted to Ishikawa Jozan, Shisendo, and writing" and the blog "focuses on Ishikawa Jozan, Shisendo, and the odyssey of getting The Samurai Poet published".

Best of luck to Travis with his new websites!