Complete

By aaron.axvig, 7 April, 2020

Very good read!  Plenty of great spaceship-type action, and grand plot strategies that reminded me of the style of the Foundation trilogy.  But also I really enjoyed the sequence where the main character dreams comprehensively about spending time with the perfect woman.

I think I am getting better at processing Chinese names as they were a little easier to remember in this second book of the trilogy.

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By aaron.axvig, 7 March, 2020

Overall good.  I read reviews for the sequel and some of them said that reading this is a necessary slog and the sequel is the big payoff.  One of the best sci-fi books of all time I guess.  I do plan to read it.

This itself is still a good book though.  I found it hard to keep track of the characters, I think because they all have Chinese names.  Maybe I don't have anything to visualize for names that I am unfamiliar with, or maybe my brain just isn't wired to track those "words" as characters.  Otherwise the Chinese setting and cultural influences are interesting.

I actually should reread the book as I read a lot of it while falling asleep.  Might help rewire my brain for the names too!

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By aaron.axvig, 25 February, 2020

Much more going on in this third book, which I really liked.  More big events and especially more explanations of the history of the world.

It reminds me of a college class where the lectures were pretty boring but then one day the lecture involved some real-world uses for the stuff we were studying (how some industrial plants use huge inductors to fix their power factor and decrease their electricity bill).  I told the professor that I really enjoyed the lecture that day, which he probably already knew because I wasn't nodding off in the back of class...shame.  And he responded that you have to lay a little theoretical foundation so that you can understand the exciting real-world stuff.  I see a similar parallel here where the first two books were good enough but sometime frustrating, and this one was the big payoff.

After finishing the second book I read some news articles about the "puppies" factions attempting to influence the Hugo voting around the times that these three novels were coming out.  Definitely an unfortunate series of events!

I found myself questioning the wisdom of letting the Hugo winners list heavily influence my selection of reading...maybe populism isn't necessarily the best indicator of quality (to be clear, nothing against this trilogy in particular).  But on the flip side, I can remember having sympathized with criticisms of other awards (Oscars or similar?) that are selected by industry members, thinking that a group of insiders like that may not be very representative of my interests as a consumer.

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By aaron.axvig, 24 February, 2020

The second novel in this trilogy.  Overall a good read.  After the hint about the moon at the end of the first novel, I expected more to happen with that in this novel.  Instead it is just a build up (explanation) of the mechanisms that will presumably be used to manipulate the moon in the third novel.  And those mechanisms are so tediously explained, in such an "emotional" way that it is really a challenge for me to read.  Unbelievably, this second novel also ends with basically the same cliffhanger about the moon.

I say so much negative about these books, probably because I have such high expectations.  I chose to read them only because they were award winners.

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By aaron.axvig, 22 February, 2020

This was a pretty solid read, interesting story line and good world-building.  The writing style was not my favorite with so many paragraphs consisting of one short quip by the character and then a few sentences of the character's thoughts adding further context.  Sometimes it seemed like a really tedious way of revealing the "world" to the reader.

I started out thinking that the book probably won so many awards on a sort of "social justice" basis.  It seemed like a passably strong story, but I speculated internally that it might have been taken to award-worthiness by virtue of the strong female leads and non "white male" author.  These were unnecessary bitter thoughts and I left them behind as I got further into the book, please forgive me.  I still regard it as interesting that this book is different than so much (older, male-centric) sci-fi, containing homo, trans, and three-way relationships.  And the book is probably good enough to win awards without standing on a pedestal of social justice feel-goods.

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By aaron.axvig, 19 February, 2020

I haven't watched this movie for 10 or 15 years but I still found myself trying to remember it for comparison.  I'm not sure there is that much similarity!  I suppose the majority of the content of the book is not suitable for the movie screen.

I did enjoy the philosophical parts, there were some interesting ideas.  For example, the discussions of value, who is qualified to vote, etc.

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By aaron.axvig, 1 February, 2020

I found this clone of Civilization (the fifth release I believe?) on the F-Droid app store.  I played through on the apparently pretty easy settings that were mostly default and got a science victory on my second playthrough.  On my first playthrough I reached 100 turns and got a message from the developer saying something like "I'm sure by now you've noticed that the game is incomplete" and just sort of put the game aside for a week or two until I decided to try it again.  Maybe the AI isn't finished as I was never attacked, or maybe it was just on that easy of a difficulty.

Overall the game played quite well.  The graphics were occasionally a little difficult for me to figure out but got easier as I got more experienced.  There is a lot going on!

It was fun to build out a big civilization and I could see myself doing it again in a month or two.

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By aaron.axvig, 22 January, 2020

A collection of enjoyable stories by Mark Twain.  I have only previously read his most famous works, and that many years ago.

As the foreword alludes, these stories get darker as you go further into the collection.  I enjoyed the lighter ones more but the darker ones did make me think.

Strangely, this book did not have an ISBN number in it.

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By aaron.axvig, 13 January, 2020

Wacky. It's about people being abducted by aliens for mind control purposes, so basically all of the stereotypical stuff with a mild plot wrapped around it. A little cheesier than I expected.

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