Friday, October 28, 2011

William and Catherine - Book Review

William and Catherine - Their Story
By Andrew Morton
St Martins Press 2011

Now I don't normally read this stort of stuff, but I have to admit I know next to nothing about Catherine, the new Duchess of Cambridge.

I dont watch TV. I dont read all the gossip although I do read the headlines. So when I spotted this book on the shelf at the library, I thought this would be a good opportunity to learn who they are, how they met and what makes them tick.

This is a coffee table book - not too thick and yet it has LOTS of photos.

I read it in just 4 hours and really enjoyed it. Now I know how they met, how their courtship ran. why he waited so long to propose (giving her the title Waitey Katey in the press - a nasty name IMO). This book also describes their wedding (April 29th, 2011) in great detail, and then ends. A very suitable place to end.

If you want to know the basics about William and Catherine, and their lives, without reading a 500 page dry biography, then this is the book to read.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Freedom - Book Review

By Daniel Suarez
Signet Books 2010
Authors website

This book is a continuation of the first book - Daemon.

I was introduced to MMORPG games by my son who loves playing them. MMORPG = Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games. Every person creates a character (the most common types are soldier, ranger, thief, mage, wizard and cleric) and every character is represented in the game by an avatar. The avatar has information about the character attached to it. The most obvious information being name, character type, health and game level.

The darknet is the virtual space by which users (humans) can access the Daemon and other users. Not all users choose to join the darknet. Because the Daemon knows everything about you, when you join the darknet, your avatar will show everything about you, including your personal worth, your credit level and most important, your reputation.

Everyone is measured out of 5 stars and the higher number of stars you have, and the more responses you have - the better your reputation is. For example Loki has half a star over 5000 - which means 5000 people have given him either 1 star or no stars - his actions means that he is not a nice person. Peter Sebeck on the other hand has a reputation of 4 stars over 5000. That means that 5000 people have given him an average 4 out of 5 stars.

The world is rapidly going downhill after the emergence of the Daemon. There are food shortages. Unemployment is over 16%. Gas is at $3.58 a gallon. The big agricultural companies want to take over the smaller farms and plant their GMOs. The larger companies are desperate to control the Daemon - because it knows everything about everyone and knowledge is power.

The Daemon has "infected" computers everywhere. Nothing is private. The Daemon has even hired lawyers to sue the US government to accept and acknowledge that the Daemon is a sentient being and has a right to exist. The US government and big business are desperate to hide their activities and not have the Daemon spread knowledge of their activites to all the people of the world - which is what the Daemon actually does. It blackmails the government and the big corporations.

The Daemon has access to all security cameras and CCTV videos all over the world. The Daemon sees all, hears all and knows all.

In this sequel, Peter Sebeck is on a virtual and vital quest - given to him by the Daemon. He has to justify the freedom of humanity. The Daemon needs to know if humanity can create a true democracy - where individual rights are not ignored by big business and government.

Prove that humanity will prevent its own destruction and you will have justified humanity's freedom. If you fail - then humanity will serve the Daemon.

Loki is out to destroy the Daemon by any means necessary, He uses razorbacks - motorcycles that have been rebuilt as killer machines and are under remote control. These machines actually kill people - chopping them to bloody bits. The descriptions are very brutal.

The Major (name unknown) also wants to keep control of the people in the hands of the government and of the corporations, so he too is out to destroy the Daemon.

Jon Ross is desperate to help the Daemon survive. He wants humanity to be able to control themselves and determine their own fate - and not have a few greedy powermongers determine it for them.

This was an excellent novel - quite scary in some places with the razorbacks being very brutal and the economy being in chaos, just like it is today in our real world.

This is due to the activities and control of greedy powermongers - both in government and in the higher echelons of certain corporations.

Wonder - Book Review

By Robert J. Sawyer
Penguin Books, 2011
Trilogy website
Author website

This is the 3rd and final book in the WWW trilogy. All 3 books have been read and reviewed on this blog.

In the first Book - Wake - was about the emergence of Webmind - the conciousness that emerged from the Internet. In the second book - Watch - is about Webmind going public and announcing its presence online. This is also about the US and Canadian governments being scared of Webmind, and under the guise of National Security, they try to eliminate the threat.

This is the last book - Wonder. Keep on mind that the entire trilogy takes places over just a few weeks, The first book is just a few days, the second book is one week, and the third book is over several weeks.

In this book Webmind has gone public, and this is the story about the responses around the world. Especially those responses of the US, Canadian and Chinese governments.

The US government still wants to eliminate webmind. The Canadisn government does not seem to be worried. They leave it up to the US government to get rid of the threat. The Chinese government decides to put up the Great Firewall and prevent Webmind from engaging with the Chinese people,

But that is precisely how Webmind came to exists in the first place. The previous month, Webmind emerged into existance because a part of his conciousness was cut off from the rest of the internet when China tried to cut itself off from the world during a bird flu epidemic. Webmind emerged to determine why it was cut off and worked to get it back. Now it has to do the same again.

But this time, it chooses to use a different process. This time Webmind, actually forces the Chinese government to resign and gives over control of China to the people, The fastest and quietest coup d'etat in history.

I enjoy reading any and all about books about computers - hacking, cracking, computer crimes, computer security etc etc.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Christmas at the Mysterious Bookshop - Book Review

Christmas at the Mysterious Bookshop
Edited by Otto Penzler
Vanguard Press 2010
Book Website
Bookshop Website

The first thing you need to know is that I NEVER but NEVER read short stories. I usually can't stand them. But when I spotted this book at my local library, it's about books, its set in a bookshop, I have to at least try and read them. And when I discovered that the editor and the book shop are both real - well thats just icing on the cake.

So I read the 17 short stories written for this anthology. All mysteries written by mystery authors and all had a setting either at or partially at The Mysterious Bookshop.

 I read all the stories within 24 hours. Most of them I liked. Some of these authors I have read. Most of them I have not actually heard of because mysteries are not my usual reading genre.

So if you want to read an anthology of short stories - all mysteries - and all connected in some way with the Mysterious Bookshop in Manhattan, NYC, then this is the book for you.

And while right now is not yet Xmas - after next week - when Halloween is over and done with - then the retail shops WILL be gearing up for Xmas and we will be flooded with Xmas music and decorations -  starting on November 1st - I guarantee it.

Other reviews
Paul Davis
Broken Bullhorn