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Archive for March, 2011

Book review: Dreaming Metal

Sunday, March 20th, 2011

Dreaming Metal by Melissa Scott (1997).

No word cloud for this book, it isn’t on the net.

This book is a sequel to Dreamships (1992). I haven’t read Dreamships and as this book is clearly a sequel that left some gaps in this book. I didn’t know it was a sequel when I started it, but it is very clear.

That said, I enjoyed Dreaming Metal immensely. It’s one of the best written and most original books I’ve read in quite a while. The setting, an human settled world, is very interesting–complex, and yet very foreign and intriguingly different from the societies in most sf.

There is a lot that is not explained–Scott doesn’t give one of those top down explanations of the society, and the plot runs at the mid level of the society. I don’t know how much of this is covered in the first book of the series, I hope it handles it similarly. And interestingly, it’s not clear what the political system is. The characters are free to act within the plot, but there appear to be limits, different from the US, but not clear because the story isn’t about that, and the characters don’t butt up against them.

This book is about AI and music. It posits a world where AI is rare but crops up now and then, and it is considered inevitable but not predictable. It is very well written and Celinde Fortune is a great character. As described, the future of music sounds great. Also, deafness is common on Persephone, and signing and other physical performance is a integral part of the music.

Melissa Scott only wrote these two books in this universe.

Links for March 2011

Friday, March 11th, 2011

RStudio, an open source IDE for R
WWF Energy Report, 100% renewables by 2050
Intellectual jokes
Books to read: Ant Encounters: Interaction Networks and Colony Behavior (Primers in Complex Systems) by Deborah M. Gordon
Solar energy costs at average location in US predicted to become cheaper than average electricity rates ($0.12/kWh) in 2018, as early as 2015 in the Southwest
US income growth depending on party in power From the Slog
List of software innovations
CFL bulb schematics

Book review: Parasite Rex

Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

Parasite Rex: Inside the Bizarre World of Nature’s Most Dangerous Creatures by Carl Zimmer.

Great book. About parasites. What they are, the recent discovery of how big a role they have in ecosystems, how they live, how they have jumped from animal to animal, and of course, which ones afflict people.

Several chapters describe a range of human parasites in amazing and often frightening detail. From botfly larvae to liver flukes, malaria’s Plasmodium to the nematodes that parasitize humans. There is some discussion of microbial parasites, but most of the book covers metazoan parasites. Zimmer tells the stories of some of these parasites–how they find their way to people, what they do once they arrive in a new host, how they escape detection, and the course of the disease. The story of how several parasites were discovered, how they were identified and followed through their changes of form and host are told. And there are pictures!

Word cloud of Parasite Rex by Carl_Zimmer