Random Stew It seemed like a good idea at the time.

15Jan/092

On The Bookshelf

It's been quite a while since I last posted my reading queue. Here's what I'm reading at the moment.

I've always been a fan of Asimov, especially his Foundation series. So, reading a collection of his very early short stories is interesting in that the stories give glimpses of his future storytelling prowess, but mostly reveal a smart and talented young man struggling to learn his storytelling craft and find his voice.

Pearlman's book is fascinating. He not only discusses generating power through the use of proper structural frames and body mechanics, but also about achieving more power by removing impediments to power. Improve the efficiency of your techniques -- instead of relying on muscular exertion -- to achieve more power. Pare away superfluous movements until the techniques are fluid, efficient, and powerful.

Blink is, at its core, about listening to your intuition. It's filled with anecdotal support of trusting your gut but also offers up examples of where 'gut feelings' lead people astray. The author examines how some people seem to consistently make good decisions. He postulates that the best decision makers are those who have learned to examine the information available at decision time and quickly winnow the chaff from the grain -- to filter the pertinent factors from the white noise.

I've just started reading O'Hara's Choice, but it is quickly becoming the dog of this list. I never thought I would say that about a book written by Leon Uris. This is Uris' last book, and I believe it was published posthumously. This book is disjointed and lacks the flow of his other works. It's sad that the storyteller that wrote such great books as Battle Cry, Mila-18, Trinity, Mitla Pass, and Exodus, finished his career with a dud like this. I rarely give up on a book, but I may make an exception in this case.

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13May/080

On The Bookshelf

It's been quite a while since I last posted my reading list. Here's what I'm reading at the moment.

Now that I look at the list, I find it to be an interesting combination. An observer might say that I'm determined to get my way and free my time to do things I truly enjoy. Of course, they might just say I'm whacked.

1Feb/080

The Quiet Pools

I'm reading a sci-fi novel titled The Quiet Pools by Michael P. Kube-McDowell. The story started a bit slow, but now has my complete attention; it's an extremely well-written story with multiple threads of conflict. And the story touches on many themes ranging from marital and parental relationships, to the psychology of mob violence, to humans as Von Neuman universal constructors.

The plot revolves around Project Diaspora, the building and staffing of a colonizing starship sent to seed the universe with mankind. Much of the conflict occurs between the two camps of humanity that support or oppose the project. However, the twist that has really grabbed my imagination is the selection process for the 10,000 colonists. The colonists are subjected to DNA testing and are secretly screened for the "Chi sequence", a genetic sequence of three genes A-B-C where A controls Ambition, B controls Breeding instinct, and C controls the Call. The three genes create 8 combinations that determine the type of person.

Chi Sequence
A B C Attributes
Y N N Adventurers. Restless explorers. Examples of Sir Edmund Hillary, Amelia Earhart.
N Y N Breeders and nestmakers. Resistant to change.
N N Y Dreamers. Pure faith, pure reason, pure art. Priests, physicists, philosophers.
Y Y N Ambition + nestmaking = kings and tycoons.
Y N Y Ambition + dreamer = a creator. An artist or inventor.
N Y Y Nestmaker + call = good citizens. The Call expresses itself as duty and allegiance so BC's make good workers and soldiers.
Y Y Y Statesmen, saints. Wise, altruistic leaders. The rarest combination.
N N N

To quote the book:

Why do you think there are so many meaningless lives? They're the people whose bodies give them no direction, no purpose. They don't burn. They don't want. They just are -- instant to instant, day to day, like some cruel joke of nature. The hollow-chested Tin Men. The empty people. The damned.

Of course, a reader's immediate thought is to stock the ship with people who have all the genes, the so-called Chi-positives. But no, the author argues that would be impossible, that Chi-positives are difficult. They are the glue, and have you ever tried to build something from glue alone? A large part of the project is dedicated to determining an optimal genetic mix on the ship; the only group completely excluded are the Chi-negatives -- the empty people. The population mix is described as:

[the ship] needs a core of stable, loyal, dedicated people who know their plac in the plan. It needs a leavening of creative types to keep the vision alive and deal with the unexpected. And it needs wise, unselfish leadership.

Playing God - Morgan Freeman has played God in two movies.From the table above, this equates to a mix of BCs, ACs and Chi-positives. But when the ship arrives at a world suitable for colonization, it will need kings and adventurers and nestmakers to build empires, explore, and make homes. Since these people will not be needed during the trip, they will be carried in gamete banks -- egg and sperm banks, to be "created" as needed.

As you can undoubtedly see, this is a cool and disturbing concept, fraught with promise and peril. What a great fulcrum for conflict.

I haven't finished this book and I already highly recommend it. I've already given away one of the big ideas/twists of the book, so I'll wind up this post before giving away any more.

12Dec/070

On The Bookshelf

About a month ago, I posted my reading list. Here's what is currently in my queue, in no particular order.

The last three books are remainders from my original list of a month ago. In the cases of Conceptual Blockbusting and Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, these books are instructional texts and have regular exercises to perform.

Captivating, on the other hand, has concepts and thought patterns so foreign to me that it is requiring a great deal of pondering to digest; I always knew women were wired differently, but geez...

12Nov/070

Current Reading List

Stack of booksI'm a big reader but right now I think my reach has temporarily exceeded my grasp. I normally read books serially, one book at a time. However, all of sudden, I'm reading multiple books at the same time.

My current list in no particular order:

Hmmm...after reviewing the list, I have sudden yen for an escapist novel.