Books I've read lately
Radio silence around here again. Been quite busy since Christmas, long hours at work and long hours at home. But, somehow, I've still managed to plow a decent path through the pile of books left for me under the tree.
So, I figure this might be a good time to mention them:
Burn, by James Patrick Kelley
This is an excellent mix of post-human future and pastoral retreat from same. It's just shy of novel length, but there's plenty of story here. And there are plenty of things not completely spelled out, but explained just enough to give a sense of a larger universe into which this tale is nestled. Also, don't miss the podcast reading by the author! That's how I found out about the book, after all.
First Meetings in the Enderverse, by Orson Scott Card
I'm always a sucker for an Ender story, and Orson Scott Card is one of my all-time favorite authors—even if I do think he voices some ornery political opinions from time to time and has a pretty unpleasant reputation. Some great origin material here, as well as the original Ender's Game.
The Crystal City, by Orson Scott Card
I'll be sad if this is the final volume. I'm pretty sure that the entire Alvin Maker series is a barely-concealed religious allegory, but that doesn't keep me from enjoying the heck out of this alternate history America. Whatever your faith or lack thereof, the struggle against the Unmaker is universal. That, and I'd like to think I strive to be a bit of a Maker, albeit mostly only in software.
I'm also starting on:
A Mind So Rare, by Merlin Donald
Just about 30 pages into this one, but so far I'm enjoying it. As opposed to a lot of the deterministic stuff about consciousness I've read in school and on my own—"You are simply a machine!"—this book would appear to use the same research to present a picture of the mind which in fact supports awareness and free will.
As far as I know The Crystal City will not be the final Alvin book. If you like Ender stories you may want to check out Intergalactic Medicine Show which should have a new Enderverse story in every issue (the first issue has a story about what Mazer was doing after his victory while waiting for Ender to show up)
You should take a look at The Mind & The Brain: Neuroplastiity and the Power of Mental Force .
Jeffrey Schwartz goes through the history of research surrounding neuroplasticity and covers his own research into helping OCD patients cope with their problems through conscious direction. I'm not through the whole book, yet, but he's contending that the consciously-directed, reshaping of the physical structure of the brain shows the causal efficacy of the mind. There was a hint earlier (I'm about half-way through) that he will broach quantum mechanics to find the actual phsyical forces involved.
It would be interesting to read what you think of A Mind So Rare, once you're done.
Adam: You might be pleased to note that your recommendation finally pushed me over the edge of finally signing up for IGMS. I kept meaning to, and it hung out in a browser tabe for a long time after I'd first heard of it, but now I finally did it. :)
Aneel: Huh, that sounds like an amazingly interesting book too. On the wishlist it goes—thanks for the pointer. And I'll definitely have to ramble a bit more about A Mind So Rare