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Books #2 and #3 - Chronicles of a Hereditary Geek [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Darth Paradox

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Books #2 and #3 [Feb. 6th, 2007|05:18 pm]
Darth Paradox
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[mood |calmcalm]

Book #1, Phoenix Guards, is sadly still in a moving box somewhere. But I've finished the second and third books that I've started this year. (The complete list, updated.)


2) In the Beginning... was the Command Line - Neal Stephenson (Jan 1 - Jan 28 or so)

After starting this book New Year's Day, moving stuff has finally calmed down enough for me to finish it. It's a contemplative, somewhat witty, and rather short history of the consumer computer industry, and specifically of the conflicts between Microsoft, Apple, and open-source operating systems, largely told from a cultural viewpoint (with a smattering of his personal recollections). Unfortunately, having been written in 1999, it feels a bit dated now, but much of the text is still relevant. Specifically, it also includes some musings on OS interfaces - specifically, the "evolution" from command lines to GUIs (whence the title of the work) - which spoke to me strongly, considering my current computer setup at work: a Linux box and a Windows laptop with connected desktops, effectively resulting in my field of vision being split in half between a GUI and a collection of windowed command lines.

Anyway, I enjoyed it, but given that it's 8 years old now, I probably would have gotten bored with it were it any longer.


3) Have Space Suit, Will Travel - Robert Heinlein (Feb 5)

This one was recommended to me by Sora as a quick read - it's one of Heinlein's juvenile stories. And indeed, it was a lot of fun, but very short - I read it in a day, and I was working for part of that day too. It's not terribly profound, either - though it tries to make some points about humanity in the closing chapters, they're not the core of the book, and they largely comprise a gentle reminder that humanity has come a long way but has a long way to go.

The basic premise of the book is a Midwestern teenager - one of Heinlein's prototypical self-taught whiz-kids, sort of a cross between a Horatio Alger hero and a less whiny Luke Skywalker - wins a Real Space Suit in a contest, spends months making it actually space-worthy as a hobby, and is testing it out when he gets picked up by a spaceship. The rest is, well, a Heinlein juvenile: pulpy, full of action and situations that the hero improbably manages to handle, but a fun ride nevertheless. If it were a movie, it'd be the sort of thing that you shovel down popcorn while watching... not necessarily the shut-your-brain-off sort of summer blockbuster, but still something you don't want to spend too much time thinking about, if only because it's not supposed to be digested at that level.

Sora says her father read it (and other Heinlein books) to her as bedtime stories (which explains a lot about her, and says a lot about her father), and, well, I can see myself doing the same someday. And I was willing to devour this book in a day, which is probably the best endorsement I can give.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: mcmartin
2007-02-07 02:22 am (UTC)
Did you notice how, even in an essay collection, Stephenson still has serious trouble with endings?
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[User Picture]From: darthparadox
2007-02-07 06:13 am (UTC)
That had occurred to me, yes. I don't even recall an ending - it kinda seemed like he just trailed off at the end and that was that.

It makes me worry about the fact that I'm a third of the way through the Baroque Cycle. If I get through three thousand pages to find an insufficiently finished plot, I'm going to be... annoyed.
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[User Picture]From: deer_mews
2007-02-18 05:20 pm (UTC)

The horse! In a box?

A book being in a moving box somewhere can be either a small annoyance or a large one, which point I will prove I know not a little by pretending to reproduce the thoughts you have whenever you think about the book you have yet to locate, which thoughts, I should add, will show the annoyance to be either large or small by their very nature.

First, the small annoyance. It is in a box. I know the box, and I shall prove it -- it is small (or large) square (or rectangular), and made entirely of cardboard (or some other box-making material). (I add these others, you see, because, while I know this problem in general, I have no idea as to your specifics. Having illustrated this point, I will not burden you further with generalized specifications.) Furthermore, I know that this box is in the kitchen (bedroom, spare room, library) under (on top of) three (two) other boxes and is, in fact labeled in permanent marker (ballpoint pen) "replica Orbs," which, in fact, it does not contain, but the contents being so mixed and the label being not entirely unamusing, I felt would assist me in remembering the varied contents, which proof, I might add, is shown by my being able to do so at this moment. This annoyance, as I said, is small and easily solved: I can go and open the box and retrieve the book at any time. In fact, the only real annoyance is that I have, to this point, not had the time to do so.

Alternately, the large annoyance. It is in a box. I know the box -- it is one small (or large) square (or rectangular), and made entirely of cardboard (or some other box-making material). I know this only because all of the boxes I used to pack are likewise small (or large), and so on. Furthermore, I know that this box is in the kitchen, bedroom, spare room, or library, but only because these are the only areas that still have boxes left to be unpacked and if it had been in another area, I would have found it already, and it is, not, in fact labeled in permanent marker (ballpoint pen) "replica orbs," nor is it labeled "Jhereg contracts," or even "incontinent teckla," the contents of all three of which (because of their fanciful nature), I am able to list in my mind. This annoyance is quite large because not only must I open each box to find the appropriate one, I am forced to actually unpack each box I open and place the contents of said box in their proper places, otherwise I should feel quite guilty.

There is, however, a solution, to even a problem this large and seemingly intractable, and the proof is that I know it.
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[User Picture]From: darthparadox
2007-02-18 07:06 pm (UTC)

Re: The horse! In a box?

Naturally, it is the large annoyance which plagues me in this case. There are, in fact, no fewer than thirty boxes and bags that remain unpacked in this apartment. My attempts to determine the box containing the book and selectively unpack it have heretofore been without success. The matter is further complicated by the fact that neither I nor my girlfriend packed the box in question, and its identity is therefore completely unknown (apart from the fact that it is indeed somewhere in this apartment, and yet to be unpacked). I had, actually, set the book aside, specifically intending to avoid packing it so that I could eventually carry it over to the new apartment by hand, or otherwise convey it in a manner that would allow me to retrieve it with ease. However, I failed to communicate this to the other people helping us pack, and the book was therefore indiscriminately placed in a box at some unknown point during the packing process. Between that and a lack of time to unpack every box - because, as you state, we would feel compelled to store the entire contents of any box we unpack in a proper manner - the book remains unfound.

My prediction, naturally, is that the book will be found in the last box we unpack. Given our current progress since the move one month ago, I project that this will occur in the spring of 2009.
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[User Picture]From: deer_mews
2007-02-19 06:51 am (UTC)

Re: The horse! In a box?

Well, naturally. The good news is that it remains, as I have said, however large an annoyance, still one with a fairly simple solution, which solution I would be glad to share with you, if you so wish. :-D
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[User Picture]From: darthparadox
2007-02-19 06:24 pm (UTC)

Re: The horse! In a box?

Do tell! Is it, perchance, acquiring a replacement copy of the book? That's a solution I've considered but thus far failed to follow up on, largely because I perceive it as wasteful, and also because it, too, requires effort on my part.
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[User Picture]From: deer_mews
2007-02-19 06:45 pm (UTC)

Re: The horse! In a box?

Well. I pretend that my solution, while still requiring a bit of effort, is much less wasteful. As you desire it, I shall tell you presently, so: I saw shardavarius on Saturday and lent him my copy, such that you could borrow it, if you wish.
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[User Picture]From: darthparadox
2007-02-20 01:54 am (UTC)

Re: The horse! In a box?

Thank you! That is very kind of you. I don't know when I'll be seeing him again, but it hopefully will be soon!

I will take good care of it, and not lose it like my copy.
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[User Picture]From: deer_mews
2007-02-20 07:30 am (UTC)

Re: The horse! In a box?

No worries. (Keep in mind that he has the next couple of days off... ;-))

Sorry for the above silliness. The fact that I just finished re-reading the "Phoenix Guard Romances," which I very much enjoy, combined with my recent resolution to start writing regularly again, spurred my impromptu writing exercise... Anyway, cheers!
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[User Picture]From: darthparadox
2007-02-20 06:44 pm (UTC)

Re: The horse! In a box?

Understandable. Paarfi's... eloquence is a fascinating style.
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