Darth Paradox (darthparadox) wrote,
Darth Paradox

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Books #2 and #3

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.
Tags: 2007, books, reading

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