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Darth Paradox

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Books 74-76 (goal met!) [Dec. 30th, 2010|10:32 pm]
Darth Paradox
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74. A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller
75. Variable Star by Robert Heinlein and Spider Robinson
76. Turing: A Novel of Computation by Christos Papadimitriou

75 was my goal. Hooray!

A Canticle for Leibowitz was technically a reread, as I first read it in my science-fiction literature class in college. But it was definitely worth coming back to, six years later. The ending was a little weird, but after reading some analytical essays afterwards I've at least made a little more sense of it, trying to fit it into Catholic theology...

Variable Star is now among my favorite Heinlein books, but I think that has a lot to do with Robinson's modernization of Heinlein's storytelling. The plot is all Heinlein, even if it ends up just a little more deus-ex-machinistic than I'm used to from him - but Robinson's wordcraft is impressive. The world is rich with well-developed characters and well-considered concepts, and several plot points turn on characters outthinking each other without resorting to idiot-plot weaknesses. I'm definitely going to have to pick up some more of Spider Robinson's work. (I'm sure shardavarius can recommend a place to start...

Turing was kind of odd. It's a history of the theory of computation wrapped up in a near-future story about an AI claiming to be Alan Turing and a vague sort of love-quadrangle. It was fun to read, but I was left vaguely unsatisfied even if the plot itself did resolve.

Year-retrospective post coming soon. Or perhaps not. We'll see.

From: matt_doyle
2010-12-31 11:14 am (UTC)
Variable Star is both one of my favorite Heinlein and one of my favorite Robinson novels -- while I like Robinson, writing a Heinlein plot covers a lot of his stylistic weaknesses (and definitely vice versa).
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[User Picture]From: servalan
2010-12-31 05:54 pm (UTC)
I remember liking the beginning of Variable Star, but being disappointed by the ending and the sudden insertion of modern political commentary by Robinson (who I don't think shares philosophy with Heinlein).

Then again, I like my Heinlein old school. Nothing beats Double Star for me.
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[User Picture]From: nightsinger
2010-12-31 09:01 pm (UTC)
YAY! Congrats on accomplishing your goal, beloved.
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[User Picture]From: mcmartin
2011-01-02 10:40 pm (UTC)
If that's the same Christos Papadimitriou - and I suspect it is, since I know the one I'm thinking of also wrote a graphic novel about the life of Bertrand Russell - he was the chairman of the UC Berkeley CS department while I was an undergrad there.

Weirds me out every time his name comes up in a fiction context.
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[User Picture]From: darthparadox
2011-01-04 04:18 am (UTC)
Indeed; buying Logicomix was what caused Amazon to recommend Turing to me. I liked Logicomix better, though - it felt more comprehensible to me (even as covering some of the same ground).

I imagine he was a pretty good teaching professor, though? He seems to write lectures well.
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[User Picture]From: pk2317
2011-01-03 07:42 pm (UTC)
Huge Spider Robinson fan here, probably the most well-known work of his is the trilogy he did with his wife: Stardance, Starmind, and Starseed. For a good kind of introduction to him, I also like his collection of short stories called User Friendly. I own most of his books if you ever want to borrow any.
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[User Picture]From: darthparadox
2011-01-04 04:21 am (UTC)
Cool; I may take you up on that once I've pared down my reading list a bit.

What did you think of the Callahan series? Another friend of mine is a big fan...
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[User Picture]From: pk2317
2011-01-04 06:55 pm (UTC)
I liked them a lot as well. Not as "deep", really, or quite as thought-provoking. But definitely a very fun read, with a ton of little jokes and references to other works that you'd probably enjoy. It's also more of a short story type collection, with a bit more of a cohesive thread running throughout and an overall story arc, kinda.
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