Book Thread 2018^H9


Guns Germs And Steel is certainly an interesting book. And while I may not completely buy all his arguments, it certainly is an interesting concept. The connection to native grain seed size in particular, I don’t think I would have considered that aspect otherwise. Additionally the east west axis of migration versus the north south, as a means of factoring in the relative technological advancement of Eurasia versus the Americas, is one that he goes to great lengths to explore.

The tropical aspects are perhaps the bit I’m least sold on. As it flows a bit too closely to some nasty tropes about certain ethnic groups. Not to say it’s inherently wrong, just that I’m not as sold on the evidence he presents, as it is, by nature, less quantifiable than things like climatographic similarity and seed sizes.


1421, 1491, 1492, 1494, too many years. :)


On the plus side, Will puts out like 2 books a year and seems really disciplined in his writing :)
Dang I love this series.


I’ve read Jared and 1491/1493. I specially like 1491/1493. I keep hearing academics hate guns germs steel. I picked up beyond germs which is a collection of eight chapters refuting this popular ‘germs take all the blame’ narrative which has apparently gained predominance since 1967 or so (Crosby)

It’s not an easy read but I would suggest you look at it if you get into the topic. Another interesting one is seven myths of the Spanish conquest.


I finished the Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells. Upthread I asked if anyone else had read them because after reading the first book, All Systems Red I was really enjoying them, but while the first book was $3.99 on Kindle, the remainder were $9.99 each.

At 150 pages for each book, I don’t feel my value is there at $9.99 and another person recommended the library - and I was able to get the rest of the books from there.

This is a tight, very focused and engaging story. In a nutshell, it’s a sci-fi adventure of a sentient robot who has hacked his governor modules and knows how to hack many, many other things and manipulate them to his advantage - but mostly he just wants to be left alone so he can watch all the media stories (tv series) that he can consume.

I was really impressed by the locales, the people he interacts with and the battles where he vanquishes many. I can’t recall the last book that had so little fluff. Each word & sentence was moving forward through the story and while past events may be a driving factor in giving this robot agency, the future is what keeps you reading.

Ultimately I whole-heartily recommend this series as one of the best I’ve read, but I’d recommend getting this from the library due to shortness of each novel. Or do what I did & buy the first book for $3.99 on the Kindle store and then decide from there where to get the remaining books.


Tor gave away the first book, All Systems Red, as part of their eBook Club a few months back. I realize this doesn’t exactly help anybody now, but it’s worth signing up if you haven’t. It being free and all that.

Edit: here’s a link -


Just finished listening to Anthony Doer’s All the Light We Cannot See. This was like an “it” book a couple of years ago. Really good, really well researched book. Europe during WWII is kind of a tropey, overused setting, but there’s a reason for that. This books concerns Marie-Laure a blind French girl, daughter of a locksmith, and Werner, a German boy–an orphan from German coal country–who is a prodigy with the nascent radio technology. The novel jumps back and forth between the Allied air bombing of the Breton fortress town of Saint Malo in August of 1944, and the half-decade prior showing how the two main characters arrived there. It’s a moving, and fast-moving book. Less gut-wrenching than, say, Mary Doria Russell’s similar-ish A Thread of Grace, but as with all war novels still tragic. I was reminded of This War is Mine and its focus on how war impacts civilians, which is definitely part of this novel. Anyway, worth reading. The Audible narrator is quite good as well.


That’s an excellent book, I really enjoyed it myself.


Uplift War by David Brin

The third book in the original Uplift Saga Trilogy (I guess there was a second trilogy written a few years later). This book, like the second, only makes slight references to the previous books, although the plot of the second book directly effects what happens in this book, on the planet of Garth. I really enjoyed this book, I think more than either of the previous two and I liked them as well. Brin creates wonderful worlds and characters, and he allows them to grow with the plot.


Yay! I loved that book. The next book (Brightness Reef) starts on yet another world that isn’t tied to the first three that you’ve read. It’s a pretty unique world, with a different situation than any you’ve read so far. These three books (Startide Rising, Uplift War, Brightness Reef) were my three favorites in that universe because they each introduced a different world and characters, and like you said, let them grow with the plot.


I got the first three at a local used book store early last year, I thought I might go by there and see if they had the next three.


I finally finished Robin Hobbs’s Soldier Son Trilogy. I think it is the cruelest so far, the protagonist suffers and suffers. I am glad I finished it because I was starting to get depressed.

I don’t think it’s related to the Elderling series which disappoints me. I thought the magical trees would be a nod to wizardwood, for example. Okay, I can finally get to Rain Wild!


I think the Soldier Son books are her only fully standalone work as Robin Hobb. It’s not completely impossible they’re set in an otherwise unexplored corner of the same universe, but there’s not really any reason to think so at the moment.

(She used to write under the name Megan Lindholm, still haven’t gotten to those. Not sure which is the real name if either.)


Yeah, the Soldier Son trilogy gets really depressing near the end of the second book and most of book 3. I found that quite refreshing. The misery was kind of earned by the circumstances, it wasn’t just out of nowhere. My only criticism of the series is how the third book kind of wraps everything up at the end. I wish she’d left more stuff open, even if she wasn’t going to return to that world.


Man i would have been pissed if she didn’t finish it! It did feel rushed. Oh one big change between this and Elderling is Soldier Son actually has true friends: That dude in the graveyard is okay, Epiny is hilarious, the sergeant that taught him, and the Lt. classmate that married Epiny. Oh man and that uncle, what a nice uncle.

When I first started I thought they were going to explain the blood plague and whatever but I guess it’s not the same place.


I don’t really remember much about Soldier Son. It didn’t blow me away like her other series. (Especially Liveship Traders.) I haven’t read any of her other stuff as Megan Lindholm either.


So I finished Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay.

I haven’t read horror since I stopped reading Stephen King and I thought it was an engaging story - it’s full on media circus when a Reality TV show comes in to film “The Possession” when a lot of people are convinced the 14 yr old is possessed by demons. It’s from the perspective of the 8 year old sister - who is now 23. It jumps from present day to “the week” and it does a pretty good job.

Spoiler: I found it more sad than frightful.


Started reading TLWTASAP by Becky Chambers. The characters are a little annoying, but are growing on me. What I find remarkable is that a lot of character development has happened in very few pages. Kind of a tsunami of characters’ personal stories. There’s been so much that I’m not sure yet if there is an actual plot.


Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson

This is my second Stephenson book and probably because I had read Cryptonomicon I had a general idea what to expect. The first 50-75 pages of this book is like reading in a foreign language, but after that you get into the characters and the story and with that background the original pages then make sense. The book was written in 1991 but it foresees many social media things in todays world. Sure, there are parts of the book where Stephenson is explaining something to you that you can fast forward thru but nearly as much as in Cryptonomicon.

I enjoyed this book. The end is a little quick but Stephenson is very imaginative and writes in a style that is fun to read, aside from his penchant to get carried away with the technical stuff. Well worth the read.


As your third Stephenson book, I suggest Zodiac, which is actually my personal favorite. Like Snowcrash, it has a certain prescient feel, although the sci-fi elements are fairly light. Also, although it has some Stephensonian zaniness, it feels less insanely digressive than his later work.

Also, I like his very first book, the Big U, although not all Stephenson fans agree.