Saturday, May 2, 2015

Book Review: The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett

For the latest book club pick, and as a tribute to the late Terry Pratchett, we decided to read on the Discworld novels. We looked online and found a listing of the best ones, which included The Color of Magic, Mort, Going Postal, and, the one we selected, The Wee Free Men. It's a fairly short book.

Read on for my full review.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Astronomy: On Leaving Academia

Earlier this month, I got a request for a telephone interview for one of the many academic positions I applied for. While it was good news, I immediately knew that this was not something I wanted. This was not because of the particular offer, but because of the greater aspect of being a professor. It was the moment I realized what had been nagging me for the past few years: It was time to leave the academic path.

In this post, I'll describe some of what I went through. I know I am not the only one that has left academia, nor will I be the last. I think this may be of help to people passing through the same situation.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Book Review: The Scar by China Mieville

I had read this previously, but always remembered it as one of my favorite Mieville books. On a second read it didn't disappoint, though I realized there were a lot of things I didn't remember about the book, including the ending! While it is frequently described as the second novel in the Bas-Lag universe, it is important to realize that it does not require reading the prior novel (Perdido Street Station) as it is not a strict sequel.

Read on for my full review.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

A Journey to Southern Patagonia and Tierra de Fuego

I've recently returned from a brief trip to the southernmost parts of Chile. Like my prior journey to Patagonia (see here), I saw many great sights and enjoyed traveling to such remote places. This particular journey featured lots of penguins and the famous Torres del Paine. For more details, and for those that may be interested in doing their own trips, keep reading.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Book Review: Firefight by Brandon Sanderson

Sequels are sometimes weak novels as they usually lack the fresh characterization and unique story of the prior novel. Firefight by Brandon Sanderson is the exception! The second novel in the Reckoners series (not counting the novella Mitosis, which I haven't read) is just as strong, if not stronger, than the first: Steelheart. I'd still recommend reading them in order, as the events of Firefight happen some time after Steelheart. Interestingly enough, I was in Seattle when Sanderson stopped by on tour to promote this book. Alas, I was too busy to attend.

Read on for my full spoiler-free review. I have to say this has been a bit difficult to keep spoiler-free as some things, like Firefight's identify, are revealed in Steelheart and I don't want to spoil that.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Astronomy: The 225th American Astronomical Society Meeting

I've made it a habit to go to the winter meeting of the american astronomical society and this year was no exception. This time it was held in Seattle, Washington which marks the first time I repeat the "cycle": the winter meeting cycles between four locations (though it looks like next year will break this). In this blog, I briefly summarize my experience at the meeting.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Book Review: Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie

Ancillary Sword is the sequel to Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie. The prior book received quite a lot of praise last year and so the sequel has been highly anticipated. I'm glad to say the sequel is also pretty good, though I think I enjoyed the first one better.

Read on for my spoiler-free review.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Book Review: Afterparty by Daryl Gregory

This was the latest book pick in our Santiago book club. It was quite an interesting one coming right after I finished Legion: Skin Deep, for reasons I'll explain below. It is a near-future story where pharmaceutical companies, religious groups, pretty much anyone really, can print out the drugs they want to use, or invent new ones to get the effects they want. The problem starts when a company invents a drug that makes you see God and despite stopping work on it, the drug somehow ends up in the streets.