Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Book Review: Eight Skilled Gentlemen by Barry Hughart

Eight Skilled Gentleman is the third installment of Barry Hughart's Chronicles of Master Li and Number Ten Ox. It follows from the prior books, but an indeterminate amount of time has passed. As before, the novel takes elements of Chinese history and myth and blends them together with a lot of fantasy and a detective-style story.

Read on for my full review.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Book Review: The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin

Over the past year, since the English translation was released in November 2014, The Three-Body Problem (三体) has received a huge amount of praise.  It's considered one of the most popular science fiction novels in China and with its English translation, it's easy for me to see why. Liu Cixin blends together a lot of fascinating concepts in a hard science fiction story reminiscent of the type Arthur C. Clarke or Isaac Asimov would write. If you are a fan of classic science fiction, you owe it to yourself to try out this author. I guarantee you will enjoy it.

For my spoiler-free review, read on.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Book Review: Mort by Terry Pratchett

Mort, by Terry Pratchett, is the fourth book in the Discworld universe and the first of the "Death" novels, so called since they focus on the character of Death. It is an excellent starting point to the Discworld novels. Here's the Goodreads blurb:

In this Discworld installment, Death comes to Mort with an offer he can't refuse -- especially since being, well, dead isn't compulsory. As Death's apprentice, he'll have free board and lodging, use of the company horse, and he won't need time off for family funerals. The position is everything Mort thought he'd ever wanted, until he discovers that this perfect job can be a killer on his love life.

Read on for my spoiler-free review.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Astronomy: Young Stars and Planets Near the Sun

This past week, I attended the 314th International Astronomical Union (IAU) Symposium titled Young Stars and Planets Near the Sun. This symposium was held in Atlanta, Georgia and covered everything related to the subject including, of course, young stars, but also brown dwarfs, circumstellar disks, and discussions of upcoming observatories and surveys. In this brief blog, I talk about my experience there as well as my work as part of the Science Organizing Committee (SOC).

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.