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.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Favorite Books of 2014

As I do every year, I'd like to summarize my top books I read this year. These are books I read this year and not necessarily ones that were published this year. Despite the fact I read a lot, I'm actually finding that I average only about 20 books or so in a year. This is due to a variety of reasons, including being busy with other things and the length of some of those books. As such, it becomes difficult to pick the best few among a short list. Nevertheless, here we go.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Short Story Review: The Wandering Earth by Liu Cixin

Science fiction is at its best with short stories. This medium is just long enough to present the basic outlines of the setting, but short enough to pack an emotional punch. The Wandering Earth by Liu Cixin was an amazing sci-fi the likes of which I haven't read in a long long time.While I usually review novels or novellas only, this deserves a mention on this blog.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Book Review: The City Stained Red by Sam Sykes

I bought this book because Sam Sykes told me to on twitter:
"Hey, this cereal says there's a free prize inside!"
*children cheer as they empty cereal box*
*my disembodied head rolls out*
Buy my book
* @scalzi at book signing*
"Who am I making this out--"
Buy my book.
*he looks up*
*fan is me*
*whole line is me*
*looks down*
*book is me*
*family at beach*
"Look, a shell. If you hold it up to your ear, you can hear the ocean."
*child does so*
*hears my voice*
Buy my book
Sam Sykes is hilarious on Twitter and I recommend following him even if you don't read his books. Every so often he would come up with a crazy/weird/surreal twitter-length story ending with "Buy my book." He probably has hundreds of these. I wonder if anyone managed to collect all of them? These gags were funny and served to constantly remind me to buy his book. In the end, I bought the book and I don't regret it one bit.

Continue on to read my (mostly) spoiler-free review. ("Mostly" because a few minor points are mentioned).