Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Book Review: The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas

The Slap, by Christos Tsiolkas, is a story of several families and friends in Australia. Everyone is gathering for a friendly BBQ when one of the characters slaps a young child that is not his own. All hell breaks loose as lines are drawn and friends turn to enemies.

I had read many negative reviews of the book prior to starting it, which made me very hesitant. It appears that you either love it or hate it. Below, I try to organize my thoughts as I try to make sense as to whether I liked it or not.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Astronomy: Observing at VLT

A few weeks past, I went up to Cerro Paranal to observe with the Very Large Telescope (VLT). I was there with my officemate, Jackie Faherty, who was the PI of the program. Given that this was our first experience with the instrument (FORS2), I tagged along to learn about it and to help in any way that I could.

This blog recounts our brief adventure there.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Book Review: The Word for World is Forest by Ursula K. Le Guin

While chatting with the book club I attend, we were talking about books by Ursula K. Le Guin. It turns out that The Left Hand of Darkness is not available on the US Kindle store, which is surprising and disappointing. The Word for World is Forest was mentioned and this one is on the store. One of my friends claimed it sounded just like James Cameron's Avatar. I set off to prove her wrong...

Monday, September 2, 2013

The 2013 Hugo Award Winners

I woke up this morning to the news of the Hugo Awards. These are arguably some of the most prestigious awards a science fiction or fantasy book (or related work) can get. I had not paid close attention this year, but I'm pleasantly surprised to see several books/novellas I've read have won.

For Best Novel, John Scalzi's Redshirts took the prize. Scalzi always has this humorous style that's fun to read.
For Best Novella, Brandon Sanderson's The Emperor's Soul took the prize. This was a good novella that managed in a short time to convey a full world and epic story.

My congratulations to the authors and to the many others that won or were nominated this year. A full list of the nominees and winners can be found in Tor's website.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Book Review: Black Swan Green by David Mitchell

Black Swan Green by David Mitchell is a story about a young, stammer teenager in a sleepy village in England. The story recounts a year in his life (1982-1983). While bigger things are happening in the outside world (such as the Falkland War), the story is told from the point of view of the teenager and you can imagine how this colors it. He's more preoccupied with his friends, his school, and his cliques than with the bigger picture. That makes for an interesting read, as I describe below.