Category: books

Probably one of the best definitions of what a book is, that I’ve ever read.

Cool Tool: Five Good eBooks

1) A book (even without its paper pages) is a long argument that coheres as a whole, and whose argument or story is made by integrating well-selected parts.

From Kevin Kelly, one of the founders of The Well (The WELL was an early, influential, and pioneering outpost in what later came to be called cyberspace.), an editor of Whole Earth Review 9and actin publisher after Stewart Brand left), and one of the founding editors of Wired magazine, among other things (for those who don’t know who he is). This is from his Cool Tools blog which is about Cool Tools for everyday living–sorta a continuance of the Whole Earth Review.
Check out the blog, and his other stuff.

Categories: books, Tech Tags: Tags: , , , ,

Another thought on the Kindle (and E-Readers in general)

This post from Neil Gaiman’s Journal (Thanks from the future…) reminded me of another point against e-readers in general. When you buy and e-book, what happens to author’s signings, autographs, etc. I know most people don’t care, but many do, and that physical interaction with the author does have meaning. Yes I remember from the Times article–the first in my series on E-Readers (strange I didn’t mean for it to go there, but there you have it.)–that there might be more interaction in general, but all electronic, or from a distance.
So while authors may like the e-book idea for this reason, since it’s easier on them (although I think many do enjoy meeting their fans, and interacting with them (Wil Wheaton for example)), it’s a lousy deal for fans.

Categories: books, Tech

Bookeen – Cybook ePaper – the eBook reading device

CybookBookeen – Cybook ePaper – the eBook reading device
This e-book reader is much nicer looking, can read non-DRMed e-books (as well as DRMed ones), and a little cheaper than the Kindle. Still too expensive for my tastes, but it is more in the right direction.
(Three years of development and the Kindle is all Amazon could come up with, when they have models like this, and the Sony e-book reader? Wow.)

(Got this from the comments on Cory Doctorow’s article trashing the Kindle, over on BoingBoing.)

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Amazon: Reinventing the Book |

Amazon: Reinventing the Book |
This is a great article (7 pages, so be prepared to spend some time on it.) on the future of the physical/paper book vs the electronic book. It’s mainly about Amazon’s new Kindle, but delves deeper into what reading may look like in 20-50 years, with books, and reader, and writers being interconnected.
It all sounds wonderful (to some people anyways), and I would love to be able to store a couple hundred books in a space the size of a single paperback (and wouldn’t my wife love that 😀 ), but while the price of the books are o.k. ($9.99 or less)(on second thought, maybe that is too expensive since you can get a paperback for $7.99 and the cost of digitizing a book is much less than that, $2-$4 may be a better price range here), I can’t bring myself to pay $400 for the reader, when I can get a laptop for that price. I think when the price of the reader drops to something like $99 (or even less), it may be more palatable to readers (myself included).
There’s, also the whole DRM encumberment going on which I find very absurd. If I buy a book, I’d like to be able to lend it to someone else, just like I can now, and maybe that’s the best argument for paper books right there.
Via Slashdot (Some good comments there, by the way)

Categories: books, General, Tech Tags: Tags: , , ,

Locus Online Features: Yesterday’s Tomorrows: Robert A. Heinlein

Locus Online Features: Yesterday’s Tomorrows: Robert A. Heinlein
An interesting review of several of Heinlein’s books, and his influence on the SF genre.

Heinlein’s stories are arguments about what shape the new Americas might take and about the kinds of virtues that the men creating those new Americas should have: independence, determination, scientific knowledge, distrust of dogma. And just as American exceptionalism argues that the USA has a special place in the community of nations because of its people’s relationship to history, so you can see Heinlein arguing in this quotation for a kind of human exceptionalism. Unlike some of the alien species encountered in “Methuselah’s Children”, we humans shall not cease from exploration. We’ll want, like Stevenson, to be buried under alien skies.

It’s fair to say that the stories in The Past Through Tomorrow showcase Heinlein’s strengths and weaknesses in ways that were not to change much throughout his career. He was always a dialogue-driven writer, for instance, and one can see that influencing a contemporary writer like Connie Willis. He was not much given to depicting reflection divorced from action or action not resulting in progress. So he doesn’t show much of characters’ inner lives. (He would have said, I guess, that nothing matters about a character except what they say and do.) You feel that his stories are always on the side of the future, that whoever lives or dies in them, the future he wants to talk about will win. So he can feel like a bully if you don’t accept the terms of the debate he knows he’s going to win. And — the flip side of bullying — he can also be sentimental, as for instance he is in “Requiem”. He tells you that you’re supposed to feel sad on being told about certain events; and if you don’t, you’ve failed to read the story properly. But that trait and others are far less pronounced here than they would be later. I don’t think there’s any book more central to the creation of genre SF than The Past Through Tomorrow, and I’m simply astonished that it now seems to be out of print in the UK and the US.

I disagree with the author about The Moon is a Harsh Mistress (he thinks that it’s bogged down by aphorisms, and an unrealistic view of how people act, and it’s politics) I think the politics are central to the plot, and that while, yes, the aphorisms get a little much, they help move the story at a faster pace. As for the views on human nature, I feel they are quite appropriate, and seeing that Heinlein based the structure of the story on penal colonies (like Australia) that they are plausible. (But, then, maybe I have a less cynical worldview than the author of the article–which is hard to believe 😀 )
I also disagree that the later books, lke The Cat Who Walked Through Walls, and, the Number of the Beast, where “savage solipsisms”. Solipsistic, yes. Savage, no. I believe the Heinlein was having fun and tying up the loose ends of his future history.This period was, arguably, not his best (although I’d put Friday, and Number of the Beast up against any of his earlier books, and any other SF author’s books), and that he was past his prime as a writer, but I say he did pretty well considering age, and brain surgery, wouldn’t you?

Categories: books, SF

More book

voices for the cure
Sent out for this book today from It’s a benefit for Diabetes research, and looks like a good read, with 10 excellent authors contributing stories. (Including Cory Doctorow, Mike Resnick, Murr Lafferty, and Robert J Sawyer.)

Some of the greatest voices in speculative fiction join forces in this one-of-a-kind anthology to benefit the American Diabetes Association. Join Robert J. Sawyer, Mike Resnick, Cory Doctorow, and others as a cop-for-hire solves a murder aboard a space station…a Chicano science fiction writer takes mind-blowing (literally!) ride through the Singularity…a third-rate superhero with useless powers finds a place to belong…an antique collector learns that one alien’s junk is mankind’s treasure…a geologist discovers that pretending to be a god isn’t all it’s cracked up to be…a journalist learns how to fend off zombies using Linux and a dead badger… All this and more await you in… Voices for the Cure: A Speculative Fiction Anthology to Benefit the American Diabetes Association

At $9.00 for 100 pages of good fiction, it’s well worth the price.
The preview lets you read about half of Robert J Sawyer’s story, which is a neat detective story set on a space habitat, and you can read Cory Doctorow’s story here
I’ve been wanting to check out the quality of Lulu’s books, and this is the perfect opportunity.

Categories: books