Tuesday, December 27, 2011

See Previous Post!

Having just returned from a year-long term as a Special Consultant to Miskatonic University's excavation of the Plains of Leng, I find that, in my quest to recover the Shining Trapezohedron, I have sorely neglected my duties viz. reviewing the books. With my antiquated ibook (retrofitted for steam power) fully repaired and ready for duty, and with a long backlog of tomes to record judgement upon, I should begin at once, but I regret to admit my critical faculties are rusty, especially after having to deal with shoggoths. Nevertheless, I shall endeavor to get back in the habit of regular postings. Until then, a few capsule reviews, for your delectation:

Reamde by Neal Stephenson
I really wanted to like this one, but I don't. That doesn't mean it isn't a good thriller, but that's all it is. The speculative flights of fancy expressed in Stephenson's previous work (especially the recent Anathem) have given way to an untamed sprawl of complex (and frequently implausible) plotting and rather pedestrian characterization. This is not a book of deep thoughts, and from Stephenson that is a disappointment.

Packing For Mars by Mary Roach
Very much in the vein of her previous books (such as Stiff, a humorous and informative primer on the various afterlives of human cadavers), full of funny and interesting anecdotes and lessons about the practical aspects of keeping living things, mostly people, alive and healthy in space. There is almost an entire chapter devoted to zero-g fecal collection. Enough said.

Holidays in Heck by P.J. O'Rourke
Holidays in Hell was the first O'Rourke book I ever read, a viciously funny tour of various military situations around the globe. This is a banal, unfunny tour of a Republican taking his family to various vacation destinations. O'Rourke's humor and sensibility have ossified over time, and the stench of the 2nd Bush Administration hangs over the stale jokes like - well, like zero-g fecal collection.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Vicomte Returns! (Again.)

This post shall be necessarily brief, and devoid of pictorial enhancement. Merely a preliminary announcement of my belated return to these pages. With my Thinking Machine under repair, I am updating via my new Semi-IntelligentPhone. Please be assured that further reviews (as well as other disturbing, yet strangely compelling new content) will follow shortly. Until that time, I remain your obedient correspondent.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The New Ratings Are In! The New Ratings Are In!

Yes, friends - you heard right.  All Ex Libris reviews now come with an easy to use rating from the Vicomte.  Try it today!

Where Men Win Glory by Jon Krakauer

Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat TillmanIn 2004, right around the time it was becoming all too clear that our military adventure in Iraq was far from "Mission Accomplished", Pat Tillman died in Afghanistan, shot to death by soldiers from his own unit.  For some time, Tillman's death was portrayed by the Pentagon and the Bush Administration as a heroic sacrifice, demonstrating Tillman's honor, courage and patriotism.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

In Where Men Win Glory, author Jon Krakauer (Into Thin Air, Under The Banner Of Heaven), comprehensively depicts Tillman's life and brief career in the Army Rangers, creating the full and contradictory picture of a genuine human being, instead of a media stereotype.  Macho, yet gentle, outgoing, smart, and surprisingly self-aware, Tillman felt compelled to give up a multi-million dollar contract to play pro football for the Arizona Cardinals after 9/11, enlisting as a private in the Army.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Denialism by Michael Specter

Denialism: How Irrational Thinking Hinders Scientific Progress, Harms the Planet, and Threatens Our LivesApparently, there are people out there - large numbers of them - who now believe that childhood immunizations for such diseases as mumps, measles, tetanus and polio are more hazardous than they are useful.  That such ignorami are fronted by celebrity "experts" like former MTV bimbo Jenny McCarthy and her current paramour, "comic actor" Jim Carrey, should come as little surprise.