A Review of Axiom’s End by Lindsay Ellis

Okay, wow. That was weird.  In the beginning, we, the readers, are given the impression that Axiom’s End is a novel which primarily concerns government conspiracies. We are introduced to Nils Ortega, a Julian Assange figure, and the trope of press statements, leaked documents, and interview segments scattered throughout the novel, revolving around Nils, with his signature catchphrase “Truth is a Human Right.” But the story quickly comes to revolve around Nils’ daughter Cora, a college dropout and former linguistics student. Yes, there is a government conspiracy centered around a group of aliens called the “Fremda” group, whose existence has long been covered up. Nils, of course, leaks the information to the public with various implications including falling stock prices (author Lindsay Ellis begins each of the four parts of the novel with Dow Jones and NASDAQ averages- those numbers fall as the situation gets more and more out of hand) and eventually the disconcerting resignation of Ge

A Review of Wolfpack: how to come together, unleash our power, and change the game by Abby Wambach

Okay, let’s just get this over with- it’s hard for me not to think about Zach Galifianakis’ character, Alan, from The Hangover making a certain toast, every time I pick up my copy of Abby Wambach’s Wolfpack . There, I said it. Abby is a champion, so I know she can take that one small piece of criticism (actually, it’s probably more self-criticism, but I’m...some guy who writes infrequent short, lame, book reviews, so I can take it too). Abby Wambach’s “Wolfpack speech,” originally delivered as a commencement address for Barnard College students, and this ensuing expansion, is inspiring, powerful, and necessary.  The essence of Wambach’s book is in her comparison between what she sees as the “old rules,” which codify a series of messages society has been directing towards women and girls, and her own “new rules” which admonish all of us to be confident, driven, and team-oriented.  Those new rules are: Create your own path (we can’t allow others to limit what our lives will amount to and

A Review of Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir

“Who would have thought saving the world would be so boring?” thinks Dr. Ryland Grace, the protagonist of Andy Weir’s newest novel. Nobody who reads Project Hail Mary would think so. Employing the same strategem of interspersing scenes from space with scenes from Earth (in this case they are flashbacks)  that he did to such marvelous effect in The Martian , Weir has created another New York Times bestseller (as I write, it is currently number fifteen on the Hardcover Fiction list after fifteen weeks). The sun, as in the 2007 Danny Boyle film Sunshine , is losing energy. If this goes unchecked, of course, ecological disaster and mass extinction are not far behind. And this time just nuking the sun isn’t going to solve anything. In fact, the solution needs to be discovered outside of the solar system, and it needs to be discovered fast. The clock is running out and so the quarterbacks of Earth have this one last chance to heave a pass towards the end-zone. And far away from the Earth, so

A Review of Adrian J. Walker’s The Human Son

You and I were born with a purpose; and I’m a little bit unsure what mine is. But Ima, the protagonist of The Human Son , knows hers. “Mine was to save the world,” she says. And as the story begins, she already has. Ima is one of the Erta, a race of superbeings created by humanity to roll back the damage we had done to the planet. The Erta are stronger than us, they live for hundreds of years, and they are far more logical and less swayed by emotion than we are. Or so Ima thinks. The Erta achieved their goal by first conducting a reasoned analysis of the problem and realized that there was one contributing factor to the planet’s degradation that simply couldn’t be fixed. Yep, the humans. So they phased us out. Sounds rough, and yeah maybe so, but they did throw us one tiny bone- they promised to reintroduce the species once the planet had returned to its pristine, pre-human state.  In chapters two and three the “High Council,” the top hundred and ten Erta (comprised of the second and t

A Review of Ernest Hemingway’s Green Hills of Africa

I’m not sure how important, in the modern world, killing animals is, when trying to prove your manhood to anyone else. B’wana Hemingway clearly has his own ideas on the subject. Green Hills of Africa , originally published in 1935, is a brutal slog of an oddly defined thought experiment. The author implies, in a brief foreword, that it is a novel, but claims that “Unlike many novels, none of the characters or incidents in this book is imaginary.” This is a good example of the dry and incisive Hemingway sense of humor (clearly he thinks that some novels contain characters and incidents which are, while purporting to be fictional, in fact real. And he seems to disapprove). Hemingway states that he (he refers to himself as “the writer”) has tried “to write an absolutely true book” in order to see if the product can “compete with a work of fiction.” Emphasis on compete .  Because while the ostensible subject of the book (the “story”?) is how Hemingway, his wife, and some friends went on a

A Review of Fugitive Telemetry by Martha Wells

Fugitive Telemetry is not the best book in the Murderbot Diaries series. Fans of Murderbot will not care; they get to spend more time with Murderbot! Let me say it again- Murderbot! The funnest, murderiest, nicest robot in the universe, even with the anxiety disorder and the aversion to human feelings of all kinds.  When I discovered last week that my public library had a copy of Martha Wells’ newest Murderbot book, I got in my non-robot car and drove over. I looked on the shelf in Science Fiction. It wasn’t there. I looked in General Fiction (because human error, right?). It wasn’t there. I looked in the new books. Nope. Staff Recs? Nuh-uh. I looked on every endcap and display table. Not present. I started to feel more depressed than usual- what to do? Leave the library and deal with my real life? No way, son. So then I did something crazy; I asked the human librarian for help. I said I’m looking for a book called Fugitive Telemetry and it’s not there! She said, “I can’t spell that.

A Review of Moneyball: the art of winning an unfair game by Michael Lewis

I’m an American;  so even though Moneyball was published in 2003, I was totally unaware of it until 2011, when the movie of the same name was released (yes, I read books sometimes, but I’m still pretty ignorant). Moneyball is one of my favorite movies. It’s about math (which isn’t my absolute favorite) and baseball (which I’m not all of that interested in, except as a way to spend time outdoors with friends, beer, and snacks), but I don’t even care. It’s also about one (or two, or a few) smart human trying to do something intelligent while surrounded by dumb humans who desperately want to thwart them.  It doesn’t get any more real or any more dramatic than that. In Moneyball (the book) we learn, of course, many things which were not revealed to us onscreen, but the most interesting facets of Michael Lewis’s book are the revelations about the people involved. Bill James, who was portrayed on the big screen as a caricature- security guard at a pork and beans factory who is also a genius