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18. An Unlikely Utopia by Michael Adams

The serious book for this cycle. The subtitle for this is "The surprising triumph of Canadian Multiculturalism". Adams wrote this book basically to refute a couple articles he saw in papers and magazines. Which is to say, it's a book length letter to the editor. Stylisitically, this is a departure from Adams' previous book, in that a) most of the research referenced is not from Environics, and b) it focusses less on the value graphs that I found so fascinating in the previous books. This one is unrelentingly optimistic, taking the stance (on multiculturalism and, to a lesser extentm racism in Canada) that we're doing better than we used to, and improving where we suck, and that this is showing clear benefits for both Canada and new Canadians. I think he is a little too optimistic about the situation of recent immigrants, and doesn't give racism quite enough weight, but on the whole the book left me feeling pretty good about being a Canadian, and about my fellow residents.

19. Knight by Gene Wolf

Excellent. Weird. I frequently found myslef turning a page, reading, then flipping back to see if I'd missed a page. The story jumps around alot in time and space. The book is written in the style of a long letter to the protagonist's brother, and the protagonist is a young teen, and the style does support that. It takes some getting used to, but it really goes a long way to establishing the strange headspace of the protag.
20. Wizard by Gene Wolf

The second half of Knight. The progtagonist is older in this book, and the writing style catches up with that. The world building in this duology is fantastic, and the characters are interesting. The style takes some getting used to, but it's worth it. There are plenty of female characters, but I do think Wizard Knight still manages to fail the Bechdel test - most of the female characters talk to men, and not each other, and for the most part, the female characters are sexual objects. That said, I'd still strongly recommend the pair of books to any fantasy buff.

21. Farthing by Jo Walton

A sort of Agatha Christie/Alternate British History combo. The setting can be summed up with "What if the UK made peace with Hitler and let the Nazis have Europe?". Walton takes that setting and puts a murder among aristocrats in the English countryside in it. It reminds me, in an odd way, of District 9 in the bleak, miserable picture it paints of humanity. mycrazyhair should not read this book. I fairly enjoyed it, and am looking forward to hunting down the sequel later.

I find myself in need of a non-fiction book sooner than expected - I read nearly all of Farthing on Wednesday while waiting in the ER.

On the plus side, I'm finally reading Shadow Unit, having found that it's available in ebook format.


Aug. 28th, 2009 06:58 pm (UTC)
[Oops, mixing my baseball metaphors]
Heya... I noticed that you called for non-fiction suggestions last booklog around, and before that mini-reviewed The God Delusion calling Dawkins a dick, which of course he is. :) Have you read The End of Faith? Sam Harris comes out of the same bullpen as Dawkins but to my way of thinking throws far more strike-outs. He doesn't pull punches about his beliefs—and he absolutely believes religion is a force for evil in the world—but he doesn't belittle the opposition in the process. He just calmly builds a (methinks) solid argument or set of arguments.

The other essential book in my atheist library is a bit older: Carl Sagan's The Demon-Haunted World. I loved Sagan's writing since Broca's Brain (1978), which I read in high school, and TD-HW is pure Sagan: personable, lucid, enormously entertaining, humorous, emotional, full of all the best virtues of humanity. Damn, I cried when that man died.

Other nonfic I've read recently and would recommend:

David Foster Wallace, Consider the Lobster and other Essays (2005)
Christopher Hitchens (not in atheist rage mode!), Thomas Paine's The Rights of Man (2006)
Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., The Disuniting of America: Reflections on a Multicultural Society (1991, 1998)
Anthony Lane, Nobody's Perfect (criticism; 2002)

Edited at 2009-08-28 07:00 pm (UTC)
Aug. 29th, 2009 03:10 am (UTC)
Re: [Oops, mixing my baseball metaphors]
Hmm, Harris sounds like he's worth a shot.

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