Saturday, May 6, 2017

The Three-Body Problem: chapter 3[the end]

This is a final chapter of "The Three-Body Problem" trilogy by Chinese science fiction author Cixin Liu. 

It is a mess. Very disappointing conclusions, ideas and story lines. It became more like a fantasy book rather than serious science fiction. 

First book is great. Second starts slowly but ends interestingly. Third one, starts fine but as it progresses more absurd it becomes.

posted by David

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Caleb Carr's "The Alienist": psychological analysis of violence in 1896 New York

This is an interesting novel about crime in New York in 1896. Theodore Roosevelt is a police commissioner at that time and JP Morgan, the "nose", rules the city.

The novel tells the story about series of violent crimes committed against juvenile boys prostitutes who represent underbelly of the city. New York's society does not even recognize their existence and crimes against them are not considered worthy of police investigation.

Criminology is in its infancy at this stage. However, using then newly developed science of psychoanalysis (people who practiced it were called alienists), novel's protagonists try to "reverse" investigate the crime and to come up with the psychological profile of the suspect.

posted by David


Monday, March 27, 2017

David Liss' "The Coffee Trader" - review

In this novel David Liss recreates Dutch Amsterdam at the time when the city represented center of commerce in Western Europe and where practice of religious tolerance was a norm (unlike most of other places in Europe).

The story focuses on Jewish diaspora in Amsterdam. Some of these Jewish people in Amsterdam came from Iberian peninsula where they were targeted by Inquisition. They brought with them their traditions and laws that were somewhat different from Jewish traditions observed by other Jewish migrants from Eastern Europe. 

At its core the novel is a fictional account of international trading scheme that eventually would make coffee a must to have household drink in Western Europe.

This is very interesting read with quite dramatic ending. 

posted by David

Sunday, March 19, 2017

"The Ten Thousand" - a Greek military adventure in Persian Empire

This novel tells us about the first military adventure Greek mercenaries took that led them deep into Persian Empire between 401-399 B.C.  

First half of the book is quite good and fast paced, however later narrative slows down and becomes overloaded with descriptive information.

History tell us that Greek forces were hired by Cyrus who wanted to challenge his brother, then a Persian King. However, during the decisive battle near the ancient Babylon, Cyrus is killed and Greeks end up in the middle of the Persian Empire with their leaders betrayed and murdered. Thus begins famous retreat towards Black Sea under the leadership of Xenophon, who one studied with Socrates. Greeks are constantly tested in each region they pass by local hostile forces and Greek military training and tactics reveals its superiority. These experiences were later used by forced led by Alexander the Great.   

posted by David