technology

All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai

All Our Wrong Todays

Thanks to Dutton and Edelweiss for the e-galley! And of course, all views in this review are 100% my own.

“Lionel Goettreider read Cat’s Cradle and had a crucial realization, what he called the “Accident” – when you invent a new technology, you also invent the accident of that technology. When you invent the car, you also invent the car accident. When you invent the plane, you also invent the plane crash. When you invent nuclear fission, you also invent the nuclear meltdown.”

“But I have a theory too: The Accident doesn’t just apply to technology, it also applies to people. Every person you meet introduces the accident of that person to you. What can go right and what can go wrong. There is no intimacy without consequence.”

You know how we look at movies like Back to the Future and kind of laugh at how back in the day, everyone thought the future 2016 was going to be crazy futuristic? Hover cars and weird clothes and food in pill form and all that? Well, it really happened! And Tom knows it really happened because that’s the 2016 he grew up in. The Goettreider Engine in 1965 gave the world free, clean energy and propelled the globe into an era of amazing technology. But even in this ridiculously amazing techno-utopia Tom is having a rough time, and then he makes it worse when he has a time travel accident and changes history, landing himself stuck in the crappy version of 2016 that we’re all used to. All he wants is to set the timeline straight and get back to the existence he knows – but at the same time, there are some aspects of his life that are definitely better in our 2016. What’s a wayward time traveler to do?

I had a blast reading All Our Wrong Todays – I flew through it in about 2 days, and it’s definitely one of those books that I had to describe in detail to my husband because I needed someone to talk to about it. It’s super interesting to see Elan Mastai’s version of this ideal world where technology has basically freed us from our daily worries – food, health care, housing, and other necessities of life are now a fact of life, available for all. In this techno-utopia we’re free to focus on the work that we truly want to do – but that doesn’t necessarily erase all of the problems in life. I loved reading about this theory of time travel and how exactly it finally works. Tom is a great narrator – at times juvenile and frustrating, but also incredibly relatable, funny, and poignant. Even when he gets in his own way, I felt myself rooting for him.

One other note – I saw some reviews on Amazon that said something about the women in Tom’s life only being there to help him achieve his goals, and I have to disagree on that. While Tom does some typical crappy guy things, the women in the book DO matter, and I think it becomes more and more apparent as the book moves on just how much those women matter to Tom. So yeah, if you see those reviews… I think one in particular didn’t actually read much of the book, and maybe just try it and see for yourself.

This book comes out on February 7th – mark your calendars so you can get your hands on it right away.

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How We Got to Now by Steven Johnson

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Oh non-fiction, you are so delicious.

How We Got to Now is a book about just that – what innovations and inventions have contributed largely to how we each live today. The author focuses on six things – artificial cold, glass, clocks, recorded sound, clean water, and artificial light. Each chapter talks about the origins of each, and how the science progressed to what it is now. For example, how we went from glass being a mysterious substance found in the desert thousands of years ago to something that is used in almost everything today – glasses, cell phone screens, fiber optic cables that we use for the internet, etc. He also takes a look at the indirect consequences of those innovations, the good and the bad.

I can’t go into too much detail, because otherwise I’d be stepping on Johnson’s toes. His book does a fantastic job at looking at these things in a straightforward manner, and I’m absolutely bursting with weird little facts that I learned while reading. (To the annoyance of my friends and co-workers, I’m sure.) Most interesting about his book though is the idea of the “adjacent possible” – the concept that ideas and inventions are most often a result of a network of other ideas, studies, advances, and conditions available at the current time, rather than the result of one person’s sudden stroke of genius. Even further, that many advances and inventions would not have been possible at earlier times, because the adjacent possible wasn’t there – the idea would never have occurred to a person without the networking of other ideas in the current society.

If you’re looking for a good, engrossing non-fiction read, this is it. I’m definitely going to seek out more of Steven Johnson’s work.

 

Sarah Says: 4.5 stars

My Kindle Paperwhite – a review

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Good morning you guys!

I got a Kindle like 3 months ago, and I haven’t even really talked about it! So I figured that it’s about time. Especially since I was so ridiculously, angrily, anti- e-readers. Like, swore I would never ever have one, I would never buy another e-book, e-readers suck, yada yada yada. I’ve probably (definitely) talked about it before,  but here’s why I caved and got a Kindle:

  1. I wanted to read conveniently in the dark. This became a bigger deal for me this year, when my reading-during-the-day time decreased significantly.
  2. I heard of Oyster, and it sounded really cool… (although I’ll only be able to use it on my phone, or if I eventually get a Kindle Fire)
  3. I’ve been way more into science and technology in the past year or two, and it started to feel silly being all “e-readers are the worst”.
  4. The possibility of ARC’s… every once in a while. I’m not a big ARC person in general, but it’s nice to have this option.

 

ANYWAYS. So I ordered a Kindle Paperwhite back in March. Here’s what I love so far:

  • Reading in the dark. Or just bad light in general. It’s pretty awesome not to have to worry about having a book light or positioning myself under a lamp just right.
  • No glare. This is why I opted for the Paperwhite, instead of automatically jumping to a Kindle Fire or other shiny screened thing. That and I didn’t really want a tablet until very recently… but that’s a different topic.
  • Shopping. You guys were right – I once sat there browsing around and ended up ordering $16 worth of novellas and on-sale books. AND I have permanent 3G on it, so I can browse and sample books even when I’m out and about and have time to kill.
  • Novellas. A point in of itself – it’s nice to be able to read the little stories that authors only release digitally. Though I would still prefer to buy stuff like that from my favorite authors in print.
  • Whispersync. This wasn’t a feature I thought I’d really enjoy, but I ended up signing up for Audible this month and it’s been SUPER cool to listen to a book on audio while I’m at work or driving, and pick up right where I left off next time I sit down with my Kindle.
  • Tweeting my highlights or notes. Just one more way to get me to socialize more, but it’s a nice option. Though usually my notes or comments are just “LOL”.
  • Samples. Obviously, I’d prefer to spend an hour or more at Barnes and Noble looking at books. But for books that B&N doesn’t have or when I’m not at B&N, it’s nice to be able to download a sample of a book and decide from there if I want to buy it. Most notably, I tried a sample of The Physics of Superheroes by James Kakalios and now I can’t wait to go to B&N and buy a copy.
  • Kindle Match. Some books that you’ve bought on Amazon in the past (or that you will buy in the future) are in the Match program – meaning you can download the e-book for $2.99 or less. I was able to download Lamb by Christopher Moore for 3 bucks, meaning I have that awesome amount of hilarity walking around with me all the time.

What I don’t like:

  • Ads. The non-ad version wasn’t available when I was shopping for a Kindle Paperwhite – there was like a 5 week wait and I am IMPATIENT. So I got the cheaper version that comes with ads. It’s not too bad, it’s not like they’re visible while you’re reading. It’s just ugly screen savers.
  • No color. This isn’t a huge issue, but there’s just no sense in attempting to read a graphic novel on a black & white e-ink screen.
  • No apps. It really bums me out that I won’t be able to use Oyster on my Kindle, because the Kindle Paperwhite doesn’t support apps like that. I’ll be able to use Oyster on my phone, but reading on my phone just isn’t as comfortable, kills my battery, etc.
  • Digitally owning books. I just prefer my paper copies. Digitally owning a book isn’t bad if it’s a digital copy of a favorite book that I already own, or if it’s new and I’m not sure I’ll like it, or I read it and liked it but not enough to take up space on my shelves… but for any book I really like, I’ll buy it in paper.

 

Admittedly, I kind of love my Kindle. I still MUCH prefer paper books, but the Kindle is REALLY handy. If it could support apps and be in color, it’d be perfect. (Or, if the Kindle Fire could have the kind of screen that the Paperwhite has, that would work too.)

 

I know I’m probably not using it to its full ability (like searching through a book for a specific passage, or viewing all my highlights, or something…) Any features that I didn’t mention that I’m missing out on? Anything you love or hate about your e-reader? Anyone have and read on a Kindle Fire?

 

 

~Sarah

 

P.S. (My third post in a week?? I AM ON A ROLL!!!)

The Humans by Matt Haig

The Humans

“I know that some of you reading this are convinced that humans are a myth, but I am here to state that they do actually exist. For those that don’t know, a human is a real bipedal life form of midrange intelligence, living a largely deluded existence on a small waterlogged planet in a very lonely corner of the universe.”

“This book, this actual book, is set right here, on Earth. It is about the meaning of life and nothing at all. It is about what it takes to kill somebody, and save them. It is about love and dead poets and wholenut peanut butter. It’s about matter and antimatter, everything and nothing, hope and hate. It’s about a forty-one-year-old female historian called Isobel and her fifteen-year-old son called Gulliver and the cleverest mathematician in the world. It is, in short, about how to become human.”

I tried a book by Matt Haig about a year ago, something about dogs being protectors for humans, but I never finished it. So when I saw The Humans at the library, I hesitated, but the premise sounded interesting enough that I decided to take a chance. GOOD DECISION, SARAH.

An alien comes to Earth with a mission: to destroy knowledge, particularly the knowledge that one mathematician by the name of Andrew Martin discovered, and then hurry back to his home planet where he enjoys immortality and infinite knowledge. When he first arrives to Earth, he’s disgusted by humans; the strange look of them, their obsession with clothes and war and greed and straight lines. But slowly, as he takes the place of Andrew Martin while he tries to complete his task, he learns that their may be more to the humans than he and his species initially thought.

This is a hard review to write, because I basically just want to quote the entire thing. I really need to go buy my own copy, because I’m way too lazy to write down that many quotable passages. The beginning is so hilarious and snarky, and I kept stopping to read parts out loud to the honeyman and laugh about how bizarre it was. Slowly things became a little more serious, and the writing is actually quite lovely. The alien comes from a place of emotionless logic and reason (kind of like a Vulcan, or Borg), but grows to see the beautiful flaws that make humans special; our ability to love, to contradict ourselves, to care about one another.

I read this completely on a whim. I started flipping through it while I was making dinner, and before I knew it 50 pages had flown by. Matt Haig really impressed me with The Humans. When you say “a book about an alien”, people automatically think of science fiction and spaceships and maybe galactic warfare. But this is not that. It’s a beautifully written dark comedy about what it means to be human, and it’s fantastic.

Sarah Says: 5 stars

Smarter Than You Think by Clive Thompson

Smarter Than You Think

“The past turns out to be oddly reassuring, because a pattern emerges. Each time we’re faced with bewildering new thinking tools, we panic – then quickly set about deducing how they can be used to help us work, meditate, and create.”

If you’re wondering what’s going on with that picture up there, it’s that I got this book from the library and I was enjoying it so much that I went and bought my own copy at B&N. Smarter Than You Think by Clive Thompson is really fascinating, and I wanted my own copy to highlight and go back to skim through again.

Basically, this book is a response to the Franzens of the world who claim that all the new technology – cell phones, the Internet, social media, etc. – are dumbing us down and leading to the end of humanity as we know it. What Thompson does is take a look at history to point out that while it does change us, it’s not the end of anything. That these new things are tools, and it’s all up to how we use them. Thompson is a journalist and has written about technology for both The New York Times and Wired. While he may be a biased towards technology, it doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have a very good point. His arguments in this book well laid out – the chapters flow into one another easily, and it’s a really engaging read.

I learned a lot of cool things in Smarter Than You Think, including how Stalin (and Putin) used photomanipulation as a political tool, how schools are trying to use technology is really unique ways, how technology isn’t ruining our memory, and how it’s changed activism and political protests. (He has 34 pages of notes and citations in the back of the book, to show his sources on these things.) He talks about the wonders of us being more connected to people all around the world, how amazing it is to be able to hop online and talk to other people about all the weird, random interests we have (book bloggers, WHAT UP), and how much more knowledge and perspective we’re all exposed to as a result. He talks about how rare it was, before the internet, that the average person ever wrote anything longer than a paragraph, unless it was for work. Now the average person writes at least a paragraph a day online, if not more. And he’s realistic – he points out again and again that technology is only beneficial if we’re using it properly. Of course it’s a distraction, if you’re not being aware of how it’s affecting you. And of course small children shouldn’t be staring at screens – it’s not good for their development. But used intelligently, the pros of technology easily outweigh the cons.

This is one of those non-fiction books that was REALLY interesting, and that I highly recommend reading in the next year or so – you know, while it’s all still relevant. Technology DOES tend to change almost over night. And if you’re still on the fence, listen to episode thirteen of the You Are Not So Smart podcast – Thompson is a guest on that episode, and listening to him talk a bit about his book and technology made me really curious to see seek out the book. I’m glad I did.

Sarah Says: 4.5 stars

Joining the dark side.. (Why I finally want an e-reader)

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I know. I KNOW. You never thought it would happen. Mainly because I went on this big huge rant 2.5 years ago about how it would never happen. I would never buy an e-reader, or use e-books.

I changed my mind. *shrug*

Because of the rant I mentioned about, this is kind of awkward, and I feel a bit hypocritical. But that rant was written when I found out my beloved Borders was closing (*SOB*), and I was pissed. I still am pissed. A few years before that, the Waldenbooks that I worked at closed. Ten years ago I had three nice chain bookstores to visit in my area – now I’m down to one, Barnes and Noble. (Hopefully, Barnes and Noble will be here to stay for a few more decades. I love going book shopping.) And the closing of big chain bookstores around here hasn’t led to a bunch of new indie bookstores opening. There are just less places to go and buy books. I do still blame all the bookstores closing on e-readers. It’s not really deniable. It’s like saying that Media Play, FYE, and other record/music stores didn’t close because of mp3 music. Of couse they did. People started downloading music instead of buying cd’s. People started downloading books instead of buying paper books.

BUT. I’m over it, I guess. I don’t think I’ll ever switch to mainly e-books, at least not by choice. I love buying books too much. I love having them on my shelves. They make me happy. And I’m not very willing to spend a lot of money on e-books – If I’m going to spend more than $5 or so on a book, it better damn well be tangible. But there are a few reasons why I’ve decided I want an e-reader (a Kindle Paperwhite, I’ve decided), so I guess that’s what this post is.

Bring on the bullets!

  • Reading in bed. Since I’ve switched jobs two months ago, my reading time is a lot more limited, and I’ve been wanting to read in bed more often. But booklights are kind of a pain in the ass, and I tend to fall asleep sometimes (unless the book is super action-y awesome, or I’ve had a lot of caffeine), so that’s not a good option. I’ve had the Kindle app on my phone for a while, with a few novellas on it, but I plug my phone in across the room when I go to sleep, so that’s not a great move either. Reading in bed is the #1 reason I’ve decided I want a Kindle Paperwhite. I want to make use of the little time I have, especially those nights when I want to be in bed, but not asleep yet.
  • Science. Basically, I’ve developed kind of a crush on technology of the last few years. I used to hate touchscreens – now I freaking love my Samsung S4. I read and learned about 3D printing, and it is basically the coolest thing I can think of and I can’t wait to see where that goes. Space, and the idea of sending people to Mars? That’s my JAM. I’ve come to marvel at all the wonderful things technology has made possible, IS making possible, and it’s hypocritical to sneer at e-readers at the same time.
  • Oyster. Sooo this doesn’t really apply if I get a Kindle Paperwhite, because that’s an Amazon-only device. But Oyster is a “Netflix for books” kind of app. You pay $10 a month, and you can read unlimited books. It’s not the newest books, but I’ve scrolled through and their selection is still pretty awesome. And you don’t have to download the books – you can just click, and start reading. If it’s not your thing, then no harm done. Pick something else. I am going to be ALL over this when they come out with an app for Android. It’s just too cool to pass up. And HOPEFULLY there will a really awesome non-dedicated e-reader out eventually that I’ll be able to use Oyster on.
  • Already been using the Kindle app anyways. Not often, because reading on my phone can be a pain and I don’t like to drain my battery a lot. But I am a sucker, and I have been downloading novellas by authors that I like. Mind as well have the actual e-reader so that I can read these when I’m in bed.
  • ARC’s. I rarely accept review request, and almost never request books to review. But some publishers that I like, such as Angry Robot Books, have cool ARC programs. I’m slightly interested in being able to request galleys to books that I really want to read.

There we have it. All my stubbornness, and anger, and book-snobbing towards e-readers, and I’ve finally caved. All it took was a slight change in my reading time, and an ever-growing affection for technology.

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I’m not sure when I’ll get one, but I’ll let you know how it works out. Who knows, I may end up hating the thing. But I’m willing to finally give it a try.

~Sarah

 

 

Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson

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What a wonderful gem of a book!

I added Alif the Unseen to my get-from-the-library list a little while back, when I saw Riv’s review praising it. And really, you should read her review because she did a fantastic job and I’m sure my review isn’t going to be nearly as articulate.

So. What’s this book about? I tried telling two different people about this book and they both just kind of gave me blank, confused stares. I always thought that writing book blurbs and summaries for the book covers would be the coolest job, but obviously I’d be terrible at it! Anyways, here’s the description from the book jacket:

“In an unnamed Middle Eastern security state, a young Arab-Indian hacker shields his clients – dissidents, outlaws, Islamists, and other watched groups – from surveillance and tries to stay out of trouble. He goes by Alif – the first letter of the Arabic alphabet, and a convenient handle to hide behind. The aristocratic woman Alif loves has jilted him for a prince chosen by her parents, and his computer has just been breached by the state’s electronic security force, putting his clients and his own neck on the line.

Then it turns out his lover’s new fiancé is the “Hand of God”, as they call the head of state security, and his henchmen come after Alif, driving him underground. When Alif discovers The Thousand and One Days, the secret book of the jinn, which both he and the Hand suspect may unleash a new level of information technology, the stakes are raised and Alif must struggle for life or death, aided by forces seen and unseen.”

Hackers! Jinn! Deserts! Young love! So much stuff that I didn’t necessarily think would fit well together, but totally did.

So young Alif is crazy good at computer programming or coding or whatever the cool technological lingo is. As a way to make some money and to kind of stick it to the Big Brother-esque government, he offers security and protection for the websites of his clients so that they can’t be tracked, shut down, and arrested. In real life, he’s a bit of a dolt at first. He has typical teenage-y girl problems, thinking he’s in love with a rich, pretty girl and ignoring the girl next door. He’s a little flippant with his mom. He’s stubborn. But once the crap hits the fan, he turns into a much smarter, caring, and heroic person.

I LOVED the premise of this book – that computer technology and the unseen world of the jinn are intertwined. Alif has a conversation with a man in a mosque comparing quantum computing to the meanings of all the words in the Quran. You have no idea how much the nerd in me enjoyed that. And when Alif figures out exactly what the Hand wants with The Thousand and One Days and what he thinks he can create with it? Maaaaaan.

Vikram is one of the jinn, and he’s awesome. Creepy and scary, but also funny and kind of a jerk. And there are a few other good secondary characters as well that I grew to really like, BUT I don’t want to tell you who they are because you should really just read this and discover for yourself. The whole story just kind of unfolds around you as you read.

Basically, there’s nothing I disliked about this book. It was an interesting concept, beautifully executed. I can’t wait to buy my own copy.

Sarah Says: 5 stars

The Case for Mars by Robert Zubrin

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“MARS, bitches!”

Whenever I hear about going to Mars, I instantly think of Dave Chappelle doing the Black Bush skit and it makes me laugh. And then I grow up a bit and get down to the “Man, it would be so cool to go to Mars” thinking. Not as in ME personally going (although if it was happening now and I had no one in my life I would miss a ton, I’d consider it), but as in I would really love to see humanity making trips to Mars before I die a little old lady.

I’m already a fan and supporter of space travel. I don’t think that it’s prioritized enough in our government – SO much information, research, and boosts in technology could come from further exploration of space. So I read this book more because Robert Zubrin outlines how exactly we could put in a motion a manned mission to Mars, with current technology. I wouldn’t recommend this to the average reader who wants more of a “WHY we should go to Mars” type of read. He absolutely touches on that and makes a lot of valid points, but this book is more about how exactly we would carry that out, with a lot of technical lingo in it.

The Mars plan that Zubrin helped to create is called Mars Direct, and he spends most of the book discussing how this plan would be carried out – the technology used, how we would get there and back, how we would explore Mars and do search on it, how we would build a permanent base there, all the way to eventually terraforming Mars – turning it into a warm, wet planet once again over the course of decades. He also tackles what he calls the “dragons and sirens” – things that people use as a reason to not go forth with humans exploring Mars, and why those reasons aren’t valid points. (I particularly enjoyed his discussion of how the risk of radiation is there, but overstated, and if the astronauts themselves are willing to take that increased risk of cancer, why would we refuse to let them go?)

One of the most interesting chapters was at the end, in which he talks about the biggest obstacles standing in the way of space travel right now – politics, and money. He discusses two “models” of getting Mars missions under way. One was the “JFK model”, in which the current president rallies the cause and the government funds everything. The second was the “Sagan model”, in which we team up with other countries and work together to fund an international manned Mars mission. And the third (and possibly the one I liked the most) was the “Gingrich model” – the government offering cash prizes to private people/companies who can accomplish certain Mars-travel related missions, leading to the ultimate prize for being the first to send a manned mission to Mars. I like this model because it leads to private innovators all working on the same thing, but separately and essentially funding it themselves. And if these innovators fail, they don’t get the prize, which means zero taxpayer money would be used unless someone actually accomplishes something. That’s a plan that pretty much anyone can support, since there’s no “the government shouldn’t be wasting money on this” argument there.

Anyways, I enjoyed this. Zubrin seemed a tad over-confident sometimes, but overall he was clear and explained things well. Too well, in fact – like I said earlier, he used way too much technical jargon. I’m absolutely interested, but I’m not a scientist or engineer – I don’t need to know the exact chemical formulas for creating rocket fuel, ya know? If Zubrin’s mission is to attract the average curious reader and get them excited about Mars exploration, he might lose them when it gets SO information-heavy.

Overall I’m glad that I finally read this book (I’ve had it on my radar for about 2 years) and I’m definitely keeping it on my shelf.

 

Sarah Says: 3.75 stars

 

 

Fabricated: The New World of 3D Printing by Hod Lipson & Melba Kurman

fabricated book cover

If you haven’t heard about 3D printing yet, you clearly have been living in a cave and ignoring all the news. Go to Google Images RIGHT NOW and type in “3D printed objects” and look at all the cool stuff that’s been made with 3D printers. I’ll wait….

You back? SO COOL, right? Right.

I’ve been hearing about it a lot lately, but the concept of 3D printing was really hard to wrap my head around. And then I heard about this hot-off-the-presses book all about 3D printing, so obviously I had to read it right away. You know those replicators on Star Trek? That’s basically the future of 3D printing. And if the thought of having one of those in your house years from now doesn’t excite you, I don’t even know what you’re doing here.

Fabricated introduces the reader to the world of 3D printing, which is changing and advancing at a rapid pace. The book starts off with a “day in the life” scenario set decades from now and gives a glimpse of what life with a 3D printer in the house would look like. It then delves into the specifics of 3D printing – the technology, how it works, the different types of 3D printers, the current limitations of 3D printers, and more. Then it moves on to some of the issues surrounding 3D printing – trying to use different materials to print with, how they can be used in schools, how it’s currently affecting manufacturing and how it will continue to do so, the legal snags that will eventually happen, how to make 3D printing more green, and what the next phases of 3D printing should look like.

Ya’ll, this book is FASCINATING. And no fear –  it was completely readable and easy to understand, even for someone who has no background in technology or computer lingo. Personally, I found the more technical chapters to be the most interesting – the software and materials used, how 3D printers work and operate, how advances are being made in bioprinting (like printing living tissue and organs), and how 3D printers are currently being used, etc. That was all the stuff I really wanted to learn about to understand it better. The chapters about legal and ethical conundrums that are likely to arise were an added bonus and really thought-provoking, since it talked about things I hadn’t really considered before.

In the preface, the authors say this:

“One of the great things about 3D printing is that the field moves faster than the speed of light and technological advances take place in huge leaps and bounds. Yet, rapid innovation is a difficult topic to capture. Just as you figure out how to pin down an elusive and squirming new idea onto paper, it’s already out of date.”

Which basically means that they worked their ASSES off to get this book written and published ASAP, before the information became out of date. It just came out in February, and I can tell that it was rushed to get on the shelves because I noticed a few grammatical errors and typos. It didn’t bother me, because I actually really appreciate the rush. I like my non-fiction as up-to-date as possible, so that was a perk.

I’m really excited about 3D printing. It’s the coolest technology being advanced right now, and if I had lots o’ money just sitting around, I would totally invest in 3D printing companies and technology.

If you’re even a bit curious about this 3D printing thing, I highly recommend reading this book and doing so quickly while the information is still current!

Sarah Says: 4.5 stars

 

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Most Impressive World-Building in Books

top ten tuesday

Good morning people! As you all know by now, Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. I’m actually pretty excited for this week’s topic, because it’s something that’s kind of a major thing to me when it comes to really liking a book –> Top Ten Most Vivid Worlds/Settings in Books. Let’s do this thang!

Newsflesh Trilogy

1. The Newsflesh Trilogy by Mira Grant – Sure, it’s about zombies. But there are SO MANY THINGS that seperate it from other zombie books. First off, it takes place decades after the first zombie outbreak, which means the author creates a world in which zombies are a fact of life, and it is astonishing how much detail she put into creating that kind of society. Definitely stuff that I never even thought of, because normally when you think about a zombie outbreak, you only think about the first days / weeks of fighting them and trying to survive.

Inheritance trilogy, N.K. Jemisin

2. The Inheritance Trilogy by N.K. Jemisin – In these books, Jemisin gives us an incredible fantasy world in which the world is dangerous, magic is abound, and gods are enslaved. Absolutely fantastic.

Ready Player One, Ernest Cline

3. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline – I just finished this book, and I LOVED learning about the world that Cline has created here. The outside world has gone to hell, and to escape reality people practically live in the virtual reality online world of OASIS.  Cline’s attention to detail and innovation is apparent in his version of the real world and the fake world of OASIS, and it made this an incredibly fun read.

The Postmortal, Drew Magary

4. The Postmortal by Drew Magary – Imagine that someone stumbles upon a cure for age, effectively allowing you to evade old age and a natural death infinitely. The imagine how that would completely screw up our world and society. Welcome to the world of The Postmortal. Once again, the author impresses me with little details and issues that I never would have even thought of, and for a long time I couldn’t stop talking about this book to people. It was so exciting to read.

The Kingkiller Chronicles, Patrick Rothfuss

5. The Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss – Probably the best epic fantasy world I’ve encountered. It’s mostly due to Rothfuss’s absolutely spellbinding writing, but the magic and adventure in this series is awesome. I cannot wait until the next book!

The Wicked Years series, Gregory Maguire

6. The Wicked Years series by Gregory Maguire – This is not the Oz of your childhood. Gregory Maguire takes the land of Oz and digs a lot deeper, and the result is impressive and amazing. This land of Oz is full of political turmoil, prejudice among the different races in Oz, and philosophical debates. I’ve only read the first two books, but I love the author’s take on Oz, and I definitely grew to love Elphaba and Fiyero.

The Neanderthal Parallax trilogy

7. The Neanderthal Parallax trilogy by Robert J. Sawyer – Imagine a parallel universe in which history took a different course – the Neanderthals survived and flourished, and we didn’t. Then imagine that a weird rift in timespace allows those two universes to interconnect. BRILLIANT. I loved seeing Robert J. Sawyer create the world of the Neanderthals and all of the little differences. This trilogy is also what initally motivated me to start reading about quantum physics and the multiverse theorie, because the science used in the books was so intriguing.

Thursday Next

8. The Thursday Next Series by Jasper Fforde – Oh man. A world in which there is cloning of extinct animals, time travellers, literature is taken incredibly seriously, characters and people can jump in and out of books… come on. These books are incredible at making your imagination come alive. These books and the world in which they take place are so engrossing that when I read one, even my dreams start to get all loopy and weird. Love it.

 

Harry Potter series

 

9. Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling – I mean, come on. Obviously.

10. Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton – While the book ends up primarily being pretty action-packed and thriller-like, the set up for Jurassic Park actually shows some pretty impressive thoughtfulness and imagination in thinking about the possibility of cloning the DNA of extinct animals such as dinosaurs, the financial perks to such a risk, and all of the little things that could go horribly wrong. Once again, I got completely sucked in by the science and consequences of a fictional world.

Yay! Honestly, world-building is so important to books and it’s actually why some of these books / series are on my all-time favorites lists. I also realized that there are some books that I absolutely love, but it’s less for the world-building and more for the awesome characters, which is why Outlander isn’t on this list 😉

So, what are some of your favorite settings or fictional worlds?

~Sarah