Losing Myself in Science

Shortly after the dark night and the eerie shell-shocked following day of the 2016 US election I found myself yearning to read some nonfiction, specifically in audiobook, as I listen to a lot of books at work that way and get through them quicker. I picked a couple I’d been meaning to read for a while: The Ancestor’s Tale and The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins, Elixir by Brian Fagan, Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs by Lisa Randall, and The Third Chimpanzee by Jared Diamond.

        

It’s been over a month now since the disgusting result of that ugly night and I’ve read three of these and am half-way through the fourth. It was only last week that I started thinking:

  • What was it that made me decide to start reading nonfiction all of a sudden?
  • Why did I choose these titles in particular?
  • Why did I decide shortly after the results of the election to start reading them?

Like many people in this country, after that fateful Tuesday I was feeling pretty low in many respects. So my subconscious response – and it was subconscious because it’s only in the last week that I’ve put it together when I started reading these books and why – was to embed and lose myself in science books. On anthropology. On science. On the history of water. On humanity. On history. On astronomy. On particle physics. On biology. On the story of homo sapiens and the homo species.

Because here I was able to finds some answers. Not to the whats and whys of November 4th, but to hypothesis and theory and fact and the scientific method and evolution and how humanity has gone through many highs and many lows. This planet has almost had all life on it wiped out five times with a possible sixth currently in the works.

It’s some very enlightening reading . . . and also some very grim reading.

It’s humbling and also hopeful.

That’s what I’m taking from this reading and why I plan to continue doing it into 2017.

“Goldenhand” by Garth Nix (HarperCollins, 2016)


The long-awaited (whether it’s published two weeks after the last one or two years, it will always be long-awaited) fifth installment of the Old Kingdom is out! Goldenhand is the one fans have been waiting for, featuring many old friends we’ve cared for and wondered about for some time: Sabriel, the Abhorsen; King Touchstone; Lirael, Abhorsen-in-waiting; and Nicholas Sayre; and yes maybe Chlorr of the Mask is involved somehow too.

Sabriel and Touchstone are on their first vacation in a very long time. The word from the Clayr is nothing is going on and nothing is going to be going on involving necromancers or dark beasties. Lirael, the Abhorsen-in-waiting, is holding the wall – so to speak – for the time being. Of course, it is exactly then that things take a turn for the terrible and dark. After rescuing Nick Sayre from one of those scary, dark beasties, she makes the decision to take him to the Clayr’s Glacier on a paperwing to see if she can help him with his free magic problem. It is there she will eventually meet someone who knew her mother well, and who bears a very important message for her. A message that has far reaching ramifications that will affect people on both sides of the wall.

Fans will be absolutely delighted with Goldenhand. Nix has certainly not lost his touch, as readers are plunged into the creepy world of the Old Kingdom with its gates through death and the terrifying things that reside there. The story is compelling, as readers get to see some old friends they’ve dearly missed, while new views and plots about the Old Kingdom are revealed. Goldenhand may be one of the best in the series!

Originally written on November 22, 2016 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of Goldenhand from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

“Of Saints and Shadows” by Christopher Golden (JournalStone, 2016)

ofsaintsandshadows

Back in the 90’s, very pre-Twilight, when there was really only Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles to contend with, as well as a really bad movie called Buffy the Vampire Slayer, bestselling author Christopher Golden (Dead Ringers, Snowblind) penned a series of vampire novels known as The Shadow Saga that brings a whole new world, feel and sense to the vampire story. Featuring the vampire hero Peter Octavian, they are now being re-released. Also some of these vampires can go about in daylight, and no, they damn well don’t sparkle.

Vampires have been scorned by the Catholic church for centuries, and are referred to as the Defiant Ones, an abomination under the sight of God, so there are those within the church who do all they can to kill and eradicate the blood-suckers, even if it means using powerful, magical abilities that seem like a form a heresy. There is a book of the undead, the Gospel of Shadows, that holds the answers to wiping all of the them out once and for all. The book has been missing for some time, but has recently been discovered. Now the church is looking to get a hold of it and carry out a mission it has longed to complete for a very long time.

Peter Octavian is a Private Eye, he’s also a vampire with some impressive powers. Those powers help him solve the cases, though he tends to pretty much just work at night. He has separated and distanced himself from his vampire coven for some very specific reasons, but as a new case is brought to his attention, he realizes it has far-reaching ramifications. He’s sees that the Catholic Church is involved and what their plan is. He must make some big decisions and consider the costs.

Of Saints and Shadows is a vampire story that has a very different feel to it. With the P.I. angle, it feels a little like the TV show Angel, but in this world the vampire rules don’t always apply in the same way. Magic is also alive and well and those who can wield it can carry out some impressive feats. There are also demons – aren’t there always demons? – that can be summoned, drawn from another world in this one to wreak havoc. The story does have an “older” feel to it, since it was written and published in the nineties, but nevertheless is enthralling and entertaining and sexy and many things a vampire story should be.

Originally written on November 22, 2016 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of Of Saints and Shadows from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

Book News: Bad Sex Scenes, Lisbeth Salander Returns, National Book Award Winners & More!

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How Fanfic Helps Black Women
How fanfiction is helping given black women a voice with black characters.

Stranger in a Strange Land
An adaptation is in the works of the Robert Heinlein classic Stranger in a Strange Land.

Children’s Authors Fighting Back
Hundreds of US Children’s authors are signing a declaration to fight against everything Trump.

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“Feedback: A Newsflesh Novel” by Mira Grant (Orbit, 2016)

feedback

“And we’re back” says Mira Grant in her acknowledgments, as the bestselling author returns to her Newsflesh world after a trilogy and collection of novellas. Events essentially reset as we jump back in time to the beginning of Feed with the presidential race beginning in a world where zombies are at the forefront of everyone’s minds. While the main characters from the aforementioned book are joining the campaign of the Republican nominee, our new diverse group of characters find themselves being tapped to join one of the Democratic potential nominees and cover her run for president.

The story is told from the point of view of the Irwin Aislinn “Ash” North, who is Irish but now a recent citizen after having married Benjamin Ross for pure green card purposes and getting herself out of her native country for some very specific reasons. Then there is Audrey, the fictional, who is Ash’s girlfriend. Finally, there’s Mat, the requisite techie, who is gender-fluid.

Readers are no doubt excited to hear about a new Newsflesh novel, but hopes will be somewhat dashed when they learn it is a very similar story to Feed about a news team covering a presidential race with lots of zombie attacks thrown in for action. There are some new details and facts added about the world that open things up a little, but after the astounding ride around the world that was Rise: The Complete Newsflesh Collection, Feedback is pretty much a disappointment in most areas.

Book News: Giant Flip Books In The Wild, Women Authors, The Littlest Bookseller and More

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If You Like Game of Thrones
No one knows when the hell the next Song of Ice and Fire book is coming out, including the author, so here’s some recommended books if you like Westeros.

The Littlest Bookseller
I guess they don’t have any age requirements at this bookstore. Is it cute or just cheap child labor?

Remembering Leonard Cohen
The moving New York Times obituary on the passing of this legend.

NW
A teaser trailer for the BBC’s adaptation of Zadie Smith’s NW.

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