Archive for August, 2008

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein

Posted in City with tags on Friday, August 22 by City

This Hugo Award winning novel written in 1966 by Robert A Heinlein, who may have been the most influential science fiction writer to bring the genre to the mainstream since HG Wells, it is the story of the next great revolution for independence. It is set on the Federal Authority’s (similar to the UN) penal colonies on the Moon in 2075. The story revolves around Professor de la Paz- a rational-anarchist, Wyoming- a political revolutionary, and Manuel- an engineer born and raised on the Moon as a free man. Together they collude to gain independence for their beloved Luna from the Authority, who keeps the residents there as a perpetual indentured servants unable to leave because of the irreversible physical changes of living in the Moon’s low gravity field.

 

Story mostly told by main character, Mannie, who speaks Lunar dialect. Basically a futuristic version of English, sounds like Chinese person learned English second language. Drops word “the” and most sentence subjects. Believe is actually taken from Russian sentence structure. Still makes sense. Mind own business.

 

Yes, I was writing in Mannie’s dialect above. It is annoying for awhile, but you get used to it. Authors love to take these stylastic “freedoms”, I guess you just have to live with it. All in all, I think it made him more interesting and therefore more “real”.

 

The book has a lot of standard Heinlein theme’s. There are many unusual social relationships – like the polyamorus line marriages and the Loonie’s (Lunar people) respect for women derived from the relatively few females that live on the moon. And the usual interesting structures of law. For example on the moon, there are no police or laws. The Lunar Authority basically let the people that inhabit the moon do what they want. So the people have developed a strong sense of “be a part of society or don’t”, which means if you offend someone and they can throw you out of the pressurized airlocks, they will. Hopefully you have enough people to rely on to come get you if you were wrongly thrown out, if not, well, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.

 

Another noteworthy point about the book is that it first coined the term TANSTAAFL, “There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch” as the Loonie’s motto, which turned into a legitimate economics term that’s used all the time now when studying economics. Of course The Man has changed it to TINSTAAFL to avoid the use of double negatives.

 

I plan on reading some more Heinlein. Stranger in a Strange Land is the only other book by him I have read and it was real good too. He is able to set a story in an environment in the near future that isn’t the social norm, but makes you question if it isn’t more appropriate than the norms we have today.

America’s Greatest Invention: The RV

Posted in Big Dog on Wednesday, August 20 by KevinLHinton

I am having a hard time legitimizing us not buying this right now:

http://seattle.craigslist.org/est/rvs/805162943.html

$1,000? Are you kidding me?

bigdog

Posted in City with tags , , on Friday, August 8 by City
Kevin’s Wedding

just uploaded these

Book Review: The Power of One

Posted in Big Dog with tags , , , , , on Friday, August 8 by KevinLHinton

I have noticed that when I write up a book review the main drivers of whether I recommend the book or not are: 1. how difficult it is to read and 2. how enjoyable it is.

There are more good books that exist in this world than any of us will have time to read, so I think it is valuable to understand if a book is worth the investment of time that it takes to read it.

From now on I will try to quanitify both difficulty and enjoyability in all book reviews. I will rate both aspects on a 1:10 scale, and I would think you would want at least a 1:1 ratio for a book to be worth your time.

For example, I recently read “The Road”. It was very short and a very simple read, so I’ll rate it a 3. I thought the book was pretty sweet. I’ll give it an 8. A pretty powerful 8:3 ratio. Probably worth everybody here’s time.

As far as “The Power of One” goes – I can’t say I wildly recommend it. Basically it tackles themes of death/racism/religion/the usuals through the eyes of a very likable and innocent young boy growing up in South Africa during World War II. There are a lot of childhood adventures, kind of Tom Sawyer like, with a lot of well described characters and settings. Definetly a well written book. For me, the problem is that the author makes the main character too good at everything. He is like a super athlete and genious, and everything comes annoyingly easy to him. His adventures become repetative and boring because by about the 2nd or 3rd time through it becomes clear that all will end well.

It definetly was an enjoyable read though. I’ll give it a 5.  (by the way, I am rating on a sliding scale from 1 to 10, where 5 is actually a true average. Not like that ice skating bullshit where 9.4 out of 10 isn’t necessarily a good score. 6 means above average in my world, not 6 like 60% F you fail.) (Also, I am an expert book selector, and very rarely read a shitty book. So a 5 to me is the average book that I have read, comming from a population of exceptional books, so I guess you might have to weight my scores to align with your own poor book selection. This is likely a 7 or an 8 in your world)

This book was pretty long. It wasn’t real hard to read, but it wasn’t necesarrily a quick read either. I will give it 7 in difficulty.

The ratio comes in at 5:7. Don’t read this one. “The Road” though… man, that book ruled. Read it.