Monday, February 27, 2017

Wikileaks by David Leigh and Luke Harding - Book Report #171

This book lined up nicely with The Next 100 Years, once again proving how the world of geopolitics strives to keep the world "safe" by maintaining the balance of power that benefits the United States.

Julian Assange is an interesting person, certainly intelligent and also just a bit strange.  That said, he had a cause he believed in and he pursued the release of classified documents with care.  He employed The Guardian, The New York Times and other publications to vet and publish the documents in a safe manner.  It was chiefly the newspapers that insisted and carried out the redaction of names and details that could possibly put innocent peoples lives in danger.

Obviously what Assange wanted to do was to expose the questionable actions of the United States and other countries.  What was surprising was how unsurprising the details were.  Perhaps we've been conditioned to expect these kinds of dirty deeds from the movies and books but it is sad and depressing to discover the truth of it.

It was interesting to discover how this level (governments and geopolitics) of society operates.  They seem unstoppable but with whistle-blowers like Assange and Snowden light is shined onto these secret dealings and perhaps change can be made.

Ultimately I just found the knowledge of this kind of power and how it is expressed, depressing.  We will never - ever - progress as a species if we keep killing and suppressing each other.

Being a science fiction reader I am constantly surprised how all we do is look at ourselves and all of our attention is focused inward and just on this planet.  If we could turn our gaze to the stars we'd discover that we are very much alone in the wilderness and need each other.  Imagine the possibilities for advancement if we focused our energies on expanding outwards.

By reading this kind of stuff I realise that we are very far away from the future of my imagination.  Thank God there are people like Elon Musk and Peter Diamandis who are trying to blaze trails despite how the world is run today.  These guys are the true visionaries.

Is it worth reading?

Yes.  If anything it should motivate people to help change the world in any way they feel best.  Protest, invent, live, change - anything will help to inspire others and to erode this backward and power-hungry world.

David Leigh

Luke Harding

Monday, February 20, 2017

Star Trek: Titan - Sight Unseen by James Swallow - Book Report #170

Meh.

I mean.  It was okay.

Two things worked against this novel; first, I read it in little bits for over a month.  It was read to fill the time at work, when waiting for a late truck to arrive; in the car, parked, while waiting for my wife to emerge from work and in the grocery checkout line.  So I never gave it a sustained reading.  That said, I never had trouble flipping through a few pages days after the last time I'd read it.

Second, this book is deep into the post-TV and post-movie era of TNG.  Most of the books are tightly interwoven and many characters have moved on, been promoted or reassigned so it is sometimes hard to catch up.

In the case of the Titan series, I think I read the first one, which came out in 2005.  Riker was then captain of his own ship.  This new book was published 10 years later and now Riker has been promoted to admiral.

The strange thing here, in Sight Unseen, is that Riker, being an admiral is still on board the Titan.  This is also the first mission since his promotion so there was an interesting tension between the new captain and Riker.  But this felt a bit forced, having not read the previous book in the series, and odd since it seem unlikely a new admiral would stay on board the very ship he used to be captain of.

This book expands from a previous episode of The Next Generation TV series, where Riker and other crew members of the Enterprise were abducted and experimented on by beings who live in subspace.

Well now they're back and abducting entire ships.  First they attack a vessel from a non-Federation species and then a Federation star ship that was sent to help.   Now Titan is sent to investigate and save the universe.

The first half of the book read like a lot of filler since the plot of the book was a cookie cutter story.  It only became interesting when Titan and her crew force their way into subspace to confront the baddies and rescue their missing Starfleet officers and destroy the threat.

The other factor that was in play here, that took away from my enjoyment of the book, is the series itself.  There is so much going on and dependent on having read the previous books that it becomes daunting to invest in them.  That is less a flaw in the author's story and more an aspect of reading tie-in books to begin with.  They are meant to reward the dedicated reader over the casual or new one.

And that is okay.  It's just that you can feel it while reading.

I don't know.

It was okay.

James Swallow - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Swallow
and - http://jamesswallow.blogspot.ca/
and - http://www.isfdb.org/cgi-bin/ea.cgi?James_Swallow

James Swallow


Monday, February 13, 2017

The Next 100 Years by George Friedman - Book Report #169

This was a terrific listen.

Once again Friedman put together a compelling case that predicts the United States will be the dominant political power this century.

Predicting the possible path over the next 10 to 20 years sounded very plausible.  Even though the predictions 50 to 100 years out seem too much like fiction, Friedman reminds us that our present day could not be predicted 50 years ago, never mind 100 years ago.

Once again, I found myself getting just a little bit depressed.  The power games will continue, the targets will change but the game will not.

It just reminds me that we seem to be a pointless species; we are forever taking advantage of each other.  We are not united, we war amongst ourselves and that is unlikely to change.

That's not to say that the book flawed, oh no - we are.  Friedman did a terrific job of putting his vast knowledge of geopolitics and took a careful stab at predicting the future.

I recommend the book highly.

George Friedman -  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Friedman