Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Killer of Enemies

Killer of Enemies is kind of a terrible book and it's great. I initially started reading it because of its ridiculous title, and it lived up to its cover. This is not to say that is was a bad book; I had fun reading it and the world of the story is pretty cool, so I don't feel like I wasted my time or anything. So, what is it about?

Have you ever thought to yourself, "I wonder what it would be like to read about someone playing Monster Hunter or Shadow of the Colossus or a similar game with giant monsters"? Have you ever then immediately thought, "no, wait, that wouldn't be nearly as interesting, I'll just play them myself and that will be more fun"? Well, Joseph Bruchac did not have the second thought, and so Killer of Enemies was born.

The book involves our protagonist, Lozen, who is the best at everything, killing huge genetically modified monsters. This is a post-apocalyptic future, set after the rigidly-divided classist technofuture from so many books. An entity known only as the Cloud has come and turned off all of the electronic devices and engines, but not gunpowder, and also rocket launchers and automatic weapons still work. The rules seem to be kinda fuzzy.

Anyways, all the super rich leaders had electronic implants or nanobots and so they died when the Cloud came. Some survivors who didn't have many implants formed a rigid society with aristocrats as evil dictators. One such society is holding Lozen's parents hostage to make her kill things. She then kills things. Usually huge things. There's more story, but not much.

Killer of Enemies is not high-brow hmmyes fiction, and it doesn't try to be. It really reads like a fanfiction of Shadow of the Colossus, because it mostly involves Lozen outsmarting and then wrecking giants. There is a simple story, which is nice, but it's not the focus. If you like big dumb action, and I certainly do, then you should read Killer of Enemies.

Oh and also there's magic. And zombies. Just thought you should know.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality

I ragged on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality (sometimes awkwardly abbreviated to HPMOR) quite a bit on my other blog. A lot of my points still stand. The characters start out unlikable, at least to me, to the point where I actually quit reading. Eventually, though... well, here I am, done with the book.

So, what is HPMOR? It is a fan-fiction of Harry Potter composed by Eliezer Yudkowski, He Who Is Not Recognized By Spell-Check. It takes place in an alternate-universe type deal in which Harry was raised by scientists and is a boy genius armed with the powers of Rationality. If that makes you really want to read it, then I doubt I could stop you even if I tried. If not, then... eh. It's cool.

That's it. This post is essentially just to say that I've read HPMOR. To reiterate: your first impression is probably indicative of how much you will like this book. I wouldn't recommend it if you don't buy into the premise. Laters!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Masterminds: Criminal Destiny

This is the second Masterminds book. If you want to know what I think about it, read my review of the original, because all of the same things apply. I'm not going to write a new review for this one, because there is a chance some of you will not have read the original Masterminds, and you should read it with no spoilers. That said, this book is amazing, so I'm just gonna gush for a while.


Thank you. For reference, I started this book at like 11:00 AM today, and read until it was over. It's super good. As a great man once said, "if you like books about people doing things, you will probably love this book." Couldn't have said it better myself. I mean, I guess there should be a "then" in the second clause. But the point still stands.


Friday, April 15, 2016

Unknown Quantity

Do you like math? No? Chances are, I've already scared you off. For those of you who are still here, I've got a treat for you: John Derbyshire's Unknown Quantity. It's a history book, but about algebra.

Well, there go the rest of you. Now nobody is reading this. Ah, well. I thought it was a good book. It's funny, and informative, and did a swell job of keeping me interested throughout the entire thing. There's not that much else to say about it, because it's literally what it says on the cover. It's a history of algebra.

Well, I suppose it would be a good idea to explain what Derbyshire means by "algebra." Algebra isn't just using symbols like X and Y to stand for variables. At it's heart, algebra is using abstraction to make things easier. As you can imagine, this broad definition encompasses a lot. That's what makes it cool, because you can see the logical progression of ideas over hundreds of years into what algebra is today.

I'd say this is more on the math side than the history side, although it's got a lot of both. You spend quite some time learning about the characters behind the equations and ideas, which I like. Basically, if you are interested in the history of math, or in learning how the dingus people ever came up with this crazy math stuff, then this book is for you.