Celestial Weasel (celestialweasel) wrote,
Celestial Weasel

Books of the year so far

From Abebooks:

Digital Retro by Gordon Laing.
A book of photos of micros. This obviously partly mirrors one of the books I will never get round to writing, '20 Goto 10'. There are not many anecdotes that I hadn't heard before, and unforgivably
a) it doesn't have photos of the Acorn System 1 or the MK14 (the 'photos of things I could easily get hold of' aspect of it is rather obvious)
b) it doesn't mention the Micral-N, which was French, and pre-dates the Altair which is American and which is 'the first micro' that everyone has heard of.
The main flaw with this is that a book of photos of turned off computers is a bit like a book of photos of sleeping dancers (I realise some people might get off on that, but you know what I mean).
Rather tedious book really.

The Fifth Generation by Feigenbaum and McCorduck.
I think I have mentioned this one before.

Back in the USSA by Newman and Byrne.
I have mentioned this before, but fundamentally apart from the Vietnam war story, it is not very good. It is all a bit too arbitrary and there is not much sense that they have thought about how Communism in the USA would have evolved, many of the stories essentially give the impression that they could be set in the USSR with the names changed. This may be 'the point' (TM) but doesn't really work for me and doesn't make the stories interesting.

Rise of the Expert Company by Feigenbaum.
I haven't read this. An 80s book about how expert systems will conquer the world seemed like it would be interesting, but the reality of it was clearly going to be all a bit much...

Artificial General Intelligence ed. Goertzel
I read a bit of this. Goertzel's description of how his system will develop general intelligence is moderately diverting but there is no real reason to think his mechanism will cause it to 'wake up'.

The Art of Prolog by Sterling and Shapiro
I haven't read this yet. Pretty cover. Shapiro sounds an interesting guy and there is still the strange nagging doubt that Prolog may be on to something, in a sense...

The Design and Evolution of C++ by Bjarne Stroustrup
A fine book. Computer books (as with recipe books, RPG rulebooks, lots of things really) tend to be short on the 'why', so the explanation of why C++ is how it is is interesting. It was written in '94 before the worst excesses of the maniacs with templates began to manifest itself...

The Exploits of Engelbrecht by Maurice Richardson
I bought this because pmcray found an essay by Michael Moorcock ( http://flag.blackened.net/liberty/moorcock.html ) lauding it as 'one of the best examples of imaginative fiction to ear in England since the war'. Now, if Moorcock had said it was typical of the reactionary public school whimsical twaddle that deserved to be swept away I would have been less surprised. I have read a few of the stories and probably will finish it, but other more appealing things keep taking precedence over it. It is somewhat reminiscent of Beachcomber, the Molesworth books, etc.
I am not saying it is bad, it is moderately diverting. I am just somewhat surprised by Moorcock's view of it.

Good grief, I have just realised I have 5 books ordered from Abebooks still to arrive.

From Amazon:

The Old New Thing by Raymond Chen
Ploughing my way through this. Much like his blog but you can read it in the bath.

If(Sid_Vicious == TRUE && Alan Turing == TRUE) { ERROR_Cyberpunk(); } by someone who I am not giving the oxygen of publicity.
I have already slagged this off, but it is utter drivel. I have now written an Amazon review and given it one star, we will see if the review sees the light of day :-)

Backroom Boys by Spufford
Moderately interesting. An odd book, but one I can't be bothered to write about.

Seven Stars by Kim Newman
Another fine book. My conviction that Newman is a national treasure and that it is a travesty that none of his characters have been turned into TV series grows. The between the wars characters in particular, as some sort of period X-Files, with Arthur Conan Doyle and Aleister Crowley as recurring characters. How can the BBC not do this?


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