Monday, 20 November 2017
Wednesday, 15 November 2017
Publisher: [Toronto] Viking, 2017
Characteristics: 264 pages
Once again Mr. Le Carré has written a superb novel. This story once again revolves around the the actions of the Circus and George Smiley, and fills in a portion of the back story that fans have likely been curious about for many years. While Mr. Le Carré hasn't written a Smiley novel in 25 years, the same panache and expert storytelling hasn't gone away in this page turner.
If you have never read any of the George Smiley novels - "Call for the Dead" (1961); "A Murder of Quality" (1962); "The Spy Who Came in from the Cold" (1963); "The Looking Glass War" (1965); "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" (1974); "The Honourable Schoolboy" (1977); "Smiley's People" (1979); and "The Secret Pilgrim" (1990) - then you might want to tackle them first however this means you'll have to put off reading "A Legacy of Spies" until much later, which would be a shame. If however you want to read "A Legacy" right away then read "Tinker, Tailor Soldier, Spy" and you'll be in the groove.
While the Cold War subject matter is based of factual events and the world of George Smiley and his fellow clandestine operatives is fictional, I am in awe at the amount of research that Mr. Le Carré had to have done to make these novels seem so realistic is astounding. If on the other hand he did minimal research then it is even more amazing as this and the other novels in the series are so well crafted that they are very difficult to put down even for short breaks.
After reading this novel, I plan to go back and reread all the other George Smiley novels to refresh my memory of all the details. This will however take some considerable time. However seeing as there are likely numerous reviews of these great stories already it is unlikely that I'll review them on this blog.
I hope you enjoy this novel as much as I did!
Publisher: [Toronto] Viking, 2017
Characteristics: 264 pages
Monday, 6 November 2017
I had eagerly been awaiting the release of this book since I first heard about it on the YouTube channel Ask a Mortician which is run by Ms. Doughty as is the website The Order of the Good Death. It definitely lived up to all my expectations as it was a fantastic read and definitely gave me insight into other cultures and practises of how they treat their deceased.
Ms. Doughty wrote about eight different funerary practises in six different places, three of these were in the United States, but they were different enough from each other to make them worth including. The ones outside the United States were South Sulawesi, Indonesia; Michoacán, Mexico; Barcelona, Spain; Tokyo, Japan and La Paz, Bolivia. The three United States visits were in Crestone, Colorado; Cullowhee, North Carolina; and Joshua Tree, California. In the epilogue Ms. Doughty also treats us to a view of some of the practises in Vienna, Austria.
Despite what some may expect or want this book is not a simple travelogue designed to shock the reader into what people do with bodies in other cultures. Instead it is an insightful look into different cultural practises surrounding death, in cultures that treat death not as something to be afraid of (as it is typically in the Western World), but as something to celebrate both the life of the individual as well as the ongoing lives of the rest of the deceased's family.
It is my sincere belief that everyone should have this book (and her first as well "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes - Lessons from the Crematory) on their to-be-read list, and if it's already there move it further up on the list so you can get to it sooner rather than later. Westerners for the most part are scared of death and all it's ramifications, due primarily to in my opinion the hold organized religion has on our culture. It's about time that we started to think otherwise, as whether you like it or not you will die.
Having been trained as an anthropologist, I can see the value of this book a either one of the texts in an introductory anthropology course, or as the main one in a senior course on death acceptance and practises. As I also hold a degree in Education, I would like to see this subject taught in schools as well, however I realize this will likely never happen, after all we still have many who oppose the teaching of sex education in schools.
I do hope that Ms. Doughty will consider writing a sequel to this book, and explore even more cultures and their death practises.
Monday, 30 October 2017
Monday, 23 October 2017
Monday, 16 October 2017
Back when I first read this book (or at least portions of it), I was an undergrad student at the University of Alberta. The class I was assigned this in was a overview of classical technology. I don't remember the actual course designation anything but it was a very good course and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
At the time I did not know L. Sprague de Camp as anything other than a science-fiction writer. I was soon to find out that he worked alongside other great authors such as Robert A. Heinlein and Isaac Asimov and numerous others who also became famous science-fiction authors.
This book is an overview of the history of engineering from pretty much the very beginning until approximately the 1960s. It was written in 1960 and this therefore limited the author in what he could talk about. In some places I felt Mr. de Camp tended to skip over or at least gloss over some of the pertinent details that led to the invention being discussed but for the most part he gives a very good review of how engineering developed, the people in involved and the historical events that were occurring at that time.
The only major criticism I have of this book (which quite likely may be a minor one for many readers) is that they were nowhere near enough illustrations and other graphical forms of information to allow the reader to understand what is being explained. However, if these were included the book would need to be expanded to multiple volumes.
The book itself is organized by time period, and this does cause some confusion when speaking about certain types of inventions, as there is significant overlap in most of these sciences. I believe it might've been easier to read if the book was to be organized based on the given type of invention and proceeded from the very beginning street to the modern times.
It would be great to see a new edition of this book be published that takes up where Mr. de Camp left off, unfortunately he died in 2000 so it will have to be by someone else.
Monday, 9 October 2017
Rendezvous with Rama, is one of the classics of science fiction. For those who have not read the book it describes a first contact situation in the year 2130 when a new celestial object is discovered in the solar system heading towards the sun. It is named Rama after the Hindu god, who is the seventh avatar of Vishnu.
This object turns out to be a gigantic spaceship some 50 kilometres long and 20 kilometres in diameter. The story revolves around a brief three week investigation by "The Endeavour" commanded by William Norton which is the only ship able to reach Rama while is approaching perihelion with the sun.
The book itself is extremely well written as are virtually all of Arthur C. Clarke's works.
I first read this book many years ago, back when I believe I was in either high school or possibly even junior high. When I first read this book I enjoyed it quite a bit but don't know if I really grasped all the nuances of the story itself.
On my second reading (yes, it took me a while to get around to reading it again) I found that it is well-crafted and quite suspenseful, even though the characters themselves are a bit two-dimensional (at least in my opinion).
In today's style of writing it probably would not be considered suspenseful or adventurous as authors now-a-days tend to lean more towards battle sequences and the like whereas this story is essentially more of a traditional mystery. I'm not sure why author's today seem to intentionally neglect more thoughtful stories, but it may have something to do with the way everyone today is wired, and on-line all the time (but who really knows as I didn't take many psychology courses).
Two or three books followed this one a number of years later, and they will be reviewed at a later date, as I've not read any of them so far.
Monday, 2 October 2017
Publisher: New York : Ace Books, 1987. Copyright Date: ©1959 ISBN: 9780441014101 Characteristics: 208 pages ;,18 cm "Star...
I originally posted this on the Edmonton Writers' Group Blog way back in January 2012. And while a couple of members (Natasha and Simon)...
Publisher: New York : William Morrow an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers,  Edition: Tenth anniversary edition. Copyright D...