Review: Between the World and Me

Between the World and Me
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is a couple hundred pounds of chains bearing down on the reader. A father who writes about the race in America in the time just before #BlackLivesMatter attempts to put into words what it means. This stands out as a better expression of the weight of it all than anything else I have seen.

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Review: Philip K. Dick Is Dead, Alas

Philip K. Dick Is Dead, Alas
Philip K. Dick Is Dead, Alas by Michael Bishop
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

An excellent Dickian story in the irreverence that he would appreciate. The current fear, uncertainty, and doubt about the current environment made this a compelling read. The parallels between the Richard Nixon character and US politics reminded me of the fears about where we are headed to day.

Also, the inclusion of so many places in Georgia amused me.

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Review: A Nation of Immigrants

A Nation of Immigrants
A Nation of Immigrants by John F. Kennedy
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was interested in reading this because JFK was the grandson of Irish immigrants. The Irish (and Italians, Chinese, and others) at one point were the targets of the kinds of language we saw just recently during the 2016 presidential election. He also was a senator and president who had to consider policy. From what I knew about him, his speeches expressed faith in American ingenuity and ability to tackle the greatest challenges.

This book did not disappoint. Well written, it is an easy read. He explains the history of immigration to the Americas both before and after we became a county. He describes how immigrants brought American systems, shaped values, and influenced our identity. He laments the resistance and advises the alteration of arbitrary immigration policy so that we can bring in the best instead of limiting ourselves to reflecting the demographics of 1920. His prescription seems to have been enacted in the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965.

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Review: Star Wars: Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel

Star Wars: Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel
Star Wars: Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel by James Luceno

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Rogue One is a prequel to A New Hope. Catalyst is a filler book tying together the events of Revenge of the Sith movie with Rogue One. I have not yet seen the upcoming movie, but the given what I know from watching the trailers dozens of times, I feel comfortable that I understand where it will be going.

The plot and writing are pretty basic. Books like this name drop a bunch of characters, so we have the expected names like Jyn Erso, the Emperor, Darth Vader, and Moff Tarkin. Plus some extremely minor characters non-fans would need Wookiepedia to recall. Plus some new faces show up.

I liked some of the science introduced in the story. There are some hints that I hope are further expanded in the movie where I can tell my friends, “Well, if you read Catalyst, then you would have seen that coming.”

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Review: White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son

White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son
White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son by Tim Wise
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Back in college, I was part of an anti-racism group. We worked with a local group and took their People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond. Tim mentioned them near the end of the book, which made me think part of why I liked this book so much is his perspective and approach to white privilege is very similar to how I have been taught to think of it.

I think given the current climate on race relations in this country, this is important for people to read and understand.

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Review: Robot Visions

Robot Visions
Robot Visions by Isaac Asimov

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I enjoyed the Asimov’s essays about robots, computers, and cyborgs. They are well done.

The short stories at the front of the book are the same stories published in other books. There are a few new ones. So, if you do not mind re-reading them or have not read other books, then you are good. Otherwise, you should just read the first and second short stories “Robot Visions” and “Too Bad!” then skip to the last one “Christmas Without Rodney” and continue through the essays. Essentially, 347 pages of this book are unnecessary.

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Review: Loving Day

Loving Day
Loving Day by Mat Johnson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A satirical jab at identity. Like so main character and many supporting ones, I am mixed. Am I black? According to One Drop laws, absolutely yes. According to some black people, yes. According to other black people, not enough. There are similar mixed messages from other peoples. Plenty think I am from the Middle East, Latin America, India, or other location where there people with brown skin. A reason why I like the term Mixed-Race is because it implies all mixed up and jumbled to an incoherent mess.

Mat captures this feeling better than most books I have read about mixed racial identity. The hyperbolic satire cuts deep. Maybe too deep to be very comfortable with the novel. In the end, I am pleased my friend Nikki asked me to read it because I happen to have needed to about now.

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Review: Crash Go The Chariots: An Alternative To “Chariots Of The Gods”?


Crash Go The Chariots: An Alternative To “Chariots Of The Gods”? by Clifford A. Wilson
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Wilson challenges the evidence presented in Chariots of The Gods. As scary as Chariots was, Crash seems to fall on its face in similar ways. Ad hominems and non-sequiturs abound. At the end, it even goes way off topic to claim the evils of the ancients are the result of Satan operating in the world. So we are to believe it could not have been aliens because it was actually a fallen angel.

Still, of the two, I prefer Crash.

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Review: Chariots of The Gods

Chariots of The Gods
Chariots of The Gods by Erich von Däniken
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Däniken makes the case that what humanity thought of as gods in the past are actually aliens. We are the result of their breeding programs. Ancient monuments too sophisticated for the peoples of their times were built using the technology of the aliens to demonstrate our readiness of their return.

The evidence is viewed with the strongest optimism. In my more skeptical eyes it comes up wanting. Things presented as supposition are later used as fact to make more supposition still later used as fact. In this way the case becomes more and more fragile instead of stronger.

That people take this seriously is disturbing.

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Review: Roots: The Saga of an American Family

Roots: The Saga of an American Family
Roots: The Saga of an American Family by Alex Haley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This historical fiction novel covers this history of the a black family. How their ancestor started in Africa, was brought to America as a slave, and how the family fared under that despicable institution.

Alex Haley learned the stories of his family passed down along the generations to him. And using the details of the stories, researched for more, and from that wrote this novel.

The visceral emotions evoked were probably due to feeling connected to it. Over the past couple years I have researched my own genealogy. That came about after taking a DNA test and realizing I could use suggested relatives to find more information. But, Kunta Kinte, the Haley ancestor knew his grandfather was from the same part of Africa as my Y-DNA has the highest concentration (suggesting the origin location). Reading Roots feels like what my story could be if only I could find the same information.

I suspect this is why the show captured the American imagination.

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