The Account of a Lifetime

October 5, 2009

Books of 2009

The list is at the bottom of the post!

I’ve been trying my damndest to do a fair amount of reading. I became embroiled in an argument (largely of my own creation, shamefully) with my good friend Shona last night when out in a surprise return to St Andrews in an effort to celebrate my friend Sophie’s birthday. As a quick aside; it was a great evening. I rather enjoyed it all and it was great catching up with folks. A slight downside to everything too, indeed a rather severe melancholy on the personal side of things, but ultimately I’m…surviving. It’s melancholy, not tragedy. And, strangely, it’s not the first (nor second) time this last few months in which I’ve suffered (or induced suffering) in this vein. But not to worry about all of that; I’m fine and my heart extends for the minds of others.

Anyway, that’s all beside the point.

The argument

Shona had been arguing/discussing with my other good chum Eron (both physicists and both recent apostates, so rather similar to myself and yet exceedingly different too!) about the nature of the origin of reality. ‘What caused the big bang’. You know, that old chestnut. Shona was proposing that the ‘idea there’s a conscious mind behind it all’ makes it all a lot more plausible. I interjected by suggesting that such a thing was abhorrent and didn’t help explain anything, it only shifted the mystery back a step without adding anything practical in the meantime. Aggressive (and foolish?) application of Occam’s Razor, perhaps, but I like to think of it as Occam’s Taser, so nevermind that either.

The conversation progressed and we ventured off ona few tangents, specifically to the point wherein Shona proposes that ‘Evolution, for example, is completely implausible’. She quickly corrected and clarified her thing; she meant improbable. I rather facetiously (and again shamefully) took her argument rather differently and spent much of the night telling her she didn’t believe in evolution, but that’s again beside the point (indeed it was already beside the point at the very instant).

I digress. This is turning into quite a shaggy dog story, but that’s alright. We ended up in a long, rambling discussion with tons of different aspects of mathematics, biology, computation, statistics and a few other more esoteric points (I’m sure I mentioned my old favourite ‘self organisation’ at various points). Ultimately, though I was familiar with many points, indeed even Lenski’s proposed definitive proof of concept, it became painfully obvious how basically ill-informed I was for the purpose of convincing or even exciting anyone about the topic. I was slightly above the ideologue level but nowhere near the level of an even amateurish commentator. So, on returning to Stirling today, I swiftly set out to search for a copy of On the Origin of Species and from there on to get another couple of books.

Which is basically to say: I’m going to make sure I’ve got my facts and ideas in order! Also, I’ve been dipping into The Forever War and In Search of Time, both excellent reads so far.

In other news, finally got the airmiles things arranged. The future beckons!

The List

Here’s the books I’ve been reading this year. All those unmarked have been read, those in the pile are awaiting my attention ‘in the pile’ whilst those marked (READING) are obviously part-read. I’m not reading all of them at once, but I’ll address them all in time. My hope is to not buy too many (if any) books for the remainder of the year. Three months to draw myself up to the fifty mark. We’ll see how it goes!

01. Betrayal by Aaron Allston
02. Wine of Dreams by Brian Craig
03. I am Legend by Richard Matheson
04. Nagash the Sorceror by Mike Lee
05. Malekith by Gav Thorpe
06. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens (READING)
07. Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen (READING)
08. Bloodlines by Kathy Traviss
09. Cat Amongst the Pigeons by Agatha Christie (READING)
10. Outbound Flight by Timothy Zahn
11. Dark Apostle by Anthony Reynolds
12. Tales of Heresy edited by Kyme & Priestley
13. Honourkeeper by Nick Kyme
14. Behold the Man by Michael Moorcock
15. War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells
16. Briget Jones: The Edge of Reason by Helen Fielding (READING)
17. Tempest by Troy Denning
18. The Time Machine by H.G. Wells
19. Extraordinary Engines edited by Nick Gevers (READING)
20. Survivor’s Quest by Timothy Zahn (READING)
21. Brothers of the Snake by Dan Abnett (READING)
22. Descent of Angels by Mitchel Scanlon
23. Legion by Dan Abnett
24. The Traitor’s Hand by Sandy Mitchell (READING)
25. Gateway by Frederik Pohl (PILE)
26. Cities in Flight by James Blush (PILE)
27. The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammet (PILE)
28. Heroes of the Space Marines edited by Kyme & Lyndsey
29. The Forever War by Joe Haldemann (READING)
30. The Maltese Falcon by Dashiel Hammet
31. Mechanicum by Graham McNeil
32. Fallen Angels by Mike Lee
33. Salamander by Nick Kyme
34. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling
35. The Talented Mr Ripley by Patricia Highsmith
36. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle (PILE)
37. The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle (PILE)
38. Rendezvous with Rama Arthur C. Clarke (PILE)
39. Ravenor Returned by Dan Abnett (READING)
40. The Mysterious Affair at Style by Agatha Christie (READING)
41. Shadows over Baker Street edited by Reaves & Pelan (PILE)
42. The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle (PILE)
43. Collected Poems by Philip Larkin (READING)
44. The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler (PILE)
45. In Search of Time: Journey Along a Curious Dimension by Dan Falk (READING)
46. The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham
47. The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin (READING)
48. The Ingenious Hidalgo Don Quixote of La Mancha by Cervantes (PILE)
49. Tempest by Troy Denning (PILE)

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