All posts by Clio

Review: Baby You’re a Rich Man

Baby You're a Rich Man by Stan Soocher
Baby You’re a Rich Man
by Stan Soocher

Title: Baby You’re a Rich Man: Suing the Beatles for Fun and Profit
Author: Stan Soocher
Published: 2015
ISBN-13: 978-1-61168-380-5
Publisher: ForeEdge

This was a LibraryThing Advance Reading Copy, which I received in exchange for an honest review.

I was looking forward to learning more about behind the scenes Beatles.  Reading about the lawsuits against them, and the people who got rich from these suits seemed a fascinating way to go.  Not so much.

Stan Soocher’s deeply researched book does tell every single detail (or so it seems) of the convoluted legal world of The Beatles from their first manager, Brian Epstein, to their last, Allen Klein.  But after a while, it reads like a laundry list of industry moguls suing each other and The Beatles in a frenzy of mean-spirited greediness.  Some of the lawsuits seem to be filed out of spite.  Those are just the outsiders.  The suits between the members of the group are a reflection of their evolution from  young Liverpool lads to mature artists realizing that many of the events happening to them are neither what they expected, nor what they wanted as artists.

The most interesting part was the intertwined lawsuits against John Lennon and Yoko Ono.  Not only was J. Edgar Hoover’s campaign to have Lennon expelled from the US for his vocal political views against the Viet Nam war, but Yoko’s ex-husband was playing games with custody of her daughter with him.  Lennon and Ono were caught in a Catch-22 of suits which hampered their ability to resolve anything.

The odious Allen Klein looms large for much of the book, finding new and distasteful ways to put more of The Beatles’ money into his own pocket.  It was almost a never-ending litany of fleecing his clients by law suit.

Soocher’s detailed writing tends to be dry.  Not quite completely boring, but not quite enthralling either.

 

Review: Sand

Sand by Hugh Howey

Title:   Sand
Author:  Hugh Howey
Twitter: HughHowey
Published: 2014
ISBN-13: : 978-1328767547
Publisher:  Mariner Books
Publisher’s Blurb:
The old world is buried. A new one has been forged atop the shifting dunes. Here in this land of howling wind and infernal sand, four siblings find themselves scattered and lost. Their father was a sand diver, one of the elite few who could travel deep beneath the desert floor and bring up the relics and scraps that keep their people alive. But their father is gone. And the world he left behind might be next.

“It was strange how tense one could become while surrounded by the banal.  It was the waiting, waiting.”  (p. 78)

Hugh Howey shot to the top of my favorite authors’ list with his Wool trilogy.  His dystopian world-building is solid, as are his characters and their relationships to each other, and their harsh living conditions.

In Sand, Colorado has been covered by … sand.  Familiar city names have become bastardized versions of themselves.  The biggest lost city was once Denver but is now Danver.  Danver is El Dorado.  Everyone’s heard the myth that lost treasure can be found in Danver; enough wealth to make life worthwhile, if not pleasant.  Pirates and sand divers from all over have searched for Danver to no avail.  Until one day …

The main protagonist, Palmer, is a highly skilled sand diver.  Able to go deeper than most others, his talents are well known.  He and a friend are hired by a group of brigands to dive and bring back proof that this location is the mythical Danver.

It is indeed.  And then everything goes wrong.  Because, the brigands don’t want the buried treasure, they want something more valuable and dangerous.  Power.

And thus we have another dystopian political thriller.  A good one, albeit a little light on the details of how Colorado became the sand covered danger that it has become.

Sand’s main protagonist is brother to three siblings, abandoned by their father who left for another not-so-mythical destination, No Man’s Land.  It’s supposed to be a better place where the rebels are gathering to join forces and devise a way to take Colorado back from the greedy forces in power.

And while that’s a common theme in political thrillers, Howey manages to give it a twist, and make it much more interesting.  I like his world-building a lot, and the quirks he gives his characters are really entertaining.

Sand is about more than survival, though.  It’s about community, family, and trust.  It’s about figuring out who we are and what matters.  And that’s what resonated for me.

Review: Artemis

Artemis
by
Andy Weir

Title:  Artemis
Author:  Andy Weir
Twitter:  AndyWeirAuthor
Published: 2017
ISBN-13: 9780553448122
Publisher: Crown Publishing
Publisher’s Blurb:
Jasmine Bashara never signed up to be a hero. She just wanted to get rich. 

“And like all good plans, it required a crazy Ukrainian guy.”  (p. 55)

This was a fun ride!  Jazz is a smuggler, moving illicit things around her home town of Artemis, a lunar based town of 2,000. It kinda pays the bills, if your idea of home is a coffin sized bunk and food is flavored algae. 

Like all good smugglers, Jazz dreams bigger.  Just one big job away from paying her debt and moving into a better compartment with better food.  But, she gets more than she bargained for when she agrees to do a little sabotage for a very wealthy patron.

At its heart, this is a caper novel.  Jazz has to enlist the help of her ex-boyfriend’s current partner, the crazy Ukrainian guy, and her devout father whose trade is welding at which, of course, Jazz has turned up her nose.

Aretmis is not The Martian.  Those expecting that have been disappointed.  And that’s unfair to Andy Weir.  I really like that he wrote a strong, female protagonist who lives off her wits and solves the puzzle of which political faction wants to destroy her home town, all the while saving it.

Jazz is quirky.  Her relationship with her devout Muslim father is strained, he heartily disapproves of the way she chooses to live.  The crazy Ukrainian guy is an inventor and has a predictable role to play in Jazz’s life.

The math and science aren’t as strong in Artemis, even still I got lost in the explanations why things worked the way they did in gravity 1/6th of Earth’s.  The story itself was fairly predictable.  And yet, I still enjoyed the twists and turns and Jazz’s predictable snarky bravado.

I wanted to go to space so much, still do, as a tourist.  Space programs fascinate me and getting to be a counselor at Space Camp in Mountain View was nearly heaven for me.  Andy Weir’s homage to the Apollo program put a big goofy smile on my face.

There’s a saying, “You can’t be what you can’t see,” and I found myself wishing there had been more protagonists like Jazz to read when I was a much, much younger bookworm.  Not being able to go to space because I was a female had become so normalized for me that it took Jazz to realize it didn’t have to be.

My prayer for girls and young women is that they find female characters who show them they can be what they want.  As uneven and predictable as Artemis can be, it’s worth reading just for character development of a smart young woman named Jazz.

New to the Stacks: Magritte, Surrealists, Feminism, Nnedi Okorafor

SFMOMA Magritte exhibit haul

The Lives of the Surrealists by Desmond Morris

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dada and Surrealism by David Hopkins

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rene Magritte: The Fifth Season

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

See Red Women’s Workshop
Feminist Posters 1974-1990
Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor

Review: Moore’s Law

Moore’s Law
by
Arnold Thackray, David Brock, and Rachel Jones

Title: Moore’s Law
Author: Arnold Thackray, David Brock, and Rachel Jones
Published: 2015
ISBN-13: 9780465055647
Publisher: Basic Books
Publisher’s Blurb[The silicon transistors’] incredible proliferation has altered the course of human history as dramatically as any political or social revolution. At the heart of it all has been one quiet Californian: Gordon Moore.
What’s Auntie Reading Now? picture

“Gordon was the opposite of a gregarious, people-pleasing middle-child:  instead, he was a boy with exceptional concentration and focus, oriented not toward words and emotional engagement, but toward practical results – with or without companions.”  (p. 44)

Full disclosure:  I usually make it a policy not to review books of people I know.  David Brock is a co-worker, and friend, which should instantly be grounds from even considering writing a review.  However, Gordon Moore has had such a tremendous impact on the computer industry, it seems unfair not to. His contributions need to be known, and Moore’s Law does a very good job of making them known, and understandable.

Further, I have been dilly-dallying over this review because Moore’s Law covers so much interesting history I’m not sure I can do right by it.

Not only is it the history of Moore, whose family arrived in California in 1847.  It’s also the history of computing, computers, and Silicon Valley.

Every decision in Gordon Moore’s life was based on the words “measure, analyze, decide.”  He kept notebooks detailing nearly everything; finances, business models, chemical analysis, semiconductor design, everything.   In this measurement and analysis, he figured out what came to be known as “Moore’s Law,” making computers faster and more powerful.  It’s led to things like the computer in our pockets we call smart phones.

That’s just part of a fascinating life inextricably connected to what’s become Silicon Valley.  There’s so much more in Moore’s Law about the lives of those pioneers and revolutionaries whose passion for chemistry, engineering, and physics brought about the devices which connect the universe in creative ways Galileo could only dream of.  Gordon Moore led the charge, quietly.  Not because he wanted to change the world, but because he was fascinated and saw ways to make money off the now ubiquitous micro-chip.

Thackray, Brock and Jones make the story of this complex man highly readable.  For those curious about the roots of modern computing, its effect on our lives, and the biography of the quiet revolutionary who led computers to this point, readers should read Moore’s Law and add it to their library.