Down the Docks

January 15, 2007

More Reading

Filed under: Books — ealing @ 1:00 am

Here’s some of what’s been keeping me busy over the last few weeks. More to come.

Fiction

Blindsight, Peter Watts
Science fiction with a smidgen of horror. A mostly human crew investigates what seems to be an alien spaceship, some distance out of the solar system. Some of the tension is derived from the fact that the captain is a vampire, but more of it comes from the central mystery of the aliens. The pay-off is spectacular, and it’s online.

Chasm City, Alastair Reynolds
Although I couldn’t get through the first book of his I read on the first attempt, these days I love Alastair Reynolds. This book was more thrillerish than I normally like, but the mixing of the historical and personal scopes keeps it interesting. Part of the ending was telegraphed too much to have impact, but this is still a fun book.

Gateway, Frederick Pohl
I’m not sure what this is supposed to be. I guess it’s a kind of character study. I did enjoy the long discussions between the protagonist and his computer psychiatrist, as well as the contrast between his life before the central incident and afterwards. This, along with the depictions of the prospectors’ lives, kept the pages turning, but I found the conlcusion a little disappointing.

Non-fiction

How to Read the Financial Pages, Mark Brett
A few months ago I knew very little about how the capital markets worked. Then I read this, and shortly afterwards I was having sensible discussions about exchange traded funds. The first chapter is a bit tedious, but then you’re dropped into the really valuable chunk of the book – a discussion of the different types of financial instrument that are traded and quoted. I can look at the back pages of Companies & Markets in the FT now and actually understand most of it. If I refer back to this book, I’ll understand nearly all of it. It’s not the most thrilling read in the world, but it gets the job done.

Warfighting, A.M. Gray
A while ago, it became fashionable to see good business advice in Sun Tzu’s Art of War. A lot of people have decided that there is good business advice in this even shorter work of military science as well. It’s a quick, easy read, and makes the point that the US Marines rely on skilled maneuvers and speed for much of their effectiveness. What relevance this has to the heads of the corporate behemoths who seem to love this book is beyond me.

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1 Comment »

  1. Heh. Coming to the Art of War through the I Ching and Tao Te Ching, what particularly amused me about “The Art Of War” was the fact that it was very popular during a period of 300 years of almost constant war-waging.

    Considering Sun-Tzu’s central advice seems to be “Attack the bastards before they even think of becoming your enemies”, I’m not surprised there were a few centuries of war at the time everybody was reading that book…

    Comment by sweavo — January 15, 2007 @ 1:19 pm


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