Mark Gritter (markgritter) wrote,
Mark Gritter

Books of varying degrees of success

Donald Knuth, "Selected Papers on Fun and Games": This is the last (and definitely my favorite) of his selected papers series published by CSLI. Not everything here is a winner, but there is a lot to love on art projects, word games, vanity license plates, mathematical Christmas cards, and knight's tours. Donald Knuth has been doing "I bet I could write a computer program to figure that out" for a very long time. Also includes a reimplementation of the classic "Adventure" in Literate Programming (C).

Tony S. Daniel, "Batman: Detective Comics" vol 1 and 2.
John Layman, "Batman: Detective Comics" vol 3 and 4.

I liked volume 1 and 3 which I picked up secondhand, so I asked for more. Volume 2 was an absolute stinker and made no sense. (It featured multiple Large Hadron Coliders? And time travel something something?) Layman engages in much more comprehensible and enjoyable storytelling. I think, though, that I am just as glad not to be pulling this series weekly. I really enjoy self-contained graphic novels more.

Ed Brubaker, "Gotham Central" book 1: Much better.

Marko Kloos, "Terms of Enlistment". I've been wanting some military SF other than Bujold, Heinlein, and Scalzi. This is not it. It's not about anything. It has three disconnected set pieces, none of which are really followed up in any way. The character is not particularly sympathetic, nor does he grow in any way. I am supposed to treat the appearance of aliens as a reason to get the next book, I guess? Not recommended. (Previous failures in this department :"Fortune's Pawn" by Rachel Bach and "Star Carrier" by Ian Douglas.)

Ann Leckie, "Ancillary Sword". We need more science fiction about tea. (And, look, it's military SF that's actually about something!) A very good follow-up, recommended.

Richard von Glahn, "Fountain of Fortune: Money and Monetary Policy in China 1000-1700". This book was footnoted in "Debt: the first 5000 years" and it is easy to see why. The author talks about the role of money in Imperial China, and how the purposes economists state for money (store of value, measure of value, means of exchange) were frequently separated into different media. Mainly an argument about the import of silver specie into China; he presents evidence that not only was American silver a sideshow (most came form Japan) but it shouldn't be interpret as a balance of trade issue so much as a commodity. There were a lot of threads I wish he'd followed up on--- like, the Chinese had their own bullionists who insisted that money was wealth even if it was locked up. So the empire would mint a lot of bronze coins and then lock them up in the treasury, while the provinces would complain about their not being enough coins to go around.
Tags: books
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