Guide to Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan Saga

Mark has posted what must surely be the definitive overview and guide to the Vorkosigan Saga. If you’ve any interest in reading these books, start with Mark’s post.

For myself, I snagged Warrior’s Apprentice and Mountains of Mourning from the Baen Library. I’ll probably get around to the rest eventually – I’m less interested in Cordelia’s story than Miles’ exploits though. At any rate, figuring out where to start and what to skip just got a LOT easier thanks to Mark’s due diligence.

Blogger Shrugged

Atlas Doesn't Care
My friend Dean Esmay is reading Atlas Shrugged, out of a misplaced sense of due diligence. To stay sane, he’s blogging it. I actually read and even enjoyed The Fountainhead, but Atlas is pure literary masochism. I mean, come on:

Her leg, sculptured by the light sheen of the stocking, its long line running straight, over an arched instep, to the tip of a foot in a high-heeled pump, had a feminine elegance that seemed out of place in the dusty train car and oddly incongruous with the rest of her. She wore a battered camel’s hair coat that had been expensive, wrapped shapelessly about her slender, nervous body. The coat collar was raised to the slanting brim of her hat. A sweep of brown hair fell back, almost touching the line of her shoulders. Her face was made of angular planes, the shape of her mouth clear-cut, a sensual mouth held closed with inflexible precision. She kept her hands in the coat pockets, her posture taut, as if she resented immobility, and unfeminine, as if she were unconscious of her own body and that it was a woman’s body.

It’s like someone wrote an entire book out of Bulwer-Lytton contest entries.

I’m not interested in debating the merits of any philosophy so pretentious as to label itself objective – to me, Atlas is a work of literature, and should be treated precisely as such, nothing more and nothing less. However, since the Randians roam the internet like the Burning Legion, laying waste to blogs that dare refuse to prostrate at Ayn Kiljaeden Rand’s throne, I can’t resist a little visual defiance, hence the admittedly rude image above for which I humbly beg my regular readers’ forgiveness.

my @AmazonKindle Touch: well worth the wait

I’ve wanted a Kindle since version 2.0, and it’s hard to imagine that these devices were several hundred dollars. At long last, I’ve joined the club, with this little beauty:

my Kindle Touch WiFi

With a retail price of $99 it literally is almost a no-brainer now. Especially since buying a hardware Kindle gets you access to the Kindle Lending Library (assuming you are an Amazon Prime customer) which lets you read one book a month for free. I’m working my way through The Hunger Games now.

In addition, public libraries have ebook lending programs that work just like regular borrowing (though like physical books, you have to put a hold on the popular ones and wait a while). And of course there is Project Gutenberg and the vast public domain. I’m not averse to buying books but the same rules in my mind apply to buying a ebook as apply to buying a physical one: unless it’s a must-read, I can wait to borrow it from my library. The fact that the library lending model extends to ebooks’ domain is just pure unadulterated awesome. But if there’s something I really want to read, I can wait a month and get it via Amazon’s program, so that’s an advantage over the physical realm.

Of course, with the recent news that the Department of Justice is going after Apple and the big-name publishers for price-fixing collusion on ebooks, the price of ebooks will likely drop significantly at Amazon. The first book of The Hunger Games trilogy is already marked down to $5 (though the sequels are higher). The omnibus collection of the Game of Thrones books still says “price set by the publisher” at $29.99 which is less than $8/book, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that drops in the next week to $25 as well.

It’s a good time to own a Kindle. I have the same feeling of loyalty towards the Amazon ecosystem as most Apple stalwarts do theirs.

the infinite reading list

Mark at Kaedrin has been posting detailed science fiction book reviews. I’ve been meaning to link for a while, he is now up to the third installment: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3. Check it out, very helpful in deciding what to read next (if I can tear myself away from Warcraft). Mark is currently reading Infinite Jest, and tackled the Baroque Cycle and Gravity’s Rainbow a while back too. I am seriously inspired.

Kindle temptation and DX desire


My friend Zack recently obtained the Kindle 2 and wrote up his initial impressions. Something I hadn’t considered was that the audio-book feature, where it will read the text aloud, is really useful for kids – his daughter loved it and I can see how my 2yr old would, too. Zack also found the bookmarks feature to be invaluable, though he hadn’t played with the annotations capability yet. The latter is really what interests me, because it’s really hard to review or discuss a book afterwards wthout notes taken during the reading process rather than after the fact.

It’s worth noting that Amazon just dropped the price on the Kindle 2 by $60, from $359 to the magic $299 price point. This puts it right in line with the iPod Touch or other high-end music/video players. I don’t have an iPod either so for me the choice would boil down to either music and video on the go, or books. Frankly, the idea of video to go isn’t all that appealing to me, since video is even more attention-monopolizing than reading. Since the Kindle supports MP3 audio, I’m more tempted by the Kindle than I am by the iPod, though it’s safe to assume that most people buying a Kindle already have an iPod and.or an iPhone as well. I personally prefer to minimize my technological footprint, though. The Kindle really is an ideal device in that regard, and with most bestsellers selling for $10, would make reading convenient and affordable. I drop that much every week on Starbucks alone!

I’m actually more interested in the Kindle DX because it has better PDF support, meaning I could use it to read research articles for my work. That would be pretty handy and almost justifies my buying one, but I just can’t rationalize it right now. I will probably wait until the end of the year, and maybe the DX will come down in price by then too. However if not for that, I’d have already picked up a Kindle at the reduced price. It’s just too tempting to ignore.

How will I resist’s Kindle v2.0?

OMG these leaked photos of Amazon’s second-generation Kindle ebook reader are unbelievably alluring:

I have a feeling that I am going to have a hard time resisting the urge. Especially since books are about ten bucks – or two Starbucks lattes, it’s down to the realm of impulse purchase. Once you get past the $360 hardware, that is.