Wednesday, March 10, 2010

This Week at the Library (10-3)

American Infidel is a biography of Robert G. Ingersoll, one which places slight emphasis on his career as a "secular preacher", one who railed against the abuses of organized religion while promoting liberty and humanism.  The biography is thorough, presenting a rich view of his life.

Murder at the ABA is one of Isaac Asimov's few straight mysteries. Unusually, Asimov himself is a primary character, helping protagonist and narrator Darius Just find out if the death of a mutual acquaintence was an accident or murder. The result is a humorous whodunit.

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court is a 1889 fantasy story in which a proud believer in the American ideal is transported to the sixth century, where he puts his "Yankee ingenuity" and knowledge as a machinist to work, attempting to build the 19th century from the bones of Dark-Age England.  The book is not only a fantasy story, but an attack on the romanticized medieval world and a slight commentary on the 19th' own views of progress.

Hitler's War, first in a new series by Harry Turtledove, is a straightforward "What if? story with two points of derivation from reality, one of which sees World War 2 beginning at the 1938 Munich Conference. The book's ending plot twist guarantees that I'll be reading the second novel.

The Archie Americana -- Best of the Fifties two-volume set collects forty Archie Comics stories from the 1950s. The books' portrayal of the fifties is largley limited to clothing fashions and slang, with the occassional story about Elvis or the Beats.

Potatoes are Cheaper by Max Shulman uses the classic formula of a love triangle to present a comedic novel. Although these stories can  be somewhat tragic,  the lead character of Marty Katz doesn't necessarily command the reader's sympathy. This is a hilarious story all the same.

Pick of the Week:  American Infidel or Murder at the ABA.
Quotation of the Week:
"It was useless to argue with her. Arguments have no chance against petrified training: they wear it as little as the waves wear a cliff." (p. 87, Connecticut Yankee)
Next Week:

  • It's Raining Frogs and Fishes by Jerry Dennis  amounts to a collection of essays about curious weather phenomena.  
  • The Human Zoo, Desmond Morris. I've been nibbling at this one for weeks, but never really diving in. 
  • The Ethics of Star Trek, Judith Barad and Ed Robinson. The book uses episodes with pointed philosophical themes alongside more conventional philosophical works (Plato's Republic, The Nicomachean Ethics) to tackle ethics, exploring the ideas of justice, personal virtue, and morality. 

It's also time to dive into more term paper research, so I'll probably be reading about medieval/renaissance science and submarine warfare in the next month or so.