VIEWS FROM WEST PID

What fires up our imaginations to write and draw stories for this dog blog? Everything and anything, really. Read on…

Books:

Welcome to a new year…and thank dog 2020 is now behind us.  Kicking off with a mixed bag of goodies that are suitable for for young adults and above.  Enjoy!

To Sleep in a Sea of Stars – written by Christopher Paolini (2020)

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  • Publisher : Tor; Main Market edition (15 Sept. 2020)
  • ISBN-10 : 1529046505
  • ISBN-13 : 978-1529046502

During a routine survey mission on an uncolonized planet, Kira finds an alien relic. At first she’s delighted, but elation turns to terror when the ancient dust around her begins to move.

As war erupts among the stars, Kira is launched into a galaxy-spanning odyssey of discovery and transformation. First contact isn’t at all what she imagined, and events push her to the very limits of what it means to be human. (courtesy amazon.com)

My take: As have probably guessed before nows I really dig good Sci-Fi – and this book delivers on the big ideas, consistent world-building and unique character, both human and alien.  Where it lets itself down is in the non-existent editing.  800+ pages of first person narrative is a bit of a plod and a full 200 pages could be neatly hacked away if the author chose to loose the description of the main protagonist’s movements – meter by meter – and sometimes just dived right into the the drama itself.  Is the the fault of the author or the inability of the publishers [thems editors who get paid a lot] to streamline the narrative for the sake of a tight and action-packed drama.  It is not a bad book, but let down by the sheer volume of words.  Could be so much better with endless descriptions removed. Approach cautiously…


Every Life Is On Fire: How Thermodynamics Explains the Origins of Living Things – written by Jeremy England (2020)

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  • Publisher : Basic Books; Illustrated edition (15 Oct. 2020)
  • ISBN-10 : 1541699017
  • ISBN-13 : 978-1541699014

Why are we alive? Most things in the universe aren’t. And if you trace the evolutionary history of plants and animals back far enough, you will find that, at some point, neither were we. Scientists have wrestled with this problem for centuries, and no one has been able to offer a credible theory. But in 2013, at just 30 years old, biophysicist Jeremy England published a paper that has utterly upended the ongoing study of life’s origins. In Every Life Is on Fire, he describes, for the first time, his highly publicized theory known as dissipative adaptation. (courtesy amazon.com)

My take: what is life, and how did it emerge from inanimate matter?  This is an absorbing book written for the layman (lyk me!) and covers a question we have all asked ourselves at one time or another.  Thankfully, it stays well clear of philological explanations and focuses on the science.  At the same time, it doesn’t rain on the reader’s particular mythic beliefs, but simply lays out the facts of how we became us.  Great read, informative and entertaining.  You will look at a houseplant in a new light long after you turn the last page.


Shuggie Bain – written by Douglas Stuart (2020)

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  • Publisher : Picador; Main Market edition (6 Aug. 2020)
  • ISBN-10 : 1529019273
  • ISBN-13 : 978-1529019278

Winner of the Booker Prize 2020
Shortlisted for the National Book Award for Fiction 2020

The Waterstones Scottish Book of the Year 2020

It is 1981. Glasgow is dying and good families must grift to survive. Agnes Bain has always expected more from life. She dreams of greater things: a house with its own front door and a life bought and paid for outright (like her perfect, but false, teeth). But Agnes is abandoned by her philandering husband, and soon she and her three children find themselves trapped in a decimated mining town. As she descends deeper into drink, the children try their best to save her, yet one by one they must abandon her to save themselves. It is her son Shuggie who holds out hope the longest. (courtesy amazon.com)My take: what a sorry tale that screams out ‘where there’s a dream kept secret there’s also hope for a better life’.  An amazingly intimate, compassionate, gripping portrait of addiction, courage and love, populated by carefully drawn characterization that never falls back on kitchen sink cliché.  I loved this book and get goose bumps just thinking about it.  Only want to read one tale of a hard life in late 20th century Scotland?  Get yor eyeballs round this!


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