Bolos 4: Last Stand

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This book continues on from many of the previous short stories, which is a nice touch. It also starts to fill in some of the historical gaps between the collapse of US society (night of the trolls), to the Concordiat Empire, to the Melconian wars. I found one story in this book pretty hard to read, but that’s mainly because its about a small child risking death from basically crazies. That story was good, just a bit close to the bone for me. I liked this book, which isn’t a surprise because I have liked all the others as well.

[isbn: 0671877607]

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The Book of General Ignorance

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I seem to be on a bit of a trivia book kick, which is at least partially motivated by getting through all my Christmas presents so I can pack them into a box and move to a different country. This book was written as part of the production of the very excellent BBC quiz show Quite Interesting and is quite a contrast from the extremely average Why Do Men Have Nipples that I just finished reading. This book feels well researched, and is on par with Why Don’t Penguin’s Feet Freeze, although the style is quite different (the New Scientist book offers multiple answers for each question, and is written by real scientists in the fields discussed, this book flows as one manuscript). I suspect it helps here to have seen the quiz show, because many of the other reviews I have seen online complain about the style of the book, which reads in much the same manner as Stephen Fry’s commentary during the program. If you’re familiar with the format, then the book flows quite nicely (whereas if you haven’t, you might end up why the book jumps around so much). I really liked this book.

[isbn: 0307394913]

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Why do men have nipples?

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This book is pretty light weight. The font is big, and there is lots of “chrome” on the pages, which conspire to make a book which would probably be only 100 pages in a normal font more like 200 pages. The book also suffers from trying a little too hard to be funny, with numerous interruptions for the authors to tell you how terribly clever they are. Its annoying quite quickly. The answers also aren’t as detailed and believable as those found to similar questions in “Why don’t penguin’s feet freeze? (and 114 other questions)“, the New Scientist book I just finished reading. I’d say go with the New Scientist book if you’re buying something, but read this if you’re given it.

[isbn: 1400082315]

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Isaac Asimov’s Robot City: Robots and Aliens: Alliance

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Given how disappointed I have been in other books in this series, I was pleasantly surprised by this one. The style is very readable, and the content is interesting. The plot seems more nuanced than some o
f the others in the series, and the characters aren’t as one dimensional either. This isn’t the best book I have ever read, but it was surprisingly solid, especially given some of the poor ground work it h
ad to deal with.

[isbn: 0441731309]

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Why don’t penguin’s feet freeze? (and 114 other questions)

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This book was really fun. Its a collection of 115 questions sent into New Scientist magazine, and the answers provided by other readers. Sometimes the answers and sarcastic or funny, and sometimes they are incredibly detailed. I found this book really interesting to read, and I certainly picked up some trivial to annoy my wife along the way. Excellent.

[isbn: 1416541462]

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Bolos 2: The Unconquerable

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This is another collection of short stories involving Laumer’s Bolo artificially intelligent super tanks. None of these stories are written by Laumer, but they are written by some very good SF authors. I enjoyed the collection, although I do think Honor of the Regiment was marginally better.

[isbn: 0671876295]

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Bolos 1: Honor of the Regiment

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I’m quite partial to the idea of artificially intelligent super tanks. I think they’d simplify my social life quite a lot, for example. I’m also partial to short story collections, and this book is both of those. The short stories are written by some excellent authors as well, which certainly helps. This book continues on from The Compleat Bolo, although Laumer didn’t write any of the stories in this book. The stories follow two main patterns — long retired tanks which the locals don’t trust until they save the day; and stories about active combat. I guess that means you have to like war stories for these to work for you — the stories are quite similar to David Drake’s in that regard. Excellent, quick read.

[isbn: 0671721844]

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