Books to Read While the Algae Grow in Your Fur, May 2012
Attention conservation notice: I have no taste. Also, two
- Karen E. Olson, The Missing Ink
- Teresa Grant, Vienna
- Assorted mystery-flavored mind candy. Enjoying the Grant book did involve
shutting down the part of me which kept muttering "The Congress of Vienna was a
gathering of tyrants, conspiring to crush every decent impulse of European
civilization for their own temporary self-interest".
McAuley, Gardens of the
- Sequel to The Quiet
War. While you could probably enjoy it on its own, the two benefit
greatly from being read together. It has the same virtues as its predecessor:
a vividly realized future world, or rather worlds; immersion in beautiful and
bizarre alien landscapes; characters with depth; a sensible and momentous plot;
and (I realize this is a minority taste) mostly plausible science.
(Dr. Hong-Owen is a bit too much of the omni-competent movie scientist,
however.) Taken together, these two books are some of the best stuff McAuley
has ever done, and that is saying really quite a lot of the man who
- Spoiler-laden remarks: The one place where I feel
like McAuley takes the easy way out, here, is with the people-power revolution
at the end. This seems to me to come off entirely too easily and unambiguously
--- the real things take many years of building organizations and networks, at
least for the revolutionary core. But the novel does take place over a span of
many years, and perhaps all this is happening off-screen.
- There is also an interesting essay to be written
(by someone else) about McAuley's relations to his inspirations in these books.
One such inspiration is clearly
and the rest of his "Shaper/Mechanist" stories. But another is Stu
Origins of Order, which is the source for a lot of the ideas about
Avernus's gardens. The common thread is of course evolution wandering off
through the space possibilities, but it's fascinating to see how that was woven
together with an actual plot.
Plenty: Inside the Fifties' Soviet Dream
- L. V. Kantorovich, The Best Use of Economic Resources
- Not exactly a review: In Soviet Union, Optimization
Problem Solves You.
- Kantorovich's book is long out of print (at least in translation); it's the
sort of thing which ought to be online, as a historical document if nothing
else, but who knows who owns the rights to the text at this point.
- (I have vague memories of reading or at least
browsing my father's copy of Kantorovich when I was an undergraduate, but that
was 20 years ago and I remembered basically nothing. The CMU library copy is
itself now something of a historical artifact, with a check-out list of
hand-written names [mostly illegible] inside the back cover, and a punch-card
left between the pages.)
- Jack Campbell, Invincible
- M. C. A. Hogarth, Spots the Space Marine
- Joel Shepherd, Crossover
- Assorted science-fiction-flavored mind candies. I'm not sure why this
month's assortment was so uniformly militaristic (reaction to grading?).
— Hogarth's self-published novel on a par with the professional ones, if
one is willing to trade inhabiting the consciousness of a character for
narrative speed, which I am.
- (Previously in the Campbell
- Lise Getoor and Ben Taskar (eds.), Introduction to Statistical Relational Learning [book website]
- Still, I think, the best thing you can read to
begin learning the subject,
which is only going to get more important. For me the highlights were the
papers on the different formalisms and their strengths and weaknesses*, but
the applications, and the computational papers about how to make inference
actually work were also interesting, and mileage will vary.
- I actually began this in 2008, but only just finished the last few chapters...
- Disclaimer: I got my copy of this as a gift when I gave a talk
at Prof. Getoor's group.
- *: Sutton and McCallum on conditional random
fields; Getoor et al. on probabilistic relational models; Tasker et al. on
relational Markov networks; Heckerman et al. on probabilistic
entity-relationship models and plate models; Domingos and Richardson on Markov
logic networks; Neville and Jensen on relational dependency networks.
- <peeving="petty">The editors should've forced
the authors to update their references; it feels like half the citations to
"unpublished manuscripts" or "preprint" are to other
Books to Read While the Algae Grow in Your Fur;
Scientifiction and Fantastica;
Automata and Calculating Machines;
Pleasures of Detection, Portraits of Crime;
Enigmas of Chance;
The Dismal Science;
The Progressive Forces;
Posted by crshalizi at May 31, 2012 23:59 | permanent link