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Old 10-09-2004, 01:08 PM   #1
Team7
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What books are you reading?

Well the days are getting colder and shorter which means more time inside instead of outside hanging out. So what books have you been reading lately? Also would you recomend them?
I am reading the the 9th book in the Robert Jordan series titled Winters Heart. I would tell you about it but it would give away too much. I dont know if I would recomend the series. Each book is almost 1000 pages and most of the content is just talking and plot twists that just seem to be killing time. I find myself thinking that this series is Jordans nest egg because people who have read this far will continue to buy his series because we want to see how it ends. Since book 4 it seems the the next book will be the last. It just seems like every book is full of useless content until the last 200 pages where there is some progress made. I really like the series as a whole but I just wish it would get on with the story. I think Jordans writing style is really good and vivid but way too many characters. It reminds me of George R.R. Martin.
So what is everyone reading and would you recomend it.
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Old 10-10-2004, 08:11 PM   #2
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I'm currently reading "Changer of Worlds", an Honor Harrington universe compilation. I've read all the core HH books, and thought it was time I finished the "Worlds of Honor" books as well. If you like "miltary" SF, you'll love the Honor Harrington series by David Weber (available at Baen's website. The first book, On Basilisk Station is a free ebook, and a good read.

I've read up to book 9 of Jordan's stuff (and the end of B9 will blow you away). I have B10, but haven't started it yet (too many other books to read before I get to it ). I like it, and have heard that Jordan plans to wrap it up soon.

Craig.
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Old 10-10-2004, 10:01 PM   #3
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I think my taste is a bit different than most here, but I love spy novels. My current read is Numbered Account by Christopher Reich.
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Nick Neumann had it all: a Harvard degree, a beautiful fiancée, a star-making Wall Street career. But behind the dazzling veneer of this golden boy is a man haunted by the brutal killing of his father seventeen years before.
Just started that book, but I know from experience that the author is fantastic. I found out about him through the free summer books from Microsoft when they were trying to get everyone to upgrade their version of Microsoft Reader. One of the free books was The Devils Banker, which is about the hunt for terrorists using financing clues. The writer has a lot of inside info about that sort of thing and it makes the book great. His writing is captivating and it's the sort of book you just can't put down.
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The explosion that shatters a smart Parisian apartment reverberates around the globe. In an instant, a suspected terrorist is dead and half a million dollars has vanished. The CIA is certain it has found a connection between the dead man and a planned terrorist attack on U.S. soil. The Devil's Banker creates an adrenaline-fueled world where following the money has never been more dangerous, and evil has never been harder to unmask.
In fact, as more indication of how much I like this author, I just finished the First Billion by Reich.
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Former fighter pilot Jett Gavallan, the high-flying CEO of a billion-dollar investment firm, is taking Russia's leading media company public on the New York Stock Exchange. When he dispatches fellow Desert Storm fighter pilot Grafton Byrnes to Moscow, Byrnes fails to return. The reason... is more diabolical and shocking than Gavallan can imagine.
Speaking of can't put the book down, Mary Higgens Clark wrote The Second Time Around which I picked up and read until I finished because it was really captivating.
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In a novel that reaffirms her reputation as "America's Queen of Suspense," Mary Higgins Clark delivers a gripping tale of deception and tantalizing suspense.

Nicholas Spencer, charismatic head of the medical research company Gen-stone, involved in the development of an anticancer vaccine, suddenly disappears. His private plane crashes en route to Puerto Rico, but his body is not found.
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Old 10-11-2004, 03:31 AM   #4
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cabarnet that sounds really good. Ill check out that book. I have only read one military science fiction book and that was ARMOR. It was fairly good but not enough action. When there was action it was amazing. Ever since then I wanted to read a good military SF book but have been too busy with other good books. ha ha. I am happy to hear that jordan is going to wrap it up and that the end of books nine is great. usually they do end good though. I also have the 10th book but after I finish the 9th book I have some other books I want to read.
I love spy movies but I have never read spy books. maybe Ill have to try sometime.
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Old 10-11-2004, 05:56 AM   #5
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BobR, from what you said Numbered Account looks like a great book. I will give it a try the next time I visit Barnes&Noble!

I am currently reading Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell and cannot decide whether I like it or not. Slashdot runs a discussion on that book:

In Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrel, the lost art is magic. This is England as the Nineteenth Century opens, and magic--founded in this country by a king who was once its strongest practitioner, a king who reigned three hundred years--is not practiced any longer. Oh, hundreds of magicians still argue vigilantly over its customs and methods and history, but the casting of actual spells is beyond them.

Enter Gilbert Norrell, a strange little recluse of a man, who hoards books and does his damnedest to end the career of any magician he can find. Who is also, by the way, the first Englishman to do magic in centuries. Mr. Norrell's purpose is to restore magic to England, provided it is studied and practiced under his terms, and preferably by no one but him.

Jonathan Strange, a young man who stumbles upon magic on a whim, who is to become Norrell's colleague, student, and adversary, has something slightly different in mind.
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Old 10-11-2004, 07:14 AM   #6
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Morpheus,

They also have Reich books at eReader.com if you want the eBook variety. Just do a search on Reich. I think I got a bundle of two of his books at a reduced rate. And there was a note yesterday about getting one of the books free. Maybe it's with purchase of the eReader pro or something like that? (I already had it so didn't try to figure it out.)

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Originally Posted by Morpheus
BobR, from what you said Numbered Account looks like a great book. I will give it a try the next time I visit Barnes&Noble!
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Old 10-11-2004, 12:38 PM   #7
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Well, what I'm reading is a little different. I'm reading Junky, by W S Burroughs. So far I'm hooked into it. I don't know why but I like this sort of literature about sordid existences, where the main character (Burroughs, himself in this case) has, from the very beginning, already lost it all.
Recently I finished A Universal History of Iniquity, by Borges. I definitely love Borges, and this book is one of my favorites. This is the second time I read it (I seldom read a book twice), and there will be a third time, for sure. I found this review in Amazon:
Quote:
In his writing, Borges always combined high seriousness with a wicked sense of fun. Here he reveals his delight in re-creating (or making up) colorful stories from the Orient, the Islamic world, and the Wild West, as well as his horrified fascination with knife fights, political and personal betrayal, and bloodthirsty revenge. Spark-ling with the sheer exuberant pleasure of story-telling, this collection marked the emergence of an utterly distinctive literary voice.
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Old 10-11-2004, 09:05 PM   #8
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I'm currently reading Smart Mobs: The Next Social Revolution by Howard Rheingold. It's a non-fiction title about the social impact of wireless handheld communications, how people can communicate and collaborate like never before thanks to wireless PDAs, smartphones and text messaging devices like the Blackberry.

I just ordered On Intelligence by Jeff Hawkins (yes, the father of the Palm Pilot, Handspring Visor and Treo).

As a PDA enthusiast, this work could provide some valuable insight into the direction personal digital assistants are heading:

Quote:
With his powerful new theory of how the human brain works, Jeff Hawkins not only explains why today's computers fail to achieve real intelligence, he begins to chart a path for us to finally build a truly intelligent machine. Check out why leading scientists are calling Jeff's book "the most important book in neuroscience, psychology, and artificial intelligence in a generation."
.

Sounds like maybe we'll really start to see some truly "smart" devices that can anticipate what we need them to do for us, along the lines of the Apple Newton's "Intelligent Assistance Architecture".

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Old 10-11-2004, 09:40 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by ballistic
I just ordered On Intelligence by Jeff Hawkins (yes, the father of the Palm Pilot, Handspring Visor and Treo).
That one sounds like a very interesting book. Have you read Penrose's The emperor's new mind and Shadows of the mind? I read The emperor's... only. It's a tough one, and the difference with the book you mention, is that in this one Penrose states that there will never be trully inteligent machines.
It's always nice to find new authors, thanks.
EDIT:
did you know about onintelligence.org?

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Old 10-12-2004, 08:03 AM   #10
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No, I'm not familiar with Penrose and thanks for the info, I'll check his titles out.
I didn't know Hawkins and Sandra Blakeslee had www.onintelligence.org as a site for their book.

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Old 10-12-2004, 08:41 AM   #11
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what was his reason for machines never being truly inteligent? It seems like that would be the logical evolution of computers. That could just be that I have watched terminator one to many times.
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Old 10-12-2004, 11:45 PM   #12
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Well, I find it hard to tell you in a few words (in a lot of words, too, actually). What he says (I hope Penrose doesn't read MobileRead) is that he believes consciousness (where's the spellchecker?) can only be imitated by algorithms, that there's something about it that goes beyond logic and determinism. He says that our approach to artificial intelligence must dramatically change before we can really create it, because in their current state, mathematics only can lead us to create heaps of algorithms that imitate intelligence but are void of consciousness.
I disagree with you, Team. I don't think computers will ever have "independent" intelligence, I don't think they'll ever be aware of nothing. Why? Maybe because we're not powerful enough.
I feel it's impossible for the mind to fully comprehend itself. To me, it would be as if we could lift ourselves just by pulling our hair.
Maybe it's just romanticism.
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Old 10-13-2004, 12:16 PM   #13
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Wow, there's a lot to respond to here. Last things first:

I think that we will be able to produce intelligent machines, but in a different way than you guys seem to be talking about. To me, it will more likely come from either a neural net or parallel processing style setup. It will be set into motion and it will "learn" on its own. It won't be released fully created and fully intelligent. It will grow and consciousness may well be a sort of unintended consequence. In the same way that insects and animals are governed by simple rules that create complex patterns, I think that intelligence can evolve from a (relatively) simple setup. But I do agree that we will not be able to create a fully intelligent mind on our own. I predict that we will make strides with the simple-minded robots first, the robo-insects and fish, that will help us understand the structures of intelligence.

I've just read Interface by Neal Stephenson, which was a fun read, but definitely not his best work. Still, I couldn't put the damn thing down until I was done. It chronicles a presidential campaign swallowed whole by the media (in fact this aspect of the book is very timely) and a candidate who has come under outside control through a brain implant that helped him recover from a stroke.

I'm almost done with The Age of Spiritual Machines by Ray Kurzweil. It's a book of futurism, guesses at the progression of computers and humans and ultimately, how we will join. He imagines a future of augmented humans and machines that learn. (I have to say that while he did influence the above rant some, I had the same setiments before reading this book.) I don't agree with many of his predictions, and I think he severely underestimates the social and political changes that will accompany his predictions. He also does not address some core issues of futurism, namely the forthcoming shortage of resources with which to build the machines. Still, the book is quick and it does make you appreciate the ever-accelerating rate of change.

Next I'm working on Creative Home Schooling by Lisa Rivero and Natural Learning Rhythms by Josette & Ba Luvmour. Can you tell I have a (nearly) three year old? I hope that the bulk of her education can be done at home and I've got to prepare!

Finally, Francesco, I recommend to you Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller, which fits your current theme. It's a bit more mundane than Junky, but it does have the advantage of being set in France in the 30's. Good stuff.
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Old 10-14-2004, 03:19 PM   #14
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I have a strong prejudice against Henry Miller. I believe he wasn't authentic, that he was just a show-off. The funniest thing about this is that I don't know why, and that I haven't read any novel by him (I did read a short essay about Mishima, though). So, I'll give him a try, for sure.
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Old 12-16-2004, 12:09 PM   #15
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Current and Recent Reading (all _highly_ recommended):
1. early issues of Planet Magazine for some good short SF interludes between larger books; I've got the first 40 editions in my UX50 (I did the ebook conversions on their site, BTW) - http://www.planetmagazine.com
2. Cory Doctorow's "Eastern Standard Tribe" - available in ebook form from the author's site http://www.craphound.com
3. T.E.Lawrence's "Seven Pillars of Wisdom" (that's "Ned" to his family, "T.E." to his publishers, and "... of Arabia" to the popular press...) is my current read. I'm only 1/4th through, as of lunch today, but I already consider it one of my recommended reads as it sheds a lot of light on today's Middle-Eastern politics and society. Availalbe in TXT form from Project Gutenberg.
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