Tag Archives: Books of 1996

Re: Men At Arms

Terry Pratchett are good for taking a break, and Men At Arms is just about right for a “hang up your brain and read” kind of book.

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Reading Frank McCourt

Way too long ago, I heard a great interview with Frank McCourt which made me want to read Teacher Man. He told how he noticed that the most creative writing he was getting out of his students were their excuses. So he assigned them to write excuses for great historical figures. I guess I’m not as creative as a surly high-school student, because I eventually realized I had no excuse to keep putting off reading his books, and even less excuse for why it’s taken me so long to tell you about my reactions.

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Re: The Case For Mars

I have mixed feelings about The Case for Mars, by Robert Zubrin. The second half is full of reasonable-looking ideas for using the resources available on the nearest terrestrial planet to build a liveable place. But the first half is a hard slog through the self-congratulation about how brilliant he was for coming up with the Mars Direct model and tedious ax-grinding against the people who don’t agree that he’s brilliant. It gets even harder to take him seriously when the attitude meter regarding the various engineering challenges, like automated propellant manufacture from the Martian atmosphere, slides from conceivable to feasible to easy. In short, I am skeptical, but I like the way this book sparks my imagination.

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