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18 January 2018

Surviving AI, by Calum Chase

I know what you’re thinking: another book about AI, Callan? Really? Yes, really. I don’t know what compelled me – but perhaps that the author’s name was so similar to my own spurred me onward. Surviving AI is Calum Chase’s summary of the current state of affairs with AI risk management (specifically, of course, relative to artificial superintelligence). It’s a well balanced book in that it plainly states where there …

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13 January 2018

Year Zero, by Rob Reid

I was so impressed with After On that I went out an got the only other novel by Rob Reid, Year Zero. The plot set up is something rather ludicrous, but the novel works in spite of the silly premise. Here’s the idea: There are a lot of alien civilizations out there, and they are really advanced. Banded together into a Refined League, they have mastered almost all forms of …

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31 December 2017

To the Bright Edge of the World, by Eowyn Ivey

My friend Betsy recommended I read this novel, and I’m glad she did. It’s of an unusual structure: a series of documents, arranged in more or less chronological order (with some variation for plot structure), written by 5 principal characters, two in particular. The two are a U.S. Army captain sent on an expedition to explore the Wolverine River Valley of Alaska, and his wife, who remains behind in Vancouver, …

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28 December 2017

I Contain Multitudes, by Ed Yong

Ed Yong’s “Not Exactly Rocket Science” was one of the first science blogs that came onto my radar ten years ago when I was wading into geology blogging for the first time. He has an impressive record of excellent science journalism and really evocative writing. I was delighted to bump into him and introduce myself at the March for Science last winter. I hadn’t realized that he lived in DC …

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15 December 2017

Aerial Geology, by Mary Caperton Morton

There’s a lovely new coffee table book out, just in time for holiday shopping. My fellow EARTH magazine contributor Mary Capterton Morton is the author of Aerial Geology, a beautiful massive tome that profiles a hundred geologically interesting locations across the North American continent. Mary was kind enough to forward me a copy for review, and I was delighted to flip through its gorgeous pages. It’s a visual feast, with …

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4 December 2017

Book reviews: Recent fiction reads

How about I take this opportunity to catch on Reporting My Books? These are some not-necessarily geology-relevant, but also maybe pretty interesting books that I’ve read lately. All are fiction. 11/22/63, by Stephen King I started reading this time-travel novel by Stephen King last month when a significant trove (though not everything) of files from the government’s accounting of the Kennedy Assassination was declassified and released to the public. King’s …

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24 October 2017

The View from the Cheap Seats, by Neil Gaiman

I’ve been reading a fair bit of Neil Gaiman over the past year or so: American Gods, Good Omens (with Terry Pratchett), and The Ocean at the End of the Lane. Each of those books is good in its own way, and each is fiction. I just finished a compilation of Gaiman’s nonfiction, and there is enough about it that I think is applicable to the audience of this blog …

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16 October 2017

After On, by Rob Reid

It turns out that Rob Reid can write. This “novel of Silicon Valley” is a tour de force of writing. Reid shows off his chops at writing potboiler adventure stories, ironic Amazon reviews, and sparkling dialogue. It’s a story of Silicon Valley culture, of start-ups and venture capital and social navigation in the Bay Area, but it’s also a novel that explores artificial intelligence (AI) in a fun, engaging way. …

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9 October 2017

Braiding Sweetgrass, by Robin Wall Kimmerer

Braiding Sweetgrass is a collection of thematically-linked essays by Robin Wall Kimmerer, an environmentalist, academic, and Native American. The themes that unite them are plants, the human relationship to the natural world, and love.  I’ve read Kimmerer’s essays in Orion before, but there’s a sort of literary force multiplier when you get a whole book full of her thoughtful insights, story after story, back to back.  Braiding Sweetgrass is a …

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20 September 2017

Make It Stick, by Peter Brown, Henry Roediger and Mark McDaniel

This past spring, when I attended the InTeGrate workshop called “Teaching About the Earth Online,” one of the participants recommended the book Make It Stick, by Peter Brown, Henry Roediger and Mark McDaniel. Months later, the volume finally moved up in my reading queue to the top. It’s a fascinating account of the empirical research about how people successfully learn. I found it absolutely engaging and stimulating, in particular the …

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