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Far better than I expected for a book from 1818

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 2020-05-28

I wondered how a story published in 1818 would sound to modern ears and was impressed. It holds up well and is not quite what I expected, having been exposed to the movies and Halloween versions of the monster. The original story will remind you of course that Frankenstein is the name of the doctor, not his creation.

The monster learns to speak (French) by spying on a family living in a forest. This kind of implausible detail might be handled differently in a modern story, but it moves things along. The actions and emotions of the doctor might be considered "over acting" today. We're constantly reminded of how tortured and determined he is to reverse his mistake and destroy his creation. I almost wonder if it inspired the more refined fixation of Ahab to destory the White Whale in Moby Dick (1851).

Anything that doesn't quite work to modern ears instead comes across as "style". It's as if we're transported into a Victorian era to hear a tale in the language of the time. That means it was using modern language when it was published. If it's still so good in 2020, imagine how great it must have been to read in 1818.

Interesting story but I don't know if I believe it

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 2020-04-18

The story tells of humans who visit an alien world that's very similar to Earth. The norms and values of the society are judged to be totalitarian because there is no individualism, creative expression or crime. There was war in the past, but no more. They have some technology that's far more advanced than ours (control of gravity/time, access to wormholes for traversing the universe), yet they don't know how to make an atomic bomb.

It sort of reminds me of Rendezvous With Rama, a hard science-fiction story that presents an O'Neil Cylinder (a sort of enormous empty space ark) in a believable way. In this way, Secret Journey to Planet Serpo tries to be hard science too. But there are too many things that make me think it's fiction. I guess the aliens breathe oxygen? Gravity is also the same as on Earth? Some of the aliens speak broken English, as if having been exposed to Earth (American?) culture before.

Maybe Ronald Reagan was convinced, but I'm far more skeptical. The world is just too similar and the environment too conducive to human life. The Moon and Mars are real. Maybe disappointing in comparison, but real. Serpo just sounds like fantasy.

A model of how science does not have to be dry

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 2020-04-17

This book could have been so boring, but instead it's a model for how natural science can be interesting and compelling. The content is fascinating and made even better by the voice of Mike Grady. I'll see what else he reads just to hear him tell a story.

4 people found this helpful

We need more books like this

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 2020-04-08

Too few people are aware of the problems with quantum mechanics. Every time I hear QM cited it's accompanied with words like "now that we know for certain that QM is undeniable" and "face it, we are living in a quantum world" and "it has to be so, because quauntum uncertainty" and "the most rigorously tested theory ever"… few people, including physicists, realize that it's not understood. Maybe because it took 100 years for science to finally accept it that we now see people invested so deeply that it's as if the case were closed and there were nothing left to explain.

I used to enjoy the fact that Einstein was "wrong". It made him human. But more and more it seems like we have to see why Einstein was so skeptical.

For sure, quantum mechanics isn't going to be "wrong". Just like how Relativity didn't make Newton wrong, it just made it more precise and explained the mechanism. The current interpretation of QM is just one of many that used to be equally debated. For example, some people are still looking for hidden variables or some other explanation to why QM has uncertainty at its heart. Let those people speak so that we may possibly learn more about gravity and how to reconcile QM and Relativity. Let people shed light on the problem of measurement and the observer.

And please somebody look into The Randell Mills Unified Theory. I want to hear what great minds have to say. When QM theorists can only say "shut up and calculate", it's an admission that there's still work to do.

One interesting idea, not much else

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 2020-04-08

The dots along the 37th parallel are interesting. But the book is pretty meandering before it gets to that one good revelation. A bit weak compared to other books on this subject. The author is not a UFO researcher and this seems to be his first foray into Skinwalkers and subjects that normally cite other cases and research. This is more of a story about the guy who buys an RV and travels around trying to get to the bottom of cattle mutilations. Not bad, but we never care about that guy. We want answers.

Pretty good, well researched

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 2020-04-08

Three great insights from this book:
1. Create (good) habits. Say practice piano every day or go to the gym once a week. You can break that habit once, for any reason. But break it twice in a row means you have created a new habit. A powerful idea that's easy to remember.

2. Related to No.1: You don't have to do an hour of your new habit every day. Just doing it for at least 5 minutes is better than skipping it, because skipping means you have created a new habit.

3. The reference to the Amish shows some serious research, just as in the book What Technology Wants. The Amish famously avoid new technology until they have determined it won't hurt their values. Their patriarchal council isn't perfect, but it exists for a clear purpose, and they have the concept of Rumspringa which allows teenagers to leave the community for a year to experience the rest of the world before they must decide to return to Amish values or stay. 80% return. My own "modern" family was not open minded like this. The Amish system shows a degree of confidence in its values, and ultimately lets the child decide for himerself.

Far beyond the Roswell crash

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 2020-04-06

Every now and then there's a book that goes far beyond expectations. "The Day After Roswell" could be titled "Roswell: how captured alien technology changed the 20th Century". This is more like a comprehensive alternate history of everything we are taught about the world after WWII. Just like how we see Forest Gump show up in every major historical event if we look closely, Corso's account sheds a different light on nearly all technological inventions and Cold War conflicts. Everything from Kevlar (bullet-proof vests), computer chips, fibre optics and lasers were ideas sparked by trying to reverse engineer captured technology. If we're to believe everything he says, the Cold War involved a threat from extraterrestrials. The MAD arms race and EMP bursts were as much to dissuade alien craft from invading the planet. Not just a story, but a vast alternate history that would take years to invent or even just to write down assuming it's all true. The military initially feared disclosure would lead to a "War of the Worlds" type panic. But also, due to the fact that Rosweel was on par with the Manhattan Project in terms of secrecy, without a time when it could finally be revealed, the whole thing took on a life of its own. Besides, nobody would ever believe it.

Excellent story on the key figure of Area 51 lore

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 2020-04-04

Excellent book on the Bob Lazar story. Consistent with other stories and documentaries about him, but with specific information I hadn't heard before. It talks about the secret craft he was tasked with reverse engineering, and about a colleague he worked with at S4, but it's really a book that explains Bob Lazar's life and how he ended up doing the work that made him famous.

Basically, as part of the background check to give him more clearance his employer discovered marital problems that Bob didn't even know about yet. That kind of problem is a deal breaker for granting top secret clearance, because it makes people emotionally unpredictable and it wasn't safe enough to keep him in the loop.

Lazar's story has always been consistent, and this book is well written.

Good storytelling but weak speculation

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 2020-04-04

The stories are great but some of the speculation and ideas at the end are weak and fanciful. For example ice circles on ponds are well understood natural phenomena that you can easily recreate by setting up the right conditions. Also string theory is in crisis and even quauntum mechanics is still not considered solved or finished. Read Lee Smolin or even Randell Mills. Some think Einstein was right and there could be hidden variables or more understanding to discover. The epilog of this book just goes too far into « anything is possible ».

Well read, story is emotionally draining

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 2020-03-31

Educated contains some physical and psychological abuse that's hard to hear because it's so believable (it's a memoir).

It's amazing to learn how this woman found the motivation and ability to educate herself.

We might wonder, if she'd only had a loving home, she'd have been fine. Naive perhaps, but happy. Likely not.

Children are at the bottom of a heirarchy: child, older sibling, mother, teacher, father, clergy, God. God cannot be questioned, and each authority figure in turn, back down to the child.

A child that cannot question or challenge authority does not learn how to think and cannot teach this skill. Might-makes-right is a cycle of abuse.

Education allows either side to argue using neutral information to make a point.

In this story, mental illness blamed, but The Lord is invoked to end arguments. Mentally sane or not, religion has always empowered people with abusive authority. If religion cannot be questioned, then you are not high enough in the heirarchy of abuse.