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The Doors of Eden by Adrian Tchaikovsky

The great think about Tchaikovsky's sci-fi is that he never supposes that humans are 'special'. That humans are the only life that is, and could ever be in the universe. His sci-fi is quite unique just like the author, how many authors are writing sci-fi that have a zoology, psychology degree and practice law?

This book started out all over place, but the pieces came into place near the end. This isn't my favorite work by this author but I can see how this is a lighter, more accessible book. This is like his Dan Brown thriller that can get people interested in his work.

The major premise of this book is that the world is ending, and scientists and some friendly 'aliens' are there to help us put the pieces back together again. Sounds like Dan Brown minus the aliens eh?

Once you've whetted your appetite for weird sentient creepy crawlies with this book, you can check out my favorite series by this author, Children of Time (only 600 pages!).

Rating: ★★★★

Book #4 in my #ReadingChallenge2021 #BookReview #Books #SciFi #ScienceFiction #AdrianTchaikovsky #England

Excession by Iain M. Banks

Culture series #5

A Unexplained Thing appears in space and is quickly a catalyst to schemes and plans by the Culture, Elench, and Affronters.

This was way better than The State of the Art. Banks just doesn't do well in short stories. This was a good entry into The Culture universe, but wasn't as riveting as the first 3 books in The Culture series. I hope the last 4 books are even better.

There were lots of little subplots that made things very confusing. It also got confusing at time because of all the Culture ships involved. The first 3 Culture books were better because the world was big, but the action focussed on the politics, and double dealing of certain characters. This book was a huge Space Opera. There were few characters we really got to know well, and way too many Minds/Culture ships to keep track of in the story.

The Culture books don't need to be read in order, but do not read this one before you've read others because you'd be hopelessly lost.

Rating: ★★★★

Book #3 in my #ReadingChallenge2021 #BookReview #Books #SciFi #ScienceFiction #IanMBanks #TheCulture

The Fatal Shore: The Epic of Australia's Founding by Robert Hughes

The history of the birth of Australia which came out of the suffering and brutality of England's infamous convict transportation system.

Every now and then I read one of these epic, funny, exciting, and goddamned informative history books, and I remember why I love reading history books. Everybody should read this. This is a concise, witty, and well-researched & organized book about Austria, the largest continent/country.


Raid of No Return by Nathan Hale

(Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales #7)

Another solid entry into the Hazardous Tales series. I have already read #1-6 and reviewed them. I have #8-10 sitting on my shelf ready for me to read soon.

This one is about the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders. They were a group of bombers who made a top secret bombing run on Tokyo and other Japanese to hurt Japanese morale, and of course probably to retaliate for Pearl Harbour.

Cool pictures of the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders here.

Rating: ★★★★ Book #1 in my #ReadingChallenge2021 #Books #BookReview #NathanHale #HazardousTales #history #graphicNovel #WW2 #war #Doolittle

The State of the Art by Iain M. Banks

Culture #4

I really like the Culture. If there was a future society I would want to live in, it would probably be The Culture. I have been putting off reading this book though because I wasn't all that interested. I grit my teeth though, and got through this so I can get to the other part of the Culture series.

This is the weakest Culture book I've read so far. It's a book of short stories. Banks does not do well in short form. His books are intricate, long, and detailed, but that is the antithesis of short stories. The mid-range length story, The State of the Art, was sort of an interesting premise but didn't achieve the heights Banks has hit in the previous 3 Culture books.

One interesting thing about this book were the illustrations. I love books with illustrations. They certainly added some visual appeal to the book.

All-in-all, if you like Banks' Culture series, you have to read this for completions sake, but it is not a very joyous or memorable book. Read it, and move on.

Rating: ★★

Book #128 in my My 2020 Reading Challenge #BookReview #Books #SciFi #ScienceFiction #IanMBanks #ShortStory #TheCulture

Martian Time-Slip by Philip K. Dick

Let me say, this was the most disappointing Philip K. Dick I've ever read. I don't know what my expectations were coming into this, but certainly it wasn't this.

I've finished the book, and can't really pinpoint what the point of it all was.

The book is set in Mars where there is like a frontier-like atmosphere kinda like when America was 'opening' up the west. Mars has their own Indians, called Bleekman (har har! Like blackman, get it!). There are lonely housewives at home while men are out fixing things (groan). There is an evil union boss that controls a lot of Mars. There is some land speculation. There is a boy that can apparently feel/see the future. That was the most interesting part of this, very boring book, and we didn't even get there until like 50% through the book.

This book is all over the place. It has not aged well (bleekman, desperate housewives). The core plot device of an autistic (?) kid that can see the future is pretty lame, and doesn't really advance the plot very much.

All-in-all the most disappointing Philip K. Dick books I've read.

Rating: ★★

Book #127 in my My 2020 Reading Challenge #BookReview #Books #SciFi #ScienceFiction #PhilipKDick #Mars

Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared Diamond

This may have been a bad choice to read in the year 2020, or maybe the perfect read? The point of this book is that we are fucked, but maybe not if we wake up.

The book goes over the history of some past societies that collapsed, some well known (Easter Island) and others more obscure (Anasazi). Before he even gets into that, he talks about Montana for 50 pages. At times, Diamond rambles. He is talking about interesting stuff, but it is far too long. Sometimes it feels you are reading a lecture transcript, which some may like, but I don't like it that much.


This is a quick guide for people using Yunohost to install Photoprism Full installation instructions here:

1. Before you Start

Hard Drive: You should install Photoprism on a drive with at least the same amount of free space as your photo collection. E.g. 20 GB of photos – have at least 20 GB of free space. Photoprism will create thumbnails and other files that will take up a good portion of space. Swap space: Have at least as much as your installed RAM. If your swap partition is too small, switch to a swapfile. RAM Photoprism seems to use about 2 GB of RAM while idle. If you are using almost the whole amout of your RAM, nextcloud, and xmpp will cut in and out. With Photoprism, and all your services idling, I would suggest at least having 1 GB of RAM free.


Wolves Eat Dogs by Martin Cruz Smith

Arkady Renko #5

Though there are 9 books in this Arkady Renko series, this shall be the last book I read. I have been warned that the books take a nosedive in quality after this one, and the Goodreads ratings bear this out.

This story is about a murky murder/suicide? of a rich businessman that connects to Chernobyl and the Zone of Exclusion. This one took awhile to get interesting and I was getting a bit annoyed until I hit the 30% mark. In standard Martin Cruz Smith fashion, there is a complex, layered plot that keeps you guessing right until the end. Does Arkady 'enter' a lady he meets along the way? Of course! Does Arkady still pine for Irina? Yes! Does Arkady piss lots of people off? Duh!

This book is classic Arkady Renko. I have been warned to not read farther in the series, so I will take a break for now.

STILL NOT AS GOOD AS 'POLAR STAR' THOUGH! Seriously, read Gorky Park, and then Polar Star.

Rating: ★★★★

Book #125 in my My 2020 Reading Challenge #BookReview #Books #Chernobyl #crime #murder #USSR #MartinCruzSmith #ArkadyRenko

Red Square by Martin Cruz Smith

Arkady Renko #3

This is the one where Renko finally gets to see Irina again. The ending is still a bit muddled for me, did she die, did she not? I'm not sure. I don't think reading #4 in the series before this helped me. This book felt like the end of a mini-Renko-in-Russia-series.

Another superb detective thriller by the master Martin Cruz Smith. For me, it still can't compare to Polar Star, but that's just because of my predilection towards boats and the arctic.

I will be really sad once I've read all of this series.

Rating: ★★★★

Book #124 in my My 2020 Reading Challenge #BookReview #Books #Russia #crime #murder #USSR #KGB #MartinCruzSmith #ArkadyRenko