arkadi cloud

tech, teaching, and books

It's been a busy month. I've been so busy I forgot to check in on Mastodon on August 1st again! DOH! I did lots of tech stuff, especially with OpenWRT and Armbian.

Summer School

I did 3 weeks of summer school this year. I hadn't taught summer school in a few years but I like the new style. I only had to teach from 8-12:30 and then had the rest of my day free. It would've been better without this COVID-19 crap because that shortened my summer by 2 weeks though. I will try to avoid doing summer school next year though; the extra money is great but total freedom is even better!

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The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill

A YA fantasy novel that has a lot of heart. There were lots of elements going on in this story: a bad witch, girl discovering magic, man trying to defend his family, and an old witch trying to do some good in the world.

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Time Enough for Love by Robert A. Heinlein

I didn't enjoy this book, but I still finished it. It was interesting, though made me cringe at times. This book has not stood up well to the passage of time. It's very sexist. I suppose the author being born in 1907 would have a lot to do with that.

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The Psychology of Time Travel by Kate Mascarenhas

This was just what I needed this summer; A light, fun, and engaging read with a murder myster....and time travel! I'm sold!

The book jumps forward and backwards through time but this is well laid out with how the plot develops and the titles of the chapters. I was never lost when reading this book. Did the plot tie up everything perfectly at the end? Yes, but that's what we expect at the end of a book like this.

This is a feel-good book that would be a great companion for when you are sitting on the beach. My friend lent this to me, and I'm very grateful for that because I'm not sure I would've picked this book up off the shelf on my own.

Rating: ★★★★ Book #85 in my My 2020 Reading Challenge

#Books #BookReview #SciFi #KateMascarenhas #TimeTravel #BeachRead

(Xenogenesis #2 & 3)

(These 3 books are so short, they really should be read as one book. I finished #2 in the series but then finished #3 as well before having a chance to write the review for #2)

Adulthood Rites

This book is about Lilith's first child, a human-Oankali construct child. Akin looks quite human-like. This book is about its upbringing, and eventual kidnapping by a 'resister' community. Some humans have rejected the Oankali aliens, and don't want to live with them; they are called Resisters. They are determined to find a way to have pure human children. This has led them to kidnap Oankali children who look quite child-like before their metamorphosis into adulthood. Obviously living with the Resisters, Akin learns more about the human way of life than any Oankali before him. He empathizes with the humans, and wants do help them.

Imago

The focus of this book shifts to Jodahs, the first Oankail ooloi-human construct. It follows him as he tries to implement the plan to 'save' the human race, and give them an alternative option than living with the Oankali. It also is about the ooloi growing up and its search for mates.

Series Overview

The whole series of Xenogenesis is more about race, freedom, colonizers, and what defines 'humanity' than spaceships and explosions. It's a slow burn, but detailed look at how things would look if humans were the colonized, rather than colonial masters. It also deals a lot with gender roles in families, and the society of Oankali aliens, and humans. This may not be the 'sci-fi' book for everyone, but it is certainly quite different to what I was expecting and to most of the other sci-fi I have ever read.

Rating: ★★★★ Book #83 & 84 in my My 2020 Reading Challenge

#Books #BookReview #SciFi #OctaviaEButler #aliens

Fish Have No Feet by Jón Kalman Stefánsson

What is there to say?...life is incomprehensible, it's unfair, but we live it anyway, can't avoid it, know no other way, life is the only certainty, that treasure, that worthless junk. After life there may be nothing. Yet it all began with death.

Shifting from past to present, the focus of the book is Keflavik, Iceland and how a place morphs you into the person you grow up to be. The main character has a major life event push him back to the place where he grew up. This brings up memories of family, and the history of his grandparents, parents, and the tough life in Keflavik. The ending is a bitter regret that comes to light and is a gut punch to me reading it.

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Dawn by Octavia E. Butler

(Xenogenesis, #1)

What if humanity almost destroyed itself and was saved by an alien race? How would we deal with that loss of pride, honour, and freedom? How far would we be willing to go to survive? What defines us as 'human'? These are the types of questions explored in this series by Ms. Butler.

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Bought Liberate Hong Kong book

My favorite Hong Konger author, Kong Tsung-gan, (also a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press) has released his 3rd book on the protest movement there. I already have his first book “Umbrella: A Political Tale from Hong Kong”, and his 2nd book “As long as there is resistance, there is hope: Essays on the Hong Kong freedom struggle in the post-Umbrella Movement era, 2014-2018”.

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Bury the Chains by Adam Hochschild

A book about the UK campaign to stop the slave trade in the West Indies. It was a highly enjoyable read that illuminated this part of history to me. I was very ignorant about the slave trade in the Caribbean, and how involved the British Empire was at the time. In the current times of Black Lives Matter, I think it is important to know the history of the slavery. I happened to stumble upon this book in the used book store last week, and was grateful that I did.

It is an incredible accomplishment that 12 men could start a social movement to stop the slave trade. It did take almost 50 years, but sometimes it takes a while to change people's minds.

May revolution never cease until despotism is extinct.

This book gives me hope for our world. In the 1700s, when some people started to campaign against the slave trade, it was so much a part of the economy, that it seemed foolhardy to think they would ever succeed. Just as in the times of Kings, who could've imagined states without monarchs? I hope our world has reached a tipping point for universal income/climate change. Before COVID-19, it seemed inconceivable that the world could change quickly, but we saw how quickly this thing brought countries and the traditional capitalist system to its knees; there is hope for us yet.

Rating: ★★★★★ Book #80 in my My 2020 Reading Challenge

#Books #BookReview #history #slavery #AdamHochschild

White Fox by Chen Jiatong

(The White Fox #1)

A charming story about a fox growing up to be an adult, and trying to fulfill their destiny. This book is translated from Chinese. Sadly, this is only part one of the series. The ending of the story is sort of a cliffhanger and I don't really like it when authors do that.

There are cute illustrations in the novel, but not enough in my opinion. I think illustrations in these sort of young adult chapter books are part of the magic of reading paper books. Illustrations, photos, maps, and diagrams are certainly a way paper books still have an edge over eBooks.

Nevertheless, this is a good story for younger readers. It's written as sort of a myth, with the main character encountering obstacles along the way and how he deals with them.

Rating: ★★★★ Book #79 in my My 2020 Reading Challenge

#Books #BookReview #TranslatedFiction #YA