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Tag: death

Notes From a Pandemic: March 28th, 2020

Greetings, dear friends of the present and curious citizens of the future. There have been many times in my life when I felt like things were moving quickly. Most people agree that the speed of human events has increased in recent decades, largely due to breakthroughs in digital technology and globalization. And yet, we are [...]

Review: Albert Camus’s “The Plague”

Every great novel has a time, or times, when it is needed most. For Albert Camus’s The Plague, that time is now. As I write these words, 24,127 lives have been lost to SARS-CoV-2, and this is just the beginning. Locked in mortal combat with an enemy we will certainly vanquish––either by wit, endurance, or some combination [...]

Notes From a Pandemic: March 21st, 2020

Greetings, dear friends of the present and curious citizens of the future. These words are reaching you from the upstairs home office of a residence in Humboldt County, California. The sun is rising, inimitably bright on this clear, crisp morning. Shining dewdrops bedeck every blade of grass and the crimson flowers of the season’s first [...]

Review: Ted Chiang’s “Exhalation”

Each story in Ted Chiang’s Exhalation feels whispered onto the page from a different dimension. In a voice both lyrical and mysterious, Chiang toys with classical philosophical questions and contemporary scientific problems, whipping up beautiful narrative blends that tease, inspire, baffle and delight. The main thing that makes this book stand out is the impressive number of [...]

Review: Richard Powers’s “The Overstory”

I grew up and still reside in Humboldt County, California. My body-mind came of age amidst giant Redwoods and Douglas Firs, many of which grace my family’s six-acre parcel. It’s no exaggeration to say that these majestic beings were my companions and castles, brimming with all the mysterious life-energy a boy’s imagination could ever need. [...]

Review: Sayaka Murata’s “Convenience Store Woman”

Sayaka Murata’s Convenience Store Woman is a diminutive and disturbing novel. The story is conveyed through the first person observations of Keiko Furukura, a woman in her mid-thirties who works in a convenience store in Tokyo. During her disconnected and occasionally violent childhood, Keiko concludes that “keeping my mouth shut was the most sensible approach to getting by [...]

Review: Leo Tolstoy’s “War and Peace”

After a captivating but ultimately bitter encounter with Anna Karenina last year, I was worried that Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace would produce similar results. To my surprise and delight, however, War and Peace helped me finally understand why Tolstoy’s work occupies such an important position in literary history. Those determined enough to commit to this epic novel will discover a [...]

Review: Cixin Liu’s “Supernova Era”

Cixin Liu is one of the most important science fiction writers of our time. His work displays an expansive creativity and existential gravity that propel readers out of this world while simultaneously grounding us in the inescapable confines of biology and physics. Following his rise in popularity that accompanied the publication of The Three-Body Problem’s [...]

Review: Adrian Tchaikovsky’s “Children of Ruin”

Writing an excellent science fiction novel is a notable achievement, but writing an even better sequel is something truly grand. Adrian Tchaikovsky’s Children of Ruin improves on each and every element that made Children of Time shine, while also plumbing new depths of intrigue and intellect. It is among the most daring and creative works of science fiction I’ve [...]

Review: James Hollis’s “What Matters Most”

James Hollis’s What Matters Most is a lively piece of nonfiction that pulled me in different directions. Written in a style that is energetic but deeply affected, the book is a series of essays that reflect on the nature of human existence and the ways in which we might lead better or worse lives. One would be [...]