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Tag: reviews

Review: Peter Turchin’s “Ages of Discord”

The work of Peter Turchin has been my most exciting intellectual discovery of 2019. After my mind was blown by War and Peace and War earlier this year, I was delighted to learn that Turchin has published a more recent book demonstrating how the principles of cliodynamics have played out in America. Ages of Discord is 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: Philip Pullman’s “The Secret Commonwealth”

As a huge fan of Philip Pullman, I take no pleasure in reporting that The Secret Commonwealth is a massive disappointment. This novel, which begins every bit the worthy successor to Pullman’s marvelous His Dark Materials trilogy, slowly and tragically dissolves into a narrative so desultory and dull that it may as well not exist. Or it’s brilliant in [...]

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: Adrian Tchaikovsky’s “Children of Time”

Adrian Tchaikovky’s Children of Time is a tremendously fun and intelligent work of science fiction. Set in the far future, it is a tale of collision between two radically distinct but inextricably connected species. The first of these creeps into existence when a megalomaniacal scientist’s pet project––a re-staging of human evolution including a newly-terraformed planet, a barrel [...]

Review: Steve Duck’s “Friends, For Life”

When I told a dear friend that I was preparing to write an essay on the concept of friendship, he recommended Steve Duck’s Friends, for Life. I was intrigued by this obscure text, which was originally published in 1983 but then revised and released as a second edition in 1991. In this slim handbook for readers interested [...]

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 [...]

Review: Elena Ferrante’s “Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay”

For three summers running, I have welcomed one of Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novels into my life. Each has helped me rediscover the beautiful and complex ways in which emotional experience becomes simultaneously trapped and liberated by the act of articulation. Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay, the penultimate installment in this narrative quartet, breaks new ground [...]

Review: Stephen Kinzer’s “The Brothers”

Anyone who takes an honest look at American history must grapple with our shameful record of foreign intervention. As with slavery, Native American genocide, and many other homegrown atrocities, we must confront these unseemly aspects of our past in order to avoid similar mistakes in the future. Stephen Kinzer’s The Brothers offers a powerful analysis of American arrogance [...]

Review: Neal Stephenson’s “Fall; or, Dodge in Hell”

Like Swiss Army Knives, Neal Stephenson’s novels attempt to imbue a singular instrument with a wide range of utility. These attempts have produced both elegant masterpieces and convoluted kluges, but on the whole I think Stephenson’s recent work has solidified his position as one of his generation’s most ambitious and accomplished storytellers. Fall; or Dodge [...]