Thursday, June 23, 2022

Review: Star Wars: Thrawn Ascendancy

Star Wars: Thrawn Ascendancy (Book II: Greater Good)Star Wars: Thrawn Ascendancy by Timothy Zahn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This continues, almost without a break, the story from book 1. Presumably Book 3 will pick right up where book 2 leaves off. In other words, these is less a trilogy and more one book broken into three parts. Thrawn is great, though there is less of him here than in the previous novel. There is more focus and development of some of the other characters. As with the first, there is a lot focused on the political intrigue between families (which I am not all that invested in). Also like the first, there is little that makes this Star Wars as such. There are some interesting things Zahn seems to be doing with the Force and the way other species connect to it (without it being the Force as it is in Republic/Empire space). I hope the third book continues to develop that theme. The book is at its best when it is Thrawn faced with a problem that he is able to read and solve in his unique ways. Even with these flaws, I do enjoy it. Zahn's stories tend to start slow but build to a satisfying climax.

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Friday, June 10, 2022

Review: Lost Light

Lost Light (Harry Bosch, #9; Harry Bosch Universe, #11)Lost Light by Michael Connelly
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the first Bosch novel after Bosch's retirement from the LAPD. It is interesting to see Bosch struggle with his new life and the changes in his relationships and investigation tactics it has created, though it is not overly done. The case takes most of the focus, as it should. The case is a good one, intricate and complicated. There is a great shout out to Robert Crais and his Elvis Cole character; I love that these guys live in the same universe.

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Wednesday, June 08, 2022

Review: The Elephant in the Brain: Hidden Motives in Everyday Life

The Elephant in the Brain: Hidden Motives in Everyday LifeThe Elephant in the Brain: Hidden Motives in Everyday Life by Kevin Simler
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I was underwhelmed by this book. Many have praised it, but I found it somewhat banal. There were certainly some interesting aspects. The general idea, that we have often have motives for our actions other than what we explicitly state or tell ourselves, seems obviously true. Yet, the authors took this as something remarkable, needing detailed analysis. It's worth exploring for sure and seeing how it might explain certain puzzles of human psychology and institutions could prove useful. But the authors find hidden motives everywhere and for everything and gave these motives the primary role. (It seems just as possible that in some cases the hidden motive isn't the prime mover or explainer.) They leaned heavily into evolutionary biology having to explain all human behavior; and while that is part of the story, it seems under-determinative. In short, they overgeneralized their thesis and overextended their analysis/application.

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