October 31, 2008

Books to Read While the Algae Grow in Your Fur, October 2008

Warren Ellis and Juan Jose Ryp, Black Summer
A typically Ellisian sermon on the text "With great power comes great responsibility."
Riccardo Rebonato, Plight of the Fortune Tellers: Why We Need to Manage Financial Risk Differently
This book needs a full review. In lieu of that, while I largely agree with Rebonato's recommendations (to wit, it's crazy to think that anyone can measure financial risk as precisely as current practice thinks it can), his framing of them as somehow deriving from Bayesian subjective probability is wrong, wrong, wrong. This reveals a double failure on the part of the statistical profession: the big failure is that we have allowed, and even encouraged and participated, in the growth of a huge industry premised on ignoring the fact that limited data implies limited precision. The lesser failure is that our teaching is so bad that an intelligent and well-schooled man like Rebonato has never grasped the real point of a confidence interval.
But, like I said, this needs a full review.
Update: Not a full review, but an elaboration on the "wrong, wrong, wrong" bit.
Warren Ellis and Ivan Rodriguez, Doktor Sleepless: Engines of Desire
"Where is the future we were promised?" More mad prophets speaking to cities full of humanity transforming itself into something very strange. But Doktor Sleepless is not Spider Jerusalem; he really is mad, bad, and dangerous to know. I want to see where Ellis is taking this, but I know it's nowhere good.
There is, inevitably, a wiki.
Warren Ellis and Jacen Burrows, Scars
Fall of Cthulhu: The Gathering
Simon Oliver, Tony Moore, Ande Parks and Chris Samnee, Exterminators, vols. 2 (Insurgency), 3 (Lies of Our Fathers) and 4 (Crossfire and Collateral)
More of the struggle to keep chaos at bay. The interlude with the mothers in vol. 2 was particularly well-done.
Warren Ellis, Crooked Little Vein
This is a gross, at times nightmarish, book, but in the end it is really (as one of the characters says) about the nature of love; as is Dante's Inferno.
S. M. Stirling, The Sky People
Mind-candy: the first probes to Venus and Mars in 1962 revealed that we live in Edgar Rice Burroughs's solar system, which rather re-directs the Cold War. This is because Something set the solar system up that way, through millions of years of deliberate fiddling. (I refuse to regard this as a spoiler; it's obvious after a few chapters, though not to the characters.) Stirling combines playing the "planetary romance" genre straight — our competent and manly all-American hero woos a blonde Venusian barbarian princess in a fur bikini — while also thinking through the practicalities of things like setting up a bronze age civilization on a planet full of dinosaurs, which someone like Burroughs would never have dreamed about. (Though de Camp would've.) There are, as you might expect, a fair number of scientifictional in-jokes, some of which I found irritating, perhaps because I would've thought they were oh-so-clever when I was 15. Overal, fun; I will be tracking down the sequel.

Books to Read While the Algae Grow in Your Fur; Scientifiction and Fantastica; Enigmas of Chance; The Dismal Science

Posted at October 31, 2008 23:59 | permanent link

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