31 July 2015

Review: The New Adventures: Twilight of the Gods by Mark Clapham and Jon de Burgh Miller

Acquired March 2015
Read April 2015
The New Adventures: Twilight of the Gods
by Mark Clapham and Jon de Burgh Miller

What a way to go out! And what I mean by that, is that the New Adventures have gone out with a total whimper: the last three novels have just been boring and dull, the narrative potential of the Gods arc totally squandered. Here, basically Benny just got to do some technobabble and the allegedly universe-shattering problem that she's been up against is solved so easily. Add in yet another previously-unseen-but-supposedly-very-well-known-colleague-of-Benny's-from-St.-Oscar's, and you have a banal action-adventure plot that delivers on none of the neat stuff about faith set up by Rebecca Levene and Simon Winstone in Where Angels Fear.

(As a side note, it was amusing to note that I don't think Dave Stone ever read this book, as nothing he says about the hell dimension Jason was in in The Dead Man Diaries and The Infernal Nexus really relates to the one he ends up in here; probably someone just told him, "Jason's in a hell dimension," and he just went and did his own thing, as he so often does.)

I've been reading the Bernice Summerfield New Adventures on-and-off for ten years now, and since April 2012, I've read one of them every three months (more or less) in an effort to finally finish the series off-- which now I've done at last. To be honest, I don't think it ever really delivered on its potential. The narrative arcs were either halting or uninteresting, the early insistence on providing frothy sci-fi standalones meant Bernice never really grew or developed as a character, and the writers/editors obviously never really committed to a recurring cast of characters-- the only characters who were carried from book to book were the ones already introduced in Doctor Who (Jason, Braxiatel, and Chris). There's a lot of potential in Benny as a character, as Big Finish's later work would show, but these twenty-three books have a surprisingly few number of highlights.

29 July 2015

Review: The New Adventures: The Joy Device by Justin Richards

Acquired October 2014
Read November 2014
The New Adventures: The Joy Device
by Justin Richards

Never has a 254-page novel felt so long. Richards maybe has enough of an idea here to fill up a brisk novelette at best. The premise is that Bernice is in a bit of a funk (she lost some of her memories in Return to the Fractured Planet), and decides she needs a vacation to cheer herself up, and her friends don't want her to experience anything that's more fun than them, so they decide to manipulate events to make her think life is boring. Well, one or two times of having her attention diverted would be amusing; fifteen chapters of it is not. In between those bits, the book is pure tedium anywhere. A colossal misfire, not to mention a weird one, given how well Richards handled these characters in Tears of the Oracle, and how the events of the last few books ought to have provided fertile ground for something much more interesting!

27 July 2015

Review: The New Adventures: Return to the Fractured Planet by Dave Stone

I'm going to try to be better about noting what I've been up to elsewhere-- before you read this review, note that I have a review of a novel in a different book series about a Doctor Who companion who originated in the spin-offs over at Unreality SF. (I think, weirdly enough, that this is the first time I've ever reviewed prose fiction for USF, despite having written for them for over six years now!)

Previously read February 2005
Reread September 2014
The New Adventures: Return to the Fractured Planet
by Dave Stone

This sequel to Stone's previous New Adventure, The Mary-Sue Extrusion, feels like a bit of an also-ran-- a rehash of that book's approach, and, like I said of it, a dry run for what Stone would do better in The Two Jasons. Though nothing is really wrong with the book per se, there's a strong feeling of filler here, that the urgency that Where Angels Fear initially imparted to the series has largely been wasted, aside from Tears of the Oracle. Putting a God at the root of the book's plot does not automatically make it more exciting.

24 July 2015

Return of the New Jedi Order, Episode XX: Rebel Dream by Aaron Allston

Mass market paperback, 304 pages
Published 2002

Acquired 2002(?)
Reread December 2014
Star Wars: The New Jedi Order: Enemy Lines I: Rebel Dream
by Aaron Allston

Year Three of the Invasion (Months 2-3)
If you've been read all of my reviews of The New Jedi Order, you might note that I spend my time either complaining that the book is deeply dull or otherwise flawed, or praising the book for being excellent. So far there's been a real dearth of solidly competent novels. Well, that changes here with the late Aaron Allston, who was probably the definition of "solidly competent" when it comes to Star Wars. This made him not a great fit for things like Legacy of the Force, alas, but spot on for books like this-- basically the function of this book is to provide a fun adventure during the lull between hardcovers. There's plenty of great fleet tactics, starfighter battles, and intelligence skullduggery-- no one ever really did Star-Wars-as-military-sf better than Aaron Allston and Michael Stackpole, and here Allston proves himself more adept at adapting his style to the needs of the overall NJO story than Stackpole was, by eschewing the Force stuff and just focusing on the space battles. Disposable, I suppose, but enjoyable.

22 July 2015

Return of the New Jedi Order, Episode XIX: "The Apprentice" by Elaine Cunningham

Kindle eBook, n.pag.
Published 2002

Read December 2014
Star Wars: "The Apprentice"
by Elaine Cunningham

Year Three of the Invasion (Month 2)
This is a short story, originally published in Star Wars Gamer magazine; I acquired a scan of it via my university library's document delivery program. It essentially serves as a missing chapter within Dark Journey, detailing a mission that is referenced in Dark Journey but unseen. It's okay-- like in the book it was seemingly cut from, Jaina and Kyp seem out of character in an odd way. Still, I am glad to have read it.

20 July 2015

Return of the New Jedi Order, Episode XVIII: Dark Journey by Elaine Cunningham

Mass market paperback, 301 pages
Published 2002

Acquired 2002(?)
Reread December 2014
Star Wars: The New Jedi Order: Dark Journey
by Elaine Cunningham

Year Three of the Invasion (Month 2)
I think Dark Journey would be disappointing at any point, but it's especially disappointing after the really strong run from Recovery to Star by Star. Everyone in this book seems a little... overdramatic, somehow. Like, Jaina makes small decisions, and everyone reacts really bigly to them, and things seem off-- like Jaina would ever marry into the Hapan royal family, yet it's treated like a real possibility. In terms of showing how the fallout of Star by Star has affected Jaina, this book doesn't really succeed, unfortunately.

It's probably worth noting that my experience of reading this book was somewhat diffuse, as I read it interspersed with other books in chronological order; this is a period where the novels all overlap with one another. The order I followed was:
  1. Dark Journey, chapters 1-11
  2. Traitor: "Embrace of Pain"
  3. Dark Journey, chapters 12-21
  4. "The Apprentice"
  5. Dark Journey, chapters 22-25
  6. Traitor: "Cocoon"
  7. Rebel Dream, chapters 1-8
  8. Dark Journey, chapters 26-28
  9. Traitor: "Nursery"
  10. Rebel Dream, chapters 9-17
  11. Traitor: "Garden"
  12. Rebel Stand
  13. Traitor (to end)
But reviewing them that way would be nuts, so I'll be doing them in whole parts despite how it doesn't represent my actual reading experience.

17 July 2015

Faster than a DC Bullet: Prose Fiction #8: Project Crisis!, Part XXXIII: Infinite Crisis [novelization]

Trade paperback, 371 pages
Published 2006

Borrowed from the library
Read September 2014
Infinite Crisis
by Greg Cox

I enjoyed Marv Wolfman's Crisis on Infinite Earth novelization, but Greg Cox novelizing Geoff Johns's story didn't have anywhere near the impact of Marv Wolfman novelizing his own. Part of what has motivated my reading of superhero prose fiction is to see how the writers handle superhero interiority-- a potentially tricky area, I think. Well, Cox doesn't: these people are flying code names and backstories. This might be interesting if you haven't read the comic, but it adds little depth to it if you have. Breezily written, but still felt like it took me forever to read.

15 July 2015

Faster than a DC Bullet: Project Crisis!, Part XXXII: 52 Aftermath: The Four Horsemen

Comic trade paperback, 144 pages
Published 2008 (contents: 2007-08)
Acquired December 2012
Read August 2014
52 Aftermath: The Four Horsemen

Writer: Keith Giffen
Pencils: Pat Olliffe
Inks: John Stanisci
Letters: Pat Brosseau, John J. Hill, Travis Lanham

This is one of those comic books that has no narrative reason to exist. You know, someone's like, "52 was popular, let's do a book with '52' in the title. People will buy it!" And the joke's on me, because I did buy it and I even read it, too. Even at six issues, though, this is pretty substanceless; the Four Horsemen were one of the less interesting aspects of 52, and I did not really desire to see them face down against Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. Nothing of what made 52 work-- the rich tapestry that is the DC universe-- is present in this banal spin-off. Which is a shame, because Keith Giffen can do so much better!

Coming to the end of the Infinite Crisis tie-ins marks a switch in Project Crisis!; I'll be reviewing Batman: Year One comics next before coming back for Final Crisis and its tie-ins. Though first, on Friday, I'll be hitting up a bonus story...

13 July 2015

Faster than a DC Bullet: Project Crisis!, Part XXXI: 52 Omnibus

Comic hardcover, 1202 pages
Published 2012 (contents: 2006-07)
Acquired December 2012
Read August 2014
52 Omnibus

Writers: Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka, Mark Waid
Art Breakdowns: Keith Giffen
Pencillers: Eddy Barrows, Chris Batista, Joe Bennett, Giuseppe Camuncoli, Tom Derenick, Dale Eaglesham, Jamal Igle, Phil Jimenez, Drew Johnson, Justiniano, Dan Jurgers, Ken Lashley, Mike McKone, Shawn Moll, Todd Nacuk, Patrick Olliffe, Joe Prado, Darick Robertson, Andy Smith
Inkers: Marlo Alquiza, Eddy Barrows, Mariah Benes, Joe Bennett, Belardino Brabo, Keith Champagne, Draxhall, Drew Geraci, Dan Green, Jack Jason, Roy José, Andy Lanning, Jay Leisten, Dave Meikes, Nelson, Tom Nguyen, Jimmy Palmiotti, Rodney Ramos, Norm Rapmund, Darick Robertson, Prentis Rollins, Lorenzo Ruggiero, Rob Stull, Ray Snyder, Art Thibert, Walden Wong
Colorists: David Baron, Pete Pantazis, Alex Sinclair
Letterers: Phil Balsman, Pat Brosseau, Jared K. Fletcher, Travis Lanham, Rob Leigh, Ken Lopez, Nick J. Napolitano

At some point, I planned on doing something big for this book-- you know, "52 Reasons That I Loved 52." But then time got away from-- very away from me-- and as it is this review will go up a whole eleven months after I read this book, and a lot of my specific memories have faded, which is a shame, as I did write very specific reviews about a number of very unmemorable books taking place in and around 52.

But anyway, 52 covers the year after the Infinite Crisis on a week-by-week basis. It's a year where Superman is without his powers (he exerted them more than ever before to defeat Superboy-Prime during the Infinite Crisis), Batman is travelling the world trying to remember how not to be a dick, and Wonder Woman is on a spiritual retreat. So it falls to the true greats of the DC universe to watch over the Earth. You know, Booster Gold, Elongated Man, Steel, the Question, Batwoman, Lex Luthor. Those guys. The giants.

Of course, I was predisposed to like this. It's those also-rans of the DC universe that I love the most about it; I have a complete run of Justice League Europe, I have read every Green Arrow comic published between 1983 and 2011, and I believe that the 1992 Elongated Man miniseries is an unjustly overlooked highlight of the superhero genre. On the other hand, it's hard to deny that this has its problems-- some plots unnaturally spin their wheels for months, while others leap ahead between issues. Some of it is just boring; I really wanted to like the space heroes, but aside from their encounter with a newly peaceful Lobo, I never really connected to these adventures. There's a little too much of Black Adam punching people to death. And by "a little too much," I mean any. Some of it is confusing, like whatever Booster did to beat Mister Mind at the end. Some of it seems misguided, like Wonder Girl joining some kind of super-weird cult devoted to Superboy.

But then, there's the island of super-geniuses finally putting one over on the the one they see as the ultimate super-jock in Black Adam, there's Booster Gold's moment of final redemption, there's Renee Montoya losing everything and learning why it's important to do so, there's the Elongated Man revealing just how much he's worked out all along, there's Renee's desperate trek through the snow to save a life, there's Doctor Magnus (creator of the Metal Men) having monthly visits with the imprisoned T. O. Morrow (creator of the Red Tornado). And, in my favorite favorite moment, there's Clark Kent realizing he doesn't have to be Superman to be a great journalist-- and the amazing action he takes as a result.

I know that auteur television is all the rage these days, and certainly people really dig auteur comics a lot, too. But there's something to be said for really solid writer's room television (I think Ira Steven Behr on seasons 3-7 of Deep Space Nine was really great at this, and Ron Moore learned from him to repeat his success with seasons 1-2 of Battlestar Galactica, but that's another blog post), and 52 is basically writer's room comics. Johns, Morrison, Rucka, Waid, and Giffen are all really good comic book creators, but they all have completely different skillsets and interests. Each has done great comics on his own, but their work as a group blends their strengths in a way you'd never expect. One of the thrills of the DC universe for me is the diverse kind of storytelling it has. Who'd think that Superman: Last Son, Seven Soldiers of Victory, Gotham Central, The Brave and the Bold, and The Great Darkness Saga all take place in the same millieu? And yet all of those diverse perspectives take place in the same book. 52 is the definitive statement of what DC can be at its best.

10 July 2015

Review: Archaeologies of the Future: The Desire Called Utopia and Other Science Fictions by Fredric Jameson

Hardcover, 431 pages
Published 2005

Borrowed from the library
Read September 2013
Archaeologies of the Future: The Desire Called Utopia and Other Science Fictions
by Fredric Jameson

Fredric Jameson is someone who is oft-cited in science fiction criticism, and as someone who is interested in the genre as a vehicle for imagining future utopias, I felt his work would be relevant to my growing interest in the way that science fiction depicts future revolutions. Unfortunately (and this isn't necessarily a slight against the book), it turned out to be not particularly useful-- I only have a scant 2.5 pages of notes on its 431 pages, and most of them are just me rewriting the chapter titles.

Not that it was useless, though; there are a lot of concepts here about utopia that will be worth revisiting for me: that the utopia actually synthesizes the pleasure principle of fantasy with the reality principle of sf (74), that it's often impossible to imagine that the changes we seek in society could actually happen* (23, 86, 97, 118), that utopian change is often compressed into a single apocalypse because it's difficult for narrative to deal with generational time (187), that history does not end but we demand ending of it anyway (283), and that all of this thinking is not necessarily fanciful utopian fiction wants us to contemplate "real" politics just as much as sf wants us to contemplate "real" science (410).

So maybe more useful than I gave him credit for-- I am pretty sure I could build a whole essay out of any one of those ideas, and I look forward to coming back to Jameson and working with his concepts in the future.

* After all, it was Jameson who kind of once remarked that "it is easier to imagine the end of the world than to imagine the end of capitalism."

08 July 2015

Review: Born in Exile by George Gissing

Hardcover, 485 pages
Published 1970 (originally 1892)
Acquired and read January 2013
Born in Exile
by George Gissing

The loss of romance from science is a driving theme of George Gissing’s novel Born in Exile. Published in 1892, just a year before John Tyndall—that preeminent proponent of science as a source of “transcendental materialism”—died, the novel presents a very different kind of Victorian scientist than previous literature had. Many previous literary scientists were enthusiastic crusaders after truth. Thomas Thurnall from Charles Kingsley’s Two Years Ago (1857), Roger Hamley from Elizabeth Gaskell’s Wives and Daughters (1864-66), Tertius Lydgate from George Eliot’s Middlemarch (1871-72), and Swithin St. Cleeve from Thomas Hardy’s Two on a Tower (1882) all fall into this category of course, but even villainous scientists like Edred Fitzpiers from Thomas Hardy’s The Woodlanders (1887) and Nathan Benjulia from Wilkie Collins’s Heart and Science (1882-83) are typically presented as seeking truth in their own, immoral ways. Gissing’s protagonist, Godwin Peak, is from an age where being a scientist is just another profession; his sole desire in becoming a chemist is as a stepping stone for his considerable ambition.

In some ways, Peak is the product of a mainstream, professional scientific education. One of Tyndall and Thomas Henry Huxley’s consistent fights was for scientific education; both pushed for science as the foundation of all education. In the early part of the century, few direct opportunities were available to the man of science. In 1838, when Huxley decided that he wanted to study “natural philosophy” as a boy of thirteen, he had to pursue a surgical apprenticeship because he had no money available to him, and Huxley was later forced to join the Royal Navy as surgeon’s mate to avoid debt.

By the time of Peak, the would-be scientist is not forced into such an arrangement thanks to the work of Huxley himself and Tyndall. Ursula DeYoung’s intellectual biography of Tyndall says that he “argued that the classical authors, while neither irrelevant nor worthless, simply did not provide the education necessary for success in the modern world” and he insisted that “there must be a complete overhaul of educational policy with a new emphasis on scientific knowledge and modes of thought” (148), while Huxley once observed that a Roman centurion’s son in a contemporary university “would not meet with a single unfamiliar line of thought.” Born in Exile shows a world where Tyndall and Huxley have won. In its opening scene, one of Peak’s schoolmates calls classical learning “antiquated rubbish” (17), and prizes are given not just for students’ performance in traditional categories such as philosophy, Greek, and Latin, but also geology, chemistry, and physics. Science is now a subject (or rather, a set of subjects) at school, not something that one must go to great lengths to pursue.

Peak is a product of the professionalization that Huxley and Tyndall desired; according to Desmond’s biography of Huxley, he foresaw a science-led society being governed by “only knowledge well organized and well tested. And that made Nature’s own education the best guide… the only way forward was a competitive, technocratic society, with the science professionals at the helm” (210-11). Huxley wanted to reshape science: “Science required factory discipline, ‘steady punctual uninterrupted work’. His scientific-artisan lineage was being forged, a work-bench mentality far from the leisured aristocratic ideal” (198). But such an arrangement of society privileges those who master the profession of science, and means that advancing within science becomes advancing within society, making the desire for scientific knowledge something other than just a desire to discover truth.

For Peak, the pursuit of a scientific career is essentially only about public demonstration of his abilities: he wants to be the technocrat at the helm of society. Peak believes that he was mistakenly born into a lower middle-class family when he should have been a member of the aristocracy (the “born in exile” of the title), and wants to climb out of his position. He rejects laboratory work at a university instead of London, asking himself “what would come of that—at all events for many years?” (73) A friend of his tells him that he must specialize, because “a man must concentrate himself. Not only for the sake of practical success, but—well, for his own sake” (90), and Peak follows that advice.

Professional science becomes just another area of society where someone can get ahead, according to Born in Exile. Tyndall’s transcendental materialism did not meet the requirements of the laboratory science era, and it is easy to imagine Peak disparaging the work of a scientist like Tyndall as unambitious and not sufficiently rational. I say “seems to” because we almost never see Peak in the act of conducting science, aside from a couple conversations with an old geological mentor. The reason for the lack of direct depiction here is that if, thanks to professionalization, there is no romance or emotion in science, there is nothing for the novelist to work with.

The loss of romance from science is paralleled by a loss of romance in the scientist’s life. Romance is never a factor for Godwin Peak: he spends most of Born in Exile pursuing Sidwell Warricombe, but only because of the social status she can bring him: “he neither was, nor dreamt himself, in love with her” (213). He sets himself on a plan of winning her over by practicing a long-term deception, compromising his intellectual beliefs to fulfill his desire because she has the class status that he requires. Even once he realized that he is genuinely falling in love with Sidwell, Peak’s plan is still “[t]o wait… to make sure his progress step by step,—that was the course indicated from the first by sudden audacity; for him was no hope save in slow, persevering energy of will. Passion had all but ruined him; now he had recovered self-control” (306). Peak’s plodding, dull work of pursuing Sidwell, which would be interrupted or disrupted by the use of passion, seems like the romance equivalent of his scientific work. Rational, but completely uninterested in transcendence: this is the mentality ostensibly created (or at least shaped) by the professionalization of science. Romance itself has become a factory pursuit.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Born in Exile ultimately ends in defeat for Peak. He is found out, causing Sidwell to spurn him. She ultimately forgives him when she realizes he really did come to love her, but cannot bring herself to marry him, and Peak works ploddingly as an industrial chemist for many years, ultimately dying alone. I cannot glibly assign all of his defects of character to the professionalization of science, but it obviously contributes. Science fits as an occupation for Peak because it is both rational and professional, allowing for demonstrations of his cruel coldness and his ambition. I don’t think, however that Gissing was somehow constructing an argument against science’s professionalization. But Born in Exile does stand as a strong demonstration of DeYoung’s claim about the shifting place of science across the course of Tyndall’s lifetime: even a generation prior, a scientific career could not have been shown as a logical choice for a careerist mind, as there would not have been sufficient schooling or jobs available in the field. Tyndall would have been appalled at the kind of scientist that Peak was, but it was a type of science he himself had helped create.

It is important to note that in the case of Godwin Peak, a scientific education and career make a somewhat positive difference in his life, and could have made a much more positive one if Peak had been a somewhat different person. Peak comes from a poor family, and he attends university thanks to the benevolence of a rich benefactor—it is only his pride that causes him to leave school, when he becomes afraid that a relative will open a pastry shop called “Peak’s” across the street, revealing the secret of his class origins to his schoolmates. Without this pride, he could have probably done much better for himself, as he would not have been forced to take a job to support himself at the university he switched to. There is a real opening of possibilities from the professionalization of science—one does not need to be independently wealthy to pursue knowledge

If professionalization really did cause a shift from Tyndall’s transcendental materialism to Huxley’s knowledge factory, that should not be surprising. According to DeYoung, “The artist and the scientist… though divided in their purposes… are united in Tyndall’s vision by their possession of ‘inspiration and creative power’” (95). The project of transcendental materialism comes from the same place within the soul as that of the novel, so it is no wonder that the novel does such a good job of recording it. But the products of factory science are antithetical to the aims of the novel. Whether or not the professionalization of science in the late nineteenth century was a positive change, we should not be surprised that some novelists viewed it with suspicion and displeasure.

06 July 2015

Review: Imaginary Magnitude by Stanislaw Lem

Mass market paperback, 248 pages
Published 1985 (originally 1981)
Acquired March 2008
Read May 2015
Imaginary Magnitude by Stanislaw Lem

This is one of those what we might call non-novel novels, a novel entirely made up of nonnovelistic material, like Nabokov's Pale Fire. In this case, Imaginary Magnitude is a collection of introductions to other books: Necrobes by Cezary Strzybisz, Eruntics by Reginald Gulliver, A History of Bitic Literature (2nd ed.) by J. Rambellais (ed.), Vestrand's Extelopedia, and GOLEM XIV by GOLEM XIV. They're all from the "future" (i.e., some are from 2009 and 2011, but the book was published in Poland in 1981), and they seem to be from the same future history-- almost all of them are concerned with non-human forms of writing. What does it mean for a computer to write literature, or an essay? Or, can bacteria write if guided by the right evolutionary pressures? There's also an introduction by Lem himself on the subject of writing introductions. (It's not as funny as it should be, but there are a couple good lines.)

This is certainly Lem at his most esoteric. Each introduction is a weird mix of humor and earnest speculation, and the balance tips too far to the latter sometimes. My favorite part was definitely the introduction to the Extelopedia, which explains how now that encyclopedias go out of date as soon as they are published, the Extelopedia stays up-to-date by being about future knowledge. To generate this future knowledge, they asked futurists about their predictions, and then included none of them, since futurists are invariably wrong. But then there's some actual excerpts from the content of the Extelopedia, and this was not interesting at all.

Straying from the book's supposed remit is its biggest mistake. GOLEM XIV is a collection of lectures by a superintelligent supercomputer, and here we get not only an introduction, but a foreword, two lectures, and an afterword. Lem trying to be profound in a lecture from a know-it-all computer is dull; he had already covered much of the same ground (speculation about man and evolution) in his Summa Technologiae back in the 1960s, and I'm not sure why he covered it again here under this conceit. Unfortunately, the excerpts from GOLEM are over half the book.

Definitely more interesting in concept than execution, and definitely my least favorite Lem novel so far.

03 July 2015

Review: The View from Nowhere by Thomas Nagel

I'm back! (For now, anyway.) I'm kicking off with a book I read years ago but never reviewed, but thankfully I wrote about it for my specialist exam, which means I have a little bit to say about it. Riveting!

Hardcover, 244 pages
Published 1986
Borrowed from the library
Read December 2012
The View from Nowhere
by Thomas Nagel

Within the philosophy/history of science criticism I have read, it is very rare to find works that view epistemology or detachment without some examination of the gendering of those concepts. Thomas Nagel’s The View from Nowhere (1986) is a rare example of such a work, but this is because Nagel’s project is defining objectivity and showing some uses of it in very abstract contexts; unlike Thomas Kuhn, Donna Haraway, Stephen Jay Gould, Lorraine Daston and Peter Galison, Amanda Anderson, Mary Poovey, or other critics, Nagel does not look at actual examples of practices of science or objectivity.

Nagel defines objectivity by saying, “A view or form of thought is more objective than another if it relies less on the specifics of the individual’s makeup and position in the world, or on the character of the particular type of creature he is. The wider the range of subjective types to which a form of understanding is accessible—the less it depends on specific subjective capacities—the more objective it is” (5). The View from Nowhere, however, contains little discussion of any aspect of an “individual’s makeup and position”; the text does not mention sex, or gender, or class. The end result of this, though, is that Nagel’s monograph is not very useful to my own project, for it is not a discussion of how objectivity has been understood, but of how one particular person thinks it ought to be defined and practiced. Nagel’s discussion does not seem particularly illuminating, except as a very general rationale for objectivity.

01 July 2015

Reading Roundup Wrapup: June 2015

Pick of the month: Possession: A Romance by A. S. Byatt. Could it have been anything but? Doing literary research has never been so exciting! Plus the best description of reading you've ever, well, read.

All books read:
1. Possession: A Romance by A. S. Byatt
2. Countdown Presents: Lord Havok and the Extremists by Frank Tieri
3. Absolute Final Crisis by Grant Morrison
4. Final Crisis Companion by Grant Morrison & J. G. Jones, Len Wein, Peter J. Tomasi, and Greg Rucka & Eric Trautmann
5. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine #23: The 34th Rule by Armin Shimerman and David George with Eric Stillwell
6. Doctor Who: The Sixth Doctor: Something Borrowed by Richelle Mead
7. The Woman Who Thought She Was a Planet and Other Stories by Vandana Singh
8. Divas, Dames & Daredevils: Lost Heroines of Golden Age Comics edited by Mike Madrid
9. Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds by Geoff Johns
10. Star Wars: The New Jedi Order: Force Heretic I: Remnant by Sean Williams and Shane Dix
11. Invasion! by Keith Giffen and Bill Mantlo
12. Star Wars: The New Jedi Order: Force Heretic II: Refugee by Sean Williams and Shane Dix
13. Final Crisis: Revelations by Greg Rucka

All books acquired:
1. Terry Nation: The Man Who Invented the Daleks by Alwyn W. Turner
2. Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds by Geoff Johns
3. Invasion! by Keith Giffen and Bill Mantlo
4. The 1987 Annual World's Best SF edited by Donald A. Wollheim with Arthur W. Saha
5. Legion of Super-Heroes Archives, Volume 7 by Jim Shooter
6. The Complete Science Fiction of William Tenn, Volume II: Here Comes Civilization edited by James A. Mann and Mary C. Tabasko
7. Eclipse Two: New Science Fiction and Fantasy edited by Jonathan Strahan
8. The Severed Streets by Paul Cornell

Not quite so few as last month, I guess. #4-8 were all good finds, though!

Books remaining on "To be read" list: 605