Archive for book reviews

Hugo Awards 2022

Posted in Books, Kids, pictures with tags , , , , , , on September 16, 2022 by xi'an

Here are the results of the Hugo Awards this year, at least those connected with my reads:

Best Novel

Best Novella

Lodestar Award for Best Young Adult Book (not a Hugo)

  • WINNER: The Last Graduate by Naomi Novik (Del Rey Books) [just finished this second volume, too YA by miles!]

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form

  • WINNER: Dune, screenplay by Jon Spaihts, Denis Villeneuve, and Eric Roth; directed by Denis Villeneuve; based on the novel Dune by Frank Herbert (Warner Bros / Legendary Entertainment) [to watch]
  • Space Sweepers, written and directed by Jo Sung-hee (Bidangil Pictures) [funny but very light]

 

hit by Brexit!

Posted in Statistics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on August 17, 2022 by xi'an

After realising while at ISBA²² that Probabilistic Numerics,  the book of Philipp Heinig, Michael Osborne, and Hans Kersting, had appeared, I requested a copy for review in CHANCE from Cambridge University Press, which they kindly sent me. However, I received it with a 21€ bill for the novel VAT tax the EU has just (re)established for goods imported from outside the EU. From now on, I will have review books delivered to my Warwick address or sent from within the EU! (I have attempted to complain about paying VAT on free goods, but customs were not at all sympathetic!!!)

Amy in Randomland [book review]

Posted in Statistics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 15, 2022 by xi'an

Amy’s Luck is a short book by David Hand that I recently received for review in CHANCE. David, whom I have known for quite a while now, is professor at Imperial College London. This is not his first book, by far! But this may be the most unusual one, if not the shortest. Written as a pastiche of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, it tells of the adventures of a young girl named Amy in the pursuit of luck or at least of its meaning. It has about the same number of chapters as Carroll’s book and could easily be read on a leisurely boat trip from Oxford to Godstow. While non-sensical and playing on the imprecision of the English language, its probabilist is both correct and rational. References to the original Alice abound and I presumably missed a fair portion of them, having read Alice (in French) decades ago. The book also contains illustrations from the author, gathered into a charm bracelet printed on the cover and a most helpful appendix where David points out the real world stories behind those of Amy, which is also full of gems, like Kolmogorov being a train conductor in his youth. (Missing an addition about Galton’s quincunx, esp. when his cousin Darwin is more than mentioned.) Or Asimov creating the milihelen to measure how much beauty was required to launch a ship. Overall, it is quite charming and definitely enjoyable, if presumably not accessible by the same audience as Alice‘s. And unlikely to take over Alice‘s! But from “She could understand the idea that coins had heads”, to a Nightingale rose renamed after Miss Starling, to the permutation of Brown, Stein, and Bachelier into Braun, Stone, and a bachelor, David must have had fun writing it. As others will while reading it and trying to separate probabilistic sense from non-sense.

[Disclaimer about potential self-plagiarism: this post or an edited version will eventually appear in my Book Review section in CHANCE.]

2021 Nebula finalists

Posted in Books with tags , , , , , on March 22, 2022 by xi'an

Here are the five novels selected for the 2021 Nebula Award

two of which I read and (mostly) appreciated. (An interesting side item is that Volume 6 of the fantastic Murderbot series was nominated for the novella series and that the author withdrew from the list for having already been recognised by the award.)

the best books of the NYT readers

Posted in Books, Kids, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 9, 2022 by xi'an

Two years after Le Monde reported on the list of the 101 favourite novels of [some of] its readers, which I found most fascinating as a sociological entry on said readers, rather than a meaningful ordering of literary monuments (!),  even though it led me to read Damasio’s La Horde du Contrevent, as well as Jean-Philippe Jaworski’s Gagner la Guerre [To the victors go the spoils], The New York Times did something similar to celebrate the Book Review’s 125th anniversary. If on a lesser scale, as it only produces

        1. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
        2. The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien
        3. 1984 by George Orwell
        4. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez
        5. Beloved by Toni Morrison

as the top five books of the last 125th years, Lee’s, Tolkien’s, and Garcia Márquez’s appearing in both lists, if with a different ranking. (The nomination rules were not exactly the same, though, with only novels for Le Monde and only “recent” books and only one per author for the New York Times.) Here is a longer list of the 25 top contenders, from which NYT readers voted [an opportunity I missed!]:

some of which I had never heard of. And not including a single Faulkner’s… Except for One Hundred Years of Solitude, first published as Cien años de soledad, all novels there were originally written in English. Sadly, the number one book, To Kill a Mockingbird, is also one of the most censored by school boards in the USA! (And so are books by Toni Morrison.)

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