November Book Reviews

Fire on Iron by Andrew Fox: A horror/fantasy tale set in the Mississippi River theater of the American Civil War. A Union captain takes his ironclad on a secret mission, only to be caught up in the supernatural machinations of an African sorcerer wanting revenge on those who took him as a slave.

Tales Around the Supper Table: A collection of short stories by North Texas authors. Eclectic but enjoyable, all better quality than the average story collection I’ve read. Didn’t hurt that I know the guy cameoing as the voodoo lord.

American Guerilla by Mike Guardia: I’d actually picked this up looking for a bio of Wendell Fertig, who ran guerilla ops against Japanese occupation on a different Philippine island. I’m still glad I read it–Volckmann did some amazing things, and managed to incorporate some of what he learned into Army doctrine. The latter may be the most difficult accomplishment.

The Cult of Smart by Fredrick deBoer: I read this to see the take of a leftie who believes intelligence matters. He went on at great length about how schools sort for intelligence and there’s some people who just can’t learn algebra.
What shocked me is that he doesn’t believe there’s any value in what’s taught in school. CompSci graduates get paid more, not because they can code, but because they were certified as smart by the CS department. The thought of individuals producing value doesn’t show at all.
There’s some decent ideas in the book, most importantly that we need to accept that we can’t make every kid learn calculus and lots of them won’t want to. His various snark on college admissions insanity I fully endorse.
The blurb promised radical ideas, which I wanted to steal for world-building weird settings. Turned out he wants Fully Automated Luxury Communism. Sigh.

Misha Burnett’s Endless Summer: I had a sneak peek at this from the Kickstarter. It’s a collection of science fiction stories. Lots of interesting ideas, including a terrifying failure mode for self-driving cars.

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