Book Review of “Untaken”

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“Untaken” eBook was published in 2015 and was written by J. E. Anckorn. This is Ms. Anckorn’s second novel.

I would categorize this novel as ‘PG’ as there are some instances of Violence and Mature Language. This Young Adult Science Fiction novel is set in contemporary times in the eastern US. A fleet of alien ships has suddenly appeared in the skies over Earth. Nothing happens for months, then suddenly, the ships descend and drones are let out. The drones seem to capture or infect people, leaving them changed.

The primary characters of this story are Brandon who is 15 at the time of the attack, Gracie who is 14 and Jake who is about 5. After the drones come, the ships come back to ground and the ‘infected’ humans clamor to be let aboard. Brandon, Gracie and Jake are among the few humans to have avoided the drones.

The story follows them as they make their way out of the city and into a remote area of Maine. Not only must they avoid contact with the aliens, but there are those in the government and military that are after them as well. Both Brandon and Gracie come to the realization soon after they start their journey that young Jake is not normal. It was he that the government and military sought.

This was a quick read, only lasting about 4 hours. I thought that the plot was an interesting twist on the tried and true alien invasion. I also liked it that it seemed to be a stand alone story, not the beginning of a long drawn out series. I give this novel a 3.9 (rounded up to a 4) out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com).

SpaceX Jumping Ahead with Travel Posters

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SpaceX has released a set of Space Travel posters to excite our imaginations as to what may be in our future, albeit probably more than a few years off. You can see, and download, the public domain
posters as high resolution images from the SpaceX Photos Flickr site. Highlighted in the posters are three Martian locations: the twin moons, Phobos and Deimos; the Calles Marineris (canyons on Mars discovered by Mariner 9); and Olympus Mons, a 16 mile high extinct volcano.

I suspect that at least one of these will soon adorn the wall in my office.

Book Review of “Straits of Hell”

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“Straits of Hell” eBook was published in 2015 (May) and was written by Taylor Anderson (http://www.taylorandersonauthor.com). Mr. Anderson has published 10 books in his “Destroyermen” series, this being the latest.

I obtained a galley of this novel for review through https://www.netgalley.com. I would categorize this novel as ‘R’ as there are many instances of Violence and some Mature Language. This Alternate History Science Fiction novel is set in the 1940s. World War II is going on when the USS Walker, a World War I vintage destroyer, is somehow transported to a parallel universe Earth. This Earth has monstrous ocean creatures and dinosaurs. Humans have not evolved on this version of Earth, but two other species, the Griks and Lemurians who are now at war, have.

This book picks up at the end of a great victory where the Walker and her new allies have captured the Grik capital on Madagascar. They must fight attempts by the Griks to drive them off the island. Elsewhere, the displaced Americans and her allies face the Holy Dominion fleet. The crew of the Walker were not the only humans to somehow find their way to the other Earth. There are Japanese still bent on pursuing WWII in this new world. There is also the League made up of Mediterranean countries as well as Germany. They have yet to attack, but threaten the Allies with their presence.

There ware many characters followed in the story, though Lieutenant Commander Matthew Reddy, Captain of the USS Walker is the foremost. It was somewhat difficult to step in and start with book #10 of the series. Having read this novel, I do want to go back and read the other 9. These remind me a lot of SM Sterling’s “Nantucket” series, which I also enjoyed. This was a relatively long read, taking about 15 hours to complete. I give this novel a 4.5 (rounded up to a 5) out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com).

Will We See Human-Level AI Soon?

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Many forecast that we are far from developing Human-Level AI (Artificial Intelligence), while some, Ray Kurzweil in particular, see that event coming withing the next two decades. While there are many who see this as opening many new doors, a few notable technologists like Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking believe that Human-Level AI will pose a threat to the human race.

Will we face Human-Level AI in our lifetime? Will it be a threat?

Other resources:

  1. Human-Level AI Is Coming By 2029
  2. Does Artificial Intelligence Pose a Threat?
  3. AI should be ‘human-like’ and capable of empathy to avoid existential threat to mankind
  4. Artificial intelligence and nanotechnology ‘threaten civilisation’
  5. Bill Hibbard on Ethical Artificial Intelligence
  6. Bill Gates on dangers of artificial intelligence: ‘I don’t understand why some people are not concerned’

Will We Ever Travel Faster Than Light?

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Of course we all want to be able to travel through space like the Enterprise at Warp speed. But will we ever be able to do that?

Physics (like explained in the article “Are We Ever Going To Develop Faster-Than-Light Travel?“) says that it is unlikely. But there are plausible (yet  plagued with problems) theories of ‘bending’ space such as proposed by physicist Miguel Alcubierre. The ‘Alcubierre drive‘ is an idea based on Einstein’s general relativity which could enable faster than light travel by contracting space in front of the vessel and expanding space behind it.

So, while faster than light travel is plausible, right now there are no solid designs to get us there. One can still hope though that one day the break through discovery will be made.

Is the EmDrive for Real?

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When I saw the article recently that NASA’s Eagleworks lab had successfully tested Roger Shawyer‘s electromagnetic propulsion drive (EmDrive) in a vacuum I had hoped that we were on the verge of opening up new propulsion capabilities. Regretfully, an article posted on Wired on May 6 (That NASA Warp Drive? Yeah, It’s Still Poppycock) seems to leave the results of that testing wanting.

In order to make space exploration practical, faster and cheaper means of propulsion will have to be developed. I am sure that one day a better space drive will be developed.

 

Book Review of “The Resurrection Maker”

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“The Resurrection Maker” eBook was published in 2014 and was written by Glenn Cooper (http://www.glenncooperbooks.com). Mr. Cooper has published 7 novels.

I obtained a galley of this novel for review through https://www.netgalley.com. I would categorize this novel as ‘PG’ as there are a few instances of Violence. This Thriller novel is set in contemporary times in England and several other locations in western Europe. The main character is Arthur Mallory.

Mallory is a descendant of Sir Thomas Mallory who is working in marketing for a firm that makes magnets. His formal education is in chemistry and his major activity outside of work is with archaeology and the Holly Grail. He is a member of the Grail Loons, a loose group of mostly academics with interest in the Holly Grain.

Mallory’s good friend and fellow Loon thinks he has uncovered a lead on the location of the Grail. Before he can reveal what he has found he, his wife and Mallory are attacked. Only Mallory survives, though with serious injuries. This sets Mallory to dig into what his friend had found. Mallory soon finds himself under surveillance and in danger from the Khem. The Khem is an ancient secret society that is seeking the Grail. Their motives are very materialistic in nature and are not hesitant to kill anyone who gets in their way. They believe that the Grail will provide them access to incredible power that will make them wealthy and powerful.

There are flashbacks to the time of Christ, to the early 1400’s and to the 1880s as the story of the Grail is told from the point of Judas, Sir Thomas Mallory and Antoni Gaudi. As Mallory focuses on the search for the Grail, a young French woman, Claire Pontier, shows up at his house to warn him. The lives of Mallory and Pontier are soon put into danger and the newly met pair must flee together. They work on tracking down the Grail and soon find a common interest in each other as well.

The story takes a very religious turn as the Grail is tied to the resurrection of Christ. I thought that the plot was good, with several twists. The novel did remind me a little to the ‘Robert Langdon” books by Dan Brown. This is the third novel by Glenn Cooper that I have read and I have found them all to be enjoyable. I spent about 9.5 hours with this novel and I think it is the best of the three. I give this novel a 4.8 (rounded up to 5) out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com).

USA, Minnesota, Minneapolis – Salty Tart Bakery

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Our last stop on our day of desert exploration was at the Salty Tart Bakery. There are two locations. We visited the one located at the Midtown Global Market, 920 E. Lake St., Minneapolis, MN. It was a little hard to find as it was near the center of the Market among a variety of restaurants and shops. The Salty Tart Bakery is the establishment of award winning pastry chef Michelle Gayer. We sampled a few items and they were all delicious. We particularly liked the Coconut Macaroons, but that was to be expected since they were featured on the Food Network program Best Thing I Ever Ate.

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If you are in the Minneapolis, Minnesota area and looking for something sweet I highly recommend a visit to the Salty Tart Bakery
and the Global Market.


See my other Food articles


New Channels Added to Apple TV, YouTube Dropped From Older Models

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May 5 found two additional channels available on the Apple TV – USA Now and CBS Sports. to users in the US, and Shomi and Crave TV for users in Canada. Unlike some of the other spots channels, CBS Sports does not require a a subscription. USA Now provides access to the USA network programs, but a cable subscription is required.

Google also dropped support for the YouTube channel on 1st and 2nd generation apple TVs and pre-iOS 6 devices. YouTube disappeared from several other older devices from other manufacturers as well.

The rumor mill is still full of predictions of an updated Apple TV and a new Apple TV Remote, most likely to be announced at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference June.

Related Articles:

Book Review of “The Broken Sword”

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“The Broken Sword” eBook was published in 2014 and was written by Poul Anderson. Mr. Anderson authored 30 Science fiction and Fantasy novels.

I obtained a galley of this novel for review through https://www.netgalley.com. I had a hard time with this Fantasy novel. I had spent an hour with the novel and had read 13% of the book. I finally had to invoke the Rule of 50  and just set it aside.

I wasn’t seeing much of a plot developing and I was struggling to keep my interest in the novel. I give this novel a 1 out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com).