Wednesday, July 30, 2014

I Work at a Public Library, by Gina Sheridan

Gina Sheridan, a librarian in St. Louis, began gathering funny stories about her experiences as a librarian, and touched a nerve with other librarians (and library lovers!) at her blog,  Now she has compiled her stories in book form, in I Work at a Public Library.

In this short collection of brief anecdotes, Sheridan tells of her encounters with cute kids, ignorant adults (always treated respectfully), appreciative patrons, and the occasional animal.  The questions she gets are brilliant in their cluelessness.  The lack of ability to function and think independently displayed by some patrons is remarkable.  But she also has plenty of stories that confirm appreciation for and the indispensability of public libraries.

I love my library and the librarians I have gotten to know there.  If you feel the same way about your library, you'll enjoy this light-hearted inside look at a public library. 

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Back Channel, by Stephen Carter

Yale law professor Stephen Carter is back with his sixth novel, Back Channel.  Set during the Cuban missile crisis, Carter's heroine, a 19-year-old Cornell student, finds herself in the middle of a game of espionage and a role in preventing a nuclear war.  She is recruited to be a "back channel," a conduit between Kennedy and Khrushchev for communication and negotiation.  The whole premise is at once a little absurd, but at the same time almost believable.  After all, plenty of strange things go on in international relations that meet the public eye; very few know what goes on behind the scenes, in the back channel.

Two elements familiar to Carter's readers dominate Back Channel.  First, a strong African-American heroine.  Margo is not Jason Bourne, but she shows enough bravery, resourcefulness, and crafty intelligence to earn a place among spy novel heroes and heroines.  Second, as in virtually all of Carter's previous novels, the reader gets a glimpse of the role of powerful and wealthy African-Americans at crucial points in our nation's history.  Carter's black characters defy negative stereotypes, pulling strings and wielding quiet but powerful influence at the highest levels.  I wish I knew how much of this characterization were true in American history.  I am confident that it is much more true than most Americans realize.

Just as familiar as these two elements is Carter's characteristically intricate story-telling and intelligent writing.  There is something about his use of the English language that makes his fiction a pleasure to read.  It is elevating without being obscure or flowery.  And the plot of Back Channel swirls and twists as Margo strives to figure out who she can trust and what she is to do.

Back Channel was altogether a pleasure to read.  Sure, this may not be how the history of the Cuban missile crisis played out, but, well, maybe it could be. . . . Why not?

Thanks to Edelweiss and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

A Storm Called Katrina, by Myron Uhlberg and Colin Bootman

It's hard to believe nearly ten years have passed since Katrina ravages the Gulf Coast.  The images of the rooftop rescues, the crowding in the Superdome, the flooded streets, and the collective human misery still seem fresh.  In A Storm Called Katrina, writer Myron Uhlberg and illustrator Colin Bootman capture the amazing devastation of Katrina on New Orleans through the eyes of a little boy.

When the storm hits, Louis's family thinks it's like any other hurricane, not an unfamiliar experience for New Orleans residents.  When the rain stops and the water starts rising, they realize the levees have failed and they have to flee.  They end up heading to the Superdome, where they join thousands of others.  On the way, they see lost pets, a dead body floating by, and rescue boats.

Uhlberg and Bootman strike a delicate balance between portraying the harsh reality of the storm and protecting innocent eyes.  It's not a political story or an environmental story but a story about one family's difficult experience of sticking together through adversity.  Well-told and nicely illustrated, A Storm Called Katrina is a harsh but sensitive reminder of a terrible chapter in our history.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Godless, by James Dobson and Kurt Bruner

Fatherless, Childless, and now Godless. James Dobson and Kurt Bruner have looked at demographic trends and the state of morals and religion in the United States and don't much like what they see.  Godless continues the story in this third book in the series.  The story picks up nicely, catching us up with the lives of the characters we got to know in the first two books.  Their lives intertwine, and political and social forces continue to combine efforts in the drive to devalue human life.

That theme, the value of human life, looms over this whole series.  With low birth rates and a failing economy, public sentiment leans more and more toward transitions--individuals volunteering for what amounts to assisted suicide--as a means to save the economy.  Troy and Kevin continue to promote the "Bright Spots" initiative, in support of the fact that the most successful economic regions are those with the highest birth rates and lowest rates of volunteering for transitions.

They recruit a pastor to gather clergy support for their movement, but very few pastors will speak publicly denouncing transitions.  In this future, three or four decades out, gay marriage is a done deal; the voices supporting traditional marriage had been silenced into irrelevance.  The question of legal abortion had long been settled.  Dobson and Bruner give a stark warning: religious leaders must take the lead in stemming the cultural tides that threaten to sweep away traditional Christian values.

Godless is both thought-provoking and well-plotted.  Dobson and Bruner make a great team.  Godless would be a worthy finish for a trilogy, but they do leave the door open for future stories.  Back in the present day, I hope the lessons of Godless can be learned by warning and example rather than by this fiction coming true.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Dance of the Reptiles, by Carl Hiaasen

Carl Hiaasen is absolutely one of my favorite novelists.  His hilarious fiction captures life in the crazy world of Florida, with its corrupt politicians, clueless tourists, and environmental nitwits.  As the columns collected in Dance of the Reptiles demonstrate, he has no shortage of material for his novels.

Hiaasen's readers who are unfamiliar with his newspaper columns may be surprised that he comes across less as a humorist and more as a grumpy old man.  Further, although there are hints of his liberal views in his novels, in these columns he shows himself to be a hard-core leftist Democrat.  I'm all for bashing politicians.  Bring it on!  But Hiaasen's bashing is reserved almost exclusively for Republicans.  I won't argue that it's undeserved.  Hypocrisy, corruption, and sheer idiocy run rampant in Washington and among Florida politicians of both parties.  I would appreciate Hiaasen more if he used his wit and insight to focus some attention on Democrats as well.  He should have had plenty of material to bash the inept Obama administration, but the only piece on Obama was a laudatory election night ode to the great bringer of hope and change.

Hiaasen rightly denounces the overbuilding of Florida, the lack of respect for endangered species and their environments, the problems caused by the influx of population, the agriculture industry's flagrant disregard for the environment.  I would guess most Floridians would join him in his complaints, but the problem is he's complaining about the leading economic drivers of the state: tourism, agriculture, and growth and development.  Where would Florida be without these industries?  Hiaasen longs for the Florida he grew up in, wild and free.  Unfortunately, he's never getting it back.

One last word about his liberal views.  I know I am more conservative than many, especially than cynical journalists from South Florida.  I can see his points, and certainly can agree with him on many of his views.  Corruption, waste, incompetence, and stupidity are worth calling out whatever your political persuasion.  But I have to challenge him on one significant point: he argues passionately for the need to preserve habitats and species that are in danger.  I agree it would be a shame to lose a species of plant or animal simply because of flagrant human disregard.  But please, can't he acknowledge that an unborn human is more valuable than any manatee, burrowing owl, or mangrove tree?  In Hiaasen's world, it's safer to be a rare species of plant than a developing baby.  The former must be protected, while the right to kill the latter must be even more passionately protected.  This position is inhumane and, in my opinion, indefensible.

Hiaasen is a very entertaining writer, but his columns are much less entertaining than his novels.  I suspect I would like these better reading one or two a week, rather than reading straight through.  Still, reading about Hiaasen's South Florida made me think every city needs a Hiaasen poke fun at politicians, raise a little ruckus, and call things as they see them.

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Catch, by Taylor Stevens

I have enjoyed Taylor Stevens's Michael Munroe novels.  Munroe is tough, deadly, smart, brilliant at learning languages, and compassionate.  Her troubled past and inner demons elicit compassion for her.  She doesn't go looking for trouble, but sometimes her friends, circumstances, and desire for revenge get her into perilous, no-win situations.  Of course, she survives the peril and ultimately wins.

The Catch opens with Michael working with a private security firm in Djibouti.  While providing security on a ship, Michael discovers that there are smuggled weapons on board, and she is the only member of the team left in the dark.  Then when pirates board, she decides to escape with the captain of the ship.  She hides the captain, tries to find out the real reason for the ship's hijacking, and plots to take the ship back.

Michael spends the bulk of the book trying to survive and stay hidden in Africa, keeping the captain alive but restrained while she tries to discover why he is being hunted.  To be honest, I got sort of tired of her cat and mouse games, and found that I couldn't care less about the captain or his pursuers.  Or anyone else, for that matter.  One of the characters, anticipating the recapture of the ship, puts it well: "The anticipation is the worst, you know? Misery in the waiting."

The Catch has plenty going for it--interesting details about cargo ships, life in Africa, some cool fighting scenes--but not enough for it to measure up to Stevens's earlier books.  Here's hoping for a rebound in the next one.

Thanks to Edelweiss and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy!

Friday, July 18, 2014

The Caves of Steel, by Isaac Asimov

Classic sci-fi doesn't get more classic that Isaac Asimov, and Asimov classics don't get more classic that his Robot trilogy. I recently listened to the audio version of The Caves of Steel, book 1 of Asimov's Robot Series.  I had read it years ago, and was not disappointed in the audio update.

On one level, this is a simple detective story.  New York detective Elijah Baley is teamed up with a new partner, R. Daneel Olivaw, to solve the murder of a robotocist.  The twist: Daneel is a robot himself!  As Elijah and Daneel track down leads and learn to work together, Asimov builds a future world that is both imaginative and prophetic. 

This audio version is great.  It's a straight, single-actor reading, not a dramatization, but William Dufris pulls off the narration perfectly.  His voicing of Daneel brought to mind Star Trek's Data, which is appropriate, as Data is clearly modeled after Asimov's vision of a robotic future.

If you've never read Asimov, this is a great place to start.  If you have, he's always worth returning to!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Extinction, by Mark Alpert

When mind and machine become one--the singularity--machine may decide that ordinary humans only get in the way.  That is the scenario in Extinction, Mark Alpert's latest foray into realistic science fiction.  Using technology that enables human minds to be linked together like a large computer network, a group of Chinese scientists has created "Supreme Harmony," several dozen lobotomized humans whose collective consciousness learns to manipulate the world they were designed only to observe and analyze.  As their awareness and abilities grow, they reason that humans are a threat to their ongoing survival, so they must expand their network and ultimately destroy the human race.

Those machine/minds underestimate the human will for survival.  When they abduct computer hacker Layla Pierce, they attract the attention of her estranged father Jim Pierce, a former military intelligence officer, now a pioneering robotics developer.  In a globe-trotting pursuit, Jim tries to track down his daughter and as they both learn about Supreme Harmony, they have to work together to thwart the collective mind's evil plans.

The full title is Extinction: A Thriller, and Alpert aims to live up to that "thriller" label in spades.  There are so many edge-of-your-seat impossible close calls in Extinction that the thrills become, shall we say, a little less thrilling.  Another hair's breadth escape, and another, and another, etc.  But the comic book/ popcorn action movie tone is backed by some pretty realistic science, keeping it pretty interesting.  Sure he takes it too some extremes, like when Pierce operates his detached prosthetic arm from across the room, but I'm interested to see how much of this robotic/prosthetic technology is real, or will be soon.

Fun to read and fun to imagine on the big screen, Extinction may not make Alpert "truly the heir to Michael Crichton," but he at least fits in the same ballpark.  Just pop the popcorn and enjoy it!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Curiosity's Mission on Mars, by Ron Miller

The Red Planet has captured the interest of Earth-dwellers for centuries, the destination of many fictional voyages and the home of many hostile and friendly alien races.  No human has set foot on Mars--yet!  But as we gather more and more knowledge of Mars, the possibility of a manned mission to Mars, and perhaps even a long-term human presence there, becomes more and more real.

Ron Miller's book Curiosity's Mission on Mars: Exploring the Red Planet introduces the Curiosity rover, which has, for almost 2 years, been roving about Mars gathering data and increasing our knowledge of Mars.  The Curiosity is the latest in a series of Mars missions, which has included rovers and orbiting vessels.  None of the predecessors, however, have gathered as much or as important information as what Curiosity has an will continue to do.

Although Curiosity's Mission on Mars is written for older elementary school and middle school students, and will surely find a home in school libraries, there is plenty here to interest readers of all ages.  Younger readers may be put off by some of the more technical sections of the text, but the book is arranged with plenty of sidebars, photos, and illustrations to invite the casual reader who might not read the book straight through.

I enjoyed the accessibility of the content that did not insult the reader.  Clearly Miller is appealing to readers interested in space exploration, and doesn't skimp on basic scientific information.  Hopefully his young readers will be inspired to work towards the ultimate goal: terraforming and colonization of Mars.  With all that we are continuing to learn from Curiosity, science fiction is moving closer and closer to science fact.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Daimones, by Massimo Marino

What would you do if you woke up one morning and everyone, except for you and your family, had died, all at once?  That's the scenario that begins Massimo Marino's sci-fi novel Daimones, volume 1 of  his "Daimones Trilogy."  On an otherwise normal morning commute, Dan Amenta discovers that seemingly everyone around him, except his wife and teenaged daughter, has mysteriously died.  A scientist by profession and training, Dan responds rationally and meticulously, provisioning his family and making plans for this new world they find themselves in.

I appreciated the contrast to so much post-apocalyptic fiction.  There are no marauding mobs or tyrannical warlords here.  Dan keeps thinking of the Mad Max movies, and wondering if or when such scenarios would play out.  But Marino's tone is much more level, and his view of human nature is much higher.  For the first half of the book, Dan and his family are virtually alone.  The story is meticulous and a little dull, matching Dan's personality and plans.  The gnawing mystery of the mass die off stays quietly in the background.  When they finally make human contact, and when they finally begin to understand the reasons and reality of what has happened to them and to the human race, the curtain is pulled back and all that leads up to the revelation begins to make much more sense.

Marino has a unique voice in sci-fi, placing human interactions and motivations at the center of the story, while not neglecting the science behind the fiction.  The alien encounter and alternative human history they reveal adds a pretty wild twist to the story; it will be interesting to see where that twists to in the remainder of the trilogy.

Thanks to the author, who provided a complimentary electronic review copy in exchange for an honest review!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Rich Kids of Instagram, by The Creator of Rich Kids of Instagram and Maya Sloan

I've heard it said that wealth doesn't change a person's basic personality. Rather, it amplifies traits that are already in place.  So if one has a tendency to be kind and generous, wealth amplifies kindness and generosity.  If a person is mean and selfish, those traits are enhanced by wealth.  In Rich Kids of Instagram: A Novel, this principle is demonstrated with regard to vice.  Many young people in their late teens and early twenties have tendencies toward getting drunk or high, being sexually promiscuous, and treating people around them like dirt.  In RKOI, we see the Rich Kids taking their vices to extremes that most people couldn't dream of.

The novel, inspired by the popular web site/ tumblr feed, evokes a mix of revulsion (are there really people that depraved in this world?), envy (wouldn't it be nice to have access to that kind of lifestyle!), and pity (these people's lives are so empty and aimless!).  The anonymous creator of the RKOI web site teamed up with Maya Sloan, a bona fide writer, to capture the lifestyles of the rich and depraved within a well-written story.

In RKOI, we meet a line up of characters who, thanks to their parents' enormous wealth and unmatched influence, feel like they rule the world.  Along the way, they indulge in plenty of drinking, drugs, and sex, while spending wads of cash.  Each chapter is told from the perspective of on of the Rich Kids.  Their paths cross and intermingle in amusing and appalling ways.  Along comes a sort of impartial observer, a tech genius who has entered the upper stratosphere of wealth by selling his startup to one of the Rich Kid's media mogul father.  The other Rich Kids open their lives and lifestyles to him, but have no idea that he doesn't share their Rich Kids desires and attitudes.

RKOI is an entertaining, sickening read.  It will reinforce any negative stereotypes you might have about how the .01% live.  There's not a single character that I could like or find sympathy for.  Surely some of the children of the elite are admirable and moral, but their lives, according to the authors, must be much less entertaining.  Neither should you look for a moral message here, other than, perhaps, immorality begets immorality, whatever tax bracket you're in.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy!

Monday, July 7, 2014

How to Be a Christian Without Going to Church, by Kelly Bean

It's no secret that church attendance in the U.S. in on a downward trend.  Even the mighty Southern Baptist Convention, the nation's largest Protestant denomination, has seen several years of decline in attendance and baptisms.  Prominent megachurches have seen some growth and success, but overall numbers for the church at large are down.  Some view this as a problem.  Kelly Bean says, not so fast!  Many Christians are leaving traditional brick-and-mortar churches to find community, worship, and discipleship outside the walls of the church.

In How to Be a Christian Without Going to Church, Bean describes the ways "non-goers" live out and express their faith.  Bean herself co-founded Urban Abbey in Portland, Oregon, where, true to the culture of the region, alternative Christian communities thrive.  Many of her examples are found there in the Pacific northwest.

Here are some things that Bean says non-goers do:
  • Get to know their neighbors. 
  • Cultivate intentional relationships.
  • Spend time in "meditation, prayer, study of sacred texts, devotional activities, group discussions."
  • "Maintain healthy, well-balanced support systems and opportunities to share . . . gifts with others." 
  • "Go outside of their comfort zone to learn and be changed."
  • "Listen for a sense of call, join others with similar vision, . . . and make room for everyone to use their gifts."
  • "Incorporate hands-on participation, experiential touch/taste/feel comfort, and a sprit of welcome as you worship."
All of these are great suggestions.  I do not contest any of them.  But Bean's implication that these can be better accomplished outside a traditional church setting, or without regular weekly worship in a building, doesn't hold up, in my opinion.  Every time she says, "Non-goers can . . . ," I thought, "Well goers can, too!"  Bean is right in calling for a "shift from 'going to church' to new, life-giving practices of 'being church.'"  But I think she's wrong to say that this can be done more effectively outside of and apart from a traditional church.

My biggest problem with Bean's position is that one might be left with the feeling that declining church attendance is a good thing for the health of Christianity.  "Great!  All those people who are leaving the church are embracing these community-based, organic expressions of faith and living!"  I don't have any stats, but I think that would be wildly optimistic.  An informal survey of Facebook friends who no longer attend church cited reasons such as disagreements with church leadership, the kids have graduated from all the programs, a preference to worship at home, including services on TV or online, etc.  But I think a larger portion, culture-wide, of leavers leave for "Church on the Dock," or "Bedside Baptist," and many leave the faith altogether.  Very few are actually engaged in community, corporate worship, and service.

That is Bean's word of encouragement, and the core message of her book.  She doesn't completely reject the institutional church; in fact, many of her examples are from churches with buildings.  But she wants to recognize that church is not limited to life in a building with a regular weekly schedule of activities.  Even more than that, she wants to encourage Christians who have, for whatever reason, left the church, to pursue community and discipleship in their own ways.  The examples she gives will inspire the goer and non-goer alike.

I remain biased toward the strength of the institutional church for many reasons, including but not limited to: historical precedent, spiritual and theological accountability, inspiration derived from multigenerational interactions, formal and informal teaching and preaching, and a structure that can opportunities for participation in and provide funding and support for missions, community involvement, theological education, and charitable works.  Not every church provides all of these things, of course, and all of these can be pursued outside of church.  Whether in a church or out of it, Bean's book can give you ideas and be a catalyst for making some changes, so that you don't settle for going to church but think about being the church.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Be Quiet, Marina!, by Kirsten DeBear

There don't seem to be many children's books that feature children with disabilities.  Kirsten DeBear and photographer Laura Dwight fill a niche with Be Quiet, Marina! which follows the friendship of Marina and Moira.  They are in class together, and live with different disabilities.  As their needs and feelings differ, they have to learn how to navigate their behaviors around one another to get along.  It's sometimes a challenge, but they learn to communicate and become much better friends.
 The black and white photographs are dated (or perhaps timeless, depending on your perspective) but capture Marina and Moira's days and interactions beautifully.  It's fun to see them work through their differences and enjoy one another's company.  Children--and adults, for that matter--who are around children with disabilities will enjoy this reminder to be aware of other children's needs and sensitivities. We don't get along with everyone in the same way, but that doesn't mean we can't get along with everyone.

  Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy!

Friday, July 4, 2014

One Nation Under God, by Tony Evans

Every time I read Tony Evans, pastor of Dallas's Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship, I'm challenged and inspired.  He is a solidly biblical, old-fashioned (in the best sense) preacher of the Word of God!  I am assuming his book One Nation Under God: Pursuing Liberty and Justice for All got its start as a sermon or sermon series.  His cadences and oratorical style come through powerfully.

Starting with the biblical models of governance, Evans calls for "a government that does not seek to limit humanity's freedoms but rather promotes freedom through the declaration of clear and just boundaries along with the carrying out of immediate and acute consequences for breaking those boundaries" and in which "self-government and free enterprise can flourish."  Sounds good to me!

Evans is critical of a welfare state that ignores the importance of personal responsibility.  An advocate of the Reformed principle of "sphere sovereignty," he calls for government to "create an environment for compassion to flourish" through the natural associations of family, church, and community.  Further, the role of civil government and the rates of taxation should be limited so that individuals can "pursue their calling under God and their capacity to contribute to economic development."

I particularly liked Evans's principles for implementing biblical justice: restitution, reconciliation, and responsibility.  Our current criminal justice system seems to be severely lacking in all three of those areas, with its emphasis on punishment.  Speaking of crime, Evans would also like to see something done about "government-sanctioned theft through state-enforced redistribution of wealth and illegitimate taxation."

One Nation Under God probably contains more that will be agreeable to Republicans than Democrats. But Evans reminds us that "God does not ride the backs of donkeys or elephants. . . . He didn't come to take sides; He came to take over."  Christians need to be aware of their influence in society and the capacity of the church for "transforming individuals, families, churches, and communities."  And we need to know that we can't have "God bless America" without "One nation under God."  Preach it, Tony!

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The Collapse of Western Civilization, by Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway

This is a weird little book.  Harvard professor Naomi Oreskes and Cal Tech professor Erik Conway have put their heads together again to write The Collapse of Western Civilization: A View from the Future.  This is a sort-of essay, sort-of science fiction.  Think of it as science fiction without an actual story, more like a background piece creating an alternative future for a sci-fi novel.

Oreskes and Conway take current trends and project an environmental and economic collapse in the coming decades, then write from the perspective of historians looking back at what went wrong in the late 20th and early 21st century.  Taking a worst-case scenario approach, they don't see much hope, and from the hindsight of the 24th century, they can't imagine how we, who were living in the years leading up to the Great Collapse, could have missed or ignored the signs of the coming catastrophes.

They make some valid points.  For instance, our era "had the technological know-how and capability to effect an orderly transition to renewable energy, yet the available technologies were not implemented in time."  I think they're right about this, that the combination of special interests, corrupt government, and the power of the market have colluded to distort market forces and prevent alternative energy from developing.

Speaking of the market, they place a large part of the blame for the collapse on "market fundamentalism: a quasi-religious dogma promoting unregulated markets over all other forms of human socioeconomic organization."  What they don't adequately acknowledge, in my opinion, is that the market is at its worst when working in conjunction with the government, as they pick winners and losers by distorting the market through regulations, tariffs, and tax breaks, which is what we frequently see today.  The irony they point out is that the very "centralized government and loss of personal choice was rendered essential by the very policies that [market fundamentalists] had helped put into place."

The Collapse of Western Civilization is not much fun to read, not only because of the authors' pessimism, but also because of the style--dry and pedantic.  They make some valid points, but I think place too much blame on the free market.  Where, today, can we find the cleanest air and rivers, least pollution, and most green space?  (I mean, besides maybe in a national park.)  In developed, capitalistic nations.  Go to a big city in China, then go to a big city in the U.S.  Visit the Kenyan countryside, then visit the countryside in Germany.  Swim in a lake in the U.S, then swim in a lake in India.  As a rule, the more developed and prosperous a nation, the better the environment.  I think there is certainly room to speculate that developing nations tend to place a higher priority on technologies and policies that lead to a cleaner environment.

Oreskes and Conway cover a lot of territory that sci-fi readers will find familiar, but they do it from an academic perspective that lends more credibility than fiction.  (No offense to sci-fi authors; I'm a fan of your work!)  It's an interesting, thoughtful and provoking read.  I did have to wonder how this passed the editorial review board of an Ivy League university press, though. . . .

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy!