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Manny Rayner's book reviews

I love reviewing books - have been doing it at Goodreads, but considering moving here.

Currently reading

The Greatest Show On Earth: The Evidence For Evolution
Richard Dawkins
R in Action
Robert Kabacoff
Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies
Douglas R. Hofstadter
McGee on Food and Cooking: An Encyclopedia of Kitchen Science, History and Culture
Harold McGee
Epistemic Dimensions of Personhood
Simon Evnine
Pattern Recognition and Machine Learning (Information Science and Statistics)
Christopher M. Bishop
Relativity, Thermodynamics and Cosmology
Richard C. Tolman
The Cambridge Handbook of Second Language Acquisition
Julia Herschensohn, Martha Young-Scholten
253 - Geoff Ryman On 02:53 on the 25th of March, it so happened that there were exactly 253 people in the world reading Geoff Ryman's novel. For 253 seconds, each of them [Get on with it - Ed]. Oh yes. Here are some of their stories.


Keith, a graceless, limp-haired student, lives in Seattle, WA. He is writing a dissertation on 253. His girlfriend, Miranda, had suggested the idea to him a few weeks ago, and he gratefully accepted.

Now Miranda has just left him, and he's stuck. The dissertation is due tomorrow. Keith is in the middle of a paragraph that starts like this:
A normal novel is structured along the temporal dimension; the author takes a small number of people, and follows their evolution through an extended period of time. Ryman, in contrast, asks why a novel cannot be structured along the dimension of space; he takes a small number of minutes, and traces the evolution of an extended set of people through that interval. The point, one realises at the end,
Keith is unable to finish the sentence: no words come to him. He wonders whether Miranda intentionally sold him an impossible topic, and is suddenly convinced she has done so. He begins to weep.

The rest of this review is in my book What Pooh Might Have Said to Dante and Other Futile Speculations