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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
The Twilight Saga Collection - Stephenie Meyer (Partly based on a conversation with G N F)

- Hello. Thank you for answering our advertisement. Now, I'm going to give you a short presentation, and I'd like to measure your reactions. Just sit down here... I'm connecting this to your right wrist... this goes over your head... and, if you wouldn't mind... exactly. Right, we're almost set. Let me check it's working. Say something that's true, like, I don't know, "I am a fourteen year old girl". Good! And now something that's false, like, hm, "I've never heard of Paris Hilton." Excellent! We're good to go. Oh, don't worry, it won't hurt. All we want to do is be sure we know what you think of our idea. It'll take a few minutes, and then you get your $50.

- Okay, ah, this is a story we might be publishing as a book. It could be a movie too if things work out. It's about a teenage girl like you. Well, perhaps a bit older. Her parents are divorced. They don't have much time for her. All her mother is interested in is her feelings and her new boyfriend, and all her father is interested in is his job. She feels she needs to look after them most of the time. She's much more of a grown-up than they are. You're nodding! That's great.

- This girl worries about what's going to happen to the world. Those greedy, selfish adults seem to want to suck it dry of everything it's got. Sometimes she thinks they're like a bunch of vampires sucking out the world's blood. Sometimes she dreams that they'll suck out her blood too. Maybe she shouldn't read so many vampire books. I see you nodding again!

- Now I bet you already guessed that this is another vampire book. But they're a special kind of vampire. A technovampire. When they bite you, you turn into a... a sort of robot. Or maybe more like a beautiful living statue. I can see you frowning. You don't think it sounds very nice, do you? Well, we are having trouble with this part. Let me try it another way. Lots of women don't like the shape of their breasts. They'd like to have bigger, more attractive breasts, even if they are kind of hard to the touch. Maybe you've thought about getting a boob job? Aha! I knew it! Well, these technovampires have had a kind of boob job, but it's their whole bodies. Everything. Their whole bodies are cold and hard to the touch, but they look totally gorgeous. Okay?

- So, the girl in the story is pretty tired of looking after her dumb parents, and she knows the kids in her class are just a bunch of losers. Her only chance is to get in with the vampires and have them make her into a vampire too. So, there's all these twists and turns, but in the end she gets what she wants. There's this vampire guy who falls in love with her, and she becomes a vampire too. And they live happily ever after.

- Oh dear. You're shaking your head. You don't like it. You think it sounds horrible that she's going to abandon her family and her friends and become a cold, hard, bloodsucking vampire robot. But, look, she has to do it! It's her only chance. And she really does look totally hot once she's had the robot treatment. Okay, except that she's cold of course, you're right about that. Oh, and, I forgot to say that these other vampire robots become her new family. They're super-nice, uh, people. You still don't like it? Damn.

- Well, I can see we're going to have to tweak a few things. It still isn't quite what we want. No, no, don't say that! I tell you, we're closer than you think. Perhaps we just need to make it a bit more romantic.

- What? Of course we can. Why ever not?

- I know! The vampire robots sparkle in the sunlight. Now don't you immediately feel more positive about them? You do! Awesome.

- Okay, now thank you again for your time, and here's your $50. Oh, the pleasure's been all mine. You've been really helpful. And could you tell the next girl we're ready for her? Bye!