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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
Pleasuring the Pirate - Mia Marlowe, Emily Bryan Hey, what's this barrel doing here? I think there's something inside it... wait... I don't believe it. A fish. Hello fish! No, don't worry, I have nothing against trashy historical romances. Quite enjoy them in fact. Absolutely no need to get paranoid. Uh-oh. This could be trouble. I see Meredith coming this way with an AK-47. Fish, keep very still.

(Sound of footsteps approaching then receding into the distance)

Sorry. False alarm. She was just reading some Russian poetry book. We're cool, but... oops! I spoke too soon. It's Eh! and she looks like she means business. Fish, this is not a drill. Find somewhere to hide, like now. Maybe you can squeeze in under that bit of ripped bodice, and she won't notice you. She's almost here...


Fish, you OK? I'm so relieved to hear that. Close call. You can relax. It's all going to be alright. Oh my God. Oh shit. It's Elizabeth, and she's got... depth charges. What does everyone have against fish today, for crying out loud? I'm sorry, fish, I don't know what to say. I'm going to have to take cover. It's been nice knowing you.


Fish? Fish?? Fish??? Oh well. Oh well. Anyone for sushi?


Hello Ceridwen! Um, no, I was just having lunch... well... it's a long story. What's that you've got there? Excuse me? You're kidding, right? OK, OK, I am staying calm. I'm putting it down. I'm keeping my hands visible and I'm slowly moving away as you ordered. Ceridwen, it's just a fish. It's already dead. You don't need to use a tactical

(Sound of low-yield battleground nuclear device exploding)


Sorry... what was that you said? Oh, just lucky that I saw Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull. Wouldn't ever have thought of hiding in this old fridge otherwise. I'm amazed to see that it really does protect you from nuclear blasts!

So, you were telling me you're called... Ellen? and you're leading this million-strong zombie army? You want to do what exactly? My hearing is still a bit off. One more time please. Build a gigantic gas chromatography unit, reconstitute the fish from its radioactive component atoms, and carefully study its anatomy? Did I get that right? Well, fine with me. I think the best place to look will be over there, near the centre of the slowly cooling sea of molten glass...

(Sound of zombie army building gas chromatography unit, reconstituting fish, etc)


Hello... fish? I've got some bad news, some more bad news, some even worse news, some good news, some bad news... I'm getting myself confused. Let me summarise. You were blown to pieces, partially eaten (I'm afraid that was my fault), vaporised by a nuclear blast, and then miraculously reconstituted. Unfortunately, you're not alive but undead, and there's a visitor to see you from the Galactic Federation. She says she's called Miriam. I hope you got all that.

So, um, Miriam says that we have to release you to the Galactics, or Earth will immediately be destroyed. Sounds a bit far-fetched to me. What do you say, shall we call her bluff? I like it! You may be an undead fish, but you've got real fighting spirit. OK, that's what we'll tell her.


(Sound of whole planet being transported through hyperspace and dropped into ten million solar mass black hole)

Fish, I am honoured to have known you.



... though, just as I reach the event horizon, my whole life and several others flash before my eyes...