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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 Last Continent (Discworld, #22)

The Last Continent (Discworld, #22) - Terry Pratchett "Are we all here?" said Archancellor Ridcully as he surveyed the assembled wizards. "Good. Now let's get our brainstorming session started."

"Ook?" said the Librarian in an uncertain tone. The Archancellor glared at him. "Come on, come on, shouldn't be difficult! We need to reset parameters. Push the envelope. Think out of the box."

"What box?" asked the Dean timidly. The Archancellor gave him a withering look.

"For those who somehow missed yesterday's briefing session," he continued, enunciating every syllable, "we have been given an unusual opportunity. Our Author," (he made a perfunctory sketch of the Holy Sign of Pratchett), "our Author has invited us to help plan his next book. I see it as a witty series of Australia-related parodies. This is our cue to think synergistically and proactively, exploit our first-mover advantage and -"

As he never tired of explaining to the other members of Unseen University, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Wizards had turned Mustrum Ridcully into a new man. Some people, however, still remembered the old one with a certain wistful nostalgia. But now Ponder Stibbons, the Assistant Under-Nerd, unexpectedly raised his hand.

"Please sir?"

Ridcully stopped, surprised. "Yes?"

"Well sir, I've been thinking about it as well, and I have a few ideas to, er, to toss into the mix." He cleared his throat. "I've been reading about, you know, evolution," (the Professor of Recent Runes looked pointedly at the ceiling) "it's, ah, very interesting, and I thought the book could be, you know, a sort of satire on that. On evolution. Darwin."

"Thank you very much for your valuable contribution," said Ridcully in a tone that clearly indicated the subject was now closed, "but as I was saying, Australia. A wealth of comic material for us to exploit. Kangaroos. Mad Max. Sheep shearing. Beer. Cork hats. Amusing synonyms for 'throwing up' -"

"No, but really, sir, let me explain!" said Stibbons. "Evolution's funnier than you might think! We can arrive at this island where it all happens much faster, new species evolve in hours rather than millennia, there's a god who's in charge of it all, and, wait sir, here's the punchline, it's a clever reference to J.B.S. Haldane-"

"As. I. Was. Saying." interrupted Ridcully. "Australia. Bush rangers. Drop bears. Vegemite. And for those among us who believe our target demographic likes biology, a sequence on how the platypus was created. There. No one can say I'm not willing to compromise."

Stibbons sighed. It was going to be another of those meetings.