Monthly ArchiveApril 2005
Fiction 21 Apr 2005 16:06
“Andromeda Strain” for the 21st century would be a fair description for this book. As in the older book, humanity again faces a threat that is lethal and can’t be shot down but that is, for the moment, confined to a location away from civilization.
Supposedly a cautionary tale about the dangers of nanotechnology, I feel that the novel fails to deliver in that area. It is a typical Crichton plot, and the story is well developed, if a little far-fetched; it is told in the first person, though, which is a little unusual for him. However, for a writer that usually pays lots of attention to technical details, the last few chapters seem to gloss over a lot of issues. I won’t go over them here so as to not spoil it for those who haven’t read it yet, but it almost looks like he wanted to leave open the possibility of a sequel (the ending most certainly allows that). Or it may be that the main character isn’t exactly a nano-specialist, so he wouldn’t think of certain things.
Don’t get me wrong, though: I did like the book, and I think it does a good job of being technical enough without being overwhelming. He even tries to cater for the geek crowd, going as far as mentioning Sourceforge at one point. In the end, it’s very good entertainment.
Non-fiction 18 Apr 2005 14:00
Written by one of the first pilots to fly the Concorde, this book has everything you ever wanted to know about the aircraft. From the early days of its development, through all of the political problems it had, the long battle to get it into New York, to a chapter detailing the events of the accident in 2000; everything is there, often told from a first-hand perspective.
It also contains lots of technical information about actually flying the Concorde: what is different compared to “regular” airliners, what happens at any stage of the flight, how it is controlled… it even helped me take it off the ground correctly in Flight Simulator! One of the chapters has an almost step-by-step description of a typical flight, from going through the take-off check-list to turning the engines off at the destination.
The first edition of the book was published in the early 80s, and it was updated after the accident what a new chapter on what happened on that day and the long process to take the planes back to the air. It has no information on the retirement of the aeroplanes, soon after; I believe the book was published before this happened.
In short, an amazing book for anyone interested in aviation and in this very special airliner. Excellent read.