Date Tags reading

Quick update today, over a month late.


Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu is well-written, engaging, cerebral science fiction. Credit to the translator, who has made the prose sing. Highly recommended.

The Star Fraction: Book One: The Fall Revolution by Ken MacLeod. I enjoyed this book but it had so many references and things that were obviously in-jokes that I felt I was listening in to one half of a phone conversation. Points deducted for immediately describing the physical appearance and attractiveness of the female characters and not the male ones.

Vicious by V. E. Schwab is a dark, intense, thought-provoking superhero novel. Somewhat too violent for my tastes, but recommended nevertheless.

A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab. Set in three different, parallel Londons, this is a fun, solid fantasy.

Turbulence by Samit Basu. Superhero fiction set almost entirely in India, with Indian characters and and Indian point of view. More of this please! Part of the reason I read, and read fantasy specifically, is that I want to see other perspectives, other worlds.

Nemesis Games by James S. A. Corey. Next edition in the Expanse cycle. More of the same (which is good!).

Chicks 'n Chained Males edited by Esther Friesner. Anthology of humorous fantasy short stories themed around women rescuing men. Some are woefully awful, some are great. Will be mining it for potential authors next time I'm low on fiction.

Elric: Sailor on the Seas of Fate by Michael Moorcork and Elric: The Fortress of the Pearl by the same. If you haven't read Elric but you have read fantasy fiction or played D&D then you're familiar with the character, who is now one of the archetypes of the genre.

The Manual of Detection by Jedediah Berry is awesome. The magical realist pulp noir tragi-comedy genre has been criminally underserved, and I'm glad that someone has finally decided to do something about it.

The Skull Throne by Peter V. Brett. Before reading this I re-read all of the previous Demon Cycle books. When I did, I noticed just how similar they were to Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time books. It's hard to say exactly how. It's something about the way that gender, and about cultures. Each culture, each city has a thing that is its thing. Anyway, whatever it is, once I saw it I couldn't unsee it, and that made me enjoy The Skull Throne a little less. I'll still be reading the next one when it comes out.

A Man Lay Dying, Enter a Murderer, The Nursing Home Murder by Ngaoi Marsh. Three crime novels from the 1930s, all featuring the charming, well-educated Inspector Alleyn. They all start great and have oddly dissatisfying endings.


Debunking Economics by Steve Keen is where I've spent the bulk of my reading time over the last few months.

The main thrust of the book is that neo-classical economics is fundamentally flawed. Because neo-classical economics is rather mathematical, Keen uses mathematics to debunk it. This is great, but because the book is aimed at regular readers, he avoids equations, which makes it harder to read for people who do know mathematics.

In brief: demand curves can't be meaningfully aggregated and supply curves are based on completely erroneous assumptions, so there's no one single equilibrium position. Arguments that the free market maximises social utility start from the assumption that wealth has already been distributed according to maximise social utility. Most neo-classical economists assume that the economy is a "stable", with equilibrium being a stable attractor, and thus restrict themselves to linear algebraic techniques. Strange attractors and systems of non-linear PDEs are entirely ignored. Almost all neo-classical models assume that money & debt don't matter.

The author sometimes indulges in a bit of gloating. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the chapter about how he warned of the upcoming global recession, which opens with a speech from before the crisis by Ben Bernanke, claiming that economists had solved the problem of depressions once and for all. It's funny the first time, but eventually I wanted to put a hand on the author's shoulder and say, "Steve, I get it. You're right, and other economists hate you for it. But it's time to let it go.".

Also, the edition that you purchase from Amazon on the Kindle is missing graphs. Apparently they were deliberately taken out on the crazy assumption that they would make the readers' eyes glaze over. The lack of graphs means that you have to work much harder to understand and visualize the prose that describes the graphs that aren't there. If you decide to read this book, I recommend you download the free edition from the author's website, as well as actually buying the book, because it's worth the money.


Haven't been keeping track, partly because I haven't been reading as many. At the least, there's Velvet: Secret Lives of Dead Men, which is the latest trade in the Velvet series. It's a 1970s spy thriller that reads like a Le Carre with more action.