Thursday, December 17, 2015

Reading (E-Reader): "Cosmos" (Sagan), "Hulk" (David), "Candle" (Dawkins); "Lifelog" and Book Switching

I've been a proponent of e-reading for many years, but have not really tried to flip books very often.  An advantage of E-reading is that many books are stored at once, all keeping track of your place in the book.

When the kids were younger, I used to read to them (e.g. "Lion, Witch and Wardrobe") and as they were falling to sleep, switch to whatever book I was reading at the time.

On and off, I've jumped between a couple of books, primarily as some I wanted to read, but wasn't immediately captured by it.
I "accidentally" started reading "Hulk" by Peter David, which is the source material for the 1st Hulk movie (with Eric Bana).  The movie wasn't very good, so I had little hope for the book, but being a comic nerd, I started anyway.  The book actually is pretty good, and provides the necessary details that didn't come across in the movie.  The "book" story differs from the "comic book" origin for Hulk, but is an OK update (search for healing using biotech and gamma radiation), which goes awry.

The "other" aspect of the movie is an abusive relationship between very young Bruce and his father, who was a military researcher who eventually murdered Bruce's mother.  The book does a better job than the movie (Nick Nolte played Bruce's dad) of covering this topic.

Alternating with the Hulk is "Candle in the Dark" by Richard Dawkins.  I didn't manage to get through Dawkins' biography, though I may continue at some point, but have liked the first few chapters of his book.  This book returns to discussing science, with biographical tidbits of where he was and the circumstances of learning (e.g. in Panama on an island in the canal zone), which, for me anyway, is a much nicer way to connect biography with the subject of interest.

The third book in the mix is "Cosmos" by Carl Sagan, which I'm sure I read in the past, but ran across it again and thought I'd give it another read.
Basically, I read a chapter or two of one book, topped off by a chapter of another.  I'm seeing if I can keep the story fragments in check as I read something else, and use each book as a reward for another.  I love to read, but have trouble finding time to stick it in the schedule - hopefully this mutual reinforcement circle will keep me going for a while (and Christmas break is a'comin).

A second reason for playing around is that I have a Samsung tablet, which I really bought to support smart watches, but find the 7" screen and Moon Reader software work for this to be an acceptable e-reader (note, actual e-paper e-readers still rule supreme for reading text - books like Cosmos,which are illustrated are likely better on an LCD screen).  A further add-in is the software "LifeLog" from Sony, which tracks lots of information silently - if I carry my tablet around it will track steps, distance, driving time, reading time, music played, movies/media watched, social media searched, and put it into a timeline.  It even logs pictures taken, so you will have an independent date-stamp (and the other context) with your pictures.  The "value" of this may be arguable, but I kind of like the idea that I can scroll back to last year (assuming I keep the software and it logs for the duration) and see what I was reading, watching etc.  Assuming I keep this active, it might be nice to answer questions like - "what was that song we were listening to in the car" or "what the heck was I doing last weekend).

I've only been using the software for a few days, but was surprised that it tracked my commutes - I can now "know" when I got to work, when I had lunch, when I went home, when I ferried around the kids for events - I was surprised that I spent nearly an hour in the car just on short duration trips - puts gas mileage into an appropriate context as well.

Finished (Netflix series) - "Master of None" - Aziz Ansari

I ran through the entire "Master of None" series created by and staring Aziz Ansari, whom I first found on "Parks and Recreation".

I did like the show, the character of Dev (Ansari) is a modern, single guy in New York,and the shows, while staying as a comedy, do deal with real issues (such as midnight search for "morning after" contraception, racial bias in casting, kids not appreciating parents/grandparents...).

The case is good -  Noël Wells, who really looked familiar but I couldn't place, had a nice role as Ansari's on and off girlfriend.  Looking her up in Google, I found she was a cast member on SNL, though I'll have to look through some clips to identify her.  Eric Wareheim is also good as Dev's buddy - he reminds me of Sarah Silverman's buddy on "the Sarah Silverman Program" - enough so I had to check (not the same guy who played Brian on Sarah's show - Brian Posehn).  Casting his real-life dad as his father, and I believe his real mother as well is a nice touch.

The binge-watching caused me to get a little off-put by Dev's personality - the use of "unnecessary" adjectives - e.g. - "let's eat some delicious food" - with binge watching I find it a little annoying - probably not so much with a less intense watching schedule.

Worth picking up - hopefully there is a second season.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Finished (E-Reader) - "Avenue of Mysteries" - John Irving

I've been a fan of John Irving for a very long time - "Garp", "Hotel New Hampshire", "Cider House Rules" and even older, odder books "158 Lb. Marriage" and "Setting Free the Bears".

I certainly waited for his latest book "Avenue of Mysteries".  The book is based around a pair of kids growing up in a garbage dump in Mexico, the main character is a boy of about 14, and his younger sister.  The sister has some psychic ability to read minds, and some ability to see the future, but only speaks to her brother - nobody else can understand her.

The dump kids have few options - they can live in the dump or get taken in by the orphanage run by the church.
The main character is a reader - he rescues and reads books from the dump, and can read and speak multiple languages.

The story is in two timelines - the young boy and sister, which is in the past, and the older boy, now an older man, who is an accomplished author.

What is fun for an Irving fan is that the author refers to his earlier books and references a book on abortion (which causes him arguments with his church-based friends),  a book about a man with a urinary tract infection, a "circus" book based in India (there may be more).  As a long time reader of Irving, these books are "Cider House Rules" which is based on a boy growing up in a "wayward girls" clinic where they perform abortions in years past, and "the 158lb. Marriage" where the main character, a male (among other things) has a tendency to get urinary tract infections and has to choose between having surgery to "straighten" his tract, or make sure to drink lots of water to keep the area cleansed, particularly after sex.  The "circus" book is "Son of the Circus" which is based in India.

So the book has some autobiographical references to some of Irvings own writings, which is kinda' fun.

Overall, the book was good, but I can't say it grabbed me like some of his other works.  Worth reading, yes, but maybe OK queued up behind some additional pressing reading material.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Watching (watched) "Jessica Jones" - TV Series - Netflix Season 1

On Friday, Nov 20th, Netflix uploaded 13 episodes of the first season of "Jessica Jones". As I'm fighting a cold, I managed to watch all 13 over the weekend, and liked them.

Jessica Jones is a Marvel Comics character, introduced as part of Marvel's MAX line of comics, geared at older readers (they swore a lot, and had "adult" themes).    The original comic was published in 2001 and ran for 28 issues (Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos,

Marvel did an interesting think with Ms. Jones - they retrofitted  Jones into the past continuity of Marvel - the back-story is that Ms. Jones was a young hero named "Jewel" who was part of the Avengers.  In the present, she is a depressed, heavy drinker, running a private investigation service called "Alias Investigations", hence the series title "Alias".  As the MAX line was independent of the mainstream universe of the regular comics, the retrofitted history was fine, and did not ignite fanboy rage.

Jessica Jones Netflix.jpgThe storyline in both the TV series and the comic book involve rape, particularly the whole idea of consent (e.g. the Purple Man insists it was not rape as she was "willing", she contends it was as her will was not her own), and is thus not a series for younger Marvel fans.  The episodes basically involve a tracking down of the Purple Man, and in this TV world, like our own, it would be difficult to prove in court the idea that your will was not your own - the TV series does involve a defence lawyer and the difficulty in a) believing that the issue of control exists and b) figuring out how to prove this in court.  This theme was not addressed in the comics, and adds and additional dimension of realism to the whole drama.

The series introduces another character from Marvel - Luke Cage (called Power Man in his earlier comics), who is a very strong man with impenetrable skin (Cage was wrongfully convicted of a crime, and agreed to an experiment in jail which resulted in his powers).  Cage in the yellow is how he was presented in the 1970s, the right hand is how he's presented more recently, and quite close to the TV series depiction.
As with Daredevil (another Netflix Marvel TV series) and Jessica Jones, Luke Cage lives in the Hell's Kitchen area of New York and is a very down to earth hero.  In the comics, he had a "Hero for Hire" business to provide super-powered services to clients.  Netflix is expected to roll out a Luke Cage series, and eventually team Luke, Jessica and Daredevil into a Defenders series as well.

As with the Netflix Daredevil (and all the other current TV Series - Gotham, Supergirl, Agents of SHIELD, Arrow etc.) the casting decisions have been excellent.  Krysten Ritter is prettier than I pictured Jessica Jones, who is kinda' frumpy in the Alias comic book, but does the character well.  Luke Cage (Mike Colter) is exactly how I'd imagine Luke Cage.  One scene has him being accosted by a group of rugby players, and his expressions are right out of the comics - he fights them off, but not with any real effort, more annoyed than threatened.  Carrie Ann Moss plays a high-powered defence lawyer and does that aspect well, though the character is pretty damaged with respect to how she handles her personal life - maybe a little too quick with that storyline (they might have kept her character as a law and order one for much longer than they did).
Jessica Jones as she appears in the "present time" Alias comic.

Body count on this show is high, some graphical, though nothing quite hits like the "head crushed in door" from Daredevil or the more recent arm chopping off in Gotham.  Lotsa' throwing folks around, execution by handgun, forced suicides and murders courtesy of the Purple Man.

All in all , not a bad way to deal with a cold.

Jessica Jones as she's portrayed by Krysten Ritter (R) and as the flashback character "Jewel" in Alias, the comic

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Reading: "Sick in the Head" (Paper Book) - Judd Apatow

Picked up (hardcover no less) Judd Apatow's book "Sick in the Head", which is a series of interviews Apatow has had with comedians.

As I am a fan of stand-up comedy, the interviews are a nice background into a bunch of my heroes.   Apatow's range of interviews covers many of my favourites - Steve Martin, Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, and even older greats like Mel Brooks and STeve Allen, along with newer ones such as Sarah Silverman and Amy Schumer.

I'm reading in the order he presents, so I've read Adam Sandler, Albert Brooks (who I only know perhiperally from movie roles), Chris Rock and Amy Schumer.

I like Quantico

Quantico is a nice new series - flipping between early training at the FBI school in Quantico and a terrorist event about 6 months later.  We see an eclectic class of students, all with varying motivations to join the FBI, all from differing backgrounds.

Part of the interest of the series is the training the recruits go through and the lessons learned - not always what was expected. but something every week.
The "current time" story is a bomb (several bombs) going off in New York and one of the new class of agents found at the scene, unscathed.  Further investigation finds her apartment full of bomb making equipment.  She goes underground, professing her innocence and begins to investigate to clear her name.

All in all, a fun hour per week well spent.

"Gotham" takes lead in TV Superhero contest

I'm a long-time fan of comic books, so have been very happy these last 10 years or so that there have been really good quality movies, and more recently, very good quality TV shows.

Just off the cuff, there are currently many comic-book hero TV series:

Gotham (early Batman)
Supergirl (new, only 2 episodes so far)
Arrow  - the granddaddy of the newer wave

Marvel: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Daredevil (Netflix)
Jessica Jones (Netflix soon)


Right now, Gotham is having a good run - seems to be leaning more toward the older age groups with more graphic violence.  The current storyline is a change in the organized crime seen - Penguin has recently taken over, and a new player has come to town (and has been elected mayor).  Ed Nigma is failing rapidly and moving towards his eventual Riddler persona.

Jim Gordon is back on the force and the right-hand of the new Commissioner, and is right in the middle of the crime wars.

Young Bruce Wayne is being set up by the new mayor, using a young female agent to control Bruce, and drive a wedge between Bruce and Selina.

All is ramping up nicely - a very good watch this season.  The cast is growing, but "in control" - the casting is excellent, and all players seem to be unique (all have quirks and strengths) and the writing has been excellent.  We "understand" the Penguin - he's a bad guy, but we kinda' understand where he's coming from and why, this is a nuance missing from the real world these days.

Gotham is a great series to understand how to pace change and add characters but not to be wildly chaotic (see SHIELD).  The focus (through Gordon) is consistent, and the cast grow, have tragic events happen, without losing their core essense.


I've fallen a little off SHIELD lately, there were too many changes to the status quo last season, all rushed out at once - I find it harder to attach to the characters right now as all have changed so much:  Skye has powers and a new name; Fitz has had brain damage, though that seems to be falling away, Simmons has been trapped in an alternate universe for several months, Ward turned evil, May has retired (temporarily) Colson lost his hand, SHIELD disappeared, but seems to be back.  I like Bobbie Morse (Mockingbird in the Marvel Comics Universe) but she seems to vary across episodes.

I suspect they jammed a lot of change into the end of last season in case they weren't picked up for renewal.  Right now it seems a little out of sorts, with lots of issues and changes that each need their own time to focus.  There is not a consistency that I can find in the case/storylines to hold onto the thread to attach to in order to have a base to understand the changes occurring - it all seems a hazy flux.

I think all of the changes to the characters and the SHIELD organization are all OK and fit the overall universe constructed, but the problem I have is that they all happened pretty much at the same time.  I don't think we can have a "life changing" event happen to key characters every week without losing something important - the understanding of who they are and how they interact.  The "family" aspect of the team from the first season seems lost right how - everyone seems to be a free agent.

I hope it finds a better track soon, as I think this is a great concept to introduce Marvel to the TV world - you can have perhipheral storylines and one-offs to test characters like they did with Deathlock.  But you have to have a core of characters we care about or there is nothing to contrast the unusual characters against.  The "fantasy" comes from the main characters being "normal" FBI/CIA-type agents trying to police a world where there are unusual powered individuals running around.  If "everyone" is powered, or they get too blase about the world they are in, it loses the storytelling power.

The Flash:
I still like the Flash, for the same reasons as Gotham - a cast of characters that are likable.  Flash is beginning to suffer from the issues I discussed with SHIELD - there are some characters evolving too fast and too much is in flux at the same time.  The Firestorm character is good, and fits into the storyline, but the timeline was too compressed - it took a while for the character to appear, which is appropriate - a few hints on and off.  But then they killed off the Ronnie Raymond character (for the 2nd time in the series) pretty soon after he returned from the dead (seemed to be dead in the initial reactor event), and right after marrying Caitlin.
Again, I like the progression, but they lost something by not having the character around, having an attachment to Ronnie develop, and the loss being felt stronger in the group.  Caitlin seems to be "over" the loss very quickly - a newlywed widow, particularly one who is protrayed as being very sensitive, should be having much more trouble with the loss - she seems a little too cold now.

Having Cisco develop powers is, again, fine, but is happening too quickly - it can be better handled in a slower progression - maybe headaches, flashes of insight....

I think the reveal of Wells being a speedster was a nice plot point, and probably enough "trauma" to the core group.  Again, they seem to be recovered from that piece of information very quickly - this was a core mentor for the group.  I think the writers have the characters lamenting the loss "in the background", off camera, but I think some needed to be done in frame.

The closing of the interdimensitonal portal at the end of Season 1 probably needed to be explored more fully 0- the giant earth-killing problem seemed to resolve too easily (even though it cost a character - it cost a character that had little residual feeling).  Having other portals popping up is fine (and 52 is the "correct" DC number) as it allows for characters to appear into the storylines without convoluted origin stories ("Barry - look what popped out of the portal - fight it").

Overall, I still like The Flash - the characters still feel young and alive.  Slowing down the major character changes will keep the story flowing.

Arrow suffers as well from a bloated cast - they tend to change the relationship between the police and Green Arrow almost every episode - I think either work (the police love him, or he is an evil vigilante that needs to be tracked down).  In fact, I'd like the take that Marvel did with Spider-Man in the '60's and '70's - he was officially "wanted" by the police, but the cops in the street often looked the other way when they caught him doing something heroic - occasionally they would try to arrest,but some sort of professional courtesy provides some good plot points.

They need to slow down with changes to Black Canary (lost sister, became druggie, got better, found her sister, had her sister die, brought her back from the dead) - that's a lot of issues, each of which is powerful.  Similarly Thea has recovered from being a druggie, lost a boyfriend, found out her dad is a supervillain and not the dad she grew up with, died/came back) - again a lot of change in a short time.

I'm OK with Diggle and Oliver clashing - makes sense as both are alphas, and come from significantly different backgrounds (playboy/prisoner/vigilante for Oliver, military/law enforcement for Diggle) - they should clash over tactics and appropriateness of the mission.  I'm not a fan of Diggle wearing a mask (looks like Magneto's hat) and going out on missions - that should be a rarity - he's more of the tactician and background support.
Arrow, like Gotham, is really the story of "regular" (though trained) folks operating in a world where there may be powered folks running around.  Because of that, they need to stop going to Nanda Parbat and coming back to life (already used twice, Thea and White Canary).  That place is a little too "fantastic" to be a regular appearance in the series.

Again, Arrow is one of my favourites - well developed and likable characters (though it is noticable how much more attached I am to the "older" characters - Felicity, Oliver and Diggle, than to the much changed cast members - Thea,  Laura, Sara).  I think Felicity hit upon this difference when she talked about the Core Team Arrow - something to be said for simplification.


Too early to tell, but I quite like it so far.  Supergirl suffers from a problem that maybe only Flash has - she's powered, so it will be difficult to find appropriate adventures without having to produce a more-highly-powered adversary each week.  The "learning the ropes" idea is a good one, not unique, but good.

I like the cast - Benoist plays a likable character - naive, positive, not overconfident - fits the storyline well.  The addition of a sister (earthling), Alex is good, hope to see more of her Danvers parents (Dean Cain and Helen Slater) as both have a pedigree.  Jimmy Olsen is a fresh take on an old character - nice to see him portrayed as an adult and a skilled photographer, not as a young hanger-on of Superman.  Having trusted Olsen with Supergirl's identity (and existence) is a much more reliable Olsen than in the older comics.

Flockhart is good as the "tough as nails" boss.


Overall, glad to have all of the series.  My "must watch" priority right now is "Gotham" and "Supergirl", then "Flash" and "Arrow" and, unfortunately, "Marvel - Agents of SHIELD" - "unfortunate" only in that the series has even more potential than the others to be reasonable (e.g. not supermatural all the time), flexible (can be anywhere in the world) and fantastic (can see, through the eyes of the non-powered agents a world with powers).  SHIELD also has the entire Marvel universe to draw inspiration, storylines and characters from.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Watching The Daily Show with Trevor Noah

Image result for daily show trevor

I've been a huge fan of the "Daily Show" since I discovered it in about 2004 and greatly regret not finding it sooner.  It hit the right tone of information, satire, sarcasm and indignation.  Jon Stewart became my hero.
Image result for daily show jon stewart
I was not happy for Jon to retire from the Daily Show, and with the Colbert Report ending as well, it seemed the end of an era.

I have watched the first two Trevor Noah shows and like them.  I think Trevor will get better as he gains his legs and has more of his personality infused into the show - right now it seems a little like he's still trying to guest-host for Jon.  I'm more than willing to give him a chance because his is the hand-picked successor to Jon Stewart, and Jon's record of identification of talent is well documented (Stephen Colbert, Larry Wilmore, John Oliver all have their own similar shows, Steve Carell had "The Office" and "40 Year Old Virgin" to his credit, Samantha Bee and Jason Jones are going to land somewhere, you can find Rob Corddry and Rob Riggle poping up in movies).

Good luck Trevor.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Finished (E-Reader) - "The Devil in the White City" - Erik Larson

"The Devil in the White City" by Erik Larson might be the best book I've read in a while.

The book is non-fiction, but reads like a good novel.  The book is based in Chicago at the turn of the last century (end of the 1890's).  Paris has just had a successful World's Fair (where the Eiffel Tower was created) - Chicago picked up the ball and planned an even bigger event for the 400th anniversary of Columbus discovery of America, the Chicago World's Columbian Exposition in 1893.

The book follows two storylines - the architects getting the fair ready, in a relatively unsophisticated Chicago (home of hog butchering and a good place to be killed), and a sociopathic doctor who plans to kill a lot of women.
The stories intersect basically because Chicago is such an aggressively growing city - lots of folks move to the city for the first time, many are victims and are not heard of again.  The Exposition of 1892 is seen as a way to catapult Chicago into the big times, make a name for the city as a place where more happens than a highway to hog heaven.

The chosen fairgrounds are a wasteland, mostly marsh.  Chicago has learned to grow skyscrapers in very wet ground, and makes some astounding leaps in construction (even downtown was sandy and wet ground).  In only a few years, this marsh must be transformed into parkland - one architect, Frederick Law Olmsted, who designed Central Park in New York, was hired to do the grounds - he had very ambitious plans for canals, islands and plants designed to create very specific views and areas within the grounds.   Daniel Burnham had the role of chief architect - his name still resounds in Chicago - it adorns the park with the Field Museum and Soldier Field.

The timing to build the Exposition was very short, and Chicago weather is not necessarily the best.  A tornado actually hit the Exposition when it was operating, heavy, non-stop rains required an opening ceremony on a mostly unfinished park.

The parallel story was of a doctor, who planned to take advantage of the Exposition - he built a hotel for the event with hidden passageways, a soundproof, airtight vault linked to a gas line in his personal office, a personal crematorium in the basement.  His planning indicates the degree of his sociopathy - he designed the building himself, and operated as the chief foreman - he would have workers work on one of the "secrets" only to be fired the next day - he did this frequently such that nobody ever really understood what was being constructed.  He also ran very sophisticated scams - forgery, fake IDs, hidden ownerships - all to keep himself above suspicion.

For the doctor, the Exposition was an event of great convenience - I suspect his story would have continued, fair or not.  However, the book is an excellent read as both the criminal, sociopathic storyline and the race to create the perfect city are interesting in their own rights - juxtaposition makes both stories a breath of fresh air from the other.

Not to spoil, but the "big reveal" at the Exposition was an object to rival the Eiffel Tower.  The buildings of the Exposition were all white, huge and all columns and neo-classical design.  Over the six month fair period, an estimated 27 million people attended, including almost 800,000 on a single day (Chicago day).  Explorers were dispatched across the globe (e.g. to track down entire tribes from Africa to live at the Exposition for a year or so).

I can't say I had heard of the Exposition, though it should still resonate through North America by nature of it's scope, so the educational aspects of the book were much appreciated.

Finished (E-Reader) - "The Billion Dollar Spy" - David E. Hoffman

I wonder if the current, or future generations will understand the Cold War - it sounds so "clean" and "odd" - the world divided into "good" and "bad", "us" and "them", paranoia and propaganda on both sides.

"The Billion Dollar Spy" brings some of that back.  I remember tidbits - I recall a MIG landing in Japan during the '70s, which is a background event in the book.

"The Billion Dollar Spy" covers a few key intelligence successes the CIA had during the Cold War.  The main spy was a high ranking Soviet scientist, with access to key Cold War secrets (primarily the radar capabilities of the Air Force and the Air Defense System), but willing to pull secrets from other domains as well.
The spy ran a long-term intelligence operation - photographing documents in the thousands over a number of years.  The "Billion" refers to a very conservative estimate of the amount of money saved by U.S. defence planners by being able to avoid divergent pathways when planning offensive and defensive tactics against the U.S.S.R.

Knowing the weakness of downward facing radar meant the U.S. could work hard on the development of the cruise missile, which skimmed low to the ground and was invisible to the Soviet air defense, with little concern that it could be stopped.  Knowing the radar on the high-end fighters kept the U.S. out front with technology, and the confidence that they would win war battles (which they did easily in the Gulf against former Soviet satellites armed with MIGs).

The book does a good job of understanding what it felt like to be in Russia at that time - the disillusionment over the promises made when the Communist state was taking over, the secondary status of U.S.S.R. citizens compared to U.S., the loss of dissidents simply for speaking against the current regime (even though they would have been loyal to the country, they betrayed the party).

This betrayal led to the leaking of secrets, fully knowing that these were hurting the military might of the country, and would likely end badly for the spy himself.

Spycraft (e.g. overcoming and discovering surveillance, dead drops, hand-offs etc.) feature prominently.  I was amused that the CIA set up dummies in cars, so they could race around a corner, the passenger jumps (falls) out of the car and the dummy is put in the passenger seat, just a few yards ahead of a following KGB patrol.  The technology of the time is shown through the use of cameras - some take good pictures, but are too big to haul around, smaller cameras, easier to hide, took poor pictures unless the lighting was precisely correct.

This is a good book to read - recommended.

Finished (E-Reader) - "The Martian" - Andy Weir

"The Martian" by Andy Weir was a very quick read, lots of action.  I didn't find it particularly suspenseful, as you got a pretty good idea early on that everything was going to turn out OK, which kinda' makes the "superheroics" seem a little forced.

The book does rekindle some of the awe that was felt towards the Apollo astronauts (Mercury and Gemini for older folks than me), and reminded me of the Apollo 13 story (should have died, managed to scavenge enough to survive, had to re-purpose existing equipment).  As the timeline was longer, there were more engineering challenges that Apollo 13 (which suffered from the handicap of being non-fiction).
The book did seem to rely on science - ideas of growing enough food to survive, working to keep the atmosphere breathable, making ramps and levers to overload vehicles, doing the math to figure out how long a trip would take, how much food/water would be required, how much time per day travel could be done using exisiting batteries, given the higher loads and re-charging times.

The "wind storm" is likely not reasonable - a NASA expert discussed how weak the atmosphere on Mars is, so even a very high wind storm would not carry much force, and would be noticeable much more by instruments than by damage or noise.

I have recommended it to my 13 year old son - nice pace and storyline to (maybe) kindle the dreams I had at his age.

Movie should be good.

Finished (E-Reader) - "Go Set a Watchman" - Harper Lee

Unlike the heroic portrayal in the earlier book, the lawyer was now older, and was not taking a strong stance for civil rights - instead supporting a much slower, separation of races approach.  All in all, the newer book was a much more nuanced exploration of the difficulties in society during such a big transition than the earlier and more "defensible" storyline of Mockingbird.Image result for free watchman

Image result for Mockingbird free ebook

I was only recently introduced to "To Kill a Mockingbird", primarily through the press surrounding the "sequel" - "Go Set a Watchman", both by Harper Lee.

Mockingbird was a much more "positive" story, a white lawyer defending an innocent, but eventually "guilty" black defendant.  "Go set a Watchman" was based 20 years later, during the '60s and was based on the civil rights struggle in the south.

Of the two, I liked Mockingbird better, but would not classify myself as a huge fan of either work.  I can certainly understand the feeling of loss someone who really loved Mockingbird would have felt after "Watchman", but as my experience with both was recent, it certainly wasn't that strong or moving an experience.