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Reviews from October 2014 (27)

I am not going to explain how much of my courtship doctrine was based on this book and ones like it aside from admitting it was not a small fraction

On Thermonuclear War

By Herman Kahn  

19 Oct, 2014

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You

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On Thermonuclear War came out in 1960, a time when a world without nuclear weapons was something a lot of people had actually grown up in, rather than a peculiar fantasy of a few idealistic deviates. The years between 1945 and 1960 had seen some breath-taking advances in technology but sadly the doctrines available remained comparatively crude. This book was Herman Kahn’s attempt to address this gap. Since the outcomes are distinguishable, the US should chose policies that selected for the least bad outcomes and the only way to do that was through rational analysis. 

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Trust the US to turn procuring weapons of mass destruction into something sordid

The Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II

By Denise Kiernan  

18 Oct, 2014

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While accounts of the development of the atomic bomb will mention women like Lise Meitner and perhaps Ida Noddack in passing, for the most part the story of how the atomic bomb came to be is framed as a male one. In fact, there were were thousands of women, blue collar and white collar, involved in the Manhattan District. In Girls of Atomic City, author Denise Kiernan tries to cast a little light on groups generally consigned to the shadows.

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In which archaic sexism and racism provide unwelcome distraction from dubious physics

Time for the Stars

By Robert A. Heinlein  

17 Oct, 2014

The Great Heinlein Juveniles (Plus The Other Two) Reread

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1956’s Time for the Stars feels like a regression for Heinlein, a book that if I did not know when it was published I would have said was one of the earlier juveniles. It’s also oddly downbeat, in that the protagonist’s most significant contribution to the world is something he could have done at home, something that makes his other efforts almost pointless. 

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The deep things in science are not found because they are useful; they are found because they are possible to find.”

The Making of the Atomic Bomb

By Richard Rhodes  

16 Oct, 2014

Special Requests

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I am using the wrong cover for this because for some reason I cannot seem to save a copy of the image of the cover of the 25th Edition.

I am embarrassed to admit that despite the fact I have a collection of books on the theory of nuclear weapons, this is the first time I have ever read this impressive work. Although the author occasionally interrupts the narrative with issues quite irrelevant to the origin of nuclear weapons – peculiar objections to Extinction Level Events and other side issues – there’s a lot of detail in this book and it is well worth the trouble of hunting down. 

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It was most odd”

Black Rain

By Masuji Ibuse  (Translated by John Bester)

15 Oct, 2014

Translation

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Shizuma Shigematsu, his wife Shigeko and their niece Yasuko all survived the Monday, August 6, 1945 attack on Hiroshima, experiencing the event from the perspective of varying distances from the epicenter. Shizuma was nearest the explosion and Yasuko sufficiently far away to suffer none of the immediate effects like translational injury, thermal burns or prompt radiation injury from the explosion itself. While husband and wife suffered from radiation illness in the years since, Yasuko herself appears to have escaped unharmed. 

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We are the lantern bearers, my friend; for us to keep something burning, to carry what light we can forward into the darkness and the wind.”

The Lantern Bearers  (Eagle of the Ninth, book 4)

By Rosemary Sutcliff  

12 Oct, 2014

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You

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While I know I read this when I was a teen, I was actually only ten when I first encountered it and while I didn’t like it much at the time – because I was ten and this isn’t really a book for a ten-year-old – I reread it several times that year. In part that is because even though I didn’t like it I did find it fascinating but the real reason was we were living in Brazil, we had gone three months without any books in English1 to read and this was in the big case of school books that finally caught up with us around Christmas. It was actually my brother’s allotment of course books for grade nine but I didn’t care. I read all the books in that box over and over, except maybe the math books.

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If you are considering reading the Raksura books, start with this one

The Cloud Roads

By Martha Wells  

11 Oct, 2014

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Moon thinks of himself as a shifter”, but why he can change from a wingless to a winged form is a mystery to him, along with why those are the only two forms in his repertory. There are lots of different intelligent species in the Three Worlds, enough that not every variety is known to every person, and since his family died when he was young, Moon never learned what kind of person he is.

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Like a kinder, gentler Battle Royale… IN SPACE!

Tunnel in the Sky

By Robert A. Heinlein  

10 Oct, 2014

The Great Heinlein Juveniles (Plus The Other Two) Reread

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1955’s Tunnel in the Sky takes us to a future Earth jam-packed with people but rescued from an ongoing Malthusian crisis by the timely invention of interstellar gates. With access to the hundred thousand Earth-like worlds1 scattered through the Milky Way, there is enough room for everyone to spread out while breeding like mice, at least for a time – I make it about 600 years before all one hundred thousand worlds are as crammed with people as the Earth is.

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