Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out? by climate change activist Bill McKibben* is now cheap on Kindle. The Kindle form of a book has a low carbon footprint. So, now is your chance!
Here was my idea. I call it “The Wedge.” See, there’s this wedge of, well, effect, emanating from the cluster of black hoes near the center of the galaxy, and sweeping around like a lighthouse beam, with one rotation every several thousand years (details to be worked out). While The Wedge is shining on your plant, things work one way. When it passes, things go back to normal. Our solar system has been within the Wedge Zone for thousand of years (except may be it flicked off now and then, say, during Egyptian times, or whatever). Never mind the details.
In Poul Anderson’s Brain Wave (a novel*) which is at this exact moment available by Kindle for a mere $1.99 (at least in the US), instead of a galaxy level wedge, there is a magnetic force that switches off. The magnetic force has been keeping intelligence out of the evolutionary process on Earth. Mostly. Then it goes off.
My story might be better. In my story, the solar system has plenty of intelligent life forms that know all about the Wedge. Then,they show up on Earth in advance of the Waning of the Wedge, which is going to result in a world in which current Earthling Science will suddenly have access to technology that will allow the ravaging and conquering of other worlds. So they send this guy with this big metal killing machine, in order to have a talk with the Earth’s world leaders but then he get shot and “killed” and … well, you get the point.
So, anyway, I’m glad that I can pick up Brain Wave for next to nothing!
How many ways can I describe The Sympathizer: A Novel by Viet Thanh Nguyen*?
Shocking. Revealing. Informative. Historic. Historical. Hard to put down. Won all the prizes (Pulitzer, Edgar, Andrew Carnegie, etc).
Do not read reviews of it. They tend to give some of the story away. Just read the book. Best novel of the last few years (it came out in 2016). I’ve recommended it before, but now, it is on Kindle for $1.99 (at least in the US) so NOW is the time to get it.
I didn’t even know this book existed, but here it is: Letters From Father Christmas by JRRT* … Every December an envelope bearing a stamp from the North Pole would arrive for J.R.R. Tolkien’s children. Inside would be a letter in a strange, spidery handwriting and a beautiful colored drawing or painting. The letters were from Father Christmas.
They told wonderful tales of life at the North Pole: how the reindeer got loose and scattered presents all over the place; how the accident-prone North Polar Bear climbed the North Pole and fell through the roof of Father Christmas’s house into the dining room; how he broke the Moon into four pieces and made the Man in it fall into the back garden; how there were wars with the troublesome horde of goblins who lived in the caves beneath the house, and many more.
No reader, young or old, can fail to be charmed by Tolkien’s inventiveness in this classic holiday treat.
The novel that started it all, A Game of Thrones* by George Martin (the first in a series) is now available on Kindle for cheap right now. This is the illustrated edition. I thought you should know.
This is not the TV series, but it is the critically acclaimed novel.
Why do we do the things we do?
Over a decade in the making, this game-changing book is Robert Sapolsky’s genre-shattering attempt to answer that question as fully as perhaps only he could, looking at it from every angle. Sapolsky’s storytelling concept is delightful but it also has a powerful intrinsic logic: he starts by looking at the factors that bear on a person’s reaction in the precise moment a behavior occurs, and then hops back in time from there, in stages, ultimately ending up at the deep history of our species and its genetic inheritance.
Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst by Robert Sapolsky cheap now on Kindle
And I mention this now because it is dirt cheap on Kindle.
People of the Book: A Novel, by Geraldine Brooks, is one of my favorite books. The focal character is a book restorer, brought in to examine and work with a book that has an incredible recent, and ancient, history. Inspired in part by a real event, this book takes the reader through history and across Europe and North Africa. So cheap on Kindle you would be crazy to not get it.
Speaking of this author, Geraldine Brooks also has another book, Year of Wonders: A Novel of the Plague, about a 17th century village on pandemic lock-down. I haven’t read it, but I thought for some reason it might be worht noting.
A kindle version of The Beast That Shouted Love at the Heart of the World: Stories is now 1.99, probably for a limited time. Thought you should know.
This is an anthology including A Boy and his Dog.
And while we are on the topic, check out this lost video of Harlan Ellison:
Jailbird: A Novel by Kurt Vonnegut, for two bucks. This is related to current events:
Jailbird takes us into a fractured and comic, pure Vonnegut world of high crimes and misdemeanors in government—and in the heart. This wry tale follows bumbling bureaucrat Walter F. Starbuck from Harvard to the Nixon White House to the penitentiary as Watergate’s least known co-conspirator. But the humor turns dark when Vonnegut shines his spotlight on the cold hearts and calculated greed of the mighty, giving a razor-sharp edge to an unforgettable portrait of power and politics in our times.
Also, while we are talking about cheap books, Powder Burn by Carl Hiaasen, in case you are a Hiaasen fan. I’ve not read any of his more recent books, and maybe that is because I don’t like them as much as his earlier books, but I don’t want to put down any book I’ve not read.
Isaac Asimov’s robot books form a somewhat confusing and internally contradictory, but overall fantastic and important corpus of science fiction. One of the Asimov robot books is on sale right now super cheap in Kindle format: The Caves of Steel (The Robot Series Book 1) for $1.99.
Referring to Wikipedia (so get mad at them, not at me, if this seems wrong to you) the robot series of books (not counting short stories) in order of the stories themselves runs something like this:
Did you ever wonder how Richard Dawkins got so smart? Or why he looks so much like Hermione Granger? Well, read this book to find out the answer to those two questions, and so very much more:
An Appetite for Wonder: The Making of a Scientist by Richard Dawkins.
In An Appetite for Wonder, Richard Dawkins shares a rare view into his early life, his intellectual awakening at Oxford, and his path to writing The Selfish Gene. He paints a vivid picture of his idyllic childhood in colonial Africa, peppered with sketches of his colorful ancestors, charming parents, and the peculiarities of colonial life right after World War II. At boarding school, despite a near-religious encounter with an Elvis record, he began his career as a skeptic by refusing to kneel for prayer in chapel. Despite some inspired teaching throughout primary and secondary school, it was only when he got to Oxford that his intellectual curiosity took full flight.
Arriving at Oxford in 1959, when undergraduates “left Elvis behind” for Bach or the Modern Jazz Quartet, Dawkins began to study zoology and was introduced to some of the university’s legendary mentors as well as its tutorial system.
It’s to this unique educational system that Dawkins credits his awakening, as it invited young people to become scholars by encouraging them to pose rigorous questions and scour the library for the latest research rather than textbook “teaching to” any kind of test. His career as a fellow and lecturer at Oxford took an unexpected turn when, in 1973, a serious strike in Britain caused prolonged electricity cuts, and he was forced to pause his computer-based research. Provoked by the then widespread misunderstanding of natural selection known as “group selection” and inspired by the work of William Hamilton, Robert Trivers, and John Maynard Smith, he began to write a book he called, jokingly, “my bestseller.” It was, of course, The Selfish Gene.
Here, for the first time, is an intimate memoir of the childhood and intellectual development of the evolutionary biologist and world-famous atheist, and the story of how he came to write what is widely held to be one of the most important books of the twentieth century.
Cheap in Kindle format: Continue reading Cheap Bradbury Book, and more
The Beak of the Finch: A Story of Evolution in Our Time by Jonathan Reiner is right now cheap in Kindle form.
It is a very good account of the incredibly important work on evolution done by the Peter and Rosemary Grant on Daphne Major island in the Galapagos. This is the study that demonstrated real time evolution of birds among the group initially studied by Charles Darwin. Those observations by Darwin helped shape is conception of natural selection, and the more recent work by the Grants is a modern day demonstration that Darwin was right.
Raising Steam (Discworld Book 40) by Terry Pratchett. Involves trains.
Underground: A Human History of the Worlds Beneath Our Feet by good Will Hunt. Involves caves, subway stations, bunkers, and such. I don’t know the book, stumbled across it, looked interesting.
Hunter S Thompson’s classic work Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream is available in Kindle form cheap now.
And in a similar area of interest, Katy Tur’s book Unbelievable: My Front-Row Seat to the Craziest Campaign in American History, about her coverage for NBC of the Trump campaign.