Enroll in Star Force!

After read Arthur C. Clarke’s sci-fi masterpiece Childhood’s End, I became more open minded to the sci-fi genre in general. I decided to check out B.V. Larson’s highly regarded Star Force Series. I have to say it’s quite the page turner and probably the most enjoyable book series I have read in years.

Being injured and unable to play tennis or kite, I plunged right in the series. I read the first 5 books in 1 week! Anyone with a modicum of computer science or engineering background will relate with the decisions Kyle Riggs, the protagonist, makes.

The book raises many interesting philosophical questions:

  • What would it mean for regular civilians to be given powers that transcend those of nation states and what would they do with that power?
  • How can humanity justify its fight as just when we deliberately and often murderously use other races to our personal ends in our fight against the Macros?
  • What does it mean to be human when nanotechnology and biological “upgrades” have transformed our body and capabilities beyond recognition?
  • In light of the conflict with the machines, it is intriguing to see how little Riggs questions his dependency on technology, not to mention his love/hate relationship with Marvin

The book actually does not dwell on the questions it poses, but is all the richer for raising the issues and letting us think about them. Instead the book focuses on relentless nonstop military action between Riggs’ Pigs and the Macros.

While B.V. Larson fails in his seeming attempt to depict the horrors of total war, the book is all the better for it. Its light hearted tone keeps us repeatedly cheering, sweating and fearing for Riggs. Character development also takes a back step to the action. Riggs is not very introspective, but still makes for a very entertaining protagonist. Ironically, the most developed character is probably Marvin, an insatiably curious robot, who is the source of endless intrigue and comic relief!

Oddly, the only off-note part is the opening of the first book which has a much darker tone than the rest of the story. Trust me on this one stick to it despite the seemingly distasteful opening and you will be highly rewarded!

I can’t wait for the 6th book in the series, Empire, to come out. It’s supposed to come out on October 1, so I only have a few more weeks to wait! I also really hope they turn the books into a series of movies, a TV show or at the very least a Battle Stars Galatica type mini-series.

In the meantime, if you want a straightforward fun, thrilling, military sci-fi adventure, dive in and experience Kyle Rigg’s intergalactic, heroic, and sometimes insane shenanigans!

The 500 is a fun thriller

I was in the mood for a fun “beach read” when I came across Matthew Quirk’s The 500. It’s superficially like John Grisham’s The Firm – and that’s a great thing. The story covers the life of Mike Ford, a Harvard Law School student, working hard to keep up with his more privileged classmates. He lands his dream job at the most prestigious political consultancy in DC and enjoys the ride until he realizes there may be more than meets the eye with his employer.

The story is predictable, but no less enjoyable for it. My only real quibble is with the gimmicky opening which starts in the middle of the action, before the book takes us back to how we got there. I suspect the author was trying to make up for the reasonably slow opening, but it’s a tactic I hate because at that point we are not yet emotionally involved with the characters and moments lose their poignancy.

That minor criticism aside, the book is a mindless fun summer read.

Fantastic interview about what may very well be my next car!

I had the pleasure of meeting both Ron Dennis and Frank Stephenson at the McLaren factory outside of London in August. When they spoke about their design and assembly philosophy, I was struck by how much they sounded like Steve Jobs and Jonathan Ive at Apple.

Watch Frank’s fascinating interview about the design philosophy behind the McLaren MP4-12C Spider which I might buy to replace my existing “regular” MP4-12C.