Reading for July and August, 2007

I am in progress on two books, and have finished two books in the past two months.
In progress: Against the Day by Thomas Pynchon. Currently on page 406 (the end of part 2).
In progress: 20th Century Chemistry by Joseph I. Routh, 1953. Yes, a 54 year old chemistry book that predates the moon landings and most of the Cold War, intended for high school seniors or college students. But in truth it provides some good information on many industrial processes — today’s equivalent would be a super glossy textbook filled with color photos and illustrations, with a special column explaining the environmental dangers posed by each industry, and who wants to read that for fun?

Finished: Mining the Oort (1992) by Frederik Pohl. A story about a boy who grows up on Mars and then becomes and Oort miner. They fly comets into the planet in order to generate an atmosphere. Features that increasingly popular science fiction idea, the “space elevator”. I’m skeptical a space elevator could actually work. There is no mechanical advantage to being in geosynchonous orbit, you would have to pull things up and push things down the same as ever, any efficiency in pulling mass off the Earth (out of the gravity well) would be balanced out by the energy required to keep the station in orbit. The vertical velocity has to be converted into angular (orbital) velocity by a measurable amount of force.
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Finished: A High Wind in Jamaica (or The Innocent Voyage) (1929) by Richard Hughes. #71 on the Modern Library list. Children on a pirate ship, a breezy read.
Also in progress: A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin. I’m always willing to give new authors a try, and this EPIC series has won numerous awards. The writing is sloppy, the object of the narration tends to change in the middle of a paragraph, or unexpectedly at the start of a paragraph, which can be confusing. Odds are low I will endure the 3200+ total pages currently in print (perhaps 5600+ pages once it is complete).

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