Wednesday, May 1 2013, 10:29 AM Monday, April 8 2013, 04:07 PM Friday, April 5 2013, 05:15 PM Friday, February 22 2013, 09:41 AM Sunday, February 17 2013, 04:41 PM Friday, February 15 2013, 09:17 PM Friday, February 8 2013, 11:06 AM Thursday, February 7 2013, 12:22 AM Sunday, January 27 2013, 06:38 PM Wednesday, January 23 2013, 09:44 PM
Grim indeed, yet eloquent and utterly compelling."
The End: NECESSARY EVIL Is Out! - 5/1/2013, 10:29 AM Because I Haven't Posted About tDCS In A While - 4/8/2013, 04:07 PM Announcing the NECESSARY EVIL Signing Tour - 4/5/2013, 05:15 PM Nuclear Deterrence in a Blood Magic World - 2/22/2013, 09:41 AM Guest Post #2 at Charlie Stross's Blog - 2/17/2013, 04:41 PM Guest Post at Charlie Stross's Blog - 2/15/2013, 09:17 PM A Conversation with Charlie Stross - 2/8/2013, 11:06 AM NOW OUT in the UK: THE COLDEST WAR - 2/7/2013, 12:22 AM Clarion Is Accepting Applications for the Class of 2013 - 1/27/2013, 06:38 PM Holy Smokes! Cover Art for Something More Than Night - 1/23/2013, 09:44 PM
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A couple of Saturdays ago, around 5 in the morning, I finished reading Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies by Jared Diamond. I received the book as a gift this past Christmas (thanks, Daniel), and though I'd wanted to read the book ever since hearing about it almost 10 years ago, I never managed to get around to it until somebody almost literally put a copy in my hands. (The timing worked out fairly well, too, since thanks to my new lifestyle as a bus commuter, I have more time for pleasure reading than previously.)
Anyway. Wow. If -- like me -- you've been meaning to read GGS but have been putting it off for one reason or another, don't. It's worth it. But, since the book came out in the late 90s, you're probably 10 years ahead of me. (And hey, while we're on the subject, don't tell me how The Sixth Sense ends.)
I'm not the quickest reader in the world, and the subject matter was unfamiliar to me, so working my way through GGS took longer than it would have for other books of comparable size. But I wanted to understand what I was reading. I took my time. Occasionally sounding out the big words as I went along.
The effort was worth it. I know I didn't absorb all of it, but I think I picked up the gist of Diamond's thesis, and might have learned a thing or two along the way. The book examines human societies around the world in an attempt to answer the question, "Why did white Europeans colonize and conquer so much of the world and so many different peoples, rather than being colonized and conquered by others?" (Well, I'm paraphrasing to an ugly degree. But that's the basic idea.) Diamond uses the entire book as an elegant argument against the inherent superiority or inferiority of any particular cultural group. Instead, he argues that the real reasons for this phenomenon can be traced back to the end of the last ice age, and that they hinge on questions of geography and the distribution of domesticable plants and animals. Along the way, he draws an impressive amount of real-world data together to support his thesis.
Like any work of its kind, it isn't perfect. No doubt the weaknesses and criticisms range beyond what I was able to pick out. I'm sure the work has its detractors. But at the very least, it's thought-provoking, informative, and surprisingly readable for the layperson.
Huh. I see the book was translated into a PBS miniseries in 2005. I wonder if I can get it on DVD. Then I'd be only 4 years behind the curve.
If I ever try my hand at a big, fat, second-world fantasy, I think I'll use GGS as the template for my worldbuilding. Maybe I'll get around to reading Collapse, too, and add it to the mix. In fact, I find my thoughts keep returning to this book -- it's rattling around in the back of my head, as most story ideas do for me.
Hey, Ian, in the Sixth Sense -- the butler did it.
In your reading list, add The World Without Us by Alan Weisman. Another sobering look at what us humans have and/or are doing.
Thanks for the book recommendation, Mr. P. Towndrow. I've heard that's a good one-- I'll add it to the list. As for the Sixth Sense, I'd heard that the ending is kind of anticlimactic after the giant ape falls off the Empire State Building.
Unwalkers interview [English | French ]
Interview with Speculate! Podcast Interview with Adventures in SciFi Publishing
Ian Tregillis on the Sword and Laser Podcast
Ian Tregillis on John Scalzi's The Big Idea
Interview with Pat's Fantasy Hotlist
Interview with SFRevu
Interview with Mad Hatter Book Review
Interview with Apex Books
Interview at Literary Musings Interview with Pat's Fantasy Hotlist
An interview with the authors of Busted Flush at Pat's Fantasy Hotlist
Interview with Travis Heermann at The Write Line
9-way interview with the contributors to the Wild Cards novel Inside Straight at Pat's Fantasy Hotlist
Interview in the February, 2008 newsletter of the Online Writing Workshop for Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror
An extended interview with Ian Tregillis by Ty Franck, on www.wildcardsbooks.com.