Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Review: Descent of Angels

Descent of Angels Descent of Angels by Mitchel Scanlon
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

A meh book not connected in time to the main line of the Horus heresy story. It has some minor tidbits on the history of Caliban and the planets entrance into the imperium. A coming of age story written in a really 2 dimensional trite way. I haven't read past it yet, but you can probably skip this book in the series.

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Saturday, March 11, 2017

Review: Cuban Anarchism: The History of a Movement

Cuban Anarchism: The History of a Movement Cuban Anarchism: The History of a Movement by Frank Fernández
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have long known that Anarchists were the major factor in the Cuban labor movement for decades, but this book really filled in the long history of struggle in that country. I was both taken aback by the scale and strength of the movement, its relationship with Marti, as well as its participation well into the 1959 Cuban revolution. It also helped me further develop my analysis on the Cuban revolution and the absolute destructive role it played on silencing devoted anarchist organizations and militants.

Lastly it makes me further respect the role of anarchists in the Cuban diaspora as they are really between a rock and a hard place when it comes to being both libertarian and communist. A must read for anyone who wants an external narrative to the Cuban Communist Party and to the right wing Cuban population in the US. It is a brutal exposition of the way many anarchists in the world turned their backs on their comrades and ignored their own structural critiques in a romanticized version of events.

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Critical Reading of Purim

Since today is Purim, here is my critical reading of the story:

There were Jews in Parthia (Persia, Babylon) and an advisor to the king wants to exterminate them. The kings new queen is Jewish and convinces the king to kill the advisor, all his sons and 500 supporters at Shushan castle. Ok...legit self defense.

But then in an act that will seem familiar to a modern audience, Esther, the queen, petitions the king for several days of slaughter of thousands of other "enemies". And this is considered a wonderful and celebratory event. I have never been comfortable with this part of the story:

"And the other Jews that were in the king's provinces gathered themselves together, and stood for their lives, and had rest from their enemies, and slew of them that hated them seventy and five thousand--but on the spoil they laid not their hand--
on the thirteenth day of the month Adar, and on the fourteenth day of the same they rested, and made it a day of feasting and gladness."
טז וּשְׁאָר הַיְּהוּדִים אֲשֶׁר בִּמְדִינוֹת הַמֶּלֶךְ נִקְהֲלוּ וְעָמֹד עַל-נַפְשָׁם, וְנוֹחַ מֵאֹיְבֵיהֶם, וְהָרוֹג בְּשֹׂנְאֵיהֶם, חֲמִשָּׁה וְשִׁבְעִים אָלֶף; וּבַבִּזָּה--לֹא שָׁלְחוּ, אֶת-יָדָם.
יז בְּיוֹם-שְׁלוֹשָׁה עָשָׂר, לְחֹדֶשׁ אֲדָר; וְנוֹחַ, בְּאַרְבָּעָה עָשָׂר בּוֹ, וְעָשֹׂה אֹתוֹ, יוֹם מִשְׁתֶּה וְשִׂמְחָה.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Review: Ancillary Justice

Ancillary Justice Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was definitely a different take on science fiction. If I said it was a mix of Dune, the Chronicles of Riddick, Blade Runner, and The Left Hand of Darkness... it would still be scratching the surface.

It throws you feet first into a futuristic sci-fi world with moral ambiguity and expects you to sort it out yourself. Despite that, it takes a bit to realize what is really going on and and even still you are left with many thoughts about both the future of our species and the role of technology and organization. Much grittier than star trek and akin to the Expanse in its vision. A very enjoyable read.

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Saturday, February 18, 2017

Review: Fulgrim

Fulgrim Fulgrim by Graham McNeill
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

At first I was slightly bored by this book and was wondering why they needed to replay additional history from the perspective of Fulgrim and his legion. It included some melodramatic ramblings about perfection in the Emporers children which seems a little too two dimensional to me, and just at the point where I started to get irritated at the story, it began to get interesting.

You have a runin with the Eldar (which most people already know the rough outlines of), but it is interesting. The end of the story is intense and brutal like the 3rd book.... so I definitely think its worth reading, if a bit painfully meh at times.

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Review: VALIS

VALIS VALIS by Philip K. Dick
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book is a mix between a fever dream, alex jones, and a quest to figure out what is actually reality. It is written as somewhat of an autobiographical account by Philip K Dick himself and according to his bio on the back, based off of a weird experience he had in the 70s. I am not quite sure how I feel about this book as it reminds me of convos I have had with conspiracy theorists and that really turned me off to much of it.

However, towards the end of the book, it starts to be much more of a complicated detective story into what is really occurring. I wouldn't rate this in the category with other Philip K Dick stories, but if you are into books blending the line of madness, science fiction, and truth.... I suppose this story is for you!

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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Review: Left of the Left: My Memories of Sam Dolgoff

Left of the Left: My Memories of Sam Dolgoff Left of the Left: My Memories of Sam Dolgoff by Anatole Dolgoff
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book was really powerful and enjoyable. It is filled with wonderful anecdotes of a period of social struggle long past. It includes stories of wobblies unheard of, of carlo tresca, ben fletcher, emma goldman, maximoff, and the yiddish anarchist movement in the lower east side.

If you are interested in reading about the Anarchist movement during the great depression, of the way they organized to fight fascists here, of wobbly dockworkers, and prison stories, ....of Spanish, Cuban, and Russian anarchists.... of refugees from Mujeres Libres, and a meeting between old Italian anarchists and the up against the wall motherfuckers..... then this is the book for you.

Sam Dolgoff lived a revolutionary life as a working class intellectual and was on the pulse of the struggle for decades. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and it was very real and heartfelt.

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