Thursday, April 27, 2017

Battle for the AbyssBattle for the Abyss by Ben Counter
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book was one of the grittier books in the series, a total bloodbath. Starting with the secret hidden weapon of the Mechanicum being used to wipe out the enemies of Horus before hostilities really begin... it follows the hunt for this new mega ship.

while it depicts some of the goriest space battle scenes I have ever read, its pretty damn 2 dimensional in characters and motivations. As a warhammer 40k book it fits in well in the universe. As a novel, its nothing special.

Just dont get beetween a worldeater on the verge of close quarters combat!

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Saturday, April 15, 2017

Friday, April 14, 2017

Review: Legion

Legion Legion by Dan Abnett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was one of the best stories from the Horus Heresy series so far and it was not even related to any of the main characters or central plot. It concerns the mysterious alpha legion and their weird and in my opinion weak plot deviced turn to chaos.

However, where this story really shines is with its description of the imperial army and the new addition of a secret cabal of ancient alien races. Honestly I just would like to read a story about them and if they have additional back story after the incidents in this book.

it's written in a really exciting arching crescendo... but im not sure if I buy their turn, particularly after the events of the heresy when their original reasons for "betrayal" are over.

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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Review: Frantz Fanon: A Critical Study

Frantz Fanon: A Critical Study Frantz Fanon: A Critical Study by Irene L. Gendzier
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am fortunate to have had Irene Gendzier as a graduate student advisor at Boston University and to be gifted this book by her when she retired. In an interesting twist of fate, I ended up finished it on a flight home from 2 weeks in Cuba.

While many people have read Wretched of the Earth and some Black Skin, White Masks, I think this book has interesting perspectives on both the strengths and influence on Fanon (particularly on Algeria) as well as his weaknesses and where he falls short. While the man has been deified for decades, its interesting to remember that he himself had distinct changes in thought and was heavily influenced by a range of struggles going on...some for which he didn't understand the full political situation. This is not to reduce the brilliance of his work, but to place him realistically in the situation in which he lived.

The particular questions on his critiques of the FLN are heavily covered in this as the revolution he so supported began to unravel in autocratic dictatorship. I recommend this book for anyone searching for the real Fanon and to examine questions of his thought that were not covered in his books. Filled with analysis and commentary from revolutionaries, and militants who knew him.... a very good read!

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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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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

To My Beloved

"There's steam and smoke and madness here
Theres no place for a guest to stand.
I cant so much as touch you, dear,
for I have hired out my hand
Come to me later! come at night
for then, my darling I am free.
My spirit wakes, my heart grows light,
the flame of love revived in me.
I'll sing as I have never sung,
the moment that your face appears;
and every word upon your tongue
shall turn to music in my ears.
I'll greet you then in such a way
as I would if I could dare.
Then all my troubles of the day,
my inmost wounds, will be laid bare.
And you will have my kisses all,
and tears enough--you'll have those too.
Whatever good is in my soul
I'll offer as a gift to you.
But now, beloved, you must go.
Love has no business in a shop.
I can't so much as touch you--no!
My life starts when the treadles stop."
--Morris Rosenfield, Yiddish slum poet.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Review: Rebellion in Patagonia

Rebellion in Patagonia Rebellion in Patagonia by Osvaldo Bayer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is amazing. I have seen the movie Patagonia Rebelde, but it doesn't come close to the craziness of what actually happened in reality.

First the level of class consciousness in Argentina at the time gives hope that such organization and solidarity could occur again. Yes it is a warning to the lengths that the state and capitalists will go to defend their power.... they will murder thousands in cold blood... Liberals will try to break sections of the left from each other and institutionally crush what the iron fist does not. They will attack reputations, use the press, distort history, buy off others... and plot until people are too weak to keep going. Yes a general strike is not enough. Yes guns will decide the victor.... but a people inspired is a powerful thing.

Also the chapter on the peoples' "avengers" happening after the sad fall of the FORA V's strike is an uplifting and inspiring tribute to human solidarity and sacrifice.

Lastly, while I knew that there were a number of foreign born anarchists, I never realized how many had come to Argentina and how many of them werent even Italian or Spanish, but came from Germany, Russia, Poland, and the Ukraine. On top of this, the vast majority of the workers who fought and perished in Patagonia were Chilean migrant workers.

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Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Review: The Flight of the Eisenstein

The Flight of the Eisenstein The Flight of the Eisenstein by James Swallow
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I liked this book. it's pretty much the Warhammer equivalent of Roque 1. you will understand that comment after you read it.

it wasn't as good as the last one and didn't have a lot of the slow dread which had built up through the previous novels. Instead, it took the events of isvaan from the death guards perspective. Though I think it could have gone a little more in detail into the death guards primarch who is barely described in any dimension. I did like the alternative perspective of other legions falling to chaos in different ways. can't wait to start the next book!

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Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Review: Galaxy in Flames

Galaxy in Flames Galaxy in Flames by Ben Counter
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If history and fake history teaches you anything, its dont trust heiarchical structures and glorious leaders. Particularly ones that are secretly plotting to take over the human race and to betray their former comrades.

This book takes place right after the events in book two of the Horus Heresy. It shows the first moves by Horus in what will wrack the galaxy in war and bring a downfall of the great expansion of humanity. While these stories are not super heartfelt or deep, they still are really exciting and expand the already rich universe of Warhammer 40k. I have been a longtime fan of this story of humanity's decline and resistance and this book is the first of the 3 I have read so far which starts to undertake the rebellion itself. The series is fun, but dont expect tolstoy.

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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Review: Fool Moon

Fool Moon Fool Moon by Jim Butcher
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This book was not worth reading. The first book was meh and I figured maybe the second book would be better. But it was actually worse. The only part that captivated me at all was this conversation Harry Dresden had with a demon he trapped. One that was trying to steal his name in exchange for information. However, that conversation in no way relates at all to the rest of the book and is just kinda thrown in either as forshadowing or just to add some flavor.

I was reading just before posting this review that some people say the books get good on book 3 or 4 but I dont want to read another book about some weird pretentious bro with a kinda meh magic system hanging out with cops and fighting villains who dont seem to have real good reasons for why they are doing bad things... with friends who dont seem to be super 3 dimensional.

its got werewolves in it too, which are some of my least favorite of fantasy lore... and it was so cliche as to be irritating. Unless someone makes a good argument otherwise, this will be the last of the Dresden files for me.

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Sunday, January 1, 2017

Review: Storm Front

Storm Front Storm Front by Jim Butcher
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If I didn't know that this book was written in 2000, I would have sworn it was written in the 1950s/early 1960s. It has a style, and description befitting that era of sci fi, but a little bit grittier.

Anyway, whats not to like about a wise ass wizard who is also a private detective. He sometimes gets pushed around by others but when his magic comes out, everyone gets really surprised. He tackles the cases that no one else can and uses wit a and snark to persevere through hard situations. The book is good, not a great emotional masterpiece, but entertaining and hopefully the series can keep me busy until Scott lynch or Patrick Rothfuss decides to finish a book.

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