goldkin: i has book (goldkin bookly)
Warning: this post contains more than mild spoilers to the plot of [livejournal.com profile] bard_bloom's latest novel, The Wrath of Trees, and a few other fiction bits, including an ongoing serialized novel in Analog magazine. If this bothers you, don't read! Instead, pick up copies of both and read them instead. They're quite good.


I've been quite enjoying Bard Bloom's latest novel, The Wrath of Trees. It's as information-rich as the various [livejournal.com profile] sythyry arcs, each page carrying new intrigue and insight that I'd easily miss if I tried speed reading through it. As such, I'm taking it nice and slowly, and I should finish it up in a day or three.

While reading through, many references are made to the setting's analog to magic -- "philosophy" -- and Melyl's powers being a direct analog to it (by experimental evidence) if not one and the same. Repeated references are made to spells and various magitech trinkets, such that it's pretty clear magic is an established staple in this universe in much the same way as in [livejournal.com profile] sythyry's.

However, due to simultaneously reading Robert J. Sawyer's Triggers, my right brain decided to spawn an interesting tangential head canon based on a single idea: that magic does not exist in this setting. And he gives me a brilliant little backdoor into how Melyl controls and reads minds from afar: controlled quantum entanglement. Spells might also take this form, implying that Melyl can freely entangle particles in her branches as long as her seeds form the anchor and entry vector of the entanglement.

What follows is this brilliant little set of side proofs trying to figure out how the rest of the setting's otherwise-magical components work together. I'm sure some of this is the intent of the author (ie, the artificial nature of the New Pantheon), but much of it -- such as how Ehekinet spikes might work -- becomes unintentional amusement for the idle physics nerd.


Since the author reads here, I'm not exactly asking for a word of God (or the patron god of blue lizards, sapient trees, prose, and dirty laundry, as the case may be). I just figured I'd share my amusement with others, since it makes his book that much more enjoyable to read. "Magic is science" is an old trope, but it's still a good one.
goldkin: i has book (Default)
I had originally been saving this post for three ideas from now, once I'd had time to test a full week of Calibre. But with klitaka's post on the concept of e-readers and the trailing rebuttal, I couldn't resist letting this out early.

I too had been skeptical of dedicated reading hardware, happily confined to the small screen of my iPod Touch and Nokia N810. Then, Amazon decided to drop the price on the Kindle 2 to $189, with a sale in the $150 range (after acquiring Woot.com).

I bought in at the $189 mark. Despite missing the subsequent deal, it's been my best purchase in recent memory.


What surprised me was how easy the Kindle factored into my reading habits. It's very lightweight, easy for me to carry to and from work (and read over lunch), and has the nice benefit of looking quite bookish with the cover I purchased for it. I've also made liberal use of its WhisperNet functionality, which -- as someone who lacks a data plan more out of choice than need -- is a nice bonus.

It's more than that, though. Feedbooks and Calibre have been terrific boons to my reading schedule, happily converting information previously lost in the bowels of my Google Reader account to beautiful, serifed PMN Caecilia font -- serialized daily. The result has been a tenfold increase in reading speed and comprehension, due to my recognition time for serifed over non-serifed fonts.

It's also allowed me to reclaim my time while driving, simply by plugging the device into my car audio, flipping on audiobook text-to-speech functionality, and listening to passages from Mort while making my daily commute. Or, if I'm feeling especially tired that day, adding audio to my experience, thereby helping me remember what was written.

And as an added bonus, the Kindle 2's generic appearance has saved me from having to justify my reading habits to complete strangers. More and more, this is leading me to purchase and read books in public that I would not have otherwise -- including passages of Sythyry's Vacation and several books on fictionally-rooted draconity and spirituality that I'd skipped entirely. I overlooked these through college, for fear of assumptions made by my less literate peers.


All this, and I agree with most of klitaka's points. I particularly agree with those on DRM and the object nature of a book, including a comment made in a previous post:

[T]he fewer books that are made, the more important those physical things become and the more power these objects lend to the ideas inside them.


Basically, I don't take my success with the Kindle as a strike against the physical nature of books. Rather, I find the best use of this device as a sampling mechanism for new reading (via WhisperNet and the Kindle Store), and to add a sense of permanence to media that otherwise would have none.

And with my newfound ability to carry my daily book, feeds, and reference material from place to place -- including what was originally taboo -- the experience has been strikingly positive.

--
Outtakes for this post include studies on reading speeds between physical books and e-readers and my thoughts on the Kindle's newspaper delivery service. I'll have to talk about these at length sometime.

In brief, while the Kindle improves my reading speed over digital media, it *doesn't* improve my speed over reading a physical book (the speed of text refresh and pagination make it slightly slower). The fact my Kindle is more accessible to me improves my reading diet significantly, however.

Likewise, the Seattle Times is definitely worth the delivery fee of under $10 per month. This surprises me, as I'm effectively buying into a paywall, paying the cover price and associated bandwidth fees. The survival of print media would be a great topic for a future post.

Also, a hat tip goes out to [personal profile] kistaro, whose evangelizing on xir own Kindle helped clarify the benefits of purchasing my own.

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