Books

Economics in One Lesson

I just reread Economics in One Lesson, by Henry Hazlitt. It's short, and available on the web for free at http://jim.com/econ/contents.html. A fantastic explanation of why free trade is good, farm subsidies are bad, imports equal exports in the long run, etc. Written in the 1940s and updated in the 1970s, but pretty much everything in this book is still very relevant. Recommended.

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In The Garden of Iden

Just finished In the Garden of Iden, by Kage Baker. It's the first of her series of Company novels. It's a restricted time travel series — the super people from the future can go back in time but can't bring items with them or change observed history. So they go back, establish bases in remote areas, and recruit kids who were otherwise going to die (and whose deaths were not important enough to count as observed history). Then they make the kids immortal, train them for years, then have them work (essentially forever) to Help the Future.

I'd read a couple of her shorter Company stories and liked them a lot. This one, not so much. It's set in the time of the Spanish Inquisition and the English Reformation / counter-Reformation / counter-counter-Reformation. So the background story involves lots of alleged Christians killing each other in brutal ways over relatively minor doctrinal differences. And the foreground story mostly involves collecting rare plants from a garden, before they go extinct, and a romance between an immortal and a mortal.

Not bad, but it read more like an introduction to a series than a self-contained book. Lots of development of the main character; not a lot of plot.

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Year's Best Science Fiction: 23rd Annual Collection

I've been reading the Gardner Dozois annual best-of short SF collection for 21 years now. (Started with #3, and I still haven't found the first two volumes.) Usually takes me most of the year to get through it, since it's a big fragile paperback that doesn't travel well, and the end of every story is a convenient stopping point. (And then I start something else that's harder to put down in the middle.)

Finally finished number 23. As usual, most of the stories were good this year. I thought the best ones were the stories by Gene Wolfe, Neal Asher, and Dominic Green. There was no single standout classic, though.

Recommended, if you like SF at all. Short story collections aren't that popular, which is a shame because the ratio of ideas per page is excellent.

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