Battlepanda: Book Blogging: Xenocide and Happiness


Always trying to figure things out with the minimum of bullshit and the maximum of belligerence.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Book Blogging: Xenocide and Happiness

Misleading post title. Psyche. Of course, what I mean to say is that I have two book reviews for you today: Xenocide and Stumbling on Happiness.

Xenocide by Orson Scott Card

I gobbled up both Ender's Game and Speaker for the Dead fairly voraciously. But Card only barely kept my attention for this one. The proportion of half-baked philosophical-religious noodling to plot and action is too high for me. This book is also weakened by being one of those bridge books that neither truly begins nor ends the action, but sets things up for the next book. I've mentioned before that Card's personal beliefs are fairly odious. But it's not until now that enough of that have shown through to mar his books for me. He write plenty of strong, complex female characters, but annoys me with his increasingly schematic theory of the sexes and how the male and female tendencies must be melded for civilization to result. The characters Grego and Quara (until their reformations towards the end of the book) seems to be caricatures of the untempered male and female instincts -- to empathize too little in the case of Grego, and too much in the case of Quara. I also found it a little bit lame that Card spent what seems like most of the book savagely attacking a religion he made up without hardly turning any of that withering attention to Catholicism, which also features prominently in the book. I'm also deeply suspicious of the "philodes" business, which seems to be leading up to some seriously lame musings about how we're all connected and the divine nature of the universe. No wonder this guy is a big fan of intelligent design.

Am I going to read Children of the Mind? I don't know. I think I like the series enough to finish it out. But I'm certainly not going to pay full cover price for it.

Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert
My co-blogger already reviewed this one, and all in all I agree with his assessment. Very amusing, and valuable for presenting a series of interesting psych studies in one place.

Is it just me, or have we been seeing a mini-wave of breezily clever non-fiction books that seeks to dazzle and inform? Is this "101 Counterintuitive Stories: Psychology edition"? If so, good. I challenge philosophers, historians, entymologists, sociologists and linguists to get in on the act so that I may be well-informed on any topic at any cocktail parties I may be invited to in the future.