Wednesday, December 06, 2006

More books

I don't think I wrote about this at the time, but I finished Secrets and Lies by Bruce Schneier recently. It is a layman's introduction to the security technologies that underlie just about everything we do on the Internet, along with pluses and minuses. A major takeaway for me was that technology is the strong point, but deploying it and handing it over to people to use is the weak point. Security policies are only as good as the people who are implementing them. It's a little out of date now, but in some sense its philosophy on security is timeless.

I zipped through Salem's Lot, like I said earlier. I actually tried to read it once, maybe a year or so ago, but one early scene was so frightening (when Ben gets the globe from the house) that I couldn't read any more. Recently we got our tires rotated, which was sort of an excuse to buy a book for while I was waiting. Every time I read a Stephen King book, I'm like, "Where have you been all my life?" This one was an homage to Bram Stoker, but it was also a skillful multiple-person narrative about a small town. Sometimes his word choices are a little dubious, but I can't fault him for great, moving stories. He definitely deserves his bucks.

And of course, the list of his books that I've read is slowly growing... The Eyes of the Dragon, The Dead Zone, Misery, Carrie, the early four Bachman books (The Long Walk, Rage, which I think is also called Getting It On, Roadwork, and The Running Man). If I'm going chronologically, I think The Shining is up next. I've never read The Stand, but it's on my bookshelf too. Its size is a little intimidating.

I started Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut, and let me just say, Kurt Vonnegut, where have you been all my life? So it goes.

I have the 7th book in the Foreigner series by CJ Cherryh, Destroyer. The stories are about a human colony that has crash-landed, helpless and unable to return to the rest of civilization on an alien planet. The main character is a sort of linguist-diplomat who mediates between the remnant of humanity and the alien race that dominates the planet. The stories are sort of about language, about anthropology, about communication and the difficulties we face in seeing from someone else's perspective. They're very sophisticated, but magically, they're still engrossing, addictive, page-turning adventures. My mom put me onto these a long time ago. Thanks, Mom. The first one is Foreigner. I have several of them if you want to borrow them.

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