Monthly book roundup – 2016 January

Books finished in January:
(Warning: reviews are unpolished and quickly written.)

A Primate’s Memoir: A Neuroscientist’s Unconventional Life Among the Baboons (2002) by Roberty M Sapolsky. Very good book about baboons and humans. Written by an American working in Kenya. Probably very tiresome if you do not like the author’s sense of humour, but I found it ok, and really liked the book. Recommended.

Aurora (2015) by Kim Stanley Robinson. Warning: Spoiler alert! Review: Aurora is a sceptical take on space exploration. A space ship and its inhabitants reach the “Earth analog” Aurora 160 years after leaving Saturn. When starting to terraform Aurora, they discover a deadly prion and give up the project. Most return to Earth, where they start to advocate that trying to establish human settlements on other planets is futile, because either such a planet is alive, in which case it will be poisonous, or it is alive, in which case it will take too long to terraform. The novel takes biological og sociological challenges seriously, but the position that societies of tens of thousands of people will not be large enough to survive and thrive long enough to terraform another planet or reach a suitable one seems puzzling, as many long-living tribes in human history have not been larger than that. Nevertheless, good to read something less optimistic and smoothly-going than many other accounts of space exploration (though the space ship people have their share of luck as well). Ends with a meditation of the value of the nature on Earth and the experiences it gives us, which even though space exploration is exciting, should not be forgotten.

The UnAmericans: Stories (2014) by Molly Antopol. Short stories about Americans with Eastern European backgrounds. Did not do much for me.

Ratings and old books are in the library.

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