Tag: Second

Bill Bryson – The Road to Little Dribbling | Review

Title: The Road to Little Dribbling

Author: Bill Bryson

Type: Non-Fiction

Page Count: 390

Rating: 4/5

This book is subtitled More Notes from a Small Island, and so as you can expect, it’s pretty much the natural and spiritual sequel to Notes from a Small Island. Arguably Bryson’s most successful book, that one charted his experiences as an American who’d moved to the United Kingdom and then spent a bunch of time travelling around it.

Since then, he’d moved to America and then presumably back to the UK again. It’s kind of hard to tell with Bryson sometimes because I don’t necessarily read his books in publication order and it’s my understanding that he’s headed backwards and forwards here and there. The good news is that I enjoy him most when he’s writing about the UK, possibly only because I live there and so it’s easy for me to picture the things that he’s writing about.

I also think that Bryson has continued to mature as a writer over the years. It’s not that his style has changed, but he has tightened it up a little bit and I think this book benefits because of it. He’s perfected the art of narrative non-fiction and has the knack of writing super engaging informational books on pretty much any topic he tries his hand at.

I will admit that from time to time I’ve found that Bryson’s humour can grate on me, but that’s okay because it wasn’t a problem here. I think it really depends upon his headspace at the time, because when he came across as petty and vindictive, he was having a pretty tough time of things while travelling across Europe.

Overall then, I enjoyed reading this one and would definitely recommend it if you’re a fan of Bryson’s travel writing and stuff. If you’re new to him, though, I’d probably go for Notes from a Small Island to begin with, although this wouldn’t be a bad place to turn to second. And so all in all, it’s a cracking book and I enjoyed it a lot, despite it being my second Bill Bryson book in as many weeks. He hasn’t started to get old yet, at least if we’re talking about my opinion of his books. Looking forward to more!

Learn more about The Road to Little Dribbling.

 


Isaac Asimov – The Robots of Dawn | Review

Title: The Robots of Dawn

Author: Isaac Asimov

Type: Fiction

Page Count: 480

Rating: 3.5/5

This book is one of the installments in Asimov’s Robot series, and so that makes it essentially a science fiction detective novel with a whole bunch of ethics thrown in. Asimov is probably most famous for creating the three laws of Robotics, which are the following:

  1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
  2. A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
  3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.

What’s fun about this book, like the other books that tie in with these laws, is that Asimov basically created them only so that he could bend and break them. We get some great examples of that here, including some suggestions of scenarios which could cause two of the laws to come into conflict with themselves and to cause a robot to overload.

Then we have the morality side of things. In fact, the whole case here revolves around the murder of a robot, and so there’s a lot of discussion around whether such a thing is even possible. After all, robots aren’t alive, right? There’s even some stuff on how while you can use roboticide and homicide, the word murder” doesn’t seem to quite apply.

Obviously I don’t want to go too much into the details of the plot, because the last thing that I want to do is to spoil it for people. What I will say is that it holds its own both as a science fiction novel and as a mystery novel, and indeed I think that Asimov is one of the underrated masters of the genre. I’ve read a mystery of his called A Whiff of Death which was set in our world on an American college campus, and that was fantastic.

Another piece of good news is that despite the fact that this is the third book in a series, you can still read it as a standalone if you want to. Sure, you’ll get a little more out of it if you follow the series through from start to finish, but it’s not a hard and fast rule and all that you miss out on is a little character development.

So all of this brings us on to the final big question of whether this is worth reading or not, and my answer to that would be 100% yes. Asimov is a fantastic writer no matter what he’s doing, and while there are other books of his that are a lot of fun, this is great too. Jeez, he always is.

Learn more about The Robots of Dawn.

 


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