Jottings on science, religion, technology, pop culture and faith from the Antipodes.

Bioethics/Biotech, General, Research, Science Fiction, Teaching/Education

Books on the go

Various books on the go at the moment. Some good, some not so. Random comments follow.

“Metal Swarm” by Kevin J. Anderson (Book 6(!) in the “The Saga of Seven Suns” series). Should be right up my alley – ancient powerful alien races continue ancient wars while plucky humans (with strange alien sometime allies) strive to survive. It’s Babylon 5 all over again – even down to the human politics and civil war. But it reads really badly – too many characters to follow and a million very short chapters focusing on different characters means it feels like watching a TV where someone’s changing the channel every 10 seconds. No time for empathy to develop with any of the characters, and by now it feels like it’s just going through the motions. On a plus side you can skip whole chapters and not miss much of the plot. Undecided on whether I’ll read the next book.

“The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief” by Francis S. Collins, the director of the National Human Genome Research Institute. Recommended to me by a non-scientist/non-theologian (in the professional sense) so I’ve picked it up from the library. As usual I’ve started reading from the back, in this case the first few pages of the appendix on bioethics which gives some nice summaries of that field. (See also: Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly . PROFILE . DR. FRANCIS COLLINS . July 21, 2006 | PBS)

“Saturnalia: A Marcus Didius Falco Novel” by Lindsey Davis. Falco novels are like a comfortable old pair of slippers for me. When I don’t feel like reading anything too heavy then I get the next one out of the library. I didn’t really like the last one (“See Delphi and Die”), but you know what you’re getting and I’ve always been interested in Ancient Rome. “Saturnalia” improved on the last book, but still missed something of the dramatic tension present in the early novels. (Related information: Second-born (9) has been devouring the children’s equivalent of the Falco novels – Caroline Lawrence’s “Roman Mysteries” – effectively a ‘Famous Five in Ancient Rome’)-

“Practical Theology: On Earth As It Is in Heaven” by Terry A. Veling. Because it was spoken highly of over at Simply Simon: Practicing theology and Simply Simon: Practicing theology II.

“The Blackwell Reader in Pastoral and Practical Theology (Blackwell Readings in Modern Theology)” by John Patton. Because it was near the Veling book on the shelf in the GSC library, and because it covers a wide range of perspectives on the field.

“Engaging the Online Learner: Activities and Resources for Creative Instruction (Online Teaching and Learning Series (OTL))” by Rita-Marie Conrad and J. Ana Donaldson. A book that collects a large number of different online learning examples and is really useful for showing you what other people have down and why, and also for helping design your own activities and assessements.

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