Project Hail Mary

Project Hail Mary book coverProject Hail Mary is Andy Weir’s third novel. Weir began writing full time after the large success of his first novel The Martian which was quickly adapted into a movie. He continued pursuing his hobbies of relativistic physics, orbital mechanics, and the history of manned spaceflight, all of which are incorporated into his novels. However, Project Hail Mary seems to include more science-based fun than The Martian and Artemis put together. This is because the majority of this story’s adventure takes place off planet.

Dr. Ryland Grace is the only survivor of a last-chance mission to save Earth and humanity as a species. However, he does not know this at the start. The book begins with Grace awakening from an induced coma (more plausible than the now generic cryosleep used for long space travel in science fiction), but he awakens with no memory of who he is or where he is. The story is split between him gradually regaining his memories and what is happening with him in real-time as he attempts to solve humanity’s gravest problem.

I really enjoyed this story, as I have enjoyed all of Weir’s works, but I must admit this one didn’t capture my interest as well as his previous books (I was still interested, but not as enraptured). The story takes a little while to really ramp up though I think my biggest issue was the character of Ryland Grace himself. He seems like a very unlikely candidate to be on such a mission. He is a smart guy, probably even more of a science expert than Mark Watney from The Martian, but he is much more…plucky. There are times he acts without the level of concern expected of an astronaut which seems a bit off considering space is extremely dangerous and resources are limited to what is aboard the ship. Also, if he fails the mission then humanity is doomed. The stakes are high and I personally wouldn’t want Ryland Grace as humanity’s last hope. However, this actually does get addressed later in the book and I think the way things play out actually made me warm up to Ryland and better understand how and why he is there. It just takes quite a long time before we get this information, so if you are reading the book and think, as I did, that Ryland is not the best character, then stick it out and see if you change your mind.

This book is somewhat reminiscent of 2001: A Space Odyssey but more entertaining, more realistic, and actually tells a full story without ambiguous events. If you like The Martian or Artemis (which I think is a little underrated) then you will enjoy Project Hail Mary. It comes with all the science-based fun, some of which may go over your head, that is now expected from Weir, and you will likely learn a bit about space and space travel.

Happy Reading.

Fugitive Telemetry

Fugitive Telemetry book coverFugitive Telemetry is the newest release in The Murderbot Diaries series by Martha Wells. This series is honestly just a lot of fun. I did find out/realize that this is technically the sixth book in the series as Network Effect is considered a standalone novel, so despite it being a fantastic Murderbot adventure, it isn’t included in the series as progressing the overall story of Murderbot. This means the series itself now has six novellas, which are quick and fun reads, and one longer book to keep the fun going.

Is it weird to say a series called Murderbot is fun? Not at all if you are familiar with the story, or rather the character, that is Murderbot.

Fugitive Telemetry takes place on Preservation Station and our not-so-friendly Murderbot finds itself in the middle of a murder investigation where it must interact with humans to solve the mystery.

Basically, this installment is like a Sherlock Holmes episode but with Murderbot. It is an overall solid entry to the series that will leave you once again wanting more. If this is the case, the Murderbot short story “Home: Habitat, Range, Niche, Territory” that was originally a pre-order bonus for Network Effect was recently made available at Tor.com. Read it at your leisure. I, for one, hope this series continues for a long time and will be happy with as many Murderbot adventures Martha Wells will give us.

Happy Reading.

Tokyo Ghoul

Tokyo Ghoul Monster Edition Volume 1 CoverTokyo Ghoul by Sui Ishida is the first manga/graphic novel series I have read. I originally watched the show and have always heard the source material was better (as is often the case), so I recently read the entire series and it is a ride. I have a lot of thoughts about this series, but to keep things spoiler-free, I will refrain from going into details and will focus on the story and characters without giving anything away (except for the initial events that set up the entire story).

First, the premise. This series centers around the dichotomy of humans and ghouls. Ghouls look like humans, but can only survive by eating humans. Their consumption of humans increases a type of cell in their bodies that allows them to wield organic weapons that extend from their bodies (this is actually pretty cool for fight scenes). They blend into human society in order to survive and several ghouls try to live “normal” lives. Some even try to sustain themselves without killing while others throw caution to the wind and kill as they please. This is of course a problem, and the Commission of Counter Ghoul (CCG) is a specific agency aimed at eradicating ghouls from human society by tracking and eliminating ghouls.

The story follows the character of Ken Kaneki. He is a normal, shy, human college kid. After an accident, he receives an organ transplant but the organs were from a ghoul. Ken finds himself forced to navigate ghoul society once he realizes he can no longer eat human food. He is no longer human but he is not quite a full ghoul either.

Ken’s journey is a long and arduous one as he attempts to adapt to his new circumstances. I won’t go into details as this would defeat the purpose of this recommendation, so I hope the information so far has peaked your interest or maybe helped you realize this may not be a story for you.

I will add a few warnings though. This story is gruesome (if you couldn’t tell by the premise) and Ken Kaneki may have the worst luck of any character I have ever read. Sui Ishida took the “kill your darlings” idea and ran with it because this series delves into psychological aspects that are rare in any form of literature. This goes without even mentioning the physical aspects involved in this story. Another warning is that this story goes in unexpected directions and some storylines or characters may not get a clear cut resolution, meaning some things may seem unresolved. I know this can bother many readers, myself included, but I also felt the overarching story wraps up as well as it can. Sui Ishida provides a brief, personal story at the very end of the series about his time working on the story that I think contributes to providing a satisfied end.

My last warning is more a heads up about a major change that occurs halfway through. This series is split into two parts. The original Tokyo Ghoul is 14 volumes and covers much of Ken’s journey. The second part is titled Tokyo Ghoul:re which consists of 16 volumes and begins 2-3 years after the events of part one. The time gap and changes to characters/events proves to be a hard adjustment for many fans mainly because there is not much explanation as to how it happens. It does get briefly explained later on and hopefully by the time you get this far (if you choose to read it) you will be absorbed in the story and will need to know how it concludes.

The show follows the main storyline fairly well but there are significant changes to several events and some information or arcs are left out. These missing events are what cause some confusion in the show. Though I still really like the show, I will admit I enjoyed the graphic novels much more. Each volume can be read quickly and I think the artwork is fantastic.

I realize this is the first graphic novel series I’ve recommended, but I’m sure I will be exploring more storylines in this format so there will be more to come. I honestly believe great stories are available in any medium and I hope this one is not a barrier for you. If you are already familiar with this medium, I hope this story interests you. There is so much I’d love to discuss about this story and how it comments on our own society, but this is just a brief insight for you to see if you would like to read it yourself.

Happy Reading.

The Man Who Was Thursday

The Man Who Was ThursdayThe Man Who Was Thursday by G.K. Chesterton was first published in 1908. I put G.K. Chesterton on my list of authors to read after several authors whose work I enjoy had mentioned him as an influence on their own work and desire to be an author. The book Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman is actually dedicated to G.K. Chesterton.

This book is actually a short, quick read and is a strange but fun mystery that involves an undercover policeman infiltrating a group of anarchists. The story is surprisingly accessible despite being written so long ago and there were only a few instances of behaviors, word use, or societal impressions being somewhat dated.

The story keeps you turning the page to find out what happens next but the ending is surprisingly open to interpretation, which has me remaining uncertain how I feel about the whole venture. Regardless, I think it was a good read and it is always interesting to read stories written long ago even if it is to catch a glimpse of a past world.

I’m sure there are several other Chesterton stories that I may enjoy better than this one, and I am going to try a few more of his novels to better understand his influence of modern authors (and of course to enjoy more good books). If, like me, you were completely unaware of G.K. Chesterton prior to him being mentioned in a book (or perhaps even this blog), then you may now be interested in sampling his work or finding out more about him. This one is a good start I think because of its brevity.

Happy Reading.

Genius Foods

Genius Foods book coverI have been focusing on my physical health quite a bit lately and this lead to learning more about how food influences our physical and mental health. Genius Foods: Become Smarter, Happier, and More Productive While Protecting Your Brain for Life by Max Lugavere and Paul Grewal is a great resource and overall interesting book that delves into nutrition and health.

Max Lugavere lists a “genius food” with each chapter for a total of 10 important foods to include in your diet. Each chapter delves into a different affect within the body that is influenced by the foods we eat. Sometimes things get a little technical as far as biology and chemistry, but Max does a good job of making sure you can understand these processes without needing a science degree. There is a lot of great information that I took away from the book and have already started implementing to improve my mental and physical health.

I had started my health-focused mindset long before discovering this book, but this book has reinforced and supplemented my diet and exercise habits, and I already have a lot more energy, have lost a total of 15 pounds, and I am well on my way to reaching my health goals for this year. I had a lot of weight to lose so this change little but significant.

This book came out in 2018, but Max began his journey into how food impacts the brain several years ago after his mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. He delved into how the disease manifests and what can help reduce and prevent further development. His journey was an extensive one that eventually produced this book. Paul Grewal is a medical doctor who provides snippets within each chapter about the topic discussed, practical application, or examples of how he has seen or treated certain symptoms for patients in relation to each topic. There is a “Genius Plan” discussed in the final chapter that outlines a diet and exercise regiment that, if followed, will result in vastly improved health. I admit I am not attempting that regiment but am continuing my own journey with a few modifications made as a result of the new information from this book. The regiment seems a little restricting, but that is why I’m sure it would work very well. My own regiment is proving to be a great improvement for my health.

Overall, I think this book has a lot of great information about how our diets impact our physical and mental health. Not just which foods are good, but how our bodies process different nutrients and how they can affect us at different times. This is why I’m recommending this book. I think you will learn a lot about how what you eat affects you mentally and physically, and you may likely change your diet or be more conscious about your food choices once you know more about certain food items.

As for me, I am continuing my health journey. It was hard to get started, but know I am on a roll with keeping up with exercise and focusing on what I eat. I have more energy which makes it easier to exercise, and I am happier overall. I’m already seeing other positive changes like clothes fitting better. I’ve always known physical health is linked to mental health. I’d just let myself go a bit over the past several years because I was happy and content (and quarantine weight is real as well). Now I am happier and equally content. I’m also overly excited about becoming a father and want to be healthy so I can ensure I can live a long happy life with my wife and children.

I hope that you eventually give this book a shot if you also want to improve your physical and mental health or simply want to know more about how our food choices impact our bodies and minds. Perhaps this can be the seed that makes you start your own journey. If so, I wish you the best of luck and feel free to contact me if you want an accountability buddy.

Happy Reading.