Book Reviews: What I’ve Been Reading Lately

Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson

This is the second book in Sanderson’s Stormlight Archive series, and at slightly over one thousand pages, it’s not an undertaking for the faint of heart. It’s set in a fantasy world that is on the precipice of a catastrophe, unknown to many of the world’s residents. Brandon Sanderson is known for his worldbuilding, and this book does not disappoint when it comes to worldbuilding and lore; in many ways, this book reminds me of Lord of the Rings (although I would not say the book in unoriginal in any way). The story follows four main characters—with many other side characters incorporated as well—and also includes several interludes of short stories that tangentially relate to or somehow affect the main storyline. The first six hundred or so pages seemed rather slow moving to me, but after this point, the book quickly sped up.

Asimov’s Science Fiction by various authors

Admittedly, I am behind on Asimov issues; however, I have enjoyed many of the stories included! Although, I often find reading them rather exhausting since I have to get reoriented in a new story often (this is nothing against the stories themselves, though). One story that I recommend (from the March/April issue) is “Rena in the Desert” by Lia Swope Mitchell. “Rena in the Desert” is about a woman named Rena who is traveling through a barren strip of land (in a post-apocalyptic United States) in order to visit her brother. She comes across a motel where a child is staying alone (the child’s parents are nowhere to be found) and where the computer system in the hotel is taking care of the child.

I, Robot by Isaac Asimov

I, Robot is a collection of short stories tied together by an interspersed overarching story: The overarching narrative frames and introduces the shorter stories. The stories revolve around Asimov’s three rules of robot behavior: (1) a robot may not harm a human by any action or inaction, (2) a robot should obey orders from humans unless following the order would break rule one, and (3) a robot should protect itself from harm so long as doing so does not break rule one or two. Asimov muses on what effect these rules would have when combined. Asimov was a very influential writer, and his influence on the portrayal of robots and AI is quite apparent when reading this work. This book had refreshing clarity on these two subjects, compared to many more contemporary examples, which often seem to have a convoluted and confusing portrayal of what AI is and what it does.

Comment below with what you’ve been reading (and if you’ve read any of these works)!

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