Category Archives: Books

I have a Aspergers Syndrome related obsessions is reading: so here are some book reviews.

T S Learner

Sphinx by T. S. Learner

Time for another book review, but a little real life background information is required first.

In 1900, a small group of Greek sponge fisherman where diving off the coast of Antikythera, a small island near Rhodes. These lunatics were diving down to depths of 15 to 20 metres with no breathing apparatus and completely unassisted. While performing this act of insanity, they came across a very ancient shipwreck containing statues, bronzes and all manner of things that would make Indiana Jones wet himself. Within the next couple of years this site became the focus point of one of the most daring archaeological explorations of all time, with lots of clever people in silly suits and large metal helmets walking around on the ocean floor.

Antikthera Mechanism

About two years after the discovery of this shipwreck, a remarkable item was found in the depths of the wreck. It is known as the Antikythera mechanism (pictured left), and it turned history on its head. You see, what it actually appears to be is an Analogue Computer, and it dates to around 150 b.c. Yeah that isn’t a typo, it is a computative device from over 2000 years ago!

The Antikthera mechanism is thought to have had as many as 72 gears, and when the date was entered, via a crank it predicted the where abouts of the sun, moon and several all the known planets of the time. Impressive stuff really, and nothing even remotely close would be seen again for over 1500 years. Obviously, every conspiracy theorist in the world knows about the Antikythera mechanism and they tend to believe that it was created by aliens or JFK or some such.

T S Learner

Anyway, now that all that is explained, we can move on to the book. Sphinx, by T.S. Learner is a work of fiction which explores the possibility that this device had a prototype.

The prototype – The Astrium is being searched for by archaeologist Isabella Warnock, who is obsessed with finding the device, something her husband Oliver doesn’t really understand. Isabella’s family history is dark and mysterious, and during the dive to recover the Astrium, the worst happens; an underwater earthquake hits and Isabella is killed.

Oliver Warnock, who is a geologist for an oil company inherits the Astrium and the quest to protect it from those who would use the device for political gain and also those who believe the device the device is the key to religious and spiritual power.

Set in the 1970′s, Sphinx is a reasonably coherent fantasy/adventure. The background is interesting, the characters are quite well written and the plot keeps on moving, often in unexpected ways. This is T.S. Learner’s first novel and to some extent that does show. Some elements of the story aren’t explained as well as they could be.

Sphinx isn’t a bad read and is certainly a very good attempt at a debut novel. I must admit that I wasn’t entirely convinced my the mystical  approach, and might have preferred a more scientific and factual approach to the story, but that is just a personal preference.

T.S. Learner is

(3/5 – Not a bad holiday read)

ZenEmu

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The Curious Incident of The Dog in the Nightime

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

I recently wrote a post on Aspergers Syndrome and how it affects me. Aspergers is an extremely difficult concept to explain as are all Autistic Spectrum Disorders, but several years ago I came across a novel which comes closer than anything else I have ever read.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time chronicles the adventures of Christopher John Francis Boone as he takes it upon himself to investigate the murder of the of his neighbours dog.  Christopher has high functioning Autism, although his condition is not specifically described.

During the course of his adventures, Christopher encounters people he has never met before, finds out things he didn’t know about his own family and discovers the terrible truth behind the dogs death.

Christopher’s condition doesn’t fall into any specific category of Autism and isn’t specifically named in the book, although the Author (Mark Haddon), does suggest in the dust jacket that it is Aspergers or High Functioning Autism.  Although I would classify Christopher’s condition as an extreme example, Haddon never the less does a fine job in describing a 15 year old boy with ASD.

As Christopher narrates his own story, his own limitations create a unique freedom which doesn’t require explanations. A picture is painted and where it may be obvious that Christopher is missing something, you are left to come to your own conclusions.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time gives a unique insight into perceiving the world in a very different way, where people’s faces are a blank canvas and nothing is certain. It also touches on the problems that parent of ASD children go through. It is about misguided love and misunderstanding, but also revelation and an education in very real differences.

Not only is Christopher a believable fictional creation, but he embodies the classic confused and frustrated teenager as well as having ASD. Anyone can relate to Christopher, and I think it is fair to say you will even care about him by the end of the book.

All in all, this is a fantastic book and I can’t recommend it highly enough. If you have a child, sibling, partner or even a friend who has been diagnosed with an Autistic Spectrum Disorder, then seriously, read this and you will understand on some level where they are coming from.

I’m not saying this is an idiot’s guide to Autism, because it isn’t. No two people who have Autistic Spectrum Disorders are the same.

I won’t ruin the book by going into any more detail. I’ll just say it is a very good read. I will add that there are rumours of a movie on the way, but production hasn’t started yet.

(4/5) – Very Highly Recommended.

ZenEmu

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KenWilber-2

A Brief History of Everything

Ken Wilber

In 2001 a fantastic author called Ken Wilber wrote a fascinating book called “A Brief History of Everything”. This is a fascinating book which chronicles the evolution of Human Beings from a spiritual point of view looking all the way back to the creation of the cosmos, right up to the point when Humans became self aware. It is a fantastic read and has a well deserved place on my bookshelf.

If you look up some of the reviews of the book, you will find people finding fault with Wilber’s insights into physics and math, but the thing is, he is just trying to give an overview of the subjects contained within the book. In my opinion (Physics is somewhat a passion of mine), he does it reasonably well. You will come away from this book a little wiser, which is all you can ask from a book, surely?

I recently came across “A Brief History of Pretty Much Everything”, which is just one of the best things I have seen. It was done by an illustrious “YouTuber” called Displeased Eskimo, who is a very talented guy.

Have a look, it is tip top:

Remember, Don’t attack the Idea of God, if the poor bugger exists, she is probably more miserable than you are.

ZenEmu

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