I’ve actually managed to squeeze in a little bit of free reading in the last two weeks, largely by sacrificing sleep. This is the curse of the engineer, I guess; on the other hand, Dan and I have written slightly over 12,000 lines of code in about a month, plus the additional code that I’ve written for Computer Security.
The basic problem is that (nearly) all of my work this semester is fun! I wouldn’t be so tired and overworked if I didn’t enjoy my work – I simply wouldn’t be able to commit as much time to it as I do. In fact, I really should be napping instead of updating my LJ, in preparation for this afternoon’s coding session, but I feel a little guilty that I have disappeared for the last few weeks.
I just want to clarify that I am in no way complaining – I’m having an awesome semester, just one that involves very little sleep and a minimum amount of free time. I haven’t played any video games in over a month!
I’ve been reading some good pre-teen to young adult sci-fi/fantasy. I started the Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud with the first book, The Amulet of Samarkand. It falls on the cynical spectrum somewhere in between Harry Potter and the His Dark Materials trilogy, but it shares the same basic theme of a young hero saving the day against insurmountable odds in spite of their age and the mind-boggling idiocy of the adults around them. A good, fast read set in an interesting magical not-quite-our-Earth universe.
I finished (well, started and finished) The Far Side of Evil by Sylvia Louise Engdahl yesterday. It is described as the “companion novel” to The Enchantress from the Stars, her Newbery Honor book, but it is effectively a sequel. The major difference is the target age: the second book deals with some pretty mature sociological issues, in particular state-sponsored torture, so it wouldn’t be appropriate for anyone younger than high school, whereas the first book is more fanciful and is definitely for younger readers.
To some extent, they are largely a solid treatment of the classic Prime Directive-style problem: when is it acceptable to interfere with the cultural development of a less-technologically-advanced group of sentients? I think she does it quite well, particularly because the entire book is set on the backdrop of nuclear proliferation and a cold war.
I read both of her books within the last year, and both of them were new reprints as of 2003. What I didn’t realize is that the originals were published in and before 1971! Her view on the ideology of a cold war is very interesting, considering it has been over for some time now. She really believes that the best hope for the future of humanity is to start expanding into space, and I would imagine that she is frustrated by the state of our manned space program. Maybe today’s X Prize bid will help…