Social Justice Atheist Geekery

Book Review: Nexus by Ramez Naam

I’ve been trying to think how to describe this book.

“Ghost in the Shell.”

“Charles Stross meets Quentin Tarantino.”

“Neal Stephenson but under 500 pages.”
It’s really fucking good, you guys.

Review: The Fifth Elephant by Terry Pratchett

HOLY SHIT you guys

This was amazing. Pratchett wrote an action thriller that critiques the tropes of action thrillers RIGHT THERE IN THE TEXT. Discworld’s own John McClane says RIGHT THERE that the kind of people who follow killing with quippy one-liners are just murderers.


I think this book finally locked in my dream cast for some of the Watch – Bruce Willis for Sam Vimes, young!Eric Idle for Nobby, and young!John Cleese for Colon. Not sure about Carrot yet… leaning towards Chris Evans, but the Snowpiercer Chris Evan just as much as Captain America.

Review: Carpe Jugulum by Terry Pratchett

For some reason I wasn’t expecting to enjoy this one as much – probably because it was one of the few Discworld books I *hadn’t* heard people rave about, and because the market is rather glutted with vampires nowadays…

I should have known better.

On top of the standard Pratchett greatness (satire + puns + thrilling conflict and epic climax), this book takes an honest and respectful look at the interplay of faith, religion, and reality. It finds a balancing point with these themes that most stories don’t, and that was unexpectedly refreshing.

Review: Jingo by Terry Pratchett

It took me a little longer to get into this one than previous Discworld books. But once I did, it was as clever and hard to put down as the rest.

I like that (like with feminism/gender relations in Feet of Clay) Pratchett doesn’t tackle racism/xenophobia & jingoism by presenting characters who are perfect social justice warriors. Instead, we get a full cast of variously flawed characters who don’t have after-school-special resolutions, but just wind up as slightly more decent people at the end.

Review: Feet of Clay by Terry Pratchett

It’s a Discworld book, so just take as a given that I loved the pacing and converging plot lines and puns and characters (and since it’s a Guards book, also the crime thriller elements that creep in with the humor).

I wanted to point out a sub-plot I loved in this book without getting too spoilery. Pratchett looks at an aspect of gender roles and relations that is rarely talked about, and it’s summed up in this quote: “You can be any sex you like provided you act male. There’s no men and women in the Watch, just a bunch of lads.”

Very often, white male is assumed to be the default. Pratchett looks at the struggles of women joining the Night Watch to determine for themselves how to express their gender and identity without losing the respect of their peers. While I wish real societies could learn how to respect the self-identities of individuals instantly (or a couple centuries ago), they don’t. And so I’m glad that the men of Pratchett’s Watch try, but mess up. The characters take a step forward, but the situation isn’t oversimplified or solved instantly by enlightened men in positions of power.

Instead, things just get a little better one page at a time.


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