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ecclesarcher "erias"

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The Jolly Pilgrim
The Jolly Pilgrim
by Peter Baker
Edition: Paperback
Price: 7.49

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, uplifting paradigm-shifting ideas, 2 Oct 2011
This review is from: The Jolly Pilgrim (Paperback)
The travelogue sections of this book are excellent; they convey the immediacy of experience and emotion - both good and bad - that the author undergoes exceptionally clearly, and leave the reader feeling that they have in some way had an authentic encounter with the cultures and countries described.

For me, however, 'travel diary' is a partial and inadequate description of the book. The real delight is the philosophy and outlook espoused in increasing detail in sections of prose between the diary entries. It was a pleasure to read an attempt at a unified, inclusive theory of humankind's past, present and future that managed to be both realistic and blazingly positive. I finished the book feeling hugely optimistic about the future of this planet and of humanity; a vanishingly rare occurrence in my experience of philosophical writing, let alone works discussing the current state of things.

The actual writing is tight, clean and honed, with very few wasted or misplaced words. The structure of the book (travelogue entries interspersed with 'musings', with the balance shifting fromore travel to more philosophy as you progress through the book) allows the Baker's theories to develop naturally, illustrated and informed by his travel experiences.

I loved this; I hope you will, too.

The Speed of Dark
The Speed of Dark
by Elizabeth Moon
Edition: Hardcover

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing and tightly written, 19 Jan 2003
This review is from: The Speed of Dark (Hardcover)
For me, this marked a real change in Moon's writing. Not just in the obvious realm of subject matter - 'Speed of Dark' deals with issues far closer to home and 'reality' than either the Paksenarrion or Serrano series' - but also in the style and maturity of writing. Her phrasing and expression seem to me to be growing in power and clarity all the time.
As a story, this was excellent, with a highly likeable main character, a well-paced plot and a cast of thoroughly three-dimensional supporting characters.
I can't comment on the accuracy of the portrayal of autism, but to a non-expert it came across as realistic, well-researched and very compassionate. The issues the story raises regarding definition of self, medical experimentation and the right to be treated as a valid individual were interesting and carefully handled. My one quibble was with the ending; it was just a touch too 'happily ever after' for my taste (although, logically, with the plot structured as it is there probably wasn't another option). All in all, an excellent read - highly recommended.

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