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Book Review Journal and Software Designs


Infinity Born – Book Review

Author: Douglas E. Richards
Published by: Paragon Press (
Copyright: 2017
Reviewd by: Lynard Barnes, 19 November 2017 (AMAZON Book Review)

Summary: Worth reading for the stimulation speculation.

The hot topic of the moment is artificial intelligence. The topic is hot because cognitive science has arrived at a crossroads of sorts. There are those experts who draw a distinction between artificial intelligence (or AI) and artificial general intelligence (AGI or ASI–where the “s” stands for sentient). It has taken cognitive science roughly twenty years to get here and it may take another twenty years before they refine the distinction even farther between passive intelligence–fact and figures, reduction and synthesis–and active intelligence, the latter being simply emotions acting upon passive intelligence.

In INFINITTY BORN, Douglas Richards constructs a near future world in which one brilliant scientist speeds through the cross road and arrives at real ASI. The consequences are disastrous and we spend the remainder of the book learning how he makes amends.

The entire premise of the book is thoroughly engaging and informative. In the aptly named “Author Notes & Bonus Content”, Richards discusses the research, providing sources, he did in putting the story together. It is the putting-together of the story that I ran into a problem.

In a later chapter in the book, after devoting three immediately preceding paragraphs describing how one of the main characters is attempting to sneak past a group of bad guys, we encounter the sentence: “He spotted the three Russians nearing the house, but he made sure to stay out of sight”. I highlight this sentence because it exemplifies a pattern of wordy redundancy which I find very annoying. The scene has already been perfectly set by the preceding three paragraphs. This excessive wordiness occurs throughout the book.

Another annoyance I have with the novel, not as serious believe-it-or-not, is that there are some events which are just plainly discordant with the flow of the story. Depending on the ability to suspend belief, inconceivable events like a seasoned federal agent being overpowered by a twenty-something year old untrained woman is passable as fiction.

Despite the annoyances with the story, overall it is well worth the time to read and intellectually digest. Just the research and issues raised makes INFINITY BORN a valuable contribution to any discussion of intelligence and human consciousness.



Lord Of The World – Book Review with Nostradamus Connection

Author: Robert Hugh Benson, Introduction by Mark Bosco, S.J.
Publisher: Ave Mari Press, Inc, P.O. Box 428, Notre Dame, IN
Copyright: 2016, ISBN: 0870612985
Cover: Katherine Ross, Andy Wagoner
Review: Lynard Barnes, February 3, 2017



Summary: In 1917, the world gives up on capitalism and essentially gives up on Christianity in the 1920s. Seventy years later, the world is ready for a humanist leader and he appears when East and West are on the verge of war. In this 1907 apocalyptic novel, the emphasis is not on events but on spirit. It soars in a way even the author probably did not realize. You might want to read the book before reading this extended review about current conditions in America.

Reputedly the first dystopian novel published in the twentieth century, LORD OF THE WORLD comes with a few caveats. First, it is a novel by a Roman Catholic of England written with Roman Catholics in mind. This undoubtedly is why, in 2015, Pope Francis advised reading it. Second, it was written when panoramic scenes were conveyed in words, not images. Hence, the writing flows along with scenic descriptions reducing the pace of the story to a crawl.

Despite the caveats the book is a work of uncanny insight. It is also a work of uncanny failure. Any book about the end of the world, or at least the end of a historical era, is bound to miss something. Usually it is something big. LORD OF THE WORLD misses something big.

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Fiction Trilogies and other Good Deeds – Comments


Stephen King

mrmercedes finderskeepers endofwatch






Mr Mercedes, Gallery Book, Simon & Schuster, ISBN: 1476754475*
Finders Keepers, Pocket Books, Simon & Schuster, ISBN: 1501100123*
End of Watch, SCRIBNER, ISBN: 501129742


Ransom Riggs

missperegrineshomeforpeculiarchildre hollowcitymissperegrines libraryofsouls







Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children, Quirk Books, ISBN: 1594746031
Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children – Hollow City, Quirk Books, ISBN: 1594747359
Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children – Library of Souls

Justin Cronin

passageanovelpassageanove twelvebooktwoofthepassagetrilogyan thecityofmirror






The Passage, Ballatine Books, Random House, Penguin Books, ISBN: 0345528174
The Twelve, Alfred A. Knopf, Random House, ISBN: 0345504984
The City of Mirrors, Ballantine Books, Random House, ISBN: 0345505002

A. G. Riddle

atlantisgene atlantisplague atlantisworld







The Atlantis Gene,, ISBN: 1940026016
The Atlantis Plague,, ISBN: 1940026032
The Atlantis World,, ISBN: 1940026067

Summary: Story telling is always about the human condition. Fiction bundled into a trilogy should be just an extension of an examination of the human condition. Sometimes it is. Sometimes it is merely mediocrity padded into boredom. Sometimes however, it is really great stuff.

A series in fictional literature is when an author has found the goose laying the golden egg and continues to twirl it around until it becomes powder blowing in the wind. (Yeah, you have to think about that one). A sequel in literature is when an author has uncovered an errant thought deemed worthy of fitting into the straight jacket of a previous story. A trilogy is born when an author has an idea so expansive that it cannot fit into any reasonably legible typesetting requiring less than five hundred pages. In short, this is the attitude that most forms of extended fiction is simply a waste of time. There are exceptions. Which brings us to King, Riggs, Cronin and Riddle. We could add to this the rather exceptional Dennis Koontz who is in a class by himself.

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Saturn Run – Book Comment

SaturnRun_BOOKCOMMENT_6Jan2016Author: John Sandford and Ctein
Publisher: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, Penguin Random House LLC
Copyright: 2015, ISBN: 0399176951
Cover: Tal Goretsky, (Planet) Da-Kuk
Reviewed by: Lynard Barnes, January 6, 2016

Summary: Space race between a futuristic United States and China to find out what a mysterious object was doing among the moons of Saturn. Modern day Shakespearian tragedy at its best.

Someone once said that science fiction is the improbably made possible. Or something like that. In any event, vampires and zombies are not in the least related to science fiction. Shoot-em up galactic adventures are more wild-west fantasy than science fiction. Science fiction requires the thoughtfulness of a Ray Bradbury or Isaac Asimov or Andy Weir or a host of other deep thinkers, including the authors of SATURN RUN. It is an incredible work of old, cemented-in-logic science fiction.

The story of this novel flows so smoothly that you overlook the improbabilities and simply follow the logic. The first hurdle is getting past the second chapter. It has a taste of THE HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY by Douglas Adams. The character we meet in chapter two, Fletcher, only becomes interesting after he receives a visit from Mr. Crow, another interesting character. The story then unfolds into a plethora of complex characters who would simply be mundane characters doing their jobs if the circumstances were mundane. Of course the circumstances are not mundane. There is a mysterious craft seen leaving the orbit of Saturn.

Once upon a time it may have required only a Jules Verne imagination and Mark Twain writing skill to put together a good science fiction tale. Those days are over. Science fiction like SATURN RUN and Andy Weir’s THE MARTIAN are science fiction at its best–informative and entertaining.


Dark Rivers of the Heart – Book Comment

DarkRiversoftheHeartAuthor: Dean Koontz
Publisher: Bantam Books Mass Market, Random House, Inc
Copyright: 1994, ISBN: 0345533036
Type: Fiction, paperback
Reviewed by: Lynard Barnes, January 6, 2016

Summary: A mystery with multiple layers ending in an expected place. The journey to get there however is one of the best of Koontz’s narratives.

Being an armchair historian, one of the reasons I read fiction is to see how much “real life” intrudes into fictional narratives. Sometimes, vice-versus–but rarely. Koontz’s DARK RIVERS OF THE HEART, published in 2004, is amazing in how much it captures the social and political sentiments of our current times.

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The Martian – Book Comment

TheMartianAuthor: Andy Weir

Publisher: Broadway Book, Random House, LLC

Copyright: 2011, 2014, ISBN: [0804139038]

Cover: Erick White, Elizabeth Rendfleisch, NASA

Summary: Fiction, science, mystery. Delightful surprise.


If you are the type reader who starts reading a book from the copyright or title page to the end, THE MARTIAN offers everything a reader could possibly want, including a few Old English basic words the Normans thought they had expunged from the language. When we meet Astronaut Mark Watney on page one of the book we are pretty sure he is doomed—he employs some of that Old English to describe the situation. More than just take his word for it, we have the fact that he is keeping a log or diary. We subconsciously equate logs and diaries with doomed, as in death.

Inadvertently abandoned and left alone by fellow crew members, stranded with no way to get home and initially no way to call home, we read with the expectation of a noble death, a miracle, or—please, no hoots—alien contact. By the time we figure out where this novel is going—part of the reason for reading good fiction—we are amazed and enthralled by where Watney has been and where he is most likely going. We realize that not only have we sold the stranded astronaut short, we have sold ourselves short with our and limited circumspect expectations.

THE MARTIAN is one of those books that will survive a couple of generations with obscure references popping up in unexpected times and unexpected contexts.


The Snow Violin – Book Review

Author: Michel Louyot, trans. Catherine Cauvin-HigginsSnowViolinTh.img

Publisher: Leaky Boots Press,

Copyright: 2014, ISBN: 1909849105

Cover: Yu Jing

reviewed by: Lynard Barnes, October 9, 2014


Summary: Fictionalized stream of thought from Soviet spy Vladimir Ippolitovich Vetrov on the last night of his life in a cell in the company of a cockroach.


This short book (one-hundred and six pages) sort of leaves you stunned. Into the first couple of pages you start asking yourself why you are reading it. Before you know it, you are done. An experience that qualifies as an event. The stun element arises from a bit of literary artfulness that is flawlessly executed.

There is a category of fiction I call allegorical philosophizing. In reading THE SNOW VIOLIN, for reasons subjective, Albert Camus’ THE PLAGUE comes to mind. This book also evokes a whole list of real existentialist philosophers from Kierkegaard to Dostoyevsky—especially Dostoyevsky and his CRIME AND PUNISHMENT. THE SNOW VIOLIN is not existentialist in outlook. Instead, it is intended as a peek at the realism of an intelligent man faced with the consequences of acts he committed leading to his imprisonment and pending execution.

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Odd Hours (Odd Thomas novel) – Book Comment

OddHourAuthor: Dean Koontz

Publisher: Bantam Books, The Random House Publishing Group

Copyright: 2008, [ISBN: 0553591705]

Cover: Florence Caplain

Reviewer: Lynard Barnes, August 10, 2014


Summary: Odd Thomas in Magic Beach, California where he meets Annamaria and saves the country from nuclear contamination.

The great thing about being a reader who does not follow authors is that you can truly be surprised by an author you read habitually. Stephen King’s last surprise was his UNDER THE DOME (2009). Prior to UNDER THE DOME, the only writings this reviewer remembered King for was THE SHINING (1977), THE STAND (1978), CARRIER (1974), and THE GREEN MILE (1996). Among the quadrillion King novels King has written or, manufactured-question-mark, there are probably some others that rise above the mundane. This reviewer has not discovered the memorable King books among those quadrillion. But then, it is preferably that a book discovers you rather than you discovering the book. (Trust me, it works).

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The Strain – Book Comment

Book Cover Copyright 2014 by FX, LLC

Book Cover Copyright 2014 by FX Networks, LLC

Author: Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan

Publisher: Harper, HarperCollinsPublishers, 195 Broadway, NY, NY

Cover: FX Networks, LLC

Copyright: 2009 [ISBN: 0062344618]

Cover: Artworks/Cover Art, copyright 2014 FX Networks, LLC

Reviewed by: Lynard Barnes, July 27, 2014

Summary: Vampire from World War II invades New York via a plane ride and raises from a coffin put on board with the evil mechanizations of a superrich guy. The usual biting; the usual blood; the usual gore; the usual superhuman demon: But an incredibly imaginative beginning.

Vampire stories have been referred to as the teenage version of hardcore pornography. No argument with that. However, there is only one way to bite someone and turn them into a walking dead person. You bite. Swallow blood, and viola, you have given birth to your soulless mate. The story, if there is one, involves those die-hard or die-heart untouched who resist such succulent advances. (Please excuse any confusion here between zombies and vampires. A little bite of this, a little bite of that and it’s all Munster after a while.)

The foundation of all things vampire of course is rooted in folklore. Bram Stoker’s 1897 Dracula set the stage for the modern telling of vampire stories. First came F. W. Mumau’s 1922 movie Nosteratu. Say Béla Lugosi about fifty times and you just about covered every vampire-animated-dead movie made since. (It is also a good benediction to ward off all vampire movies).

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The Cobra Event – Book Comment

CobraEventAuthor: Richard Preston

Publisher: Ballantine Book, Random House Publishing Group,

Copyright: 1997, ISBN: [345409973]

Summary:  A renegade scientist working for an arms trafficking conglomerate fashions a bioweapon and starts testing the weapon on the streets of New York.


Richard Preston’s THE HOT ZONE was reviewed here in September 1995.  In that review, we traced the rationale for a book like THE HOT ZONE, detailing real events, back to Michael Creighton’s first novel, ANDROMEDA STRAIN, and go forward to the 1995 movie OUTBREAK starring Dustin HoffmanRene Russo, and Morgan Freeman. The AIDS epidemic was roughly ten years old at the time of THE HOT ZONE publication. Epidemics and pandemics floated to the top of the 24-hour news cycle; primarily influenza viruses and not the filovirus group (Ebola and Marburg) which was the focus of THE HOT ZONE. Preston followed up success of THE HOT ZONE (1994, history) with THE COBRA EVENT (1997, fiction), THE DEMON IN THE FREEZER (2002, history), and PANIC IN LEVEL 4 (fiction, 2009).  Of the two fiction works, THE COBRA EVENT stands out as the best.

THE COBRA EVENT allows us—if we so wanted—to trace subsequent real events back to an informative and entertaining novel.  Biochemical weapons of mass destruction leaped to the front of the 24-hour news cycle after September 11, 2001. The anthrax mailing—such mailings having been occurring in the U.S since at least the 1940s—plopped into the news cycle on the heels of the 9-11 terror-act.  All of this is by way of pointing out the prognosticative theme of THE COBRA EVENT.

The first half of this book is truly scary.  What makes it scary is the slow descent into the world of the virus and how the human body reacts to an invasion of this foreign organism. It starts innocently enough with the mystifying and novel and seemingly inexplicable death of Kate, a teenager working on an arts project. The subsequent autopsy is not for the faint of heart. In fact, the next one-hundred and eighty-five pages are not for the faint of heart. Descriptions of dissecting the internal human body are far less scintillating than a plot to kill-off the population of New York by spreading a virus. This thread of mass annihilation of a populations is one that Preston pursues in his novels with one foot in science and the other in fiction.  He brings common sense to both the science and the fiction.  The point he makes in each of his books, fiction and science history, is that killing off the population of the earth with a virus is virtually impossible. Even annihilating the entire population of a city is impossible.

The plot of THE COBRA EVENT was the silhouette against which all the fears of bioweapons consumed public safety officials after 9-11.  More than anything else, reading this book over ten years after the height of the terror atmosphere, we get to see just how vulnerable any given population is to a bioweapon.

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