Friday, January 25, 2013

Who wouldn't love these new bestsellers?

How to Create a Mind: The Secret of Human Thought Revealed by Ray Kurzweil

Kirkus Reviews –

A pioneering developer of optical character recognition and text-to-speech software explores the possibility of creating a synthetic neocortex that could surpass the human mind. Kurzweil (The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology, 2005, etc.) bases his prediction on modern insights into how the brain has evolved a hierarchical pattern-recognition structure. We perceive the bare outline of events and reconstruct memories in an ordered sequence, and our ability to fill in the blanks provides the foundation for conscious experience. "We are constantly predicting the future and hypothesizing what we will experience," writes the author. "This expectation influences what we actually perceive." Kurzweil estimates that at birth, the neocortex contains 300 million pattern processors connected horizontally and vertically, which allow us to connect patterns. In his opinion, it is these processors, rather than the neurons of which they are composed, that are the fundamental units of the neocortex. They allow us to fill out an increasingly complex picture of reality, enabling us to rapidly evaluate our environment and then confirm our hypothesis by checking out the details. Then we are able to respond rapidly to changes in our environment by creating new technologies. Why not create a synthetic extension of our brain using advanced computer technology? It could "contain well beyond a mere 300 million processors," perhaps as many as a billion or a trillion. Our dependence upon search engines and other technology is a harbinger of a future in which we will not only outsource information storage but directly enhance our mental functioning. In a parallel development, Kurzweil and other software developers are designing more advanced computers based on complex modular functioning. A fascinating exercise in futurology.




Iced (Dani O'Malley Series #1) by Karen Marie Moning

Library Journal –

Listen up: here's a new urban paranormal trilogy from Moning, author of the five blisteringly successful "Fever" titles, each bigger than the last (Shadowfever debuted in the top spot on the New York Times best sellers list). Fortunately, this new trilogy returns to the world of the "Fever" books, picking up where Shadowfever left off. At its heart is charismatic teen sidhe seer Dani O'Malley, charged with capturing a slippery, murderous new Fae even as dark forces threaten to take over Dublin.




Into the Woods: Tales from the Hollows and Beyond by Kim Harrison

Kirkus Reviews –

A collection of old and new novellas, novelettes and short stories from urban-fantasy author Harrison (A Perfect Blood, 2012, etc.), mostly taking place inside her Hollows fictional universe. Harrison is known for her urban-fantasy novels, beginning with 2004's Dead Witch Walking. Largely set in an alternate version of present-day Cincinnati some 40 years after a horrific plague, her Hollows setting features witches, werewolves, demons and vampires, among other supernatural characters. This new collection, which Harrison dedicates "[t]o the readers," brings together Harrison's previously published Hollows short fiction going back several years, as well as a new Hollows novella and four stories set outside the Hollows universe. Though a few of the stories feature Harrison's main protagonist, the tough bounty hunter and witch Rachel Morgan, several give supporting characters a shot at the limelight. For example, in the previously unpublished "Million Dollar Baby," she tells the story of an adventure that the elf Trent Kalamack and the pixy Jenks undertook in Seattle during the time frame of the 2011 novel Pale Demon, while the relatively brief story "The Bespelled," first published as a bonus with the 2008 mass-market edition of The Outlaw Demon Wails, centers on the demon Algaliarept. Other stories feature vampires and dryads in non-Hollows settings. Though most of the stories here were written for one-off anthologies, all are solid urban-fantasy tales, and her fans will find much to appreciate. Harrison also helpfully supplies brief introductions for each story, providing context for each, as well as background detail into each story's creation. A comprehensive and well-constructed collection, sure to be welcomed by Harrison's fans.

An Irish Country Wedding by Patrick Taylor

Kirkus Reviews –

What Herriot did for Yorkshire, Taylor does for Northern Ireland's County Antrim and County Down; minus the animals, of course, but with all the good sentiments. Taylor's seventh in the Irish Country Doctor series (An Irish Country Doctor, 2007, etc.) provides a dose of easy medicine to readers familiar with the 1960s milieu and characters in the fictional wee town of Ballybucklebo, where Dr. Fingal Flahertie O'Reilly practices medicine. The critical illness of Kinky Kincaid, O'Reilly's housekeeper, sets the drama in motion, what with a strangulated bowel requiring immediate hospitalization. O'Reilly's in Belfast buying an engagement ring for fiancee and first love, Kitty O'Hallorhan, and so Dr. Barry Laverty, his assistant, diagnoses Kinky's problem and beckons an ambulance. Now, the busy doctors of Ballybucklebo need a receptionist and housekeeper. Working-class lass Helen Hewitt's available, having been laid off. Ah, but care must be taken so Kinky doesn't worry she's being shuffled out the door. Meantime, Bertie Bishop, cranky and self-absorbed townland Councillor, accuses O'Reilly's cat of killing Bishop's racing pigeons. Dr. Laverty soon discovers the true culprit, but he's distracted by his incipient romance with a lovely schoolteacher and ardent member of the Campaign for Social Justice. The author notes this is the first in the series where he's confronted the "Troubles." He does so in a limited way, with equal measures of empathy and realism. Kinky's afterword and recipes end the book, along with a glossary of Irish dialect. Gentle, colorful, feel-good stories of a peaceable life long gone. Think Mayberry with Dr. O'Reilly as Sheriff Taylor.




No comments:

Archive

Find in a library

Search for an item in libraries near you: