Book Review: Wool, Shift and Dust by Hugh Howey

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Wool by Hugh Howey

Hugh Howey has created an interesting dystopia and populated it with interesting characters (although I feel he struggles a little with making his antagonists complex rather than one-dimensional).

This is Juliette’s story (as the cover tells you) but it does take a while until we are introduced to her. In the meantime, Howey lets a variety of other characters take the lead for a while and shows what seem like small moments but which turn into large moments upon reflection and later events.

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To Plan or To Make It Up As You Go, That Is The Question

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Recently I was approaching a chapter that I knew would involve one of my main characters, Joseph, sitting down for a session with a counsellor. To prepare I wrote out a conversation (no prose, just dialogue) in expectation of using it as the basis for the chapter. This would be the chapter that revealed Joseph’s back story, not a crucial component of the plot but important in helping the audience understand why he reacts to certain plot points the way he does.

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Photograph – A Poem

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Those bloody kids
Happy to spoil a perfectly good photograph
But unwilling to have their own image committed for posterity
A deformed half face has squeezed itself beneath my arm
And rude hand gestures crown our blackened heads
We chased them with the camera
Threatening to take possession of their souls
But all we managed were profile shots
And streaks of light as they dashed away
Those bloody kids
Happy to spoil a perfectly good photograph
Never once thinking of future regrets
When no one will remember what they looked like as children

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The Cassandra Syndrome: Chapter One

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Having grown up as an American in absentia, Cassandra Broderick knew she had avoided some of the strange quirks that seemed to afflict so many of her fellow citizens. Such as still hanging on to the Yankee and Confederate historical divisions. Surveying the packed Memorial Court at the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond, Virginia, she was almost positive this was a room full of Confederates. She was less sure about which side of the divide she fell into. Continue reading

The Cassandra Syndrome: Prologue

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‘Gone is the superpower ideological divide that once gave a strange sort of order to the world’s wars. In its place are entrepreneurs, selling arms… A nearly two-year investigation by the Center for Public Integrity’s International Consortium of Investigative Journalists into the business of war has found that these non-state actors – despite their appearance of being freelancers – have copious connections to intelligence services, multinational corporations, political figures and criminal syndicates in the United States, Western and Eastern Europe, Russia, Africa and the Middle East.’
PHILLIP VAN NIEKERK, INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST
‘Making a killing: the business of war’ Continue reading

“I’m Passionate About Spreadsheets” and Other Lies We Tell to Get the Job

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You’ve made it past the CV scanning software and a recruitment junior and you’ve landed that all important interview. You research the company online in depth. You talk to former and current employees (if you know any) for the inside scoop on what to expect. You plan your most competent looking outfit.

And you practise what you’re going to say. Your three strengths, your three weaknesses (which with a quick sentence or two actually become your next three strengths), why you want to leave your current job (break out the euphemisms), what makes you the best candidate for the role (I am, just trust me, okay?) and what sort of corporate culture you prefer (if my boss can find a happy medium between hovering while yelling and making me wonder if we should start scouring local bushland for a body, I’m good).

But when you arrive for the face-to-face question and answer session, it all goes out the window. You can’t remember your strengths (but I’m good, I swear) or your weaknesses (but I’m not saying I’m perfect) and some of the questions you’re being asked have about as much relevance as a penguin at an ethics convention.

So what do you do to make sure you get the job? You do what everyone else does. You lie. Continue reading

Book Review: No Way Back by Matthew Klein

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This was one of those books that I picked up on the strength of the cover and a few words – “They know everything. They control everyone. Even you.” Boy, did I get lucky! I really, really enjoyed this book. From the first few chapters, which are ostensibly just about a guy at work, I was completely hooked and I finished reading it in only two sittings.

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Enemies Closer: Chapter One

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Chapter 1

A little learning was a dangerous thing. It was something her father had often told her. He had been a literature professor before the dementia. After the dementia had taken hold, it was the one thing he seemed able to remember. Not her face. Not even her existence. Just the importance of those seven words. In the nursing home, she had sat through, continued to sit through, lecture after lecture on its origins in Alexander Pope’s writings, its subsequent corruption – now a little knowledge was a dangerous thing and a little learning got you elected to Congress – and the all-important meaning of the phrase. Continue reading

Enemies Closer: The Prologue

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“China’s technical advances have been made on the basis of classified and unclassified information derived from espionage, contact with US and other countries’ scientists, conferences and publications, unauthorized media disclosures, declassified US weapons information, and Chinese indigenous development. The relative contribution of each cannot be determined.”
GEORGE J. TENET, FORMER DIRECTOR OF THE CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY
The Intelligence Community’s Damage Assessment on the Implications of China’s Acquisition of US Nuclear Weapons Information on the Development of Future Chinese Weapons

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