All posts tagged review

Cover design and layout by N. Syafiqah


Review – Quantum Shorts

Available at the Quantum Shorts website.

No, this is not about indeterminate undies. Nor is it about exercise wear in superposition. You’re entangled in one of my mini reviews about a book of super short stories — Quantum Shorts. These stories are selected from the short lists of submissions to a writing challenge from 2013 to 2017. There are 37 stories by 32 authors who submitted their work to the international Quantum Shorts story competition. This competition is still active. On December 10, 2019 they announced a new call for flash fiction — in this case defined as being 1,000 words or less. The other constraints are that the stories must be inspired by quantum physics and must contain the phrase, “things used to be so simple.” Even if you don’t want to submit a story yourself, you can still download and read this free book. It’s available in PDF, ePub and MOBI formats, so you can read it on almost any device, and it’s released with a Creative Commons license, so it’s free to read and share.

See boring copyright stuff below.

Among these quick stories you will find Unrequited Signals by Tara Abrishami, where the lovers are not merely star-crossed, they’re multiverse-crossed.

Tara Abrishami is a mathematician who sometimes moonlights as a writer. When she’s not writing stories or solving math problems, she enjoys backpacking, cooking vegan food, going on road trips with her crazy friends, and playing with her two cats and her dog.

And Then There Was a Sun by rebecca Baron, where the protagonist learns that life is meaningful even if it is nothing but particles.

Rebecca Baron, when she entered Quantum Shorts in 2013, described herself as a quirky, opinionated high school student in California who enjoys reading, soccer, and confusing her class with presentations on uncertainty and the delayed-choice experiment. Writing and physics are her passions, so this contest was perfect for her.

Dhatfield CC-BY-SA

And The Cat in the Box by Rebecca Montange, where we see Schrödinger’s famous thought experiment from the point of view of the cat, who’s not impressed.

Rebecca Montange entered the Quantum Shorts flash fiction competition in 2013.

These are tasty little morsels. Stories that can be ingested in a few small bites. Download Quantum Shorts and keep it handy for when you’ve only got a few minutes for a quick read. On the other hand, if you’ve got more time, take a handful.


Boring copyright stuff.

The copyright holder is the Centre for Quantum Technologies, National University of Singapore, 2019. Their CC license is CC-BY-NC-ND (Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives), so you can read it and pass it on, but you can’t take money for it and you can’t make significant changes to it before passing it on.

End boring copyright stuff.

I’ve just finished reading the book Factfulness by Hans Rosling. It’s a lesson in how wrong we are about the state of the world, and an attempt to teach us how to be more right about it. Rosling spent his life as a teacher, from students to world leaders and heads of international organizations. A feature of his talks was the quizzes consisting of a question with three possible answers. Although random guesses would result in a 33% success rate — he uses chimpanzees for this — educated people regularly score worse than that. People who in many cases should be expected to know, do worse than chimpanzees.

The questions have to do with things like how many of the world’s children are getting vaccinated against crippling and killing diseases, what percentage of girls are going to primary school and how many people live in extreme poverty. Our tendency to get it wrong is the result of the many fallacies and blind spots we have affecting our ability to think rationally. Rosling takes us through them, showing how they work and suggesting how to overcome them. He presents ten of them, including our tendency to generalization, our propensity to want to lay blame and our irrational reaction to a sense of urgency. He believed that we could control them by learning how to identify them and how to counteract them. He was not optimistic that we would learn in time to deal with the five big potential problems he thought we face: global pandemic, financial collapse, world war, climate change and extreme poverty. He was not optimistic, but he did think it was possible.

One of the big things he wanted to show us is how it’s wrong to divide up the world population into two groups: us and them, rich and poor, developed and developing. He thought four would be more accurate, with 75% of us in the two middle groups between extreme poverty and extreme wealth. Us and them is one of our great fallacies. One of the good features about Factfulness is how it helps us see through the veil of our paleolithic filters. It’s not us and them with a big gap in between. You can’t generalize about people based on their ethnicity or religion or nationality. There is more variation within each of those groups than there is between the groups. We have more in common with the people in those other groups who share our economic status than we realize. Here’s a link to Dollar Street, a website that helps to make that clear. I was fascinated by the pictures of hands. I found that when you look at a lot of pictures of hands, they start to look weird.

Factfulness is a good book that shows us where we’re getting it wrong and that shows us how to work toward the better possibilities in our future.


Review – The Alexandria Project Audiobook – Andrew Updegrove

Available at Amazon and Audible.

Announcement on author’s site.

I have three previous posts about Andrew Updegrove here on Green Comet. The first is about “egregious nonsense regarding ebook standards,” referencing his blog post on that topic where he explains why closed proprietary ebook formats are bad for readers and writers, and why they exist anyway. The second is about “open source pharma,” referencing his blog post about that and why it would be better for patients. The third one is a book review about his novel “The Lafayette Campaign,” where I give a mini review of the book, and also explain the experiment he is performing on “the evolving self-publishing labyrinth.”

Andrew has written three other thriller-style novels in the series, and the experiment continues. All of them have been self-published, and he has kept his readers informed about the many twists and turns he has encountered on the journey. Now he is taking another step that moves him into new territory. He has had one of the novels –The Alexandria Project — professionally recorded, with plans to record the rest in the near future. Here’s what his website says about the book:

“Thank you for your contribution to the Alexandria Project” is the message cyber attackers leave behind as they delete crucial data from computer networks across America. It’s not long before the nation is on the verge of collapse as unknown assailants take down Wall Street, the transportation system, government agencies, and the rest of the infrastructure upon which our internet-based economy depends.

As the public outcry builds, Frank Adversego, a brilliant but conflicted cyber security expert, finds himself under suspicion and trapped in a power play between the FBI and the CIA. Only by tracing the Alexandria Project back to the source can he clear himself.

What follows is a fast-paced, satirical tale of cyber sleuthing, international espionage, and nuclear brinksmanship that accurately portrays our increasing vulnerability to cyber attack. The shocking conclusion will leave you ready for the next Frank Adversego thriller – and concerned about where our headlong rush into the Internet Age is leading us.

That’s a pretty good synopsis of the book, so I don’t need to repeat it. I will say that I enjoyed it and found it to be a well-written thriller, with good characters in believable, if bizarre, situations. Updegrove also has a penchant for humor, and doesn’t miss the opportunity to drop a bit into the book.

All that being taken care of, this review is about the audio recording of the book. Andrew has chosen Tantor Media for the production, and the narrator is Roger Wayne, who has a solid and extensive track record. He has given the book its best chance by entrusting its recording to professionals.

I received a download code for a review copy and immediately went and got it. It consisted of a ZIP file of almost 400MB, which upon extraction revealed a single high quality cover image and thirty-two individual MP3 files — an introduction, thirty chapters and an epilogue. I couldn’t wait to get started listening to it.

I must admit that part of the reason I wanted to do this was so I could compare a professionally created audiobook with the ones I have made of the Green Comet trilogy. I wanted to see how mine hold up, and perhaps to pick up some pointers. I won’t bore you with the details, but mine turn out to hold up pretty well. And listening to a professional can’t help but make my own future readings better.

Roger Wayne reads The Alexandria Project in a straightforward manner, without sound effects, music or dramatic excess. He does use different voices for different characters, complete with some regional accents, and he does allow the inflection of his voice to communicate the drama of the moment, but he never goes overboard. I was impressed by how he kept the reader’s attention on the story, rather than the narrator.

I can comfortably recommend The Alexandria Project, both in book form and as an audiobook. It’s a good story, well written and well read.

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At the combined downloads of Green Comet and Parasite Puppeteers have surpassed two thousand. To be exact, today they added up to 2,001., which I have previously posted about, has been my most reliable outlet. It hasn’t accounted for the most downloads — that would be the Green Comet website itself. It’s not even the most productive external outlet — that would be BitTorrent Bundles. But it is the steadiest and most dependable outside of this website. While BitTorrent Bundles and other places have had big surges early on, they have tailed off to nearly nothing quite quickly. just seems to keep chugging along.

So, that’s another milestone for me and for my books. And it’s another chance for me to shine a light on It’s also another chance for you to go there and see for yourself. Green Comet and Parasite Puppeteers aren’t the only books there. If you dig around you’ll find plenty of others that are at least as good. I’ve even reviewed a few of them here. You should go over there and download some of them. If you like them you can go back and tell the authors. You can even give them a bit of money to reward their generosity, if you feel like it. That’s the beauty of They’re freeing books, and giving us a chance to thank the authors at the same time.

A pretty good example of how to share.


Authors cherish reviews. The right review in the right place can have a profound impact on the fate of a book. Since the most important thing for a book is to be discovered — no one can read your book if they don’t know it’s there — we’re always grateful when we see that someone has taken the time to create a review of it. Most recently, a person called USSROVER has posted a short review of both books on OpenBooks. (I think they look kind of funny with the old covers.) Here’s a link to the Green Comet review (I enjoyed this book from the start,) and here’s one to the Parasite Puppeteers one (Again very well written and actually better than ‘Green Comet‘.) Interestingly, the reviewer prefers the second book. I find that interesting because I’m partial to the first one. I guess that could just be a sentimental product of it being the first.

So, go check out these reviews. Drop a comment to let USSROVER know what you think of them. And if you’ve got a minute, click the review button and add one of your own. Because we authors just love reviews.-)