Review of Dashiell Hammett’s “The Glass Key”

Reading Dashiell Hammett is a lot like listening to the Beatles; you’ve heard them before even if you’ve never heard them before. Edgar Allen Poe invented detective fiction, but Hammett invented the detective that audiences since immediately associate with the genre. A former Pinkerton, Hammett abandoned the British gentleman-detective popularized by Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers, characters who are never really in any danger from … Continue reading Review of Dashiell Hammett’s “The Glass Key”

The Planck length as a “pixel” of our universe

One of the chief characteristics of simulations is low information density compared to the phenomenon being simulated. Very complex simulations may have relatively higher information density, in the sense that high definition images are noticeably closer to real life than standard definition images, but even those will still fall short of reality. The human eye, for example, has a discrete resolution. The width of the … Continue reading The Planck length as a “pixel” of our universe

Review of Walter Mosley’s “Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned”

Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned by Walter Mosley My rating: 4 of 5 stars Fans of Mr. Mosley’s “Easy” Rawlins novels might be disappointed that there’s no mystery to solve, but that doesn’t take away from the true strengths of this book, which is a series of vignettes about life in Watts: about poverty, about race, about violence. They read to me as modern Socratic dialogues, … Continue reading Review of Walter Mosley’s “Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned”

More on the Limitations of Writing Really Good Villainesses

One of the reasons Darth Vader is a timeless villain is because he’s Luke’s father. Luke, as the hero, represents us — either indirectly in that he fights for us, or directly as a stand-in, a power-projection of the self. Vader, then, in perverting his role as father, inverts it and becomes the antithesis of protector, and his betrayal of Luke becomes the betrayal of … Continue reading More on the Limitations of Writing Really Good Villainesses

Setting and Hardboiled Detective Fiction

I was listening to some lectures on the detective novel on the plane, and the dude really had some neat points. (Go figure.) But first, for background, you have to know that American detective fiction, sometimes labelled “hardboiled,” grew out of the English detective novel, which tended to be very genteel. The detective in the English stories, for example, was always protected by law and … Continue reading Setting and Hardboiled Detective Fiction

In the Beginning: a very short history of religious thought

It starts with a crisis, the singular belief that defines the religious history of our species: that this world, full of suffering, where the race does not go to the swift nor food to the hungry, cannot be all there is. That there must be something more. So it is, the divine singularity, the unity of creation, shatters. And mankind is left separated from the … Continue reading In the Beginning: a very short history of religious thought