tehkittykat: king arthur from monty python's holy grail (python; english is a silly major)
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#2 The Particle at the End of the Universe by Sean Carroll

Not too much to say about particle physics for the masses-- the facts are kind of non-negotiable. Carroll brings a nice, spritely quality to the story of the Large Hadron Collider and what the Higgs boson is and why it's a big deal. I read From Eternity to Here a while ago, and this book also has the same laser-like focus. Instead of getting into the entire bloody history of modern physics since Einstein that a lot of popular-science books try to do when they want to talk about contemporary physics problems, Carroll sticks to just the narrative that involves the Higgs and why it's a big deal. (Well, that and the history of particle accelerators, but since it's a book as much about the LHC and the future direction of basic research in science as it is about explaining why the particle is a big deal, it makes sense.)

Book did make me bitter that the Superconducting Supercollider was cancelled. There's actually a Gogol Bordello song that references it. As it is, good primer on WTF the LHC was supposed to be looking for and why it's important.

#3 Maul: Lockdown by Joe Schreiber

And this one was just pure id-candy. Darth Maul ends up in a space prison devoted to putting the inmates through gladatorial contests so that the galaxy can bet on them, trying to find an arms dealer because his master told him to.

It opens with a fight scene and sticks pretty much exclusively to investigation and gory fight scenes, with only just enough cuts to what other characters are doing to keep the plot humming along without making the crap Maul runs into seem random. There's also a lot of Darth Sidious going oh shit oh shit oh shit because his master, who was alive at the time, is also fucking with him.

No boring prequel Jedi here. You do actually root for Maul most of the time-- he's a total amoral super kill guy, but this book stuck with the characterization established in the earlier EU stories about Maul and left his somewhat quixotic sense of honor intact. He still doesn't kill unnecessarily (though naturally the definition of necessary is a little more arbitrary than most) and rather than the stereotypical Sith scheming for power that everyone else gets into, he remains dedicated to the Grand Plan and wants a larger role in it because it's a Cause.

All right, so I am maybe a sucker for ultra-violence and weirdly honorable killing machines looking for meaning in their lives. A++ would read again.

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