Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Nevermore: Overdosed America, Into the Buzzsaw, Bone Clocks, The Decameron, and Physics of the Impossible

Report by Ambrea

Our Nevermore meeting began with Overdosed America:  The Broken Promise of American Medicine by John Abramson.   Abramson, who has a background in statistics and epidemiology, examines and exposes the discrepancies in statistical evidence presented by pharmaceutical companies; furthermore, he attempts to show how many of these companies have intentionally misled doctors and, in some cases, compromised patient health in order to make a sale.  Although our reader belatedly realized she’d read Abramson’s book in the past, she found she enjoyed her second experience with Overdosed America.  She said it was a really interesting book, since it highlighted many of the side effects of medications of which most patients are unaware and pinpointed the errors in statistics that pharmaceutical companies don’t wish customers to see.

Next, our Nevermore readers looked at Into the Buzzsaw:  Myth of a Free Press, which was edited by Kristina Borjesson.  Into the Buzzsaw compiles the stories and experiences of journalists—including Dan Rather, Greg Palast, Karl Idsvoog, Gary Web, Ashleigh Banfield and others—after 9/11 and beyond, who reported on various crimes and scandals to the detriment of their own careers.  Full of first person accounts which reveal the risks many investigative journalists and reporters took in telling the real story, Into the Buzzsaw was a riveting piece of work, according to our Nevermore reader.  It was interesting to see the stories journalists were willing to tell and, more importantly, the risks they were willing to take to tell the truth.

The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell followed, receiving a very good review from our Nevermore reader.  Chronicling the nightmarish journey of Holly Sykes, who has an unexpected sensitivity to psychic phenomena, The Bone Clocks unfolds into story of danger and magic in which mystics “life hop”—jump from person to person, controlling their every thought and feeling and action—in order to further pursue a war that has lasted centuries.  Mitchell, who is also the author of Cloud Atlas and The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, dabbles heavily in magic and fantasy in his latest novel; however, our Nevermore reader said it was varied, combining elements of science-fiction and urban fiction and even a little history.

The Decameron by Italian author and poet, Giovanni Boccaccio, was an enjoyable new addition to our Nevermore meeting this week.   Based in the summer of 1348, The Decameron recounts the stories of ten young Florentines who have taken refuge in the countryside to escape the plague.  The Florentines, young aristocrats from the city, decide to amuse themselves throughout the summer with stories and, in some cases, bawdy tales.  Our Nevermore reader said she’d only made it to the third day, but she said, “It’s really interesting—more so than you’d actually think.”  The stories are amusing, poking fun at social conventions and religious hypocrisy of the day.

Last, but not least, our Nevermore readers examined Physics of the Impossible:  A scientific Exploration into the World of Phasers, Force Fields, Teleportation, and Time Travel by Michio Kaku.  Kaku, a theoretical physicist and professor at the City College of New York, takes the theoretical and seemingly impossible things from science-fiction, and he provides a thoughtful narrative on the laws of physics and the possibilities of human ingenuity.  According to our Nevermore reader, Kaku gets into everything:  teleportation, invisibility cloaks, time machines, force fields, interstellar space shifts, death rays, and much more.  She found Physics of the Impossible fascinating, saying that “if you’re interested in time travel, you owe it to yourself to read [Kaku’s] book.”

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