Asimov’s Science Fiction November/December 2018

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So I’ve got a subscription to Asimov’s Science Fiction now. I generally consume most of my short fiction in podcast form, but I apparently can’t say no to door-to-door salesmen, so here we are.  But you know what? For once I’m glad I gave in to the salesman’s pitch, because this is really good stuff.

I’ve gotten bored with the whole post-apocalyptic, dystopian thing of late, so I’m happy to report most of the stories in this issue are optimistic. They’re also hard sci-fi for the most part. There was also a lot of diversity in terms of the nationality of the characters. Aliens, when they exist, are usually off screen, which serves to make them more mysterious and awe inspiring. Continue reading

The Monk by M. G. Lewis

“Insolent in your yet-unshaken virtue, you disdained the prayers of a penitent; but God will show mercy, though you show none. And where is the merit of your boasted virtue? What temptations have you vanquished? Coward! you have fled from it, not opposed seduction. But the day of trial will arrive! Oh! then when you yield to impetuous passions! when you feel that man is weak, and born to err; When shuddering you look back upon your crimes, and solicit with terror the mercy of your God, Oh! in that fearful moment think upon me!”

Note: This review will contain spoilers. I usually try not to discuss a book in full, but I just couldn’t resist with this one. Also, there’s some really gruesome stuff in this book, so read on at your own risk. Continue reading

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

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“Learn from me, if not by my precepts, at least by my example, how dangerous is the acquirement of knowledge and how happier that man is who believes his native town to be the world, than he who aspires to become greater than his nature will allow.”

Frankenstein was originally published in 1818, making this year the 200th anniversary. A perfect time for me to reread it. Mary Shelley starting writing this when she was just 18 years old, making this an even more remarkable achievement. Both of her parents were writers, though, so it kind of makes sense she’d be a good writer from a young age. Her husband also encouraged her to write (they eloped when she was 16). Shelley’s mother died days after she was born, so she wasn’t a direct influence on Mary. However, Mary often poured over her mother’s writings, so her mother was still a great influence on her. Continue reading

On the Historicity of Jesus by Richard Carrier Part 12 of 12

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This will be the final post in my multi-part summary of Richard Carrier’s On the Historicity of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason for Doubt. After going over our background information, evidence outside the Bible, Acts, the Gospels, and most of the Epistles (which are all more likely if Jesus didn’t exist than if he did), we finally get to the best evidence there is for historicity (the theory that Jesus existed as a historical person instead of a celestial deity). Continue reading

On the Historicity of Jesus by Richard Carrier Part 11 of 12

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Chapter 11: The Epistles

In his authentic epistles, Paul only answers questions about doctrine and rules of conduct. If Jesus existed, it’s very bizarre that no one would ask him about the life and death of Jesus. Also, it would have made sense to mention things Jesus said in life to help answer some of the doctrine questions, but Paul never does this. Continue reading

On the Historicity of Jesus by Richard Carrier Part 8 of 12

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Mark

Pilate freeing Barabbas (a name which literally means “Son of the Father”) has no basis in history (the Romans never freed prisoners like this). Rather, it is patterned on the scapegoat ritual of Yom Kippur (Mark also has this take place during Passover so it’s a combination of two different Jewish holidays). Some manuscripts of Mark actually give his name as Jesus Barabbas, so the crowd is deciding between two Sons of the Father, making it even more clear that this is an allegorical, not a historical, story. Continue reading