How much do you read?

If you read more than ten books over the past year, you read more than roughly three-fourths of other Americans.

The flip side: Twenty-five percent of the population read no books at all during that time (or at least wouldn't admit to reading any, according to a recent survey.)

Some stats:

 . . .book readers consumed a mean (average) of 15 books in the previous 12 months and a median (midpoint) of 6 books — in other words, half had read fewer than six and half had read more than six. That breaks down as follows:
  • 7% of Americans ages 16 and older read one book in the previous 12 months
  • 14% had read 2-3 books in that time block
  • 12% had read 4-5 books in that time block
  • 15% had read 6-10 books in that time block
  • 13% had read 11-20 books in that time block
  • 14% had read 21 or more books in that time block

The full numbers (at the very bottom of the article, which includes a lot of ebook data) are here.

Libraries in the ebook era


“Great fiction is still being written, as well as rotten fiction,” Mr. Borden added. “To my way of thinking, you need to get them in the door of the library first, and if someone’s search for ‘Shades of Grey’ leads them to read D. H. Lawrence, well, that’s not a bad deal.”
So, Leopard's Kill leads to War & Peace? Can't complain about that . . .

Story here. (Mostly about how libraries are adapting, including "culling" - aka selling used books, not the best thing for a writer, but . . .)

RIP, General

Retired Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf, who topped an illustrious military career by commanding the U.S.-led international coalition that drove Saddam Hussein's forces out of Kuwait in 1991 but kept a low public profile in controversies over the second Gulf War against Iraq, died Thursday. He was 78.

Read more:
"Die with honor . . ."

I'd missed this earlier.

Inouye's passing marks the end of an era in many ways. I wonder if someone will make a study someday of the impact that World War II veterans had on congress and the American government in general.

Tomorrow's grunt . . .

It's a DARPA project . . .
And then there was one . . .

Well two, if you count Apple. From the "suit" department:

Penguin has agreed to a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice to resolve the issue of alleged ebook price-fixing in preparation for its merger with Random House.
The terms of the settlement are similar to those agreed to by Hachette, HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster. The Department of Justice will continue with its lawsuit against Apple and Macmillan, which have declined to settle.

The move was probably inevitable, given Penguin's plans to merge with Random House.

Meanwhile, in Pakistan


Dec 18 (Reuters) - Gunmen shot dead six health workers on an anti-polio drive in a string of attacks iin Pakistan over 24 hours, officials said on Tuesday, raising fears for the future of efforts to eradicate the crippling disease in one of its last strongholds.


The Taliban is thought to be behind the attacks, because they believe . . . that crippling people by killing them or blowing them up isn't enough ?????
Beyond words

There's no way to adequately express the sadness of the tragedy in Connecticut, or of the unfathomable evil that perpetrated it.
More Hog action

Fiction can't compare to the real thing . . .
Whiplash review

Military Press gave the new Dreamland book a most generous review:

The theme of the book can be summarized in one word, conflict. The authors explore a number of different conflicts, many of them based around the characters.

Full review here.

December 7, 1941

This photo was taken around 8 a.m. from a Japanese torpedo plane, as the attacks were taking place. Some of the torpedo wakes can be seen in the water.

Naval history page, with links.
The sound of destruction . . .

 . . . or the zip of death: this is what the gun on an A-10 sounds like from the ground, an almost surreal rip in the sky.

Machines against men

The question of how much autonomy and authority machines should be given by their human masters - and where the line between master and subject really lies - has always been one of great interest in the science fiction genre. Now the issue is real enough that it can be addressed in books set in the present or very near future, including Collateral Damage, our latest Dreamland installment.

I don't want to give away the plot (or the outcome) of the book, nor divert readers from the real focus of the book, which as always should be on the people - Zen, Bree, Ray Rubeo, and newcomer Turk Mako. But the question of autonomous war machines and their potential for good and bad is one of the things that interested me most as I worked.

We long ago passed the stage where a pilot, either on the spot or in a remote bunker, could designate a target and fire a missile that would carry itself to the attack point. We are now at the stage where weapon systems can make elementary decisions about how to carry out the strike - what ECMs to deploy, for example. But soon - very, very soon - we will be able to tell the machine this: I want you to attack all of the enemy approaching this position. The machine will scan the area, decide which should be struck, plan the attack, and carry it out. Indeed, it can be argued that the most sophisticated anti-missile systems already do this, so applying it to ground targets is not much of a leap at all.

What happens next? Science fiction writers have often wondered about machines' ability to decide whether to go to war. Most of us would say that's not a serious concern, that men will always be in the loop to make the final decision - but will they?

Collateral Damage makes some of the debate explicit, using an accident (or is it?) as the catalyst. It also looks at the human side of the equation: What does the man who invented the system think and feel when things go wrong?

I don't mean to make the book sound like a philosophical tome: Collateral Damage is basically about action and flying and all the cool stuff that Dreamland has featured over the years. But just as the bigger issues loom behind the scenes in real life, so do they in the novel.

What does China really want?


Time and time again, Western analysts have described China’s fighter development as years behind the U.S. They say China’s new aircraft carrier couldn’t last a minute against a U.S. naval task force. And they say landing a fighter on the aircraft carrier is years away.
Yet over the past two years, two new stealth fighter aircraft have emerged from behind the veil. When photographs appeared, naysayers called them Photoshopped. Then when videos appeared showing them flying, analysts dismissed them as prototypes that will never go into production.
China’s military aviation industry has its weaknesses, especially in engine development, but its learning curve is impressive. Events in November provided numerous examples of how China appears years ahead of schedule, instead of years behind, as so many Western analysts claim.

Fighting in the streets

Video said to be from today's clash in Cairo. The man with the shotgun firing into the crowd was reported to be a Mursi supporter. (The video was posted by opponents of the regime.)

Web e-book special

The ebook edition of Edge of War is available for $2.99 for a limited time. Info, excerpts, purchase links here.

Edge of War is the second book in the series, which began with Red Dragon Rising: Shadows of War.

Playing for the angels now . . .

Red Dragon Rising . . .

. . . fiction or real life?


Vietnam is adding new patrols to protect its fishing grounds in the South China Sea after the country's state-run energy giant accused Chinese vessels of sabotaging one of its boats in the disputed waters.
State media said Tuesday the "maritime surveillance force" will have the authority to arrest crews and impose fines on foreign vessels within Vietnam's declared exclusive 370-kilometer economic zone. It will be deployed on January 25.

(The latest installment in the series will be out in a few weeks.)
Mursi has left the building . . .

. . . but he remains fully in power. Reuters story here.
Jetting into space

Item: British company believes it has developed breakthrough technology that will allow the same engine to be operated efficiently in the atmosphere and outer space:

Reaction Engines Ltd believes its Sabre engine, which would operate like a jet engine in the atmosphere and a rocket in space, could displace rockets for space access and transform air travel by bringing any destination on Earth to no more than four hours away.

Article here. The actual technology is not fully discussed or disclosed, but I would think it has applications beyond its use in an engine.

The A-10C

For Collateral Damage, we invented a new version of the A-10 Thunderbolt II, better known as the Warthog (or just "Hog"). Our version is an extremely capable aircraft - but so is the real-life plane that it's mostly based on, the A-10C.

The A-10C is an update of the original A-10A. It retains all the good stuff that made the Hog so formidable - starting with the 30 mm beast of a gun - and adds enough electronic goodies to bring it into the 21st century.

Here's a video that highlights some of the aircraft's capabilities:

Beer for book lovers

Item: Powell's (the bookselling people) have created a new beer (with one of my favorite beer companies, I might add).

All I can say is, about time.

(Details here.)