I’ve been reading a couple of interesting books lately:

Stephen Baxter’s Manifold Time

Stephen Baxter's Manifold Time

This story is about Reid Malenfant who is an astronaut. Mankind is turning inward but Reid wants to colonize space. He learns about the Carter catastrophy. Put simply, it is a probalistic experiment where, given a small sampling, you determine how many things exist. Say for instance that there is a box that dispenses balls, one at a time, at random, at a push of a lever. You are told that only one ball has your name on it. And you are also told that either this box contains ten balls or it contains a thousand balls. So you push the lever and a blank ball pops out. You push it again with the same result. However, on the third attempt, a ball comes out with your name on it. You then deduce with a 66% percent chance of success that the box contained ten balls.

Baxter uses this thought experiment as motivation for Reid that Humanity will destroy itself within 240 years. So he uses a cheap existing rocket to launch an intelligent squid out to a near-Earth asteroid called Cruithne. When production is up and running, he visits the asteroid and finds a portal that transports himself into alternate universes where different conditions created much different formations of the galaxies.

The book is fast paced and contains a lot of scientific speculation. I liked it. And was the Carter catastrophy real? You will just have to read it to find out!

Stephen Baxter’s Manifold Space

Stephen Baxter's Manifold Space

The second book in the series. It too contains a Reid Malenfant but this story is different. Humanity goes to the Moon but not much further. When an alien speices called the Gaijin appear and begin to mine the asteroid field, Humanity doesn’t respond. Only Reid and a couple other characters have the drive to find out what is happening. In this story, life is everywhere! On the moon, on all the planets, in all of the solar systems out there. However, something is destroying that life, for many cycles. And another cycle is coming…

This book is as fast paced as the other. Some of the old characters are in this book. But their lives are different now. More scientific speculation: baking oxygen and water out of moon rocks, and digging deep within the moon to extract trapped water and other resources. This story was a little more scattered than the first and not as cohesive. I liked it but it was a little bit worse than the first.

Small-Batch Baking by Debby Maugans Nakos

Small-Batch Baking by Debby Maugans Nakos

Just glanced through this one. It has an interesting concept: making desert for just a couple of people! For example, the recipe for Chocolate Chip Cookies makes 6 cookies. The Apple Crumble Pie recipie makes 2 pies in 4-inch tart pans or jumbo muffin cups.

I hate the waste that occurs when you make a batch of 42 cookies. You each a bunch of them and then you throw out the rest when you are disgusted with yourself. Making just a couple of items at a time is the perfect concept! And one that I am surprised that hasn’t been done before. You have to get used to the concept of using only a part of an egg for a recipie. So there will be some waste. But better throwing away 1/2 of an egg than 20 cookies.

I am definately trying some of these!