Started and finished
The Professional by Robert Parker. This will be one of the last from Robert Parker, who died recently. I wish I could say great things about it, but I can’t; I can, however, say good things about it. The usual Parker skills are here – there’s good dialogue between Spenser and Susan Silverman and between Spenser and Hawk. The plot zips along with no big holes. There’s the usual discussion of the meaning of love. But it lacks the zip that some of his earlier stories had, and Parker’s musings on the ethics of the main villain are odd indeed.
The Age of Wonder: How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science by Richard Holmes. A history of science in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, told through biographies of people like Joseph Banks, Humphrey Davy and William Herschel. Brilliant. A wonderful book, and not too technical. Full review to come.
Society without God by Phil Zuckerman. How life is lived in two of the least religious countries on Earth: Denmark and Sweden. The first chapter of this book demolishes the argument that societies without God would be hellish, crime-ridden or whatever. Later in the book, he has discussions, or interviews, with many ordinary people about their lives and the role of religion.
The End of Time: The Next Revolution in Physics by Julian Barbour. Barbour’s idea is that time does not really exist. Just started it, but it looks very interesting.
Year’s best science fiction edited by Gardner Dozois. In my view, the best of the annual collections of SF.