Nautilius (Tome 2) – Mathieu Mariolle, Guénaël Grabowski

Tout en se faisant passer pour un agent du gouvernement français du nom de Jean Paillole, Kimball parvient à faire évader Némo de la prison russe qui le retenait depuis plus de 10 ans. Avec son capitaine libéré, le légendaire Nautilus est prêt à se diriger vers la baie de Bombay où reposent toujours les documents que Kimball convoite tant. Le temps presse, l’évasion de Némo à fait grand bruit et Kimball est toujours suivi à la trace. Pourtant, le submersible n’a pas encore démarré que le ton monte entre les deux hommes. S’ils veulent s’en sortir, il devront rester soudés… Mais les dissenssions sont à chaque instant plus flagrantes. Une question reste alors en suspens : lequel trahira l’autre en premier ? Deuxième partie d’un triptyque haletant, veritable course poursuite à l’échelle planétaire où se mêlent espionnage, situations inextricables et scènes spectaculaires, Nautilus continue de proposer un récit beau et palpitant.

Le volume est une nouvelle prise du légendaire capitaine Nemo et de son submersible, Nautilus (créé par le romancier français Jules Verne), dans un monde du 19ème siècle où les submersibles sont encore une merveille. Danse le deuxième tome de la trilogie, le capitaine Nemo est sauvé de prison par Kimball, un homme qui veut prouver son innocence avec des documents d’un épave au fond du golfe du Bengale. Ainsi, le submersible est un élément clé de sa quête ; mais pour une raison quelconque, il pose comme agent du gouvernement français.

L’histoire de Mathieu Mariolle est bien écrite et la meilleure partie est la profondeur des principaux protagonistes, qui sont bien conçus et leurs motivations sont claires. J’ai particulièrement apprécié les dessins, qui sont de petites œuvres d’art. Le dessinateur, Guénaël Grabowski, a le sens des couleurs et des détails. Le lecteur peut ressentir les sentiments complexes des personnages dans ses dessins. Aussi, le lecteur peut voir la grandeur du Nautilus et le savant fou du capitaine Nemo.

Les aventures du capitaine Nemo et de sa merveille d’ingénierie, le submersible Nautilus, dans un monde rempli d’intrigues et d’espionnage.

J’ai apprécié le volume et les dessins magistraux. Une super série, j’attends avec impatience le tome 3 !

Colonisation (Tome 6) – Denis-Pierre Filippi, Vincenzo Cucca

Les équipes de l’Agence ont été attaquées. Une branche indépendante d’Écumeurs dirigée par un certain Raylan est parvenue à s’infiltrer dans le vaisseau du Commodore Illiatov. Leur assaut, s’il était destiné à la récolte de données concernant les nefs perdues, ne sera parvenu qu’à une chose : mettre fin à la vie de nombreux agents et notamment à celle du Commodore lui-même. Raylan et ses sbires sont en fuite et mènent la danse, agissant toujours avec un coup d’avance. La menace s’intensifie, les morts se multiplient et l’escouade de Milla réalise peut-être trop tard que l’ennemi qui lui fait face est le plus rusé et le plus redoutable qu’elle ait jamais eu à affronter.

Colonisation est le 6ème tome de la série des bandes dessinées par scénariste Denis-Pierre Filippi et dessinateur Vincenzo Cucca. Les dessins et le scénario sont captivants et clairement profondément pensés. La série est imaginative et pleine d’action. Les inconvénients sont le manque de science dure à certains moments, comme aller sur une planète extraterrestre dangereuse (haut de gamme) par l’équipe de recherche sans casque.

Le context de l’histoire est l’humanité dans le futur, envoyant des colonies dans le grand espace. Cependant, des extraterrestres bien intentionnés offrent à l’humanité le cadeau de voyager vite dans l’espace. Les colonies sont un prix élevé du marché noir et l’Agence est formée, pour trouver et protéger des braconniers maléfiques ces colonies perdues. La série suit les aventures de l’agence dans sa mission de défendre les colonies humaines perdues.

Dans ce volume 6, l’Agence tente de capturer un braconnier habile appelé Raylene, qui s’avère plus ingénieux et impitoyable que prévu.

Défendre les colonies humaines perdues contre les braconniers maléfiques dans le futur lointain de l’humanité.

Le volume était captivant et les dessins capturaient magnifiquement l’immensité de l’espace et de l’humanité dans le futur. Si l’histoire est forte, les dialogues sont moins forts que les illustrations, qui sont vraiment mémorables. Les scènes d’action et l’histoire elle-même sont bien mises en page et facilitent la lecture et le suivi de l’action pour le lecteur.

Dans l’ensemble, même si elle manque parfois de science dure, la série est captivante et avec des illustrations mémorables.

Factfulness – Hans Rosling

This is data as you have never known it: it is data as therapy. It is understanding as a source of mental peace. Because the world is not as dramatic as it seems. Factfulness, like a healthy diet and regular exercise, can and should become part of your daily life. Start to practice it, and you will be able to replace your overdramatic worldview with a worldview based on facts. You will be able to get the world right without learning it by heart. You will make better decisions, stay alert to real dangers and possibilities, and avoid being constantly stressed about the wrong things.

The central idea of the book is that world is much better than you think and it is getting better. Hans Rosling presents with data how world improved over time and shows with surveys how pessimistic without cause the reader is. While not perfect, the world is indeed getting better and the author presents the pessimistic biases we have.

The book is structured in 10 chapters, presenting an instinct that we must be aware from:

  1. The Gap Instinct
  2. The Negativity Instinct
  3. The Straight Line Instinct Exercise: Question Your Assumptions
  4. The Fear Instinct
  5. The Size Instinct
  6. The Generalization Instinct Exercise: Getting the Full Picture
  7. The Destiny Instinct
  8. The Single Perspective Instinct
  9. The Blame Instinct
  10. The Urgency Instinct

The book was written in the last months of life of Doctor Hans Rosling and seems to encompass his last message to the world: that we should leave bias and look for data, which will help us to create a better world and be more successful in medicine, business and development.

The book is thoroughly entertaining, full of imagines and survey questions that make the read a pleasure. It challenges the reader to rethink the world around. What is really the masterstroke is presenting data in a way that is easy to understand and delivers a clear message.

One of the most thought-provoking, well-written books on the world and developing trends currently on the shelves.

On Basilisk Station (Honor Harrington Book 1) – David Weber

The message she’d just ordered Webster to send and Venizelos to relay to Manticore was never sent in drills, not even in the most intense or realistic Fleet maneuvers. Case Zulu had one meaning, and one only: “Invasion Imminent.

The book follows military captain Honor Harrington’s adventures in a distant, far future, fighting foreign invasions, sexism, greed and incompetence. Honor is a woman, captain in the Queen’s Royal Manticoran Navy, and the reader sees how she handles different situations brought to her by politics and discrimination.

The protagonist is one of the best developed characters in the military scifi universe and an inspiration for the entire genre. The book and series is widely regarded as one of the must-reads for the military scifi fans, a reference for this niche science fiction style.

In this first book of the series, captain Harrington is exiled to a backwater station, Basilisk, where she is gradually building the confidence of her ship crew and of the local authorities in dealing with the trade and offworld traffic. She becomes involved in the defense of the planet against foreign forces.

Critics point out that the different types of views that the book presents make the reader to do no thinking, everything is well presented pages in advance. Honor Harrington is too much of an omnipotent captain, who never makes mistakes and pushes duty over everything, even her crew. The hard scifi part, the science in the book is passable, with a long description of the technologies and the world at the of the volume. Some more description of the everyday life and universe would have been helpful as well.

Despite these drawbacks, the book is truly memorable and entertaining. An easy, relaxing read for holidays. The plot is easy, but well paced. the vocabulary is adequate, not really fantastic, but not bad neither.

An entertaining, recommended read.

The Calculating Stars (Lady Astronaut, book 1)

There is something magic about takeoffs. I know people who are afraid of flying who say that the takeoffs and landings are the only hard parts, perhaps because that’s when the act of flying is most apparent. I love the way you get pushed back into your seat. The weight and the sense of momentum press against you and the vibrations from the tarmac hum through the yoke and into your palms and legs. Then, suddenly, everything stops and the ground drops away.

A meteorite hits Earth in the 1950s and, in its aftermath, the planet will gradually become uninhabitable. Humanity realizes that it is in danger and looks for stars. Under such entertaining context, the book follows Elma York, a female pilot and mathematician, and her struggle to be accepted in the space programme, as astronaut.

The story is well narrated and the little news headlines at the beginning of each chapter, showing the worsening of the situation on Earth, offer a nice background. The book is overwhelmingly composed by the dialogue of the protagonist and various personages. It nicely presents the prejudice that women had to bear at the time.

The book was a huge hit, with awards from Hugo, Nebula and Locus prizes. It developed into a series called “Lady Astronaut”. It is well written and has an engaging background. The first 100 pages of the book are a marvel.

On the other side, there are some attributes that make the story less convincing. The protagonist has all the cards possible in her hand: father is a general, she is a genius with a PhD in mathematics, her husband is the best rocket scientist in the world, at the exact moment that this science become the most important thing, she is an ace pilot, well-connected and beautiful. In a bit of cliche, she fights sexism, racism and religious discrimination (she is a Jew), and wins.

Nevertheless, an interesting, engaging, well written and multi-awarded book.

Dreadnaught (The Lost Fleet, Book 7) – Jack Campbell

If you don’t exercise a talent, you get rusty,

The odyssey of Captain Jack Geary and his start fleet continues beyond human-controlled space, into the alien enigmas territory. The captain finds itself again in new and tense situations, but dangers are much higher than during the war with the human Syndics.

Already the 7th volume in the series, the story keeps its appeal and, finally, Jack Campbell responds to some of the criticism and does not repeat the various descriptions of the universe it creates. The book is more ingrained in the space opera, rather than a stand alone book, which was always one of the aims of the author in the previous stories.

This time the war with the Syndics is over and enemy is a mysterious alien civilization. While the plot is simple, it develops well and has enough depth and logic to be plausible. This is indeed one of the strengths of the book – taking wild developments in the far future and then apply logic response to them. There is no silver bullet or magic that saves the day.

Beyond human-controlled space, into the unknown.

The jabs to politicians continue, but it is not a nod to fascism, as, while not explicit, democracy is still seen the best of all forms of socio-economical organisation. The political game makes sense and helps drive the plot forward.

The drawbacks remain the same: a somewhat limited vocabulary, too much focus on dialogue that does not really add more depth to characters, too little description of the universe it creates.

Nevertheless, it is astonishing how the series keeps its appeal, even at the seven volume. Jack Campbell is truly a masterful and ingenious storyteller.

Victorious (The Lost Fleet, Book 6) – Jack Campbell

We should have suspected that nonhumans were involved right from the start when the activation process didn’t involve a lot of arcane commands that had to be done in just the right order, and the destination was displayed as a name rather than using some counterintuitive code. No human software engineer would produce a device that easy to use.

The book is the last in the Lost Fleet series, completing the story arc. The odyssey of Captain Jack Black is finishing. Or does it? Jack Campbell brings the story to an end, but leaves place for another adventure.

Compared with the other books of the series, it is rather the worst. The plot is still good, but a bit predictable. The romantic twist is an interesting idea, but it does not add much to the main story. And the romantic ending is a cliche.

However, the story is still captivating and good enough to make the reader follow the story until its end. The final fights are well thought and engaging. The dialogue was never a strong point of the book, but managed to stay at decent levels. Some new characters are memorable, although seem sometimes as caricatures of some human traits and cultures.

I enjoyed the book, although the series does not finish with a high. A nice read for a rainy evening, with a glass of tea nearby.

Relentless (The Lost Fleet, Book 5) – Jack Campbell

He felt the comfort of being part of an eternal cycle symbolized by the gold strips on either side of the black mourning band he wore. Light, dark, light. The dark was just an interval.

The fifth book in the Lost Fleet series continues the odyssey of Captain Jack Geary, leading the Alliance Fleet back to home territory. However, a bigger threat than the rival Syndics is looming beyond the stars, a devious alien intelligence.

Already far in the series, the story is still captivating and it is a tribute to the writing skills of author, Jack Campbell, that he can come with new and unexpected ways to marvel the reader. The adventure is still very much anchored in hard scifi and no magic bullet happens that solves everything. Every progress of the fleet is marred by dangers and potential mistakes. Captain Geary is still human and, despite his undoubted talent, he loses ships. He recognizes himself that he could have done better.

Nevertheless, the fleet advances, and the advantages that were at the beginning (surprise tactics) fade away, as the Syndic learn themselves how to deal with the Alliance movements. However, now the Alliance’s sailors are veterans and know well their ships and how to maneuver them. Furthermore, the captains act more like a team and cover each other way better than at the beginning of the odyssey.

The fifth book in the Lost Fleet series continues the odyssey of Captain Jack Geary, leading the Alliance Fleet back to home territory.

On the negative side, the editing of the book seems to slightly drop the quality, with some extra spaces or commas missing. The vocabulary is less rich than other similar scifi series and the hard scifi part does not expand more than the already established environment. It would have been nice to know more about life in 24th century. Finally, it feels that the story gives too much time to the protagonist’s love interest.

Nevertheless, the book remains captivating, very hard to leave the book (better saying the e-reader) from a reader’s hands. Let’s see what happens in the next book of the series!

Valiant (The Lost Fleet, Book 4) – Jack Campbell

You’re not fighting for abstractions. No one does. Humans pay lip service to that, to big causes and great purposes, but any politician of any skill soon learns that what really motivates people is the small, personal things. Close friends, family, the small area they call home. They wrap those things around ideals and call them precious, but they’re precious for the smallest and closest of reasons. Soldiers may swear to fight for their flag, but they really fight because of the soldiers next to them.

The book continues the odyssey of Alliance fleet, caught behind the hostile Syndic lines. Led by legendary captain Jack Geary, the fleet tries to escape the pursuing Syndic fleet, while a more dangerous enemy shows its presence.

A military hard scifi story, the fourth volume in the series, manages to keep an unpredictable plot, decent writing and adds more depth to the fleet characters. The organic development of the fleet officers’ relations, the way the enemy reacts and the motivations behind every character make the story credible. The consequences of the fleet actions are well thought and no “magic bullet” exists. Mistakes have costs and there is no get-out-in-the-last-moment. That really helps pushing the plot and make the reader understand and appreciate the characters.

No wonder the series expanded to 8 books, followed by spin-offs. It is a highly appreciated series, by a former US military navy captain, pen name Jack Campbell, who really took the time and research to take a military story into a captivating hard scifi odyssey.

Leading – Alex Ferguson, with Michael Moritz

If I were running a company, I would always want to listen to the thoughts of its most talented youngsters, because they are the people most in touch with the realities of today and the prospects for tomorrow.

The book presents the leadership philosophy of Alex Ferguson, the Scottish football manager who managed Manchester United from 1986 to 2013. During his time at the club, Ferguson won more major trophies than any other football manager, making him one of the most successful and respected managers in the history of the game.

“Leading” covers quite a lot of chapters, from communication (content and delivery of message) and building an organisation to important traits of character for the team and avoiding complacency. Ferguson presents this book as a series of well-placed anecdotes, making the book memorable and easy to read.

It does not fall into the trap of presenting juicy stories about football stars, but appears to genuinely present Ferguson’s thinking on leadership. In a way, it a memoir, but only looking at the managing the club part.

It is impressive to see how far ahead in time his thinking went and how important for him were discipline and winning character. He understood that he was a hired hand for a job and did not harbour any delusions of grandeur, although he might have been entitled to. Ferguson seems to have a clear sense of hierarchy and always presents the owners of the club with greatest respect.

The desire to be a champion and the winning mentality transcends from the book. No matter the challenge, there was no excuse to not aim for winning a trophy. Ferguson was immune to the budget, luck or unfair advantages of other teams. It was just one more challenge among others, no excuse to not aim for the top.

The book is considered one of the best in football coaching and tops many charts. An excellent read, even for those not interested in football.