Tyson Adams

Putting the 'ill' back in thriller

Archive for the month “April, 2012”

Book Review: Beyond the Shadows by Brent Weeks

Beyond the Shadows (Night Angel, #3)Beyond the Shadows by Brent Weeks

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

You know that feeling you get when you’ve just finished reading a really good book? The joy, the sorrow, the need for the bathroom because you couldn’t stop reading for the final 100 pages. Well this book wasn’t one of those, it was three of them: the Night Angel series by Brent Weeks.

I read this series back to back, buying the second two on my Kindle immediately after finishing the first (a curse on the publishers who decided to charge a ridiculous price for them). It was a good thing too, since each book was about double the size of the thrillers and crime novels that make up the majority of my reading, no way I’d feel comfortable killing that many trees. There are many advantages to long books and to series. Long books can be more entertaining, a series can give you more value for reading. But the disadvantage is that authors who write long books often try to pack a lot of filler into the books. The thing that I liked about each book in this series, and the series as a whole, was the lack of filler.

So, if you haven’t read the adventures of Kylar Stern – the Night Angel – I suggest you start with the first book, The Way of Shadows.

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Writing ideas

Compulsory viewing for thinkers

The first time I came across Brian Brushwood it was a video on how to escape from hand restraints and using those restraints to shim a door lock. I swear that I was educating myself so that I could write an escape scene in my novel. You can’t prove different!

Anyway, this video is part of a lecture that covers a lot of the scams that are going around and how to spot them. Once you’ve seen this video, check out the rest of the lecture here.

Writing to publish

I always liked the quote from Lee Child: If you have written something and nobody has read it, did you really write it. In the sciences we have a similar saying, that if you haven’t published your research then it was never really done. Let’s all make sure that someone reads the stories we write, to make sure we share our brilliance.

An ode to squatting

For all the weightlifters out there.

Pets know

My dog helps me write by lying on my feet under the desk. She also seems to know when I need a break from writing. If only she could read.

Original image here.

I received my first story rejection

Yes, I have now experienced the bitter pill that is publishing. I’m not that fussed, as the short story wasn’t in the publisher’s hands long enough for them to have actually read it. Having submitted scientific papers to journals, I know that rejections are often just due to having had enough submissions already. Time to resubmit!

Talking Spec-Fic with Rex Jameson

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Today we have a special guest on the site. My friend Rex is an author, science nerd and has as many degrees as I have, so you can see why we get along so well. Last year Rex released his first novel, Lucifer’s Odyssey, which I recommend for any speculative fiction and fantasy fans, and this year has released the sequel, The Goblin Rebellion (which is free for the next couple of days).

Tyson: Rex, you’ve had a busy 6 months. You have released your first novel, gotten married, released two novellas, completed a PhD and released your second novel. The obvious question I have for you is, what are you currently reading?

Rex: Unfortunately, most of my reading material has been non-fiction recently. I work in real-time, embedded systems and am involved in several interesting projects involving spacecraft, mobile devices and very soon remote-controlled drones. I’ve also been giving job talks for professor positions and finishing up my dissertation (March).

T: So boring stuff is working with real spacecraft? You just killed the dream of every boy under the age of 12.

R: Oh, I wouldn’t say it’s boring at all. I’m extremely excited about my work, and I plan on doing much more of it!

T: What about fiction?

R: The next fiction books on my list are a couple of indie author works: Moses Siregar’s “The Black God’s War” and Jennifer Rainey’s “These Hellish Happenings.” I’m also REALLY wanting to read George R. R. Martin’s epic series. It feels like I’m running into people reading a Dance of Dragons at every airport I enter, but I’ve heard stories about weeks-long splurges on his books, and I’m trying to avoid it until I’m able to really get into it.

T: Jennifer’s book is on my to-read list, which is still 6 or more months long. I found the first three Game of Thrones e-books on sale and snapped them up. Whenever I read a book or series that has taken the world by storm I am always underwhelmed. I call it the DaVinci Effect.

R: A well-chosen descriptor.

T: Thanks. How much Christian hate mail have you received so far after Lucifer’s Odyssey?

R: I wouldn’t say it’s Christian hate mail. I’ve received some sporadic messaging that I would characterize as worried. Part of being a Christian is discipleship, and some people take that very seriously. A novel that spans trillions of light years in distance and involves creatures living hundreds of millions and even billions of years does appear to conflict with strict belief in the 6,000-10,000 year old creation story.

But I honestly find it odd that this rift between modern scientific discovery and Christianity even exists. It would have been quite easy to update Christianity to account for the fossil records in a way that doesn’t involve saying “but those are all from Noah’s flood” (which is quite ludicrous) and in modifying man’s role in the universe once we realized just how massive the known universe is. Instead, many in America tend to look at science’s findings as one of God’s tests: a challenge that God has handed down to test the tenacity of their belief that every word in the Bible is in fact directly from God and thus infallible. And this kind of stubbornness to adapt to facts and findings has retarded our growth as a species since Galileo. I’ve heard from some that this voluntary impediment is in fact reasonable and expected because Eve shouldn’t have eaten from the knowledge tree to begin with…

Anyway, yes I’ve gotten some mail, but I understood I would be getting it. Most of it has been cordial, but religious figures are a touchy subject, even if they are presented in a fantastic and fictitious light in the series. The series is not intended to bash Christian beliefs by any means. It’s more of a modern retelling of the origin story with the vastness of the universe and time taken into account. I also love string theory and the concept of multiverses, time-dilation, chaos theory, and other hobbies of mine, and the only way to properly have fun with them was to set them in an expansive series of universes.

T: I like that yourself and David McAfee have both been listed on a review of your book. Apparently you’ve created a genre for Christians to get riled up about.

R: Yeah, pseudo-biblical fiction. With the way it’s defined, most fantasy could be placed in there. I’m pretty sure any book with a savior child character who is promised by prophecy in a religious tome could fall into this genre, should a comparison be wanted. Belgarion in David Edding’s Belgariad series might fall into this comparison, even though it’s unrelated to Christianity, just because a savior child is promised to the Earth and rescues the world from evil. It’s probably an appropriate descriptor for my first series, though I’d disagree with the anti-Christian characteristic for reasons stated in the comment section of that article.

T: Interestingly the entire “young Earth” thing is just one section of six views on Christian religious interpretation. Most sects are fine with science. Of course I’ve received enough death threats to understand fundamentalists are the strange cousin of any societal group, we’re all embarrassed by them.

R: The Young Earth group may be one of six Christian interpretations, but it’s hardly the minority in America. My only issue with the group is that they’ve latched onto the debates that atheists and theists have concerning the origin of the universe (i.e., Big Bang versus Creationism), and are using issues with the current perceived expansion rate of the universe as proof that the entire scientific movement is a house of cards.

For example, the fossil record is now in some way dependent on the Big Bang and collapsing expansion theory, tectonic plates are now somehow linked to weathermen not getting the weather right all the time, evolution is now directly linked to asteroids carrying microbes being the real originator of life, or climate change is suspect because it doesn’t make sense that matter can come into existence from nothing. I’ve seen all of these claims in arguments from Young Earth creationists. Even though none of these are dependent upon each other, it’s become a science versus creationism argument where all science can now be suspect simply because a Young Earth creationist is unwilling to investigate or learn about an entire branch of science–since someone has convinced them that all science is wrong and evil and counter to God’s intentions for mankind.

The result is a sustained rise of fear and ignorance, and that is a huge impediment on progress. And ultimately, I believe the continued pressure of this movement on education is causing less emphasis on math and science in American schools and is directly hindering our economy and ability to produce quality researchers, which are required for innovation and technological growth. After all, environment has a lot to do with educational responses of children. If parents don’t value math and science and look upon them negatively, children are likely to have the same feelings.

T: Can we expect to see Lucifer square off against his noodliness, the Flying Spaghetti Monster?

R: I don’t think that would be much of a fair fight. Yes, FSM has wing-like structures that might help propel him through space, but FSM’s wings appear quite squishy and obviously delicious. Lucifer appears to be made of stronger stuff in the series, and I doubt he’s anywhere near as tasty. Therefore he has fewer natural predators, a sword, the ability to open a channel to near-infinite reserves of energy in a big-bang-like state, and wings made of a nearly indestructible material–while the demons or angels are alive and their soul is present. In contrast, I’ve never seen FSM with a sword. I’ve seen him falling for the “pull my finger” routine (which shows obvious gullibility) but never wielding a scary weapon.

I’ll admit I could be underestimating his ability to smother someone with special sauce or noodly goodness.

T: You also forget his noodliness has pirates on his side. Actually: Flying Spagehetti Monster, Lucifer, Pirates, Christian outrage; add ninjas and zombies to the mix and you have the next Da Vinci Code!!

R: Heh! If only it were that easy, we could all be rich!

T: You classified Odyssey as speculative fiction, I would have called it fantasy: Wheel of Time, spec fic or fantasy?

R: In my defense, I have categorized the work as epic fantasy and space opera. I haven’t read Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time past the first book. I recently thought about picking it up during the holidays, but then I saw the reviews for New Spring and decided against it (at least for now). I read Derek Prior’s “Cadman’s Gambit”, instead, and I’m happy I did. It’s a complicated story but good. It’s also speculative fiction/fantasy, btw.

T: I started the first in the Wheel of Time series, moved onto the Night Angel series by Brent Weeks. Fantasy always seems to be code for “I didn’t want to grab my street map for exposition”, unless it has elves or dragons in it. Apparently having a proper imagination precludes classification in other genres.
Game of Thrones, ditto, spec fic or fantasy?

R: Fantasy. I’ve seen a couple of the HBO episodes but haven’t started the book series out of fear of missing my dissertation and paper deadlines. That being said, it will be mine–oh, yes!

T: Thesis deadlines are highly over-rated. They only apply to the postgrad student and not anyone else in the chain. I still haven’t received my certificate. Actually, there is an idea for an epic thriller: “Two postgrad students (Rex and Tyson) fight the hard slog of science, peer review and the ruthless administration building to finally graduate. But will it be too late to enter the real world?”

R: Honestly, my adviser doesn’t seem like he’s in much of a hurry to get me out the door, but I’m chomping at the bit to have my own lab, target my own research grants, and teach my own classes. So, that’s really the only reason I’m pushing so hard to finish my dissertation. The job I want requires final paperwork and the funny robes, and I’m getting feedback and interest from great universities and faculty that I’d love to work with.

T: Funny robes and extra acronyms attached to your name is always handy, especially when you are arguing with the anti-science brigade.
So you’re sticking with your classification for Lucifer’s Odyssey? You could sucker a few unwitting literary fiction readers.

R: The classification of Lucifer’s Odyssey as speculative fiction comes from the fact that readers debate about whether Roger Zelazny’s Amber Series was “classic science fiction”, “fantasy”, or the much more recent “speculative fiction.” I had read some commentary on the Kindleboards from readers, and many of them seemed less offended by the label “speculative fiction” than choosing one of the categories with stricter modern interpretations of genre boundaries.

Lucifer’s Odyssey is more fantasy than science fiction, and the majority of my work will probably be more fantasy than science fiction. I chalk this up to my line of work. When you look to escape your current situation, you often go to the opposite extreme of what you do every day. Since my job has me looking at problems in satellites, rc drones, and mobile phones in mission critical systems, my writing escapes tend to be more fantastical rather than technical. I have some ideas for thrillers and pure fantasy, but I’m putting them on the back-burner until I at least finish “Shadows of our Fathers”, the third book in the Primal Patterns series.

T: I hear you there. I’m writing thrillers where the main characters get to shoot a lot of people. Shooting someone for making up their opinion on the spot, to argue with the person who has just spent the last few years researching the topic, isn’t widely accepted in society.

R: Well, I’ve noticed people are far more willing to read a book about shooting random people than a derelict homeless man dropping f-bombs when the devil kills his friend. Maybe your idea could work.

T: Are you living proof that being an author attracts the ladies, since you got married after publishing Odyssey?

R: Hah! Hardly!

Although Lucifer’s Odyssey was published last year, it started as a short story several years ago. The original story was from the perspective of Michael and involved the bar scene, the interrogation, and the escape and burial of Azazel (which was taken out completely during editing), but in a much more primitive form. And quite frankly it was terrible. Even after several rewrites, it was bad.

I met my wife while the story was forgotten in a folder on my hard drive. So, resuscitating it and redrafting it a few times resulted in far more eyerolls from her than attraction. Still, she’s awesome and incredibly supportive. It takes a special kind of person to love someone who has a job that sends them frequently abroad and often spends a considerable amount of time at a computer writing stories or developing software when they’re in the room with you. She’s a rock star and a wonderful person!

My wife pointed out that the reason I was having trouble writing any of my stories was that they were all depressing and dark. Now they are shooty and dark, so it is amazing what our partners can bring to our writing.

Actually, the novelette “Elves and Goblins: Perspectives of a Father’s Rebellion” is totally dark and shooty. Maybe one day we could collaborate on a thriller or something. Might be fun.

T: Well, we already have an idea for the plot. Although submitting a thesis at gun point and combating peer review in a death match scenario may only appeal to scientists.
I’m going to put in a spoiler alert here: at the end of your first novel Jesus ended up somewhat shorter. Doesn’t that leave the next book without a decent bad guy? Because if the sequel is Lucifer dealing with his feelings about the loss of his cat to cancer, I might not promote it.

R: Here’s an even bigger spoiler: I have no plans for putting Jesus into the series, and there’s a framework for seven books–though I only plan on doing three books in the Primal Patterns before moving on to something else for a while. That could change if readers demand it, but I think a foray into more standard fare might be something that would appeal to new readers. Contemporary urban epic fantasy like the Winter Phenomenon series I had planned or maybe expansion of one of my short stories.

T: We had a conversation about how wonderful editors are a few months ago. How do you think your editor could improve something written by the average monkey at a typewriter?

R: I’m afraid I won’t name names, but the bane of most unedited first work is head-jumping and bad dialogue. I’ve noticed many new fantasy or science fiction authors tend to do pretty well with action sequences. I say many and not most. Most self-published work is still bad, and I think all work should be edited in some way by neutral parties in your genre. The only exception to this are trained professionals or people who know how to remove themselves from the work and become neutral parties in the genre.

Another thing that an editor does for an author is give some peace-of-mind to the fiction writing process on subsequent books. When I was writing Lucifer’s Odyssey, I had a lot of self doubts about whether or not I could tell a story this complex. I’m not sure the answer is ‘yes’ yet, but from the reviews, I don’t think I’ve done a terrible job either.

A couple of readers have noted that the tone can be jarring, and after asking one of them, I was told that the tendency of Sariel to inject humor into serious situations was the type of tonal change that seemed unusual. My editor once made a suggestion on one of these, and I did tell him that I would rather Sariel remain that way because sarcasm and fraternal humor is basically how he’d gotten through life as a youngest child, a seemingly destiny-less position, in the most important family in all of Chaos. His tone changes quite a bit in the second book, but that core is still there. He’s lived for millions of years, and he still has his daredevil instincts and a frightening tendency to play with his food, even if it might kill him.

Now, I’m coming to this in a roundabout way, but I do have a point. An editor is only as useful as you let him or her be. If they make suggestions and you buck them, you better have a good reason for it, and you better be prepared to face the music when readers who want that type of sanitized feel pick up your book.

Similarly, if you didn’t expect backlash but you find it, as a self-published author you have the ability to change it. I recently removed almost all of the cursing from both “Lucifer’s Odyssey” and “Angels and Demons: Perspectives of a Violent Afterlife” because of a handful of complaints (out of thousands of readers). Why? I made a trade off.

I believe that in the real setting, the characters would have cursed, but I know that many more conservative readers would have used the cursing as an easy excuse to not read the book and allow themselves to enjoy the story. I also knew I wanted to give the book away for free for short periods of time, and from experience, I know that this particular type of reader picks up free stories without looking at the summary or the warnings, and they are more likely to leave a 1-star review. Is this my fault? No, but such a 1-star review given within days of a book’s release (especially if it’s the only one) can kill a book’s potential quickly. After re-reading the story without the cursing I felt that the compromise was worth doing.

So I think it’s important to mention that listening to your editor is vital, but so is listening to your readers. Yes, some readers are going to be wrong, and you have to understand that there’s always a vocal minority that believes their opinion is right no matter what evidence is presented to the contrary. But often, readers can be a part of the long-term editing process–the neutral genre voice that guides writing into the next book and the one after that. And that’s worth listening to!

T: Thanks to Rex for taking time out of his hectic day. Spec-fic fans should check out Rex’s writing. See my review of his first novel here.

Book Review: The Way of Shadows by Brent Weeks

The Way of Shadows (Night Angel, #1)The Way of Shadows by Brent Weeks
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I tried to like Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series, tried but couldn’t help but feel the story was being dragged out far too much. This series, by Brent Weeks, had called to me from the bookstore shelves. Every other book in the fantasy section had all black and red covers, usually with a dragon or girl, or girl riding a dragon. This promised what I had looked for in The Wheel of Time series.

So did it deliver? No. It gave me something else completely, which I enjoyed more.

With a fantasy I was expecting elves: nope. From the cover art I was expecting ninjas: not really. From the blurb I was expecting a Karate Kid story line: thankfully not.

This was a very enjoyable, whilst dark, fantasy novel that had me hooked from about page 10. Normally my reaction to finishing a book is to think about how much I liked or disliked it. In rare instances I immediately jump online and order more books by the author (Lee Child, Matt Hilton, Robert Crais, Matthew Reilly: noticing a pattern there?). The only question now is, do I read the rest of the series right now, or space it out between a few other novels?

Expect reviews of the rest of the series soon…

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Book to movie

If there is any one thing that Hollywood does well, it is taking terrific books and turning them into terrible movies. When was the last time someone said “Well the movie was better than the book”?

I’ve opined on this issue before: Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher; why movie studios bother with buying a book when they make a movie that doesn’t resemble the book in any way.

And here it is happening again:

Any movie starring Katherine Heigl is always doomed. She ranked in my article on actresses you don’t want in you book adaptation. Clearly Janet Evanovich signed the movie rights before she read my article. So you have to ask what is happening in Hollywood, aside from the hookers and blow?

Clearly the first thing that is happening is the movie rights. Author agents are clearly trying to make some money for their authors so that the author can give up the day job and write more. Sorry, that should read, they want a commission. The movie studio hands over some spare change they have lying around and grab the book. Then they ask a script writer to give them a script, usually in the same amount of time it would take the script writer to actually read the book. So the script writer hands over a script they already have lying around, after changing a few of the character names to match. The studio then launders finds some money from “business associates” to start casting and shooting. The casting agent looks at the budget and sorts through the least desperate actors in the appropriate pay scale, to find the person who least embodies the main characters.

By the time the movie hits cinemas there have only been two people in the entire process who realise the movie is based upon a book, one of whom may have read it. This, of course, doesn’t really matter because the ten people who have read the book that go to see the movie are sitting in a packed cinema with people who don’t read and are generally confused by plots that can’t be explained in a one-to-two sentence monologue from a minor character.

Clearly Hollywood knows what it is doing, I mean, they cast Tom Cruise as Lestat. And authors love getting money from Hollywood, they can actually afford to pay the rent that month. So maybe it is time writers started writing for Hollywood. Oh wait, they already do that….

Toilet with a view

I’ve never quite understood the people who read on the toilet. If you are spending that much time on the toilet that you need a book to keep you occupied, I’d really question how much fibre you are getting in your diet. That said, if I had a toilet with this view I might consider spending a little longer in the brace position.

Book Review: The Broken Shore by Peter Temple

The Broken ShoreThe Broken Shore by Peter Temple
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was having a chat with a friend at a party when Peter Temple came up as a must read author recommendation. I’m rather naive when it comes to new and established authors, I don’t seem to have the inside scoop on Aussie writers the way I do with overseas talent. It wasn’t long afterwards that Peter Temple was mentioned again at the Perth Writers’ Festival. So I bought two of his books, Truth (ebook version) and The Broken Shore.

Now the recommendations for Peter Temple came from literary people, people whose recommendations I try to avoid like trips to Canberra and prison showers. But these recommendations carried weight, as one of them was a Lee Child and Michael Connelly fan. I can see why Peter is an award winning novelist, but I can also see why he is highly regarded amongst authors – like I said, naive. This is a crime novel, but not quite like most crime novels. I’d put Peter in the same category as James Lee Burke, Ian Rankin and Michael Connelly, except his work is more literary.

Also, it is sad that Peter isn’t as internationally recognised as those authors I have likened him to. This book was equal to any of those authors. So read Peter and make sure his work hits the international market, where it belongs.

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Happy Easter

Book Review: Map of Bones by James Rollins

Map Of BonesMap Of Bones by James Rollins

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Picking up a James Rollins thriller is a guaranteed good read. He has the knack of providing a solid thriller that moves along at a fast pace.

Now, we aren’t talking Matthew Reilly pace, and not Andy McDermott either. Rollins is in that pacey category with (his good friend) Steve Berry and Clive Cussler. So this is “does my side have air-bags” as opposed to “my parachute isn’t opening”.

Map of Bones is part of Rollins’ Sigma Force series. I like that the heroes are highly intelligent military operatives; it is a nerd’s wet dream. This is the second book in the series and the first to feature Seichan, the nemesis of protagonist Gray Pierce. You know you have a good series when the bad guy is this interesting.

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Book Review: Hell’s Kitchen by Jeffery Deaver

Hell's KitchenHell’s Kitchen by Jeffery Deaver
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There is something about a mystery novel that can be either entertaining or dreary. Ultimately you want the mystery and suspense; but not too much. If the mystery is too simple, then *yawn*. If it is too complicated then you start to think it is all too hard or that the author had finished the mystery and realised they had another 200 pages to fill.

This is my first outing with Jeffery Deaver and I can see why he is so highly regarded with his mystery writing. He treads that fine line between too much and too little with a cool hand. There was much more to this story of catching a fire-bug for hire, with the climax really pulling me in.

Part of the balance came from Jeff’s use of Hell’s Kitchen as the setting and the local residents as layers of story. For the most part the exposition felt necessary and served the larger mystery.

The version I listened to was read by Paul Birchard who did as many accents as an American can in his reading.

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Why being smart sucks

I like to think of myself as smart. My friends and work collegues would refer to me as that annoying know-it-all. Being smart is not actually as good as you would think. For example, having knowledge and understanding puts you at a severe disadvantage in an argument, as you are trying to be correct, rather than win the argument with made up nonsense. And, lets face it, everyone hates a know-it-all.

So here are 5 reasons being smart sucks (Original article from Cracked.com with some edits by Tyson Adams. Original here).

5) You’re Probably a Night Owl – And That’s a Bad Thing

Recently, scientists discovered a quirky side effect to having a high IQ: You tend to stay up until later hours and get up later in the morning. That’s right – the more intelligent are also much more likely to be night owls. Which isn’t such a surprise when you consider that intelligent people are infamous for burning the midnight oil to cram for tests, write papers, touch up those earnings reports, etc.It appears to just be evolution – the more intelligent members of a species are, in general, the first to change habits. Since humans have been day-dwellers during most of their existence, it’s primarily the smarties who prefer to habitually stay up until the wee hours and to do the types of tasks that are easier to accomplish when you don’t have the day-dwellers hanging around and distracting you.

Of course being a night owl does have some negative side effects, or rather a lot that will screw up your health. For starters, studies have found that “eveningness” is associated with a high degree of emotional instability. That means you tend to be less agreeable and conscientious than the average Joe. Oh, and you don’t just make others’ lives miserable. Thanks to your late-night habits, likely brought on by high intelligence, you’re also three times more likely to suffer symptoms of depression. According to a number of studies, night owls are at higher risk for heart disease and suffer more arterial stiffness than those who go to bed early. People who tend to stay up late also tend to do other unhealthy things at night, such as overeating. Then, once they do eventually hit the hay, they experience more sleep interruptions when those pesky morning larks get up and start noisying about. All this adds up to some nasty artery stress and whacked-out circadian rhythms, a nice recipe for a massive coronary.

4) You’re Less Likely to Pass On Your Genes


Another unfortunate stereotype of smart people is that they’re socially awkward nerds who are doomed to lives of celibacy until they get out of high school hell. Unfortunately, that one turns out to be totally true. But it’s not all bad news. There’s evidence that the highly educated get more enjoyment out of sex than the dumb jocks and that they make the woman in their lives happy. Yes, monogamy.

It all starts with the smart ladies. A 2008 national census reported that women who had dropped out of high school had the most children on average. And the more education women achieved, the fewer children they were likely to have, with the fewest children being born to women who had finished graduate school. Good news for overpopulation, bad news for picking up. Well, unless you want a dumb chick, who is likely to trap you with an unwanted child, as research found that women with lower IQs are less likely to know how to use birth control properly, leading to more unplanned pregnancies. Looks like Idiocracy was a startling insight into our future society.

 3) You’re More Likely to Lie

Tyson note: I’m not sure I agree with this point because it assumes we are manipulative bastards. From my own experience managers are moronic manipulative bastards and they are usually following the Dilbert  Principle.

The problem with being the smartest guy in the room is that you usually know you’re the smartest guy in the room. For some people, that’s not a big deal. They can relate to others just fine and know how to navigate around everyone else’s deficiencies without being complete pricks. Others, however, know they have an intellectual edge and can’t help but abuse it.

In order to lie and get away with it, you also have to keep the truth in mind and manipulate it, and you might even have to cover up your lies upon further questioning. All of this involves integrating several brain processes in much the same way that you would solve a complex calculus problem. This means that the age at which you start lying, and the effectiveness with which you do it throughout your life, are controlled by how smart you are.

In one study, scientists put people in brain-imaging machines and found that the regions of the brain that light up when a person metaphorically sets his pants on fire are the same that control “executive functioning.” These are high-order thinking and reasoning abilities that include working memory, which, you guessed it, is the single biggest component of your IQ.

2) You’re More Likely to Believe Bullshit

We’re sure that at some point, someone has told you that you can’t get anywhere without an education, and for the most part, they’re right. And you’re much more likely to pursue that education if you’re starting out with a high IQ. According to renowned intelligenceologists who painstakingly measured every goddamn thing that you can associate with IQ, test scores were “the best single predictor of an individual’s years of education.”

The problem is that education leads to one overall inaccurate belief: You think you’re smarter than you are. Three studies have found that people who fall for investment scams are better-educated than the average person but don’t seek advice because they think they’re immune to making mistakes. In one study, researchers found that 94 percent of college professors think their work is superior to their peers’. These fellows fail to realize that intelligence doesn’t always translate to real-world ability, and thus they tend to overestimate the quality of their work.

Via Smartiq.com
Whoa! Sure is getting crowded at the smart end of the bell curve. Right, guys?

It seems to go back to the old saying about how the wisest man is the one who realizes he knows nothing. Or, as Michael Shermer, the author of Why People Believe Weird Things, puts it: “Smart people believe weird things because they are skilled at defending beliefs they arrived at for non-smart reasons.”

That’s why the more education you get, the more likely you are to believe in, say, ghosts and the supernatural. One study found that 23 percent of college freshman believed in the paranormal, compared with 31 percent of seniors and 34 percent of graduate students. Which leads us to wonder … what the fuck are schools teaching these days?

1) You’re More Likely to Be Self-Destructive

On one hand, it seems like the smarter you are, the greater your ability to know the dangers of, say, shooting heroin. So self-destructive habits are traits of the low-class and stupid, right? Eh, not really…

The thing is, the great minds have something in common with proverbial death-prone kitties: curiosity. Researchers have finally begun to understand the link between curiosity and intelligence on the molecular level, thanks to scientists from the University of Toronto and Mount Sinai Hospital who discovered a protein in an under-explored part of the brain that controls both traits.

Via Wiredtowinthemovie.com
It’s always in the last place you look.

Makes sense. Weird shit like monkey-powered time machines can be invented only by people with enough brain smarts to make them work and enough curiosity to want to see such awesomeness in the first place.

So extra-curious people are also extra-likely to be substance abusers. British scientists published the results of a long-term study showing that smart people were more likely to be drunks. People who fell into the “very bright” category (IQs of 125 or greater, that’s me) were not only more likely to experiment with alcohol but also were more likely to drink excessively and binge drink than their dimwitted counterparts. And they found the same link between high intelligence and psychoactive drug use. It also turns out that intelligent people are much more likely to indulge in illicit substances such as marijuana, Ecstasy, cocaine and heroin. The smarter you are, the more likely you are to be tripping balls at any given moment.

As for why, remember when we said earlier that smart people’s brains seek out novelty and thus are the first to experiment with any new habit? Well, one theory explaining the link between substance abuse and intelligence is that both alcohol and drugs are novel substances, in evolutionary terms. Humans have been consuming alcohol for only about 10,000 years, and the earliest recorded drug was only 5,000 years ago. So when something is novel, the curiouser and most intelligent among us are more likely to want to try it out.

You know. For science.

Doing good

Book Review: Hover Car Racer by Matthew Reilly

Hover Car RacerHover Car Racer by Matthew Reilly
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m very tempted to give this book five stars, but I’m not sure I can give a young adult audio-book like this such a high rating.

Eleven CDs kept me entertained while I was on the road for work this week. Matthew managed to keep me wide awake despite the long hours on the road. On many occasions I found myself holding my breath and gripping the steering wheel, hoping that Jason and The Bug were okay.

Hover Car Racer is essentially Matthew Reilly for tweens and teens. This is Matthew Reilly we’re talking about, the King of fast paced adventure that never lets up until the final page. He makes sure that every teen angst and tragedy befalls Jason Chaser, to the point that you hate all the bad guys for being so mean. Yes, I’m probably too old to be calling characters meany-pies.

This isn’t really a book for adults, despite how much I enjoyed it. My wife found it a little too childish in language use for her liking, were I was able to ignore that issue, as the pace rocketed along. As such, give this to any young boys you have in your family, especially if they aren’t big readers. Hover Car Racer is likely to be one of those books that hooks kids on reading.

View all my reviews

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