Previous month:
August 2020
Next month:
October 2020

My Best Friend's Exorcism

I suspected this was going to be light when I read the blurb on the back cover and looks were not deceiving. One chapter in, with the sunk cost fallacy at work, I charged forward into My Best Friend’s Exorcism hoping it might eventually throw some morbid humor into the mix of teen girls being nasty to one another. It never did. Which is a weakness as snide comments and horror alone cannot round out this flimsy story.

As a YA book it works and there are some paragraphs that will put a shiver down the spine of a younger reader. But it's not pitched as a YA book and there is not much going on here if you have seen more than one horror movie in your life. It is packaged as 80s nostalgia, the oppressive Reganism only working if you remember the Reagan years, with that type of relationship women only have with one another in literature and movies. Beyond that it’s a straight down the line demonic possession story.

With self-awareness the author drops references to The Exorcist into the dialogue, but it is The Exorcist with a pinch of 976-Evil and lot of Mean Girls. Just like the title says it this is a story of demonic possession and the exorcism of the Demon from a girl’s best friend. There is a geeky friendship in youth, a more sophisticated friendship as teens, and an exhausted friendship in the latter part of life.

I am not giving away anything by revealing they managed to yank the demonic presence out. What the Demon gets up to before the exorcism is evil, but this is a Netflix pitch between two covers so its evil with an eye on a small production budget.


Eccentric Orbits: The Iridium Story

This is a brilliant story well told. In Eccentric Orbits a retiree goes to bankruptcy court and writes a personal check as a deposit on the Iridium satellite constellation. Cost of Iridium development to Motorola and its partners? $6 Billion+

The check was for $1.5 Million.

This happens in the latter half of the book but when I read it was a highpoint. It takes fortitude to put your own money in when no investor will. The retiree, Dan Colussy, was the former CEO of Pan Am. Colussy saw the potential of Iridium at the same time its creator, Motorola, was doing its utmost to decommission the constellation and burn the satellites up in the atmosphere. Iridium was Bob Galvin’s dream, Motorola would no longer sell technology to tele-communication operators, it would become the first global operator.

While Iridium was the father’s dream it was not his son’s. Upon his father’s retirement Chris Galvin ascended to the role of CEO to find Motorola’s cash cow mobile handset business under siege by Nokia. He reacted by attempting to refocus the company on the consumer market. Business units were shuttered or sold off and you know how that strategy turned out. Motorola as a US consumer electronics giant no longer exists.

While what remains of Moto is a shadow of what it once was, Iridium went from a launch day where no one made any satellite calls to having parts of its network in the sky hammered with calls as service people around the world call home for Mother’s Day.

The original Iridium constellation was a technological marvel designed by three of Motorola’s smartest weirdos, Bary Bertiger, Ray Leopold and Ken Peterson. It was put into orbit by a brilliant shitkicker, Dannie Stamp. How it was created and why it was a marvel is discussed in detail but the bulk of the book covers the battle to save the constellation from being burned up.

Colussy starts out alone and with no financial backing but finds allies in the Pentagon, the White House and in the intelligence community. Raising money is an ongoing problem but navigating obstacles becomes easier as he picks up compatriots.

A CIA spook shows up to his first Pentagon meeting and starts negotiating with the assembled uniforms on Colussy’s behalf. Then the spook starts showing up at other meetings with other people having not been told by Colussy about those meetings. Being smart enough not to gaze behind the curtain Colussy takes the hint and the spook is invited to officially join his team. Someone in an agency building somewhere decided Dan Colussy was the best option to keep Iridium flying. They sent him someone else to help make that happen.

There are many obstacles to Colussy's team gaining control of Iridium and a number of them come back again and again. Among the collection of existing satellite providers and bellicose telecommunication billionaires it is Motorola which emerges as the primary antagonist. Letting Iridium burn becomes the default corporate position, the company threatening to initiate the deorbit sequence regularly. Motorola becomes so unruly to deal with that the US government refuses to sign any contracts with the new Iridium if Motorola has any involvement with the new company.

Colussy and his patchwork team of investors do win the battle for Iridium and he saves the constellation from destruction. The reborn company goes through numerous CEOs until they find one that sticks. Eventually it becomes the going concern with a profitable future that Dan Colussy could see when he was retired and playing with a first generation handset at his house.

It was a hell of a journey to get there.


Oathbringer. Book 3 of the Stormlight Archive

Brandon Sanderson writes 400 pages of story across a 1233 page book. I pulled this off the unread pile last week knowing that has been the case with the first two books in his Stormlight series and it continues in the third, Oathbringer.

This is planned to be a ten novel series and I’ll admit that in the middle of each one I start considering the opportunity cost of finishing the latest book and the series as a whole. That said the books do end strongly, he wants you to pick up the next one. When he is on Sanderson writes compelling action sequences but the intervals between those drag.

It’s a rich fantasy universe but you’re reading it as he’s fleshing it out and there’s much I don’t need to know. I don’t find the protagonists relatable, there is an anti-villain I do find relatable so anytime he’s lucid I know things are going to pick up.

As Sanderson is so prolific the next doorstopper instalment of this series is due in November. Will I read it? Yes. Will I ask myself why I’m still reading it before I hit the halfway point? Also yes.