“The Best Minds” is Jonathan Rosen’s brilliant and heartbreaking account of an American tragedy.
“The Best Minds” is a deeply sad book. It is a story about the bonds of family, friendship, and community; the promise of intellectual achievement; and the lure of utopian solutions.
Tender, funny, and harrowing by turns, at times almost unbearably sad, “The Best Minds” is an extreme version of a story that is tragically familiar to all too many.
In the hands of a writer of Rosen’s dedication, its significance will echo widely.
Rosen is a superb chronicler of childhood, friendship, aging, cultural history, and the impact of mental — on both the individual and the societal levels).
“A tragic story about a childhood friend ... Michael Laudor’s tragic life deeply affected the author,” said a review on Goodreads.com.
Review: ‘Star Wars Jedi: Survivor’ brings a galaxy far, far away into your home
Updated 02 June 2023
LONDON: For as long as there has been “Star Wars,” there have been spin off computer games, all the way back to the arcade classics of the early 1980s. The phenomenal success of the franchise has meant that the games cover more or less all of the genres, from flight simulators, strategy and resource management to more epic role-playing games like “Knights of the Old Republic.” The games are in a sense both a mirror of the technology of the time as well as the culture.
With that in mind, the latest edition, “Star Wars Jedi: Survivor,” combines the power of the PlayStation 5 with the character development of the more sensitive modern hero.
This is the second game for lead character Cal Kestis. In the first, “Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order,” Cal is on the run following the massacre of the Jedi, with his initial focus on hiding his powers and avoiding trouble.
By the end of the story, he was a more fully formed leader and resistance fighter against the all-powerful Empire, which is where this game starts, and such is the scale of the narrative arc that there is a fair balance of time-watching cut sequences versus actual gameplay.
That makes “Survivor” as close to an immersive “Star Wars” film that we have across the vast number of titles that preceded it. Beyond the stunning renditions of classic locations from the films, along with the iconic music and sound effects, the key to the title’s true homage to its cinematic peers is its combat engine.
Cal can choose from a range of lightsaber configurations — including the color of the blade and design of the handle — and can learn, by acquiring skill points, a vast array of different combat moves. Many involve combining use of the Force or whether Cal is up against one or multiple enemies. Whilst there is a balance of art against the carnage of button smashing, it tends to reward the former, which makes for a genuine sense of being in the shoes of a Jedi warrior.
Beyond combat, the second main aspect of gameplay that needs mastering is around the gymnastic abilities Cal uses to move around the various worlds he visits. It is essentially space parkour, with Cal running along walls, flipping and sliding his way across seemingly inaccessible environments. Again, this is high-adrenaline fun, but there is a trade off as the vast worlds Cal inhabits are not truly open and accessible, but rather hide a set route that the player must take to proceed.
The game’s main story tells of how Cal comes to terms with being one Jedi up against the Empire that has killed so many of his friends. The main character carries an aura of loss and isolation with him as he travels from planet to planet, reinforced by the fact that his best friend is the droid BD-1, who also helps with practical things like providing health top ups and hacking computers.
“Survivor” is a bigger and more ambitious game than its predecessor, with a number of side quests and micro-missions giving variety and more choice to the player. There is humor in the dialogue, and the ability of Cal to sense “Force echoes” allows for depth and detail of this impressive snapshot of the “Star Wars” universe.
As the commercialization of American higher education accelerates, more and more students are coming to college with the narrow aim of obtaining a preprofessional credential.
The traditional four-year college experience—an exploratory time for students to discover their passions and test ideas and values with the help of teachers and peers—is in danger of becoming a thing of the past.
In “College,” prominent cultural critic Andrew Delbanco offers a trenchant defense of such an education, and warns that it is becoming a privilege reserved for the relatively rich.
Authors: Richard V. Fisher, Grant Heiken, And Jeffrey Hulen
Whenever a volcano threatens to erupt, scientists and adventurers from around the world flock to the site in response to the irresistible allure of one of nature’s most dangerous and unpredictable phenomena.
In a unique book probing the science and mystery of these fiery features, the authors chronicle not only their geologic behavior but also their profound effect on human life.
What We Are Reading Today: Before the Coffee Gets Cold
Updated 30 May 2023
RIYADH: “Before the Coffee Gets Cold,” published in 2015, is a time travel-themed novel written by famous Japanese playwright Toshikazu Kawaguchi and translated to English by Geoffrey Trousselot.
In the novel, four women wish to travel back in time for various reasons, whether to confront the man who left them, to receive a letter from a husband suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, to visit a loved one for the last time, or to see a daughter they were never able to meet.
A cafe located in a small back alley in Tokyo not only serves coffee to its customers but also offers a one-of-a-kind experience: a chance to go back in time.
The journey to the past, however, isn’t so easy. One must follow a set of rules to journey safely: The time traveler must sit in a particular seat, not leave the cafe, and return to the present before the coffee gets cold.
Each chapter in the novel is dedicated to a particular customer at the cafe, but the different customers also make appearances in each other’s stories throughout, and they support one another in their journeys.
The customers’ stories are rooted in difficult circumstances and filled with grief and misfortune, but while the cafe doesn’t offer the much sought-after second chance in life, it does provide something equally significant: closure.
The cafe’s customers confront and make amends for their losses, even though they are aware they won’t be able to change anything once the coffee gets cold and they return to the present.
“Before the Coffee Gets Cold” is a sad, sweet, yet hopeful novel. Kawaguchi conveys a powerful message through the stories of the four characters, emphasizing that while the past is unchangeable, the future is always within reach.
The book is the first part of a series, followed by three other books titled: “Tales from the Cafe” (2021), “Before Your Memory Fades” (2022), and “Before We Say Goodbye” (2023).