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Nalano
28-05-2012, 12:17 AM
I think Rii is referring to what I talked about in the religion thread.

I just read three posts by Rii and couldn't figure out if he was trying to commiserate or condone such a point of view. Quite frankly, I still can't.

Not that it matters. You already know my rebuttal on that point anyway.

Sparkasaurusmex
28-05-2012, 05:17 AM
A great deal of religious folk have difficulty even getting their head around the idea that one can have morality without religion. This isn't because they are "poor, tiny people" but because for them the concepts have been inextricably linked since day one, serving as the conceptual scaffolding upon which everthing else is constructed. Fortunately you can't actually "turn off" religion in someone's brain, but if you could it is probable that most of what passes for moral sensibility would switch off too. Religion is not THE foundation of morality, but for adherents it is certainly a foundation. And nor is it any different in principle from the "lenses" that non-religious folk develop. There is little doubt, for example, that my moral sensibilities and their political expression are in large part a function of the psychological effects of early childhood experiences. Every system has its centre.

http://www.ted.com/talks/paul_zak_trust_morality_and_oxytocin.html
Not spam, if you can believe me

On topic: 1Q84. I'm quite enjoying it so far. It seems like it should feel slow, but it doesn't at all.

Nalano
28-05-2012, 06:05 AM
http://www.ted.com/talks/paul_zak_trust_morality_and_oxytocin.html
Not spam, if you can believe me

Small tangent:

His concept on trustworthiness and its relationship to the wealth of nations sounds a lot like putting the cart before the horse. In other words, while I can see a correlation between having a fair trust of my fellow citizen and the success of business in my country, I don't think my fellow citizen is more trustworthy than anybody else in the world.

However, I do think that the institutions in place enforcing things like property rights and contract law, and the guarantees that those institutions are answerable to as large a swath of the citizenry as possible, have a notable effect. I don't have to trust my fellow man so much as I can trust that the government is keeping us all on the level, and I do that by voting, and failing that, recalling, censuring and protesting.

But like I said, that's a minor quibble, and I have nothing to complain as per his neurological experiments. In that sense, I kinda view him like Jared Diamond: Interesting biology, but way off-base when it comes to extrapolating that to the fields of sociology or political science.

dsch
28-05-2012, 07:06 AM
Donna Tartt, The Secret History. I think it's an accidentally brilliant book.

Sparkasaurusmex
28-05-2012, 07:57 AM
Small tangent:

His concept on trustworthiness and its relationship to the wealth of nations sounds a lot like putting the cart before the horse. In other words, while I can see a correlation between having a fair trust of my fellow citizen and the success of business in my country, I don't think my fellow citizen is more trustworthy than anybody else in the world.

However, I do think that the institutions in place enforcing things like property rights and contract law, and the guarantees that those institutions are answerable to as large a swath of the citizenry as possible, have a notable effect. I don't have to trust my fellow man so much as I can trust that the government is keeping us all on the level, and I do that by voting, and failing that, recalling, censuring and protesting.

But like I said, that's a minor quibble, and I have nothing to complain as per his neurological experiments. In that sense, I kinda view him like Jared Diamond: Interesting biology, but way off-base when it comes to extrapolating that to the fields of sociology or political science.
Yeah I don't know if he has anything to really go by other than personal philosophy when he gets outside his actual studies, but the interesting point is that maybe moral behavior is at least reinforced by biological means.

Also, just finished The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress. It is okay, but I still haven't read a Heinlein book that I've liked as much as Stranger In A Strange Land. I think enjoyment of books (or video games..or anything) has a lot to do with circumstance and mindset when you go into it.

Nalano
28-05-2012, 08:04 AM
Yeah I don't know if he has anything to really go by other than personal philosophy when he gets outside his actual studies, but the interesting point is that maybe moral behavior is at least reinforced by biological means.

Oh, certainly. We're biologically social animals, which means not only do we not feel every single other human being we come across is a threat, but we like helping other people much in the same way we like sugary foods and orgasms. But I was under the impression that such was patently obvious.

Sparkasaurusmex
28-05-2012, 08:13 AM
Gotta agree with you there, but it's always important to use scientific study to help understand how our brains and world work, even the seemingly obvious stuff. What's obvious to you and me could be considered sacrilege to someone else (though even concrete science might not help in some of those cases).

Umm... I'm not reading anything else at the moment. I guess I should mention Kurt Vonnegut and Robert Anton Wilson are tied for my favorite author.

Nalano
28-05-2012, 09:33 AM
I like Vonnegut, I do, and got to see him live briefly before he died. He had somewhat of an acerbic personality, tho I suspect that's largely because of the venue.*

I kinda feel that my favorite author has to be dead, lest his live self come and contradict what I like about his body of works. I also feel, in an equally irrational way, that he can't be obvious lest my own reputation for being well-read be put into question. He also, for that matter, can't be too obscure, since I'd then look pretentious.

In this manner, on my shortlist I've ruled out Neal Stephenson, John Brunner, Isaac Asimov, Kurt Vonnegut, Mark Davis, HL Mencken, Gore Vidal, and Anthony Burgess for being too popular and have then to choose from the triply depressing options of Dennis Lehane, JG Farrell and James Sallis, and since two of those guys are still alive, that leaves only one.

*My fellow compatriots at the time he was to make an appearance were all Cornellians of the Daily Sun - the school newspaper - and, since they were going to meet a Great Author, went to a bookstore to purchase copies of his books to sign. Along the way, they decided to prove to one another just how forward-thinking they were - lest they be seen as counter-culture liberals by buying Vonnegut en masse - by also purchasing copies of Atlas Shrugged. Fucking hivemind monkeys.

Angel Dust
28-05-2012, 11:09 AM
Umm... I'm not reading anything else at the moment. I guess I should mention Kurt Vonnegut and Robert Anton Wilson are tied for my favorite author.
Hmmm,
Kurt Vonnegut is also one of my favourites too but I've never heard of this Robert Anton Wilson chap - do have any recommendations? You've also reminded me I must also get myself a copy of 1Q84 as it's been a while since I've read some Murakami.


Currently reading Against the Day. I hear it had a somewhat mixed reception among Pynchon fans but I'm finding it to be surprisingly easy (for this kind of thing) and enjoyable to read. It's still very much a Pynchon novel - numerous characters, frequent trips to the bizarre, high-flying prose, silly songs and a whole lot of historical and mathematical references, most of which I'm probably not getting - but it somehow feels just a little less dense than the other stuff I've read by him, as well as containing more than a few characters I genuinely care about.

Got some David Markson lined up next and after that A Clash Of Kings.

Theblazeuk
28-05-2012, 11:49 AM
I like Vonnegut... He had somewhat of an acerbic personality

You of all people pointing this out made me chuckle :)

Keep
28-05-2012, 12:05 PM
I had half an hour to kill a few days ago so I decided to buy a book and sit on a park bench (Mr. Sun I love you where you been all mah life). Anyway. Picked up The Book of Chuang Tzu, and boy do I ever love it. Sitting under a golden sky laughing at anecdotes that have travelled 2,000 years and across a gulf of culture and language difference just to get to me.

That was a nice afternoon. Got me to thinking about our shared humanity.

/hippy

Also been reading On Stories, Richard Kearney. It's kind of continental in style, but accessible. That's a good combo.

Nalano
28-05-2012, 01:13 PM
You of all people pointing this out made me chuckle :)

I never said I disliked it. :P

One of my favorite stories about Vonnegut is his having been paid a ridiculous sum of money to conduct a master class in creative writing for Pace University. So he goes before the class.

"Who here wants to become a writer?" They all raise their hands. "Then what are you doing here? Go home and write."

Sparkasaurusmex
28-05-2012, 03:19 PM
Hmmm,
Kurt Vonnegut is also one of my favourites too but I've never heard of this Robert Anton Wilson chap - do have any recommendations?

I should point out he is nothing like Vonnegut. Also he didn't publish a whole lot of books. My favorite is Shrodinger's Cat Trilogy (published today as a single edition...fat book) but he also Co-wrote The Illuminatus! Trilogy (also now published as one hefty novel) with Robert Shea.

"Entry level" Robert Anton Wilson is Masks of the Illuminati, which features fictional characterizations of Einstein, James Joyce and Aleister Crowley.

A fair warning, RAW is much more of a radical hippy than someone like Vonnegut :P



"Who here wants to become a writer?" They all raise their hands. "Then what are you doing here? Go home and write."
hahaha I don't care if it makes me cliche, I love this guy.

Angel Dust
29-05-2012, 01:41 AM
I should point out he is nothing like Vonnegut. Also he didn't publish a whole lot of books. My favorite is Shrodinger's Cat Trilogy (published today as a single edition...fat book) but he also Co-wrote The Illuminatus! Trilogy (also now published as one hefty novel) with Robert Shea.

"Entry level" Robert Anton Wilson is Masks of the Illuminati, which features fictional characterizations of Einstein, James Joyce and Aleister Crowley.

A fair warning, RAW is much more of a radical hippy than someone like Vonnegut :P
Yeah, I wasn't expecting him to be anything like Vonnegut, just that it was a new name and you've mentioned a couple of authors I like (Vonnegut, Murakami) already, so I was intrigued. Never mind 'entry level', what is his best/definitive work? I've got no issue with fat books, Against the Day is over 1200 pages long, so Shrodinger's Cat then?

Sparkasaurusmex
29-05-2012, 04:05 AM
Yep, that's what I would say.
Illuminatus Trilogy is more of an epic adventure type story, but they both have a lot of stuff going on that isn't exactly written out... I'm never exactly sure if there's a point RAW is trying to make, but every time I reread any of his novels I find my interpretation has changed.

Vexing Vision
29-05-2012, 09:29 AM
Still stuck reading Felix and Gotrek, but nearly through.

I'm up for some recommendations for someone who loves the byzantine politics and characterizations of Martin, the characters and fighting scenes from Abercrombie and the world-crafting of LeGuinn.

A combination of those three would make me happy. Yes, I have read all there is of Fritz Leiber to read.

Theblazeuk
29-05-2012, 10:28 AM
I can't really say that it matches any of the three you've listed, but my go-to recommendation for all fantasy books is David Gemmell. I think his strongest work is possibly Lion of Macedon (and its weaker sequel, Dark Prince) though it's not my favourite. Ultimately an alt-history take on the Grecian wars pre-Alexander, focusing on the general Parmenion. Then there's Sword in the Storm, which is kind of a take on celtic mythology and the invasions of Rome.

tjv
29-05-2012, 10:47 AM
Just started The Bourne Sanction by Eric Van Lustbader

Vexing Vision
29-05-2012, 12:42 PM
I've read a lot of Gemmell. I like him, but prefer the more detailed characters of Robin Hobb for example. That reminds me, I need to check if the third book of the Shaman's Crossing is out by now. That was a fun if disturbing story.

Althea
29-05-2012, 01:04 PM
L.E. Modesitt, Jr.

Almost all of his fantasy books are about OMG BEST EVARRR blokes, but they're flipping compelling, though not too similar to stuff you've read. Well, except Hobb. Yeah. He's like a cross between Hobb and Martin's political undercurrents to ASoIaF.

Vexing Vision
29-05-2012, 02:03 PM
That's a new name for me. Cheers!

Kadayi
29-05-2012, 04:56 PM
Rereading Rubicon by Tom Holland coupled with dipping into The Island of the Day Before by Umberto Eco (which is another reread).

Salix
29-05-2012, 05:06 PM
Currently reading Blindsight by Peter Watts to get my sci-fi fix while occasionally disturbing myself with a story from Thomas Ligotti's Teatro Grottesco.

If anyone is looking for something a bit different that can be picked up and put down at any point I'd recommend Strange Tales from a Chinese Studio. Its a book of 100 or so wierd stories from around the 1600s that are all pretty short, some of them are only a couple of paragraphs long.

Rakysh
29-05-2012, 06:22 PM
Rereading Rubicon by Tom Holland coupled with dipping into The Island of the Day Before by Umberto Eco (which is another reread).
Rubicon was good, although I did prefer Persian Fire.

Gramarye
29-05-2012, 06:43 PM
Just finished Bitter Seeds, by Ian Tregillis, which is very good. WWII ends a lot faster when British warlocks and Nazi X-Men are involved. Next is The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N. K. Jemison, which seems good so far.

Firkragg
29-05-2012, 08:34 PM
Just finished the first book in The Gap Into Conflict by Stephen R. Donaldson. Fun read but what is with Stephen and his negativity? Completely turned me off in Lord Foul's Bane when I was younger and almost made me not want to pick up this book. I'm glad I stuck to it and can't wait till I get the next one. I think I might even give The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant another try. There is one thing I'd like to know first though (no spoilers!), Thomas Covenant, does he continue to be so completely self centered and negative or does it turn around at some point?

Salix
29-05-2012, 11:21 PM
It's been quite a while since I last read the chronicles but I remember things continuing to be quite negative until near the end of the second chronicles although Covenant is less self-centred. I haven't read the final chronicles so maybe things have improved but someone else would need to comment.

mrpier
30-05-2012, 11:10 AM
The Gap series is bleak, but I thought the payoff was worth it.

DeathPig
30-05-2012, 12:12 PM
John Grisham : The Brethren.

Nalano
31-05-2012, 02:33 AM
I'm currently reading Andrew Keen's polemic against social media, The Cult of the Amateur.

I certainly agree with him in terms of the distressing consequences of new media, but while he's quick to blame my generation for what he describes as "digital narcissism," I see my generation effectively tuning out - turning to "social media" (or more accurately para-social media) and video games as a way of escaping what increasingly appears to be a world in which we're not allowed to participate. The unemployment rate of recent college grads in the US is close to 20%, most New York companies keep legions of unpaid interns instead of the more traditional stepping stones of starter positions, and we're overall quite worryingly being locked out of benefits and security. Hell, I'm still in my twenties and I've been laid off twice.

As such, I see us opiating ourselves because reality is just that bleak. Welcome to the Brave New World.

Theblazeuk
31-05-2012, 11:50 AM
I'm currently reading Andrew Keen's polemic against social media, The Cult of the Amateur.


Whilst I'm not a huge fan of most social media, most of the old guard's complaints about it seem fairly empty and self serving to me. It's not like print media was the bastion of honesty, ethics, accuracy and worthiness they always make it out to be. Doesn't matter what medium you're in, the drive for money, advertising revenue and the overall consumerist agenda will undermine it. The newspapers aren't all that much better than the TV networks in this regard. They are/were no better and often were worse, more proponents of what Nick Davies calls 'flat earth news' than of reliable information.

I expect Andrew Keen's book is slightly more involved than this throwaway observation, but I hardly see social media as the cause of endemic narcissism among youth and certainly can't be blamed for people being less engaged with contemporary society and its problems. If anything it does far more to get people actively, rather than passively, involved with problems beyond what an editor (and therefore a shareholder and an advertiser) views as relevant.

Nalano
31-05-2012, 02:42 PM
Whilst I'm not a huge fan of most social media, most of the old guard's complaints about it seem fairly empty and self serving to me. It's not like print media was the bastion of honesty, ethics, accuracy and worthiness they always make it out to be. Doesn't matter what medium you're in, the drive for money, advertising revenue and the overall consumerist agenda will undermine it. The newspapers aren't all that much better than the TV networks in this regard. They are/were no better and often were worse, more proponents of what Nick Davies calls 'flat earth news' than of reliable information.

Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr are not social interaction, unless your idea of social interaction is to yell at everybody in a deli how much you like your sandwich before immediately leaving.

Yes, newspapers are driven by money. But bloggers are not reporters, and they're certainly not editors or factcheckers. And if you can't see that you're losing something in the bargain when the Times have to remove foreign desks then you weren't paying attention in the first place.

Salix
31-05-2012, 04:08 PM
It seems these days that newspapers aren't exactly putting that much effort into making sure their reporting is that much better than the average blogger, but thats just my jaded view on things what with all the scandals involving the british press recently.

SouperSteve0
01-06-2012, 03:29 AM
Just started Crime & Punishment

Let's hope I finish it

Jockie
01-06-2012, 12:30 PM
Started book 1 of the Malazan series last night, it's kind of hard going, but the author's preface warned as much. The idea of a complete ten book series, where I don't have to wait 3-5 years for the next installment appeals to me a lot.
Also picked up Crime & Punishment, War & Peace and The Great Gatsby, because I noticed they were Ł0.59 on Amazon, which is a bit of a bargain. The Complete works of James Joyce was on for 1.79 or so as well, but think I've got enough to be getting on with for a while!

Ian
01-06-2012, 12:58 PM
Reading the 'Steel and Snow' part of ASOIAF book 3. Enjoying thus far.

Just had a couple of cracking chapters, (spoilers, obv.) one with Sam after the Watch are brutalised and he ends up killing an Other, Robb dealing with Karstark and just had Brienne and Jamie's sword fight.


The idea of a complete ten book series, where I don't have to wait 3-5 years for the next installment appeals to me a lot.

I sort of had this with Wheel of Time. Not complete, obviously, but enough to power through them often back-to-back. Then of course I read the ninth or tenth book or whichever it was and initially had a 2/3 year wait and then he popped his clogs.

Also had it with The Dark Tower, where I finished book 6 on the day book 7 came out over here, which pleased me greatly.

Shane
01-06-2012, 01:10 PM
@Ian Yea, I know the feeling. After watching the Game of Thrones tv series, I decided to read the books and by the time I was finished with the fourth book, the fifth, A Dance with Dragons, was a week away from release. Of course, it turned out to be a massive piece of shit and a colossal disappointment.

Goateh
01-06-2012, 02:02 PM
Started book 1 of the Malazan series last night, it's kind of hard going, but the author's preface warned as much. The idea of a complete ten book series, where I don't have to wait 3-5 years for the next installment appeals to me a lot.

Complete except for the other books in the universe written by a different guy (Ian Cameron Esslemont) that continue some of the stories set up in the main books at various points in the timeline. And now Erikson is writing a new trilogy that tell a story about part of the world long before the main set of books. There are also a few short books about a couple of side characters too.

I did enjoy the sense of world building from the books. Something like A Song of Ice and Fire feels much more focused on the characters and what they do whereas the Malazan books feel like the focus is on the world they created more than the characters. They have plenty of characters of course, but they don't close their stories off neatly and they hint at a lot more than they tell in the books. Occasionally they meander and some parts were hard reading, but at the end I was ready for more.


I've just started The Scar by China Mieville after finishing Perdido Street Station. The last fantasy stuff I read was the latest Malazan book as it happens and it was a nice change to read something so focused. Again, I love the world he's created and I'm actually more interested in finding out about that than what the main characters happen to be doing. Admittedly I'm only a couple of chapters in so that will probably change over time, but Bag-Lag is the main attraction right now.

Theblazeuk
01-06-2012, 02:42 PM
Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr are not social interaction, unless your idea of social interaction is to yell at everybody in a deli how much you like your sandwich before immediately leaving.

Yes, newspapers are driven by money. But bloggers are not reporters, and they're certainly not editors or factcheckers. And if you can't see that you're losing something in the bargain when the Times have to remove foreign desks then you weren't paying attention in the first place.

Oh right. Was it me who called them social media? I didn't realise I'd coined the term - I should really get some kind of return on that. Obviously I can see the loss but it's massively exaggerated and the culprit isn't the 'cult of the amateur' so much as the failure of the institutionalised to either adapt to the times or adhere to their own principles.

Actually looking at what you wrote, I don't really see much relevance to what I said. Just seems like you jumped at another chance to show what a sneering arse you can be?

a_bullet
01-06-2012, 03:36 PM
Well I just finished Abhorsen. I started with Sabriel around the turn of the millennium. Clearly, the digital age has yet to kill patience.

squareking
01-06-2012, 03:58 PM
Well I just finished Abhorsen. I started with Sabriel around the turn of the millennium. Clearly, the digital age has yet to kill patience.

I really enjoyed that trilogy. Something about the bells really brought the lore to life. Mogget and the Disreputable Dog helped, too. Had to check out the audiobook after finishing the series and Tim Curry does an excellent job; might be worth a look.

Check out Shade's Children if you haven't already -- it's another interesting, quick-reading Nix flavor.

Shane
01-06-2012, 05:11 PM
I have read the first five or so books of Nix's The Keys to the Kingdom series. As a 13 year old reading that stuff I liked the fact how coherent the narrative was despite the surreal themes. To me, Garth Nix seems like the best kind of YA fiction.

Theblazeuk
01-06-2012, 06:04 PM
I have read the first five or so books of Nix's The Keys to the Kingdom series. As a 13 year old reading that stuff, I liked the fact how coherent the narrative was despite the surreal themes. To me Garth Nix seems like the best kind of YA fiction.

Couldn't really get into the Keys to the Kingdom but I think I came to it too late - already in my 20s. Loved the Abhorsen series though, every element of it was fascinating. From the disreputable dog, charter magic and The Wall between the Kingdom and Ancelstierre (?), to the bells and the gates of death, was such a great change from the generic magic/myth of most fantasy series, even when falling back on old tropes such as necromancy and The Old Ones.

Oh and Shade's Children was very good if incredibly bleak. I will definitely be keeping an eye out for Clariel when it come out.

DeathPig
06-06-2012, 10:15 AM
Reading Farseer I.

Somehow, it feels like reading a story in Skyrim.

Vexing Vision
06-06-2012, 10:43 AM
Finally finished that atrocious Gotrek & Felix second Omnibus. Uninspired combat-scenes, "I am so intelligent and insightful" self-explorative feelings of the main protagonist and I am still amazed how boring you can make one of the coolest fantasy settings there is by making all the evil guys evil and all the good guys good and just ignoring how fine the temptations of true chaos is, and how the byzantine politices of the Empire really work.

But enough grumbling!

I finally got my hands on "Snuff" and loving it so far. Vimes has always been one of my favourite characters (with the exception of Jingo). Now there's emo-self-exploration done right!

Rakysh
06-06-2012, 02:15 PM
So I am reading Orcs. I am not sure how to feel about this. It is good for when my brain is burnt out from revision, but I'd hesitate to say this means it's actually ​good.

Fumarole
07-06-2012, 12:53 AM
So I am reading Orcs. I am not sure how to feel about this. It is good for when my brain is burnt out from revision, but I'd hesitate to say this means it's actually ​good.That's pretty much how I felt about it. Of course it probably doesn't help that my girl told me that every time she saw me reading it she mentally inserted a D before the title of the book and would grin when we made eye contact.

Rakysh
07-06-2012, 07:13 AM
I mean, the world building has clearly had a lot of work put in (even if most of that work consisted of reading Lord Of The Rings) but the writing, I'm almost entirely certain, is fairly objectively dire. Maybe that's supposed to reflect the Orcs anti-intellectual character though? Something in me doubts it. Despite all this, I'm now on page 351 after three days. I think I have a problem.

SirKicksalot
08-06-2012, 07:49 PM
A couple of months ago I played Rogue Warrior. I was vaguely aware of Dick Marcinko before. His portrayal in the game is very entertaining (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FFQ2yPGV0XM) and it made me curious about the real man. This made me read a bit about him and then I bought his autobiography, Rogue Warrior.

This is one of the most entertaining books I've ever read. The stories, all the way from his childhood to his imprisonment, are all very interesting. Of course, some parts and names are modified (there's a disclaimer and he often points out when an account is altered) but overall he ain't bullshitting. I had a good laugh reading some negative reviews and then comparing them to verified facts - the man tells it like it is. He's got a huge ego and loves to point out how awesome he is, and that only makes it even more entertaining. He does point out his own mistakes, but usually it's all buried under the enormous macho-man figure. Some of the most hilarious stories emerge from the conflicts between his explosive personality and the bureaucracy.

I might buy some of his fiction books too! He has a credited ghostwriter, of course, but it doesn't matter. Rogue Warrior is the book the term "explosive" was invented for. The writing is so fucking badass to the point where I'd be perfectly happy with it being all fictional.

Let's put it this way: if you like Sven Hassel, this is Sven Hassel x 1000, plus it's actually real.

fiddlesticks
08-06-2012, 08:21 PM
I just finished "The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald and I can't help but feel somewhat disappointed in it. It's a good book to be sure, extremely well written and featuring great characters, I just don't see why so many consider to be the apex of American literature. Maybe as a non-American I simply lack the necessary cultural and historical background to fully appreciate it. Then again, I absolutely adore the works of Twain, Steinbeck and Harper Lee and their novels tend to focus strongly on American culture/history as well. Maybe I'm just crazy.

Rii
08-06-2012, 08:55 PM
News of Bradbury's passing reminded me to pick up Something Wicked This Way Comes. Ordered Kim Stanley Robinson's new novel 2312 too. God knows when I'll get around to reading either.

Keep
08-06-2012, 09:29 PM
I just finished "The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald and I can't help but feel somewhat disappointed in it. It's a good book to be sure, extremely well written and featuring great characters, I just don't see why so many consider to be the apex of American literature. Maybe as a non-American I simply lack the necessary cultural and historical background to fully appreciate it. Then again, I absolutely adore the works of Twain, Steinbeck and Harper Lee and their novels tend to focus strongly on American culture/history as well. Maybe I'm just crazy.

Ah that's a shame but ferry nuff.

What really impressed me about it - like you say, very well written and great characters, but what really impressed me - was how tight the plot was. How all these disparate elements were presented to you so naturally and then everything, like a puzzle-box, ended up clicking in together in one event. Everything led up to it ingeniously, everything fell out from it ingeniously. Brilliant.

And then, on top of that, that that event and all that prefigured it and all it signified was so thematically powerful! Everything fed into everything else through not just how the narrative unfolded but in terms of the core ideas, I was very impressed.

I don't know if it's a cultural thing. I ain't American. I read it at a time when Gatsby's situation had some similarities to my own, and that gave it a great resonance. At the same well, but that I was attuned to those ideas, would I really have noticed them? So maybe it is cultural in a sense.

I think it's the apex of American literature though. The craft, the mastery, of the writing as a skill - and put to such powerful use! I don't know of a higher-quality novel.

fiddlesticks
08-06-2012, 11:13 PM
What really impressed me about it - like you say, very well written and great characters, but what really impressed me - was how tight the plot was. How all these disparate elements were presented to you so naturally and then everything, like a puzzle-box, ended up clicking in together in one event. Everything led up to it ingeniously, everything fell out from it ingeniously. Brilliant.
I can agree with that. Some time ago, a friend gave me a brief summary of "Gatsby" and I thought the events he described felt rather disjointed, but after reading the book myself they fit together really well. Again, I think this is due to the fantastic characterization. Everyone's actions feel like a natural extension of their beliefs and desires. In the hands of a less skilled author the ending could easily have felt like an unsatisfying cop-out, but Fitzgerald manages to portray it as not only a fitting conclusion, but as the only logical outcome. The tragedy of the whole story lies in its inevitability.


I don't know if it's a cultural thing. I ain't American. I read it at a time when Gatsby's situation had some similarities to my own, and that gave it a great resonance. At the same well, but that I was attuned to those ideas, would I really have noticed them? So maybe it is cultural in a sense.
Cultural was probably a poor choice of words on my part, I think it's more personal than that. My problem was that I lacked the necessary involvement to truly relate to the characters. I didn't really share their situations or their ideals so while reading I always viewed them from a bit of an emotional distance. Ultimately, to me the best novels are always the ones that resonate with your own decisions and beliefs in life. Insofar "Gatsby" could be the most masterfully crafted piece of literature ever written, I would still never find it quite as good as, say, "To Kill a Mockingbird". Not because it's worse, but because it doesn't affect me on the same personal level.

Regardless, thank you for sharing your opinion. It's always nice to see someone who's passionate about the books he/she read.

kstress71
09-06-2012, 04:25 AM
A Forest of Stars, by Kevin J Anderson - second book in an epic sci-fi series
The Digital Plague, by Jeff Somers - second book in a sci-fi noir series
Flatland, by Edwin Abbott - read and reread this one multiple times since college. Geeky and satirical is just the right mixture.

Rath
09-06-2012, 04:31 AM
I recently finished "Accelerando" by Charles Stross. One of those books that leaves you thinking "This would be unfilmable". It ends up in such a radically different place than where it began, it was at times a struggle to reconcile the stated time frames within it with such a rapid pace of technological development, but that's sort of a theme of the book as a whole; that once the ball gets rolling on the way to The Singularity, it just gathers pace and momentum ever more rapidly until the snowball becomes orders of magnitude larger.

It's available for free on FeedBooks if anyone's interested.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Accelerando_%28novel%29

westyfield
09-06-2012, 03:33 PM
A Forest of Stars, by Kevin J Anderson - second book in an epic sci-fi series

How are you finding it? I stopped with that series (The Saga of Seven Suns, if anyone's interested) after Scattered Suns (book 4). I got sick of how there were often gaps where nothing really would happen, and it felt like Anderson was dicking over his characters on purpose (there's one potential romance that gets thwarted multiple times per book, due to miscommunication or people not being in the right place at the right time, etc.). Also Chairman Wenceslas was a complete tosser, he seems to be an arse to the king for no other reason than to remind us he's the bad guy.

/rant.

kstress71
09-06-2012, 05:35 PM
How are you finding it?

I like it a lot, but I haven't yet experienced the frustrations you had at Book 4 compared to my halfway point in Book 2. I love how epic it is, and the fact that it spans over many gaps of years at a time with little happening doesn't bother me so much because I believe that that is what would happen if the events of such an intergalactic conflict actually took place. That conflict would likely span decades, to be honest.

I'm sure I know which romance you're talking about, and yes, it is already grating on me how it's such manufactured that "they just can't be together yet..." Ugh that it apparently gets worse.

As for Wenceslas, yes, he is too narrowly characterized as the evil facist leader-behind-the-scenes.

My biggest problem is that I have a real love-hate relationship with the way this book is written. Similar to Game of Thrones, for example, the chapters are focused on specific characters, and that's fine, given that they are experiencing very different and often disconnected parts of the overall story and there are quite a lot of them. So I like that. But what I don't like is that if you are going to devote entire chapters to a each of wider array of characters, you'd better damn well make them ALL interesting enough to hold up entire chapters, and some of these characters just flat-out aren't that interesting. Cesca Peroni, Rlinda Kett, Jess Tamblyn, Tasia Tamblyn, Nira Khali.... every time a chapter starts with them in the title, I just groan and often set the book aside for something more interesting. So while I love the scope of the books overall, it's not fun to wait 5-6 chapters before I get to read more about characters that are the most interesting to me. Did you experience this?

westyfield
09-06-2012, 08:13 PM
But what I don't like is that if you are going to devote entire chapters to a each of wider array of characters, you'd better damn well make them ALL interesting enough to hold up entire chapters, and some of these characters just flat-out aren't that interesting. Cesca Peroni, Rlinda Kett, Jess Tamblyn, Tasia Tamblyn, Nira Khali.... every time a chapter starts with them in the title, I just groan and often set the book aside for something more interesting. So while I love the scope of the books overall, it's not fun to wait 5-6 chapters before I get to read more about characters that are the most interesting to me. Did you experience this?

Yeah, to a degree. I quite liked Cesca Peroni and Tasia Tamblyn (Tasia was probably my favourite character in the series, actually), but I found the other ones you mentioned fairly boring. Nira Khali's chapters in particular were really dull, if I saw her name I knew I had to grit my teeth and prepare for several pages of just how handsome Jora'h was, and how unusual it was for Nira to have fallen in love with someone she wouldn't ordinarily have been expected to like. Pretty much all of the Therons were super boring, and the Hydrogues didn't really do much for me as antagonists - they seemed overpowered, but failed to exploit their massive advantage in favour of being inscrutable and alien.
I really enjoyed the action scenes though, I think Anderson has quite a talent for writing tense scenes like those. I'm quite a military sci-fi fan though, so make of that what you will.

I might go through a recap of the series on Wikipedia and pick up where I left off, it's been a couple of years since I read Scattered Suns and I can't be bothered to read through all the previous ones before starting Of Fire And Night.

squirrel
10-06-2012, 11:25 AM
Just finished Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korean by Ms. Barbara Demick.

About hard lives of 6 North Koreans from a large 500K populated industrial city called Chongjin (if you translate the Chinese name to its English meaning, it is the "Clean Flowing Water", which is very ironic since it is one of the most populated industrial region in the world), located close to the Chinese border. How they endured the economic hardships that made them almost starved to death. They survived it (with exception of JunSang, since all the stories are based on their own testimony, JunSang confessed that he was living a adequate if not affluent live, due to his family background of Pro-Communist regime Japanese immigrants), disappointed by the regime which exploited its subjects without reservation, claimed all the power over all North Koreans yet failed to fulfill its very first obligation to ensure the survival of its countrymen. They defected to the South (and JunSang who used to have a bright future in the North, thought he should be allowed to achieve an even greater good. I dont think his defection had much to do with Mi-ran, his first love).

From this book, almost everyone in North Korea is suffering from all kind of economic hardship. All except the Kim family. In the ending chapter, comment from Ms. Demick was no one really understand why this evil regime can survive that long, while other communist regimes (in my opinion, most of them are not evil, those communist regimes did their job to build up their nations futures. It's just "their historic mission is over" and they had to retire.). She doesn't understand because she is a westerner.

Rii
13-06-2012, 12:21 PM
Anyone know what's up with the Baxter/Pratchett collaborative novel The Long Earth? Strikes me as an awkward pairing to be honest...

Althea
13-06-2012, 12:21 PM
Anyone know what's up with the Baxter/Pratchett collaborative novel The Long Earth? Strikes me as an awkward combination to be honest...
It's a sci-fi book with a comedy twist, and I believe it has a potato in it.

Vexing Vision
13-06-2012, 12:38 PM
Anyone know what's up with the Baxter/Pratchett collaborative novel The Long Earth? Strikes me as an awkward pairing to be honest...

All I know is the two first chapters I read at the end of Snuff.

Basically Earth discovered parallel Earths that are devoid of life and now strives to populate them. It's really not my setting or managed to spark my interest, but I did get a very strong Phillip José Farmer vibe from it, which you may or may not find appealing and leaves me feeling very neutral.

Rii
13-06-2012, 01:19 PM
Parallel Earths seem to be A Thing™ of late. Which reminds me, I need to see Melancholia...

Umm, so, The Long Earth: alas I'm not familiar with
Phillip José Farmer. I guess I'll just have to keep my ear to the ground on this one. Or maybe I could find a library...

More retail therapy:

The Origins of Sex: A History of the First Sexual Revolution by Faramerz Dabhoiwala
Power Inc. by David Rothkopf
Voyage by Stephen Baxter

EDIT: STOP SCREWING WITH MY FORMATTING GRR.

djbriandamage
14-06-2012, 04:05 PM
I went to bed at 11:30 and decided to unwind with Catching Fire, the second book in the Hunger Games trilogy. Oops. I had to force myself to stop reading at 2am. Loving this series.

CWalker
14-06-2012, 04:13 PM
Finished Feast for Crows. 'Twas quite good, though not a lot of "happening". Going to unwind with another fantasy series before pressing on with Dance With Dragons, perhaps Malazan Book of the Fallen or Riftwar. Decisions, decisions :D

Drake Sigar
15-06-2012, 10:13 AM
Finished Feast for Crows. 'Twas quite good, though not a lot of "happening". Going to unwind with another fantasy series before pressing on with Dance With Dragons
A Dance with Dragons is 650 pages of character exposition.

Unaco
15-06-2012, 01:15 PM
perhaps Malazan Book of the Fallen or Riftwar. Decisions, decisions :D

Malazan Book of the Fallen! Malazan Book of the Fallen!!

Ahem... Riftwar is terrible. Imagine a cheap Tolkien Middle Earth facsimile, with Dwarves living in their mines, and Elves living in tree cities, where everyone speaks what an idiot thinks people spoke in the middle ages, where dialogue is unbelievably unbelievable, and everyone is 'perfect' (except for that single flaw, introduced solely for plot reasons), heroes are heroes through and through, and villains are villains because... well, never really explained (some people just want to watch the world burn?). Now, imagine that Tolkien-esque world, innocent and twee and rammed full of every cliche at hand, but without the rich tapestry of myth and history that should exist everywhere, without humour, without insight, without anything convincing, intriguing, compelling or interesting... and introduce a feudal era Japanese like people. That is Riftwar. I made it through Magician and 100 pages of Silverthorn to see if it changed any. It didn't. Your mileage may vary, of course, but I just could not bring myself to read it, or to allow someone, of sound mind, to read it either.

Malazan Book of the Fallen though... I don't think you could have picked something as polarised to Riftwar and its ilk if you'd tried. I've effused about it here before (and in the Steam chat), so I won't go on too much. Just read it... lose yourself in it... let the world seep into you, via osmosis. It can be confusing and compounding at times, it drops you into pretty deep water from page 1 and doesn't bother to spoon feed the story and backstory and history to you. It can leave you floundering a little (or a lot)... but that's not a bad thing, because it carries the reader along (think Eco's "Foucault's Pendulum") in the flow.

It's huge, epic, ambitious, frightening in scope and scale and detail. It weaves myths, legends, histories (~250,000 years worth), a deep, compelling, believable and immersive world (the 2 authors are archaeologists and anthropologists, so they sort of know ancient cultures), with well realised characters and intriguing plots. It tells stories, not just of people (the characters), but of Peoples (cultures, societies, civilisations, Empires). It tells stories of events and things happening in the now, but at the same time it tells the histories and the legends and the myths that permeate every inch of the world.

Give it a read, pick up Gardens of the Moon and dive in. Erikson himself has said that people either get lost in the deep water, and give up around 1/2 way through that 1st book, or they persevere, and make it through, and then stick with the series up until today. I'm on my 2nd read of the series now (incorporating Ian C Esslemont's Novels of the Malazan Empire into chronological/relevant order) and enjoying it more than I did the first read, in a lot of ways.

Edit: If you don't want to take my word for it, this 8 year article on the Malazan series is pretty good. http://www.salon.com/2004/06/21/erikson/singleton/

Salix
15-06-2012, 01:28 PM
I wouldn't agree that Riftwar is terrible, it's a nice light read that doesn't really take much effort so if that's what you're after it's fine. However, I would agree that Malazan should definitely be read instead of Riftwar as it is pure awesome (even if I did lose interest a bit in Dust of Dreams and still haven't picked up the final book by Erikson).

westyfield
15-06-2012, 01:47 PM
Slowly working my way through The Red House Mystery by A.A. Milne. Yes, that (http://assets.nydailynews.com/polopoly_fs/1.386008!/img/httpImage/image.jpg) A.A. Milne.

Finished it over breakfast this morning. Lovely book. I worked out who and how dunnit, but not why. It was really great coming up with solutions, and watching the protagonist (who gave himself and his friend the nicknames Sherlock and Watson) discover more clues to either reinforce or debunk the possible theories. It wasn't perfect (there was one moment near the end where Watson - the character who represents the reader - is put at an unfair advantage for no good reason), but it was a damned good read nonetheless.

Rii
15-06-2012, 05:18 PM
*snip*

Well I'm convinced. Malazan goes on The List™.

Shane
15-06-2012, 05:33 PM
Heh, me too. The last time I gave the Malazan series a go was a few years back, the first book had felt a bit too random and disjointed to me. I'll give it another go once I'm done re-reading the Asoiaf books.

Rii
15-06-2012, 06:19 PM
I haven't read any fantasy in a long while now. A couple years ago I delved back into my childhood with Lloyd Alexander's 'Chronicles of Prydain' (at the age of first reading I was pronouncing the 'w' in 'sword') which was a delightful exercise in nostalgia, but my last real contact with the genre was the Riftwar-derived 'Empire Trilogy' close to a decade back. So this'll be an interesting change of pace.

djbriandamage
15-06-2012, 07:11 PM
I haven't read any fantasy in a long while now. A couple years ago I delved back into my childhood with Lloyd Alexander's 'Chronicles of Prydain' (at the age of first reading I was pronouncing the 'w' in 'sword') which was a delightful exercise in nostalgia, but my last real contact with the genre was the Riftwar-derived 'Empire Trilogy' close to a decade back. So this'll be an interesting change of pace.

I loved the first two Raymond E. Feist Riftwar books as a kid. I ought to read Magician: Apprentice again.

Althea
15-06-2012, 07:11 PM
I loved the first two Raymond E. Feist Riftwar books as a kid. I ought to read Magician: Apprentice again.
That's only one half of the first book ;)

djbriandamage
15-06-2012, 07:42 PM
That's only one half of the first book ;)

I own Magician: Apprentice and Magician: Master as two physically separate books. Did he combine them in later years? I got my copies in the mid-90s or so.

Althea
15-06-2012, 07:54 PM
I own Magician: Apprentice and Magician: Master as two physically separate books. Did he combine them in later years? I got my copies in the mid-90s or so.
No. It's one book split into two. For some reason the US market has them split, whereas in the UK (and most other markets, IIRC) it's a single volume.

djbriandamage
15-06-2012, 08:27 PM
No. It's one book split into two. For some reason the US market has them split, whereas in the UK (and most other markets, IIRC) it's a single volume.

Book publishers are weirdos. I was assigned the first Harry Potter book to read for a children's literature class in college and I found a first edition American version called "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" (it was called "Philosopher's Stone" in England which has become the prevalent name in North America since the movie).

Althea
15-06-2012, 08:48 PM
Book publishers are weirdos. I was assigned the first Harry Potter book to read for a children's literature class in college and I found a first edition American version called "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" (it was called "Philosopher's Stone" in England which has become the prevalent name in North America since the movie).
What's even weirder is the UK is usually the country with the split books - Martin's had two of his split; three if you count Dreamsongs, Williams' third Memory, Sorrow & Thorn book was split, Sanderson's Way of Kings was too.

Usually it's because of size, but Magician isn't a big book so the only reason I've heard that made any sense was it was split in order to attract younger readers.

Serenegoose
18-06-2012, 07:09 PM
I consider getting into the Malazan series every time I spot it in the book shop. And then the cover resolutely refuses to tell me which bloody order they come in, so I buy something else - and then forget to look it up until... the same thing happens again next time.

Speaking of which, onto Un Lun Dun, by China Mieville.

SirKicksalot
18-06-2012, 09:34 PM
In anticipation of the movie I'm reading Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Meh. I'm doing my best to visualise it in Bekmambetov-vision. (http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/day_watch/trailers/11101118/) The movie's going to be fun and look awesome, no doubt about that. Halfway through the book I can't recommend it unless you're very bored and don't have anything better to do.

westyfield
18-06-2012, 11:36 PM
I'm reading The Cat's Table by Michael Ondaatje (him wot wrote The English Patient). It's about an eleven-year-old boy emigrating to the UK from Sri Lanka (then Ceylon) in the '50s. It's alright, I'm about a quarter of the way into it, I'm enjoying it but am not particularly enthralled. It's told in lots of little snippets from the journey and as the character (not sure if it's meant to be autobiographical or not; the main character is called Michael and the author did travel by boat to the UK around that time) looks back on the voyage now he's older. This makes it very easy to pick up and put down, as most of the chapters are only a few pages long. The downside is that it's hard to really get into the book, so I would only tentatively recommend it right now.

Side note: the cover is gorgeous. Reminds me of David Frankland's cover illustrations for the Biggles and Mortal Engines series.

http://pixhost.me/avaxhome/cc/39/001d39cc_medium.jpeg

Cable
19-06-2012, 12:58 AM
I'm reading Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy and really enjoying it. I just love the bleak landscapes he portrays and the harsh people that inhabit them. Definitely not a very easy read though and his vocabulary is stunning i'm having to stop frequently to look up words but hopefully that means i'm learning at least

DaftPunk
20-06-2012, 03:57 PM
I'm reading third book of Game Of Thrones .

Kilometrik
20-06-2012, 05:50 PM
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, babeeeh. It's a funny and interesting book to say the least. BUt so far i haven't found the source of it's "Classic" status. Although i've just begun reading part II.

squirrel
26-06-2012, 12:29 PM
Mr. China by Mr. Tim Clissold. Mr. Clissold adopted a Chinese name 祈立天, an English banker working in Beijing, who currently specialises in clean energy technology investment.

This book is a memoir of Mr. Clissold, who teamed up with another banker from Wall Street, Pat; and an ex-Red Guard (funny, whoever youth here lived through the 1960s wasn't a Red Guard?), to raise 400M dollars to invest in Mainland China more than 2 decades ago. The dream team was formed in Hongkong, back then Hongkong was still a British colony. I just read Chapter 2 of the book. Mr. Clissold introduced his book as a true story of how businessmen from the world with the most sophisticated business system in the world being "outfoxed" by some underdog peasants. I guess when he considered those Chinese peasants as David in David vs Goliath, he must have forgotten the home team advantage.

corbain
27-06-2012, 08:57 AM
I'm reading Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy and really enjoying it. I just love the bleak landscapes he portrays and the harsh people that inhabit them. Definitely not a very easy read though and his vocabulary is stunning i'm having to stop frequently to look up words but hopefully that means i'm learning at least


I'm also reading this but my experience is very different. I'm really struggling with it, and i've not come this close to abandoning a book part way through with anything else.

I find the lack of a clear set of characters very alienating.. it seemed initially that the Kid would be our central character, but he has now just blended into the gang and pretty much dropped off the radar.

I've also found the obscure vocab hard to deal with, i'm having to look up approx one word every page or 2. (and i say this as somone who's read Infinite Jest!) The almost total lack of punctuation is quite disheartening, it becomes difficult to really follow what little dialogue there is.

I'm going to push on because i've heard it does get easier to read in the last third.

Xercies
27-06-2012, 11:11 AM
Finished The Scar - Have to say it has some impressive set pieces in it and very interesting characters but I do think that the choice of main character did make the book of long streches where the character knew nothing and you really wanted the characters that actually were doing something interesting as the main one. It was a very addictive read and i think Mieville is just the king of making really detailed worlds you can get lost in which I love.

Shane
27-06-2012, 12:08 PM
Yea, Mieville's worlds are awesome whether it's Bas Lag, the Two Cities, or The Kraken's London. Even his characters and their motivations seem realistic despite being presented in surreal settings. Still, the characters themselves usually seem uninteresting and static, and disjointed from their environment.

Borrowed my friend's Glimpses of World History by Nehru, will go ahead with it today.

a_bullet
05-07-2012, 07:24 PM
A collection of Philip K. Dick short stories. Short Dick doesn't fit. The novels are far superior.

Tikey
05-07-2012, 08:43 PM
A collection of Philip K. Dick short stories. Short Dick doesn't fit. The novels are far superior.

Really? I feel the complete opposite.
I think short stories tend to convey the idea behind them much better than the novels, where they end up being somewhat diluted.

Shane
08-07-2012, 06:05 PM
Borrowed my friend's Glimpses of World History by Nehru, will go ahead with it today.

According to the book, the Greece and Rome of antiquity were actually quite overrated and the real pinnacle of ancient civilization was achieved in India and China. He seems to consider the Chinese civilization especially, both the ancient and the modern, with an almost dreamy eyed admiration.

It's a good book, he offers a new perspective to the world history which was put forward by Westen scholars of that time.

Rii
08-07-2012, 06:25 PM
Wow, I had no idea that Nehru had written anything like this, least of all for Indira. Ordered!

Nalano
08-07-2012, 06:54 PM
Really? I feel the complete opposite.
I think short stories tend to convey the idea behind them much better than the novels, where they end up being somewhat diluted.

Yeah, PKDick wasn't terribly good at extending good ideas to a full-length novel. Hard to keep an LSD high that long.

Currently reading The Condemnation of Blackness by Khalil Muhammad.

Kelron
08-07-2012, 11:28 PM
Yeah, PKDick wasn't terribly good at extending good ideas to a full-length novel. Hard to keep an LSD high that long.


I don't agree. He wrote a lot of books and not all of them were particularly good, but he still produced a selection of excellent novels.

Nalano
08-07-2012, 11:42 PM
I don't agree. He wrote a lot of books and not all of them were particularly good, but he still produced a selection of excellent novels.

I'm not saying he wasn't a good writer overall, but you can certainly see how a lot of his novels started out strong and just... petered out in the end.

Kaira-
08-07-2012, 11:58 PM
"Compiler Design in C" by Allen I. Holub. Quite interesting and insightful book for those who are interested in how compilers work.

On a lighter side, also going through "History's Worst Decisions and the People Who Made Them" by Stephen Weir. I'm a sucker for disasters in history, it can't be helped.

djbriandamage
09-07-2012, 04:10 PM
I just finished the Hunger Games trilogy. The second book seemed completely unnecessary but the ending was quite good!

ChainsawHands
09-07-2012, 04:55 PM
Yeah, PKDick wasn't terribly good at extending good ideas to a full-length novel. Hard to keep an LSD high that long.PKD wrote his books on speed, not acid.

sibbo7
09-07-2012, 07:53 PM
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/a/ac/The_Pirates%21_in_an_Adventure_with_Scientists_cov er.jpg

The Pirates! Books from Gideon Defoe.. they we're recommended from Ron Gilbert (Monkey Island) some While ago :)

Theblazeuk
10-07-2012, 02:35 PM
Just finished The Long Earth by Pratchett + Baxter. The latter definitely benefits from someone who can write interesting characters (complete with eccentricities and quirks that may go a little beyond the norm, but only a little) and the former benefits massively from the other's vision for the fantastical but relatively plausible. Not sure where this will go for the 'trilogy' - in fact I'm a little dubious about planned trilogies in this area, bit sick of the formula now - but I will be checking it out for sure. Only a few elements of the whole 'stepping' idea aren't consistent throughout but only in very minor cases, from what I noticed.

Thoroughly enjoyed this book and since I listened to the last few chapters via audiobook, I can also heartily recommend the audiobook. Michael Fenton Stevens is a great reader who accomplishes imitations and character specific voices without it all slipping into farce.


Also just finished my non-fiction read for the past few weeks. McMafia by misha glenny. Definitely an interesting book though obviously due to its very nature can't fully explore the shadow economy that supports and is in turn supported by speculative markets around the world. If believed - and I see no reason why most of this book isn't entirely plausible and believable - the fragile nature of the world economy is tied closely to the turbulence of criminal enterprise and its parasitic relationship with the 'real' world.

Will not go down well with anyone who stubbornly clings to the idea that the war on drugs has any benefit to anyone other than the criminal groups themselves.

Jockie
10-07-2012, 03:30 PM
Up to book 4 of the Malazan: Book of the Fallen series and I'm enjoying it with some reservations. It's extremely epic in scale and has some great moments, the whole Chain of Dogs bit could have been a book in it's own right, but it's like a footnote in a grander story. But some of the characters seem woefully undeveloped and the magic level is through the roof, compared to other things I've read, it seems like every other character has the power to level cities single-handedly or challenge the gods. I think I'll probably give the Esslemont books a miss and just read the core series.

Also this Karsa Orlong bloke from the start of book 4 seems like a thoroughly unpleasant chap.

DragonOfTime
10-07-2012, 10:24 PM
I'm nearing completion of The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy series, after that it's either The Silmarillion or my Lovecraft anthology.

icupnimpn2
11-07-2012, 03:32 AM
The Honor Harrington / Honorverse series is still keeping me mostly entertained when I'm not reading comics. Space naval warfare at its most sequential. Problems with the pacing of the series are outweighed by the fact that most of it can be read legally for free (http://baencd.thefifthimperium.com/22-MissionofHonorCD/MissionofHonorCD/) (which is what I did).

Shane
11-07-2012, 04:01 AM
I'm thinking of getting my own copy Dune, any particular edition I should prefer? The 40th Anniversary Edition by Ace seems meatier than the rest at 900 pages.

noaru
11-07-2012, 12:57 PM
I'm thinking of getting my own copy Dune, any particular edition I should prefer? The 40th Anniversary Edition by Ace seems meatier than the rest at 900 pages.

I'm currently re-reading the series and got for myself this edition https://www.librarything.com/work/354274
I've had it for a while now and held back because it is a monster of a book. The print quality is good, but it is big (think hardcover size) and thick and damned heavy (1.2 kg).

Shane
11-07-2012, 02:13 PM
I don't really like to get omnibuses because the tome gets ruined and torn up real quick, and they are hard to just pick up and read or carry around with you. What about this one (http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/dune-frank-herbert/1100608835)? The details state that it has 896 pages, that's probably erroneous, right?

noaru
11-07-2012, 03:41 PM
I don't really like to get omnibuses because the tome gets ruined and torn up real quick, and they are hard to just pick up and read or carry around with you. What about this one (http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/dune-frank-herbert/1100608835)? The details state that it has 896 pages, that's probably erroneous, right?

I honestly didn't have any idea how big it was when I ordered it :D I don't like omnibuses either.

It can't have 900 pages... the first book has 400ish in this big-boy format with a good size font and spacing, so I'd expect 500ish in a normal paperback size. Try checking the info on amazon or bookdepository, they have pretty accurate information.
I kinda like my edition tho, because it's from Gollancz and I can get the rest in the series from them as well. The others are stand-alone volumes at least.

Feldspar
11-07-2012, 03:44 PM
Looks like that edition has big spacing, so seems to be wasting paper. My own edition has a smidgeon over 600 pages (including loose ones, its 25 years old), but I can see why you'd have an extra 300 pages with those paragraph gaps. Or maybe their preview thingy shows an ebook version or something.

Shane
11-07-2012, 04:57 PM
I'm thinking of getting this one (http://www.amazon.com/Dune-Masterworks-Paperback-Frank-Herbert/dp/0575081503/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1342019126&sr=8-3&keywords=dune+Gollancz). Hardcover and this is how it looks, that cover art really sealed the deal.

http://henriksahlstrom.files.wordpress.com/2012/01/holdingdunebooklowres.jpg?w=500&h=339 (http://henriksahlstrom.files.wordpress.com/2012/01/holdingdunebooklowres.jpg)

Splynter
11-07-2012, 05:13 PM
Looking pretty badass with the thumper and maker hooks there, I can see why the cover art sold you.

Tritagonist
11-07-2012, 05:15 PM
Excellent cover, those must be worms in the background?

I recently re-read the original Dune, and while I didn't like it as much as when I first encountered it, it's still a classic.

Nalano
11-07-2012, 05:23 PM
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, babeeeh. It's a funny and interesting book to say the least. BUt so far i haven't found the source of it's "Classic" status. Although i've just begun reading part II.

It's a eulogy on the death of the 60s. Hunter S Thompson's entire career can be summed up in one passage (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fear_and_Loathing_in_Las_Vegas#The_.22wave_speech. 22).

Shane
11-07-2012, 05:41 PM
Excellent cover, those must be worms in the background?

I recently re-read the original Dune, and while I didn't like it as much as when I first encountered it, it's still a classic.
Here (http://henriksahlstrom.files.wordpress.com/2012/01/dunedonelowres.jpg)'s the original image. I came across the blog of the artist while image searching the cover. The artwork was meant to be just a piece of fan-art until the guy was contacted by the publisher, who wanted to use it.

The kid me was just overwhelmed by all the themes and motifs that Herbert filled Dune with and that's how I remember it as, a work that has a lot more in it than just the story.

noaru
11-07-2012, 05:51 PM
I'm thinking of getting this one (http://www.amazon.com/Dune-Masterworks-Paperback-Frank-Herbert/dp/0575081503/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1342019126&sr=8-3&keywords=dune+Gollancz). Hardcover and this is how it looks, that cover art really sealed the deal.




Bah, I hate you. Now I want to get this edition :(
That cover is amazing and seeing it's also part of the SF Masterworks...

Unaco
11-07-2012, 07:00 PM
Up to book 4 of the Malazan: Book of the Fallen series and I'm enjoying it with some reservations. It's extremely epic in scale and has some great moments, the whole Chain of Dogs bit could have been a book in it's own right, but it's like a footnote in a grander story. But some of the characters seem woefully undeveloped and the magic level is through the roof, compared to other things I've read, it seems like every other character has the power to level cities single-handedly or challenge the gods. I think I'll probably give the Esslemont books a miss and just read the core series.

The Chain of Dogs still brings a tear or two to my eyes... it was one of the events that really cemented my appreciation for the series though. I think it says something about the scale/scope of the books that something like the Chain (or the trip to Tremorlor, the Siege of Capustan, Brukhalian, the Bridgeburners at Coral etc) can be just a part of this greater, grandiose whole. Also... if you're interested, there is a band that took their name from the Chain of Dogs, and have done some Malazan inspired music, including this number about Coltaine himself (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=43ZM79VxfRI).

I can definitely understand the reservations, as I had quite a few when I first started the series... The magic level definitely being one. I had come from reading ASoIaF and Joe Abercrombie's stuff, which, if you know them, are very, very light on the magical/fantastical/supernatural sort of stuff. Starting 'Gardens of the Moon' and getting hit with the Siege of Pale straight away (not to mention a half dozen species/races at least, the Warrens, the Empire, their enemies etc.) can be a bit overwhelming. But, I think it does serve a purpose, and there is definitely a reason to it being the way it is.

Firstly, it's about the difference between mortals and gods/Ascendants, and that there isn't a clear, definite line between the two... rather, it's a continuum, a spectrum. Along with that there're things about the power that mortals can have (they're not helpless), and the vulnerability of Ascendants. Also, don't forget about the idea of convergence, not explicitly described in the books, but always present nonetheless... the idea that power draws power... An Ascendant/god shows themselves, shows their hand, other 'powers' see this and get involved... that conflagration of power is seen by other 'powers' and they get involved, and so on. Each book is, mostly, about a 'convergence', one of these events, so there will be great, fearful, immense powers present. The second thing with all of that magic, is the part that it and 'technology' (alchemy etc) play in warfare. It's something that is explored in books 5 and 7 (so I won't say too much about it), but magic can be a double edged sword at times, or allow for overwhelming victory, or be completely useless. Some later events will give an appreciation of that, I think.

It might feel that some of the characters are poorly developed as well... and some of them are, in a way. Some are very aloof, like Coltaine for example. That's not a bad thing though necessarily, I don't think. Some characters are 'unexplained', their motivations only hinted at, but that allows us as readers to interpret them in many different ways, and give us an opportunity to work them out, rather than have them explicitly described. Also, some of those characters you might think are poorly developed are just biding their time... some of the characters that you might think are absent will come back again, and be explored a bit further in later books. And, you should also remember the context for the whole Book of the Fallen saga... it's one part of this huge world that SE and ICE have been creating for 30 years now. Some of the characters and their stories might not have a their place in the Book of the Fallen... they might be meant for other sagas, other stories, and are only introduced in these books (for example, SE is currently writing a trilogy exploring the very, very early period of the Tiste Andii and the whole deal with Anomander Rake and Mother Dark, from 200,000 years before the current books).


Also this Karsa Orlong bloke from the start of book 4 seems like a thoroughly unpleasant chap.

Don't be too quick to judge Karsa... or at least keep your mind open to him, somewhat. Remember where he is in his life, and where he's come from in those first 200 or so pages... he's just left his village/people for the first time, as the equivalent of an 18 year old, going out into the world, thinking he's all that, that he knows everything etc. Think of the major influences on him, his grandfather and the Faces in the Rock. He's definitely a character that is developed a great deal in the later books.

Edit: I just remembered, Erikson wrote something of an essay discussing Karsa (http://www.stevenerikson.com/index.php/the-problem-of-karsa-orlong/), which can give some context/explanation for him as a character, and his place in the World.

Anyway... I've gone and written far too much about this series again. Good luck with the rest of the reading.

Tritagonist
11-07-2012, 07:11 PM
Here (http://henriksahlstrom.files.wordpress.com/2012/01/dunedonelowres.jpg)'s the original image. I came across the blog of the artist while image searching the cover. The artwork was meant to be just a piece of fan-art until the guy was contacted by the publisher, who wanted to use it.
Thanks for the link. Great story about the artist, talk about a nice surprise in your mailbox!

djbriandamage
11-07-2012, 07:36 PM
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, babeeeh. It's a funny and interesting book to say the least. BUt so far i haven't found the source of it's "Classic" status. Although i've just begun reading part II.

I loved this book.

In my opinion, what makes it a classic is not the occurrences but the prose itself. HST is fearless in his self deprecation and lays himself bare to his audience. He invites you into his mind and has you watch helplessly through his eyes as he describes his horrors and travails in real time. All the reader can do is hang on and scream to the heedless author "What are you doing? Any reasonable person would have turned left but you turned right!"

There's one particular scene where they go to a hotel room and Dr. Gonzo falls asleep after a violent episode, leaving Raul Duke in a reflective mood. There's a very beautiful passage about the state of the world and the USA juxtaposing the endurance of the human spirit versus a savage world.

I ought to read this again. I highly recommend his book about living with the Hell's Angels too.

Shane
11-07-2012, 08:00 PM
Going off on a tangent here:
"I had come from reading ASoIaF and Joe Abercrombie's stuff, which, if you know them, are very, very light on the magical/fantastical/supernatural sort of stuff."

Isn't magic one of ASOIAF's major themes. I mean, if you ignore the characters' personal quests and development, the one major thing that involves everyone is the return of magic into the world. Magic may not appear often in the plot-lines but I feel it to be a significant part of the story.

Unaco
11-07-2012, 08:29 PM
Magic may not appear often in the plot-lines but I feel it to be a significant part of the story.

Oh yeah... It's certainly a part of the overall plot line/themes, and its return is definitely a major part of the story. I wasn't clear, and I was meaning more that it doesn't appear on the page that much, as you say it doesn't appear in the plot-lines themselves. Similar to Joe Abercrombie's stuff (yes, the breaking of the First Law, the ancient Magi, the 'Seed' and all that stuff are major driving themes and elements, but magic is very rarely seen on the page).

I think, with them, it goes back to a philosophy espoused by Tolkien (and somewhat dismissed/ignored/handled by Erikson), with major magic only really happening off stage as it were... If a Wizard can click his fingers and that Army is blown to dust, then the next time an Army appears, it's not going to be a threat, it loses its impact, because the Wizard can just clap his hands this time or whatever. If we're shown this terrifically powerful magic, then it becomes a get-out-clause for any sort of threat... unless the author goes in-depth with how that was just a one-off, or explanations why the Wizard can't do it this time or whatever. So, with say Dany and her Dragons, they are born small and vulnerable, they're uncontrollable, don't have their power yet... otherwise, why would Dany need an army? Why would Dany need to engage in any sort of politics, when she could just use these terrifically powerful Dragons? Instead, their impact, their power develops. We don't see these fantastic, fantastically powerful, magical 'things' on the page... otherwise, we'd be expecting to see them every time there's a threat or problem, if the story is being consistent. (I think, actually, this is discussed by GRR Martin in an interview by Joe Abercrombie, that was done just before the first series of GoT aired).

In short... I agree, and just wasn't clear in my wording. Magic and the fantasy elements are significant and important, but they don't appear on the page that much.

Erikson (and ICE) on the other hand, just throws that out of the window. But, I think that's OK, because in the context, there is such a proliferation of power, and its use draws so much attention, that it becomes this double edged sword... and so there are consistent reasons why, in some situations, it isn't over used as a fix-it for EVERYTHING (some things, but not all things). It also goes in with what I was saying above about the vulnerability of the gods/Ascendants... Yes, a god can come down and use their powers to try and do this or that. But in doing so, they draw the attention of others with power, and they know that their power is a fragile, vulnerable thing... those others could easily get involved to put an end to the powerplay, step up and slap them down. There are great risks in use of the power present in the Malazan world, which balances out its appearance on the page.

westyfield
12-07-2012, 12:34 PM
Got back from a few weeks in Canada yesterday. Finished The Cat's Table (meh), and the original Foundation trilogy by Isaac Asimov (I'm currently near the end of Second Foundation, actually the third book). Despite being several hundred pages of people talking about politics, it's a very enjoyable trilogy. My biggest gripe is that so far there has been precisely one female main character, and her job is mostly to be the level-headed, motherly, compassionate one. Other minor female characters (I can remember two) have been subservient wives or shrill harridans. One character does express surprise that on the Foundation (a community of scientists), women are treated as equals to men, so perhaps the lack of non-Foundation female characters was to make more of a point of the Foundation's superiority over the Empire.

Would definitely recommend Foundation, Foundation and Empire, and Second Foundation though.

dunnace
14-07-2012, 03:08 PM
Very on and off, but the Sherlock Holmes short stories. They're perfectly amiable reads with some nice writing but they're not exactly the awe inspiring texts everyone heralds them as. I can understand their popularity though, very easy to read and the characters do grow on you over time. Plots are somewhat haphazard though, it is actually impossible to predict how the case was done simply because so much is kept from the reader.

corbain
15-07-2012, 11:09 PM
Just got back from a week in (very sunny) Argyll and managed to finish off Blood Meridian (Cormac McCarthy) and The Troubled Man (Henning Mankell).

I struggled with Blood Meridian initially, but the pace of the plot started to pick up and I was hooked as the Glanton gang debased themsleves further and further. I was very confused by the ending and in particular the epilogue.

The final Wallander book was a real change of pace, i read it in a couple of afternoons. Like the best detecitve fiction it gripped me and didn't let go, although the fact I have spent so much time in Wallander's company over the years counts for something. Definitely not the Wallander book to start with.. Faceless Killers is best.

megarock58
16-07-2012, 04:59 AM
right now i am reading Star Wars, Dark Force rising by Timothy Zhan.

Stense
16-07-2012, 01:54 PM
Been reading Thrift by Phil Church. Pretty funny book about an incompetent teacher in an English Comprehensive school, a guy who just doesn't seem to care about education anymore.

Xercies
16-07-2012, 06:00 PM
Sounds like most teachers to be honest...

Stense
16-07-2012, 06:53 PM
Probably. Sadly.

Theblazeuk
16-07-2012, 11:48 PM
Not in my experience

zaxor0
20-07-2012, 02:14 AM
currently rereading foucault's the order of things. getting some reading in for my masters thesis.

unruly
20-07-2012, 07:47 AM
Currently reading my way through the Magic: The Gathering Odyssey Cycle books again. Just finished Odyssey itself the other day and started on Chainer's Torment. I'm a fan of quite a few of the MTG books, even despite some of them having pretty bad writing.

Eophasmus
25-07-2012, 12:41 PM
I'm about half-way through Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid by Douglas Hofstadter at the moment (and loving it), but starting to pine for some trashy space science fiction. I find myself craving something like The Gap Cycle by Stephen R. Donaldson, but there are no more, alas. I might re-read the Dune Trilogy next.

Serenegoose
06-08-2012, 12:17 PM
Recently I read Un Lun Dun by China Mieville (brilliant, wonderful book) and Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman. (You may discern a theme if you're familiar with these books - though they do not play out very similarly at all).

Un Lun Dun I can only describe as having the same effect on me as the first time I watched Spirited Away. I'd been somewhere else and I was absolutely exhausted. Brilliant characters, great plot, great dialogue, easy to read but not stupid for an instant.

Neverwhere was a lot of fun but didn't quite leave the same impression on me - I suspect that's something to do with the writing style. Deeba, the perspective character in un lun dun, is someone we're allowed to get a lot closer to than Richard, the protagonist of Neverwhere. Still, it had some utterly brilliant characters (Hunter, and Mr Croup and Mr Vandemar spring to mind...) and was pretty sad in places too.

Now I'm onto The Apocalypse Codex by Charles Stross, fourth in the Laundry Files series, which seems to be getting rather more serious. The first two books had very much an adventurous feel to them (for me) where even though the stakes were high it felt light. The Fuller Memorandum definitely had hints of the more grim direction the series was banking towards, but this book seems to have kicked it up a notch. This is not surprising, considering, as the title implies, the plot is moving headlong into the apocalypse.

magnus1969
06-08-2012, 12:58 PM
I'm trying to read 'Out of Harm's Way', that autobiography someone wrote a while back and I'm finding it very hard not to throw it across the room; 'Johnny you're doing great!' yes, you've been telling yourself that for years.

Wayward
06-08-2012, 01:01 PM
Just finished reading Slaughterhouse Five and Cat's Cradle. I preferred Cat's Cradle, I'm not a big fan of Slaughterhouse as the main character is so terribly unlikeable.

I might read more KV stuff, but I'm taking a break for a while and now reading American Gods by Neil Gaiman. About 20% through according to the Kindle, I'm enjoying it so far.

Dav3
06-08-2012, 10:21 PM
Well I was recently introduced to Neil Gaiman's Sandman. So I ended up buying Absolute Sandman Vol. 1, I've never read anything like this before, and I'm blown away. Spectacular, brilliant.

unruly
07-08-2012, 06:11 AM
Finished reading the MtG Odyssey Cycle books(Odyssey, Chainer's Torment, Judgement) last week and decided to stray away from the light reading stuff and go to something more intellectual and deep from my library.

So I picked up my copy of Dante's Divine Comedy and re-started Inferno. I got to the bit about Attila the Hun being covered to his head in a river of fire before I just couldn't take it anymore. The book puts me to sleep so quickly every time I try to read it. It could almost be considered a cure for insomnia. I may one day trudge forward through Inferno, because I know if I can get myself that far in that I can get to the end of it, but I don't think I'll ever bother with the rest of the Divine Comedy.

So the night after I put down Dante, I tried to pick up my copy of Marx's Das Kapital. That was a mistake. It's even worse. I got through about 5 pages before I decided to put it away again. And that was when I picked up my copy of Panzer Commander, which is the memoirs of Colonel Hans von Luck during his time with the 7th and 21st Panzer Divisions. And it's a good read so far. The man was present for the invasion of Poland, spearheaded the invasion of France under Erwin Rommel, took part in Operation Barbarossa, and then was transferred to the Afrikakorps at Rommel's personal request. And, if the table of contents is to be believed, he's going to end up in France and then back in Russia before the book is done so it's promising to be a good read throughout. I mean, how much better can you get than a book detailing the exploits of a highly decorated soldier who not only served with one of the most well-regarded military commanders in modern history, but also saw combat on almost every front(and in many of the major battles) of the most important war in the last 200 years?

squirrel
21-08-2012, 03:14 PM
The Joy Luck Club by Ms. Amy Tan

I am reading chapter one of this novel, which is about 4 Chinese women immigrant in the USA, to be exact, 3 from China, and 1 ethnic Chinese from Vietnam. This is an old novel in late 80s and a movie adaptation was released in early 90s. The 4 women formed a club for playing mah jong (a Chinese gambling game, as to bridge cards you play; but I believe mostly Southern Chinese play it, people here dont often play mah jong). Each woman had her own sad story from their homeland. I recently bought this a second hand book, but as a bestseller I think there must be no shortage for new copies. If you think the Joy Luck Club is a great movie, you shouldn't miss this novel.

samuraiweasel
21-08-2012, 05:29 PM
Drakon by S. M. Stirling

Trawled for books that looked interesting in the tvtropes literature section, then off to goodreads to check whether it was worth reading...

Fumarole
22-08-2012, 12:03 AM
http://wiki.lspace.org/uploads/thumb/5/58/Cover_snuff.jpg/220px-Cover_snuff.jpg

Lambchops
22-08-2012, 12:39 AM
Just got back from a week in (very sunny) Argyll

Argyll? Sunny? Are you sure you weren't somewhere else and imagined you were in Argyll?

Lovely part of the world (didn't appreciate it as much as I perhaps should have growing up there but love going back there now), but one that is usually constantly rained upon!

------

As for books I'm still making my way through Game of Thrones, on the fifth one now and not finding it quite as compulsive reading as the earlier books I have to admit. It's good and I want to see where it's going, but it just lacks a certain something compared to earlier efforts so far.

After that I've got some new(ish) Tom Holt and Robert Rankin to keep me amused.

Jokzore
22-08-2012, 12:58 AM
Silmarillion , its a timeless classic , cant go wrong with that :D

ColOfNature
22-08-2012, 01:37 AM
Recently I read Un Lun Dun by China Mieville (brilliant, wonderful book) and Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman. (You may discern a theme if you're familiar with these books - though they do not play out very similarly at all).

Un Lun Dun I can only describe as having the same effect on me as the first time I watched Spirited Away. I'd been somewhere else and I was absolutely exhausted. Brilliant characters, great plot, great dialogue, easy to read but not stupid for an instant.

Neverwhere was a lot of fun but didn't quite leave the same impression on me - I suspect that's something to do with the writing style. Deeba, the perspective character in un lun dun, is someone we're allowed to get a lot closer to than Richard, the protagonist of Neverwhere. Still, it had some utterly brilliant characters (Hunter, and Mr Croup and Mr Vandemar spring to mind...) and was pretty sad in places too.

Now I'm onto The Apocalypse Codex by Charles Stross, fourth in the Laundry Files series, which seems to be getting rather more serious. The first two books had very much an adventurous feel to them (for me) where even though the stakes were high it felt light. The Fuller Memorandum definitely had hints of the more grim direction the series was banking towards, but this book seems to have kicked it up a notch. This is not surprising, considering, as the title implies, the plot is moving headlong into the apocalypse.

My brain seems to be leaking: these were almost exactly my thoughts (except that I thought Hunter was pretty unintersting).

Just finished The Quantum Thief. It would have benefited from some more development of some of the concepts (particularly the Dilemma Prison and the ramifications of breaking the gevulot (the whole panopticon thing was expertly dealt with in Charlie Stross's Glasshouse)) but it's a brilliant first novel and I have high hopes for the sequels.

Fumarole
22-08-2012, 04:19 AM
Silmarillion , its a timeless classic , cant go wrong with that :DI've tried several time to get into this, but have faltered each time; and I love The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.

Similar
22-08-2012, 11:03 AM
Reading The Three Musketeers by Dumas. I recently found a local second hand store that sells three paperbacks for what amounts to ~1.5 USD and needed to find a third book and since I've never actually read this one, I thought I should try.
He certainly uses a lot of words; if something can be said with two words, you can be certain he uses at least ten.
That might get a bit too annoying. So far it's okay, though.

Also got Good Omens by Gaiman and Pratchett from the same store, in the exact same version a partner of mine once borrowed and which I never got back again, so it's nice to have it 'back' and it's still a great read too.

Red Storm Rising by Clancy was another I got. It's quite messy (could have done with some proof reading, at least), but it was okay, if probably mainly because it made me feel like a teenager again; it's very much an eighties book (1989, but it feels like early eighties).
I suppose it's positive that cold war stuff feels so outdated now.

And Crusader Gold by Gibbins. Sort of like Dan Brown, just not as annoying. Main problem with it is that the characters follow in the foot steps of some long dead vikings and these vikings sort of feel more alive than the characters. But it's entertaining enough in a kind of b-movie way.

Lambchops
22-08-2012, 11:21 AM
Also got Good Omens by Gaiman and Pratchett from the same store, in the exact same version a partner of mine once borrowed and which I never got back again, so it's nice to have it 'back' and it's still a great read too.


This is the only book I've bought twice, for similar lending and not getting back reasons.

Ian
22-08-2012, 11:26 AM
On the subject of Clancy I'm reading Rainbow Six and rather enjoying it.

Similar
22-08-2012, 11:41 AM
On the subject of Clancy I'm reading Rainbow Six and rather enjoying it.
yeah, Red Storm Rising did make me want to try some of his others (I'm pretty sure I have read some, but it must have been 20-25 years ago, so I don't remember anything). It just felt a bit ... unplanned or something. In the foreword he says it's based on some wargames he and a friend played and it is a bit much like the game came before the story or such.
This feeling gets stronger when you notice that he mixes up the characters sometimes (I thought it was me, there's quite a lot to keep track of, but then I reread a section and he actually did use the wrong name).

noaru
22-08-2012, 12:49 PM
Just finished reading the Dune trilogy and while I'd reread Dune anytime, I can't say the same for Dune Messiah and Children of Dune, which is a bit sad as I had better memories from when I read them as a kid.

Now I'm going through Guild Wars: Ghosts of Ascalon. Light reading, but enjoyable and fun, also it has a good bit of history and lore to prepare me for the release of GW2.

Theblazeuk
22-08-2012, 05:22 PM
I liked Un Lun Dun but Neverwhere is a classic. However this probably has more to do with the age I first read it than anything else. You may like a book called Roofworld, less metaphysical but a similar theme and an admitted influence on Gaiman. Hoping to start the latest Laundry Files book asap, got Mieville's Iron Council to get through first


This is the only book I've bought twice, for similar lending and not getting back reasons.

This is the only book I am going to buy again, for similar lending and not getting back reasons.

Bastards the lot of em eh (mainly i want another copy to lend out, sad as that is... Never learn)

VassiliBat
22-08-2012, 07:42 PM
I'm reading Closing Time, by Joseph Heller, the sequel to Catch 22. I'm a big fan of Catch 22, but this is somewhat different. Catch 22 was dark, but was balanced with absurdist humour. Set much later this book manages not only to have less humour but to somehow set the first book back to reality. It's focus on the inevitability of death just removes the joke from 'trying to live forever or dying in the attempt.' It's still a very good book, and so far no terrible, incongruent chapters like the Rome one; but although I would recommend Catch 22 unreservedly to someone, this I can't.

anark10n
22-08-2012, 08:25 PM
I've currently been taken under by the Last Ringbearer: Kirill Yeskov and The Way of Shadows: Brent Weeks. I started the latter because I was close to the finishing the former. I hate it when things end ...

Stense
22-08-2012, 09:34 PM
With the Mars Science Lab mission successfully landing the other week, I decided to re-read War of the Worlds, just so I know what to expect for when those wacky Martians retaliate for such an insult. Its still a brilliant read. Still one of the most effective alien invasion stories out there.

sabrage
26-08-2012, 07:34 AM
I'm struggling with Stephenson's Crytonomicon. Struggling in the sense that I don't think I'm nerdy enough for this book, and before opening it I had considered myself pretty damn nerdy. "...as vast and unfathomable as the global Internet..." I keep throwing the book down in disgust at lines like that, and I'm barely 100 pages in.

Space Indaver
26-08-2012, 07:36 AM
Totally broke expectations and got Ready Player One. Really easy to read, lots of well thought-out ideas about the future of games/MMOs/the internet. Liked it. Three out of four.

Nalano
26-08-2012, 08:11 AM
I'm struggling with Stephenson's Crytonomicon. Struggling in the sense that I don't think I'm nerdy enough for this book, and before opening it I had considered myself pretty damn nerdy. "...as vast and unfathomable as the global Internet..." I keep throwing the book down in disgust at lines like that, and I'm barely 100 pages in.

O brave new world, That has such people in't.

The greatest, most ground-breaking and society-changing communication device ever in the history of mankind was invented in your lifetime and you're already bored of the implications?

sabrage
26-08-2012, 08:25 AM
"In the Tolkien, not the endocrinological or Snow White sense, Randy is a Dwarf. Tolkien's Dwarves were stout, taciturn, vaguely magical creatures who spent a lot of time in the dark hammering out beautiful things, e.g. Rings of Power."

I just know shit writing when I see it. But I suppose the nerd-pandering would explain Cryptonomicon's sacred cow status on this wondrous communication tool.

Nalano
26-08-2012, 08:39 AM
"In the Tolkien, not the endocrinological or Snow White sense, Randy is a Dwarf. Tolkien's Dwarves were stout, taciturn, vaguely magical creatures who spent a lot of time in the dark hammering out beautiful things, e.g. Rings of Power."

I just know shit writing when I see it. But I suppose the nerd-pandering would explain Cryptonomicon's sacred cow status on this wondrous communication tool.

You haven't really given any indication that you would know shit writing when you see it, and I'm not exactly ready to take your word on it.

sabrage
26-08-2012, 10:30 AM
The ramifications of your disapproval will keep me up for minutes to come, I'm sure.

Unaco
26-08-2012, 03:54 PM
The ramifications of your disapproval will keep me up for minutes to come, I'm sure.

lol.

I finished my re-read of the Malazan Book of the Fallen (and the ICE Novels of the Malazan Empire) sometime last week*. However, I am continuing with the Steven Erikson/Malazan World, and am currently reading Forge of Darkness, the first book of the Kharkanas trilogy. I'll try not to spoil anything, but for those who are interested - It goes back to however many hundreds of thousands of years before the main Malazan sequence, and seems to be dealing with the Tiste peoples, the whole Mother Dark, Father Light, Shadow situation, and those things that have become known as the Elder Gods. Again, I don't want to spoil anything, but it is definitely revelatory in many ways, and I really like what he's done with the book and the history... it fits in really well, I think, with the way that history, myth and legend are in the Malazan world.

*I effused about them in several posts, earlier in this thread.

Shane
31-08-2012, 07:21 PM
*I effused about them in several posts, earlier in this thread.

Yea, you convinced me to give this series a go. Have ordered Gardens of the Moon over the internet, it should be arriving in a day or two.

Drinking with Skeletons
31-08-2012, 07:34 PM
Just finished re-reading Neil Gaiman's Sandman and am getting ready to re-read its spin-off, Lucifer. If you are a fantasy fan and haven't read Sandman, it comes with my highest recommendation for content, style, and accessibility.

Ravelle
31-08-2012, 07:57 PM
Just finished re-reading Neil Gaiman's Sandman and am getting ready to re-read its spin-off, Lucifer. If you are a fantasy fan and haven't read Sandman, it comes with my highest recommendation for content, style, and accessibility.

One day I will buy the absolute sandman edition.

Fumarole
31-08-2012, 08:53 PM
I just finished Snuff and must say I found it the weakest Discworld novel yet. Part of me can't help but wonder if it's related to pterry's condition. If so I'll make the saddest sadface ever.

Now I'm on to A Storm of Swords.

Theblazeuk
01-09-2012, 01:50 PM
I just finished Snuff and must say I found it the weakest Discworld novel yet. Part of me can't help but wonder if it's related to pterry's condition. If so I'll make the saddest sadface ever.

Now I'm on to A Storm of Swords.

I thought unseen academics was the worst...quite liked Snuff if not quite as much as I'd hoped. I do love that he got the idea from playing Morrowind and wishing he could just talk to the cave denizens of Tamriel though, and even moreso that someone made a mod for him to do just that.

Currently reading Iron Council by China Mieville. Sick mind sometimes, a corpse golem! But then a sound golem... interesting worlds, wouldn't want to live there, not so swayed by the characters but the crazyness is compellingly imaginative.

Unaco
01-09-2012, 09:08 PM
Yea, you convinced me to give this series a go. Have ordered Gardens of the Moon over the internet, it should be arriving in a day or two.

Good luck with it... hope you get as much enjoyment from them as I did. Let me know how you get on. And if I can give you a few pieces of advice...

Be ready to 'flounder' a little, at the start. It's a vast world the 2 authors have created, and it was never going to be easy to write a 'painless' introduction to it. Persevere and a lot will be revealed. Not all. But definitely a lot. It'll at least make a lot more sense, anyway. If you get the same (Bantam paperback) edition of Gardens of the Moon as I did, Erikson's foreword covers this.

It's proven to be a good test for readers and the series... either people drop it halfway through Gardens, or something clicks with them at around that point, and then they stick with the series. When I first started, I was a little concerned... it wasn't clicking, I didn't know what to think, I thought it was trash almost. Then, into the 2nd half of the book, something clicked. And yeah... it's probably now my favourite series of books, next to Kandell, Schwarz & Jessell's "Principles of Neuroscience".

Gardens of the Moon also has a slightly different structure and flavour when compared to the other novels. It's partially because it is the 1st book, and so some groundwork has to be laid with it. It's also because it was written and rewritten over the course of about 9 years, was once a film script, and was at one point a comedy about the regulars of the Phoenix Inn. Don't judge the whole series by the 1 book. It's a great book in my opinion, but a little unique amongst the series.

Persevere. It's a series were you begin to settle in, with the characters etc. of Book1, and then Book2 starts an entirely new story line, with new characters, in a new continent. You then start getting attached to them, and Book3 jumps back to the 1st storyline. Then Book4 goes back to the 2nd and starts tying the 1st storyline in. Then Book5 jumps to an entirely unknown/unmentioned continent and introduces a 3rd storyline. The next few books then work to tie the 3 storylines together and show the big, overall storyline that has been behind it all. But it's a series that will serve the 'big picture' at the expense, sometimes, of the individual books. Things like... some enigma introduced in the 1st book won't be concluded until, say, the 8th. You'll be left with questions at the end of a book, things won't be resolved, until a later book, or not at all (so far, in what has been published).

Edit: I apologise, once again, for writing too much about this series. There's a character in it called Brevity. I should probably think of her whenever I come to write about it.

Similar
02-09-2012, 12:45 PM
I read the Forgotten Legion trilogy by Ben Kane. It's fairly entertaining, though maybe it's a bit too long; after a while it starts to seem a little implausible all these bad things keep happening to the main characters. And I'm not quite sure the attitudes of the characters is wholly convincing either, seems like some of the things they feel are a bit opposite of what would be natural. But the stuff about Roman battles and such is interesting.

Now I'm reading the Black Company series by Glen Cook. I got them a good while ago, probably due to this thread, and I think I started on the first book back then too, but it seemed messy and confusing. I tried again yesterday and now I'm halfway through the second book. It's a weird universe, but it works rather well.

Frostworker
02-09-2012, 12:57 PM
The eye of the world! Wheel of time series! For the win!

Serenegoose
02-09-2012, 01:40 PM
I just finished Snuff and must say I found it the weakest Discworld novel yet. Part of me can't help but wonder if it's related to pterry's condition. If so I'll make the saddest sadface ever.

Now I'm on to A Storm of Swords.

I definitely remember some really weak discworld books - way weaker than Snuff - so I wouldn't go holding such beliefs just yet. I could never finish Carpe Jugulum, for example.

Kelron
02-09-2012, 04:30 PM
I enjoyed Snuff. Much better than Making Money and Unseen Academicals.

Similar
02-09-2012, 05:14 PM
I could never finish Carpe Jugulum, for example.
Funny. For me, that one gets better every time I read it. I do remember being a bit underwhelmed the first time, though.

Might matter which order you've read the books in. Carpe Jugulum was one of the first I read, so that formed my image of the witches. When I read the earlier books, the witches seem off, sort of 2 dimensional compared to the later books.

Fumarole
02-09-2012, 06:00 PM
I enjoyed Snuff. Much better than Making Money and Unseen Academicals.I dug Making Money. But I must say Unseen Academicals would be my second least favorite of the series.


Might matter which order you've read the books in. Carpe Jugulum was one of the first I read, so that formed my image of the witches. When I read the earlier books, the witches seem off, sort of 2 dimensional compared to the later books.The first I read was Guards! Guards! I believe, back in the early 90s. After that I think I pretty much read them in the order they were published from The Colour of Magic on.

Vague-rant
02-09-2012, 10:12 PM
My Discworld reading is nowhere near absolute but I'd probably rate Carpe Jugulum below Unseen Academicals. Making Money was a disappointment, but after really liking Going Postal (despite some foibles), it probably couldn't be helped.

All this Discworld talk makes me want to read my battered copy of Reaper Man again. My 3rd discworld book but my absolute favourite- simply the right book at the right point in my life. Strange how such a thing can colour your opinion permanently.

In terms of what I've read, Rivers of London and the rest of the PC Grant books. Supernatural police department, but fairly grounded in reality. That's at least in part due to the fact that there are two people in the department and the senior officer has effectively osticised himself from the rest of the "Magic community" allowing drip feeding of information. As a Londoner I very much appreciated the references to real locations etc. Has my stamp of approval, whatever thats worth.

westyfield
02-09-2012, 11:03 PM
Chasm City, by Alastair Reynolds. It's set in the Revelation Space universe but it's not part of the core trilogy. It's nice to fill in the background and explore some of the locations from the series but I'm not sure it'd hold the interest of someone who hadn't read at least the first two from the trilogy already.

noaru
03-09-2012, 10:50 AM
Finished Ghosts of Ascalon, the first Guild Wars 2 novel. Very light read, but enjoyable and also a good source of lore for the universe of the game. Picked up Edge of Destiny as well, the second novel, as this is the perfect time to read it while the game is fresh and the history ties in quite nicely with the in-game events.

Serenegoose
04-09-2012, 11:12 AM
Yesterday I finished the last of Traitor Queen, Trudi Canavan's most recent book. It was a nice little conclusion to everything that happened with a few sad notes, so I'm pleased with it - it lived up to everything I wanted with her writing.

now I'm onto The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch. Since it's the first book in a series called "The Gentleman Bastards" I expect great things.

Winged Nazgul
04-09-2012, 11:13 AM
now I'm onto The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch. Since it's the first book in a series called "The Gentleman Bastards" I expect great things.

It starts out slow but stick with it...it truly is worth it.

Jesus_Phish
04-09-2012, 11:29 AM
First Game of Thrones book. Never paid attention to them until after I saw the series and I'm quite slow at reading through books (games take most of my time up) so it took me until after season 2 to buy the first one. Really enjoying it.

Vague-rant
06-09-2012, 07:24 PM
It starts out slow but stick with it...it truly is worth it.

Speaking of which isn't number 3 out soon? (Actually wikipedia is telling me it's September 2013!)

Also, the second book was a bit of a let down for me. I thought they'd do more with pirates, and Locke seems to become a bit ineffective- which is fair enough plot-wise, it just didn't make for the best reading. Don't think that's spoilery.

BjolkeDeBjeer
07-09-2012, 02:24 PM
I just finished The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi. Highly original and very good.

DaftPunk
07-09-2012, 05:24 PM
3rd rock from the sun,i really like Dick's performance,really good actor :D

Lukasz
07-09-2012, 05:32 PM
3rd rock from the sun,i really like Dick's performance,really good actor :D
3rd rock from sun rocks. but thats wrong thread!

coldvvvave
07-09-2012, 08:17 PM
I tried reading Cloud Atlas but... well, I just can't. It bored me.

Serenegoose
08-09-2012, 10:48 AM
Finished The Lies of Locke Lamora yesterday, so onto the sequel. After that I think I shall read the other Tiffany Aching books.

Ravelle
08-09-2012, 12:36 PM
Finished The Lies of Locke Lamora yesterday, so onto the sequel. After that I think I shall read the other Tiffany Aching books.

Good to finally see someone reading those books! I loved both of them two bits, get ready for some crazy shit for the next book.

It's really sad Scott Lynch suffered mental problems and had to postpone writing the books, I've been waiting forever for the third book now. Wiki says the third book is expected publication in autumn 2013 but I guess that can be taken with some salt.

Koobazaur
10-09-2012, 12:06 AM
Kafka on the Shore... more like, Kafka on the WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON

aladinversuk
10-09-2012, 04:46 AM
I am reading a book called "Ghastly Ghost Stories".

ambing1
10-09-2012, 03:31 PM
Man's Search For Meaning.
Good read. Finished it in one seating.

fiddlesticks
10-09-2012, 04:13 PM
Kafka on the Shore... more like, Kafka on the WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON
With a title like that it'd be more surprising if the book wasn't completely incrompehensible.

Koobazaur
10-09-2012, 10:53 PM
haha, it's actually not so much incomprehensible, as just really random and off-the-wall. But in a good way, it's intriguing. And I do love me some Franz Kafka too :)

sabrage
10-09-2012, 11:31 PM
Kafka on the Shore... more like, Kafka on the WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON
Have you read Kangaroo Notebook?

kalilyrr
11-09-2012, 04:39 AM
I've been reading Mein Kampf.

Steph
11-09-2012, 11:17 AM
haha, it's actually not so much incomprehensible, as just really random and off-the-wall. But in a good way, it's intriguing. And I do love me some Franz Kafka too :)

Very intriguing indeed though I enjoyed 'Norwegian Wood' more.
I'm reading Foucault's Pendulum and it embarrassess Dan Brown and it's code in every possible way.
What a masterpiece.

squirrel
11-09-2012, 02:01 PM
Poorly Made In China (http://www.amazon.com/Poorly-Made-China-Insiders-Production/dp/0470928077/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1347368299&sr=8-1&keywords=poorly+made+in+china) by Mr. Paul Midler, a US business consultant stationing in Guangdong, Southeastern China, specializing in solutions for importers who are in trouble with Chinese manufacturing, quality issue is often the issue he is hired to sort out. Kinda freelancer he is.

As the title suggested, this book concerns quality problem of Chinese manufactured products, and what cause them. He claimed from the beginning of the book that he wasn't intending to provide solution for the issue, since he wasn't prepared so yet, but it would be essential to address the nature of the problem first so that we can study it more thoroughly for solutions. I've read 6 chapters out of 22. He explained why importers all over the world choose to procure from China in spite of all the negative issues they have to face here, and it seems not likely for them to move their manufacturing base to other regions in the near future.

This book is not that well organized in my opinion. In the each of the first 6 chapters, it is quite noticeable the focus is easily distracted. But I admire his observation, which so far is very consistent with mine who is adapted to the business culture here (but of course, do I have a choice otherwise?!)

BTW, really interesting to learn that in the west, restaurant is kinda business emerged only after the French Revolution 1789. Is this true?

Shane
16-09-2012, 04:23 PM
Good luck with it... hope you get as much enjoyment from them as I did. Let me know how you get on. And if I can give you a few pieces of advice...

Be ready to 'flounder' a little, at the start. It's a vast world the 2 authors have created, and it was never going to be easy to write a 'painless' introduction to it. Persevere and a lot will be revealed. Not all. But definitely a lot. It'll at least make a lot more sense, anyway. If you get the same (Bantam paperback) edition of Gardens of the Moon as I did, Erikson's foreword covers this.

It's proven to be a good test for readers and the series... either people drop it halfway through Gardens, or something clicks with them at around that point, and then they stick with the series. When I first started, I was a little concerned... it wasn't clicking, I didn't know what to think, I thought it was trash almost. Then, into the 2nd half of the book, something clicked. And yeah... it's probably now my favourite series of books, next to Kandell, Schwarz & Jessell's "Principles of Neuroscience".


I've finished the book, and am a bit underwhelmed. Well, I was expecting something like A Song of Ice and Fire with more wizardry and orcs, but these two do not have much in common. Erickson, unlike Martin who gives more attention to the characters than world-building, Erickson tries to keep it balanced. Gardens of the Moon follows a bunch of characters but also focuses on the world whose history spanning hundreds of thousands of years has an effect on the present events and the characters. The setting and lore kept me interested, but the storyline and characters, those I found to be fucking awful.

The characters feel shallow and coarse, with bullshit motivations and make stupid choices. Lorn baits to Tyrant to Darujhistan and unleashes a Demon Lord despite knowing that either of these could flatten the very city that she had been sent to help conquer. I feel that the duality in personality that Erickson tries to portray amongst characters like Lorn, Rallick, Crokus et al was poorly depicted and left me doubting the sanity of these folks. Characters that have been alive/sentient for millennia do not differ much from mortals is their intelligence or motivation. Oponn makes two the characters its tools which accomplishes nothing other than putting itself in peril and having its tools used against it. All of the good guys making it out in one piece was another thing that pt me off. The one character I didn't outright hate was Anomander Rake but he too felt more like a victim of the uber-badass cliche.

The book felt like something a D&D player would write; a deep history, a number of cultures, epic stuff happening, dragons, feminist streaks, magic, well defined rpg-ish classes, this is a setting that begs for a tabletop adaptation unless it hasn't been done already. Anyway, I don't think that this series is for me, I look for different things in a fantasy novel than what it chooses to focus on.

Lanko
18-09-2012, 03:43 PM
I read any type of romantic books preferred to read and these books fulfill over sexual requirements...any body like this?????
NTEP scale (http://www.primescales.net/)

mrpier
18-09-2012, 04:32 PM
The book felt like something a D&D player would write; a deep history, a number of cultures, epic stuff happening, dragons, feminist streaks, magic, well defined rpg-ish classes, this is a setting that begs for a tabletop adaptation unless it hasn't been done already. Anyway, I don't think that this series is for me, I look for different things in a fantasy novel than what it chooses to focus on.

Spot on, that's the origin of the world, it was a rpg world created by Erikson and Esslemont, and I think Gardens of the Moon originally started out as a script for a movie.

SephKing
18-09-2012, 11:04 PM
Just finished reading The Suicide Shop by Jean Teule. Picked it at random in a book store waiting for my train and it's surprisingly hilarious.

About to get started on The Tibetan Book of Life and Death that my former boss gave to me last week. Going to be a loooong read.

Serenegoose
23-09-2012, 12:46 PM
I think my current reading plans are:

Finish Red Seas Under Red Skies (amazing.)
Grab one of the Tiffany Aching books to read and finish that in time for...
Oct 4th, when The Hydrogen Sonata by Iain M M Banks is released, and then finish that in time for Oct 18th, when Red Country, by Joe Abercrombie is released. Good month for books, October is. Lots of Red in what I'm reading, too. Oh goodness, now it's doing that thing where I've typed the word out and it's lost meaning.

Serenegoose
23-09-2012, 12:46 PM
Good to finally see someone reading those books! I loved both of them two bits, get ready for some crazy shit for the next book.


Your name makes a lot more sense now, Orrin.

Unaco
23-09-2012, 06:31 PM
Spot on, that's the origin of the world, it was a rpg world created by Erikson and Esslemont, and I think Gardens of the Moon originally started out as a script for a movie..

It was intended to be a movie originally... ICE and Erikson tried to get it funded, out of Hollywood, for quite a while. At one point it was going to be a comedy movie based on the Phoenix Inn regulars (Kruppe, Rallick Nom, Murillo etc). It was never intended to be a book, until someone suggested they try that route. I think, from this and the rewriting, that it does suffer somewhat.

I can understand people having issues with Gardens of the Moon. It's a good book, I think... but it isn't the best introduction to the Malazan series. It definitely has its problems. If you do have Deadhouse Gates though, I would give that a read before you give up... It changes the focus quite a lot, the Chain of Dogs is a brilliant bit of story telling, and it feels more like the first book of the Book of the Fallen. If not, I apologise for my hard sell on the series, if I misrepresented it or pushed it on you.

Anyway... I'm currently reading the Anabasis by Xenophon. It's not fiction, but instead the true story of 10,000 Greek/Hellenic mercenaries, who went to Persia at the behest of the Persian King's brother to kick some arse. Unbeknownst to the majority, that arse was the one belonging to the Persian King. They fought a battle, won, but their employer was killed, their allies bought/scared off... and they were left in a foreign, hostile land, with no idea how to get home, surrounded by enemies, under almost constant attack, and the threat of annihilation (they were largely heavy infantry, while their enemy had lots of cavalry - the enemy could run away safely and never be caught/wiped out. They couldn't run, ever, or would be destroyed). It's actually one of the inspirations of the Chain of Dogs I mentioned earlier. It might be the translation I got, but it isn't the most emotionally told story... it's a little dry, not much description or 'character' to it. But it is a historical text, and very insightful. Xenophon was a contemporary of Socrates and Plato, and he could write very well in an analytical and informative way.

I've also just finished reading Mark Lawrence's Broken Empire books 1 and 2 (Prince and King of Thorns). It's another of these that seeks to completely invert the traditions of Fantasy, I think. Instead of the story of the Fantasy hero, and his arc/development, it's the arc of a Fantasy 'villain', the big bad. It's also not the 'historical' sort of fantasy, but is set in a post-apocalypse, where the previous advanced civilisation has been all but wiped off the face of the earth, and society has reverted to a feudal state. It was utterly compelling, and I found it difficult to put down the two books... ripped through them in about a week. It's definitely not going to be for everyone... the main character is, largely, a bastard. An absolute bastard. Amoral, unflinching, driven. But also somewhat charming. I won't spoil anything, but he isn't completely irredeemable. Almost so, but not quite.

After that, I started a re-read of Joe Abercrombies 5 books, starting with The Blade Itself, in preparation/anticipation of a Red Country. I'm very much looking forward to that... Nicomo Cosca and Logen Ninefingers!

That's a shame to hear about Scott Lynch. I thoroughly enjoyed the first 2 Locke Lamora books, even if they weren't the grandest, epicest, mature books, and was looking forward to Republic of Thieves.

Raaritsgozilla
24-09-2012, 12:35 AM
Halfway through "The October Horse" by Colleen Mccullough.

Some may know it, but if you dont its a series of 7 set in the mid to late republic/early principate of Rome. I just finish the 7th book then seem to go back to the first again.

But during my upcoming holiday I have Magician and Beevor's Second World War to read. Much excite

jackieo
24-09-2012, 03:22 AM
I tried reading Cloud Atlas but... well, I just can't. It bored me.

I almost picked that one up yesterday. Boring how? I'm disappointed to hear that :(

Stense
24-09-2012, 03:08 PM
I've been reading 'Penguins Stopped Play' by Harry Thompson. It's an account of his old village cricket team that he formed whilst at Oxford University and how they toured various cricket playing countries. It started off pretty promising, with the event that the book gets it name from, a time in which a flock of penguins stopped play whilst on a trip to Antarctica. Unfortunately, it goes downhill when Thompson rewinds to the start and goes through the history of the team and its members, who I find to be all utterly horrible people.

Koobazaur
24-09-2012, 11:39 PM
146 pages into Gibson's Neuromancer. It was a bit hard to get into, with so much allegory and invent-a-words, but now that I got into flow of things I'm totally hooked. Definitely see how many cyberpunk games and movies taken inspiration from this!

Jockie
29-09-2012, 01:40 AM
According to this thread it was 01-06-2012 when I started reading the Malazan book of the fallen series, I've just finished reapers gale (book 7), three to go.

Amazon seems to think the next is the weakest of the lot though.

Labbes
29-09-2012, 02:08 AM
I almost picked that one up yesterday. Boring how? I'm disappointed to hear that :(

I only interrupted reading it because the new Pratchett came out, but Cloud Atlas is quite good. It doesn't even have a slow start, although it is episodic and I don't really know where it all is going to lead to yet. The characters are brilliant, and the stories they tell are very good also.

squirrel
29-09-2012, 02:20 AM
Dark Pools: The Rise of AI Trading Machines and the Looming Threat to Wall Street by Mr. Scott Patterson.

Pool is the term used to refer to a venue where traders trade commodities, including currencies, securities, commodity futures, etc. Dark Pools are pools where participants are not required to disclose their trading, not like in some public exchange like NYSE where traders' trading details are to be revealed, yet Dark Pools are supposed to be legal. This book introduces the new trading technology by computers which run themselves after being programmed with AI. And to escape regulations they seek refuge in those Dark Pools.

Shane
02-10-2012, 11:28 AM
I have begun reading the Colour of Magic, and the only thing I can think of is, 'why didn't I get it before!". The writing is just frigging brilliant:

Some might have taken him for a mere apprentice enchanter who had run away from his master out of defiance, boredom, fear and a lingering taste for heterosexuality.

Rincewind switched to High Borogravian, to Vanglemesht, Sumtri and even Black Oroogu, the language with no nouns and only one adjective, which is obscene.

Koobazaur
07-10-2012, 11:40 PM
This morning I felt compelled to skip my usual breakfast to bike to nearby cafe, have a moffin and sip on a coffee while reading 75 pages of Rothfuss's The Name of the Wind. I don't think I can deny I am hooked. Interesting opening, a bit of a lull after (the whole "traveling troupe" was zzz, but I did enjoy his explanation of magic), and things picking up after the something-big-happens (YAY!) and he spends 3 years surviving in the city.

That's how far in I am now, only ~200 pages; while it does feel a little cliche ("growing in a traveling band", "parents killed", "lonely kids learns to steal and beg on streets etc.), it's still keeping me engaged, and I am finding his descriptions of the world/setting more engaging than I normally have patience for (I lauded The Witcher books exactly because of how succinct the descriptions were). Also likes the little allegory of new Testament and Jesus.


At the same time I am some 50 pages into Jetter's Infernal Devices which hasn't quite grabbed me as much as the other one, but I like that it is more action rather than description based. The mystery of the coin continues...

Stense
08-10-2012, 10:34 AM
The Name of the Wind does sound interesting, might have to give it a go myself.

Just started reading Blackout by Mira Grant, the final book in the (euurggh) Newsflesh trilogy. I really enjoyed the first two books, finding them to be interesting takes on the old zombie apocalypse trope. The characters are for the most part pretty fun and the set up for the final book sounds suitably grim. Looking forward to getting into it.

Serenegoose
08-10-2012, 05:35 PM
The Hydrogen Sonata, by Iain M Banks. Interesting premise, and it's all kicking off very early, which is strange for a culture novel, which tends towards the slow-ish burn. The ensemble cast is perhaps a touch too big, this time however. Besides a few of the show-stealing (as ever) ship minds, none of the characters really stick in my head yet, even as much as just their names.

Fumarole
09-10-2012, 02:07 AM
The Name of the Wind does sound interesting, might have to give it a go myself.It is quite excellent.

Lukasz
09-10-2012, 07:30 AM
Crystal Shard aka first book in Icewind Dale Trilogy aka fourth book in Drizzt Saga

Serenegoose
11-10-2012, 03:47 PM
Finished The Hydrogen Sonata. Hmmm. The whole thing comes together rather nicely, but is a bit confusing near the start when half the cast have enormous, similar feeling names, and you're struggling to recall who's who and where.

ColOfNature
13-10-2012, 05:42 PM
I just re-read Matter. It was actually much better on a second reading. I suspect I went in the first time expecting all the whizz-bangery and Mind-fuck shenanigans of an Excession or a Look To Windward, whereas it's a much smaller, more human story (until the big Sealed Evil in a Can denouement, of course). It still has some of the tropes we expect from the Culture novels, but they're not as front-and-centre as in others of the series.

Planning to pick up Hydrogen Sonata next week. Looking forward to some whizz-bangery!

squirrel
14-10-2012, 05:33 AM
Recently acquired this interesting book, The Truth of World Resources with Graphical Illustration (http://www.books.com.tw/exep/prod/booksfile.php?item=0010556172).

In East Asia we have a lot of such books about knowledge we general public need to be informed, yet those are too sophisticated for us. Those scientists, economists,... etc would try their best to dump it down to us. In Japan, Taiwan, Mainland China, Hongkong,......... There are tons of them. I know that in the west you can get everything from Internet, but in the east, our web is not mature enough to have a comprehensive Wiki -- yes Wikipedia has Chinese version but it doesn't cover as broad as the English one.

So this book covers the distribution of resources: mostly commonly known such as fresh water, oil, coal, natural gas, precious metals, all the like; to some recently hot topics like rare-soil. How they are geographically located, how nations strategically store them, how they are traded, and so on...... and sadly, of course, how they give rise to international conflicts. This is a Japanese book and the version I have is Chinese translated from Taiwan. Of course, you could start collecting tons of related information on web, but every study should have a good start-up, and for me this books seems to be an ideal one.

BTW, just finished Dark Pools: The Rise of A.I. Trading Machines and the Looming Threat to Wall Street (http://www.randomhouse.co.uk/editions/dark-pools-the-rise-of-ai-trading-machines-and-the-looming-threat-to-wall-street/9781847940971) by Mr. Scott Patterson, a non-fiction about development of automated financial trading. It is sad to learn that while I am stuck in some stupid office politics to earn some pathetic wages, the world outside has been progressing so fundamentally in just the last two decades and I was just left behind like that. But anyway, life is life.

Oracizan
14-10-2012, 11:13 PM
I am just starting to read Kurt Vonnegut, as in all of them.

Goateh
15-10-2012, 12:22 PM
I'm about halfway through A Fire Upon The Deep by Vernor Vinge. I'm enjoying the book plenty but I don't particularly like the core concept of the zones. I like the characters, the writing and most of the ideas presented but the zones seems a bit artificial. It's the first of a few books in the setting so they may be explained more as time goes on but I have some real problems with working out how the slow zone is fundamentally different to the transcend, other then 'because that's how it is.' Still, lots of fun to be had. The pack minds of the Tines are probably my favourite part of it, despite the lack of sci-fi in their story so far.

In general, so much to read and so little time. I just finished off The Forge of Darkness, a new book and time period in the Malazan series and they've already announced another Malazan book for next month. As ever I love the world and I'm not sure on the characters or the occasionally meandering narrative. It is nice to see the origins of lots of characters who were in the main series though and the new one looks to be exploring new parts of the world.

I still have the Hydrogen Sonata waiting to be read, which I'm looking forward to, and I loved China Mieville's Bas Lag books. I recently started on some William Gibson, having never tried cyberpunk books before, and I also decided to give Asimov another go. Maybe I'll appreciate it more than I did 10 years ago. Life is hard with so much to read.

SirDavies
15-10-2012, 02:09 PM
I'm currently reading Notes from Underground by Dostoyevsky. That guy knew how to write.

Unaco
17-10-2012, 08:34 PM
Got about 200 pages left on Best Served Cold by Joe Abercrombie... 2nd read through of the First Law trilogy, BSC and The Heroes, in anticipation for Red Country, my copy of which has dispatched from Amazon!! Should arrive before I'm done with The Heroes as well, so there shan't be a break in my Abercrombie binge. And I have next week off work!

Just to point out, if anyone was looking for a copy at a decent price, it's only Ł7.64 on Amazon.co.uk currently, which is pretty damn good for a Hardback new release. Should ship pretty sharpish as well.

Also still working my way through the Anabasis by Xenophon, at those times when I have my Kindle but not a book.

internetonsetadd
20-10-2012, 09:07 AM
Finished Haldeman's The Forever War. Started Forever Free.

Similar
20-10-2012, 10:28 AM
I finished Jack Campbell's Tarnished Knight, book one of the new Lost Stars series which is going to cover events and people from his Lost Fleet series. Tarnished Knight is about Iceni and Drakon and events in the Midway system that took place while Jack Geary was off to other places.

The book felt a bit short. I'm not sure if it actually is, but it's sort of building up to something and then ends fairly abruptly before the something happens. If you've read Lost Fleet and Lost Fleet: Beyond the Frontier in particular, you know what happens after the book ends, so I suppose it makes sense for it to end where it does, but ... it still feels a little too sudden.
I hope the story will be continued in a later book.

I would also say that having read at least the two books in the Lost Fleet: Beyond the Frontier series, and preferably the six books in Lost Fleet too, is practically a requirement for reading Tarnished Knight. If you haven't, I think there'll be a number things that will seem poorly explained.

doctor_roxo
21-10-2012, 04:30 AM
Currently reading Clash of Kings. from the Song of Ice and Fire series. almost finished with it and will move on the third book in the series immediately.

squirrel
21-10-2012, 06:49 AM
War Dog: Fighting Other People's War by Al J. Venter.

Mr. Venter introduced himself in the book as a warzone journalist for the Jane's Information Group. (I dont know, I thought most warzone journalists are freelancers with not specific employer.) As the title suggested, this book covers the stories of mercenaries, the profession according to Mr. Venter as "the second oldest in civilization".

Quite an old book, I think the printed version has been out of print but there is an electronic version from some major online bookstore.

Splynter
24-10-2012, 05:48 PM
The Fionavar Tapestry by Guy Gavriel Kay.

I'm really enjoying this one. Epic fantasy trilogy, modern world characters (from my home town!) transported to another world, war, intrigue, multiple character POVs, integration of European/Celtic mythology, etc. It's a lot of fun, and manages to avoid being cliched. Ysabel, another book by the same author is also very good.

Labbes
25-10-2012, 03:49 PM
Finished Snow Crash some days ago, which was completely unlike anything I expected, but quite good. Reminded me of the good parts of Tad Williams' Otherland (unfortunately that series is mostly bad parts).
Started reading The Darkness That Comes Before due to heavy recommendations from Guild Wars 2 RPS people. It's very reminiscent of ASoIaF in a good way, although I don't have clue where all of this is going. I like none of the Empire characters, still hoping the barbarian kills them all, but it's probably not going to happen.

Fumarole
26-10-2012, 01:39 AM
Just started God Is Not Great after finishing book four of a poem of frost and flame. Quite the gear shift I must say.

corbain
27-10-2012, 03:50 PM
...after finishing book four of a poem of frost and flame

Is that a euphemism for A Song of Ice and Fire?

corbain
27-10-2012, 03:54 PM
Have been reading the first omnibus collection of Jeeves and Wooster by P.G.Wodehouse

I think the books would be better served read individually rather than in an omnibus, due to the striking feeling that all the stories fit the same template.

Having said that, they are brilliantly funny, well observed stories and kept me amused for 3 weeks travelling around Malaysia, even if I did start to speak like a bally colonial, wot!

Serenegoose
27-10-2012, 06:50 PM
Started The Gathering of the Lost by Helen Lowe. Good so far, though not really all that much more to say on it. Like the book before it, The Heir of Night it's got a very 'classic fantasy' feel to it, which both works for it and against it, since it's not what I'd call 'easy reading'. But I've always had a weakness to stories of that sort as long as they're well told, and by all accounts it is.

Fumarole
27-10-2012, 07:44 PM
Is that a euphemism for A Song of Ice and Fire?Just so.


10char

Koobazaur
28-10-2012, 02:23 AM
Wrapped up Rothfuss's Name of the Wind and on to the sequel, Wise Man's Fear. I feel like it is a bit slow and composed of many predictable cliches, yet I find myself yearning to keep reading it. Good job Rothfuss, good damn job :|

Also started on Piers Anthony's A Spell for Chameleon which is... peculiar. Only one chapter in, so can't say where the story is going yet. Remind's me of T. H White's The Once and Future King though.

Cryptoshrimp
29-10-2012, 11:22 PM
I'm reading quite a lot at the moment. I've almost finished Quiet by Susan Cain. I'm not sure what I think about it. It's basically a thick, somewhat science-supported pamphlet promoting the joys of introversion as opposed to extroversion. Nice as something that affirms your views, maybe.

Then I'm reading the collected works of Kafka, translated into Dutch (because my German stops at 'yes' and 'no'). I'm not very far yet, but it's very interesting. Quite hard to get into, and certainly not something you read for a short while, while waiting for something. Definitely have to make time for it.

Which is why I'm also reading The God Delusion, which, despite written by a scientist, is pretty well suited to the pick-up-and-put-down style Kafka isn't. At least the first chapters, because I'm not very far either.

Oh, and I also re-read Gardens of the Moon, which I still think is one of the better books in that series, in terms of mystery.

Sneaky edit: I'm also reading college coursework, consisting of HTML5 and CSS stuff I already knew.

squirrel
08-11-2012, 02:48 PM
A Chinese book "Understand History Through Money Eyes - China (http://www.books.com.tw/exep/prod/booksfile.php?item=0010559979)" by a guy pen named Boeing

In middle schools here, our Chinese history (every country's middle school subjects would include that country's own history I presume?) textbooks are divided into two parts: Part A of political development, and Part B of socio-economic development. More middle History teachers here find Part A more interesting and they often ignore Part B. I dont know if this is really permitted by the Education Department, after all Part B is officially included in Chinese History's syllabus. Anyway, middle school education is not assessed by any public examination, so they can afford to ignore it. Something so natural, isn't it? Part A is just like a novel to read, while Part B is boring as hell. But I read Part B of my textbooks myself, and Chinese History education in colleges here requires that students must study well in Part B (yeah, those who think studying History is just like reading novels, that they choose Chinese History in universities, are gonna be screwed).

So this book is exactly covering Part B. Another causal book to promote the supposingly boring academic studies. It describes the economic systems and constraints we faced in the past 4000 years and how they shaped our country. The author tried his best to get general audience to understand that History is not shaped by one or few heroes. Our welfare is determined by our geography. If rainfall distribution dictates that you could not grow crops in the north where annual rainfall is below 400mm, people there would be nomads, and would from time to time raid the southern peasants.

But great economists might occasionally emerge to reshape our society in spite of those constraint. For instance, to protect the issue above, during the Qin dynasty, the infamous Qin First Emperor decided that, in stead of waging massive warfare against the nomads, he ordered to, after having driven the nomads to the north, built the Great Wall (yes, THE Great Wall) exactly among the line dividing the zone from the North with annual rainfall below 400mm.

JibberJabber
08-11-2012, 08:24 PM
I never finished a book in my life besides those preschool books that have a few sentences in them and lots of pictures. I like pictures.

I don't know why this is though. I usually lay down in bed ( I hate when I have to sit in a chair and read because it hurts my neck when I try to look down on the book that's on my lap. Even if I try to raise the book up to my eye level , it feels totally uncomfortable for my circulation system ; so I just put it backdown to my lap level. Did I mention what happens when I put it on my lap? ) and when I try to read , I always end up falling asleep.

Fontan
09-11-2012, 01:56 AM
I'm almost finishing Metro 2033 by Dmitry Glukhovsky. You know, the one that inspired the game. It's been quite a good reading.

Dr Bloodmoney
09-11-2012, 01:47 PM
I'm almost finishing Metro 2033 by Dmitry Glukhovsky. You know, the one that inspired the game. It's been quite a good reading.
If you haven't already, you should consider reading Roadside Picnic by Arkady & Boris Strugatsky which was the inspiraration for the film "Stalker", I just finished it and it was an interesting read.

Now I am reading Pulp by Charles Bukowski, nearly finished it though so I have Lovecraft's Necronomicon waiting for me.

Shane
09-11-2012, 02:08 PM
@Fontan, which source are you reading from? I picked up an ebook off some wikipedia link, the translation was atrocious.

Stense
09-11-2012, 02:25 PM
I'm currently reading Loved and Lost in Lewisham by Peter Davey. A collection of romantic comedy short stories set in the London borough of Lewisham. I hardly ever venture into the Rom-com genre but I've been pleasantly surprised by this collection so far. There are some genuinely funny moments and touching or sweet scenes together with some well developed characters (mostly the male characters, and most of the stories are from the male's perspective). The sense of setting isn't that amazing though, it really could be set anywhere and you wouldn't know the difference but the actual stories are funny and interesting. Would recommend if you want some quickie short stories for casual reading.

Fontan
09-11-2012, 03:13 PM
@Fontan, which source are you reading from? I picked up an ebook off some wikipedia link, the translation was atrocious.

I found it on a Google search, can't remember exactly where. I couldn't find one in Portuguese (my native language), so I went for the English version.

Fontan
09-11-2012, 03:20 PM
If you haven't already, you should consider reading Roadside Picnic by Arkady & Boris Strugatsky which was the inspiraration for the film "Stalker", I just finished it and it was an interesting read.

Thanks for the tip, I'll look for it.

Fumarole
10-11-2012, 09:01 PM
http://i1250.photobucket.com/albums/hh538/Fumarole/32328_10151260302686288_676623461_n.jpg

internetonsetadd
10-11-2012, 09:34 PM
Saramago: Blindness.

aladinversuk
11-11-2012, 03:14 AM
50 shades of grey

Feldspar
11-11-2012, 09:52 AM
Recently finished Brian Aldiss's classic trilogy Heliconia, set on a planet whose binary star system means it suffers an 1800 year long "great year" with huge extremes of climate. The world-building is great, care and imagination has been spent in crafting the fauna, although the virtually exactly parallel-evolved humans seems a little contrived. The stories themselves sometimes appear to be window dressing on the changing environment, no matter what they do there are always forces more powerful than the characters and the parts set off of Heliconia grate a little, with the Gaia hypothesis being pushed a little too strongly. Having said that, there were parts that I found engrossing and I made it through the 1200-odd pages of my edition without breaking to read anything else in the middle.

glimpse fade yelp
15-11-2012, 04:46 PM
Foucault's Pendulum by Umberto Eco

Xercies
17-11-2012, 05:58 PM
Just finished A Storm Of Swords which I found very very brutal to be honest especially the bits everyone knows about already, don't go to a feast in the game of thrones world I say. It manages to be both beautiful sometimes and sympathetic to previous villians(especially Jaime) but also cruel and horrible to others like Sansa. all in all a good read and I'm very excited how they will film some of this stuff in the series.

Serenegoose
21-11-2012, 10:16 AM
Just finished The Gathering of the Lost by Helen Lowe. There's something about these books I can't quite place, but I'm really eager for the next one. They burn slowly and they aren't phenomenally original (even if there are neat ideas there) and some of the action scenes leave me wondering what just happened but yet I found myself enjoying it greatly nonetheless.

Now onto Red Country by Joe Abercrombie. I've always had mixed feelings about his work (except The Heroes which was just really good) but I expect I'll enjoy it nonetheless.

coldvvvave
21-11-2012, 02:28 PM
Dan Simmons - Hyperion and it's sequels.

Well, now, years after reading it in a very wrong way( Endymion -> Hyperion -> Fall of Hyperion -> Rise of Endymion) I finally re-read it in right order and in English. Guess I understand now why so many people say that only first and ( mybe) second book are worth reading. Third and fourth are not exactly bad, but unnecessary, plus some of the explanations and revealed backstories are simply disappointing, some things shouldn't be explained after all, I think. Shame, also I ended up skipping parts of Rise of Endymion because I remember that nothing of interest happened. I never did that even when reading Illium and Olympos, other Simmons' massive ( and often sleep-inducing) works.

Fun Fact: my aunt gifted me Endymion on Feburary 23 1999 aka Soviet Army day. Probably random choice.


Robin Hobb - Assassin's apprentice

Not bad, I guess. Still reading the first third of it so it may change for better or worse.

Nalano
21-11-2012, 03:05 PM
From the Ruins of Empire: The Intellectuals Who Remade Asia, by Pankaj Mishra.

And then, for some light reading, A Strategic Model of Chinese Checkers: Power and Exchange in Beijing's Interactions with Washington and Moscow, by Peter Kein-hong Yu. Which should go well next to the book that typifies Mao's communist revolution as an extended game of weiqi.

Unaco
21-11-2012, 03:48 PM
Now onto Red Country by Joe Abercrombie. I've always had mixed feelings about his work (except The Heroes which was just really good) but I expect I'll enjoy it nonetheless.

I'm going to be finishing Red Country this evening, or tomorrow evening. Been taking my time with it because it's been so, so good... Could have easily consumed it all in 1 or 2 sessions. I'm a big fan and advocate of Abercrombie's work... The way he can write Fantasy just so differently to anyone else is brilliant... Inverting the Especially so with the 3 books after the First Law trilogy... Best Served Cold being a mix of The Count of Monte Cristo, Heist movies and revenge... The Heroes being like a Bernard Cornwell historical battle book... And Red Country being a Western. He's got the style down pat, perfectly - if you replaced swords with guns, and took Abercrombie's name off it, you'd be pretty hard pressed to label it fantasy.

After that, I'll be reading Blood & Bone, by Ian C Esselmont, the 5th of his Novels of the Malazan Empire. Received my copy today, from Amazon. This one is set on Jacuruku, a continent that's only been mentioned and seen briefly before in the 15 or so other Malazan books (it was one of Kallor's Empire's continents, where K'azz of the Crimson Guard was, Ereko's 'homeland', and where Ruthan Gudd was held by an Azath House at some point in time). I've only had a quick scan of the 'Dramatis Personae'... Crimson Guard & Disavowed are in there, Osserc/Osric & L'oric, Ardata & T'riss, Spite, and Gothos even. Also Kallor, though he isn't named.