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  1. #2161
    Network Hub Koobazaur's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eight Rooks View Post
    Christ, if the games were half as over-enthusiastic about sex as the books RPS's front page would melt under the white heat of a thousand raging comments - this character or that character's a lesbian/sleeps with other women, but no gay men; an awful lot of violence against ladies that seems suspiciously weighted towards dramatic effect for the hell of it; a moment of "Hello? We're right here, and naked, so why don't you want to fuck us?" delivered seemingly completely without irony; multiple drooling, predatory paedophiles because what greater expression of eeeeevil is there (and noblemen are all evil in some way or other); an entire conclave of women who are without exception vindictive, holier-than-thou, eternally bitching harpies, and on, and on. Which isn't to say the man can't write some sympathetic women or that all of these things are black marks on his SJW card or whatever. Just that... those sex cards, the love scenes, and CDP's attitude to the whole "controversy" no longer seem quite so surprising to me
    I donno, I felt it was kinda believable for mediavle times, in all its sex and horribleness, with a bit of "im the hero of the story so sex" stuff thats typical in many books. As for everyone being bastards, well, that's actually one of the biggest themes of the book. I might be mistranslating but one of my favorite quotes was when Geralt (who only killed monsters) talked with another witcher (who also killed people he deemded bastards). The guy says

    "See, you are an anachornistic witcher who will soon be out of his job. The various monsters will soon be gone. But bastards will always remain."

    But yeah, beyond that, he bombards the reader with way, way too much background info and exposition in a world I don't think calls for it (I simply don't find his fantasy medieval Europe that interesting); he tries to cut between like five or six narrative threads at once when again, several of them seem like they could be safely cut - and his peeks into the far future just smack of a writer going "Tee hee hee!" and come across as gratingly unfunny and utterly pointless.
    I actually really loved that extra background folkfore flavor. But I am Polish myself, so a lot of it reminded me of the stories, sayings and customs of my culture. I always wondered how well it would translate for non-Polaks and guess that's the answer.

    Quote Originally Posted by mouton View Post
    To me, The Witcher book series - which I read in Polish - was a downward slope. Short stories (which were first) were excellent, start of the saga was good, middle was meh, ending was pulling teeth. Gotta love fantasy series, they almost universally disappoint.
    I gotta agree, the middle books kinda drag. I did love the 4th (or maybe it was 5th) where Geralt travels in a band with a woman archer, vampire and the Nifilgard dude, but it does kinda drop the ball after that again.

    The newest book just came out recently but I didnt get a chance to read it yet.
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  2. #2162
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    Quote Originally Posted by Koobazaur View Post
    I donno, I felt it was kinda believable for mediavle times, in all its sex and horribleness, with a bit of "im the hero of the story so sex" stuff thats typical in many books. As for everyone being bastards, well, that's actually one of the biggest themes of the book.
    Nah, you misunderstand (or I'm bad at articulating, probably). I'm saying the women, almost without exception, have no redeeming qualities whatsoever (and most of the ones who do tend to have very little to do and/or get killed off horribly). Far more of the men are scoundrels rather than bastards, I would say. Every one of the sorceresses apart from Yennefer (and she's not that great either) is useless, contemptible, arrogant, treacherous or all of the above in books 1, 4 and 5, and hardly gets anything done. (I hated Triss in Blood of Elves, and it seemed pretty obvious the first game was keeping her that way with the subplot with the kid, so I was appalled when the second game wanted to throw her and Geralt together. Why on Earth would he want anything to do with her? And sure, no memories, and many players won't have read the books, but the games are clearly building on the books... so if they're trying to show she's changed her mind, why isn't there even the slightest indication she's ashamed of how she spent forever trying to fuck Geralt over on Philippa's, Sile's say so etc.?)

    I actually really loved that extra background folkfore flavor. But I am Polish myself, so a lot of it reminded me of the stories, sayings and customs of my culture. I always wondered how well it would translate for non-Polaks and guess that's the answer.
    Again, not sure I'm being clear enough. I like the folklore, the fairy tales, the monsters, the way those mirror human nature and all the rest of it. That's one reason I loved the original short story so much. But his kingdoms, his kings, his political squabbles etc., I don't find any of that anywhere near as interesting as - to use the same example - any of Guy Gavriel Kay's fantasy versions of Earth. Everything I've read so far just tended to blur into one generic mass of "I am angry at you because you don't like the same things I like so here, have an army across your borders, mwahahaha". There was nothing in any of the books I read remotely as captivating as The Lions of Al-Rassan, the Sarantine Mosaic books, A Song For Arbonne or Tigana, say - reflections on political strife, different religions forced into uneasy coexistence, questioning how love and friendship and all that good stuff flourish or die off in the face of vastly different ideologies clashing - I cried the first time I finished Tigana, when the Big Bad finally gets it, and the final sequence in Lions of Al-Rassan - the climactic duel, and the way it ends, is absolutely heart-stopping, miles beyond anything of Sapkowsky's I've read so far. I couldn't tell you - for the most part - who the hell any of Sapkowsky's different factions are actually supposed to be, what they really believe in, what kind of people they are.

    EDIT just in case: And I'd argue it's not that I haven't read 2 and 3 yet. I'm pretty sure if you read the second book of The Sarantine Mosaic, to stick with Kay, you'd be a little lost, but you'd still pick up on all the important stuff.

    I gotta agree, the middle books kinda drag. I did lov
    e the 4th (or maybe it was 5th) where Geralt travels in a band with a woman archer, vampire and the Nifilgard dude, but it does kinda drop the ball after that again.
    Yeah, I liked Geralt's plot thread (and his little warband) across most of 4 and 5 (I wish CDP could have used Angouleme in the games ;_; ), though as I said, I didn't think the constant cutting away from them did anything good for the book at all.
    Last edited by Eight Rooks; 14-06-2014 at 07:16 PM.

  3. #2163
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus gundato's Avatar
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    I've only read the English translations, but I have to agree that it does seem the series goes downhill after the short stories. That being said, I do love the world itself, so I don't dislike the books, I just think the writer lost the thread.

    In my own reading: just read Dauntless, the first book in Jack Campbell's "The Lost Fleet" series. It was okay. I liked the emphasis on how space combat would actually work (speed of light is a serious issue due to the range of weapons and what not), but it still felt like they were only ever engaging at point blank range. And the characters were rather one dimensional. I liked it well enough, but probably not gonna continue the series
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  4. #2164
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Skalpadda's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zephro View Post
    Yeah Valis is great. I have a real thing for self referential novels containing the narrator, like Breakfast of Champions which I adored.

    We had the Iain M Banks discussion a couple pages back. The consensus was Player of Games or Lock To Winward I think.
    I have a real thing for snarky robot personalities, so Player of Games was a good recommendation, thanks. I also grabbed Consider Phlebas and Use of Weapons at the same time (they were cheap!) but haven't read them yet. Finding two authors I want to buy a bunch of books by in a week is pretty great.

  5. #2165
    Lesser Hivemind Node postinternetsyndrome's Avatar
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    Use of Weapons has a great one too. Lots of snarky robots in the series in general, you're in for some treats I think. :)

  6. #2166
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Zephro's Avatar
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    I think every Culture novel has a snarky robot in them, in fact I think they are the best snarky robots ever written.

    Use of Weapons is still my fav book though.

  7. #2167
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zephro View Post
    I think every Culture novel has a snarky robot in them, in fact I think they are the best snarky robots ever written.
    Oh for sure, snarky AIs are a specialty of the culture, but even the mightiest Flere-Imsaho, or Falling Outside The Normal Moral Constraints, must bow down to the incomparable Skaffen-Amtiskaw.

  8. #2168
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Zephro's Avatar
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    Well having just read Hydrogen Sonata I think Mistake Not... My Current State Of Joshing Gentle Peevishness For The Awesome And Terrible Majesty Of The Towering Seas Of Ire That Are Themselves The Milquetoast Shallows Fringing My Vast Oceans Of Wrath

    Is up there if only for the name.

  9. #2169
    Lesser Hivemind Node postinternetsyndrome's Avatar
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    That's why I like Excession a lot; it deals mainly with the drones and ships and other intelligent machinery and their interactions with each other, as opposed to human-cyborg relations.

  10. #2170
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Zephro's Avatar
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    The good old Interesting Times Gang, they got mentions in the Hydrogen Sonata.

  11. #2171
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zephro View Post
    The good old Interesting Times Gang, they got mentions in the Hydrogen Sonata.
    I think in many ways it's fitting that the hydrogen sonata is the last culture novel, given the subject matter, but also the way that by its point in the timeline, a lot of stuff in the older culture books have near mythic status - such as the ITG.

  12. #2172
    Lesser Hivemind Node postinternetsyndrome's Avatar
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    Yeah. My main regret is that I would have liked to see a book or two dealing more with the internal splits and conflicts of the Culture. There was a hint of stuff like that in Excession, but well, I want more. :P Rest in peace.

  13. #2173
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus squirrel's Avatar
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    The Zero Marginal Cost Society by Mr. Jeremy Rifkin

    Mr. Rifkin that Capitalism, established based on pursuit for profit, will fade away in the near future with advance of technology that drives down marginal cost of producing every good and service to near or even exactly zero. Economic power, currently heavily under corporate control, will soon be released to all of us commoners by us turning ourselves into consumer and producer at the same time, "prosumer" as a term invented by Mr. Rifkin. He introduced a concept of driving the world by energy/communication matrix. That says, more efficient utilization and production of energy, combine with more free flow of information, everyone of us can produce goods and services formerly with high marginal costs only affordable by capitalists.

    Not exactly a well-selling book as far as I know, but this is a very interesting read.

  14. #2174
    Read Player of Games not too long ago. Really liked the first half but did not much care for the second. Mildly disappointing as the story setup was the most interesting I've seen in a Banks novel. Generally don't care for his heavy-handed themes and this one indulged way to much in them. Also the primary alien race were just revolting and not in the good way.

  15. #2175
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus gundato's Avatar
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    Finished Simon R Green's "Sharper than a Serpent's Tooth". I liked it a lot. The series is your usual urban fantasy (admittedly, with a very interesting setting) and the protagonist is far too overpowered and unstoppable, but I loved the theme of causality and not being able to escape fate as well as the events itself.

    In a nutshell, the Nightside (the series) is set in the titular world which is basically a really shitty version of London where monsters exist and reality is very confusing. Think of it as Mos Eisley meets Sigil (Planescape), and you won't be far off. The protagonits, John Taylor, is fated to destroy the Nightside (likely while trying to save it), and this is the book where it happens. A big theme of the book, as mentioned, is causality. The future is mutable, but it seems that everything Taylor does continues to fit along the path to the Really Bad Future.

    Green's real strength though, is his supporting cast. Characters like Suzie Shooter (aka "Oh Christ, it's her. Run!"), a bounty hunter who is kind of obsessed with blowing shit up. Razor Eddie, Punk God of the Straight Razor, who is a really filthy guy in a trenchcoat with a switchblade who just so happens to be a god and just so happens to want to murder all the gods who are "bad". Or Dead Boy, a zombie crime fighter. Or Merlin Satanspawn, who is Merlin if he were the son of Satan. And, since this is a book about waging a war, they all pop up and get plenty of page time.

    And I think that's why I liked this installment so much. Green has a world where most of the "good guys" are ridiculously powerful and nigh unstoppable. And he made a foe who was so far beyond all of them that it didn't matter. Similarly, he has a world (The Nightside) where pretty much everything wants to murder everything (or worse). And he puts it into a situation where even the living cars who eat people (that get mentioned in every book...) are scared shitless and just trying to survive.


    Now, on to Cibola Burn, the latest book in The Expanse
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  16. #2176
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus squirrel's Avatar
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    Factory Girls: Voices from the Heart of Modern China by Ms. Leslie T. Chang, herself a Chinese migrant to the USA.

    This book described the life of the so-called "factory girls", the major labor force for China's manufacturing industries. Here Ms. Chang focused the discussions on those migrant workers in Dongguan, a southern Chinese city in Guangdong, where most foreign invested manufacturing factories locate and therefore they are major employers for those "factory girls". As a migrant herself, Ms. Chang showed us how those migrant girls who left their home and parents to seek opportunities to prosper economically in an alien land, even though they actually didn't left the country.

  17. #2177
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    Close to finishing American Gods by Neil Gaiman. I expected more out of the book, but it left me pretty underwhelmed. But Neil himself said that the book is pretty polarizing. So I guess I am in the "meh" camp.

  18. #2178
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus mrpier's Avatar
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    I'm reading Shift a prequel of sorts to Wool by Hugh Howey. Just started with it but I liked Wool wll enough.

  19. #2179
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Xercies's Avatar
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    Kraken by China Mieville - This book is kind of a bit hard to read it does the wolf hall thing of not much description but perfectly formed words most of them I have no idea what they mean. What it does have though is a very barmy interesting mystery, basically a big squid gets stolen from the natural history musuem and the guy who works on it gets sucked into trying to find who did it. Cue crazy cults, underground london full of people with magic, a gang war between rivals, and just every concept under the sun done in a very entertaining way. The ending is really confusing though don't really get what the concept is but ehat I do get is interesting.

    I think I like his non new cromazan books a little bit more. Just goes with an intefesting idea and runs with it.

  20. #2180
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    So, I tried the free preview of the first few dozen pages of The Last Wish on amazon. It seemed to be a mildly interesting setup, while at the same time being a totally generic fantasy opening. And the writing/English seemed a bit off. The full version is only 1.99 on kindle, so I can't decide if i shoould pick it up.
    Is the first chapter a good indication of what the rest is like? Does it go anywhere original, or is it just reasonably generic fantasy?

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