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  1. #1821
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus coldvvvave's Avatar
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    I'm currently at hospital( pneumonia... now I know how bronchoscopy feels, 10/10 highly recommended) so easy reading is what I do to keep sanity.

    Vernor Vinge - A Fire Upon Deep

    Its soooooo damn boring, but also long enough to keep me busy so I guess thats for the best.

    So it has some interesting concepts like zones of thought, hive-minds and some internet-related stuff. But at its core its just another stupid adventure story. They gave him Hugo for this? Usual stuff. Three plotlines slowly coming together. Some annoying kids are stranded on a world habitated by sapient mini-hive-minded dog packs ( each pack makes a person). Probably worst part. Of everything. Ever. There are two dog groups - bad authoritarian social-darwinist group led by Mr. Steel( oh snap he must be evil) and good wise Monarchy with professional army led by artist Queen. I think I remember reading something similair in elementary school. Gerald Durrell perhaps? Talking Parcel? Author "explores" some concepts... whatever, it's super-boring. Second plotline - some people I don't care about are going somewhere in space on the ship owned by sapient bonsai or whatever. They are chased by Ancient Evil. And some stuff happens, some people post on the space Internet. Third one is the bridge between first and the second. Ancint evil wants something from Prologue. Hmmm... The space internet thing is kind of cool for 1993 I guess.

    I'm not yet finished but. Really, they gave Hugo for this? It is just so boring, not in the sense of lack of usual space-adventure, but in th sense of it being super-slow for no reason filled with cardboard cutout characters on the move somewhere for some reason. Jeez, who recommended this thing to me?

    ps. Probably the description of space combat influenced some other authors. Like the mine-drone things. Feels very familiar.
    Last edited by coldvvvave; 25-11-2013 at 08:05 PM.
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  2. #1822
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Kelron's Avatar
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    If you find it that boring you may not want to read any more of his books, but I have a much higher opinion of A Deepness in the Sky, loosely connected to A Fire Upon the Deep. It's still a big, slow moving book (I like those), but the plot is less fantasy-adventure-in-space. It revolves around two groups of ships investigating a radio signal from a distant star, their conflict and the alien civilisation on the planet below. I thought the aliens were far more creative and convincing than the dog-people, it's not quite up there with my favourite sci-fi but I did enjoy it.

  3. #1823
    Lesser Hivemind Node postinternetsyndrome's Avatar
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    Bronchoscopy sounds disgusting. Get well!

  4. #1824
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    Quote Originally Posted by postinternetsyndrome View Post
    Bronchoscopy sounds disgusting. Get well!
    Quite!

    What have I been reading...

    Well, last I finished was The Fractal Prince which I mentioned on the last page. I confess to not entirely understanding how it ended. I get most of it, but there's a single detail at the end I just don't get. However, it very much appears to be one story told across 3 books, so I assume the third book will clue me in. Hannu Rajaniemi explains nothing so you always have to have your brain half-way on to figure it out. That said, I think he's very good at making you feel clever, and teasing out enough information that you're never lost unless you're just not paying attention. Definitely looking forward to The Causal Angel.

    Meanwhile, I'm trekking through Charles Stross's 'Merchant Princes' omnibusses, a bit over half way through the second. They're not my usual stuff (fantasy/sci-fi technothriller set in the modern day as well as alternate versions of now) but he's a good enough writer that I've been slowly pulled into the story regardless. You can see him get better as he goes as well - since the first was released in 04, which is fairly early on in his professional novel-writing career, and having been caught up on his various series for a while now, I'm used to his current technical skill. It's like a journey from then to now, in a way.

    Roughly put, it's about the viking mafia from another earth who found a way to get to this planet, and have made their millions and secured their power base by shipping our technology back over there (mostly guns, to keep the peasantry down) and using their ability to hop between earths to ship massive quantities of drugs across borders risk free, to massive profit. Cue the intrepid journalist protagonist, Miriam Beckstein, stumbling across this as the 'scoop of the century' and being promptly sacked. And then the story starts.

  5. #1825
    Now reading Duluth by Gore Vidal

    It's such a shame that Vidal's inventive literary fiction (e.g. Messiah, Kalki, Myra Breckenridge/Myron, Live from Golgotha, Duluth etc.) is overlooked. His imagination and originality is astonishing. If you like Vonnegut, Palahniuk and similar, check it out. Way ahead of his time...still ahead of its time.
    "Oh, evolution. It wasn't meant for everyone."

  6. #1826
    Quote Originally Posted by Xercies View Post
    [/I]God this is basically Wolf Hall in a nutshell the book I'm currently reading. It is super terse prose I guess it has to be covering the amount of years it does. But it is one of the most confusing books I have had to read I don't really know what is happening and it kind of shows glimpses of interesting things and then doesn't...Its a not very good book but I'm forced to read it since I bought it from a recommendation and I have nothing else to read and no more money...

    I had to listen to Hilary Mantel talking once. She was wise to start writing things down instead.
    "Oh, evolution. It wasn't meant for everyone."

  7. #1827
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    Quote Originally Posted by coldvvvave View Post
    *snip*
    Man, you make baby Jesus cry. A Fire Upon the Deep and A Deepness in the Sky are two of my favourite books ever, and easily two of the greatest SF novels I've ever read. Aliens that feel actually alien. A future universe that actually feels weird. A central gimmick (the Zones of Thought) that's the best explanation of how ridiculous future-tech could actually exist I've ever come across. All of this without sacrificing the human elements of the story. Particularly the Powers, which are actually relatable and not utterly horrifying - pro tip: the correct response to every collective intelligence in every hipster SF novel ever (Jeff Noon, Greg Bear et al) is to scream in terror and kill it with fire, not ask about their membership plans. Vinge is one of the only writers I've ever read who created things of godlike, otherworldly consciousness that are plausibly fantastic and mundane, scary and very, very cool at the same time.

    Oh, and you're complaining about Mr. Steel versus the Woodcarver? Really? In a backwater planet locked in a feudal civilisation that Vinge explicitly says would have stayed medieval forever if the humans hadn't come along? When he also goes to some lengths to point out how in many ways both sides are equally bad/ignorant/hidebound as each other?

    Hope you get better quickly, honestly. I don't doubt pneumonia is godawful (I've never been quite that ill), let alone the treatment. But jeez, I don't think I'll be taking any recommendations on what to read from you.

    EDIT: Just so it's not all bitching, I've been reading some more of The Name of the Wind, and, hmmm. It's much better than I first thought it was - that intro sequence is dire, rambling on for ages for no immediately obvious reason, but it does improve once we get to the actual story. Still, I'm definitely not feeling this as the godlike work of fantasy everyone says, and I'm not really that bothered that Rothfuss is working on Numenera. Any book where your main character is basically King Badass McBadass presents the author with a very difficult balancing act, and I don't really think Rothfuss pulls it off. There's a lot of purple prose here, pseudo-philosophical rambling, and dipping into passages of introspection which are meant to make us think "Oh, man, the poor guy's having a really rough time of things" but all I could think was well, come on, he's obviously going to get past all this, so why should I care?

    It's quite well written, but I've seen better, and the protagonist is just too much of a distant, drily sarcastic deity in human form for me to really engage with the overall narrative arc. I don't have a whole lot of epic genre fiction any more now I've switched to Kindle books, but eh: the YA novels I like are far more accomplished and present far better realised character development, with legitimately flawed and human leads, than this is demonstrating so far. A decent rainy day read, and it's not like I think Rothfuss doesn't deserve his success - he's plainly worked hard to get it - but this is comfort food. Not even close to a masterpiece.

    Double EDIT: Oh, I do have The Red Knight by Miles Cameron on Kindle. That absolutely demolishes Rothfuss. A giant book, but a fantastic grimdark medieval fantasy with humour and pathos and intrigue and moral ambiguity and mysticism that's actually interesting and horror that's genuinely horrifying and battle scenes that are thrilling beyond words. Cameron kinda rushes the ending to set up the next volume, but other than that it's brilliant.
    Last edited by Eight Rooks; 27-11-2013 at 03:00 PM.

  8. #1828
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus coldvvvave's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by postinternetsyndrome View Post
    Bronchoscopy sounds disgusting. Get well!
    Thanks, almost there, will leave hospital tomorrow! Bronchoscopy still beats gastroscopy in my opinion.

    @Eight Rooks
    Oh, and you're complaining about Mr. Steel versus the Woodcarver? Really? In a backwater planet locked in a feudal civilisation that Vinge explicitly says would have stayed medieval forever if the humans hadn't come along? When he also goes to some lengths to point out how in many ways both sides are equally bad/ignorant/hidebound as each other?
    My only complaint is that I was bored to tears. The conflict between Steel/Flesner and Woodcraver itself is not really a problem although that part as a whole felt too much kiddy adventure -ish in my opinion or at least how it was resolved. Intentionally or not, I don't know. Not to mention it was loooong and characters were still one-dimensional in my opinion. Eh, just my opinion.

    Hope you get better quickly, honestly. I don't doubt pneumonia is godawful (I've never been quite that ill), let alone the treatment. But jeez, I don't think I'll be taking any recommendations on what to read from you.
    Thanks. Not that I'm giving any!

    Stanislav Lem - His Masters Voice

    Not much to comment on that one. Basically nothing happens at all but I can't say I was bored at any given moment, well Lem is Lem, he made first contact story interesting even though(spoiler) there is no first contact in it's usual eaning, he just talks about it and nothing really happens. I don't want to use word "philosophy" because how people use it makes it look like the reader is elevated/enlightned just by reading it. So honestly, it was interesting even though I can't say I understood everything.

    Neal Stephenson - Snow Crash

    Started interesting, kind of fell apart in the final third. Lots of cool for the sake of cool and it works for some time but its too obvious the author is just throwing in things he is interested in or consider cool so by the end its like a mishmash of cool things and computer jargone/Sumerian mythology but I don't think it works, not seameless enough, too much abstract logical jumps. By the end cool things overload and it seems author doesn't know what do with all that so he abandons plenty of things that looked plot-imporant, forgets about some characters and ends it with something like what you'd expect in a Steven Seagul movie. But maybe it was visioned like that. Maybe resolving everything and givig eveyone a few words in the end is not cool. Still, both final action sequence sucked and entire plot wasn't very interesting, not to mention it was just explained by the Protagonist( its his name too) in a huge wall of text. Some bits were funny and the setting, though yet another post-crysis-USA, was ok. Characters, not really. Well, needless to say I didn't like it much and I doubt I'll read more of Stephenson works.
    Quote Originally Posted by Drake Sigar View Post
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  9. #1829
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    Quote Originally Posted by coldvvvave View Post
    Neal Stephenson - Snow Crash

    Started interesting, kind of fell apart in the final third. Lots of cool for the sake of cool and it works for some time but its too obvious the author is just throwing in things he is interested in or consider cool so by the end its like a mishmash of cool things and computer jargone/Sumerian mythology but I don't think it works, not seameless enough, too much abstract logical jumps. By the end cool things overload and it seems author doesn't know what do with all that so he abandons plenty of things that looked plot-imporant, forgets about some characters and ends it with something like what you'd expect in a Steven Seagul movie. But maybe it was visioned like that. Maybe resolving everything and givig eveyone a few words in the end is not cool. Still, both final action sequence sucked and entire plot wasn't very interesting, not to mention it was just explained by the Protagonist( its his name too) in a huge wall of text. Some bits were funny and the setting, though yet another post-crysis-USA, was ok. Characters, not really. Well, needless to say I didn't like it much and I doubt I'll read more of Stephenson works.
    Coming from me after my post above, this probably won't mean so much... but if it helps at all, I can't stand Stephenson's science fiction either - last time I tried Snow Crash, Diamond Age etc. I hated them - but I really like several of his historical novels (Cryptonomicon and The Baroque Cycle). For a while those four made him my favourite author, straight up... then the dreadful Reamde and the godawful tedium of the second volume of The Mongoliad kinda made me see him as Just Some Guy again. But still. Just saying.

    EDIT: By way of further context the only Lem I've ever read is Solaris, though Christ, that book certainly deserves its status as a masterpiece. He was a miserable bastard, though. I am forever torn between open-mouthed admiration for the quality of the writing/story-telling and feeling sad at how relentlessly pessimistic it is. I can understand why he/his hardcore fans didn't care for Soderbergh's take on it but even though I agree with Lem in many respects, I quite like the idea of a slightly more optimistic version of his story that doesn't beat me over the head with YOU AND THE ENTIRE HUMAN RACE ARE FOREVERALOOONE.
    Last edited by Eight Rooks; 28-11-2013 at 04:31 PM.

  10. #1830
    I enjoyed Snow Crash, but I do absolutely agree about it throwing away a lot of really interesting ideas in favour of action sequences. I'll temper that somewhat by saying that I thought some of those scenes (not the ones at the end) were pretty exciting.

  11. #1831
    Moderator Anthile's Avatar
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    Decided to buy myself the Sandman slipcase set before the prices spiral fully out of control. For Christmas, so to say.

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  12. #1832
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Kelron's Avatar
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    I keep telling myself its far too expensive and I really shouldn't.

  13. #1833
    Lesser Hivemind Node eRa's Avatar
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    Gotta love the crappy German translation there. Prices like that make digital editions very attractive (if there is one). Might even grab a Kindle for Christmas, although not for comics.

    I've almost finished Count Zero by William Gibson. Mona Lisa Overdrive is already sitting on my desk. Solid cyberpunk all in all.

  14. #1834
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    Currently Reading "The Return of the King" by JRR Tolkien. I thought the Peter Jackson Trilogy would have shown all that happened in Middle Earth. However, the books really reveal the natures of the Fellowship and and surrounding world. The richly crafted environments from the Shire to the Land that we-do-not-name are even more engaging in the books. I might be preaching to the choir, but if you haven't read the books yet, The Lord of the Rings is the Best Epic Fantasy out there.

  15. #1835
    Lesser Hivemind Node TillEulenspiegel's Avatar
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    Read the first two books of the Dresden Files. They're annoyingly close to being really good, but not quite there. Good plots, interesting world, but fairly weak characters.

    It's like the opposite of Skulduggery Pleasant, which was also foisted upon me recently: wonderful characters, utterly forgettable plots.

  16. #1836
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    I'm reading these stupid Mortal Insturments books. The movie is WAY better!

  17. #1837
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    Another month, another Kindle sale. There's a couple I wanted to recommend that I've already got - I mean, this is the UK sale, unfortunately, but they're still good to great books - you've got two Tim Powers, Declare and On Stranger Tides. Powers is one of the greatest living genre authors, IMO. Tides is supposedly the inspiration for the third Pirates of the Caribbean film, if you don't know it, but it's far darker and stranger than anything Disney would ever do - like the excitable pulp of an Assassin's Creed plot if it were put together by a truly amazing writer. And Declare is one of my favourite books ever - classic old-school British spy fiction meets truly unsettling Eastern mysticism, Biblical craziness, and some seriously impressive period detail.

    Also, not sure how many RPS readers would be into this kind of thing, but Rosy Thornton, Ninepins. Good, solid domestic drama - single (divorced) mother takes on troubled teen in care as lodger, gets more than she bargained for - with enough grounding, believable characterisation and genuine emotion to lift it way above chick-lit or, I dunno, fanservice for women who read Good Housekeeping? There's enough realistic pain and struggle that the character development and ultimate resolution feel earned.

    Picked up, but yet to read beyond the sample: Neil Gaiman, The Graveyard Book, Adrian Barnes, Nod, Gil Adamson, The Outlander and Sebastian Fitzek, Therapy. A typical month. (Which is why my Kindle library is almost as bad as my gaming backlog, if not worse.)

  18. #1838
    Lesser Hivemind Node postinternetsyndrome's Avatar
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    Just started the final book on the Void trilogy by Peter F. Hamilton. Everything points toward some spectacular conclusion, will see if it delivers.

    Hamilton's books seems to have this strange split going on. They are full of impactful female characters with a lot of agency, but at the same time contains a lot of ugly old stereotypes as well. I can buy that the "medieval society in a bottle" is less progressive than the hyper-tech space community, but it often feels like the author is quite uncritical of it as well. Stuff like the bride being "given away" by the father, "hoho my wife is the real boss of our marriage hoho" and things like that feel a lot like they come from the author, and are not purely artifacts of the particular society portrayed.

    The books are enjoyable overall though, and definitely an improvement over earlier books by the same author. I can't imagine writing thousand-page space epics being an easy job so my hat's off regardless.

  19. #1839
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Lukasz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by postinternetsyndrome View Post
    Just started the final book on the Void trilogy by Peter F. Hamilton. Everything points toward some spectacular conclusion, will see if it delivers.

    Hamilton's books seems to have this strange split going on. They are full of impactful female characters with a lot of agency, but at the same time contains a lot of ugly old stereotypes as well. I can buy that the "medieval society in a bottle" is less progressive than the hyper-tech space community, but it often feels like the author is quite uncritical of it as well. Stuff like the bride being "given away" by the father, "hoho my wife is the real boss of our marriage hoho" and things like that feel a lot like they come from the author, and are not purely artifacts of the particular society portrayed.

    The books are enjoyable overall though, and definitely an improvement over earlier books by the same author. I can't imagine writing thousand-page space epics being an easy job so my hat's off regardless.
    I really love his books till the last two hundred pages of last book... then him trying to conclude the story feels a bit forced. like he spent 3 years on the book but last few chapters were done a month before sending it to publisher.

    what bride you are talking about in Void btw?

  20. #1840
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus gundato's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TillEulenspiegel View Post
    Read the first two books of the Dresden Files. They're annoyingly close to being really good, but not quite there. Good plots, interesting world, but fairly weak characters.

    It's like the opposite of Skulduggery Pleasant, which was also foisted upon me recently: wonderful characters, utterly forgettable plots.
    Not sure if you want to at this point, but give book 3 a shot. That was where Butcher really hit his stride and started the overall plot properly (he works in 1 and 2, but it definitely feels like they were just one-offs and that 3 and 4 were where he knew what he wanted to do). If you still don't really like the series, move on to something else. But the first three books are fairly short (by fantasy genre standards...) and the series as a whole is definitely great.

    If memory serves, Book 3 is where Lea and the Fae really become a factor, the Vamps become more than just "some random madame", and Michael "Fist of God" Carpenter is introduced. And I think it is the one that started the trend of "Harry is going to be beaten to within an inch of his life every single year", which is fun.
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