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Thread: What book are you reading?
25-07-2014, 04:35 PM #2221
25-07-2014, 05:53 PM #2222
It was rather a pain in the past, before I got the tablet I mostly read on now; paper books for a week or two weigh quite a lot.
25-07-2014, 08:53 PM #2223
26-07-2014, 09:53 AM #2224
Yeah, since getting a Kindle I rarely bother with paper books any more. I just find it more comfortable to read, its lighter and you have access to a far greater range of things, from indies and big publishers.
26-07-2014, 04:07 PM #2225
- Join Date
- Jun 2011
Despite the fact that I'm going to publish digitally, I don't actually have any sort of e-reader yet that isn't just my computer. I'm not above the allure of having an actual bookshelf, but moreso than that, I enjoy the ability to just dump a book in someones hands and tell them they're borrowing it. Digital rights hasn't completely obliviated the ability to do that yet, but it makes it less easy and convenient, and I'm not remotely naive enough to believe they aren't working on it.
26-07-2014, 05:00 PM #2226
- Join Date
- Dec 2013
26-07-2014, 05:55 PM #2227
I have Kindle, but honestly, I'm buying paper books only.
Let's say that Kindle is just for borrowing from library and reading public domain books from Project Gutenberg site.
I love reading from paper and looking at growing collection on my bookshelf. Not to mention that some years ago parents would pass their vinyls/cassettes/CDs/books/games to their children and today parents will give what? Hard drive filled with low quality MP3s? Electronic contraption with e-ink screen? Steam account?
Fuck this shit.
26-07-2014, 10:01 PM #2228
Yeah. Driving over to Best Buy to see what "e ink" was was the best decision I ever made with respect to reading. These days, I just occasionally buy a hardcover of a particularly good book for showing off, and stick to ebooks for everything else.Steam: Gundato
If you want me on either service, I suggest PMing me here first to let me know who you are.
29-07-2014, 08:25 PM #2229
- Join Date
- Sep 2012
The Long War by Stephen Baxter and Terry Pratchett, although Pratchett's influence seems very, very light. Tl;dr, the book has a crushingly stupid concept, and I'm wondering if it ever gets better.
I'm about 50 pages in, and it's pretty clear the author is setting up an anarcho-libertarian version of the American Revolution in the future. The problem is that the author clearly has no goddamn idea whatsoever about what motivates human settlement, how economics works, or what factors drove the American Revolution.
The basic idea in the book is that all of the sudden people can cross into different dimensions, and most of them are uninhabited. Hordes of people go to settle the new dimensions, most of them into frontier subsistence farming towns in the midwest. This causes a massive depression. America has no idea how to respond to depression and expansion into new lands, and treats the settlers in a paternalistic and authoritarian fashion. And that right there made me want to close the book, because that's a tremendously idiotic look at geography, economics, and history.
First things first, why would people want to go to a world without the internet, and engage in the manually intensive work? So people are doing more work and getting less in material goods (they make soap from ashes), besides land. Also, that's not really how colonies work; people who are doing alright don't jump into potential danger for land. People leave because they're being persecuted or they want to get rich. As there's very little persecution in America, and Americans are fairly rich already, there's very few reasons for emigration. Settlement would probably be in mining colonies where you could get super fucking rich, and in dimensions adjacent to major cities or beach destinations. Almost no one would go to the midwest plains because people don't want to live in a region with punishing winters.
Secondly, nigh-infinite resources and a new demand for houses and agricultural capital cause a depression? I can understand that if everyone suddenly engaged in inefficient subsistence agriculture, then yes, it could cause a loss to gdp. However, since about 1/3 of the country isn't working anyways, it is far more likely to lead to efficient labor markets rather than depressed ones. This is especially true since each (of the improbably large groups of settlers) would spend most of their remaining resources buying capital rather than goods for consumption; a tractor is likely more valuable to the future than a couch.
Finally, the idea that America of all countries couldn't handle mass settlement to nearby lands is ri-goddamn-diculous. The vast majority of American history was defined by a moving frontier, and rapidly moving and changing cities. Furthermore, America more than any other country, has the legalistic framework to expand infinitely (for good or for ill).
Also there are slaves (which I'm sure they have a fantasy justification for), but you would need an incredibly good and believable reason to keep slaves in a society that is actively getting rid of low skill jobs and starting to make inroads on medium skill ones.
All of this makes me miss hard sci-fi, which I haven't read for a long while (any recent suggestions?) at least Clarke and Asimov would seriously consider the ramifications of their ideas even if they weren't always spot on (and were blindsided by the ubiquity of computers).
So, question for anyone who's read it. Does it get any better? Is it ever funny? Should I keep reading it?
29-07-2014, 10:46 PM #2230
Did you read the previous book in the series? It's not an incredibly well-formed concept but I found the first book was at least an enjoyable adventure, and Pratchett's humour was apparent. Haven't read this one yet.
I'm not sure if there's anyone you could count as a modern equivalent of Asimov. I always thought his books were more explorations of society and humanity than predictions of the future.
For hard sci-fi in general, I enjoy Alastair Reynolds and Vernor Vinge. They both tend towards wordy space opera, and neither is particularly 'realistic' as far as you can apply that term to sci-fi, but they think their ideas through and construct believable worlds.
Reynolds technology is all based on real physical theories, even if some of it is way beyond our reach or only speculation, but his future society tends towards fantasy factionalism that doesn't really convince me. His books do feature some memorable characters, and he's written quite a lot in different styles - space opera, detective stories, a couple of fantasy-style adventures.
Vinge is the opposite - his tech is made up but he focuses on writing realistic societies. A Deepness in the Sky is a great novel about first contact with an alien race, and the humans fighting in space over their planet. Both authors are well worth a try if you haven't already.
There's also Ken Macleod who my friend keeps recommending to me. I haven't got around to it yet, but I have Learning the World here to read next. Looks interesting, I should get on to it soon.
First I need to finish The Ottoman Empire and the World Around It in time to return it to the library. It's not quite what I was hoping for in a short overview of the Ottoman Empire - it seems to be aimed at scholars and dedicates as much space to detailing where our knowledge of the Ottomans comes from as to explaining what we actually know.
Still, it's interesting to get some insight into how the empire worked, given that it's often regarded as something dramatically different from the contemporary European nations (hint: it probably wasn't). Found it very slow reading even though it's only 200-odd pages.
29-07-2014, 11:08 PM #2231
I quite like Adam Roberts, he has really good ideas and thinks through the logical extremes of those ideas and with a very good scientific reason for those ideas. The book I read of his was Stone which was pretty cool, and had some interesting ideas on quantum theory and nanobots.
30-07-2014, 03:56 PM #2232
I find it hard to be dispassionate about his work because I honestly regard A Deepness In The Sky (the prequel) and A Fire Upon The Deep (written first, but it's the sequel) as two of the best novels I've ever read. But I could come up with quite a few reasons why I love his stuff so much and his use of tech is certainly one of them, whether or not it's grounded in "realistic" scientific principles. I know you weren't bashing him or anything, just wanted to... I dunno, there's very little "He's good, but..." for me; the man's a god damned genius and if you like SF, unless you have some wild intolerance for anything remotely fanciful then you need to read him.
(Still haven't read the third book, mind. I heard some disappointed grumbling over it not being as good as the first two but last I looked it still wasn't on Kindle.)
31-07-2014, 02:05 AM #2233
All the Devils are Here by Bethany McLean & Joe Nocera
A delight for anyone which wants a deeper insight of what caused the 2008 worldwide crisis and the names of those responsible for it. Even though we now know it was many factors, the blame cannot be omitted from human factors such as our basic animal spirits of greed and survival.
This title goes really well along Animal Spirits by Akerlof and Shiller... quite a combo breaker actually ^^
03-08-2014, 03:29 PM #2234
Slightly off-topic, but I'm moving to Newcastle upon Tyne in the UK in a month or two, and I'd love any book recommendations for getting to know the place a bit better. Can be factual or fictional, as long as it gives a real feel for the place. Thanks in advance.
I haven't been reading regularly since I got a DS to tide me over on commutes. The last solid read I remember was Patrick Rothfuss' "The Wise Man's Fear", which was interesting, although a bit bogged down. I also read John B. Keane's "Letters of a Successful T.D.", which was short and sweet.
09-08-2014, 02:39 AM #2235
- Join Date
- Jun 2011
I just finished 'The Causal Angel' by Hannu Rajaniemi. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a really good headache.
10-08-2014, 10:14 AM #2236
10-08-2014, 03:19 PM #2237
I'm just going to be cheeky and briefly hijack the thread to say that I've got a new comedy fantasy book out, that you can get if such a thing interests you. It's about death and conspiracy and all jolly good fun. It's available here http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gatekeepers-...=UTF8&sr=&qid= if you fancy it.
Thank you for indulging me.
10-08-2014, 04:46 PM #2238
- Join Date
- Jun 2011
No worries! I actually noticed you'd updated your signature and was considering taking a looksie. My only issue's have been my book backlog's kinda ferocious right now and I really need to cut the shit and finish the things I need to do in order to start selling my own novel. I think we've few enough authors kicking around here that we can easily indulge the odd bit of self promotion without requiring a whole subforum for it :)
10-08-2014, 10:21 PM #2239
Jacques Le Rider's La Mitteleuropa. A short analysis of the concept of Mitteleuropa, mostly from a German (and Habsburgic) perspective.
It's one of those scientific books that sabotages interesting notions through shitty, boring writing.
But! It's written shortly after the reunification of Germany and during the breakup of Yugoslavia. The author wonders if Germany will rise again as the dominant force in the region. There are doubts about Austria. And what about the small post-communist countries?
These things are barely talked about, mostly in the final chapter. However they give the text a weird vibe, as if it landed from an alternate dimension where we were actually in danger of a fourth Reich.
It also briefly mentions possible problems in Ukraine, but instigated by Poland as Lviv and other settlements have great cultural and historical significance for it.
15-08-2014, 11:47 PM #2240
This is a lovely short article in the New York Review of Books that I think all of us readers will enjoy.
I've been reading The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton, who won the Man Booker Prize in 2013. I'm reading it very slowly, and it's one of the most interesting books I've read in a while, although I'm not sure if it's good yet. I'll post more about it when I finish.