What are you reading?

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Painboy
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by Painboy » 09 Jul 2018, 19:16

JasonL wrote:
09 Jul 2018, 14:15
Listened to Ready Player One on audible while moving the in laws in Jersey. Er. Hmm. There's an okay caper story in there, but FFS the navel gazing is probably worse than Scott Pilgrim, which ... wow.
How did you get past the diatribe about the global energy crisis and the fact that god doesn't exist?

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JasonL
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by JasonL » 09 Jul 2018, 20:47

It was hard. For extra credit - do that diatribe in Will Wheaton’s voice

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lunchstealer
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by lunchstealer » 09 Jul 2018, 20:53

You die that Grylliade may live.
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dbcooper
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by dbcooper » 10 Jul 2018, 09:46

Good for you, CK Stead:

https://www.ft.com/content/28782616-21e ... 144feabdc0
What books are currently on your bedside table?

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Jennifer
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by Jennifer » 09 Aug 2018, 14:26

Just finished "Swan Song" by Robert McCammon (who I've never heard of before last weekend); Jeff found the book in a secondhand shop the other day and described it as "McCammon's attempt to write The Stand." There are obvious similarities -- an evil supernatural entity stalks America after the apocalypse, except in The Stand the apocalypse is caused by a virus, and in Swan Song it is worldwide nuclear war. But Swan Song feels more like a cheap off-brand knockoff of The Stand. The main thing that bothered me was, in The Stand, magic is real but it has rules which you-the-reader can figure out before too far into the story: Good and Evil both have the power to communicate with people in dreams, Evil has the additional power to spy on people remotely (except for people with mental disabilities), once in a very great while Good will save you with a miracle or a miraculous coincidence .... but in Swan Song, the magic is more like when I was a little kid and would play-pretend having magic powers with my equally immature friends -- basically, our magic power is whatever we say it is right now, and it need not be at all consistent with the magic powers we claimed 30 seconds ago.
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Jennifer
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by Jennifer » 09 Aug 2018, 14:27

Also: I wonder if George R. R. Martin read "Swan Song" back in the day? One of the book's sub-sections is named "A Daughter of Ice and Fire."
"Myself, despite what they say about libertarians, I think we're actually allowed to pursue options beyond futility or sucking the dicks of the powerful." -- Eric the .5b

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Painboy
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by Painboy » 09 Aug 2018, 19:59

Jennifer wrote:
09 Aug 2018, 14:27
Also: I wonder if George R. R. Martin read "Swan Song" back in the day? One of the book's sub-sections is named "A Daughter of Ice and Fire."
Maybe but my suspicion would be that he got it from the Frost poem "Fire and Ice" it being about the end of the world and all.

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Jennifer
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by Jennifer » 09 Aug 2018, 21:05

Painboy wrote:
09 Aug 2018, 19:59
Jennifer wrote:
09 Aug 2018, 14:27
Also: I wonder if George R. R. Martin read "Swan Song" back in the day? One of the book's sub-sections is named "A Daughter of Ice and Fire."
Maybe but my suspicion would be that he got it from the Frost poem "Fire and Ice" it being about the end of the world and all.
Perhaps. I was more struck by the specific "A ____ of Ice and Fire" setup.
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nicole
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by nicole » 30 Aug 2018, 17:56

Cherry by Nico Walker was very good.
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Eric the .5b
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by Eric the .5b » 30 Aug 2018, 22:49

In shorter material, the other day I bit the bullet and read Three Worlds Collide, a free novella by Eliezer Yudkowsky that's a vaguely retro-40s science fiction story with the most absurdly contrived set of ethical dilemmas (and responses to them) that I can easily think of.

I found myself smirking, sighing, and rolling my eyes while reading it. It certainly met all my expectations of Eliezer Yudkowsky and his LessWrong clique (those people of Roko's Basilisk fame). Though, to be absolutely fair, his fiction prose was much better than I expected.
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nicole
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by nicole » 30 Aug 2018, 23:32

You haven’t read his HP fanfic have you
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Eric the .5b
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by Eric the .5b » 30 Aug 2018, 23:44

nicole wrote:
30 Aug 2018, 23:32
You haven’t read his HP fanfic have you
Oh, dear. I wasn't even aware that existed.
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by Warren » 31 Aug 2018, 00:50

Eric the .5b wrote:
30 Aug 2018, 23:44
nicole wrote:
30 Aug 2018, 23:32
You haven’t read his HP fanfic have you
Oh, dear. I wasn't even aware that existed.
Is it written in Reverse Polish?
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Jadagul
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by Jadagul » 31 Aug 2018, 03:39

Eric the .5b wrote:
30 Aug 2018, 23:44
nicole wrote:
30 Aug 2018, 23:32
You haven’t read his HP fanfic have you
Oh, dear. I wasn't even aware that existed.
It's pretty decent but gets away from itself in the middle and drinks its own kool-aid.

If you expect it to be kind of a light, fun genre deconstruction, it mostly delivers. If you approach it as Serious Life-Changing Literature---which way too many people did---it does not deliver.

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Eric the .5b
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by Eric the .5b » 31 Aug 2018, 04:50

Jadagul wrote:
31 Aug 2018, 03:39
Eric the .5b wrote:
30 Aug 2018, 23:44
nicole wrote:
30 Aug 2018, 23:32
You haven’t read his HP fanfic have you
Oh, dear. I wasn't even aware that existed.
It's pretty decent but gets away from itself in the middle and drinks its own kool-aid.

If you expect it to be kind of a light, fun genre deconstruction, it mostly delivers. If you approach it as Serious Life-Changing Literature---which way too many people did---it does not deliver.
Oh! Complete brainfart on my part. I saw "HP" and filled in "Lovecraft". I had heard of "...And the Methods of Rationality".
"Better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer."
"Cyberpunk never really gave the government enough credit for their ability to secure a favorable prenup during the Corporate-State wedding." - Shem

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nicole
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by nicole » 31 Aug 2018, 09:12

Ohhh my bad sorry sorry. Phone laziness.

I just still find it very weird that I was reading Less Wrong when it was founded, didn't think about it at all for like 10 years, then all of a sudden people started bringing it up again.
"Fucking qualia." -Hugh Akston

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lunchstealer
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by lunchstealer » 31 Aug 2018, 12:09

Warren wrote:
31 Aug 2018, 00:50
Eric the .5b wrote:
30 Aug 2018, 23:44
nicole wrote:
30 Aug 2018, 23:32
You haven’t read his HP fanfic have you
Oh, dear. I wasn't even aware that existed.
Is it written in Reverse Polish?
ISWYDT

And yeah, I'm deeply amused at the existence of ...and the Methods of Rationality. Gawd someone taking it seriously tho.
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Eric the .5b
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by Eric the .5b » 31 Aug 2018, 18:54

I kinda want Eliezer Yudkowsky to actually be involved in the creation of the first superhuman-intelligence AI.

And have them tell him he's full of shit.
nicole wrote:
31 Aug 2018, 09:12
Ohhh my bad sorry sorry. Phone laziness.

I just still find it very weird that I was reading Less Wrong when it was founded, didn't think about it at all for like 10 years, then all of a sudden people started bringing it up again.
The internet's a smaller place than we think it is, sometimes.

Though, I'll probably never have any random internet coincidence beat one time in college. A girl I'd befriended online was talking to me about how she was going to go visit this guy at another school for a few days, and, curious, I asked, "Is he Dave —?", referring to another online friend of mine. And he was.

(She was dumbfounded, but it wasn't really that shocking; we'd all individually met on a service with a few thousand people, but simply didn't know that we all knew each other . But that was mind-boggling in 1995!)
"Better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer."
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Andrew
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by Andrew » 31 Aug 2018, 21:38

I finally scored a used copy of Barry Hannah's Bats Out of Hell. I had been looking for something by him for a while, but people apparently don't trade his books to used book stores. Anyway, it's great. It's a collection of short stories that appeared in various places in the late 80s and early 90s. His ultra short stories are mediocre and often feel as if they were cranked out on short notice as a favor to a magazine editor, but the stories that are 20-30 pages are excellent. I haven't read enough Southern Gothic literature to say for sure, but I'd guess that his emphasis on the grotesque is higher than most, which almost made me feel bad for enjoying all the weird, awful things happening to all the characters.

Incidentally, I was very amused when one of the stories published in the late 80s used the word "bigly."
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JasonL
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by JasonL » 01 Sep 2018, 00:15

“Factfulness” by Rosling et al from Gapminder. It’s important and the only people who will read it are those who don’t need it.

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Ellie
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by Ellie » 01 Sep 2018, 00:23

I wish I'd gotten to meet Hans Rosling and shake his hand before he died. :(
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Warren
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by Warren » 01 Sep 2018, 00:59

Ellie wrote:
01 Sep 2018, 00:23
I wish I'd gotten to meet Hans Rosling and shake his hand before he died. :(
He lived in vain. JasonL is right, nobody wants to hear it.
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JD
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by JD » 03 Sep 2018, 19:02

Eric the .5b wrote:
30 Aug 2018, 22:49
In shorter material, the other day I bit the bullet and read Three Worlds Collide, a free novella by Eliezer Yudkowsky that's a vaguely retro-40s science fiction story with the most absurdly contrived set of ethical dilemmas (and responses to them) that I can easily think of.

I found myself smirking, sighing, and rolling my eyes while reading it. It certainly met all my expectations of Eliezer Yudkowsky and his LessWrong clique (those people of Roko's Basilisk fame). Though, to be absolutely fair, his fiction prose was much better than I expected.
I went and read it after reading your review, and I actually kind of had the opposite reaction - I thought his prose was rather stilted and amateurish (I've read worse, though) and if the ethical dilemmas were contrived, well, that was kind of the point. There's a long history of science fiction that does exactly that, e.g. The Cold Equations.
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Eric the .5b
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by Eric the .5b » 03 Sep 2018, 21:51

JD wrote:
03 Sep 2018, 19:02
Eric the .5b wrote:
30 Aug 2018, 22:49
In shorter material, the other day I bit the bullet and read Three Worlds Collide, a free novella by Eliezer Yudkowsky that's a vaguely retro-40s science fiction story with the most absurdly contrived set of ethical dilemmas (and responses to them) that I can easily think of.

I found myself smirking, sighing, and rolling my eyes while reading it. It certainly met all my expectations of Eliezer Yudkowsky and his LessWrong clique (those people of Roko's Basilisk fame). Though, to be absolutely fair, his fiction prose was much better than I expected.
I went and read it after reading your review, and I actually kind of had the opposite reaction - I thought his prose was rather stilted and amateurish (I've read worse, though) and if the ethical dilemmas were contrived, well, that was kind of the point. There's a long history of science fiction that does exactly that, e.g. The Cold Equations.
I said it was much better than I expected, not good. It was better prose than a lot of the 40s and 50s puzzle-stories he was emulating (though those had fewer attempts to cram in hentai references and personal slogans), since science fiction as a whole didn't start focusing on prose and style until the 60s. I was expecting bad Hal Clement pastiche and got something better.

And like they say, one silly gimme is forgivable if you can sell it and build a story around it. Two absurd gimmes is silliness squared...and dude fails to sell them. At one particular "horrible revelation", I laughed aloud. And then he keeps throwing in stuff, including the "solution" that obviously won't last long in the True Ending.

Really, this piece makes me want to write a story about first contact situation where the situation is so ridiculous that everyone involved realizes that the most reasonable explanation is that they're in a contrived SF puzzle-story. They then try to figure out whose, as all the species present have clunky, contrived puzzle-stories early in their development of spec fic. I just have trouble coming up with a much more ridiculous setup.
"Better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer."
"Cyberpunk never really gave the government enough credit for their ability to secure a favorable prenup during the Corporate-State wedding." - Shem

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JD
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by JD » 04 Sep 2018, 11:27

Eric the .5b wrote:
03 Sep 2018, 21:51
Really, this piece makes me want to write a story about first contact situation where the situation is so ridiculous that everyone involved realizes that the most reasonable explanation is that they're in a contrived SF puzzle-story. They then try to figure out whose, as all the species present have clunky, contrived puzzle-stories early in their development of spec fic. I just have trouble coming up with a much more ridiculous setup.
That's pretty funny, actually. I would read that.
"Millennials are lazy. They'd rather have avocado toast than cave in a man's skull with a tire iron!" -FFF

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