What are you reading?

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Fin Fang Foom
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by Fin Fang Foom » 27 Sep 2017, 12:34

JD wrote:
27 Sep 2017, 12:28
I found a copy of Max Brooks' World War Z, and since I'd never read it and it was so popular, I thought I'd give it a try.

It is not really that good and I don't understand why it was so popular. I mean, the overall work is not bad. I like the general concept, and the storytelling structure is pretty decent. But Brooks is just not a very good writer. All of his characters sound the same, whether they're supposed to be a Pakistani villager or the US Secretary of State or a Brazilian shopkeeper or whatever, and they all sound like they're reciting a flowery pre-written speech. Even the character who's supposed to have a mental age of four barely sounds different.

And I promise not to get too bogged down in specifics, but the Battle of Yonkers is the dumbest goddamn thing in the book, because it requires pretty much everybody, including the zombies, to behave in not only the most screamingly stupid way possible, but an extremely scripted stupid way. According to the book, it's the first major military operation against the zombies, and yet there are already millions of them. Buh? Apparently the various levels of the government and military completely failed to notice anything was happening until NYC was already completely destroyed?
This is the problem with nealry all slow zombie fiction. The zombie Apocalypse always requires people and society to fail in ways that they never do in real disasters. Zombies themselves aren't scary, they are like witless nonagenarians. Shaun of the Dead gets it right, where zombies are contained after a night, as does, surprisingly, Resident Evil, where a bioweapon makes nearly everybody a zombie all at once.
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Sandy
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by Sandy » 27 Sep 2017, 14:29

JD wrote:
27 Sep 2017, 12:28
Apparently the various levels of the government and military completely failed to notice anything was happening until NYC was already completely destroyed?
President Bannon knew what ground to sacrifice, you see...
Hindu is the cricket of religions. You can observe it for years, you can have enthusiasts try to explain it to you, and it's still baffling. - Warren

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

Post by Eric the .5b » 27 Sep 2017, 14:46

Max Brooks seems to like the trope that the governments won't act until it's too late. It's a common one.

Meanwhile, an actual government would probably react quickly, but disproportionately, clumsily, and wrongly in ways you don't see depicted. Particularly with the genre assumption that zombies are a completely unknown problem, initially.

Maybe a story where precious time gets lost because the government, after initially treating it as some kind of breakout of race riots, realizes Something Weird is happening and gears up....for fighting vampires. They then do things like tell people to put up crucifixes and to stake zombies in the heart or decapitate them, instead of just to aim for the head.
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Fin Fang Foom
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by Fin Fang Foom » 27 Sep 2017, 14:57

No, Eric, zombies are terrible you'd need like a 99+% conversion rate for them to be a threat in the U.S. We have so many guns that it wouldn't be an issue. "Oh no, something is coming at me at a quarter of a mile an hour! What will I do?!?"
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JD
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by JD » 27 Sep 2017, 16:22

My quick take on the topic is that zombies are fine for small-scale drama (e.g. Night of the Living Dead or Shaun of the Dead) but it's hard to make them a driver of worldwide chaos unless the virus* is so bad - e.g. airborne, transmissible through casual contact, long invisible infective period, invariably fatal - that it would make for chaos even without the zombie aspect.

* or whatever it is: alien space rays, voodoo, etc.

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Painboy
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by Painboy » 27 Sep 2017, 16:46

IIRC there was an article that showed even if all but 0.1% of the country's population became zombies the survivors would only have to kill several hundred zombies each to kill them off in a few months, and since zombies don't have kids there's no long term threat. That's the problem with shows like the Walking Dead. At some point you would remove the threat other than the odd zombie stuck in a closet or such like a landmine.

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

Post by Eric the .5b » 27 Sep 2017, 20:28

Fin Fang Foom wrote:
27 Sep 2017, 14:57
No, Eric, zombies are terrible you'd need like a 99+% conversion rate for them to be a threat in the U.S. We have so many guns that it wouldn't be an issue. "Oh no, something is coming at me at a quarter of a mile an hour! What will I do?!?"
Assuming that:

* they can move at a proper walking speed, with some capacity to lunge
* everyone who dies after a certain point becomes a zombie
* everyone bitten or scratched by a zombie (to the point of breaking the skin) rapidly sickens and dies

as in the original Romero films, I like their odds much better. Nobody would notice that there is an outbreak, early on. Just a small rise in random, unarmed violence by deranged-seeming people, including against first-responders at (unknown to them, fatal) accidents and the like. Some bullshit stories of people shrugging off gunshot wounds, perhaps with invocations of PCP or bath salts. Then, a more alarming spike in people injured in those attacks (including many of those first-responders) being hospitalized with an unknown infection, right about the time the stories of hard-to-kill crazies become impossible to deny.

Probably better if the understanding that Something's Going On coalesces at night for the "it must be vampires!" idea to have legs.

(And yeah, I prefer full-on supernatural zombies, because zombies just don't make biological or mechanical sense, and even fast infected zombies would start dying off fast from lack of food or water or from injuries and other infections.)
Painboy wrote:
27 Sep 2017, 16:46
IIRC there was an article that showed even if all but 0.1% of the country's population became zombies the survivors would only have to kill several hundred zombies each to kill them off in a few months
Unless 0.1% of the country is safely holed up in fortresses and all the zombies can find them, distribute themselves evenly, and wait to be shot in the head, you get problems with that scenario. Everyone who does leaves 999 zombies for the rest of the survivors. Anyone holed up away from population centers doesn't reduce the count, either—and that's where the survivors would mainly be. You'd have to go out and hunt them, working your way into population centers over time, with every hunting trip an opportunity to fuck up and get eaten or bit. How many hundred times can a person do that? I submit that you'd quickly start losing survivors, that way, and everyone's workload would grow.
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Jennifer
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by Jennifer » 27 Sep 2017, 21:03

Unless the zombies have magical anti-rotting powers in addition to their ability to keep moving after they're dead, here in Atlanta I'd only have to hide from them for maybe three days, tops, before the heat and humidity did them in.
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Eric the .5b
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by Eric the .5b » 27 Sep 2017, 21:24

They would kinda have to, or else zombies wouldn't last longer than any other corpse in the open air.
"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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Fin Fang Foom
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by Fin Fang Foom » 27 Sep 2017, 21:57

Yeah, no.

Zombies, without clarification are Romero type zombies, and they don't pass muster. As they are portrayed, they would not be very threatening.

Magical zombies are a different thing, but those are usually Italian and don't make any sense anyway.
Saudi Arabia is doing something potentially harmful to America? Oh, hell. Does that mean we're going to invade Iraq again? - Jennifer

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

Post by Eric the .5b » 27 Sep 2017, 22:00

Fin Fang Foom wrote:
27 Sep 2017, 21:57
Yeah, no.
Well, I'm convinced...
"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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Fin Fang Foom
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by Fin Fang Foom » 27 Sep 2017, 22:05

Eric the .5b wrote:
27 Sep 2017, 22:00
Fin Fang Foom wrote:
27 Sep 2017, 21:57
Yeah, no.
Well, I'm convinced...
Well, you write like you have never seen a zombie movie or met people.
Saudi Arabia is doing something potentially harmful to America? Oh, hell. Does that mean we're going to invade Iraq again? - Jennifer

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

Post by Eric the .5b » 27 Sep 2017, 22:17

Fin Fang Foom wrote:
27 Sep 2017, 22:05
Eric the .5b wrote:
27 Sep 2017, 22:00
Fin Fang Foom wrote:
27 Sep 2017, 21:57
Yeah, no.
Well, I'm convinced...
Well, you write like you have never seen a zombie movie or met people.
Of course.
"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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Ellie
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by Ellie » 27 Sep 2017, 22:24

But has he seen a people movie and met a zombie?
I should have listened to Warren. He was right again as usual.

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

Post by Eric the .5b » 27 Sep 2017, 22:38

Ellie wrote:
27 Sep 2017, 22:24
But has he seen a people movie and met a zombie?
Well, I I'm talking with FFF, so sort of?
"Better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer."
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Mo
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by Mo » 28 Sep 2017, 14:51

Eric the .5b wrote:
27 Sep 2017, 14:46
Max Brooks seems to like the trope that the governments won't act until it's too late. It's a common one.

Meanwhile, an actual government would probably react quickly, but disproportionately, clumsily, and wrongly in ways you don't see depicted. Particularly with the genre assumption that zombies are a completely unknown problem, initially.

Maybe a story where precious time gets lost because the government, after initially treating it as some kind of breakout of race riots, realizes Something Weird is happening and gears up....for fighting vampires. They then do things like tell people to put up crucifixes and to stake zombies in the heart or decapitate them, instead of just to aim for the head.
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Jennifer
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by Jennifer » 28 Sep 2017, 15:57

Yesterday Jeff and I went to the annual charity used-book sale at Atlanta's Perimeter Mall, where among other things I picked up a copy of The Jew Laughs by S. Felix Mendelsohn. My copy is a first edition from 1935 and, according to a semi-legible handwritten inscription in the front, was a gift either to or from the Congregation Beth Israel in Greenville, S.C. in February 1938. The majority of the jokes and anecdotes are still pretty funny even today (unlike most older humor, which generally does not age well), but at the same time it's terribly sad to read all these little stories set in the Jewish communities in places like Berlin or various Polish cities, knowing what the Nazis did to those communities only a few years later.
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dhex
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by dhex » 28 Sep 2017, 16:26

I liked the style of world War z.
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Eric the .5b
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by Eric the .5b » 28 Sep 2017, 19:43

Mo wrote:
28 Sep 2017, 14:51
Eric the .5b wrote:
27 Sep 2017, 14:46
Maybe a story where precious time gets lost because the government, after initially treating it as some kind of breakout of race riots, realizes Something Weird is happening and gears up....for fighting vampires. They then do things like tell people to put up crucifixes and to stake zombies in the heart or decapitate them, instead of just to aim for the head.
Relevant
...Oh, dear.
"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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dbcooper
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by dbcooper » 30 Sep 2017, 05:13

M. John Harrison's Light was pretty good. An interesting blend of psychological science fiction and space opera.

Might appeal to fans of Jeff VanderMeer.
Slip inside a sleeping bag.

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nicole
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by nicole » 05 Oct 2017, 07:35

Nobel to Ishiguro. Not bad.
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Andrew
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by Andrew » 07 Oct 2017, 12:45

The Collector is an elaborate allegory about marriage, right? /not entirely joking
We live in the fucked age. Get used to it. - dhex

holy shit there will never be an end until the sweet release of death (as dictated by the death panels, natch) - lunch

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JD
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by JD » 07 Oct 2017, 18:54

I found a copy of Between Man and Beast that someone was throwing away, and I'm really enjoying it. It's about the discovery of the gorilla by Europeans (by Paul Du Chaillu, in particular), and how this fortuitously happened right around the time Darwin published Origin of Species and the two events went hand-in-hand.

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Painboy
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by Painboy » 02 Dec 2017, 20:55

At the continuing suggestion of others I picked up the audio book for Ready Player One. However I haven’t been able to even get past chapter 3. I know I can be a demanding reader at times but I’m usually able to shrug off the odd tropes or clichés I dislike provided the rest of the stuff is good, but RP1 is just loaded with them. It’s like a laundry list of every eye rolling thing that I hate in a book.

It’s an audio book so the narrator can make or break a book at times. The narrator in this case is Will Wheaton who I usually find rather annoying. At this he does not disappoint because the book is also in first person perspective. So it sounds like Wesley Crusher giving a detailed account of his mirror universe life in the slums. FUN.

These of course aren’t ordinary slums they’re futuristic dystopian slums for…no apparent reason. That is EDGY. No one’s doing that these days. The main character tells us it was due to an energy crisis. FRESH. FRESH and RELEVANT. He even includes a diatribe about how it was my entire stupid generations fault. There’s nothing like a fictional 19 year old lecturing me about a crisis that hasn’t happened yet. Even better he educates the reader about how there’s no god and Santa doesn’t exist. Teenager atheist ramblings? This book has it all! Why isn't that in the publisher's summary?!

Of course what’s so great about the character is, that despite living in a ghetto that would make one of the neighborhoods in the Wire seem pleasant and quaint, he still has strong middle class values. He does well in school but is so poor that he can’t even afford good virtual clothes when he goes to virtual school. Which is just like real life because as we all know NOTHING IS FREE ON THE INTERNET. And sure virtual shitty clothes would take just as long to make as virtual nice looking ones but that might ruin the author’s -excuse me auteur’s- intent to show that the character is poor and doesn’t have a lot of money in case you missed it earlier that he lived in the slums. That’s character development!

He has struggles like he has to deal with bullies. I have struggles in my life too. I feel so in touch with him. Even better he makes 80’s references and watches old 80s shows like the Facts of Life. I lived in the 80s! I can so relate to him! I wonder if he’s going to talk about that old 80s show with the little black kid that was always asking people what they were talking about. Remember that!? The 80s were CRAZY!

Aaaaand that was enough for me. Oh well, maybe I just can’t handle nostalgia porn like I used to.

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Andrew
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by Andrew » 02 Dec 2017, 21:24

Painboy wrote:
02 Dec 2017, 20:55
Aaaaand that was enough for me. Oh well, maybe I just can’t handle nostalgia porn like I used to.
Based on your review, I'm glad that I've resisted the suggestions to read that one. Like you, I'm missing the nostalgia gland that allows people to enjoy such things.
We live in the fucked age. Get used to it. - dhex

holy shit there will never be an end until the sweet release of death (as dictated by the death panels, natch) - lunch

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