What are you reading?

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Ellie
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by Ellie » 12 Apr 2018, 17:14

JasonL wrote:
12 Apr 2018, 17:12
There is no amount of plumbing, ductwork, window materials, fuel mixes, network interfacing, fire protection, etc. that doesn't get at least 2 pages of description, often in the middle of some attempt to build tension.
:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:
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Ellie
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by Ellie » 12 Apr 2018, 17:17

But good to know about Rosario Dawson. I was similarly hesitant when I started the Dresden Files series read by James Marsters, and he ended up being AMAZING, to the point where I'd far rather listen to a Dresden Files book at this point than read the text version myself.

There are some fucking terrible audiobook narrators out there, too. Always good to find a talented, or at least decent, one.
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JD
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by JD » 12 Apr 2018, 17:42

I've been reading CS Lewis's Perelandra. Despite not calling myself a Christian, I've always really liked Lewis's explicitly Christian stuff because he was such a good storyteller and because he had such insight into human nature.
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Eric the .5b
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by Eric the .5b » 12 Apr 2018, 18:29

Ellie wrote:
12 Apr 2018, 17:17
But good to know about Rosario Dawson. I was similarly hesitant when I started the Dresden Files series read by James Marsters, and he ended up being AMAZING, to the point where I'd far rather listen to a Dresden Files book at this point than read the text version myself.

There are some fucking terrible audiobook narrators out there, too. Always good to find a talented, or at least decent, one.
Apparently Bronson Pinchot is a really good audiobook reader, too.

I've never actually done an audiobook, but there's a Rivers of London story that's audio-only (and supposedly well-read).
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Andrew
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by Andrew » 12 Apr 2018, 20:22

I finished the Prince of Nothing trilogy by R. Scott Bakker. Overall conclusion: meh. I don't know if I'll read the follow-up tetralogy. His goals are apparently to be like Tolkien and Herbert, but his world doesn't feel old and lived-in like Middle Earth, it feels artificial and overstuffed. And the politics are needlessly complicated instead of subtle and complex like Herbert's. Having one of the characters (not necessarily the main character or protagonist) be a Nietzschean ubermensch is also annoying. Reading about him outsmarting, outfighting, and outmaneuvering every other person gets old quickly. Oh, and the battle scenes are numerous and interminable. I think the 3 books total have about 5x as many detailed battle scenes as LOTR.
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Solitudinarian
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by Solitudinarian » 12 Apr 2018, 23:00

Foucault’s Pendulum for the umpteenth time. I use it as a lifeline when I find myself drowning in conspiracy theories again.
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JasonL
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by JasonL » 12 Apr 2018, 23:05

Solitudinarian wrote:Foucault’s Pendulum for the umpteenth time. I use it as a lifeline when I find myself drowning in conspiracy theories again.
I think FP is a perfect one time read. The turn doesn’t work on follow up I don’t think.

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Tuco
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by Tuco » 13 Apr 2018, 07:17

Foucault's Pendulum never quite got there for me, though it's been long enough ago that I might need to revisit it. Not long after reading it, I found the book Flicker by Theodore Roszak, and it was what I wanted Foucault's Pendulum to be.

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Re: What are you reading?

Post by Warren » 13 Apr 2018, 11:52

Ellie wrote:
12 Apr 2018, 17:14
JasonL wrote:
12 Apr 2018, 17:12
There is no amount of plumbing, ductwork, window materials, fuel mixes, network interfacing, fire protection, etc. that doesn't get at least 2 pages of description, often in the middle of some attempt to build tension.
:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:
Because now he's not writing a book for reading so much as a movie and you absolutely have to spell all that shit out because otherwise Hollywood turns it all into unobtainium, transparent aluminum, and quantum flux drives.
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dhex
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by dhex » 13 Apr 2018, 12:00

Or it's bad writing?
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Hugh Akston
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by Hugh Akston » 13 Apr 2018, 12:04

Re: audiobooks I’ve been listening to Robert Heinlein’s collected short fiction as read by Bronson Pinchot, who is generally very good except for womens voices. There were a couple of occasions where RAH described someone’s reaction as ‘balky’.
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Solitudinarian
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by Solitudinarian » 13 Apr 2018, 13:09

Tuco wrote:
13 Apr 2018, 07:17
Foucault's Pendulum never quite got there for me, though it's been long enough ago that I might need to revisit it. Not long after reading it, I found the book Flicker by Theodore Roszak, and it was what I wanted Foucault's Pendulum to be.


Hmm, I’ll have to check that out.
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thoreau
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by thoreau » 02 May 2018, 23:33

I just started reading Feyerabend's _Against Method_. I am still reeling from his decision to open by quoting Lenin on the messiness of history.

I mean, yeah, the quotes have some valid points, but I'd like to think that someone with a lower body count could have been quoted for the same point.
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Jennifer
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by Jennifer » 05 May 2018, 16:43

I'm re-reading, for the first time in a couple of years, Harry Turtledove's Southern Victory series (the Confederacy wins the Civil War, then the next 80 years are basically Europe's actual history of wars and trauma during that time transported to the North American continent, so that by the 1930s the Confederacy has essentially become Nazi Germany, only murdering black rather than Jewish people). There's one repeated detail I'd forgotten about: when the CSA's Freedom Party (Nazi Party analogue) was first getting started in the 1920s, their uniform was white shirts and khaki ("butternut") pants. And y'all may recall that was also the unofficial uniform of the wretches who attended the "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville last year. If I recall correctly, it was that wretch of an Andrew Anglin who, pre-UTR, encouraged his readers to show up so dressed.

I'm wondering if this was merely a coincidence, or if Anglin actually is familiar with the series. I know of at least some online racists who are, and have adopted the names of various Freedom Party alt-Nazis for their online personas.
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Andrew
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by Andrew » 09 May 2018, 17:24

Finished Crash today. I'm about 900 pages (of 1200) into the complete short stories of Ballard as well.

Crash is definitely the most Ballardian of Ballard's books that I've read, but I think High Rise is the better book. Crash feels like it would've worked better at half its length, which isn't too surprising since the concepts started as short stories in The Atrocity Exhibition.

However, the chapter near the end where he describes the acid trip might be some of Ballard's best writing. I have no idea if it's an accurate representation of an acid trip, but the language is gorgeous.
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Jennifer
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by Jennifer » 10 May 2018, 20:46

I'm reading Agent of Byzantium, a collection of alt-history short stories by Harry Turtledove. The point of divergence is that in our world Mohammed invented Islam, but in that timeline he instead converted to Orthodox Christianity and became a very popular saint, known for his hymns and poems ("There is no God but God, and Christ is His son"). With no Islamic Empire invading its neighbors, the Persian Empire remained Zoroastrian, and the Byzantine Empire (including north Africa) remained Orthodox Christian in the equivalent of our 15th century.

The "agent" in the short stories works for the Byzantine government, and the stories are all basically mysteries he has to solve -- but you-the-reader solve them well before he does, because you know the secret involves a new invention or discovery: how can the bad guys produce such impossibly high numbers of identical treason pamphlets? Because they invented a movable-type printing press. How is the foreign army able to figure out what we're up to, when we know they haven't any spies among us? Because they invented the telescope, and can see what you're doing from a safe distance away. How did those foreigners convince fire demons to work for them? They didn't; they invented gunpowder. And so on.
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Eric the .5b
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by Eric the .5b » 10 May 2018, 21:13

Jennifer wrote:
10 May 2018, 20:46
I'm reading Agent of Byzantium, a collection of alt-history short stories by Harry Turtledove.
Oh, man, those came out awhile back. I never got my hand on the stories at the time, (I dimly remember reading "Superwine") but the late 80s were when he really committed to the alt-histories and occasional fantasies.

The funny thing is that I first encountered him through his space opera stories, some of which got fixed-up into NonInterference.

(Also, Jesus Christ, Harry Turtledove averages more than three books a year, and they're not short books. This is what happens when you pay by the word, people! :D )
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Jennifer
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by Jennifer » 10 May 2018, 21:31

Eric the .5b wrote:
10 May 2018, 21:13
Jennifer wrote:
10 May 2018, 20:46
I'm reading Agent of Byzantium, a collection of alt-history short stories by Harry Turtledove.
Oh, man, those came out awhile back. I never got my hand on the stories at the time, (I dimly remember reading "Superwine") but the late 80s were when he really committed to the alt-histories and occasional fantasies.

The funny thing is that I first encountered him through his space opera stories, some of which got fixed-up into NonInterference.

(Also, Jesus Christ, Harry Turtledove averages more than three books a year, and they're not short books. This is what happens when you pay by the word, people! :D )
My copy is a first edition, gleaned from a library sale, but apparently if you buy a new copy now it contains two additional stories not included in the original book. Also the story titles are different; I know what story "Superwine" refers to, but in my copy of the book, the titles are simply Byzantine-style dates: Etos Kosmou 6816, Etos Kosmou 6829, etc.

(Frankly, had the book not come out "awhile back" I wouldn't have read it; his latter stuff is not good at all, IMO. His "Supervolcano" series was awful; were that the first Turtledove I read, I'd never have read any more. I tried reading the series about World War Two starting earlier -- either because Chamberlain stood up to Hitler, or Hitler started the war then anyway, or something -- eh, it just didn't grab me. And the one about the Cold War turning hot -- don't even remember the title, I only remember one viewpoint character was a woman reduced to living in her car -- read the first book from the library, wasn't interested enough to read more. He's been coasting on his reputation for awhile now, I'd say.)
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Eric the .5b
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by Eric the .5b » 10 May 2018, 22:11

Sadly, that's been my impression. Churning that stuff out pays the bills, but I found his fiction less and less engaging as time went on. I bailed part of the way through the slog of Worldwar and never picked up any of his later books.

i'd be mean and make a joke about forcing him to write something that couldn't allude to or include WW2 or the US Civil War, but I did like the couple of SF short stories he wrote a few years back (which alluded to other historical periods...).
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Jennifer
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by Jennifer » 10 May 2018, 22:36

Huh. I actually liked Worldwar -- in part because I think it did a very good job of handling the "We do not understand what you Earthlings call e-mo-shuns" trope, to where I could actually "understand" how and why the Lizards thought ordinary, healthy human emotions were (by their standards) signs that our entire species consists of mentally ill maniacs. (That said: Homeward Bound, the final book in that series, was awful, and contradicted pretty much everything Turtledove had previously established about Lizard culture and history.)

Some of his standalone novels are still pretty good, though; I especially like Ruled Britannia (the Spanish Armada succeeds in invading England, and William Shakespeare becomes an unwilling member of the resistance movement trying to drive out the Spanish and free Elizabeth I from the Tower of London) and Between the Rivers (life in alt-Mesopotamia for the first generation of people who figured out how to work metal -- but in this world, gods and spirits are undeniably real.)

The thing I like about those books is that Turtledove's historian training really comes through: ignore the obviously fictional parts (Spanish soldiers and mandatory Catholicism in late Elizabethan England; gods intervening in the lives of Mesopotamians), and what's left is a fairly realistic look at what everyday life really must have been like for people living in the earliest Bronze Age cities, or late 16th-century London.
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Eric the .5b
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by Eric the .5b » 10 May 2018, 22:48

Jennifer wrote:
10 May 2018, 22:36
Huh. I actually liked Worldwar -- in part because I think it did a very good job of handling the "We do not understand what you Earthlings call e-mo-shuns" trope, to where I could actually "understand" how and why the Lizards thought ordinary, healthy human emotions were (by their standards) signs that our entire species consists of mentally ill maniacs.
I totally liked it early on, but after a few, it just became a slog. I kept noticing passages that seemed to be cut-and-pasted from earlier volumes, while simultaneously losing track of characters. I couldn't tell you which one I left off on, but I just finished one volume and didn't continue it.

I actually have a collection of his early fiction that I need to get around to reading. And I might look for some of those stand-alones.

I'm kinda reminded of Robert E. Howard, and how his real literary love was historical fiction.
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Jennifer
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by Jennifer » 10 May 2018, 23:38

Eric the .5b wrote:
10 May 2018, 22:48
Jennifer wrote:
10 May 2018, 22:36
Huh. I actually liked Worldwar -- in part because I think it did a very good job of handling the "We do not understand what you Earthlings call e-mo-shuns" trope, to where I could actually "understand" how and why the Lizards thought ordinary, healthy human emotions were (by their standards) signs that our entire species consists of mentally ill maniacs.
I totally liked it early on, but after a few, it just became a slog. I kept noticing passages that seemed to be cut-and-pasted from earlier volumes,
In all fairness, though, he pretty much has to do that, in case someone is reading a later volume of a story without having read the earlier ones.

That said, even without that there are certain phrases and themes that come up in a LOT of his stories. I can't find it now, but I once saw a "Turtledove bingo" card online; the one square I remember was something to the effect of "anytime a character throws down silver coins and they ring 'sweetly'." (Though having compared the sound of silver coins to the sound of the copper-and-nickel sandwiches we have now -- yeah, the silver really does have a much "sweeter" sound.)
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Andrew
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by Andrew » 20 May 2018, 22:50

I finished Hardy's Jude the Obscure. And now I'm ready to kill myself.
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lunchstealer
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by lunchstealer » 21 May 2018, 02:32

Andrew wrote:
20 May 2018, 22:50
I finished Hardy's Jude the Obscure. And now I'm ready to kill myself.
It advertised that Hardy wrote it, right on the cover, didn't it?
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Solitudinarian
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by Solitudinarian » 21 May 2018, 05:21

lunchstealer wrote:
21 May 2018, 02:32
Andrew wrote:
20 May 2018, 22:50
I finished Hardy's Jude the Obscure. And now I'm ready to kill myself.
It advertised that Hardy wrote it, right on the cover, didn't it?
Maybe if they printed “Abandon all hope, ye who read here” on the title page.

Rereading The Club Dumas — I hope to be done by Wednesday at the latest.
“I have no Message to reveal. But later on––Who knows?––I might.”

“A citizen may not be required to offer a ‘good and substantial reason’ why he should be permitted to exercise his rights. The right’s existence is all the reason he needs.”

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