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Short Cut to Remote Gaming Forum (29 Aug 2020)
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What BOOK(s) are you reading?
jeb wrote: I am also looking forward to REAMDE (sic) from Stephenson.
I wouldn't be in a huge hurry, I just read it a week or so ago. It felt very flat for a Stephenson book. It's basically a straight-ahead thriller novel, and while it's pretty good at that it suffers from not really having any big ideas behind it.
Oh, the editor is sorely missed on a lot of that book as well. Not Baroque-cycle levels of extra crap, but still a lot. Many characters go basically underdeveloped, to the point where you wonder why they were ever included. I found it pretty disappointing all-in-all. If you really liked the last few hundred pages of Anathem, you might like this one. If you didn't, you may find it light like I did.
The other thing I read recently was Bitter Seeds, by Ian Tregillis. This is sort like an Incursion-style WeirdWWII, with battery-powered Nazi superheroes vs English warlocks. I liked it a lot, except the cop-out sequel setup of an ending. I suppose with the author as a GRRM protege I shouldn't expect him to tell a story in one book. Recommended for Ameritrashers.
The next two are the best of the series. Fucking gold plated badassery. 4 and halfway through 5 are a step down, but shit's getting set up.
Jexik wrote: After at least a decade and a dozen friends' recommendations, I started reading a Game of Thrones last Tuesday.
And I finished it on Sunday. One of said friends lent me the next two...
Also reading "The Invisible Gorilla" about gaps in our perception. If you've never done the online cognitive test by that same name, you should.
Finally, reading Sharpe's Fortress. I like me some Richard Sharpe.
Next up is a book called "Three and Out" about the Rich Rod years at MIchigan.
Great readable history of the end of the Roman Republic. It really gets into the interpersonal rivalries and backstabbing going on between the political elite at the end of the Republic. Learned lots of interesting stuff about the Republic of the time that I hadn't come across before. Holland does a great job of making history readable and interesting without alot of referencing and comparative source BS that bogs alot of histories down. He mostly gets right into the action and narrative of events leading up Caesar's take over of the Republic.
I have Reamde and Canticle of Leibowitz waiting for me. I have had a hard time reading fiction lately.
Any good biography or history recommendations would be appreciated
MattDP wrote: Currently enjoying Egil's Saga. It's a translation of a 9th century Viking epic about the warrior-poet Egil and his feud with the king of Norway. In my experience, direct translations of ancient legends and epics read very oddly to a modern audience, with uneven pacing and unexpected focus, but this is brilliantly readable, and compelling. A real window into what turns out to be an unbelievably brutal past, this has it all: history, ruminations on the struggle between state power and individual freedom, intriguing characters and buckets and buckets of blood.
Yeah, yeah, I know, I shouldn't respond but I have to. By the way, I teach this material, so I'm pedantic.
So Egil's saga was written in the 13th century, derived from verses that had been floating around for some generations. The time of action in the saga is the 9th and 10th centuries, but make no mistake, the saga itself was not recorded on vellum until much later. Egil's saga is part of the Sagas of Icelanders, a large body of vernacular literature from 13th to 15th century Iceland derived from verse and oral tradition associated with mythical and historical figures. "Viking epic" sounds nice, but really doesn't belong with Egil's saga which is prosimetric (mix of verse and prose) and a good 200-300 years after the viking era of expansion had ended. That said, Egil's saga is a fantastic piece of literature with a great central character. It needs to be said that Egil is exceptional in his brutality, so don't take him as any sort of accurate representation of the viking age or paganism. Rather, Egil is a larger than life burlesque figure, going above and beyond etiquette and social norms truly earning the title of "the last pagan in Iceland".
Now, enough of my rants. If you want to read other great Norse-Icelandic family sagas (because really they belong to both Icelandic and Norwegian traditions) you need to read the following:
Gunnlaug's Saga (Skald saga)
Gisli's Saga (Outlaw saga)
The Saga of of Hrolf Kraki (Legendary! So full of craziness)
Now of course, there are many more that I can suggest, but these are my personal favorites.
It's fantasy-adventure, but very, very far away from the worlds of Tolkien or George R. R. Martin. This is smart, urban, refreshing fantasy. Instead of saviour Kings and characters tailored to be liked or hated, you get talking tattoos, human origami, religious sect junkies, and all kinds of weird, punky magic. On top of that, an intelligent plot and interesting writing.
Now, I'm on to Miéville's Bas-Lag trilogy.
Started Howard Pyle's retelling of the Arthur cycle. Man, I love Pyle. He did my favorite version of the Robin Hood stories that I read at least a dozen times as a kid. He was primarily a painter, classically trained under N.C. Wyerth, but instead of typical subjects, he painted pirates, swashbucklers, and general awesomeness, all with amazing technique. His language in the books is perfect, just enough of Merrie Olde England without getting all Chaucer. I've never read his Arthurian stuff for some dumb reason. But it's free/free on Gutenburg. (As is Piper.). There's a Dover collection of his art out there too.
Both of the above are classified as juvenile literature, which is kind of worrisome. I can't imagine most kids today reading them with any degree of comprehension.