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Madelyn Holthouse
April 21, 2021
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Dutch Blitz Review

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whowhatwhycast
April 21, 2021
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ubarose
April 19, 2021
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Moonrakers - Grant's Game Recs

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Matt Thrower
April 19, 2021
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oliverkinne
April 16, 2021
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Fort Board Game Review

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DukeofChutney
April 15, 2021
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Abstraction: GO

Analysis
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Msample
April 15, 2021
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Review of Bayonets & Tomahawks

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whowhatwhycast
April 14, 2021
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Shellhead
April 13, 2021
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thegiantbrain
April 13, 2021
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Episode 69 - Bullet Time

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oliverkinne
April 13, 2021
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adamr
April 13, 2021
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Venice - Punchboard Reviews

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Matt Thrower
April 12, 2021
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Play Matt: Elric, Ranked

Gamer Culture
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GrantLyon
April 12, 2021
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oliverkinne
April 09, 2021
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What BOOK(s) are you reading?

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26 Feb 2021 12:32 #319796 by Shellhead
I used to be a big fan of Tim Powers, but I think Declare was the last thing I read by him. It wasn't bad, but it seemed overly familiar, like he was revisiting many of his favorite tropes.

I loved the first three books of the Black Company series plus the spinoff book The Silver Spike. Then the series grinds to a half and flounders for a couple of books in Dejagore. The choice to present one of those books from the viewpoint of a semi-omniscient narrator who has become unmoored in time was a bad call, as it makes the reading into a messy chore. Once the story moves past Dejagore and gets to the plain of glittering stone, it becomes compelling again. I think there may be one more book that hasn't been finished yet, but it's been so long now that it may never arrive.
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26 Feb 2021 16:49 - 27 Feb 2021 11:45 #319812 by RobertB

SebastianBludd wrote: Last year I started The Black Company series and recently finished it. It was very good, even though it dragged at times, and I really enjoyed the delightfully weird fantasy mythos Cook created. I also liked how magic and other supernatural elements were rarely fully explained, and how wizards/practitioners (the lower level ones, anyway) were treated more like specialized technicians rather than demigods. The series took an unexpectedly elegiac turn in the last few books but it was a satisfying payoff and it reinforced themes that were percolating from the earliest books.

I've also been reading the third trilogy of Charles Stross' Merchant Prince series. I finished book eight recently and the ninth is due later this year. It's about a clan of people who have the genetic ability to "world walk" between parallel universes, and when the series starts they've been world walking to and from our universe for financial gain for quite some time.

Stross really gets to show off what he knows about tradecraft and government bureaucracies, which is quite a bit, and the directions he takes things in the third trilogy are depressingly dystopian by virtue of their plausibility. The second trilogy has a fantastic ending, and the third trilogy picks up 17 years later and hits the ground running; doubling down on exploring the political implications of what two parallel, yet divergent, societies might do in the midst of first contact across dimensions.


I don't know if I've read all of The Black Company books, but I've read a lot of them. One thing to get used to is that Glen Cook doesn't handle big battles in the same way that a lot of Fantasy writers (Eric Flint springs to mind) will. If you're looking for that sort of Big Battle fantasy, you'll be dissapointed. But it more than makes up for it by the characters.

I read the first Merchant Princes trilogy a while back - I might have to pick that series back up again.
Last edit: 27 Feb 2021 11:45 by RobertB. Reason: proofread fail
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27 Feb 2021 10:58 #319820 by drewcula
I see it's time for my Dune refrain;
"I do not give a fuck about Duncan Idaho."

Meanwhile, I finished the dumb as hell "My Best Friend's Exorcism." This is what I wrote on Goodreads;

My third book from Hendrix, and I think I'm done.
Each effort is all style, and no substance.
I'm lured into his works because of their presentation. The marketing strikes a chord.
But the content continually fails to deliver.
Shallow characters. Under developed subplots. Uneven pacing. Unnecessary tonal shifts into body horror. Rushed endings.
Horrorstor was bad.
My Best Friend's Exorcism is only marginally better.
Paperbacks from Hell is hardly the work of Hendrix anyway, with most of the heavy lifting by Will Errickson.

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27 Feb 2021 15:14 - 27 Feb 2021 15:23 #319828 by CranBerries

Gary Sax wrote: My wife and I have listened to a lot of nature non-fiction.

Entangled Life is a somewhat disorganized book about fungus that will reshape how you think about the world and its ecosystems. In particular, how cooperation and symbiosis is everywhere and makes up everything.


Top ten signs your friends and neighbors are microdosing during the pandemic:

1. Starts talking quoting Paul Stamets and/or talking about the interconnectedness of mushrooms
2. Starts pestering friends to play "The Mushroom Eaters"
3. Sells all of their wargames
4. Listed as playtester for Mushrooms by MailMushrooms by Mail
5. I'll stop now, this is all I've got and it wasn't as funny as I hoped.
Last edit: 27 Feb 2021 15:23 by CranBerries.
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01 Mar 2021 12:36 #319876 by jeb
Replied by jeb on topic What BOOK(s) are you reading?
Patricia Lockwood's NO ONE IS TALKING ABOUT THIS is great. You can read it in a day, and you'll laugh out loud and be wracked with sobs.

Wracked!

I'm enjoying a series of essays about ACLU cases before the Supreme Court, FIGHT OF THE CENTURY, edited by Chabon and Waldman. Scott Turow has a great one about what assholes the ACLU are for their free speech absolutism.

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17 Mar 2021 23:12 #320776 by DarthJoJo
I did it. I finished Chapterhouse: Dune. I’m done with spice and prescience and Duncan Idaho and the Bene Gesserit. I thought Herbert was growing as a writer around the time of Children of Dune, but I was wrong. Chapterhouse might be the worst. Characters are both overwritten and infuriatingly vague at the same time. Chapters are wasted on conversations with tertiary characters who absolutely don’t matter at all. Villains lack any menace whatsoever once a Bene Gesserit meets them in person and discerns their every thought and motive instantly. The climax is compressed to forty pages and preceded by four hundred pages of a woman doing paperwork while her councilor nags her.

Like every novel, I can squint and see what he’s aiming towards. Heretics and Chapterhouse are the second Dune saga and echo the original novel. Betrayed by one of their own, a boy of marvelous talents and his protectors go into hiding before emerging victorious over a seemingly invincible foe and taking over them. I admire the ambition and scope. But the prose and dialogue are such garbage, and there are absolutely zero compelling characters. There’s no Gurney or Stilgar or Tuek to ground things, a character who actually reacts to things like a human, that doesn’t have infinite perception and mental abilities. There might be four medium novels worth of good material in Herbert’s six very long books. Just give me a pen and let me go Lish on them.

From best to worst:
Children of Dune
Dune
Dune Messiah
God Emperor of Dune
Heretics of Dune
Chapterhouse: Dune
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18 Mar 2021 12:26 - 18 Mar 2021 12:29 #320808 by jason10mm
You gonna read Brian's prequel stuff? You've come this far :p
Last edit: 18 Mar 2021 12:29 by jason10mm. Reason: Add a joke

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18 Mar 2021 12:58 #320810 by DarthJoJo

jason10mm wrote: You gonna read Brian's prequel stuff? You've come this far :p

Can I get an ‘Un-thank you’ button here?

Kevin J. Anderson peeked with his IG-88 short story. It’s been a long, rolling downhill since.
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18 Mar 2021 16:29 #320827 by jeb
Replied by jeb on topic What BOOK(s) are you reading?
You, like me, might actually enjoy THE DUNE ENCYLOPEDIA. It was tacitly endorsed by Frank Herbert and then retconned away by Brian so he could write his brains-in-mechs shitfiction. I really enjoyed it. It was like the glossary and Irulan pieces writ larger. It's hard to find now, because Brian is an asshole, but look around.
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18 Mar 2021 17:30 #320830 by Michael Barnes
I have a copy that I stole from the public library I worked at 30 years ago! It’s bound in that awful green library binding...it’s REALLY cool. Lots of great stuff in it. Like how Ornithopthers flap their wings by electrically stimulating a bivalve to tense up.
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19 Mar 2021 12:49 #320875 by Joebot
It took me what felt like 20 years, but I finally finished Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson. It's 200 pages of plot crammed into an 1100-page book. An editor with even an ounce of integrity and competence could have chopped hundreds of pages from the book without breaking a sweat.

It's a long book is what I'm saying.

But it's better than the first one, Way of Kings. Sanderson's world-building continues to be interesting and unique. His fantasy world is very, very different than your bog standard Tolkien-inspired D&D Forgotten Realms pastiche. This is weird, alien stuff with its own distinct ecology and environment.

Unfortunately, Sanderson has populated his interesting world with a bunch of boring stiffs. I was thinking back to reading the early Games of Thrones novels, and how I'd get excited to flip the page and see that the next chapter was a Tyrion chapter, or a Jon chapter. Those were my favorites, and sometimes you just had to struggle through a goddamn Bran chapter to get to the good stuff. In Sanderson's books, every chapter is the equivalent of a goddamn Bran chapter.

I think I might be done with this series. I don't know. There are compelling teases of interesting stuff now and then, and the stakes crank up dramatically in the last third of this book. It's just such a slog to get there.

Also, Sanderson has such a rigid PG-rating to his books. There's no edge to any of this, no danger or threat. The action is sanitized, and sex is never even mentioned as an activity that humans engage in. I don't know how the characters in this world propagate the species, as no one has even the barest inkling of sexual desire. It's really weird.

I'm now reading War of the Wolves by Bernard Cornwell, and it's the polar opposite of Sanderson. Cornwell is the best. He jams more compelling plot and action into a lean 300-page novel that Sanderson does in 1100 pages.
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19 Mar 2021 14:41 - 19 Mar 2021 14:43 #320883 by Gary Sax
I read the Way of Kings and bought the next one and agree with everything you said almost exactly. For being so incredibly world buildey and long, it's very light stuff because of how archetypal the character work is.

The PG thing is so interesting. I'm not looking for long rapey chapters or some weird shit like that but the PGness just radiates through the series and feels very constraining. I didn't know anything about the work or the author before I started and I told my wife this must have been written by a pretty religious person... then looked it up and it was a mormon if memory serves.
Last edit: 19 Mar 2021 14:43 by Gary Sax.
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19 Mar 2021 15:12 #320885 by jason10mm
Agreed 100%. Took me 6 months to finish the third book and it doesn't get any better.

I think he really should just write YA or something.

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