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Bugs: Recent Topics Paging, Uploading Images & Preview (11 Dec 2020)

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What books are you reading?

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25 Aug 2020 11:09 #313477 by SuperflyPete
Pink Drunk Tank

Great read, although it's just a redux of so many other marketing psychology books I've read.

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25 Aug 2020 13:23 #313482 by Shellhead

jason10mm wrote:

Shellhead wrote: Great point. It's like the technobabble in a typical science-fiction tv show. The specific terminology is often incidental and the crucial aspect is the intensity of the delivery of the lines.


Pretty much with the caveat that these books are not just tossing out terms randomly, if you do understand it the experience is just that much deeper (reversing the polarity on the hyperspace deflector is never gonna make any sense) and you begin to correctly anticipate tactics and consequences ("he is in chains, oh he's screwed now!").

It is kinda fun to see technobabble that mirrors real world stuff though, like Weber's Honor Harrington books that go to some pretty crazy lengths to replicate ship of the line broadsides.


Red Seas Under Red Skies is the second book of Scott Lynch's excellent Gentlemen Bastard series, and is a nautical adventure that goes heavy into the specific terminology. Since the protagonists are both landlubbers, the reader gets to learn the terminology alongside the characters.

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25 Aug 2020 13:53 #313483 by RobertB
Replied by RobertB on topic What books are you reading?
Walter Jon Williams did a fighting sail series- Privateers & Gentlemen. IIRC, in his books' forwards he's explaining that stuff like a 35-year-old man marrying a 17-year-old girl, and beer being what you drink for breakfast and in between whisky drinks the rest of the day, was just The Way Things Were Back Then. You also get a fair share of "Luff the staysails!" sort of thing.
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26 Aug 2020 14:58 #313505 by Dr. Mabuse
I'm reading Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler, The Peloponnesian War by Donald Kagen.

Sower is beautifully written and yet horrifying. I just started in to TPW, in order to better help me understand Mark Herman's game of the same name (GMT games), which I'm currently playing.

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02 Sep 2020 11:17 - 02 Sep 2020 11:19 #313696 by DarthJoJo
Just read Dune for the third time, first time since high school. I’ve heard jokes about the writing since then and figured they were exaggerated, but they weren’t wrong. I’m pretty sure my high school prose was equal, if not better. It’s atrocious. He switches between third-person narrators between paragraphs just to reveal otherwise obvious information. The whole chapter that introduces the Harkonnens could probably be excised for the better as there is some tension in the traitor’s identity and makes Leto’s defeat at least a small surprise. Somehow the best writing is in the justifiably maligned third act as Paul’s reconnaissance with Gurney and Stilgar through to the Emperor’s audience with the Baron build and pace perfectly into something awe inspiring with the arrival of the sandworm riders. I need to go at this like Thomas Jefferson did to the Bible. I could easily cut a hundred pages and make a tighter, more compelling novel.

And yet it works and still deserves its place as a foundational work of modern science fiction. Herbert’s world building reveals and obscures just the right amount. The twist on “the Chosen One” as something worked toward by the Bene Gesserit through controlled breeding. And I was wrong earlier. Herbert’s best writing is in the aphorisms. The selections from Irulan’s writing and “Fear is the mind killer” litany are so good and so repeatable.

Onto Dune Messiah and all the rest. I’m doing the whole thing for the first time. Wish me luck.
Last edit: 02 Sep 2020 11:19 by DarthJoJo.
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02 Sep 2020 12:00 #313700 by mezike
Replied by mezike on topic What books are you reading?
I've also been reading through the whole Dune cycle over the last few months - although I think it's been dragging out for well over a year by now as I keep needing to take a few books worth of break from Herbert's particular writing style. I had previously only ever read the first book but got turned on to exploring the series further by YouTuber Quinn's Ideas who makes excellent and really passionate digests of the Dune cycle amongst other things.

I really enjoyed the second and third books far more than the first and, despite the negativity regarding the worm-god era that I've often heard, I got a lot out of the God Emperor book as well despite it being an almost painfully slow read at times. My initial reaction to the first book was that it was overloaded with tiresome tropes of prophecies, chosen ones and religious iconography but the revelations in the later books put everything in a wholly different context; I now see the early books as an ancient history that is misconstrued by later generations seeking to build an edifice to give them meaning, and how that desire to believe is manipulated by Leto to steer the whole Human race toward a singular future for very specific reasons that come into view through gradual piecemeal revelations. The vision of the longer story is quite staggering when viewed in retrospect.

I'm currently stalled about halfway through Frank Herbert's final book which is starting to feel like hard work with all the hand-wringing introspection of the protagonists. I'm kind of looking forward to getting into the material written by Herbert-the-younger just to experience this world with a slightly different stylistic nuance, but given that there are now more pages of Dune written by Brian than by Frank I might still be working at this for another couple of years to come.
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02 Sep 2020 15:25 - 02 Sep 2020 15:27 #313709 by Sagrilarus

DarthJoJo wrote: Just read Dune for the third time,


My most recent re-read was via the audio book and there were places where the reader stumbled just a bit due to the occasional clunky prose.

I think the book held up well, considering I was 21 at my last reading. And my prior reading took place over weeks, which I think tends to make books feel grander in some way. Perhaps the time between sessions lets you emotionally fill in some of the gaps left by the author. I don't know.

This time I finished it in 20 days because it's still on a waiting list at the local library, some fifty years after its release. I'd wager it wasn't a mad rush from the local hobby boardgamers that stacked it up.

Just checked -- thirteen copies in the system, all out, one hold on each.
Last edit: 02 Sep 2020 15:27 by Sagrilarus.
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02 Sep 2020 15:39 #313710 by DarthJoJo
Dune is so hot right now. I was looking for some discussion on the saga and found no fewer than seven active Dune podcasts.
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04 Sep 2020 11:56 #313777 by RobertB
Replied by RobertB on topic What books are you reading?
My Great Recession mini moviefest reminded me of two books about finance that are worth reading.

Devil Take The Hindmost - a history of financial bubbles, from the infamous Dutch Tulip Bubble to right before the 2001 dot.com bubble. The lesson to take away from it is that bubbles always burst, and "This time it's different," isn't.

A Random Walk Down Wall Street - Recommended by my Finance professor many moons ago, and updated every few years. Gives you an introduction to the stock and bond markets, Fundamental Analysis vs Technical Analysis, and other fun financial stuff.

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04 Sep 2020 15:52 - 04 Sep 2020 15:58 #313781 by Sagrilarus
Queue up The Big Short next.

Sorry. Wrong thread!
Last edit: 04 Sep 2020 15:58 by Sagrilarus.

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10 Sep 2020 20:19 #313979 by Sagrilarus

Sagrilarus wrote: Now I gotta read the damn things.

I was a competition sailor on big boats for a decade, I'm curious how much I'll understand.


First half hour was bloody awful. This had better be worth it . . .

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10 Sep 2020 22:29 #313984 by DarthJoJo
Dune Messiah

You know how they like to say Dune is unfilmable? We'll see how Villeneuve fares, but the conventional wisdom has long been that there is way too much exposition to naturally and visually adapt from Herbert's work. If that's what they say about Dune in spite of some great setpieces and a well-established structure to its central plot, I don't what they'd say about Dune Messiah. The first half of the book is just people in rooms talking. Just talking. So much talking. The most exciting action comes from a woman walking through a very large room and a teenage girl knife training naked. It's the most exciting by default because everything else is just talking. On the one hand Herbert's writing improves as he can stick to a single narrator and allows more ambiguity by not immediately overexplaining every single person's thoughts and motivations, but he forgets to grab our attention. Dune had exposition during swordfights and tense dinner scenes. Dune Messiah just has talking. The action does pick up in the back half, when the conspiracy finally kicks into gear, and its good stuff, but still uniquely unsuited for film.

But we're not reading Herbert for the prose. We read him for his ideas and world. It's really a deconstruction of the parts everyone liked in the first book. The jihad that Paul foresaw in Dune and promised to hold back has apparently gone on just fine though he promises it could have been so much worse. I don't know. Paul talks a big game and we have no reason to not believe him when he says that Hitler and Genghis Khan could never have dreamed to kill the billions that he has, but it just doesn't land. Probably because we barely leave the bureaucracy of Paul's empire. We never experience the jihad. We just hear a little of it second hand in those brief moments inbetween Hayt wanting to know his history and everyone telling him he's Idaho.

The best part for me was the transformation of Stilgar from fierce Fremen naib to papershuffling bureaucrat. We've known about his fondness for rules since his rescue of Paul and Jessica, but they were cool, hardcore rules about watersharing and ritual death combat then. Now he's essentially arguing about Robert's Rules of Order. That's one way, maybe the best way, to undercut your heroic narrative right there.

Onto Children of Dune.
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11 Sep 2020 09:16 #313989 by RobertB
Replied by RobertB on topic What books are you reading?
I read Dune, Dune Messiah, and Children of Dune back to back to back when I was a teenager. I thought Dune was awesome, and Dune Messiah and Children of Dune bored me to tears. But I was all about plot and action back then. Still am, actually, so I probably won't reread it. :)

I think this was a writer's tip from Raymond Chandler: If things in your book are getting too slow, have someone come in the room with a gun. As a reader, that usually works for me.
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11 Sep 2020 09:25 #313990 by Joebot
Replied by Joebot on topic What books are you reading?

DarthJoJo wrote: Probably because we barely leave the bureaucracy of Paul's empire. We never experience the jihad. We just hear a little of it second hand in those brief moments inbetween Hayt wanting to know his history and everyone telling him he's Idaho.


It's been a loooong time since I read this book, but that is the one thing that I remember -- all the best stuff happens off-screen. It's an infuriating well to tell a story. I was so irritated by the end, I never read any further in the series. I've reread Dune multiple times since then, but I've never touched the sequels again.

As an example of the complete opposite writing style .... I'm finally getting around to reading Leviathan Wakes, the first book in the Expanse series. It's terrific. I keep finding excuses to read it throughout the day. Oh, dinner takes 15 minutes to bake? I can read a chapter or two. Zoom call at work is boring as hell? I can read a chapter while pretending to listen. I've watched the TV show, which I thought was decent, but I'm really enjoying the book so far.
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11 Sep 2020 09:45 #313991 by DarthJoJo
Another thought. I believe in Paul’s turn into a despotic emperor who rules through violence and fear, but again, I think Herbert undercuts his own themes, this time through his choice of antagonists. The conspiracy against him is not made up those he now oppresses but the former power brokers of the Corrino empire. This isn’t the weak rising up against the strong but the formerly powerful trying to take back what they had, though I guess you could say that was Paul’s journey in Dune as well.

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