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What books are you reading?
The long-drawn virgin vales; the mild blue hill-sides; as over these there steals a hush, the hum; you almost swear that play-wearied children lie sleeping in these solitudes, in some glad May-time, when the flowers of the woods are plucked. And all this mixes with your most mystic mood; so that fact and fancy, halfway-meeting, interpenetrate, and form one seamless whole.
Meanwhile, I'm re-reading The Baroque Cycle by Neal Stephenson. A happy little yarn for folks raised on Discover magazine. Neal's writing can be annoying (speaking of Cliff Clavin), but he's a little more reigned in here and allows action to drive scenes of people talking instead of just writing paragraphs about how guns or swords work.
I've also read Robinson's WHY YOU SHOULD BE A SOCIALIST (you should), bits of Feynman's SIX EASY PIECES, and started Wilson's translation of THE ODYSSEY.
jeb wrote: I've also read Robinson's WHY YOU SHOULD BE A SOCIALIST (you should), bits of Feynman's SIX EASY PIECES, and started Wilson's translation of THE ODYSSEY.
I have Fagles' translation of The Odyssey, and it's good.
Which leads me to yet another pitch for Herodotus' Histories. Yet another story from it: after the naval battle at Salamis, the captains were asked to vote on who was the battle's MVP. It ended up a 300-way tie for first place, and Themistocles unanimous for second.
jeb wrote: Meanwhile, I'm re-reading The Baroque Cycle by Neal Stephenson. A happy little yarn for folks raised on Discover magazine. Neal's writing can be annoying (speaking of Cliff Clavin), but he's a little more reigned in here and allows action to drive scenes of people talking instead of just writing paragraphs about how guns or swords work.
I did that re-read earlier this quarantine. I had remembered the second volume as being weakish, but on re-read I found it the most enjoyable. The initial pipe-laying in the first volume was pretty damn tedious, but when he got past that and started letting his dominoes fall it got better.
I'm halfway through his most recent "Fall; or, Dodge in Hell" and I'm glad I did that BC re-read. No solid opinions on Fall yet.
I'm still working through Sandersons 3rd Stormlight novel and it is verbose but action oriented enough to be entertaining.
I read somewhere that Heinlein and his wife took some insane amount of effort (days, a week, something like that) to get some calculation right that ended up being just a number in his book. Maybe he wanted to keep his math fresh, whatever. Stephenson will go through the same effort for that same sort of number in a book, but then Show His Work. Normally I like that sort of thing (I did buy a Stephenson book), but there is a limit.
There are times (somewhere around Anathem/Reamde) when I was pretty much hate-reading the books. Seveneves I actually liked more than most, because a few pages of digression on orbital mechanics is actually why I like Stephenson. His topics are generally interesting to me. His flat characters and idiot-ball coincidence plotting and jumpcut endings not so much.
Baroque Cycle was much improved on re-read (and 15 years of distance), and I was surprised that I had very different opinions on where the good parts of that epic were now.
And then we get to "Fall", which sucked. This is the first book of his where I felt like it was really just a gigantic waste of time. There was some extremely good setup in the second quarter of the book around online persona, internet filtering, and "truth". But it was treated shabbily, and then completely thrown away. From there out, the book degenerates into basically CS Lewis for the techbro. If you think Stephenson is bad SF writer (and I don't), imagine him trying to pull off fantasy allegory.
Usually the book veers off the cliff right near the end, but you had a good ride. This time, it basically ejects before you hit the halfway mark and you still have 400 pages to go! I was reading this slog, thinking back to the bizarre shadow Internet and Ameristan stuff, and saying "fuck, he wrote the wrong book".
I'm not expecting to change anyone's mind about his other books, feel free to follow your heart there. But even if you do like Stephenson, I'd still say avoid this one. (Jeb, save yourself!)
I take his little sidetracks on Newton's life as fact, even if they aren't.
Serves to keep interest and how would Year 9 know if these stories are fact or fiction?
I barely do.
The Baron is the laziest villain ever, though. His plan basically amounts to kill some people and have lots of sex, and everyone who matters pretty much immediately knows what’s going on. Which turns out to be fine for him because he wants everyone to hate Alia and crack the family.
I'm also reading Debt by David Graeber. I am still sad that he just died, so relatively young.
Then I can look up obscure historical references, that I'm not too familiar with, as I go which keeps me engaged. Kindle does a good job with just highlighting an historical name or event and giving you a quick refresher.
ThirstyMan wrote: Yes, it's an X Ray feature and an integrated and downloaded Dictionary as well as an instant Wikipedia look up to the highlight. Depends on how much detail you need.
It’s killer for history books. It’s helping me keep both sets of royals straight reading Battle of Bosworth Field.