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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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17 Oct 2020 19:59 #315304 by allismom3

Shellhead wrote: Snow Crash was fun. The Diamond Age was good, but felt like it could have easily been written by William Gibson or Bruce Sterling. Cryptonomicon was work to get through, and I don't remember most of it. I struggled to get into Quicksilver and finally gave up on it and on Stephenson. He has his style and he has his fanbase, but I don't have time for his sloppy ramblings anymore.


I'm re-reading a bunch of stuff now. My daughter is taking a Sci-fi lit English class at Umaine. We are going thru the the reading list together, having a mini book club once a week over Facetime. Started with Frankenstein, I had never read it- holy moly is it slooooow. It was a slog for me to get to the end. Next up was Asimov, mostly hitting the highlights of the Robotics Laws stories, I think his writing holds up. Then was PK Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. I love PK Dick, I went thru a phase a few years ago where I read just about everything he put out. We are now onto Gibson's Neuromancer. I hadn't read it since high school. I remember liking it a bunch 35 years ago. Now I don't know. I feel this retro future/ nostalgia thing when reading it now, but I'm not enjoying it as much as I did then. My daughter's take is interesting, especially with Gibson, she didn't live thru the 80's so she doesn't it thru that lens. We'll get the 2nd half of the semester's reading list this coming week. More to come.
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17 Oct 2020 22:37 #315306 by Gary Sax
Most of the way through Say Nothing about the Troubles. It's great.
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29 Oct 2020 22:11 #315730 by DarthJoJo
Finished God Emperor of Dune. I don’t even know what to say any more, and I have whole novels left. It’s like Catan. It’s foundational. Everyone has read it at least once. Everyone knows “The spice must flow” and “Fear is the mind killer.” It’s impossible to imagine the modern science fiction landscape without it, but there’s nothing like it.

Maybe the first one. That’s fairly traditional in structure and characters, but Herbert gave up on traditional long ago. We’ve jumped over three millennia into the future, but one of the characters is still kind of alive. I thought I understood the arc of the plot about halfway through 400 pages but found out I was wrong in the last thirty pages.

I just know nothing like it, and I guess that’s why I’m going to finish the last two even though they aren’t always fun reads.
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30 Oct 2020 09:18 #315745 by jason10mm
I listen to a podcast that does read alongs of tons of older weird horror stories (originally did lovecraft but has since branched out) and they covered "Frankenstein", "Jekyll and Hyde", "Phantom of the Opera", "The Invisible Man", and one of the main wolfman inspirations.

And WOW are the stories and the "cultural zeitgeist" so divergent! I think children's versions and film are how folks get informed about these things. Dracula I think still holds up well but those others...not so much. It isn't that they aren't mostly well written, just that by the end so much was described off screen, only inferred, or by current standards just kinda oh hum.
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18 Nov 2020 14:06 - 18 Nov 2020 14:08 #316291 by Sagrilarus
Just an FYI -- The 5th book in the Blackthorn Key series has just gone up for PrePub purchases on Amazon Kindle Edition. It's in the Juvenile Fiction category and book one was quite good.

The Blackthorn Key series is authored by Kevin Sands, a former TWBGer who you would probably recognize by his Bullwinkle avatar. Kevin is (was) a chemist that has turned his time to writing because it's proven more lucrative and less smelly.
Last edit: 18 Nov 2020 14:08 by Sagrilarus.
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20 Nov 2020 10:42 - 20 Nov 2020 10:43 #316368 by drewcula
I joined a virtual book club among friends over the summer. I would normally run away screaming from such an invite, but they hooked me in with the premise, "A Book Club of Horror."

Six books later, we're meeting on Zoom this Sunday afternoon to discuss 'The Only Good Indians' by Stephen Graham Jones.

In a nutshell; I enjoyed the story overall, but loathed the writing style. The book has been a darling of the press this year, and gets a lot of love for being indigenous "speculative fiction." There are some shocking moments in the book, and a lot of reflection about reservation life / outside prejudice. At the end, I had some lingering issues and I'm left with a mediocre impression.

Others thus far, with a one word review:
The Return = terrible
Beloved = eye-opening
Ocean at the end of the lane = splendid
Mexican Gothic = chewy
Headful of Ghosts = meta-tastic
Last edit: 20 Nov 2020 10:43 by drewcula.
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01 Nov 2021 16:23 - 01 Nov 2021 17:24 #327629 by Cranberries

SuperflyPete wrote: Pink Drunk Tank

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


Hey SuperflyPete!

I am reading The Last Tourist by Olen Steinhauer, the last book in the series, coming a full decade after the previous volume. It's not John LeCarre but it's totally fun and clever and the main character is always worrying about his relationship with his wife and daughter, who get upset with him when he withholds information. They always know when he is lying, and he feels guilty. Meanwhile the black ops organization that he worked for keeps coming back to try and kill him, like an unstoppable horror movie monster, only it's an institution.

As for what American readers are interested in, I simply don’t know. I believe that a good story, well told, will gain a sizeable readership no matter the setting—I’m probably delusional believing that, but it’s the only way for a novelist to think and not go mad. Second-guessing the market, I think, is damaging. First, if it were that easy to predict what readers want, publishing would be a much more lucrative business. More importantly, though, once you start to place an imaginary readership’s desires above your own, you get away from your own interests, and that has to have an ill effect one’s writing.

I know someone smarter than me has said something like this already, but: A novelist’s ideal readership is his or her own self. A writer should write the book he would want to read.

Last edit: 01 Nov 2021 17:24 by Cranberries.

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01 Nov 2021 17:40 #327635 by Shellhead

DarthJoJo wrote: Finished God Emperor of Dune. I don’t even know what to say any more, and I have whole novels left. It’s like Catan. It’s foundational. Everyone has read it at least once. Everyone knows “The spice must flow” and “Fear is the mind killer.” It’s impossible to imagine the modern science fiction landscape without it, but there’s nothing like it.

Maybe the first one. That’s fairly traditional in structure and characters, but Herbert gave up on traditional long ago. We’ve jumped over three millennia into the future, but one of the characters is still kind of alive. I thought I understood the arc of the plot about halfway through 400 pages but found out I was wrong in the last thirty pages.

I just know nothing like it, and I guess that’s why I’m going to finish the last two even though they aren’t always fun reads.


I bailed on God Emperor of Dune. Two friends warned me about it, and they both had horrible things to say about it. I think it's amusing that Amazon is now selling the Dune Saga as a three-book set, pointedly excluding God Emperor and the rest of the sequels and prequels.

www.amazon.com/Frank-Herberts-Dune-3-Book-Boxed/dp/0593201892
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01 Nov 2021 18:08 #327638 by Cranberries
Looking forward to Timothee Chalamet in God Emperor of Dune

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06 Nov 2021 13:18 #327742 by Sagrilarus
I finished the Lee book. It’s clear the author sees the man as very risk-averse, in spite of his reputation in the war. Even his description of Lee’s “audacious” decisions in battle indicate that he depended on subordinates to work out the details and risk getting caught with blame more than himself.

All in all a painting of a man, though competent before during and after the war, that walked the safest path in order to avoid returning to the poverty of his youth.
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06 Nov 2021 16:37 - 06 Nov 2021 22:31 #327744 by Gary Sax
Which would speak to how poorly he performed on offense outside of home territory, the absolute riskiest situation in the civil war era. GCACW does a great job showing you how insane massed attack in enemy territory was in Grant Takes Command.
Last edit: 06 Nov 2021 22:31 by Gary Sax.
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06 Nov 2021 22:08 #327750 by mc
Replied by mc on topic What books are you reading?
Finally have got around to reading Dalrymple's "The Anarchy" - history of the East India Company. Have read the one on Afghanistan and the one on the last Mughal Emperor. Solid, accessible history with access to and use of great primary source material from the regions themselves, which European histories have tended to ignore.

They were some crazy times. Something that has struck me in this one was how the standard narrative is that warfare increased its horrific nature in that second half of the 19th century - you know, ACW is the forerunner and then we get to WW1 and so on - but some of the numbers cited in terms of losses during campaigns are vast for the age. I don't know how questionable they are, and often they are from other things - i.e., people drowning or being trampled to death - but 15,000 deaths in a day.... I genuinely had no idea that there were campaigns like this.
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07 Nov 2021 10:07 #327756 by jason10mm
Makes you wonder, if cameras and maybe some sort of wire service were around back then so folks could hear, and see, the carnage quickly after events if we would have gotten a more stable global stage without having to go through WW1 and WW2.

Probably not since there wouldn't have been a solidified EU, militarily dominate US/USSR cold war + aftermath to give us almost 80 years of absence from major power conflict.

Then again, depending on where you live, the massive war deaths never stopped coming even if westerners have been getting it easy.

Did this Dalyrmple person write all of these books? If they are lively reading I'll have to check them out.

Reading DUNE again for the first time in quite a while. It always impresses me just how developed, but only tangentially referenced, his worldbuilding is. But when it comes to plot he just has these massive infodumps where he lays out the grand strategies of Atreides and Harkonnen in like the first 20 pages. No suspense really. I have a greater appreciation for the Denis film now because he really is trying to stay closer to the book versus the bombastic Lynch version which is mostly cherrypicking the highlights.
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07 Nov 2021 14:52 #327763 by mc
Replied by mc on topic What books are you reading?
Yes, he's a British (Scottish I think) historian but I think he lives/has lived in India for a couple of decades so he has access to all this great primary material.

The Last Mughal is about the Indian Mutiny in 1857, focusing on Delhi and the court of the the last Emperor there.

The Return of the King is about the British invasion of Afghanistan in the 1840s. It is basically Pax Pamir the book - Wehrle used it extensively (and it shows).
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07 Nov 2021 20:21 #327768 by Greg Aleknevicus

mc wrote: ... but 15,000 deaths in a day.... I genuinely had no idea that there were campaigns like this.

It's sometimes difficult to compare modern "battles" with more historical ones as the duration of modern ones are usually so much longer. For example, the deadliest battle in history, the Battle of Stalingrad, took place over 164 days and had casualties of ~700-800 thousand or a per day rate of ~4500. Compare this with one of the more deadly battles of antiquity, Cannae, where 70,000 Romans were killed in an afternoon.

War has *always* been brutal.
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