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What books are you reading?

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29 Nov 2021 17:48 #328366 by Shellhead
Snow Crash was fun. Diamond Age was decent. Cryptonomicon was a slog. I didn't make it far into Quicksilver and gave up on Stephenson. I actively dislike the titles of Reamde and Anathem, as my brain keeps trying to spellcheck them. I might someday be interested in reading some of his non-fiction work.

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29 Nov 2021 19:12 #328367 by Jackwraith
I like Stephenson's stuff, but didn't read any of the Quicksilver/historical stuff because I found it kind of tiresome. You're absolutely right, though, in that he has a problem with endings. Always has. They always feel abrupt and as if the massive concepts he was working with haven't come to a proper resolution.

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29 Nov 2021 20:21 - 01 Dec 2021 18:29 #328371 by Cranberries

jason10mm wrote: [quote="Cranberries" post=328351

Hmm, I'm gonna have to pass on this one then. His stuff has just gotten increasingly chorish to read. Seveneves was crazy bloated in the first half and felt super rushed in the end, Reamde......I finished it at least. Anathem, eh, ok. The system of the world trilogy took a whole book to get going but then I was hooked. Cryptonomicon somehow got me to finish, I think I had a few long flights in a row. These days it would take me a year to finish.


I think that's a very fair and measured response. I never read Seveneves. Although I have the Termination Shock hardback from the library I ended up reading it on the Kindle, which effectively disguised the fact that it was 720 pages, much of it interesting but also chore-ish explication. Somewhere out there is the perfect editor for Stephenson, but I don't think they'll ever find each other.
Last edit: 01 Dec 2021 18:29 by Cranberries.
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29 Nov 2021 22:46 - 29 Nov 2021 22:47 #328374 by Not Sure
Halfway through this right now (alternating with some non-fiction in physical form, and trying to keep my nonsense Kindle reading streak alive)

Some of what you said I feel like I could have written myself.

Cranberries wrote: * Stephenson loves competent expertise, especially technicians and the military
* He is also fond of large, complex systems
...
* I don't think that Stephenson knows how to end books. They just sort of grind to a halt


The first two, very much so. The third has been a common thread since the earliest books of his, and expecting it to change now is just futile. Expecting an editor to reign in someone with his publishing record is futile as well. Never gonna happen.

"Only for fans" is probably true as well. I was at page 200 (so about 1/3rd in) when I said to myself: an airplane crashed in the first ten pages, and literally fucking nothing has happened since. 200 pages of characters info-dumping at each other.

Strangely, that doesn't actually bother me as much as used to in his books, either he's gotten better at making it, or I've become immune.

I actually liked Seveneves, much more so than anything since the Baroque Cycle.

I'll add more when I finish it, but I've got some thoughts swirling around. The good parts are pretty good. The bad parts are like deleted scenes from REAMDE.
Last edit: 29 Nov 2021 22:47 by Not Sure.
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30 Nov 2021 09:40 #328380 by jason10mm
Amazon is EVIL. They have a bunch of Robert R. McCammon's Matthew Corbett books (18th century paranormal shenanigans in the colonies) for like $3 PLUS the audio book for $2. Except of course the first 2 books in the series, which are full price. I read the very first one years ago on paper and now I have 3-6 on digital, and that second volume is staring at me with a full price tag.

Can I just skip it? Pony up the dough? Hunt for a secondhand paperback? WHY do you do this to me Bezos!?!

It's probably some sort of publisher set pricing war but it's the reverse of the usual thing where the first book is crazy cheap to get you to bite and then they soak you for the rest.

McCammon is an odd duck. He wrote some of the (IMHO) best horror/sci-fi ever in the 80's but none of it seemed to make it to the mainstream or get adapted. Then he ghosted for decades until now he seems devoted to this colonial stuff and cranking them out like mad. I should reread the older stuff just to see if middle aged me agrees with teenaged me.

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30 Nov 2021 10:03 #328381 by Sagrilarus
A bunch of Robert R. McCammon's stuff is in the Maryland public library system. Might be worth looking locally, may get it for free.

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30 Nov 2021 11:07 #328382 by Shellhead

jason10mm wrote: Amazon is EVIL.


In the mid-'90s, I became aware of the existence of a local bookstore called Amazon Bookstore, which had been around since the '70s. They specialized in selling books written by and for feminists and lesbians. They got into a legal tussle with Amazon.com over the business name and worked out a compromise plus got a cash settlement from Amazon.com. I always thought that the name made more sense for the bookstore and that Bezos should have come up with a better name. I resisted becoming an Amazon customer for a long time, but eventually my girlfriend (at the time) got me to start shopping at their site by sending me a link to her wishlist before Christmas. Now I have gone completely over to the dark side and watch shows on Amazon Prime often.
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30 Nov 2021 11:15 - 30 Nov 2021 11:22 #328383 by Cranberries
I say this as someone who comes from a family of people with what used to be called "Asperger's" and who tests pretty high on the Simon Barron-Cohen autism test [1]:

Neal Stephenson is either on the spectrum or at the very least hanging out in the neighborhood. The other day I was kind of sad, because I have all this really interesting stuff to talk about that nobody else seems to show an interest in, except for my FB friends who are kind of neurodivergent. Then I got thinking about Neal Stephenson's long explications, which I have come to enjoy, and it suddenly made sense.

[1] psychology-tools.com/test/autism-spectrum-quotient
Last edit: 30 Nov 2021 11:22 by Cranberries.
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30 Nov 2021 13:50 #328384 by RobertB
Replied by RobertB on topic What books are you reading?
I've read Stephenson up to Seveneves (I have to work hard to not spell it "Seveneyes", which would have been much cooler). I liked Reamde fine, and liked Anathem a lot just for the worldbuilding.

There was a pre-tvtropes document floating around which had a lot of what you see on tvtropes*. One of the tropes was, "Suffered for my art (and you will too)." Stephenson obviously spends a lot of time researching arcane features in his books, and By God you're going to find out all about it. Sometimes I find a digression into the tech needed to produce sword steel in the 17th Century entertaining, but sometimes I want the plot to move forward with a little more alacrity. Seveneves was pretty bad for that; a thousand pages that were about 600 pages too long.

Stephenson's books all just kind of stop. I thought Reamde was actually the best, but that's a low bar to clear.

I just finished rereading N.K. Jemisin's Broken Earth trilogy. Back to back to back Hugos, totally deserved. Want to see how to end a trilogy? Go read that.

* www.sfwa.org/2009/06/18/turkey-city-lexi...er-for-sf-workshops/
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30 Nov 2021 14:28 #328386 by the_jake_1973

jason10mm wrote: Amazon is EVIL. They have a bunch of Robert R. McCammon's Matthew Corbett books (18th century paranormal shenanigans in the colonies) for like $3 PLUS the audio book for $2. Except of course the first 2 books in the series, which are full price. I read the very first one years ago on paper and now I have 3-6 on digital, and that second volume is staring at me with a full price tag.

Can I just skip it? Pony up the dough? Hunt for a secondhand paperback? WHY do you do this to me Bezos!?!

It's probably some sort of publisher set pricing war but it's the reverse of the usual thing where the first book is crazy cheap to get you to bite and then they soak you for the rest.

McCammon is an odd duck. He wrote some of the (IMHO) best horror/sci-fi ever in the 80's but none of it seemed to make it to the mainstream or get adapted. Then he ghosted for decades until now he seems devoted to this colonial stuff and cranking them out like mad. I should reread the older stuff just to see if middle aged me agrees with teenaged me.


The Matthew Corbett books are really great and it is awesome to see McCammon back in print more or less. The reason he dropped out was due to a battle between him and his publisher I believe. I have a fondness for Swan Song and Wolf's Hour.
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30 Nov 2021 14:47 - 30 Nov 2021 14:48 #328387 by dysjunct

Shellhead wrote: Snow Crash was fun. Diamond Age was decent. Cryptonomicon was a slog. I didn't make it far into Quicksilver and gave up on Stephenson. I actively dislike the titles of Reamde and Anathem, as my brain keeps trying to spellcheck them. I might someday be interested in reading some of his non-fiction work.


This is something I could've written; mirrors my exact trajectory with him. Honestly, if I'm going to force myself through something, it'll be some dour classic work so at least then I can say I read Tolstoy or whoever, instead of some obscure SF author that no one knows.

I did like his essay "In the Beginning Was the Command Line," available here:
www.hackneys.com/docs/in-the-beginning-was-the-command-line.pdf

It mostly mirrors my time as a young nerd, and my distaste for GUIs, although I've long since stopped caring that much about that kind of thing, and I don't even remember the last time I used a command line.

Edit: It was almost four years ago. Out of curiosity I loaded up Bash and it has the date of previous login.
Last edit: 30 Nov 2021 14:48 by dysjunct.
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30 Nov 2021 15:28 #328388 by RobertB
Replied by RobertB on topic What books are you reading?
I can live in linux if forced to do so, but I really don't like it. PTSD over a script I ran that had, as a command, "rm -r ./bin/*" on it. And the account I was using had full root privileges on it; no sudo or nothing. I ran it from "/". I'm not taking the blame for that POS - I didn't write it. Ah, good times.
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30 Nov 2021 15:34 #328389 by fightcitymayor

jason10mm wrote: McCammon is an odd duck. He wrote some of the (IMHO) best horror/sci-fi ever in the 80's but none of it seemed to make it to the mainstream or get adapted. Then he ghosted for decades until now he seems devoted to this colonial stuff and cranking them out like mad. I should reread the older stuff just to see if middle aged me agrees with teenaged me.

OMG I had forgotten all about Robert R. McCammon! I thought Baal was amazing back when I was a teenager going through the typical Stephen King/Dean Koontz phase. Had no idea he yanked his early stuff from print because "he did not feel that they were up to the standards of his later works." Maybe I should investigate his "later works" then.

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30 Nov 2021 16:23 - 30 Nov 2021 16:27 #328391 by jason10mm
Looks like a lot early McCammon is on kindle now. Just reading the titles alone swept me back to junior(?) high and hitting up my independent local bookstores (back when those were a thing) and buying all of his stuff. "Night Boat" with the zombie nazi submariners, "They Thirst" with a vampire invasion, "Wolf's Hour" with the OSS werewolf, "Stinger" with the alien bounty hunter. How did this shit NOT get adapted 10 ways to sunday????

A streaming service should throw him a bucket of cash, far less than they blow on Mark Millar, D&D, J.J. Abrams, or these other folks, and get his stuff on an annual cycle. Fuck that "Tomorrow War" nonsense, did you not hear me say ZOMBIE NAZI SUBMARINE?????

Edit: Oh yeah, BAAL was definitely an early work not up to par when he hit his stride with Gone South, Blue World, or Mine. I prefer the tawdry sleaziness of Swan Song, Stinger, and Wolf's Hour but the 90's stuff was undeniably better written.
Last edit: 30 Nov 2021 16:27 by jason10mm.

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01 Dec 2021 18:31 - 01 Dec 2021 18:34 #328422 by Cranberries

RobertB wrote: I can live in linux if forced to do so, but I really don't like it. PTSD over a script I ran that had, as a command, "rm -r ./bin/*" on it. And the account I was using had full root privileges on it; no sudo or nothing. I ran it from "/". I'm not taking the blame for that POS - I didn't write it. Ah, good times.


Reading this triggered me.
Last edit: 01 Dec 2021 18:34 by Cranberries.

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