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What books are you reading?

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01 Apr 2022 09:15 #332025 by jason10mm

dysjunct wrote: In times of need, I like to return to this chestnut:

journal.neilgaiman.com/2009/05/entitlement-issues.html


I'm not sure I agree with Niel on this. A writer IS working for the people who buy their books, at least indirectly if the publisher can be considered a middle man in this. Book 3 of a projected 5 book series or whatever IS NOT a completed "job well done, here is my $15, mate" project, it is an INSTALLMENT of the 5 book story. Its like a construction firm building the first 2 stories of a 3 story house and then walking way with 2/3rds of the money saying "what, you got 2 stories for the price of two stories, I don't work for you!!". Granted the low cost of admission for a book compared to a house limits this comparison, but that is how I look at it. GRRM DOES have a responsibility to deliver and at least some level of the discontent levied against him is legitimate in my opinion.

Personally, I think he will deliver, the question is whether it will be a standing ovation that justifies all the wait or a giant "F you, got mine" middle finger. I don't think he will do nothing, there is too much money on the table.

Then again, he doesn't have any kids to support I don't think so i wouldn't put it past him to just stick whatever manuscripts he has in a waterproof cast, toss it in the ocean, and let fans search for it for decades....
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01 Apr 2022 09:25 #332026 by Shellhead

dysjunct wrote: In times of need, I like to return to this chestnut:

journal.neilgaiman.com/2009/05/entitlement-issues.html


That was in 2009. By 2020, Gaiman was probably all "Finish the books, George. Please."
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01 Apr 2022 10:08 #332027 by fightcitymayor
There is an alternate universe somewhere, and in that universe GRRM simply stopped at the end of the first three books (which is initially how he planned it, as a trilogy) and he was subsequently hailed as "the American Tolkien" and a literary giant, and a cool, bearded, frumpy, squat guy in suspenders and a goofy hat. No hatred was ever visited upon his name, and no angry vitriol was ever levied at his audience. And he was free to write other things, and we all lived happily ever after.
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01 Apr 2022 14:12 #332032 by Shellhead
Neil Gaiman, if George RR Martin was my bitch, the books would have been finished years ago, and the last two seasons of the tv show would have been better. Everybody would have been happier, including you and George.

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02 Apr 2022 18:47 #332039 by Erik Twice
A while ago I checked out some of Agatha Christie's novels because I wanted to review Suspects, which is inspired by them. This had led me to a rabbit hole of reading about golden age detective fiction and it has been a lot of fun.

Here's the thing: Much of what's written about this and the goals the writers had in mind are game design. The premise of GAD, as fans call it, is to create a "fair" mystery that the reader could solve alongside the detective in the story. That's the core appeal, not personality or the detective's amazing skills. Which can be part of it, but the fun bit is in working out that mystery. To me that's very game-like.

In fact, that's what the authors of GAD called it, a "game" or the "greatest game". Raymond Chandler, who was not a writer of GAD but hardboiled detective novels, once wrote an essay criticizing the movement in which he said that Agatha Christie would be better off making board games. He meant it as an insult, of course, but to me it isn't. To me it shows something a great intersection between two different art forms.

One of the writers in Agatha Christie's GAD circle, Ronald Knox, created a list of 10 principles outlining some things to avoid in order to write a fair mystery, like not misleading the reader or getting clues out of thin air. And it immediately made me think of the "Player bill of rights" written for adventure games, as well as broader game design discussions. For example:

Knox's 10th

Twin brothers, and doubles generally, must not appear unless we have been duly prepared for them. The dodge is too easy, and the supposition too improbable. I would add as a rider, that no criminal should be credited with exceptional powers of disguise unless we have had fair warning that he or she was accustomed to making up for the stage.


It's interesting because your first reaction to hearing about "rules" all fiction must follow is probably to roll your eyes and think of all the good works that break them. But they are very good principles. In fact, I would say it has an extremely high rate of recognizing bad or clichéd mystery fiction. I've never seen any mystery anything, no matter the medium, that pulled off a disguise plot.

For example the dumbest part of Nolan's The Prestige is the cloning machine. It violates two rules (4th, 10th) and the story could have been written in a better way that did away with the need for it.

--

Anyways, I've now read 2.5 books by John Dickson Carr who is considered the master of the locked-room subgenre. A locked room mystery is one of those situations where a person is murdered inside a locked room and no apparent way to get in or out are present, creating the illusion of an impossibility.

The Hollow Man is considered one of his best works but it's not the best ones for an introduction to the genre. It's very much a mystery about mysteries and it plays with many of ideas surrounding the genre. At some point, the detective directly addresses the audience to explain all the ways a murder can be commited in a locked room "Because,' said the doctor, frankly, 'we're in a detective story, and we don't fool the reader by pretending we're not."

The mystery has two aspects I found confusing, but the main part of it is absolutely brilliant. It looks like the most far-fetched thing until the moment you see it reconstructed, then you realize the core "impossibility" is completely natural.

The Case of the Constant Murderers is an odd one. It's very humour driven and plays a lot with Scottish, English and American stereotypes of each other. I actually found it pretty funny. Carr is a very good writer, his dialogue is always fun to read, even when it gets technical. The actual mystery is fairly simple by Carr's standards and I figured most of it early on. However, like The Hollow Man, I think there's one detail that could be simpler.

The Judas Window is the one I'm reading right now. One man goes to talk with his father in law because he wishes to marry her. He serves him a drink and gets knocked out. When he wokes up he's in a locked room and the father in law is dead. This is another unconvential story because it takes place during the actual trial. So far it's dazzling, I'm enjoying it a lot.

So yeah, you can tell I'm having fun because I just dumped this massive text here!
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02 Apr 2022 20:48 #332042 by jason10mm
I feel like these types of stories peaked with Encyclopedia Brown :p
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02 Apr 2022 23:59 #332044 by Not Sure
I know I've said this before, but since this is Book Thread it's relevant. The twist in The Prestige is so much more effective in the original novel.

If you've seen the movie, sorry, it's already ruined for you. In the book it's really one of those "what the actual fuck!" moments.
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03 Apr 2022 06:51 #332045 by Erik Twice

jason10mm wrote: I feel like these types of stories peaked with Encyclopedia Brown :p

All I know about that guy comes from TV Tropes, where he is considered the archetype of supposedly smart guy who convicts people with lies, misinformation and downright nonsense like not being able to pull stuff from one pocket with the opposite hand.


Interestingly, while this is an old-timey genre in the West, apparently it's one of the leading subgenres in Japanese mystery fiction. In fact, I wonder if Ace Attorney was inspired, to some degree, by The Judas Window.

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03 Apr 2022 15:43 #332050 by jason10mm
The Encyclopedia Brown I'm referring to are the books from the early 80's. They are "observational mysteries" distilled down to the ABSOLUTE minimum, as you the reader are given everything you need to solve the case along side EB, if you pay attention.

I still remember valuable life lessons from EB, like how the bottom level (and presumably top level as well) of an elevator only has a single button since it can only be called for a single direction. One day I will stoke my chin and point out a murderer using this knowledge :p

That Murderville show feels very similar actually.
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03 Apr 2022 15:44 #332051 by Jackwraith
Think those are older than you remember. I was reading Encyclopedia Brown in elementary school in the 70s.
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03 Apr 2022 17:40 #332053 by jason10mm

Jackwraith wrote: Think those are older than you remember. I was reading Encyclopedia Brown in elementary school in the 70s.


Googologoling tells me those books started in the SIXTIES!!

Damn, once again I'm impressed that old people knew stuff :P

Speaking of childhood books, any one ever have that abridged classics series that were small pocket books of the greats, with a picture on every right side page? I had a TON of them, learn most of my knowledge of Moby Dick, Dickens, and the like from them. Not the "Classics illustrated" version, which are like comic books, but some other kids book series.

Tom Swift, another golden age hero I remember fondly. Along with Choose your own adventure books

All stuff my kids won't touch :P
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03 Apr 2022 23:46 - 03 Apr 2022 23:47 #332056 by Dive-Dive-Dive!

Tom Swift, another golden age hero I remember fondly.


Tom Swift and his Adjective Noun!

My brother and I loved those books as kids. They inspired all sorts of rocket ship, submarine, and fantastical house plans he and I drew. 55+ years later they’re still at our childhood home, getting moldy and collecting dust. Next time I’m in town I should pull one off the shelf. Somehow I doubt they’ve aged well.
Last edit: 03 Apr 2022 23:47 by Dive-Dive-Dive!.

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04 Apr 2022 05:37 #332057 by Erik Twice

jason10mm wrote: The Encyclopedia Brown I'm referring to are the books from the early 80's. They are "observational mysteries" distilled down to the ABSOLUTE minimum, as you the reader are given everything you need to solve the case along side EB, if you pay attention

Yeah, from the description they do sound like "fair mysteries".

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05 Apr 2022 12:42 #332086 by DarthJoJo
Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne

Can probably be added to the pile of classic novels that aren’t really worth revisiting. There are some great set pieces including the rescue of Aouda and the attack on the train, but they’re interspersed with step-by-step descriptions of the train and shipping routes. The pacing is an absolute mess and doesn’t get to the necessary propulsion until Passepartout’s second rescue. At its worst, it felt like The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao or Half of a Yellow Sun. Even if you’re not sure if the writing is good, you say it’s good because you feel like you learned something. And there’s the casual racism. Aouda is beautiful, in no small part, because of her fair skin and English education; the guide who assists in her rescue never gets a name; and Indians just kind of attack a train.

The best part of the novel is how particular it is to its time. Twenty years earlier and the voyage would have taken months. Twenty years later and they had already cut the trip down to 63 days. The technology and infrastructure were still young, still developing and exciting. Fogg’s trip is fantastic but also must have felt attainable to the common reader.

And Fogg is an aggressively, wonderfully lame character who would rather play whist than look at the window at the passing landscape. I love him.

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