[Literature] Currently Reading (discussion)

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Postby Chuckman » Thu Nov 26, 2015 4:46 pm

White-Luck Warrior is the least accessible of Bakker's books. I really liked the first trilogy.

Unfortunately the next book seems delayed.

Edit: Wait, it's set to be published next summer. Evidently the title was changed.

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Postby Chainsaw Owl » Thu Nov 26, 2015 5:01 pm

Totally agreed. The first trilogy was so brilliant that I could scarcely put it down. This trilogy is plodding, and focuses too much on the least interesting characters, Achamian not included. Best old geezer in Fictionland.
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Postby chee » Mon Mar 14, 2016 12:24 pm

Taking a serious crack at Deleuze's Cinema duology after a couple of past very not-serious cracks. It's a much different reading experience from the Capitalism and Schizophrenia books insofar as it actually tries to explain dense-as-hell concepts in clear language as opposed to the complete insanity of C&S' stream-of-consciousness clusterfuck. Guattari must've been a hell of a drug.
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Postby Reichu » Fri May 06, 2016 3:17 pm

I'm attempting to combat my adult onset illiteracy by forcing myself to read of actual novels again. I can't remember if it was always this way, but, at least in the naughts and beyond, I have been a slow, ponderous reader; I generally cannot read with any amount of speed, lest most of the information fail comprehension. So, lots of backtracking, lots of reading lines over and over until the words make sense. It's a bizarre predicament, considering my writing skills have always been quite excellent. Just goes to show, I suppose, that different parts of the brain are controlling the different processes, and there's no guarantee they will be equally competent.

But anyway. Somehow I decided upon Mary Shelley's Frankenstein as the thing I should read first. I've long heard it was immensely different from most (all?) of its purported adaptations, and perhaps it seemed not a little relevant to my current writing project Crying Man. It's been slow going, what with me being not only terribly out of practice but having to cope with the 19th century English on top of that. Suffice it to say it's not even remotely what I expected. I've just arrived at the beginning of part 2, and so far the monster has had practically no direct presence. The prose is almost entirely the dense psychological chronicle of Victor -- what drove him to his experiment to begin with, but, more prominently, the existential despair that swallows him whole afterward. It's a bit overwrought, at least by today's standards, and it's hard not to wish there were more going on than Victor feeling sorry for himself. Well, I suppose there is, but it's hard to feel a whole lot for characters who were only introduced for the purpose of being killed and making Victor feel bad.

Going to force myself to finish this in the next couple of days. I'm a bit terrified what my library late fee is going to look like.
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Postby Sgt. Griff » Sun Jun 12, 2016 3:55 am

I've been chewing on Science Fiction mostly lately.

I started off with the Sci Fi Masterworks edition of The Forever war, which I enjoyed immensely, even if the effect of its origin in the 70s is somewhat profound on the more touchy issues of sexuality touched on towards the end. It was absolutely fantastic, essentially being about a war raging between humanity and another species that spans many, many years; millenia as soldiers jump through relativity, spending months aboard a ship to emerge thousands of years later at the other side of a wormhole. It was written by a Vietnam vet by the name of Joe Haldeman and themes of separation and public apathy are pungent throughout.

The second book in the vein that I read was more recent, I had a book voucher from a composition trophy and noticed the distinctive yellow Sci Fi Masterworks books cover in the University bookshop. The book was A Canticle for Leibowitz. This book touches upon mostly the cyclality of civilization as a whole; the idea of history repeating, but with a very, very unique setting (I felt) of the catholic church in the post nuclear apocalypse. I don't know if I enjoyed it as much as The Forever War, however I still did enjoy it immensely and the ideas it touched upon stick with me.

The third book seems to mostly be an amalgamation of these two; Space, by Stephens Baxter. Apparently it is the second in a series of books however they all appear to be completely self contained stories so it's not a huge issue. The concept of time dilation (of a sort) is used to tell the story of repeating civilizations from the perspective of "Travelers" who traverse the galaxy in search of a way to save civilization as a whole from the cycle it finds itself in. A very good read however it does go on a bit towards the end, although that could simply be regular book fatigue setting in.

I'm currently reading a third book with the SF Masterworks cover called The Penultimate Truth, by Philip K Dick. The blurb on the back I think has already told me the twist ending, however I'll read on because the concept of the novel is so interesting, that being of a civilization kept below ground as WW3 rages overhead

SPOILER: Show
only it isn't, it's all just a fraud perpetuated by a global network of fraudsters.


I've tried to keep it relatively spoiler free here because I'm recommending all of these books highly to anyone interested in Sci Fi.
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Postby Shinoyami65 » Wed Jun 15, 2016 2:25 pm

^That reminds me, I should probably finish VALIS, since I enjoyed it but never devoted as much time to it as I should have.

I've been more inclined to fantasy works lately; I'm trying to have a serious go at The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy again before taking on The Silmarillion.
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Postby Mr. Tines » Wed Jun 15, 2016 5:21 pm

View Original PostSgt. Griff wrote:I've been chewing on Science Fiction mostly lately.
Both Forever War and Canticle are strong reflections of the zeitgeist at the time of writing -- the reaction to 'Nam, and the "population bomb" motif echoed, in varying proportions, through a lot of SF out of the 70s (though this one passes up on pollution, the third major theme of that decade), just as the shadow of the mushroom cloud (and, elsewhere, the imminence of actual space travel) loomed over the '50s.

In contrast, Space is very much a turn of the millennium work, with very different preoccupations -- we just need to have a decade or so's more perspective to be able to confidently identify the ones that are "of its time".




Recently, thanks to a recommendation by an /a/non as being somewhat akin to Glen Cook's take on the genre, I've been working my way through Steven Erikson's yard-long Malazan Book of the Fallen, and have reached about the 1/4 mark. It's addictive, in the sense that there's never any good point to stop, because something is always about to go down in one or other of the many interwoven strands of the narrative, just in time for a "meanwhile, on another continent, half a world away" to put everything in one theatre on hold.

There are occasional points where the "from notes I was making for a tabletop RPG" origin slightly leaks through, but never offensively so.

Is it good so far? Hard to say. Interesting, it definitely has been so far.
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Postby Jomei » Mon Jun 20, 2016 10:34 am

I read so much with my job that my progress on personal reading depends on the difficulty of the book sometimes.

Right now I'm working through Nabokov's Pale Fire, which is really engaging prose-wise and as something of an enigmatic text, but it's taking a while with how elusive its plot is. Rereading Winesburg Ohio and also breezing through Sharp Objects by Gillian Anderson (not my choice) with students.

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Postby Sgt. Griff » Thu Jun 30, 2016 9:38 pm

Finished the Penultimate Truth and Inverted world at work over my breaks.

From the get go, the penultimate truth seemed not to gel with what I had come to expect from literature; the language was odd throughout, not archaic but just off somehow. Character interactions were stilted, which I did appreciate, and the main(?) character was in a similar boat to Shinji's, however his decline during the book was more sudden and happened with much less fanfare and ultimately impact due to the short span of pages in which the novel takes place. The story happened and resolved itself without much coming of it, and in the end the short novel left me completely nonplussed.

I'll eventually read it again to garner some deeper meaning from it, but for the moment it inhabits the realm of books which I don't quite understand.

Inverted world was a much better book in my opinion, I found the change in perspective and person from part to part refreshing, and the concept of it all was the most original and inventive of the sci fi books that I've read thus far. However, in the end the payoff was underwhelming, and the story seemed to just end without much consequence; although I enjoyed the journey there, being much more of a conventional story with comparatively little of the SF philosophy that has cropped up in every book thus far, the lack of deeper meaning left the book flat upon its conclusion.

Bearing in mind I only finished it a few hours ago. As with the Penultimate Truth I'll most likely digest it further, and when curiosity compels me so, investigate what these two books were all about.
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Postby Tankred » Sun Jul 10, 2016 11:16 am

Musashi by Eiji Yoshikawa, this book about a slightly neurotic ronin master swordsman is fantastic.

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Postby Chuckman » Sun Jul 17, 2016 12:40 am

Just finished The Great Ordeal.

I want to see how he wraps this up in another book. I wasn't really surprised by anything. It Bakkers prose improves with each book. His tednecy to write broad passages in third person omniscient is a refreshing change from the fashion for unreliable limited third narration.

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Postby Sgt. Griff » Wed Jul 20, 2016 1:03 am

I am burning out suuuuper hard on this book(Time by Stephen Baxter). For some reason it just doesn't seem as good as its sequel, the themes just come off as less relevant to me where I stand at the moment, and the story and concept have thus far been far less exciting than the time and space hopping adventure of Space.

Still a good book. I think I'll need to recharge the SF juices with some Jeeves and Wooster after I'm finished.
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Postby Mr. Tines » Wed Jul 20, 2016 2:01 am

@Sgt. Griff
Inverted World struck me as an idea in search of a story when I read it, many years back -- very much "all dressed up but no place to go".

Time has some of the same problem as well in trying to turn this summary article into a novel, only Baxter has form in making a few howlers in projecting into the geological future -- I forget which of his novels has characters pushed 5 million years into the future at alpha Centauri and still seeing the Sun as a 6th star in the W of Cassiopeia, and in Time he forgets the collision with M31 in the ~4Gyr timescale (he did get reminded of it in time to write the more recent Ultima though).




I'm still wading through the Malazan Book of the Fallen, onto book 5 now. It's being curiously addictive, despite the bits of "Oh, come on!" and "Get on with it, for goodness' sake!" while he spends 900+ pages of each 1000 page book setting up dominoes and escalating the background threat levels for the last 2-3 chapters of denouement. The habit of switching between books to a "Meanwhile, on another continent.." carries on, and with book 5 is taken to extremes. A character gets introduced at the start of book 4, and their strand of the story has them saying from time to time about it being useful to explain the predicament they were found in, and ends that book getting to a significant place and about to tell their tale -- and book 5 turns out to be that story, "long ago, on a continent far, far away,..."
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Postby Sgt. Griff » Fri Aug 05, 2016 6:34 pm

Took a break from Scifi while I waited for the Sci Fi from the book depo I ordered to come in.

Read Young Men in Spats by the immortal P.G. Wodehouse, and by god I was blown away. This book is fantastic, consisting of short stories told about young incompetents not unlike everyone's favourite B. Wooster. I was fortunate enough to have bought the Everyman edition of the book and that in itself was just delightful, absolutely gorgeous hardcover with the nicest smelling paper and nicest type setting.

What a breath of fresh air. Now that the four books I ordered have come in (The Good Soldier Svekj, The Call of Cthulu, Martian Time-skip, and Dangerous visions) I can get on with my sci fi voyages.

Although I'm inclined to just pick up another Everyman Wodehouse and read it.
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Postby Director Black » Fri Aug 05, 2016 11:01 pm

I finished reading House of Leaves, a great book that I'm sure I'll love the second and third time around.

I'm interested in reading the Illumatus! trilogy. Anything that combines political satire, mindfuck scenes, breaking the fourth wall and surreal/dark humor is definitely worth a look in my book (Pun intended).
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Postby Ray » Fri Aug 05, 2016 11:32 pm

Finished Up Joe Abercrombie's The Heroes I read it out of Morbid curiousity after a scathing review of it by a conservative critic.

This is a very different kind of fantasy novel. It's not about an epic quest to slay a dragon. It's not about good versus evil. There is political intrigue, but it's not even about that.

It's about one battle over the course of three days, between two rival factions over a ring of stones in a valley that is a major military advantage for the two factions. Take the valley, swing the war in your direction. To the North, a warlord named Black Dow leads a confederacy of savage, violent tribes, trying to get independence from the royalty. To the South, the union. Gilded, decadent, proud, led by a Man-Child Emperor and a corrupt would-be sorcerer.

Think a cross between Seven Samurai and Platoon.

Through it, we follow a host of weird, colorful, and morally ambiguous characters. For the North there is our main standard hero Calder. A deposed prince of one of the Northern Tribes, joining the fight for the north to protect his wife and child. Craw, his mentor and one of his only true friends left in the world who called him in as a favor for Black Dow. Wonderful, a farm maiden more loyal to Black Dow than life itself. and then there is Black Dow easily one of my favorite characters in the book . . . both despicable as he is compelling.

To the south, there's Gorst. Like Calder, an exile. A chronicler full of resentment sent to the frontline after losing favor with the king for speaking his mind on the war, with hopes he won't come back alive. Corporal Tunny, Yolk, and Klige as the voice for the young soldiers on the front line. and the corrupt Sorcerer Bayaz, who I will not spoil because there's a bit a large twist towards the end involving him.

The action in this book is really well done, the way Abercrombie describes swords and arrows going through flesh feels painful to read. He manages to make me feel sorry for no-name soldiers we only knew for a few pages as they get kicked in by mounted calvarymen and armored knights. On par with some of the best Hollywood has to offer.
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Postby Mr. Tines » Thu Nov 24, 2016 5:06 pm

View Original PostMr. Tines wrote:I've been working my way through Steven Erikson's yard-long Malazan Book of the Fallen, and have reached about the 1/4 mark.
Finally, I'm about to start the tenth and last volume, having read little else in the way of fiction since about Easter. It's built up such an inexorable momentum, and so many stored up plot threads remain dangling, that, having just seen one left untouched from 4-5 books ago suddenly lurch back onto the stage, I have no idea how it can do anything other than end in trainwreck when it hits the buffers. But soon I shall be free of it.
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Postby Director Black » Tue Dec 06, 2016 7:27 pm

After finishing Clive Barker's the Damnation Game and being fairly impressed with it, I've moved on to the novel that intrigued me when I first the concept: Imajica. Up to 120 pages and so far, it sure as hell lives up to premise. Great description, engaging characters, and a background that I can't wait to be explored further.

Then after that...*sigh* is James Joyce's Ulysses O_o
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Postby Mr. Tines » Thu Dec 29, 2016 8:21 am

View Original PostMr. Tines wrote:Finally, I'm about to start the tenth and last volume,
Finished. At last!
10,000+ pages, hundreds of characters. dozens of battles, many real-time months, and several continents later, each volume about 1000 pages of set-up and 100 where the dominoes start to fall, a reasonable end to the saga, which I hadn't been expecting when I started the final volume. It should not come as a surprise that few of the characters we meet at the start survive until the end, though for some of those who don't, death, it turns out, is just another career move.

Also, unsurprisingly, there is a degree of padding and waffling, with characters engaging in somewhat sophomoric philosophising; and a fair amount of building up minor characters simply so they can be given a death scene, or can accidentally stumble into the way of some other more powerful actor and screw things up for them.

Still, it was entertaining enough for me to read through for all these months, and I applaud it for its ability to give a feeling of deep mythological time, and in eschewing the all-too-common fantasy clichés -- there are dragons as an ancient threat, but the nearest thing it has to a standard non-human race are the sort-of Dark Elves, which are more like Melniboneans (in one case) or Vikings (in another) than anything else; the various ogre-ish/demi-giant types don't slot into obvious Monster Manual niches, and the dino-birds with the mole-rat social structure that form a threat that bubbles under for several volumes are definitely their own thing. And you can assume that the main participant race is not-quite-human either, given that the unisex armies actually function.
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