Bizarre Confessions

General => Arts & Entertainment => Topic started by: Wintermute on February 18, 2007, 11:27:51 PM

Title: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Wintermute on February 18, 2007, 11:27:51 PM
I don't think we have one of these already, do we?
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: stormneedle on February 19, 2007, 12:55:19 AM
Nope.

Carol Berg's Bridge of D'Arnath tetralogy at the moment. I'm on book three "The Soul Weaver."
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: hajen on February 19, 2007, 01:25:11 AM
Stiff: The Curious Lives Of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on February 19, 2007, 11:14:52 AM
Good one!

Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: hajen on February 19, 2007, 11:23:42 AM
I've enjoyed most of the David Sedaris I've read - I love the one about his job as a Santaland Elf. All of my copies (Barrel Fever, Naked, Me Talk Pretty One Day) have been lent out for years now. *sniff* Man, thinking of, I don't even know who has what.

Starting in on Heat by Bill Buford today.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: eldiem on February 19, 2007, 07:00:34 PM
I just finished Raney by Clyde Edgerton, on recommendation by biscuit, parts of which made me laugh out loud. Before that I read What was She Thinking: Notes on a Scandal by Zoe Heller. That was really good, I need to go see the movie now.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: thegrue on February 19, 2007, 09:30:20 PM
The last book to give me major literary wood was The End of Mr. Y by Scarlett Thomas. It was so fucking nerdy and so fucking hot all at once. It actually made me want to (attempt to) read Derrida again.

The back of the book description makes the book sound about ten thousand times lamer than the book really is.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: flipper on February 19, 2007, 11:35:10 PM
Robert Greene's The 33 Strategies of War
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: .alphamonkey. on February 20, 2007, 02:10:25 AM
I just finished the dual brain attack of The Omnivore's Dillema (http://www.amazon.com/Omnivores-Dilemma-Natural-History-Meals/dp/0143038583/sr=8-1/qid=1171954885/ref=pd_bbs_1/103-2335343-2245407?ie=UTF8&s=books) and 1776 (http://www.amazon.com/1776-David-McCullough/dp/0743226720/sr=8-1/qid=1171954908/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/103-2335343-2245407?ie=UTF8&s=books), and I'm just about to start in on American Fascists (http://www.amazon.com/American-Fascists-Christian-Right-America/dp/0743284437/sr=8-1/qid=1171954937/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/103-2335343-2245407?ie=UTF8&s=books).  I sense some serious rage comin' on.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: eldiem on February 20, 2007, 06:57:51 PM
A friend just lent me The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. I think the reason I want so badly to start it is my other book I'm reading now is Terry Pratchett's Equal Rites, and I just can't get that started.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Tripper on February 20, 2007, 08:54:07 PM
Just finished Stephenson's "Baroque Cycle" and picked up "Snowcrash" again because I was in a hurry this morning.  Man, I thought he was wordy in Baroque, but hoo-boy, can he churn it out!
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on February 20, 2007, 09:24:51 PM
Next month's book club selection is The Diamond Age.  I can only imagine the whining that will commence.  I didn't nominate the book, but I supported it.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: hajen on February 20, 2007, 09:27:38 PM
I really liked The Diamond Age, but I haven't managed any of his newer doorstop ones.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: hackess on February 21, 2007, 01:35:07 AM
The last book I read was Christopher Moore's "You Suck."
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: hajen on March 04, 2007, 08:28:13 PM
Finished Heat (quite good);
two Dan Savage books - The Kid and The Commitment (funny and thoughtful);
and yesterday I read All Souls by Michael Patrick MacDonald. Couldn't put it down, picked it up in the AM and finished it in the afternoon. Depressing, but good writing.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Encino Man on March 04, 2007, 09:10:11 PM
TEXTBOOKS!

One of which I've always wanted to read - the Legenda Aurea by Jacobus de Voragine. Hagiography is my favourite subject...
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: robin on March 04, 2007, 11:12:30 PM
Long Knife    The Chronicles of George Rogers Clark by James Alexander Thom
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: hajen on April 17, 2007, 03:40:33 PM
I saw the movie for In Her Shoes and I liked it a lot so I got the book; read it last night. For once I have to say I actually like the movie better, but the book was good. I thought it might be, you know, chick-lit (rom-com), which I don't enjoy... I guess it is but the story is really good.

Now I'm catching up on the more recent Douglas Coupland novels.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on April 17, 2007, 03:46:03 PM
I read In Her Shoes but haven't seen the movie.  I also read Little Earthquakes, which I liked better.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on April 17, 2007, 03:52:49 PM
*sigh*


OMB Approval Number 2700-0087
RESEARCH OPPORTUNITIES IN SPACE AND EARTH SCIENCES -- 2007
(ROSES -- 2007)

NASA Research Announcement (NRA)
Soliciting Basic and Applied Research Proposals
NNH07ZDA001N

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number 00.000


(yes, it really says 00.000)

And y'all thought the Baroque Cycle was tough going.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on April 17, 2007, 04:17:23 PM
:zzz
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: flipper on April 18, 2007, 01:49:36 PM
Today at lunch I will be starting Food Politics by Marion Nestle
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: GB on April 18, 2007, 01:58:06 PM
Now that I have a commute that does not involve driving I have read 5 books.
I started reading Augusten Burroughs and I love his books.  They are an easy read and so far have cracked me up.  I also finished Wicked and Son of a Witch.  This reading thing is pretty cool.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: TFJ on April 19, 2007, 08:30:14 AM
strange tales from a chinese studio (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strange_Stories_from_a_Chinese_Studio) by pu songling (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pu_Songling).

fucking.... ...  amazing.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on April 19, 2007, 08:07:30 PM
Unit 2's poetry class is having a dessert potluck. Yep.
They're having:

Robert Frosted Cake
Elizabeth Barrett Brownies
Samuel Taylor Cupcakes

Unit 2 is busy working on Percy Bysshe Shortbread
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on April 19, 2007, 08:09:36 PM
Is it a William Blake Sale?

If it was a picnic they could have made Samuel Taylor Coleslaw.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: hackess on April 19, 2007, 09:05:15 PM
:hisey
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: NexR on April 19, 2007, 09:29:38 PM
For years I've been reading non-fiction books. I really haven't touched fiction since I was in gradeschool, except for the occassional reread of LOTR or Dune. Then about a year ago I couldn't remember the name of this great series of Fantasy books I read back then. It bothered me enough that I googled and decided to order the four of them from Amazon. I reread those and enjoyed them just as much as then, and it turns out the guy has continued to write and now has like 20 books under his belt. I'm about finished with them all.

So lately I've been on Raymond E. Feist (http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A3473976).
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on April 19, 2007, 10:26:16 PM
:hisey

Nice!
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: hackess on April 20, 2007, 01:37:42 AM
Which is not to say I don't find it exceptionally cool in that literary nerd kind of way (http://www.catwritr.com/smilies/clap.gif)
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: TFJ on April 20, 2007, 09:52:12 AM
eggar alum potatoe salad?

haikucumber ... almandos!
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: hajen on April 29, 2007, 09:11:30 PM
Just finished The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan. I like everything of his I've read so far. This book is definitely worth reading.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: stormneedle on April 29, 2007, 09:14:38 PM
Finished of Fisher's "Fools Gold" trilogy. Eh. Some interesting ideas, and realistically portrayed. But I like a bit less gore.

Next is The Elysium Commission. By the end of that I hope to disinter The Golden Compass trilogy.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: eldiem on April 29, 2007, 09:33:24 PM
My employer publishes The Omnivore's Dilemma and I've been considering it.

Right now I'm reading I Feel Bad About My Neck (http://www.amazon.com/Feel-Bad-About-My-Neck/dp/0307264556/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/102-8966274-5204101?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1177900291&sr=8-1) by Nora Ephron for my book club. So far it's pretty entertaining.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on April 30, 2007, 10:50:57 AM
I'm reading American Prometheus by Kai Bird and Martin Sherwin, a biography of J. Robert Oppenheimer.

It's unit 2's copy, signed by Sherwin -- she got to have lunch with him at the Biltmore (!!!) last week to discuss the book (along with a few other classmates, who won a class lottery). He said he'd write college application reference letters for the students who came and talked with him, and I hope he wasn't kidding :D

Update: I'm still reading it, amazing considering how fast I read, but I get two or three pages and fall asleep. At this rate, it'll be 2011 before I finish.

The problem is, Oppenheimer was a complete asshole in college, and I hate him.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: hajen on May 10, 2007, 11:08:02 AM
Just finished Mindless Eating (I liked: light tone, funny, informative) and Toast by Nigel Slater (it's cute but there is some srsly wtf sexual content that kinda took me by surprise).
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: TFJ on May 31, 2007, 11:07:26 AM
i'm kind of getting into "the plum in the golden vase". there are two volumes that haven't even been translated yet. i don't know why. it's only been 500 years since publication.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Encino Man on October 05, 2007, 10:34:47 AM
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20071005.wlbible05/BNStory/lifeMain/home

I wanna read this. Looks cool.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on October 05, 2007, 10:46:24 AM
I read Ruth Reichl's three books, "Tender at the Bone," "Comfort Me With Apples," and "Garlic and Sapphires."

Now I'm hungry.

The third book describes her adventures as restaurant critic for the New York Times. It was really interesting, in that it was widely known that she was coming to the Times from LA to do this job and everyone knew about her and many restaurants had her picture up in the kitchen so they would look out for her arrival. This kind of pissed her off, so she got a friend to advise her on costume and disguise. To review a restaurant I believe she said she would dine there five times, at least once in disguise.

For the most part her disguises weren't penetrated, and the results were eye-opening. Basically my advice to you if you're going to dine out at a nice restaurant in New York is find out what the restaurant critic looks like and go in disguise as him or her. Otherwise, forget it, because you will be dismissed, treated poorly, and basically cheated.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Encino Man on October 05, 2007, 11:15:26 AM
I tried to get into Neal Stephenson based on you lot but I ended up really disliking it. I took 'Quicksilver' out of the library and read the first 50 or so pages before giving up. Guys like Patrick O'Brien have written historical fiction I can really get into, but Stephenson's stuff seemed amateurish by comparison. O'Brien has the ability to bring up the names of real historical figures and events without going over board on slapping you in the face with his knowledge. In the first few chapters of Quicksilver the big bearded guy is in colonial America and some young Franklin boy helps him and the bearded guy expects big things from him down the line and all of a sudden you realize it's a boyhood Ben Franklin and you're supposed to be like OMG WHHEEEE Stephenson roped me in there - it's totally BEN FRANKLIN - I KNOW THAT GUY. He does the same thing later with the guy he's trying to sell tea to. The guy is like 'Harumph, that crap will never sell in England' and then you realize it's TEA they're talking about and you're like 'OMG BUT TEA REALLY DID BECOME POPULAR - THIS GUY MESSED UP!!!! and Stephenson is all 'HEHEHEHE DID you GEDDIT???? IT's TEA!!!'

Anyone see what I'm saying?? The book was a little too much 'nudge nudge, wink wink' - in a bad way.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: eldiem on October 05, 2007, 06:16:10 PM
OMG I just finished "Eat, Pray, Love" (even though I started it right after I finished Harry Potter, and it was my August book club book..oops.) Don't get me wrong, it was really good and I'd totally recommend it. I was just slow reading during that time and after book club came and went it was time to start reading for the Sept book club meeting so I put it down for a while.

Sept's book club book was "Mountains Beyond Mountains," another non-fiction, this one more of a biography of a Harvard-educated/employed doctor who all but cured TB in Haiti. Pretty cool. Both books are sort of empowering, the first was more of a small-scale empowerment, on the personal level, and the second was more like "yes, one person CAN make a huge difference in the world."

October's book club book is "Annie Freeman's Fabulous Traveling Funeral." I'm only a chapter in, and I hope the writing style changes (perhaps with different character entries, or something) because currently it's shit. I don't know what it is, but it's impossible to read.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on October 05, 2007, 06:18:28 PM
I really, really enjoyed Snow Crash, even though much of it is downright silly and it does a lot of things that I normally would hate the crap out of.  Then I really liked most of Zodiac, and I really liked about 2/3 of The Diamond Age.  But when he started writing Magnum Opus sort of stuff, I found myself really uninspired to start it.  My brother loves the Quicksilver stuff, but every time people start telling me about it, it just sounds tiresome.  

I admit that most alternate-history stuff fails to do much for me, though.  Also, these days I just have too much to read, and it makes me tend to avoid the longer books.  I can get more things off the list if I read the shorter ones.  Anyway, probably the #1 long thing on my list is the China Mieville Perdido Street Station books, which my brother talks about as if they'd been written by the lovechild of Jesus and Neil Gaiman.


Right now, I'm mostly reading Hart's Hope, by Orson Scott Card, which I had put off and put off and put off because I always heard how good it was (I've often heard it described as his best book) right around the time he started creeping me the hell out.  So . . . it might be the last 'new' thing I read by him; I don't know.  It was worth saving -- the man can write and used to have such a way with mythic imagery -- but it's occasionally a bit too morbidly fascinated with its own grim fey whatnot, and the hand-of-doom foreshadowing repeatedly sucks the suspense out of the plot.  Still good, though.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on October 05, 2007, 06:22:07 PM
I read Perdido Street Station on the ship in March, and oh dear, I hated it.

It could be because I was on the ship.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: flipper on October 10, 2007, 11:41:04 AM
I'm about halfway through The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver and am really enjoying it.  The story is told through five different perspectives.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on October 26, 2007, 09:40:41 PM
Well, I finished Hart's Hope at some point.  About 50% was very, very good, bordering on astonishing, and 30% was pretty half-baked, and 20% was pointlessly trying-too-hard Way Tragic.  I still think Wyrms is probably his best book, over all.

I read a few that I've already forgotten.  I re-read Jaka's Story, by Dave Sim, which I probably hadn't read in over ten years.  It's another one that has a lot of brilliance but doesn't entirely work.  It's kind of sad to read, anyway, especially if you read Sim's introduction, because it foreshadow's Dave's descent into increasing peculiar (and increasingly ugly) social commentary.  Still, the whole Cerebus thing is such a strange work of art that I sometimes think it'll still be around in 200 years, at least in pieces, digital society or not.

I also read a nobody-ever-heard-of-it little book called Childen of the Light, by Susan Weston.  It's an SF novel, a post-nuclear war book, and it's kind of amazing.  That's one of those subgenre that's been done to death, but this is not a very derivative book at all, and it's kind of hypnotic.  Unfortunately, it's also quite depressing, and . . . it was one of those books where I feel like she didn't force the unhappy bits, I also didn't feel like they were inevitable or thematically necessary.  Maybe she was just in a bad mood when she wrote it.  Still, I'm going to see if she wrote anything else.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: vox8 on October 27, 2007, 11:03:40 AM
I tried to get into Neal Stephenson based on you lot but I ended up really disliking it. I took 'Quicksilver' out of the library and read the first 50 or so pages before giving up.

Yayyyy. I cannot stand most of Stephenson's stuff. Snow Crash was a fun ride - everything else was pretty much unreadable. I had thought it was a boy/girl thing but it is nice to see a guy not like his stuff.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: vox8 on October 27, 2007, 11:07:45 AM
Oh, I just finished Making Money by Pratchett, White Night (A Dresden Novel), and The Dreaming Void by Hamilton. I tried to read some Garrison Keilor and discovered while I love PHCompanion I detest his writing style. Go Figure.

I am also in the process of reading and cooking recipes from The Art of Cookery by Maestro Martino. So far I have worked up an interpretation of a Chicken, Cheese and Herb Ravioli and An Onion Tart in the Genovese style. Both are in their first iteration and need additional testing before they are ready to Rock out.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on October 27, 2007, 11:13:53 AM
it is nice to see a guy not like his stuff

Welllllll ... watson's Guy Card was revoked at the time of the back waxing, soooo
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: stormneedle on October 27, 2007, 08:24:28 PM
My beard and I didn't like that one, either. The Diamond Age was different and it I liked, as well as Snowcrash. I think it's good that he writes in a number of different styles, but that doesn't mean I have to like them all.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on October 28, 2007, 02:05:31 PM
Quote
I tried to read some Garrison Keilor and discovered while I love PHCompanion I detest his writing style.

!  I have the opposite problem.  Never could stand PHC, but I looked through one of his books awhile back and laughed several times.  It occurred to me that I might just not like his delivery of his own stuff.  Which isn't a slap at him -- I've heard several good authors read their own material and SUCK at it.  Hell, if you've ever heard later recordings of Dylan Thomas reading his stuff, it's just painful.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: robin on December 21, 2007, 12:51:29 AM
an insurance manual..... :sleeping:*yawn*
*grumble grumble* getting ready to take a test
(so I can sell it on the side during the slow months)
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on December 21, 2007, 11:43:48 AM
I always forget to update this thread, so I'm glad you reminded me, robin!  Also, I hope you make a ton selling insurance.  You seem . . . an atypical insurance salesman.  We should all be so lucky!  (What kind of insurance?)


ObTopic:  Lately . . . I read the two Wee Free Men books in the Discworld series.  Good, good.  I read a couple of Richard Laymon books; he's that horror writer I was really surprised I'd never heard of.  I like.  You know how Koontz books sometimes start off as suspense / horror and then go into weird SFish sorts of places?  Laymon goes there, too, but his stuff seems more grounded.  Koontz often feels, to me, like he's a bit out of control, whereas I can picture Laymon chuckling to himself while he was writing this stuff.  His books zip right along, and they routinely twist off in a direction I didn't think they were going to take.  He'll often simply do something that other authors would've only hinted at, or would have saved for much later in the book, and the endings are often not how you'd expect them. 

He's a bit gory and intense in some ways, though.  Not for everybody. 

I also read a gonzo SF novel by Rudy Rucker, Master of Space and Time.  B-Zarre.  It sort of reads like an Asimov-magazine serial, and it sort of reads like he wrote it over the course of one week, off the top of his head.  Not dull, and not slow, and some of the ideas are pretty deep while other ideas are tossed-off weirdness.  I had to read it, though, because it was covered with reviews that pretty much all said 'We can't tell you anything about it because that would give too much away!'  Fair enough; I'm hooked.  It's not a perfect book, but it did persuade me to pick up two more by him.

Right now, I'm reading a Gothic SF novel called House on the Edge of Running Water.  I'd heard about it from a friend who told me it was from the 80s.  Well, the copy I have was printed in the 80s, but the book was actually written in the 1930s.  It's fine so far but SO heavy on the foreshadowing :lol:.  I'm like 50 pages in, and nothing's really happened yet, but every other page has some dire prediction from the narrator that so-and-so isn't going to make it out of this alive, and oh my god the horror I haven't gotten around to describing yet but it's going to knock your socks off when I do, and so on.  But it's not too heavy-handed, so it's all right.  I just have to wonder what the heck the payoff is going to be, when he finally gets around to it.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: vox8 on December 21, 2007, 12:47:25 PM
I don't know why, but I have polished off the first 4-5 books in the Horatio Hornblower series.

I guess the moral of that is if a book lays around the house long enough, I will eventually read it. As with all rules there are exceptions made; here for WEB Griffen & Tom Clancy.

I also read Julie & Julia because it was $4 on the discount table and I am a theoretical foodie. If one can be both a finicky eater and a foodie at the same time.  I re-read the first two Hyperion books just because but have no desire to read the next two again. And I am wading my way through The Book of the Courtier.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: whidB on December 21, 2007, 01:20:14 PM
I don't know why, but I have polished off the first 4-5 books in the Horatio Hornblower series.


I've always wanted to read those...

I heard the movie (http://imdb.com/title/tt0043379/) was good...
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: robin on December 21, 2007, 02:00:18 PM
Quote
Posted by: random axeso I'm glad you reminded me, robin!  Also, I hope you make a ton selling insurance.  You seem . . . an atypical insurance salesman.  We should all be so lucky!  (What kind of insurance?)

  Actually, I'm pretty excited about the prospects. I think it's something that I could do well just by being me. I love talking to people and I would like to be in the position where I could help them while making money for myself. My nephew got me interested in this several years ago. Now there's only one guy that's over him in the "corporate food chain". His yearly salary is close or in the 6 digit range. He's 35. I know money's not everything, but it sure makes life easier. My little sister started a year ago and loves it. She's making money hand over fist and is loving it.
  Promise me you won't laugh, axe 
(http://meuse.com/john/aflack.jpg)


*must read and study....can't.....stay....awake............*
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: flipper on December 21, 2007, 07:00:52 PM
Best of luck and study hard dude!
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on December 21, 2007, 08:02:46 PM
I'm not laughing at you, robin -- that's a given.  And money may not be everything, but it's a lot of things.  That's why they call it 'money'.

No, I was totally serious when I said we'd all be lucky to have you as an insurance salesman.  You can't help but be way, way above average, what with being a pleasant human being and all.  (I'm willing to bet your relatives are above average too.)
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on December 22, 2007, 12:48:41 AM
Lilia woke me up in the middle of the night wanting a story.  She had brought me The Guns of Navarone and a Chick tract.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: mo on December 22, 2007, 08:15:00 AM
 :lol:
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: mo on December 22, 2007, 09:13:42 AM
I've been reading Satisfaction.  (http://books.google.com/books?id=WnRR4cikvwUC&printsec=frontcover&dq=inauthor:Gregory+inauthor:Berns&sig=XZdtnOaI_5JXUv9pECyDyK2r-20#PPR12,M1) I've only gotten through the first chapter, but it's already changed the way I think to a certain degree. It's about dopamine and how the brain handles things. My boss had mentioned the book the other day, and it sounded interesting to me, so I asked him if I could borrow it. He's currently reading this (http://books.google.com/books?id=3VloHQAACAAJ&dq=john+armstrong+goethe&num=100) and says it's one of the best books he's ever read, but then that's kind of the way he is - whatever he's into at the moment is the best thing ever.

Anyway, I think it's a good book for me. It's not a motivational type book, but it's motivational for me. I don't like change, I like stability, and I suck at commitment, and all that adds up to boredom. I'm normally more depressed this time of year, and I credit this book with my current lack of holiday blues  :D
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on December 22, 2007, 11:00:17 AM
You like stability but not commitment?  I see, I see.  Let me stroke my beard, and you can tell me about your mother.

Wait, wait . . . that Freud was even creepier than I remember.

That book I'm reading is just Edge of Running Water; I had the title wrong.  By William Sloane.  It's turning out to be a gentle Gothic version of Lovecraft's From Beyond (which was published only a few years earlier, but actually a lot of Lovecraft's themes were extant zeitgeist, and it was mostly his wacked-out intense style that set him apart, but I digress).

I'd forgotten how weirdly constructed Gothic novels could be.  The narrator blatantly foreshadowed earlier that (A) a particular character would be murdered, and (B) that another character would murder someone.  Then the murder occurs, but the narrator stays in-stream and doesn't let on that he knows (by the time he's later telling the story) what has actually happened.  It's funny because it's such an affected form of narrative, and because the Victorians turned it into a naive-narrator form again in imitation of the classical Greeks, whereas the Romans, for instance, and modern Westerners often use a cinematic progressive tense to increase suspense at a time like that, rather than just pretending they suddenly don't know what's going to happen next.

Now Hmof has me wanting to re-read Frankenstein to see how Shelley handled it.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: mo on December 22, 2007, 11:46:02 AM
You like stability but not commitment?  I see, I see.  Let me stroke my beard, and you can tell me about your mother.


 :lol:

Yeah, I know, I never said I was sane  :googily:

Really I didn't explain what that book was about very well at all. The main gist of it is that "most people" (I'm one of them, even though I see the bad side of it) think that happiness would be something like having a very stable life, calm and serene, without turmoil, but the brain really thrives on novelty. At one point it was even hinting at the possibility of diseases like Huntington's and Parkinson's, being caused by the lack of release of dopamine earlier in life, in other words, by living a life that is just too plain, avoiding conflict, etc.

I've aways been a big fan of the phrase "variety is the spice of life", and I've lived by that to a certain degree, but much less than I should. I tend to take the path of least resistance in too many cases.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: flipper on December 23, 2007, 02:35:23 AM
I'm reading Peace Like A River by Leif Enger
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on December 23, 2007, 04:00:29 PM
I am currently reading:

Love in the Time of Cholera
World War Z
(reread)
The Zombie Survival Guide
Over Sea, Under Stone
(the first book in The Dark is Rising sequence)

Yesterday I purchased:

Water for Elephants
Reservation Road
Children of God
The Book of Lost Things
God is Not Great
The Left Hand of Darkness


Punk says that should keep me busy for a week or so.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on December 25, 2007, 03:25:07 AM
I hope I get some new books for Christmas :pray:
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: dogbone on December 25, 2007, 08:17:28 PM
Gentlemen of the Road by Michael Chabon is the solid goods. It's one of those books that leaves me disbelieving that a regular terrestrial wrote it.

I'm looking forward to Bill Bryson's Shakespeare.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: eldiem on December 25, 2007, 08:48:16 PM
I'm currently reading In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash by Jean Shepherd of "A Christmas Story" fame. It's really funny, but depressing at the same time. "A Christmas Story" was based on this book, but I see parts of the movie in bits and pieces throughout the book. It's a little hard to read in that sense, since I'm comparing the details (for example, in the book, Ralphie goes off on Grover Dill, not Scut Farkus, and it's in the middle of summer, not winter, and that's where the line about a woven tapestry of obscenity still hanging over Lake Michigan appears, not when the Old Man is fixing the furnace...)

I think I've possibly just revealed too much about myself (that I watch all 24 hours of "A Christmas Story" every year...)
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: robin on December 26, 2007, 12:43:47 AM
i was reading these stupid instructions on how to fold this new giant hunting blind tent so I can fit it in this little itty biddy back back! i think you need to be a contortionist
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: flipper on December 26, 2007, 01:02:39 PM
We haven't watched A Christmas Story yet this year.  We do have a friend who is a virgin and we're going to make her watch it though (we have the DVD)
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on December 26, 2007, 03:33:13 PM
robin, you need one of those pop-up shoot-through blinds as a New Year's gift, maybe.  Or an automatic blind-folder.




Wait.  Automatic blindfolder?  Sounds like abduction gear.  Weird for deer.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: vox8 on December 26, 2007, 03:36:21 PM
I got The Omnivore's Dilemma for Xmas. Cannot wait to start it.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: robin on December 27, 2007, 01:02:52 AM
Quote
random axe said :robin, you need one of those pop-up shoot-through blinds as a New Year's gift, maybe.  Or an automatic blind-folder.

well, it does automatically pop up...real easy to set up. just take it out of the back pack and *boing*..but yeah, you're right...need that automatic blind-folder if there is such a thing! wait! I can blind fold deer with it then klunk them in the head! :bolt

Quote
flipper wrote: We haven't watched A Christmas Story yet this year.

flipper, I've watched that movie almost every year. But I've never seen it from the beginning to end in one setting...just kind of pieced it together over the years! Think I'll buy the dvd!
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Talix on December 27, 2007, 09:48:36 AM
...blah blah I suck at commitment...

Your last relationship was several years long and the one before that was a decade.  You are fabulous at commitment.  You just suck at deciding to whom to commit.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: TFJ on December 27, 2007, 11:57:23 AM
Love in the Time of Cholera

 :detta: nice.

I'm reading Peace Like A River by Leif Enger

supermodel jon wood likes that book. i read that one too.  :thumbsup:

catherine gave me murakami haruki's (http://www.randomhouse.com/features/murakami/site.php)new book which i haven't started yet but... you know i think his masterpiece has come and gone. maybe he should take a break for awhile. :shrug: god kafka on the shore (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kafka_on_the_Shore) is so great it's hard to live up to.

Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: mo on December 27, 2007, 12:22:20 PM
...blah blah I suck at commitment...

Your last relationship was several years long and the one before that was a decade.  You are fabulous at commitment.  You just suck at deciding to whom to commit.

Thanks, that's sweet of you to say that, and you're right to a degree in that I choose poorly, but physical and emotional/mental commitment are two different things. Just sticking it out with someone isn't enough, obviously. But you could argue that if I had chosen the right one, the other would come naturally. Like cheese   :P
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Talix on December 27, 2007, 12:28:25 PM
 :P

I'm just comparing your track record to mine.  You've got longevity down - I'd never achieved that until I starting dating someone 500 miles away.

BackOnTopic:

Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: TFJ on December 27, 2007, 12:36:30 PM
oh. catherine's mom gave about five or six people the sandbox (http://gocomics.typepad.com/the_sandbox/). i started reading a few of the essays.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: vox8 on December 29, 2007, 10:17:17 PM
OK, I am 2/3 of the way through Omnivore's Dilemma and boy howdy do I hope that there are some others here who have read it. Because I could really stand to talk to people about it. It is pretty intense.

Specifically I would love to hear input on it from Zorgon andAxe. Not that I wouldn't want to hear other's input or thoughts on it. But the two aforementioned are our resident debunkers and I would love to know if there are chunks of this book that are bunk.

Because if there aren't big bunk chunks then it is quite possibly the scariest book I have ever read. I am loving it, but scary nonetheless.

So, iffn you haven't read it, then you need to. Possibly everyone needs to.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on December 29, 2007, 10:19:03 PM
Haven't seen it yet, myself.  Curious, though.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: mo on December 29, 2007, 10:38:01 PM
There's a pdf of the first chapter here (http://www.michaelpollan.com/omnivore.php) on your favorite subject: cr0n.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: vox8 on December 29, 2007, 10:40:05 PM
There's a pdf of the first chapter here (http://www.michaelpollan.com/omnivore.php) on your favorite subject: cr0n.

He spends quite a bit of time on cr0n. Scary cr0n.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: the other andrea on December 29, 2007, 11:36:41 PM
Sounds like a great book, vox. I think I have an idea of what Pollan says about corn. Without reading it myself, I'm pretty sure he is getting his information from reliable sources.

I still want to see the documentary King Corn. (http://www.apple.com/trailers/independent/kingcorn/trailer/)
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on December 30, 2007, 12:45:53 AM
Thanks for the recommendation, vox8! I will be sure and grab that.

Good ole scary cr0n. I have a conflict of interest, though. I still own part of the family homestead in Iowa and we don't grow soybeans.  :lol:
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: robin on January 01, 2008, 01:59:08 AM
"Everything's eventual"  Stephen King
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on January 01, 2008, 10:19:51 AM
Strange Toys, by Patricia Geary.  It was in our SF section; I'm about halfway through, and I can't decide yet if it was in the right section.  It's surreal and appears to have fantasy elements, but the narrator is a 9-year-old, and so far nothing overtly impossible has happened.  It's not bad, though.

I read the new graphic novel adaptation of Neil Gaiman's Coraline.  It's good -- it's pretty solid -- but there's just something about a lot of Gaiman's stuff that . . . I don't know.  It seems rushed, or unfinished.  It feels like there are parts where he couldn't get it how he wanted and settled for something else.  Sometimes it feels like multiple unfinished stories that got merged together as a way of getting rid of them.

It's still great stuff, don't get me wrong, but there are elements and moments that are so much better than others that the merely better-than-average parts fall kind of flat.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: phyre on January 01, 2008, 10:58:49 AM
Reading:

That last one is just so I can claim I'm working on getting myself better organized. I also claim "Jesus for the Non-Religious" by John Shelby Spong when I want to impress a girl about my religious conflicts, but I've not even gotten past fifty pages.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: flipper on January 02, 2008, 04:58:18 PM
No debunking here.  He and Marion Nestle are two of my favorite authors.  Corn syrup is evil and feeding grain to cows is not only unnatural, but inefficient and unhealthy.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on January 02, 2008, 05:46:08 PM
He's coming to speak on campus a couple weeks from now, vox8! I'll see if I can get tickets.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: flipper on January 02, 2008, 05:55:50 PM
I read his previous book and I just remembered (via items on my amazon wishlist that have been purchased) that Omnivore's Dilemma is one of the new books I received as a gift, so I'll jump it to the front of the queue and start it after I finish Peace Like a River.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on January 02, 2008, 09:00:16 PM
Quote
Corn syrup is evil and feeding grain to cows is not only unnatural, but inefficient and unhealthy.

It's the HFCS that's particularly evil, although a recent study not paid for by the corn industry suggests that the lower-fructose version used in solidish foods (as opposed to a higher-fructose version used in beverages) might not be much worse for you than plain refined sugar.  Still, making sugar from corn isn't agriculturally efficient.

Feeding cows on grain is to our culture what using lead water supply pipes allegedly was to the Romans.  It seems like a good idea if you don't know anything about it, but not once you do.


I finished Strange Toys, which was interestingly written but just a huge tease.  It's the kind of book that's all build-up and no payoff.  Again and again, the narrator has a premonition, and then she waits for it to come true, and then . . . it's years later, but she hints at what happened, and then finally there's an almost throwaway paragraph where she reminisces briefly about what would have been a dramatic payoff, told differently.  And she goes from confused 9-year-old to drug-tripping teenager to drug-tripping / schizophrenic adult, and everything she reports is surreal, and she's generally the only real (?) person who notices any of it, and the book ends without resolving anything.

:huh:

Thanks for nothing!  I'm not sorry I read it, but it doesn't make me want to run out and get something else by the same author.

After a couple of depressing and unsatisfying books, and then a big tease, I just want to read something fun, so I gave in and picked up another Richard Laymon book.  Ten pages in, and the narrator's had his long-lost teenage unrequited love show up at his door, half-naked, in the middle of the night, to ask him to help her kill the weird vampire (named Eliott) who's been her abusive lover for a year, and so now he's waiting in her bedroom closet, in his underwear, with a mallet and a stake.  Naturally, he's thinking, Is this guy going to show up?  And is he actually a vampire, or am I about to stake a crazy woman's boyfriend?  And it's pretty believable so far, too.  Hilarious.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: vox8 on January 02, 2008, 09:08:41 PM
He's coming to speak on campus a couple weeks from now, vox8! I'll see if I can get tickets.

I am sooo jealous. I am sure he will be fascinating. You will not regret getting tickets. And if you can manage it, read one of his books before you go. I have read the aforementioned Omnivore's Dilemma and Botany of Desire. Both are excellent and both are worth multiple reads.

I wonder if he will be speaking anywhere near here?

edit: Looks like the closest he will be anytime soon is Louisville.

:hmm:
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: flipper on January 10, 2008, 04:22:15 PM
I just signed up this (http://www.dailylit.com/home).  It sounds like a great idea.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: vox8 on January 24, 2008, 05:56:33 PM
I just finished reading a book that I have had laying around the house for several years now. I have been avoiding reading it because I knew that it was going to make me cry and I was never in the mood to cry. But I really wanted to read it, so finally I did. It was recommended by Grue on one of the previous incarnations of this board and sent to me by a secret santa exchange.

Providence of a Sparrow by Chris Chester is an absolutely wonderful book. It is beautifully written to the point that you feel like you know the author. He has laid his soul open for the world to see and at it's core is a small house sparrow that he and his SO rescued from certain death.

It examines life and death and all of the spaces in between. He manages to quote a great deal of poetry and classic literature without coming across as pompous - because how pompous can a guy really be when you know he is writing with bird shit in his hair.

And I did cry - but I am glad I read the book. I highly recommend it and thank you Grue wherever you are, for pointing me to it.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: flipper on January 24, 2008, 06:23:25 PM
I started The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan and I'm currently reading Dante's Inferno on dailylit
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on January 24, 2008, 08:32:40 PM
Haven't finished Stations of the Nightmare, but we got like a billion Pratchett books in (which never happens), and I'd long since loaned'n'lost my copy of Dark Side of the Sun, so I picked up a new one and read it.

It's good, but mostly it's interesting because (along with Strata and even Good Omens) it has so many pre-Discworld references.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: eldiem on January 24, 2008, 09:55:21 PM
Am currently reading Biological Science (http://www.amazon.com/Biological-Science-2nd-Scott-Freeman/dp/0131409417/ref=ed_oe_h) and Principles of Microeconomics (http://www.amazon.com/Principles-Microeconomics-DiscoverEcon-code-card/dp/007323060X/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1201229530&sr=1-6). Fuckin' thrilling.  :sleeping:

In my "spare time" I'm reading Wanda Hickey's Night of Golden Memories: And Other Disasters (http://www.amazon.com/Wanda-Hickeys-Night-Golden-Memories/dp/0385116322/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1201229618&sr=1-1). Funny stuff.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Talix on January 25, 2008, 09:50:56 AM
A Feast for Crows (4th book in G.R.R. Martin's Song of Fire and Ice), but I got my complete set of Remembrance of Things Past yesterday.   :detta:
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on January 25, 2008, 09:54:22 AM
Spook Country is burning a hole in my bookshelf. I'm trying to resist picking it up today so that my xmas present books will have lasted a month, anyway.

:hmm: There's a sex analogy to be made here, but it's too early in the morning to figure it out.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: hajen on January 25, 2008, 02:46:33 PM
Working my way through the five books of Unshelved (the webcomic about librarians; it's great). On the third one.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: stormneedle on January 25, 2008, 05:24:36 PM
Information Dashboard Design. Typical O'Reilly -- just enough to whet your appetite, and enough sugar to make you feel sated with empty calories. There's a bunch of good advice and tips in there, but ... eh.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: TFJ on January 26, 2008, 08:32:37 AM
has anyone read blood meridian?
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Sidious on January 29, 2008, 12:50:51 PM
I'm currently readening Linux Power Tools (http://www.amazon.com/Linux-Power-Tools-Roderick-Smith/dp/0782142265/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1201628930&sr=8-1) by Roderick Smith.

When I first got this book a couple years ago, a good chunk of it was well over my head, and now that I'm reading through it again, I'm finding myself skimming a lot of it because I already know most of the material.

I'm still running across the occasional section that's pretty enlightening, but I think at this point my own knowledge level of the subject is causing me to relegate this book to reference only (like in a "okay, what was the name of the config file for that again?" sort of sense).

Still an excellent book for anyone in the intermediate to advanced level of Linux user.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Talix on January 29, 2008, 01:37:11 PM
The Road, Cormac McCarthy.  My first CM.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: flipper on January 29, 2008, 01:58:00 PM
Yeah I want to read him now too after reading that article on him in Rolling Stone.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: suitep on January 29, 2008, 04:34:07 PM
The Road, Cormac McCarthy.  My first CM.

My favorite book from last year. I picked it up at 7:00am on a Saturday morning. Couldn't put it down until I finished it at noon. Wonderful.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Talix on January 29, 2008, 05:10:03 PM
I couldn't believe I'd gone through almost 100 pages in an hour.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: TFJ on January 30, 2008, 08:02:10 AM
yeah, i want to read the road too. blood meridian has completely sucked me in and actually is giving me some pretty good ideas for other things. i love the use of language. i read (and saw) no country for old men. the book is very easy to read. and it reads like ... a small sketch compared to blood meridian. i liked the movie though.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: robin on February 01, 2008, 10:43:25 PM
hayyy...has anyone ever read   "The Roadkill Cookbook"? (http://www.amazon.com/gp/reader/0898152003/ref=sib_dp_pt/103-7843547-4266261#reader-link) .  My cousin was the author! 
(this is terrible, TFJ....your reference to the road made me think of that roadkill cook book! :lol:)
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: mo on February 02, 2008, 06:55:43 AM
 :lol:

I've heard of it.

I may have to order that.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Talix on February 02, 2008, 08:04:46 AM
Diary of a Drug Fiend, Aleister Crowley
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: TFJ on February 03, 2008, 09:37:17 AM
mind beyond death by dzogchen ponlop rinpoche. this looks pretty amazing so far but i'm just now getting in to it. someone in a review referred to it as "a tibetan book of the dead for the 21st century" but i'm unsure what that is supposed to mean. whatever it means, it looks like an interesting thing for anyone to check out*

of course i'm very interested in the death part, but more immediately (i hope) i'm interested in the sleep part.





*prior to checking out, of course.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: TFJ on March 03, 2008, 12:29:36 PM
just read the road  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Road_(novel)) by cormac mccarthy. i'm still thinking about what i think about it. anyone else read it? it was sometimes psychologically hard for me to read the dialog.

i still think blood meridian, which i'm actually re-reading is pretty fucking fabulous.


Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on March 03, 2008, 01:34:58 PM
Me and Punk read it, and I know suitep has, too.  It's my book club's selection this month.  We don't normally read books that are so...  bleak.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Encino Man on March 03, 2008, 01:58:34 PM
The road is fuckin' hard,
The road is fuckin' tough-ah,
There's no question that-eh
It is rough, rough stuff.
It's the fuckin' road my friend
But it's the only road I know.
When I'm lunchin' on a tasty boosh
Right after the show.
You g-go go go!

The road is fuckin' hard,
It's also really fuckin' tough,
There's no question that
It don't take no guff.
The road is a be-a-itch my friend
But it's the only fuckin' road I know,
When I'm snackin' on a tasty boosh
Right after the show.
You g-go go go!

I met a tasty baby in Michigan.
We screwed two times then I left.
Sometimes I think of my baby in Michigan.
Why can't I stay in one place
For more than two days.
Why?!
Because I'm talkin' about the road.
Because I'm talkin' about the road. 
Because I'm talkin' about the road.
Because I'm talkin' about the road.
Because I'm talkin' about the road. 
Road!
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on March 03, 2008, 10:09:48 PM
I've had about eight customers tell me I have to read The Road, but I've got so many books to read . . . that I don't tend to buy ones that are quick sellers.

I was re-reading Patricia McKillip's The Changeling Sea, which I hadn't read in maybe fifteen or twenty years, and then I went and misplaced my copy.  No idea where the hell it went.  I hate to read something else while I'm in the middle of that one -- I like to be more immersive, with novels -- but it's been missing for almost two weeks, so I brought home an early C. J. Cherryh book, Well of Shiuan.  I've never read any of her fantasy novels before.  This one is actually a sequel (to Gate of Ivrel, a book I've never seen), but I'm willing to believe it'll stand alone pretty well.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: stormneedle on March 03, 2008, 10:22:55 PM
The Morgaine Cycle stands well each alone, but there're some elements that are better if you read them near each other.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on March 03, 2008, 10:28:42 PM
I haven't started it yet, so maybe I'll hunt through the overstock tomorrow to see if I can find the first one.

We see lots of copies of Precursor, a book of hers that looks cool but is a written-later-prequel to a trilogy we never see copies of.   :cry:

On the other hand, yesterday I snapped up another copy of Sean Stewart's Nobody's Son.  That book was seriously too good, though:  I've picked up a couple of his other books, but I haven't read them because I'm afraid they'll be a huge letdown.  I hate it when that happens.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Talix on March 04, 2008, 10:32:31 AM
Back issues of Wired.

*has also read, sobbed at The Road*
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Stoater on March 04, 2008, 10:45:18 AM
I read the latest Kim Harrison book. It was full of Oooooo, Oh PLEASE that's just DUMB, and Didn't See That Coming, and HMMMMMMM. It can terminate here successfully or she can pen another one. I liked it.

After that, some tech FM's and works on dharma and bodhisattva.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Encino Man on March 04, 2008, 08:28:07 PM
I'm reading Treasure Island by R.L. Stevenson. I somehow missed reading it in school.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on March 04, 2008, 09:44:09 PM
Found a book in the other shop's basement the other day and hoped it wasn't going to be too valuable:  An 1836 science-fiction hardcover called Adventures in the Moon and Other Stories, by Anonymous (widely believed to be some dude called Lord John Russell).  It's one of those pre-modern-science SF gems where they didn't know, for instance, that the atmosphere didn't stretch on forever, and they thought you could travel to the moon in a hot air balloon, etc.

Alas, we only found two recent examples of this edition, one that sold at auction in Texas for $200 last month and a current listing, about the same stated condition, for $1400.  That there's the book biz.  If the current listing is a decent price, I sure wish I was the person who bought one for $200.  Ours is in slightly rougher shape but has a more desireable cover (same edition, earlier printing), and we decided to list it for $500 in the hopes of selling it soon.

I would've liked it, but the shop needs the $$$ more than I need a book that's too fragile to read.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on March 04, 2008, 11:09:11 PM
I'm finally reading Spook Country. It's the first Gibson in like forever that I haven't liked from Page Zero.

I think the problem is me, honestly.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on March 04, 2008, 11:25:56 PM
Not just you.  Punk hated it.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on March 05, 2008, 12:35:41 PM
I liked Burning Chrome and some of his other short stuff, but I didn't even like Neuromancer.

But that does seem to mostly be just me.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: flipper on March 05, 2008, 02:38:18 PM
I still haven't read any Gibson.  I need to get around to that someday.  Then again I think I have about 25 books in the queue already and some of them are pretty thick.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Sidious on March 05, 2008, 05:02:50 PM
Then again I think I have about 25 books in the queue already and some of them are pretty thick.

Wait.... there's some sort of Netflix type service... but for books?

 :nuts:
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: flipper on March 05, 2008, 05:15:46 PM
No, these are 25 or so books that I own which are sitting on a shelf that still need to be read.  I have heard of this place though where one can borrow books.  I think it's called a library...
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Sidious on March 05, 2008, 05:20:35 PM
That's just crazy talk.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on March 05, 2008, 05:41:09 PM
Then again I think I have about 25 books in the queue already and some of them are pretty thick.

Wait.... there's some sort of Netflix type service... but for books?

 :nuts:

Yes.  Yes, there is.  Actually, there are several.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on March 05, 2008, 06:25:28 PM
At the end of last summer, I guess, I boxed up almost every book I own that I'd already read.  And I've more than filled up all my shelves again since then, plus put boxes of new books into storage.  At home, I have something like 1200 books in my To Read queue now, and these days I finish a book about every two weeks (well, as far as novels go, anyway), so . . . I guess I'm set until 2054.

:nuts:
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: stormneedle on March 05, 2008, 07:04:56 PM
My backlog of books that I've gotten is four boxes or so. There's more than that on the "I want to read these too" list.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: unclejessie on March 05, 2008, 08:25:25 PM
Read Invisible Monsters by Chuck Palahniuk.  I liked it way better than Choke, not as much as Survivor.

Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: TFJ on March 11, 2008, 02:58:57 PM
hm i picked up "raw shark texts" to read at the beach. haruki murakami he ain't  :whatever: even though they compare him to him. i seriously dislike the dialog between the main person and his former lover. i mean, seriously.

Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: sm0k4 on March 15, 2008, 08:13:19 AM
I picked up Halfway to the Grave by Jeaniene Frost at the library. Surprisingly good so far. Better than your average, run of the mill badass chick who hunts vamps and gets knotty with one story. It is quite obvious that the author has a Spike fetish (but really, who doesn't?). The main guy is a platinum blond vamp with a cockney accent and a dry sense of humor. I'm only half way through, but it's made me LOL several times now. :thumbsup:
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Stoater on March 15, 2008, 10:30:14 AM
I read Outlaw Demon Wails when it first came out and that was  :detta: :detta: :detta: :detta: :detta:

Now I'm reading Transcendent CSS and Textpattern's book.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: TFJ on March 15, 2008, 12:58:47 PM
the author used the word "brane" in raw shark texts.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on March 15, 2008, 03:25:17 PM
I found and am finishing up the McKillip book, and I'm also reading Jessica Hendra's How to Cook Your Daughter

The Hendra book is good but weirdly written.  Kind of the whole point of it, according to the author, is that her famous father (Tony Hendra, friend of Pythons, one of the main guys at National Lampoon, and kickstarter of many famous comedy careers, although he's probably best-known nowadays as the band manager in Spinal Tap) wrote a confessional memoir that was purportedly about his Mad, Bad, Sad life and many sins, and the book sold awfully well, and she was justifiably upset that it left out a lot of his sins, such as molesting his daughter.

I'm almost halfway through it, now, though, and the book comes across as almost apologizing for her father.  So far, it's 95% straight-up memoir of a counterculture scene in the crazy 70s.  Don't get me wrong -- I'm not saying I wish there were more dirt, or saying I'm surprised her feelings about her father are complicated, or begrudging her desire to tell her biography (which isn't dull, either).  It's just sort of like reading a book on Watergate that turned out to be mostly about Nixon's musical performances when he was a kid.

It might seem odd, though, because I read about the furor a few years ago when the NYT published her original public accusation and then dealt with complaints (that the accusations were too graphic, or unfair because Hendra isn't really a public figure, etc), but I didn't happen to read the actual column with the accusations.  I have a feeling the book was toned down because of the vitriol the NYT column was greeted with, but who knows?

It's an interesting biography on its own, anyway.  When she was a kid, she used to get piggyback rides from John Belushi.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: stormneedle on March 21, 2008, 05:16:19 PM
A collection of stories collected as The Guild of Xenolinguists.

I have no idea what the author was trying for in a lot of these. Fun, but I'm going to have to read them again when I can try and think more.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: flipper on March 21, 2008, 05:20:38 PM
The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver.

Just finished Cobweb by Neal Stephenson and J. Frederick George.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: flipper on April 25, 2008, 02:58:05 PM
Right after The Bean Trees I read the second of two in the series, Pigs In Heaven.  Both were quite good.  Today I started Into The Wild by Jon Krakauer
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: dogbone on April 27, 2008, 08:10:36 PM
World War Z (http://www.randomhouse.com/crown/worldwarz/)

It was really well done. I expect zombie silliness; what I didn't expect was a thorough examination of the long reaching effects of ineffectual leadership, willful governmental opacity and sleight of hand, as well as complacency  and dependency among the general population. Sure, it's about zombies, but it's the study of an outbreak with zombies as an added bonus. I was riveted. If there would have been midgets, I'd have financed the big screen version myself.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on April 27, 2008, 09:40:57 PM
I love love love that book.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on April 28, 2008, 12:27:39 AM
I finally read "Me Talk Pretty One Day." I disturbed the other people on the plane with my :galm: ing.

I imagine soon I'll get to reading a book written this millenium.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: sm0k4 on April 28, 2008, 06:10:35 AM
I finally read "Me Talk Pretty One Day." I disturbed the other people on the plane with my :galm: ing.

I imagine soon I'll get to reading a book written this millenium.

The Rooster. He killed me.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: dogbone on April 28, 2008, 06:20:06 AM
As did his conversation about Easter in French.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on April 28, 2008, 06:26:22 AM
Yeah, the French teacher is what caused me to totally lose it. She was awesome. And I could easily see myself being David's dad.

Especially this week. Gah.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on April 28, 2008, 07:29:51 AM
I've been reading I Am The Cheese, in stolen moments; haven't read it since junior high.

This may sound odd, but it's way more depressing than I remember.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Talix on April 28, 2008, 08:26:32 AM
Every once in a while I reread the Paul Zindel books.  They always surprise me.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Hedaira on April 29, 2008, 11:27:19 AM
Leveling guides.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on April 29, 2008, 12:27:06 PM
Guide the level!  Guide it!

Or did you mean in the sense of tackling docents?
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: NexR on April 29, 2008, 04:42:15 PM
Leveling guides.

For which games?
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: flipper on April 29, 2008, 06:06:02 PM
Taking up a new career in landscaping?
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Talix on April 29, 2008, 06:38:12 PM
Homicide.  I've seen the show, had the book on my shelf for years, and dated the lieutenant's son but don't think I've ever read it.

I live in a fucked up scary city.   :trance:
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Hedaira on April 30, 2008, 09:50:06 PM
Guide the level!  Guide it!

Or did you mean in the sense of tackling docents?

No, but now that you mention it....
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Hedaira on April 30, 2008, 09:51:24 PM
Leveling guides.

For which games?

World of WellfuckitsnotlikeyouhadalifeanywayssogoaheadandpissawayfourteenbucksamonthCraft.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: stormneedle on April 30, 2008, 09:59:09 PM
Sharon Shinn's "Novels of the Twelve Houses," specifically Reader and Raelynx. Romantic fantasy political fiction.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: First Post on April 30, 2008, 10:14:09 PM
I skipped teh Warcraft, although Age of Conan looks fun. It is of course based on the writing of Robert E Howard (deftly staying ontopic), a legendary Texan. I saw a cool AoC video of a bunch of people sieging a castle with elephants. Reviews are mixed so far though.  Anyways, on to the games thread.

The next book on the "to read" stack for me is Kavalier and Clay.

Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: NexR on April 30, 2008, 10:14:16 PM
Leveling guides.

For which games?

World of WellfuckitsnotlikeyouhadalifeanywayssogoaheadandpissawayfourteenbucksamonthCraft.

God I love that game.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Hedaira on April 30, 2008, 10:40:19 PM
I love it and hate it. I can't cheat - which is causing some angst. I get really fucking irritated by being ganked while trying to deal with a beastie situation - though it's becoming rarer now that I'm over lvl 41.

I really, really enjoy running into a huge mob of easily aggro'd nasties and then leaving the wannabe ganker stuck in the middle of it to die. To further the insult, I stand by and watch them go down - close enough so they can see my little elf ass waving.

I have a pony. Mine. Pony's got a 15% permanent speed buff and with that buff, the guy chasing me is the slowest in the race out of the mob. I've fed at least three Alliance asswipes to the coyotes in the Badlands just today.

 :D


Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: NexR on May 01, 2008, 12:57:10 AM
Hehe.  I know the feeling.  I'm on a self-imposed ban.  It's just way too addicting.

Congrats on 41.  Definitely the first big level is 40.  You gots to have transportation for fucks sake.  It just makes the whole game so much more enjoyable.  It's totally worth a 10 lvl grind.



As far as cheating goes... well, I've always played on pirate servers.  The downside is the bugs, crashes, and occasional upgrades and db wipes.  The upside is unlimited characters (like having a couple just for item storage), 4x-10x xp and drop rates (like it doesn't take long to level all the way), less people (like 200), and an awesome endgame (like 40 people at top level with top items running around killing all the bosses and in perpetual war with each other).
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on May 01, 2008, 03:13:22 PM
I gave up around lvl 38.  I just wasn't enjoying it anymore.  Punk kept encouraging me to just give it till 40 but I'd completely lost interest.

What server are you on, B-bubba?
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Hedaira on May 01, 2008, 04:44:03 PM
I'm on Bonechewer
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on May 01, 2008, 04:55:28 PM
Ah, we're on Hyjal.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Talix on May 02, 2008, 03:06:16 PM
I've written a review of a former professor's book to post on Amazon (at his request).  Anyone mind giving it a quick read?

I’ve read several of Dr. Braude’s books; while others require (and reward) great intellectual effort to remain engaged, this one is a much “lighter” read.  I expected as much after I’d read the preface in which he contrasts this book with his other, primarily objective, scholarly works.  Braude lets us know up front that this is a “largely autobiographical” book that “describes [his] most memorable…encounters with the ostensibly paranormal.”  It is not intended to be a philosophical treatise or an academic reference.  He’s already written a few of those.

Mindful of this frame of reference, I read Braude’s accounts of the people he studied and the phenomena he witnessed.  At turns he is funny, angry, excited, disappointed, hopeful, and frustrated, but always committed to rigorous investigation.  Whether conducting his own observations or reviewing noteworthy cases reported by others, he specifically notes when physical or logical explanations effectively account for what occurred (or was reported to have occurred).  What’s left over may not seem like much evidence in the face of what others claim to have produced or witnessed, but that it cannot be explained away by any means other than paranormal activity is compelling.

My overall reaction to reading
The Gold Leaf Lady was almost sadness.  I regretted the opportunities lost with willing subjects (Katie and Dennis Lee) and wasted with uncooperative ones (Joe Nuzum).  I was frustrated that, time and again, the best observed paranormal activity was the least defensible as good evidence and the best evidence was the least strictly observed.  But I was also hopeful that I’d learn more about Braude’s wife, Gina’s predictions and excited to find out if they continued to be accurate (and profitable).

It was the “extremely personal” nature of this book that allowed me the opportunity to experience these emotions.  I saw evidence of the meticulous investigative technique and comprehensive logical reasoning that comprise experimental research but also the humanity of the subjects, the investigators, the people who attempt to profit from displays of paranormal activity, and  the critics who want to discredit all possible evidence.  Whatever is the ultimate agent of the phenomena witnessed, it’s obvious that many of those interested in studying it  - whether seeking to prove or disprove the existence of the paranormal - are (whether consciously or not) driven by more than just intellectual curiosity – myself included.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on May 02, 2008, 06:52:58 PM
 :thumbsup:

I do have a few nitpicks, but, then, I always do:

Quote
But I was also hopeful that I’d learn more about Braude’s wife, Gina’s predictions and excited to find out if they continued to be accurate (and profitable).

If this sentence means what I think it does, you might rephrase it as

But I was also hopeful that I’d learn more about Braude’s wife Gina and her predictions, and excited to find out if they continued to be accurate (and profitable).

Commas around "Gina" are optional, depending on what you like.  The comma before the second clause makes things clearer, I think, and changing the location of her name makes it clearer that that's his wife's name.


Quote
It was the “extremely personal” nature of this book that allowed me the opportunity to experience these emotions.

I'd say the phrase "the opportunity" is unnecessary, and that the sentence reads slightly better without it.  Alternatively, leave it but change "allowed me" to "gave me", just to make it more conversational.


Quote
Whatever is the ultimate agent of the phenomena witnessed, it’s obvious that many of those interested in studying it  - whether seeking to prove or disprove the existence of the paranormal - are (whether consciously or not) driven by more than just intellectual curiosity – myself included.

I know what some people say, but I'd either strike that first "is" completely or move it to the end of the clause, right before the comma.  The rest of the sentence is slightly awkward because it has two separate clauses set aside by dashes, which almost always winds up a bit busy.  I think I understand the style you want, here, but I'm not immediately sure how to get there.  Changing the first pair of dashes to commas reduces the emphasis I think you want, and, anyway, that "myself included" is meant at the end but actually refers to the "many of those" much earlier in the sentence.

How about something like:

Whatever the ultimate agent of the phenomena witnessed, it’s obvious that many of those interested in studying it - whether seeking to prove or disprove the existence of the paranormal - are (whether consciously or not) driven by more than just intellectual curiosity – as am I.

 :confused:
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Talix on May 02, 2008, 07:27:52 PM
Thanks, Axe!
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Wintermute on May 04, 2008, 09:34:58 PM
Hehe.  I know the feeling.  I'm on a self-imposed ban.  It's just way too addicting.

Congrats on 41.  Definitely the first big level is 40.  You gots to have transportation for fucks sake.  It just makes the whole game so much more enjoyable.  It's totally worth a 10 lvl grind.



As far as cheating goes... well, I've always played on pirate servers.  The downside is the bugs, crashes, and occasional upgrades and db wipes.  The upside is unlimited characters (like having a couple just for item storage), 4x-10x xp and drop rates (like it doesn't take long to level all the way), less people (like 200), and an awesome endgame (like 40 people at top level with top items running around killing all the bosses and in perpetual war with each other).

I'm sort of an avid gamer and I've never understood the pull of that game.  On top of that, I'm genuinely afraid to try it, lest I be sucked in to the perfect vortex of level and grind Blizzard has created.

Though I have played Grand Theft Auto 4 for a couple hours every day since I bought it, so...

Anyhow, I just finished The Great Shark Hunt and loved it.  I wasn't even a few chapters through before I grabbed the next volume, plus Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: TFJ on May 14, 2008, 09:50:45 AM
i've gotta say, i didn't particularly like World War Z. the way he caricature-ized the peoples' nationalities was very annoying. it's a great idea but poorly executed IMHO. the section with the dog lover pushed me over the top and i was already annoyed by about the second page.

:shrug:
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on May 14, 2008, 12:56:42 PM
I'd like to read this (http://www.salon.com/books/review/2008/05/13/ronald_reagan/index1.html):

Quote
... (the author) homes in on the gaps between his subject's rhetoric and record. Far from reducing the size of government, for example, Reagan created an upsurge in federal spending relative to gross domestic product. Far from shrinking America's tax burden, he left the percentage of national income diverted to federal taxes virtually unchanged between 1981 and 1989 -- even as states went scrambling to offset cuts in federal assistance. The rich got richer, the poor got poorer, deficits soared to previously unheard-of levels, and the fabled economic recovery that Reagan presided over may now be attributed, Wilentz says, to the stringent interest-rate policies of Fed chair Paul Volcker (first appointed by Carter) and to the steep drop-off in crude oil prices after 1985.

On top of all that, Reagan and his allies nakedly politicized the appointment of federal judges and gutted the enforcement of environmental and civil rights laws. In the battle against AIDS, the most pressing health issue of his presidency, Reagan was a near-complete no-show. (He refused even his own wife's entreaty to endorse the use of condoms.) His record in the developing world wasn't much prettier. "The Reagan Doctrine," writes Wilentz, "contributed to a bloodbath in Central America, where as many as 200,000 people died in Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Guatemala fighting left-wing regimes or propping up right-wing regimes, with no discernible impact on the outcome of the cold war."
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on May 14, 2008, 02:35:33 PM
I recently finished Hell House, by Richard Matheson, an odd haunted-house novel from about 1970.  It's definitely one of the better haunted-house books if you like traditional ghost stories.  It has a very strong Spiritualist bent and some good writing, and it moves along pretty well.  It seems like it doesn't quite know what it wants to do, though, in terms of plot -- a common problem in the genre.  And the characters are frustrating, too. 

Still, it has a bunch of nifty moments and could be made into a dynamite film, if someone knew what they were doing.  It was made into a film (The Legend of Hell House) in the early 70s, with Roddy McDowall, but I've never seen that one, alas.


Right now, I'm reading a book about an American student who was murdered in South Korea five or six years ago.  It's passable so far.  Most of the True Crime stuff I've seen is horribly (poorly) dramatized; this one isn't, but it's sort of excessively spare and a bit disorganized.  It's also the kind of book where you get to page 40 and wonder how it's going to last to page 200.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: stormneedle on May 14, 2008, 03:12:46 PM
It's also the kind of book where you get to page 40 and wonder how it's going to last to page 200.
Lorem ipsum?
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Psidefect on May 14, 2008, 03:19:27 PM
If you get forty pages into a lorem ipsum book, the problem lies not with the book. ;)
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: flipper on May 14, 2008, 06:59:18 PM
I finished Into The Wild and have just started Zodiac, by Neal Stephensen
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on May 18, 2008, 09:21:23 PM
I finished the true crime book, which, for the record, is Murder in Room 103.  It held up pretty well, but it's kind of an infuriating read.  It's another false-confession story where investigators who didn't intend to railroad anyone but were just eager to close a case and were poorly (if effectively) trained wrangled a false confession out of the wrong suspect, thereby pretty much guaranteeing that the crime would never be solved.

It underscores pretty heartily the wrongness of the politically expedient but unjust philosphy of criminal justice which emphasizes closing cases rather than solving crimes.  Police and prosecutors seek to 'build a case' against a 'suspect', not to uncover what actually happened.  These are often thought of as being the same two processes, but they aren't, and the gulf between them, when illuminated, turns out to be freaking enormous.

The worst part is that innocent people wind up confessing and convicted.  The next-worst part is probably that the ancillary victims (like, say, the parents of a murder victim) typically assume that if the police say someone confessed, then that person must be the perpetrator.  The third-worst part is that the police almost always believe they're doing the right thing and getting the right results.  This means that they latch onto the wrong suspects and fail to actually pursue the real perpetrators.

There are lots of examples of insanely stupid cases; the one covered in this book is pretty damned retarded, and the suspect recanted and was eventually acquitted (after three trials, extradition to South Korea where she faced death by hanging, fifteen months in prison, and destruction of career and credit), but investigators and the victim's parents are still convinced she did it.  It's intensely unlikely that she committed the crime -- in fact, it's almost completely implausible -- but certainly the confession the FBI coerced out of her is complete crap, and, frankly, should be too embarrassing for any prosecutor to seriously submit to a court. 

But our courts are terrible when it comes to handling confessions.  South Korean courts, interestingly, won't admit confessions if the suspect recants in front of a judge.  It's not enough to confess to investigators; you have to stand by your confession in court, too.  The US justice system would never stand for this, but it's actually far more reasonable.

It's also another reason why our courts need a third counsel, neither prosecuting nor defending, to act as a referee, working neither for conviction nor acquittal but for actual justice and the integrity of the courts.  Judges often aren't qualified and, anyway, tend toward personal bias, and such a system could seriously streamline the appeals process.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on May 18, 2008, 09:24:32 PM
Oh, I started reading an old (early 70s, I think) SF anthology, probably New Destinies.  It has a cool-premise essay by Jerry Pournelle where he was asked to talk about how the US could have been set up differently (I mean, industry, city-planning, transit, etc, not the courts or culture or whatnot) if we could magically start over from scratch with what we know now.

Unfortunately, I got like five pages into it and he just kept saying, 'Well, it would be great if we could do something about this . . . and we certainly could . . . and I usually do a lot of research and thinking for this kind of writing assignment . . . but I'm just not really interested in getting into it.'  What, and you got a paycheck for writing this thing?  :eyeroll:  He seriously keeps saying he just can't work up the enthusiasm.  But, what, your hand was lonely to yank someone else?
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Wintermute on May 20, 2008, 09:39:46 PM
I finished Into The Wild and have just started Zodiac, by Neal Stephensen

I managed to read Cryptonomicon during the winter.  Took me about a month, even with reading five hours a day, it's about 1200 pages and very text-dense, a worthy doorstopper.  Good book, but not recommended unless you're ready for a serious time commitment.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: unclejessie on May 20, 2008, 09:45:07 PM
Bread Builders (http://www.amazon.com/Bread-Builders-Hearth-Loaves-Masonry/dp/1890132055).

The back corner of my yard will have a pizza/bread oven some day.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Hedaira on May 20, 2008, 10:05:29 PM
The section on An Heroes on Encyclopedia Dramatica.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Wintermute on May 20, 2008, 10:28:24 PM
(http://images.encyclopediadramatica.com/images/f/f4/Fallingdown.jpg)
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: stormneedle on May 20, 2008, 11:38:14 PM
OpenVMS TCPIP manuals. I broke something. I'm not sure what, though, which is making diagnosis difficult.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Hedaira on May 21, 2008, 07:46:08 AM
(http://images.encyclopediadramatica.com/images/f/f4/Fallingdown.jpg)

 :lol: :lol: :lol:

Unfortunately, that's likely going to be me about 6 months or so from now. At least y'all will be able to point and say "Heyyyyyyy, I know that broad."
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Talix on May 21, 2008, 09:01:07 AM
Amy Tan's Saving Fish from Drowning.  It was my easy reading for the plane.  My aunt said she understood a lot more about the Myanmar situation than she would have if she hadn't read it (I'm not sure if she would have known where Myanmar was before she read it, so take that for what it's worth).

My current thoughtful reads are Alan Watts's The Book and Charlotte Joko Beck's Everyday Zen.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on May 21, 2008, 09:32:28 AM
I just read Imperium by Robert Harris, one of my favorite historical fiction authors. It's a fictionalized account of the early career of Cicero. There apparently was a four-volume biography or Cicero written by his slave Tiro (who is credited with inventing shorthand, and whom history records was granted a pension in his old age), but this book was lost or destroyed. Harris takes this idea and runs with it: the novel is Tiro's observations. It's pretty cool, but it's not as good as his 20th century novels (Fatherland, Enigma, Archangel). There's little of the bleak, ominous, hopeless atmosphere he does so well, and his hallmark -- a terrible, gruesome, shocking secret gradually revealed to everyone's horror -- is missing. It was fun to read about politics in the last days of Roman Republic, with all its similarities to today (and some differences of course). Good plane novel.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on May 21, 2008, 10:58:32 AM
Quote
a terrible, gruesome, shocking secret gradually revealed to everyone's horror

Carthago delenda est!  No, wait . . . well, Cataline, maybe.  Wait!  Cataline turns out to be his father!  And he gets a bionic hand.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on May 21, 2008, 11:45:45 AM
The fact that the Romans recycled names so vigorously has always been a problem for me, everything seems adrift in time. But this is fifty years or so after the Punic Wars. Julius Caesar pops up, as this ambitious nobody who's the brains behind some more influential but dumber senators. He also pops up banging another senator's wife without getting caught.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Psidefect on May 21, 2008, 12:22:16 PM
...and his hallmark -- a terrible, gruesome, shocking secret gradually revealed to everyone's horror -- is missing.

Surprise!
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on May 21, 2008, 04:23:18 PM
They recycled names, but they never used them.  You know how it is -- somebody would be named Julius Cicero Scipio Maximus the Younger, but everyone would actually call him Burt, or the Greek equivalent.

And their historians made a lot of shit up as a matter of course.  That's how history was done in those days.

Anyway, I had Cicero in high school -- not just the orations and whatnot; my Latin teacher was clearly Circero.  He looked exactly like the statue and could speak classical Greek and Latin fluently, never had to look at the book to deliver part of an oration, etc.  He wasn't even trying to pretend he was really a Benedictine monk.

Weirdly, my English teacher the year before was a dead ringer for Shakespeare, but the personality was a total no-match.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: whidB on May 21, 2008, 09:30:59 PM
I remember Sammy Cicero, the dude that ran the corner gas station in the little town where I grew up. He looked very Roman. He was also reputed to have mob connections :cyber:
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: sm0k4 on May 22, 2008, 06:20:39 AM
I just finished the latest in Charlaine Harris's Southern Vampire series. Can't wait to see if HBO gets it right making it into a tv show.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Encino Man on May 22, 2008, 04:03:44 PM
I was so sad when I finished Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey series. I've just started Cornwell's Sharpe series and it's taking some of that pain away.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: flipper on May 22, 2008, 05:45:29 PM
I finished Into The Wild and have just started Zodiac, by Neal Stephensen

I managed to read Cryptonomicon during the winter.  Took me about a month, even with reading five hours a day, it's about 1200 pages and very text-dense, a worthy doorstopper.  Good book, but not recommended unless you're ready for a serious time commitment.

Yep I've read that and all 3K pages of the Baroque Cycle.  I'm just finally getting around to the rest of his stuff.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on May 23, 2008, 08:53:48 AM
I just finished Alan Garner's Weirdstone of Brisingamen, a 1960 YA fantasy novel that's sort of halfway between C. S. Lewis and Tolkien.  It was good, but not as good as The Owl Service.  There's a sequel out there, but I don't own it yet.

I never got around to reading any of Keith Laumer's 'Retief' books yet, but I'm reading a graphic novel adaptation of some of them.  It's OK.  I think it's probably got more appeal for people who've read the books.  Retief is a future ambassador cut in the classic hardboiled I Do Whatever I Think Is Right mold, sort of James Bondish with a touch more antihero, a bit less violence, and less womanizing.  Laumer wrote a whole bunch of Retief stories and novels over, what, like 30 years, among his other work, and I own a few of the Retief books, but I just hadn't gotten around to them before . . . .  They're supposed to be pretty funny, and I'll read them eventually.  I really liked his Plague of Demons, even though it was actually two short trendsetting novels mushed together.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on June 01, 2008, 11:20:20 AM
I recently finished . . . something . . . I forget what, and then I read Joe Lansdale's Bad Chili, which was odd.  It's basically a detective novel, except that the main characters aren't detectives . . . although they do team up with a private detective for part of the story.  Strange-ass story, too; just kind of awkward and weirdly told.  Almost all of the characters spend most of their time competing for Quaintest Foul-Mouthed Enlightened Peckerwood trophies, and, honestly, only about one in ten wiseass scatalogical remarks hit the target, for me.  There's another Joe around here who does a much better job of it than Lansdale does. 

Also, the characters were almost universally WAY too obsessed with gay jokes -- not always homophobic ones, certainly, but it soon was like being stuck in a car, on a long summer highway with the windows rolled up, with three of the most annoying kids I knew in the Fifth Grade.  I get it.  Gay sex is a funny thing.  Fine.

Strange, strange book.  It moved right along, but it seemed to have been written over the course of a gin-soaked weekend.  Which, I mean, is good work if you can get it.


Then I started reading a True Crime book about a case that was one of those things where it was all over the papers (back in the early 90s) where I lived, and it was pretty damned mysterious and gruesome, and then . . . you never heard anything else about it again.  I'm not thrilled with the writer, though.  He doesn't graphically sensationalize everything, the way some True Crime writers painfully do, but he 'reports' things that can't be known (like what someone was thinking while they were being murdered), and there's other stuff that he reports that maybe he knows for sure . . . but he doesn't say if or how. 

That bugs me.  I don't want a dramatic recreation unless you're going to explain that you know the murderer did this because of that -- because he told the police about it later.  If you don't know, say so.  If you want to speculate, I'm willing to allow it, so long as you make it clear when you're speculating.  I want to know what happened; I'm not looking for a juicy story spun out of some poor bastard's murder.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on June 04, 2008, 11:20:41 AM
Finished the True Crime book (Death of an Angel, for the record).  It was OK.  A good example of how people who are deeply egocentric can rationalize any crazy-ass thing, do it, and then still feel no responsibility for it.  Weirdly, it appears to be similar to but not the same case that I was remembering from years ago.  It was about three years too early.

Weirder, after I finished it and was wondering how carefully it had been researched -- which people the author had actually talked to in depth, etc -- I read the acknowledgments.  Mostly whatever, but:

Ted Salad of the CIA provided significant insight.

WTF?  Teddy Salad, CIA?  Did the author have to take him walkies?
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: robin on June 05, 2008, 09:48:00 PM
(http://i.hotbooksale.com/books/9780060929510/1/Modoc-The-True-Story-of-the-Greatest-Elephant-That-Ever-Lived.jpg)

I'm not reading it for the 4th time right now, but everyone I know of that read this loved it. The story is about  an elephant trainers son and Modoc , the elephant.
 Guaranteed to make you laugh and cry.
has anyone else read it?
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Encino Man on June 06, 2008, 09:09:27 AM
I started reading Quicksilver from the Baroque Cycle cos' all you nuts were raving about it. I thought it was utter shite. I couldn't get more than 30 pages in. Though I think I've already ranted about that here.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Hedaira on June 06, 2008, 10:36:19 AM
I read a few pages of the B-Cycle. Then I put it back on the shelf and walked away.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on June 06, 2008, 12:40:04 PM
I still haven't started Cryptonomnomnomicon yet.  He's brilliant but really uneven -- Diamond Age is about two-thirds Complete Win and one-third WTF Are You Doing.  It's not that I don't want to read more from him, but . . . I don't really want to read really really really LONG stuff from him.  His books are concept books, mostly, not plot books, and concept books tend to choke on themselves when they get longer and longer.

Plus, I've got so much crap in my head these days and so many books to read . . . I tend to go for shorter ones, at the moment.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: dogbone on June 07, 2008, 08:51:45 PM
This. (http://www.amazon.com/Great-Derangement-Terrifying-Politics-Religion/dp/0385520344) Saw it on The Daily Show.

Digging it.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: whidB on June 07, 2008, 08:58:16 PM
Quote
The Great Derangement is a scabrous, hilarious vivisection of our disintegrating nation.

"Twilight of the American Empire?"

Thing is: what happens to us after the sun goes down?  :trance:
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: dogbone on June 08, 2008, 08:19:36 AM
We get to act like a regular country instead of having to make sure our balls are still attached once a decade or so.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: NexR on June 08, 2008, 11:51:36 AM
Yep.  I welcome the fall.


Edit:  Hmm... fall is the wrong word since we'd actually be improving ourselves.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on June 08, 2008, 12:29:33 PM
Moon landing was our last peak.  We haven't hit another comparable one since then.  Forty years seems long enough, or so you'd think.


I just read Leslie Ford's Ill Met By Moonlight, a sort of mystery novel set in the 1930s (and probably written in the 30s or 40s).  It's so period . . . odd to read it now.  Very Great Gatsby, as written by Agatha Christie.  Murder occurs in a close-knit wealthy summer community, and even though everyone's sure that one of their circle of friends is a horrible murderer (who might also kill them, if it turns out that they know too much), but they automatically lie and cover for each other.  The detective (who just happens to be in town at the time) isn't the main character, which is an interesting change of pace.  Instead, he's a houseguest of the narrator, who is, herself, under suspicion.

It wasn't a perfect novel, but it was plenty entertaining and moved right along . . . once I finally got all the characters straight.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on June 13, 2008, 08:29:24 AM
I read an early 80s California Is Morally Bankrupt horror novel (you remember those) called Judgment Day, which was about 50% cleverly written and 50% anticlimax / I Thought This Was A Ghost Story Sort Of Thing But Apparently Not.  Eh.  It was OK.

Then I read The Spell Book Of Listen Taylor, by Jaclyn Moriarty, an author I'd never heard of.  I judged the book entirely by its cover (:thumbsup: to the book designer), which was intriguing but tantalizingly uninformative.  I couldn't tell if it was Romance, or Young Adult, or Fantasy, or Magical Realism, or just Humor, or what.

Turns out:  Or What.  If Daniel Pinkwater and Terry Pratchett were a 15-year-old Australian girl, wise beyond her years, who sat down to write a terribly important Romance novel but got hugely sidetracked a lot . . . they/she might have written this book.  It's one of those books where, when you're done, you wonder how somebody wrote that.  It's not completely perfect -- there was one loose end that never got wrapped up, and when it ended I wanted to know what happened next, and when the story shifts point of view it also shifts in time to an extent that was sometimes a bit confusing.

But it's a weird, amusing, unusual book, such that I'll look for more books by the same author.

Now I'm reading Pratchett's Wintersmith, which I hadn't read before and didn't realize I owned.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on June 29, 2008, 01:38:50 PM
I just finished another True Crime book.  Ugh.  They're always so poorly written . . . I skimmed about half of this one and mostly only finished it because I wanted to make sure the guy got convicted.


I also read Greg Bear's Hegira, and mostly it reminded me why I usually don't read his stuff.  It's full of great premises and tantalizing scenes.  I certainly respect Bear as a thinker, and he writes well enough, but his storytelling needs a kick in the crotch. 

Hegira is basically a Ringworld sort of book that's immediately gripping:  Humans of all kinds live on a gigantic and apparently artificial planet, not knowing how or why they're there.  The planet has artificial lighting -- rather peculiar artificial lighting, I might add -- and its surface is dotted at regular intervals by gigantic obelisks hundreds if not thousands of kilometers high.  On the sides of the obelisks, the history of humans on Earth (and possibly elsewhere) is written in chronological order . . . from the bottom up.  The history includes their philosophy and science and whatnot.  Naturally, lots of people want to read what's higher up, and they go up in balloons, etc, to try to read the later history that has the better science.

The story is more or less about three guys who are traveling across the planet's surface.  They go weird places and see weird things.  Problem is, they really don't learn much of anything.  They don't undergo much in the way of personal development.  (One of them changes a lot, but it wasn't terribly gripping.)  Their adventures are so-so and mostly a series of anticlimaxes, some rather more pronounced than others.  :eyeroll:  Mysteries and exciting premises are revealed!  But go nowhere.

One of them finally gets somewhere significant, and then there's about six pages of intentionally not terribly clear exposition that sort of explains the whole thing except that the explanation is incomplete and fuzzy and not very exciting anyway.  There are things that I think Bear expects the reader to assume, but I really don't know if they're correct.

So WTF?  When I was done, I was pretty damn disappointed, and my first thought was honestly "Well, at least it wasn't too long."  I feel vaguely cheated.  Too many of his damn books build up like a particularly bizarre Scooby-Doo episode that really hooks you, and then at the end Scooby and Daphne suddenly fall into a wood chipper for no apparent reason, and then they pull the mask off the monster and it's . . . an alien comprised of liquified space-time from beyond the end of the universe that altered its appearance by rewriting the quantum information characteristics of entropic particles made from femtoDNA, and it was really an alternate Velma all along.  Or something.  And then someone flips a hidden switch, and a computer tells them to go home because it'll just fix everything once they leave.  The end.

So . . . meh.  Also, for some reason, the cover of the book has a unicorn on it, and there are no unicorns in the book.  That was sort of odd.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on June 29, 2008, 01:43:59 PM
Oh.  However, I also read the first two volumes of the Foglios' Girl Genius, and, I must say, it's not only the best thing they've ever done but also far and away the best steampunk anything I've ever seen anywhere.  And funny, and a little sexy, and quite crazy.  I need however much more of it there is, but I have no money at the moment and borrowed the two volumes from my brother.

But, seriously, read it.

Speaking of steampunk, if you haven't read any of Philip Reeves' Hungry Cities series (the first book is Mortal Engines), you maybe should.  It's a YA series set in a steampunk future where most of Europe's cities are mounted on huge tracks, like tanks or bulldozers, and they rumble around 'eating' smaller towns for spare parts.  Their enemies are sky pirates.  I've only read the first book so far, but it was pretty awesome. 

I have no idea how Miyazaki has resisted making a film out of them, unless maybe it's because the plucky young female lead has a huge scar on her face.  He doesn't usually do scars on his heroines.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: vox8 on June 29, 2008, 04:48:16 PM
I started reading Quicksilver from the Baroque Cycle cos' all you nuts were raving about it. I thought it was utter shite. I couldn't get more than 30 pages in. Though I think I've already ranted about that here.

And I might have already replied - but I want it to go on record that I am not one of the "all you nuts" that have been raving about this series.

I said I hated it from day one. I never got to Quicksilver because Cryptonomicr0n was such a giant waste of time.

Except the part with the Komodo Dragon - that part rocked.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on June 29, 2008, 05:25:33 PM
I just finished Little Brother (http://craphound.com/littlebrother/Cory_Doctorow_-_Little_Brother.htm), Cory Doctorow's new book.  I read it at this link in 2 sittings, not realizing it was 365 printed pages long.  Sheesh.  It's classified as YA but I feh all over that.

I've seen a few complaints that the book is leftist propaganda, but it seemed pretty freaking plausible to me.  There's not that much difference between a secret prison on an island off San Francisco and one in Cuba.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: sm0k4 on July 01, 2008, 06:11:03 AM
I just finished Heart of Stone (http://www.amazon.com/Heart-Stone-Negotiator-Trilogy-Book/dp/0373802927/ref=pd_bbs_sr_3?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1214910342&sr=8-3) by C. E. Murphy. I thought it was really good. I never knew that gargoyles could be so flippin HOT, rock-hard appendages aside  :knotty:. The author wrote this Urban Shaman series that was pretty good, though it went strangely abstract at times that I found a bit hard to follow. Lots of like...vision quest type things with coyotes and deserts and cracked lips. But very good characterization in all her books, and is very good at slowly building up some genuine sekshual tension, but so far no nookie.  :whatever:
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Hedaira on July 01, 2008, 08:26:55 AM
Finished both Kushiel's Justice and Mercy. Both were good, although they seemed simpler than the earlier books in the series. (I spaced and completely missed Scion, so I need to go back and do that.)

I liked them, but, she either needs to go back to the main couple of the series or let them pass on. Or maybe give Imriel a better spine. I got whiplash from all the back references to other stories and moments of manly man vs damaged man.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Talix on July 01, 2008, 08:28:52 AM
Finished both Kushiel's Justice and Mercy. Both were good, although they seemed simpler than the earlier books in the series. (I spaced and completely missed Scion, so I need to go back and do that.)

I liked them, but, she either needs to go back to the main couple of the series or let them pass on. Or maybe give Imriel a better spine. I got whiplash from all the back references to other stories and moments of manly man vs damaged man.

I just started Justice and the fact that I haven't picked it up in two days tells me that you speak truth.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on July 01, 2008, 08:46:46 AM
For like twenty years, people were telling me I should read Ian Watson's Book of the River trilogy, but I never actually, you know, saw the books anywhere.  We had the first book here, in hardcover, in crappy shape, a couple of years ago, and I picked it up, but I never started reading it because we didn't have the sequels.  Earlier this week, the entire trilogy came in, in paperback and in good shape, so I grabbed it.

I'm not quite halfway through Book of the River.  It's good so far except that the pacing seems weird, and . . . the narrator does a lot of foreshadowing.  Now, foreshadowing can work great, but, for me, most of the time any blatant foreshadowing just ruins the narrative tension.  I don't want the narrator to say, 'Little did I know that this was going to be REALLY important later' or 'I didn't realize it at the time, but I was going to save Bob's life soon,' and so on.  It changes the story from a What Happened Next to a This Is How It Happened, and that requires different writing, just like Columbo needs different writing from an Agatha Christie story.  If you don't adjust the narrative style, you can't do that kind of foreshadowing without sabotaging yourself.

That Leslie Ford mystery I read had a lot of that foreshadowing, but it wasn't as depressing, probably mostly because it was a more archaic storytelling style.  I really keep hoping the Watson book is going to knock it off, though.

Otherwise, though, it's an interesting setup, and I genuinely want to know what's going to happen.  I just don't want someone sitting next to me in the theater dropping spoilers every five minutes.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: sm0k4 on July 01, 2008, 05:18:59 PM
I just read a book last week, Wraith by Phaedra Weldon, that did that foreshadowing thing to a most annoying effect. Very "Boy, did I regret making this decision right here later!"

That, and the fact that the Cheesecake Factory was listed among Atlanta's greatest restaurants. Um...NO, and now we all think you are retarded. Although the side ref to the church I grew up in almost made me forgive the author. But not quite. 
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Hedaira on July 01, 2008, 05:31:35 PM
I just read a book last week, Wraith by Phaedra Weldon, that did that foreshadowing thing to a most annoying effect. Very "Boy, did I regret making this decision right here later!"

That, and the fact that the Cheesecake Factory was listed among Atlanta's greatest restaurants. Um...NO, and now we all think you are retarded. Although the side ref to the church I grew up in almost made me forgive the author. But not quite. 

 :lol:
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on July 01, 2008, 05:35:09 PM
 :trance:
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on July 02, 2008, 12:42:54 PM
I'm still reading the Watson trilogy, and he sure has a weird pacing style -- very And then they left the monastery and sailed away with some pirates, and here's how THAT went sort of change of pace thing.  The foreshadowing has largely died down (and the narrator's voice has gotten more oddly flippant and contemporary as the books have gone on), which is good.

The books don't . . . really seem to go together, as a whole.  Even within themselves, they seem more like a string of almost unrelated stories that happen to involve the same characters and some connected settings.  I'm not a stickler for Aristotelian unities, but sheesh.  It's just that at one moment it'll be a story about an unusual human community set up on an alien world, and then it's about economics and gender politics, and then it's about toxic religion, and then it's about psychic aliens, and then it's about a metaphysical afterlife-ish realm, and then it's about Earth's future society and AI government, and then it's about time travel and What's The Universe All About, and then . . . and then . . . . 

All with the same narrator, who certainly does not lead a quiet and ordinary life.  Her personality and perspective often seem unaltered by her strange experiences.  In particular, she never seems to learn much about how other people feel.  At one point, she comes back from the dead and sees her parents again, and she's just 'Hello there!' about it, even though her parents have had three children and basically lost them all.  Some sort of tender and/or sympathetic words might've been nice.  And then she wonders why they're kind of awkward about her miraculous return.  :eyeroll:

It's not stupid writing, but just a character who's obtuse in certain ways that happen to occasionally annoy me.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on July 05, 2008, 08:35:58 AM
Finished the Ian Watson trilogy.  It was OK.  He tends to favor philosophical resolutions over action, and you know how it is -- you get to the point where you want the protagonist to stop trying to think things through so much and to just hoist the black flag and start slitting throats.  Alas, no.

Then I read an ancient Brett Halliday detective novel.  Eh.  It was WAY overcomplicated; I have to give it that.  Not so much a whodunnit as a WTFisgoingon, and even after the explanation at the end I was 30% understanding, 30% not understanding, and 40% not caring.  I mostly read it because (A) I got it for free, and (B) it's the exact kind of book I wasn't allowed to read when I was eight.

I had intended my next book to be Heinlein's Door Into Summer.  I know, I keep swearing off Heinlein, but never mind.  When the copy came through here, I thought, "Hey!  I read that one a million years ago!"  And then I looked at the blurb and was like, "Wait, no I didn't.  WTF?"  OK, I had it confused with Tunnel In The Sky.  Whatever.  And recently someone was explaining to me that my problem with Heinlein was caused by reading third-stage books (Stranger in a Strange Land and later stuff, basically) first instead of getting hooked on him by reading more of his earlier stuff.

I don't know why I keep getting talked into this.  But I apparently misplaced Door Into Summer anyway, so I'll probably start some other damned thing instead.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on July 05, 2008, 11:21:38 AM
And recently someone was explaining to me that my problem with Heinlein was caused by reading third-stage books (Stranger in a Strange Land and later stuff, basically) first instead of getting hooked on him by reading more of his earlier stuff.

Yeah, exactly. Heinlein after the mid-sixties, ugh. I love his "kid" stuff.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: First Post on July 05, 2008, 12:32:13 PM
I know some folks consider it trite 'n trendy to enjoy Palahniuk's books, but I just started Snuff and it's funny so far. It's apparently loosely based on the "Houston 500" gang bang.

Guy 137, he says how Cassie Wright spent six months shadowing an endocrinologist, learning his duties, studying his demeanor and body language, before playing a doctor in the groundbreaking adult feature Emergency Room Back Door Dog Pile. Cassie Wright spent six months of research, writing to survivors and studying court documents, before she set foot on the set for the adult mega-epic Titanic Back Door Dog Pile. In her single line of dialogue, the moment Cassie Wright says, "This boat's not the only lady going down, tonight…" her west-country Irish accent is dead-on, depicting exactly how hot the steerage free-for-all sex must've been in the final moments of man's worst sea disaster.

"In Emergency Room," he says, "in the lesbian scene with the two hot laboratory assistants, it's obvious that Cassie Wright is the only performer who knows the correct way to work a speculum."



Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Talix on July 06, 2008, 06:59:04 AM
Finished both Kushiel's Justice and Mercy. Both were good, although they seemed simpler than the earlier books in the series. (I spaced and completely missed Scion, so I need to go back and do that.)

I liked them, but, she either needs to go back to the main couple of the series or let them pass on. Or maybe give Imriel a better spine. I got whiplash from all the back references to other stories and moments of manly man vs damaged man.

Having made it further into Justice I gotta say the scenes between Imri and Sidonie are really working for me!
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on July 06, 2008, 11:11:26 PM
I'm in the middle of Fluke, another fabulous Christopher Moore novel.  It's about whales.  I can't say more than that without spoiling it.  Moore is a funnier Carl Hiaasen who doesn't write the same books over and over again.

I'm also putting together a list of book club selections.  I've got Connie Willis's To Say Nothing of the Dog and a Moore book.  I don't know which one.  LambPractical Demonkeeping?  And then I need a third one.  I'd like to stay in the "goofy but not stupid" genre.  Any suggestions?  I considered Willis's Doomsday Book but that is not goofy AT ALL and I do not want to be responsible for the suicides of several suburban housewives.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: sm0k4 on July 07, 2008, 05:29:08 AM
Moore's vampire book is very funny too. Bloodsucking Fiends, I think it's called. I'd probably say Lamb is my favorite, though.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: flipper on July 07, 2008, 07:24:46 PM
I'm finishing up Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver.  Previously I read Zodiac by Stephenson.  Next up is probably another Kingsolver book or possibly that Hank Zipser book I bought at the Winkler book signing.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on July 08, 2008, 09:04:13 AM
I finished Door Into Summer and started re-reading my Scary-Go-Round collections.

Door Into Summer was OK.  It mostly moved right along, despite a lot of I Feel Like Talking About This exposition and some repetition.  (I've been told it was written in a week, and I believe it.)  The blurbs and covers of the two editions I laid my hands on both misled me into expecting a different story that I would have preferred, but so it goes.  Some of the futurism and SF of it is downright impressive for 1957, and some is amusingly 'miss', but I'm sure the whole book must've seemed much fresher when it came out.

Still, it just wouldn't be a goddamned Heinlein book without weird misogyny and some creepy sex stuff he doesn't seem to think anyone would find creepy.  I mean . . .

Umm . . . the spoiler tag is gone!  But trust me.  Kinda creepy.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on July 16, 2008, 07:35:23 AM
The spoiler tag is back!  I just HAVE to complain about this one thing from the Heinlein book, so let me get that out of the way.

[spoiler]The protag wakes up in the future, and almost his VERY FIRST THOUGHT is 'Hey, my 10-year-old niece is an adult now.  I should totally marry her!'  And then he goes back in time again AND PROPOSES TO HER WHEN SHE'S ELEVEN.  I'm amazed he got this published in the 1950s.  Also, I want to kick him in the ass.[/spoiler]


But anyway.

I just finished reading Thomas Disch's The Businessman.  The timing has nothing to do with his death; that was just a coincidence.  It's, ah, a weird book.  The line-to-line writing is nice, and I often kept thinking, 'What a nice turn of phrase.'  But the story is just bizarre.  It's an absurdist horror story / religious parody, but if you ask me it doesn't really have any teeth.  Nothing scary happens, and the religious satire is sometimes a little amusing (and probably seemed fresher in 1980 or so, when he wrote it), but . . . eh.  As a morality tale, it's really random and seems to lack a point.  Mostly, it seems like he just made it up as he went along.  It's a metaphysical story that doesn't follow any rules or make any philosophical conclusions.  Just an otherworldly Shit Happens.

Worse, there are three main characters (later, a few more are added), and none of them are very interesting or sympathetic.  Two are dead women who are pretty dumb, and the other one's the titular asshole, who thinks he's smart but has no actual ambitions or direction.  Some interesting things happen to them, and the book moves right along, but . . . I was curious to see what the hell would happen next and where it was all going, but I didn't really care what happened to any of the characters.

He apparently wrote it as a companion piece to another 'horror novel', The MD, and I can't make up my mind if I want to read that one or not.  Both books are covered in glowing reviews, but I think I may just stick with his short SF instead.

The Businessman made me think of other Christian satire books, though, notably Lamb and Morrow's Only Begotten Daughter, and I was thinking that they always tend to fall into traps where it seems like the author leaned away from the keyboard and thought, 'Well, what do I do next?'  They don't seem to hang together properly, and there are weird shifts in tone and direction that seem forced.  I liked a lot of Only Begotten Daughter, for instance, but the end was so stupid that I've never read anything else by Morrow, even though I really kinda want to read the one where God dies and falls into the ocean, and the body is so big that it's blocking shipping routes.  But I have doubts the book would hold up, somehow.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Hedaira on July 16, 2008, 09:41:30 AM
Uh.... I want to do a bit more than kick him.
Butter knife and tenacity versus scrotum is what I'm thinkin.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: flipper on July 16, 2008, 07:40:25 PM
Just finished Hank Zipzer: The Life Of Me by Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver.  Fantastic stuff.  I'm now going to read them all and then patiently wait for Ian to be old enough to enjoy them.

Tomorrow I will probably be starting David Sedaris's new book that I just bought at Costco on Sunday.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: dogbone on July 16, 2008, 08:29:21 PM
Bonk, by Mary Roach. (http://www.amazon.com/Bonk-Curious-Coupling-Science-Sex/dp/0393064646) I'm a big fan of her stuff. I enjoyed Stiff more than Spook, but both were great reads.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on July 25, 2008, 07:21:41 PM
What We Know About Climate Change (http://www.amazon.com/About-Climate-Change-Boston-Review/dp/0262050897/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1217031198&sr=1-1), by Kerry Emanuel.

This is really, really good. Kerry is brilliant (disclaimer: I know him and have worked with him before) and is a spectacular teacher. It's a bargain at the price.

Only thing is it's a bit outdated. We've moved on from this stuff (the physics of climate change) to the chemistry of climate change, which may be even more perilous and immediate.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on July 26, 2008, 10:09:44 AM
I'm reading Carl Hiaasen's Stormy Weather and a book on behavioral psychology and a book on classic sports cars and a book by an undertaker/poet and some miscellaneous crap.

Haven't read Hiaasen before, but I've been supposed to for a long time.  So far, the book is sort of engaging and pointless.  It reads like a detective novel that doesn't have a main character or a plot, sort of Donald Westlake except moreso (except less so on the racism/sexism).  It feels a bit like he's trying too hard -- he's just shoehorning a lot of stuff in, and he seems to go out of his way to try to make every character a crazy weirdo with a strange backstory and . . . .

But part of its problem, for me, is that it's set in Florida, and I'm pretty done with Florida.  Anyway, it moves right along, and it gives me the feeling that it's probably going to get better.


The psychology book (Don't Shoot The Dog) is full of OK stuff but also full of false confidence, as these things often are.  She (the author) will be like, 'This works, and this always works, and then this other thing works even though it violates my other rules, and nobody knows why, and these three anecdotal data points prove everything I've said is a hard scientific fact.'  Well, what are you gonna do.


The undertaker's book (The Undertaking:  Life Studies From the Dismal Trade) has its ups and downs.  A lot of it is really good writing, but it's mostly a series of unrelated essays on things he thinks about, philosophical asides about life and poetry and nature and Ireland and so on.  Mortuary issues rarely come up, and are sometimes sort of welded in a bit awkwardly.  It's mostly nice reading, but not something I'd want to sit down and read cover to cover.  For an undertaker who doesn't drink anymore, he seems a tad fatalistic to me, but c'est la mort.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: hajen on July 26, 2008, 12:55:28 PM
I enjoy Carl Hiaasen. I have a weak spot for "wacky Florida novels" and he manages to be a sort of brain-shut-off beach -style read while still being a good writer and having, you know, intelligent things to say. I have to approach the wacky as amusement or it's way too contrived.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on July 27, 2008, 10:31:53 AM
I'm getting more into it.  It's one of those complicated ensemble novels where the real problem is that I'm pretty interested in one or two sets of characters and really not interested in (or just not buying) the other sets of characters.  So whenever he shifts away from the characters I really want to read about, I get a little annoyed and impatient.

It's not at all his fault, but I got pretty Floridaed-out when I lived there, and I'm kind of hurricane-booked-out, too, I think.  I even wrote one myself, back in the day, before I knew it was going to seem kind of derivative.  :eyeroll:
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on July 28, 2008, 08:31:45 PM
I bought two new Christopher Moore books that we hadn't read yet.  Then Chris Moore signed them and let us take a picture with him.  WHEEEEEEEEE

My friend Yvette got a free Kushiel book (Scion, maybe?) and got it signed.  Comic Con rules.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on July 29, 2008, 09:37:53 AM
Insomnia struck hard last night, but I found a Richard Laymon book (One Rainy Night) that I hadn't read before.  So I read it.   :lol:  Like 412 pages, but it was a long night.  He's not Shakespeare, but I didn't get bored.  I just wish I had more of his books.  I mean, for free, from the shop.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on August 02, 2008, 03:40:16 PM
I read William Sleator's House of Stairs, which is another book I've been supposed to read for, uh, decades now.  It was pretty good.  I would've liked it even better if I'd read it when it was first recommended to me, which was around when Star Wars came out.  Weird to read it, coincidentally, while I was also reading something on behavioral psychology, though.

I'm reading Death's Door, by Michael Slade.  Slade's a weird author (actually a pseudonym for multiple authors working together), writing a sort of splatterpunk police procedural detective romance travelogue AYKB soap opera multithreaded / multi-protagonist kind of thing.  They're weird books.  Not as existentially weird as, say, Dean Koontz books, where I can't imagine exactly what the writing process is -- or, rather, I can, but I don't want to -- but damned strange. 

Kind of wordy, too.  A lot of the background stuff that's just there for color and texture is pretty convincing, but the villains and plot elements are utterly preposterous, which makes for a jarring contrast a lot of the time.  Most chapters chiefly read like a realistic novel where implausible things occasionally happen, but not in a Magical Realism way.  Just very, very unlikely.  And then something grotesque and borderline supernatural intrudes, generally at the hands of a supervillain who, Friday the 13th-style, may or may not be superhuman.  Bum buh BAAAAA!

Verisimilitude is a big thing for me, especially if the tone is generally realistic.  So I don't know.  This is the second Slade book I read (the first one was Ghoul), but I don't think I'm persuaded to read a third one.  They're usually blanketed with fawning reviews from fairly major sources, but maybe it's because the field is generally so weak.  Most serious authors do shun horror, in the same way that Mercedes doesn't build roller coasters.


I'm also re-reading Watchmen, mostly because that stupid EW article annoyed me so much.  But, hey, Watchmen is still great, even if I have no idea WTF will be up with the movie . . . which I probably won't see until four or five years from now anyway.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: vox8 on August 02, 2008, 04:06:07 PM
After someone posted the link to the Watchmen trailer here I asked the hub if he had it and he dug out his comics. He has them from when they were originally released.

I have to say I was less than impressed. I do not see what all of the hoo-ha is about. The whole thing with the comic inside the comic annoyed the ever loving crap out of me. Especially because it seemed to be heavy on the gross out just for the sake of gross out.

Hopefully the movie will be better.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on August 02, 2008, 04:14:19 PM
:lol:

The comic-within-comic thing is partly a nod to old-style comics that went out of style as pulps became comics and superheroes took over, and partly a comment on what might happen to comics if superheroes were real, but I agree that it's a bit indulgent.  True to what they're doing an homage to, but I'm not sure if there's anything deeper to it.

My graphic-novel collection is the first edition thus, but it's a reading copy that's beat to hell.  I have the original issues somewhere, or my ex does.  :shrug:

The comic was specifically written in a cinematic style, with thematic visual motifs and whatnot -- it's largely laid out as if it were a storyboard -- but only directors who were already in love with the source material would likely 'follow' it correctly.  The main thing for me, aside from the too-young and weirdly feminized renditions of the characters that the film seems to have, is that the story and content really can't be compressed sensibly to two or even three hours.  At least, I don't think they can.  I remember Gilliam saying he'd rather do it as a twelve-hour miniseries but that no one would ever produce such a thing.  Twelve hours would be enough to do justice to it.

The irony is that HBO or Showtime would totally do a big-budget miniseries of it now, with the right creative team.

Did I already do this spiel?  It seems deja vuish.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on August 02, 2008, 04:53:25 PM
I went to B & N for this month's book club book.  Then I saw the buy 2 get 1 free table.  Dammit, that thing gets me every time.  I bought a chick book, Atonement, and Maus.  I'm kind of dreading Maus but I think it'll be the first one I read.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on August 09, 2008, 03:01:55 PM
It's completely unplanned, but I'm reading two Pratchett books at the same time, one early and one late:  I just started Going Postal, at home, and I'm reading Equal Rites during the occasional lunch break at work.  At least they don't have much in the way of character overlap.  I haven't read Equal Rites since it came out, which must've been about twenty years ago (? too lazy to go look), and that helps make it odd.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on August 09, 2008, 03:18:16 PM
Book-related, although it's nothing I've read, myself, is the conversation PG and I had about Twilight this morning.  Twilight is apparently the first book in the vampire series whose latest sequel she went to a release party for at another bookstore last week.  If you can parse that.

Anyway, we probably talked for twenty minutes about it, with much laughing, although it seemed more Teh Dumb and less funny after we watched trailers for the upcoming film.  :eyeroll:  Still, in all fairness, it seems to be aimed at teenaged girls, which is not so much me.  A probably relevant factor, too, is that the author is reportedly a Mormon woman, which makes a standard sexy vampire series somewhat awkward to write.

Snarky spoilers follow . . . .

[spoiler]
So, as near as I can tell, the basic plot is that a 17-year-old died about a hundred years ago and became a vampire, which gives him physics-independent (well, it is magic) super-strength and speed and makes him sparkle in sunlight.  He spent the subsequent 90 years eating wildlife -- because he's a pacifist but considers it OK to rip a bear apart and then lick at it before it's dead -- and not getting laid.  He also eats deer, and so on, but I can't help but wonder if the not getting laid part has something to do with his eating habits.

Then he meets a 17-year-old girl (also a virgin) and decides she's his True Love, which certainly shows he's still a 17-year-old at heart, himself.  And also a really, really creepy 107-year-old.  I guess he's still using that old Victorian formula where you take the man's age, divide it by seven, and add two.  She thinks this zoophagous centenarian bear-eating corpse is her True Love, too.  Quite a well-adjusted girl.  BUT they both believe premarital sex is a major sin, so uh-uh.

Also, he believes that he can't have sex with a living woman, on the grounds that it'll kill her.  Lucky for him, his abstinent necrophiliac child-bride has a death wish.  And they get married, with a preacher and everything.  Then they have sex anyway, but, don't worry, she does wind up dying, although not for the more obvious reasons.

There are many other strange elements, such as an ancient magical vampire who has the power to change people's moods, and werewolves who are shapechangers who could have changed into anything (not just wolves) except that it didn't occur to them.  Mostly, though, it's Good Vampire vs Evil Vampires, which, god knows, has never been done before.

[/spoiler]

Really, though, she had me the other week with the whole sunlight-makes-them-sparkle thing.

Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: vox8 on August 09, 2008, 04:19:16 PM
and werewolves who are shapechangers who could have changed into anything (not just wolves) except that it didn't occur to them. 

Victim: So, could you turn into a sloth?
Werewolf: Huh? I haven't really tried.
Victim: Ah, you probably couldn't do it anyway.
Werewolf: Hey, I can do anything.
Werewolf: Turns into sloth
Victim: Kicks sloth in the head and runs away

finis
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on August 09, 2008, 07:40:56 PM
At Bunco the other night a few women were very jealous of my Comic-Con attendance and asked if I'd gone to the Twilight panel.  I had no idea what they were talking about.  And now I know!

Yo Joe.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Hedaira on August 09, 2008, 07:58:17 PM
At Bunco the other night a few women were very jealous of my Comic-Con attendance and asked if I'd gone to the Twilight panel.  I had no idea what they were talking about.  And now I know!

Yo Joe.

 :lol: :lol: :lol:
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Tripper on August 09, 2008, 09:18:28 PM
You could always debauch the sloth.

and werewolves who are shapechangers who could have changed into anything (not just wolves) except that it didn't occur to them. 

Victim: So, could you turn into a sloth?
Werewolf: Huh? I haven't really tried.
Victim: Ah, you probably couldn't do it anyway.
Werewolf: Hey, I can do anything.
Werewolf: Turns into sloth
Victim: Kicks sloth in the head and runs away

finis
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: hajen on August 09, 2008, 09:49:54 PM
I read a bunch of Twilight series snark recently and it cracked my shit up. I could never read them.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: NexR on August 10, 2008, 02:42:30 AM
Quote
It follows the adventures of Isabella Swan, a teenager who moves to Forks, Washington and finds her life turned upside down when she falls in love with a vampire named Edward Cullen.

M-O-O-N.  That spells Cullen.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on August 10, 2008, 10:23:29 AM
Forks, WA?  BWA-HA-HA!  Especially considering how little forking there is, and how many of the characters eat without forks.


Quote
Victim: So, could you turn into a sloth?

:lol:  :clap:

International.  Bestseller.  With huge movie deal.

Honestly, though, I got like 20% of the way through Interview With The Vampire, which I thought had a very clever premise (vampire dictates memoir to human journalist, which gives excuse for narrative and explanatory exposition) but is just not right for me.  It's funny, to me, that vampires are so much about sex (well, many of them are), and yet most sexy-vampire literature just makes me :eyeroll:

Colin Wilson's Space Vampires (aka Lifeforce) is really pretty good, except for the out-of-his-ass anticlimactic Lovecraft ending.  Which was right-on for the mid-70s and could totally have been lifted from an episode of Star Trek (any series) but is, alas, nevertheless . . . eh, let's just say that the ending in the film was way better.

Stoker's Dracula is all about teh Sexy Vigor of Foreigners, and how it imperils good white British girls -- much in the same vein as Wuthering Heights -- but I haven't read it in forever.  I liked Stableford's Empire of Fear, which is more of a political vampire book, but I haven't read it in forever and don't remember how :knotty: the vampires were.  Not so much moreso than reg'lar people, I think, but I believe it was a 'nutritional vampire' kinda book, like Chelsea Quinn Yarbro's civilized vampires who live on gazpacho and whatnot.  I understand the plot convenience, but it entirely misses the point.  It's not like vampires don't have, you know, teeth.

Ah, well.


Oh -- when PG was telling me about the shapechangers, it went a bit like this:  [mild (?) spoilers]

[spoiler]
PG:  They thought they could only turn into wolves because their ancestors always turned into wolves.

Me:  How did they find out that that wasn't true?  Don't tell me they learned it from a magic loom. 

(Yes, we also talked about Wanted at length some time ago.  The Magic Loom of Portents is a meme that is not going to escape its ridicule soon.)

PG:  A vampire told them.  But, actually, they only get to decide what they're going to be able to turn into once, and then they're stuck with whatever it is.

Me:  I thought the vampires were their enemies.  Why would he tell them?  And if the vampires habitually tear, you know, bears apart with their hands, then why would werewolves pick fights with them?  Or are these modern wolfman-kinda werewolves, with various magic powers?

Her:  They're supposed to be normal wolves, except super-strong, with magic claws that are especially good at hurting vampires, and apparently they're supposed to be as big as horses.

Me:  [...]  Didn't they already do the vampires-vs-wolfmen movies?

[/spoiler]

Oy!  A lot.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on August 10, 2008, 12:11:03 PM
Bloodsucking Fiends and You Suck were pretty good.  Not really the same genre, but about vampires.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: vox8 on August 10, 2008, 07:28:12 PM
Honestly, though, I got like 20% of the way through Interview With The Vampire, which I thought had a very clever premise (vampire dictates memoir to human journalist, which gives excuse for narrative and explanatory exposition) but is just not right for me. 

Well, the thing about Interview is, it isn't really about Vampires. I mean, it is, but it is using vampires to explore death. Really, she should have stopped writing with Interview. Interview was a visceral way of her dealing with the death of her child and examining the futility of life and everything.

But then she realized she could cash in on the characters in a big way and with Vampire Lestat she completely rewrote the first book but doing it from Lestat's viewpoint casting the Vampires in a much more romantic light. Less rat eating more Vampires are teh sexeh.

It is almost like they were written by two different people.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Hedaira on August 10, 2008, 09:54:27 PM
I liked the books when I first read them, and then the second time 'round - eugh.

My all-time fav is Sunshine, but it's not exactly winning any prizes for writing. (Well, maybe a Newbury?) Don't care. Still like it.  :harumph:
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on August 11, 2008, 07:48:10 AM
Sunshine . . . I liked a bunch of stuff near the beginning, including some of the worldbuilding.  I liked the main character, most of the time, but the thing that held my interest the most was the coffee shop, not the vampires and stuff.


The Anne Rice vampire characters all struck me as either whiny I Am A Larger-Than-Life Tragic Figure, Damn It! sorts or This Big Puffy Shirt Makes Me Irresistably Sexy, Right? sorts.  And both are valid vampire tropes, but they just don't usually work for me.  Every time Whedon relied on them straight-up, it made me roll my eyes, but then I liked it when he'd make it ironic instead.  But then he'd go back again, and I'd want to catch him upside the head with a large fish until he knocked it off.


I don't dislike vampires as characters / themes / plot devices.  I just don't like what most people do with them.  People who are alive and are vampires can be cool, although they usually aren't, and revenant vampires are still generally walking corpses, whether they have good personalities or not (usually not), and spirit vampires aren't even much like people at all.  Most modern mythological vampires either try too hard to be cool or try too hard to be tragic, and either way I start looking for a stake, or at least a chainsaw.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Hedaira on August 11, 2008, 11:01:38 AM
I'd prefer a sawed-off low-recoil double barrel jobby with slugs that had a sodium delivery system. Sodium + liquid = satisfying "fwoomp!" Plus, if there's a group of them, the mini-explosions are likely to intimidate the others - but won't cause so much of a disturbance that it rouses police attention.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on August 11, 2008, 11:30:58 AM
Vampires generally fold like cheap lawnchairs when they lose enough blood.  It's like turning off the fan on one of those wacky arm-waving advertising dummies.  As long as they're conscious, though, they tend to hate disfigurement (well, who doesn't?) and things like being on fire (again . . . who doesn't?), so that's all good.  Bleeding them from the solar plexus (pericardium, pleura, lungs, and viscera in general) is always good, although I'm reminded of the priceless scene in Dracula, Dead and Loving It where they intentionally didn't warn what's-his-face-from -Wings just how much blood there would be.

But anyway.

I suspect even the local cops, here, would notice exploding vampires.  Eventually.  The so-called, whatsit, 'dragonfire' shotgun rounds have white phosphorous, which ignites on contact with the air and is not extinguished by being embedded in flesh.  That's some intimidating stuff, but awkward to use in a cluttered close-quarters environment.  The ricochet and flash is kind of a bitch.  But for a typical vampire, a 2' piece of pipe cut at an angle is even better than an ash stake.  I suppose, in a pinch, a keg tap would work OK, but it really ought to go through a dishwasher before you used it again.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Hedaira on August 11, 2008, 01:29:42 PM
It would get kind of interesting to try and get the deposit back on that tap.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: stormneedle on August 11, 2008, 01:59:19 PM
 :rollin: at both of you.

Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: First Post on August 11, 2008, 04:52:26 PM
a few women were very jealous of my Comic-Con attendance

Yes, did you ever get around to telling us more about that? I wondered, for example, if James Callis was cool when you met him. He seems like he'd be cool.



Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Hedaira on August 11, 2008, 05:02:29 PM
:rollin: at both of you.



Together, we fight crime.

Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on August 11, 2008, 05:30:03 PM
Yes, did you ever get around to telling us more about that? I wondered, for example, if James Callis was cool when you met him. He seems like he'd be cool.

No, I never did.  I kept waiting for Punk to upload his pictures but he was very busy with work this week and didn't get around to it.  And now he's in Indianapolis for GenCon, so it'll be at least another week.

James Callis was very cool for the 2 minutes I was in contact with him.  I noticed the kid on his shoulders wearing a clone trooper mask and smiled, not noticing the adult in the slightest.  Then Punk said "Hey!  That was Baltar!"  If not for his keen eye we would have missed out on the opportunity.  Anyway, Punk asked if he could take a pic, and he said "not with my child."  We said understood, no problem and started to walk away.  He said "I'll just hand him over to my wife!"  He smelled very good.  The end.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: sm0k4 on August 12, 2008, 06:05:07 AM
I liked Sunshine a lot too. Is she ever going to write another one? I hope so. All that worldbuilding for nothing would suck.

Rice's vampires are probably my least fave because they are pretty much completely disinterested in sex. Mkay, what's the point of being eternally youthful and sexy with no sex? That's not to say I didn't enjoy any of her books for the history or characters or anything, because they were ok. I'm a total bookslut though, and I'll read just about anything.  :eyeroll: Charlaine Harris's vamps are good stuff. Otherworldly and badass enough to be interesting, but human enough to still be relatable.

I'm on sci fi kick at the moment. I'm reading my first Margaret Atwood, Oryx and Crake. It's  :trance: good. Freaky and thought-provoking.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on August 12, 2008, 09:44:52 AM
I'm reading my first Margaret Atwood

Me too, although this is the 2nd time I've read it.  The Handmaid's Tale
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on August 20, 2008, 05:03:47 PM
I just finished The Town That Forgot How To Breathe, by Kenneth Harvey.  By turns, it had me  :thumbsup: and  :thumbsdn:, but unfortunately the last quarter of the book was by far the weakest part.  Some parts were really, really well-written, though.  I dunno.

The basic premise:  A man, separated from his wife but still much in love with her, takes his eight-year-old daughter back to his ancestral Newfoundland fishing village for a vacation, amidst weird Stephen Kingish locals (mostly the mystical You City Folk Don't Know Crap type, not the hiding-knives type, although there are some of those, too).  Meanwhile, strange things are afoot -- or afin, I guess, as the ocean starts behaving badly, producing wonders and monsters and ill omens.  And the little girl has the Shine -- I mean, second sight, and can talk to ghosts and see auras and so on, just like some of the locals.

OK, but most of the first third of the book is well-written, with good characterization and some really effective weirdness.  However, it's not very horror-novel.  It's severely depression-novel.  Scary things do not happen; things that are really depressing happen.  This guy's problems with his wife are kind of heartbreaking; they had a really passionate marriage that simply lost its passion, confusing them both, and they started getting on each other's nerves, but he can't move on, and she's in a relationship now with some guy she doesn't like, and and and . . . .

Meanwhile, the woman who lives next door to the vacation house has even worse problems.  Much worse.  Oh, and a lot of people in town have a 'disease' where they forget how to breathe.  That could have been played up as scary, but, alas, it never even really winds up making much sense, and it gets pretty underplayed.

Then . . . the book gets seriously weird.  The main character goes crazy (again, fairly Shining-style), almost entirely at once, and the book is never clear on why.  There are many possible reasons, but it's never explained.  Boy, though, is he convincingly and dangerously crazy.  One thing this author can write is a crazy person's interior monologue: disorganized, hostile, full of category errors and anxiety that he might do something terrible or might terribly fail to do something horrible that desperately needs to be done for some reason that made sense just a minute ago . . . .

The madness gets out of hand, though, to the point where a bunch of scenes later in the book make no sense.  And the surreal events get way out of hand, too, with ghosts, spirit technology, bizarre corpses, halucinations, shapechanging, portents and signs, precognition, aura-reading, mermaids and sea monsters, natural disasters . . . .  The Army gets involved, and suddenly there's a bunch of science fiction that was, um, poorly researched.  Radio waves, microwaves, and gamma rays get conflated, and it gets ill-advisedly complicated and odd.  I mean, half-assed Dr Who-episode weird, which does not fit with the tone of the rest of the book.

Mostly, it seems like he wrote himself into a corner -- Strange Things Happen!  And then he felt he needed to explain how and why those things happened, and the explanation is intensely unsatisfying.  Also, the main plot gets left behind and only barely touched on, and the anti-climax could kill us all.

It wound up reminding me of the eventual explanation to the Riverworld series, where I really, really wished I had never read the explanation part, because it ruined the entire series for me.

A really weird book.  Also, I kept looking at the author photo and being convinced that the author is actually some other guy, only I can't remember who.  Damned book messed with my head.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Talix on August 21, 2008, 10:41:16 AM
I read William Sleator's House of Stairs, which is another book I've been supposed to read for, uh, decades now.  It was pretty good.  I would've liked it even better if I'd read it when it was first recommended to me, which was around when Star Wars came out.  Weird to read it, coincidentally, while I was also reading something on behavioral psychology, though.

(Ok, so I'm a little behind on this thread.)

OMG!  I love that book!!  I still have the copy I bought a million years ago from the Scholastic book sales things at school.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on August 21, 2008, 10:43:30 AM
One thing I gotta say for House of Stairs, too, is that they could change the copyright date on it and reprint it as a new book, and from the text you wouldn't guess it was written 30 years ago.  I like that in SF.  That's hard to do.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Talix on August 21, 2008, 10:52:36 AM
I'm currently in the middle of, among others, The Far Pavilions (my pick for trashy beach read that didn't get read much at the beach), Consilience, and How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci: Seven Steps to Genius Every Day.

Edited because I clearly haven't gotten to the step on coding.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on August 21, 2008, 11:02:38 AM
 :shock:

How to think like Leonardo:

1)  Don't sleep.  Drink a lot of Mediterranean coffee.

2)  Have sex with most Italian women.

3)  Do art every day.  Get wealthy people to pay you for it.

4)  Do mad science every day.  Get wealthy people to pay you for it.

5)  When possible, be obscure, to make people wonder.

6)  Invent lots of things that can't actually be built yet.  That way, if they won't work, who's to know?

I always suspected that, in person, Leonardo was really, really funny.


edit:  OK, that was only six steps.  I'm sure I missed something important.  I don't think writing backward is the important thing, though.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: First Post on August 25, 2008, 09:34:34 AM
A blog with free occult ebooks (http://occultebooks.blogspot.com/), woo.

Some of this stuff is out of print or difficult to find. (Talix should dig it at least, if anyone.)

In other book news, I'm finally getting around to reading Confederacy of Dunces.




Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Talix on August 25, 2008, 01:31:12 PM
Dude.  That's way cool.

I think I have that guy on my LJ friends list.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on August 25, 2008, 05:12:22 PM
Just finished an SF novel called When Heaven Fell, by, uh, William Barton, I think.  It was OK.  Basically, without giving anything away that isn't explained on the outside of the book, much of the galaxy is conquered by military forces directed by a soi disant Master Race of computer intelligences.  They conquer world after world and turn the more aggressive species into soldiers.  Humans get to be soldiers, and the protagonist is one of 'em.

It's kind of Starship Troopers and kind of How Sad It Is That Earth's Been Conquered.  Not much plot and no overarching storyline; stuff just happens to the protag, and he thinks about it some -- he doesn't think or feel too deeply about it, but he has enough reaction so that the reader can think about it.  He also doesn't do much, but that's sort of part of who he is -- he does what he's told. 

Meanwhile, the book's presented as a Tale of Mercenaries, but the soldiers don't actually seem to be mercenaries.  Seems like the author changed his mind.  Also, a lot of the military technology and tactics are awfully hard to swallow, although there's a belated explanation that the Master Race doesn't really (?) equip its soldiers but makes them use whatever technology they already have or can share with other slave cultures.

There's a lot of OK alien-culture stuff and a lot of sex stuff.  The sex stuff is generally not described in scenes that are happy, not because it's abusive (it occasionally is semi-non-consensual, and a rape or two appear briefly; it's a book about war, war, and more war) but because everyone and every situation tend to be bittersweet at best and miserable or worse the rest of the time.  Kind of an odd mood to sustain for so long, and it'd be a lot harder to tolerate if the main character had an ordinary depth of feeling.  Which is kind of one of the points of the story, but still.

A lot of the writing is nice, and it kept me turning pages, largely out of curiosity to see if anyone in the book would have a happy ending.  Less plot than even I would have put in there, though.  It reads like a first novel.  It was the author's fourth novel published, but that doesn't say anything about when it was actually written.

The only other book we have by that author here at the shop has a blurb that seriously does not make me interested, but I'd consider reading something else by him.

I know this is another long review of a book that probably no one else here will read, but you never know.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: sm0k4 on August 26, 2008, 08:12:05 AM
I read it.  :thumbsup:  Your review anyway. Maybe not the book so much.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Hedaira on August 26, 2008, 09:35:22 AM
I'm reading the Myst trilogy again. Pretty much everything is packed still. I might be sick of packing unpacking since I've done it for what feels like yearly ever since I got here.  :eyeroll:
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: whidB on August 26, 2008, 11:56:29 AM
I might be living the real Myst trilogy this late September/early October...haven't been out there all year...

(http://farm1.static.flickr.com/67/197201784_3441a72c5f.jpg)
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Hedaira on August 26, 2008, 02:46:36 PM
I might be living the real Myst trilogy this late September/early October...haven't been out there all year...

(http://farm1.static.flickr.com/67/197201784_3441a72c5f.jpg)

Oh wow. That looks totally sweet. :jealous:
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: First Post on August 31, 2008, 10:07:37 PM
Speaking of hot book serieseses I weren't aware were hot, we're DJing a midnight book release party in a few weeks for the latest "Eragon" installment. Having seen the movie, I was surprised this was as big a deal as it is ("oh but the books are better!" so, ok); they had it painted in the windows already: "Brisinger release party!" (I thought maybe one of them Brisinger boys that live out towards Cunningham was doing an acoustic show or sommat. But, no)

Also, Ignatius J. Reilly is now totally one of my heroes. Now THAT was a fuckin' book. I can't see Will Ferrell playing him, though. Maybe Phillip Seymour Hoffman.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: mrcookieface on August 31, 2008, 10:33:24 PM
Ya know.  I couldn't make it through Confederacy of Dunces.

I totally appreciated his description of New Orleans, from having spent so much time there. What with the accurate details of the hot dog stands and whatnot, but the character was so repugnant, I just couldn't empathize.  I had to give up midway.

Sphincter problems notwithstanding.


Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on August 31, 2008, 10:52:27 PM
I read Twilight yesterday, you know, about the sparkly vampires.  It was okay, as YA goes.  We went to the library today so I thought I'd see if the 2nd in the series is available.  There were over 300 holds on it.   :whatever:
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: First Post on August 31, 2008, 11:21:59 PM
I guess I didn't really see him as repugnant. No more so than some of my neighbors, anyway. The Will Ferrell version could change that, though.

Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on August 31, 2008, 11:29:45 PM
 :lol:  You didn't?  He was disgusting!  Filthy sheets, and all.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on August 31, 2008, 11:36:43 PM
The wiki says:

There have been repeated attempts to turn the book into a film. In 1982, Harold Ramis was to write and direct an adaptation starring John Belushi and Richard Pryor, but Belushi's death would prevent this. Later, John Candy and Chris Farley would be touted for the lead, leading many to ascribe a curse to the role.

And they wanted to kill Will Ferrell, too?  That's not nice.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: First Post on August 31, 2008, 11:51:51 PM
Also when Johnny Carson started his production company, it was the first thing he optioned, as he was quite fond of it. (And now he's dead too! zomg!)

Well yeah there were some funny gross-out parts but I guess I didn't think of them as being the true focus of the character or whatever.

Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: dogbone on September 01, 2008, 07:30:37 AM
I love that book, but there is no way it can be done successfully as a film.

At each of my last three corporate gigs I have identified a Miss Trixie. They're seemingly everywhere.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on September 01, 2008, 01:56:32 PM
I picked up a YA Fantasy book called Dagger's Edge, by Anne Logston, entirely based on the cover and blurb.  It's a sequel to a sequel to etc, and I have the feeling it was mostly written for people to be pleased to see the characters again, and how this one's all grown up now, and so on.  I've read 176 pages, and finally something happened . . . for about two paragraphs.  It's very light and goes right along, but it's awfully generic medieval magical fantasy.  I'm actually not sure it's intended as YA, but it's so mild that I have to think it was at least intended to span the market, which of course the publishers love.

The series has INCREDIBLY fawning reviews, though, even from fairly 'big' sources.  Weird.  It's part of what makes me think this must be a slow, nostalgic entry in the series, but it's not inspiring me to read the earlier books, and I'll just bring the book back to the shop.


I also started reading a mid-1960s police procedural detective novel where the cover and blurb give away immediately that the serial killer is a vampire.  It's called The Progeny of the Adder, and it's OK, except that the main suspense seems to be framed as Who Is This Mysterious Killer? when it's obviously really When Will The Police Realize It's A Freaking Vampire?  Mostly, though, what's odd about reading it is how casually judgmental it is about homosexuality and promiscuity and so on.  It reads like it was written ten years earlier.  Not bad so far, but there hasn't been any real glimpse of the villain yet, so it could go south real fast if that part's bad.  The author wisely keeps the POV with the homicide detective on the case, rather than occasionally shifting to the vampire, as so many modern authors would (usually unwisely) do.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Wintermute on September 02, 2008, 12:32:35 AM
I'm starting Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail in hopes I finish it before November.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: vox8 on September 02, 2008, 08:27:32 AM
Ya know.  I couldn't make it through Confederacy of Dunces.

I totally appreciated his description of New Orleans, from having spent so much time there. What with the accurate details of the hot dog stands and whatnot, but the character was so repugnant, I just couldn't empathize.  I had to give up midway.

This.

I kept on wondering when it was going to get funny, and it never did.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on September 02, 2008, 09:26:23 AM
I never read Confederacy of Dunces because when I first became aware of it, the people I knew who'd read it were raving about it but never read books I liked, or vice versa.

I've looked it over a few times, but that original impression has really lasted.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: First Post on September 02, 2008, 10:12:07 AM

One time a friend brought this really attractive Cali girl home, and we were surprised that such a hot woman was hanging around with him, until she started to talk (and did not stop until the day she left)...truly a difficult soul. Anyway, she went on and on and on about David Sedaris the whole time until everyone was ready to scream, and that is the admittedly goofy reason why I never read anything he writes.

We do seem to diverge on books more than anything don't we? So that's me, dogbone, and uh, Tucker Max. I dunno what's next; Kavalier and Clay, maybe? I still haven't gotten to that one.

Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on September 02, 2008, 10:35:33 AM
I have Kavalier and Clay somewhere, never started it.  Same deal as Jonathan Strange -- they look good, but they look like Books, with a high-concept capital B, and widely acclaimed high-concept books that aren't in the spec fic 'ghetto' usually make me :eyeroll:.  I mean, The White Hotel.  WTF?  I usually wait for someone who I know reads spec fic to read 'em first and make a pronouncement.

I admit, though, that I have a good dose of the If It's Popular, It Can't Be Good syndrome.  I've tried to resist it, because it's such a cliche, but it's nevertheless one of the better rules of thumb.  I still haven't read Devil in the White City, mostly because it got such good reviews.  Pretty dumb.

I have a couple of Sedaris books, and they look like the kind of thing I'd like, but I started one of them (Me Talk Pretty Someday, I think) years ago, and it just wasn't what I wanted at the time.  I haven't gone back to it, but mostly because I also haven't seen it again.  It's in a box somewhere.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on September 02, 2008, 10:42:28 AM
My kids (the older ones) absolutely worship Sedaris. I read Me Talk Pretty ... and was mildly amused by much of it, so yeah, maybe there's a generation gap thing going on.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on September 02, 2008, 11:37:31 AM
Confederacy of Dunces - liked
David Sedaris - love
Kavalier and Clay - liked++ 

K&C was was of the few books that the whole book club liked.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on September 03, 2008, 12:53:42 PM
The Progeny of the Adder book really picked up about halfway through, pretty much from the first time the cops actually cornered the vampire.  :trance:

It would make a really snappy movie, actually.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on September 06, 2008, 09:58:18 AM
I just read two books from the 1930s, John Campbell's The Ultimate Weapon (originally published as Uncertainty) and John Dickson Carr's The Three Coffins.

Campbell is one of the major founders of the SF genre -- he wrote a lot (sometimes very well; he's nowadays often best-known for his still surprisingly modern Who Goes There? which was adapted for The Thing and much more closely adapted for the John Carpenter version), and he also edited major SF periodicals, giving lots of big authors their starts.  Because Campbell liked certain kinds of stories, etc, lots of authors tailored their work to meet his preferences, which is why early SF is so full of Scottish engineers, for instance.  The original Star Trek is chock full of Campbell's influences because Roddenberry grew up on the stuff.

The Ultimate Weapon is a very Star Trek sort of story.  Fearsome aliens invade the solar system on a test run and then come back a year later with a huge fleet.  During that year, Our Heroes devise all kinds of new science to fight them.  (Forthright human scientist-adventurers almost always triumph in Campbell stories.)  By the end, it turns out that everybody's friends, in fine We Didn't Realize You Were So Much Like Us style.  And the science is 50% engineering and 50% ultrafine treknobabble.  It's entertaining and faintly hilarious, in retrospect, and the book takes about three hours to read.  It's also interesting because it's largely about atomic power but was written, you know, before atomic power.


The Three Coffins is often hailed as one of the greatest locked-door mysteries.  Carr is a very sharp writer and an expert on the genre; he starts off by telling you that a couple of the witnesses don't seem like they could be telling the truth, but they absolutely are.  He also has his Holmesian detective (Dr Fell) stop at one point to give a detailed lecture on the different kinds of locked-door mysteries, citing examples from fiction, on the grounds that this 'real' mystery must be similar to one of them.  It's pretty entertaining.

Unfortunately, the actual ending reveals a revelation that, uh, is kind of lame.  I don't usually try to solve mysteries as I'm reading them, but in this case I twice had a better explanation for How It Was Done only to have one of the 'truthful' witnesses shoot it down, in the first case, and the red herring abruptly turn up an ironclad alibi after all at the last minute, in the second case.  The story seems to have been constructed more to defeat the reader's guesses than anything else -- which is kind of a shame since Carr has his detective dismiss that kind of story as a cheat.

Well, I didn't buy the ending, but it's still a very nifty book, and a bunch of the setup is memorably creepy and weird.  A lot of the complications are good, too.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on September 08, 2008, 11:25:20 AM
I'm not exactly reading this now, but if you've read "Pattern Recognition" by William Gibson you may be interested in the Curta calculator (http://www.darkroastedblend.com/2008/09/stunningly-intricate-curta-mechanical.html). Cool.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on September 08, 2008, 12:29:09 PM
Cute!



I'm currently reading Bander Snatch, by Kevin O'Donnell, which I picked up because I've liked other stuff I've read by him and because I liked the cover.  I didn't read the blurb (still haven't) because I often try to experience books without spoilers.  The cover . . . so far seems to have nothing to do with the story.  :lol:

On the other hand, so far the story seems to have nothing to do with the story.  I'm almost halfway through, and it started off as a kind of post-apolyptic slum-survival story, and then became a psychic-powers story, and now the protag is apparently going to go off to a distant world to live with aliens.   :googily:
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on September 08, 2008, 12:31:42 PM
I read New Moon, the second Twilight book, over the weekend.  It was still pretty good, although I could see the plot twist from a million miles away.  I'm also rooting for the wrong guy, which I know will only end in disappointment.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on September 11, 2008, 11:43:50 AM
Oh god. I am so ashamed.

I ran across a paperback bound reissue of the three remaining books of the Black Company series by Glen Cook that I haven't read yet. I bought them. I mean, I could have bought some fine literature but noooooooooooooooo :shy: :ttth:
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on September 11, 2008, 12:43:42 PM
I finished Bander Snatch -- in the third act, the character returns to Earth and becomes a super federal bureaucrat whose job is to fight other bureaucrats.  He has about six pages of bureaucratic adventure, and then his street-punk-days nemesis abruptly created a plot, which lasted another ten pages, and the book is done.

It was an OK read, actually, despite many pages of descriptions of telepathic imagery, which usually I hate like a rock salt enema -- to the point where for at least the last twenty years I have avoided stories involving telepathy.  But this was better than most.  Mostly, it's funny because it's how SF novels used to be, before publishing changed; it's really three novellas fixed up into one short book.  Pre-1965 or so, probably half of SF novels were like that. 

Anyway, I got to the end, and, yeah, his first novel, originally published in chunks in the SF digests back when there still really were SF magazines.



Then I read Rings of Ice, by a fairly young Piers Anthony, which took about two hours to read.  Not horrible, although the characters are a bit painful.  The plot:  Giant rings of ice (ala Saturn, say) form around the Earth, melt in the sunlight (we're closer to the sun than Saturn is, after all), and rain down . . . a lot.  Enough to raise sea level by a couple of thousand feet.  It's like a prequel to Waterworld that has an explanation!  This used to be called the Annular Ring Theory and was used to explain myths and glaciation, although it always verged on kookdom and is probably entirely out of fashion.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on September 12, 2008, 01:56:08 PM
I read T. M. Wright's Goodlow's Ghosts, which was published as a horror but isn't, not so much.  It's kind of a fantasy detective novel, except that the mystery takes a backseat to character and atmosphere -- but it's really good!  The writing is nifty and fast-moving.  The main characters are a guy who's dead (although he's not convinced) and a psychic detective.

He's got other books out, but I haven't read any of them, and, alas, we have none at the shop at the moment.


I think I read something else this week, too, but I forget what.


I'm slowly reading The Mistress's Daughter, an autobiographical book by A M Homes.  It's about how, when she was an adult, her parents told her they'd heard from her long-lost birth mother.  And, in due course, she meets both her biological parents, with appropriate mixed feelings.  It's not a bad book, but it is (albeit true-to-life) a little formless, and more sad than anything else.  I mostly picked it up because of the cover, which has one of those incredibly true photographs of a little kid.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: sm0k4 on September 13, 2008, 01:41:51 PM
I just picked up The Reavers by George MacDonald Fraser at the library. Just the jacket cover description had me  :rollin:
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: NexR on September 15, 2008, 11:20:45 AM
*disowns those reavers*
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on September 15, 2008, 12:57:46 PM
I'm slowly making my way through a Frederic Brown collection, Honeymoon in Hell, and a Jack Vance collection, The Narrow Land, which are both good, and still The Mistress's Daughter, which is good but which I only read at work during breaks.  Little time to read, somehow, and yet I manage to write like five kwords even on busy days, mostly because when I can't sleep reading becomes tedious yet fails to make me sleepy.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: whidB on September 15, 2008, 01:49:46 PM
Fredric Brown is totally awesome. What an imagination that guy had...

He anticipated the attention span deficit syndrome too with his half-the-length layout approach.  Perfect for TV...
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on September 15, 2008, 02:00:20 PM
 :shock:  I spelled his name wrong.  :doh:

Yeah, about half his stories are three pages or shorter, and most of them are Twilight Zone / Outer Limits material.  Some of his humor hits me just right, and some of it is just agreeable, but it's good stuff.  He does a lot of open-narrator stuff that also is a bit hit or miss for me, but it's no big deal. 

He was one of the true pulp-era hacks who had to write at a furious pace to earn enough money to make ends meet, aside from his jobs in journalism and whatnot.  I've always admired that kind of writing, not least because I can't do it.  And I always admire a writer who can do lots of gimmick stories that really work.  It's easy to write a gimmick story that no one wants to read twice . . . .

I've never read any of his noir mystery stuff.  We often have it in the shop, but usually in collectible editions that are fairly pricey, and it sells well, so I let the customers pay us for it.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: stormneedle on September 15, 2008, 03:01:15 PM
A collection of HG Wells novellas. It feels strange that I know them and haven't read them.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: whidB on September 15, 2008, 03:59:14 PM
Wells would have wreaked havoc as a movie director...

*EDIT*

"Wreaked" sounds better.   :P
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on September 17, 2008, 02:10:01 PM
Book 6 in H2G2 coming. (http://www.reuters.com/article/oddlyEnoughNews/idUSLH9268320080917?feedType=RSS&feedName=oddlyEnoughNews)

 :trance:
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on September 18, 2008, 11:07:14 AM
I thought Mostly Harmless wrapped things up nicely.  I don't imagine the series being improved, but maybe the next one will be fun in an apocryphal way.  I've seen the Artemis Fowl books but not read any, so I don't know the author at all.  :shrug:


I finished reading Marune, one of Vance's Alastor trilogy, which I first thought I hadn't read before but later realized I had.  It was good just the same; it has a good representation of odd Vance qualities, not least his occasional tendency to run away from a story without fleshing out certain aspects that seemed like they might have more importance.  His worldbuilding is often too rich for him to get into all the details, and he often ends stories kind of abruptly, which happens in Marune to kind of a :trance: degree.  But his stories are often 90% atmosphere, anyway.  Marune is at least one where the hero winds up with the girl, which is sort of rare in Vance's stuff.


I finished the Brown anthology and read another story or two in the Aldiss anthology.  I haven't read any more in the other Vance book I was reading (yet another anthology), but that's partly because the copy I have now is the only copy of it I've ever seen, and it's in really good condition.  I hate to pry it open far enough to actually read it because I don't want to crease the spine.

Bookfinder lists about sixteen copies from about $20 to $50.   :cry:    Now I'm really scared to keep reading it.  I could get a second edition for $17 to use as a reading copy . . . meh.


I have a  :huh:  paperback mystery I was going to start yesterday, about a disappearance where the victim appears to have been literally carried off by the Devil (after having allegedly made a contract with him years earlier) -- smoking hoofprint on the floor and all -- but I started writing and never got around to the reading, so maybe tonight instead.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on September 19, 2008, 10:29:46 AM
The paperback mystery is Brimstone, by Preston & Child, the sort of recent bestseller I rarely wind up reading.  It's . . . pretty good, so far, maybe 175 pages in.  Sort of X Files.  It's tough -- this kind of surreal mystery requires a lot of realism to really be creepy, because its reliance is the idea that this can't be happening and yet the reader is convinced that it almost could happen.  The realism falls down occasionally, though, and not in the surreal bits (so far); some of the police procedural stuff is implausible. 

More of a problem is the Sherlock Holmes character, who has the unlikely name of Aloysius Pendergast, a vastly wealthy and deeply cultured FBI agent.  He's kind of hard to believe.  No matter who he runs into, he knows more about their field of expertise than they do, whether it's wines, art history, opera, boats, radiology, metallurgy, whatever.  I never bought it with Holmes, either, but Holmes gets slack for novelty, whereas Holmes imitations have to try harder.

It's pretty good, though.  The character stuff isn't bad, and the surreal background stuff (which might be leaking in from prequels; I don't know) is interesting and hints at a richer surreal world.  I think the book has committed to supernatural events and not just a clever murderer, as of about page 150, but I'm not really a hundred percent on that.  I have to say, I don't think they're going to conjure a plausible murderer who isn't supernatural, but we'll see.


I was also reading a collection of Patrick McGrath short stories, more or less horror, Blood and Water.  Really, most of them are gothic, sometimes vaguely creepy, but . . . they weren't working for me.  They all seem not so much half-baked short stories as, more generally, sketches.  They often don't go anywhere, or they set up a situation and then jump ahead to the conclusion without much tension.  One was just really pretty lame.  I quit halfway through, but I think it's mostly just not my cup of tea.

The irony is that I've heard him compared a lot to Clive Barker, and I see certain similarities, especially in sexual themes, but Barker has a tendency to go too far, and McGrath seems (at least in this collection) to not go far enough.  His narrators are like good thespians but bad storytellers telling you about a really creepy ghost story they once heard but don't remember all the important details of (such as, say, the ending).  Eh.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Talix on September 19, 2008, 11:52:37 AM
I just finished The Far Pavilions (my trashy beach read that went on and on and on) and now I'm reading A Passage to India.  And craving samosas.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: flipper on September 19, 2008, 05:59:33 PM
I'm reading Animal Dreams by Barbara Kingsolver.  I don't know if I've already posted this but that's what I'm reading.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on September 20, 2008, 12:58:03 PM
Brimstone is pretty amusingly random. 

- More than halfway through, they suddenly introduce a supervillain, the Sherlock Holmes' character's evil smarter brother ("Diogenes Pendergast" :lol:), but the book seems to promise that this supervillain won't actually show up, except maybe in a sequel.  That would be good, since it is far too late to introduce a new character (by hearsay, much less) who would then conveniently and coincidentally turn out to be the antagonist.

- They also introduced a hilariously absurd Da Ginchy Code numerical prophecy doomsooth.  It's based on geometry's Golden Ratio somehow meaning that there's a universal natural moral law (eh?) and revolves around three dates, one of which is made up, two of which are BC, and the last of which (meant to indicate the prophesied destruction of NYC and/or the world) is 2004 . . . which is unfortunate given that the book didn't come out until almost halfway through 2005.  But, anyway, the mathematical ratio between three dates, when two of them are BC, doesn't make sense, if you think about it, since two of those are negative numbers and the number line has an arbitrary zero.  Very silly.

- The word choice and/or proofreading has been a little peculiar.  Odd uses of quotidian and memento mori stopped me, and a strange misuse of a quote from Luke (although it might be a common one that I'm just not familiar with) was headscratching.

- Robert Herrick was referred to as one of the "metaphysical poets", which I know some people do, but compared to, say, Donne, he was rather more one of the 'physical poets'.  He was quoted by a street preacher trying to get people to get ready for the Kingdom of God, which I think rather misses the point of Herrick's no-time-like-the-present carpe diem philosophy.  But hey.

It ain't dull.  I'll give it that.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on September 21, 2008, 02:01:14 PM
Finished Brimstone and started reading an Alfred Hitchcock anthology.  Brimstone was OK.  I gradually got the feeling that maybe it's not meant to be too serious, which made it easier to tolerate the :eyeroll: bits.  The ending explanation of why the crimes were committed was far-fetched but inventive; the explanation of how the crimes were committed was pretty retarded and unworkable.

There were a bunch of good parts, though.  I can live with it.  The villain turned out to be who I thought it was going to be about a quarter of the way through, although not how I thought it was going to be.  The authors gave him away with two weird stoppers.  Which I was going to mention, but I can't get the Spoiler tag to work again, not that it's a big deal.


Anyway, I mostly want to read the prequel that introduces the minor character who seems to be supernatural.  She was in no way integral to the plot, but she was the most interesting thing in the book.  :hmm:
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on September 22, 2008, 01:12:01 PM
I started reading Ken Follett's Key to Rebecca, which is fine so far, and re-reading the YA classic No Flying in the House, which I probably haven't read since the mid-80s.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on September 26, 2008, 12:18:29 PM
I finished The Key to Rebecca, which was good but more made-up-as-he-went-along than usual, and read Patricia McKillip's The Changeling Sea, which is as good as her stuff typically is . . . but there's something weird about the pacing.  Actually, I think maybe it's something weird in how the actual action of the story takes place.  I don't know.  It's even more dreamlike than most of her stuff, and although it's the kind of book you could almost read in one sitting, I've started reading it at least twice before, over the many years, and never finished it before.  It's not tiresome, it's just sort of unreal.  I mean, even for a strange fantasy novel.

A lot of out-of-genre stuff is like that, though, even when it's dynamite.  The genre conventions may be a bit trite and tiresome and cliche, but they got to be conventions for a reason.  I often REALLY like McKillip's endings and her female characters, but it's hard to keep genre expectations from creeping in, and so the book often wanders down a path I didn't see coming.  Which isn't a bad thing, but it's sometimes distracting.

I'm still chewing through a few anthologies but don't really feel like starting a new novel.  Someone told me (of course) that all the really good stories in that Patrick McGrath collection I gave up on are stories that are in the last half of the book, so [sigh] maybe I'll read the rest of those, after all.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on September 29, 2008, 04:45:28 PM
"I, Cthulhu (http://www.neilgaiman.com/p/Cool_Stuff/Short_Stories/I_Cthulhu)" by Neil Gaiman. (inspired by Dogbone's Strange Finding of today)
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on September 29, 2008, 04:56:22 PM
I started reading Skinny Legs and All by Tom Robbins yesterday.  It makes me want to become a theist.  Screw that upstart, Jehovah, though.  I'm following Astarte!
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on September 30, 2008, 08:08:53 AM
I always liked the name Ishtar better, but nowadays it's more fun to call her Easter.


I read The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents over the show weekend.  Lots of Pratchett fans told me that I wouldn't like it and that it was one of his weakest books, but I thought it was just fine.  It seems a bit rushed, in some ways -- it doesn't seem sure who its main character(s) are, and really doesn't focus on any character in particular, and the narration occasionally steps out of the milieu the story takes place in -- but it was solid and good.

I also started reading two books that I don't think I'll finish . . . because they are painful.  One is a True Crime book about a serial killer in Ann Arbor in the late 60s.  True Crime books are usually really, really poorly written, but ye gods.  The other is a horror novel about a supposedly for-real haunted house in Philadelphia, and it had an interesting angle of focusing on Thomas Edison's efforts to communicate with the dead (which, yeah, he spent years and years on), but it's got a nails-on-blackboard first-novel thing going on that's just killing me.  I got about thirty pages in, but I think I might be done with it.

I also also started The Good Old Days -- They Were Terrible! which is a hilarious / horrifying book about the Victorian period in the US and how incredibly awful pretty much everything was  :lol:  It's funny, because Jack Finney's nostalgic (although not whitewashed) Time and Again is one of my favorite books and takes place in Manhattan (a more wretched hive, etc, etc) during the same time period.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on September 30, 2008, 08:51:06 AM
It's National Banned Books Week.

I am going to re-read the "Captain Underpants" series.

Not kidding (http://www.noozhawk.com/schools/article/092908_san_marcos_gets_the_word_out_on_national_banned_book_week?linkSource=edhat.com).
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on September 30, 2008, 02:08:34 PM
Yah.  We do a Banned Books display every year.  I could never seem to get into Captain Underpants, though.

Yes, I just said that.  Too bad!

I could never seem to get into Madame Bovary, either (although, from what I hear, it's not that hard to do), which is our most requested banned book so far.  Alas, we don't have any copies at the moment.  Of course.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: whidB on September 30, 2008, 02:24:13 PM
It's National Banned Books Week.

I am going to re-read the "Captain Underpants" series.

Not kidding (http://www.noozhawk.com/schools/article/092908_san_marcos_gets_the_word_out_on_national_banned_book_week?linkSource=edhat.com).

Great! Let's call the library and see what it might take to get some banned. You know. Un-Amurrican. The people...outside were asking.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: eldiem on September 30, 2008, 04:17:24 PM
I was just gonna come in here and post about BBW.

Banned Books Week. Not Big Beautiful Women. They are a separate matter. Anyway.

Yeah we were talkin' about it today at work. Reading those lists makes me want to ... read those books.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Hedaira on September 30, 2008, 04:20:58 PM
BBW participatin in BBW?
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: whidB on September 30, 2008, 04:21:43 PM
I'd rather bare it than ban it....
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on October 06, 2008, 01:16:13 PM
So . . . years ago, a dinosaur-enthusiast friend of mine recommended this book.  He said it was a Dinosaur Apocalypse survival kinda book -- dinosaurs come back, and society collapses, and gritty survivors yadda yadda.  Well, sure.  Why not?  And then I happened across a copy here in the store and recognized it, so I picked it up.  Glowing reviews!

It's Footprints of Thunder.  Well.  Um.

It's not terrible.  It's not great.  About half of the character stuff is really pretty good, but the characters are inconsistent and, alas, pretty damned dumb and annoying.  (They keep doing improbable-as-hell stupid stuff.  I mean, if you know that that new patch of jungle that mysteriously appeared over there is full of dinosaurs, why the hell do you decide to go explore it . . . without weapons or supplies or anything?  There's a lot of that.  And etc etc etc.)

And, then, it's one of those books that starts off with a big list of characters.  I hate disaster books that start off with a big list of characters.  I am annoyed before I even start.  Footfall might be the only book of that ilk, ever, that I actually really liked.  I know why disaster novels traditionally have big casts of major characters like that, but it's transparent and cynical and manipulative and clumsy and a horrible lameass cliche.

Plus, this book is hardly about dinosaurs.  There aren't any in the first 100 pages, fer crying out loud.  It's mostly about the characters (which there are too many of and not enough intelligence in) and about the how and why of the return of the dinosaurs.  Which, you know, is not nearly as important as the ACTUAL DINOSAURS.  Also, the how and why is a complicated technobabble thing that doesn't really make any sense.  It does ultimately matter to the overarching plot, but I still don't care, and it still doesn't need to be half the damned book.  I can tell the author spent a lot of time working it out, but sheesh.  And it largely relies on Fortean and Velikovskian gunk, but I'm like 80% of the way through the book and there's no mention of Fort yet.  Weird.  But there's lots of references to Nostradamus and a pretty lame Babylonian prophet named "Zorastrus" who I'm pretty sure was made up for the book . . . .

There are a few other problems -- I am embarrassed at Tor for publishing the book with so many errors (capitalization! constantly! and some continuity things), for instance.  And the dinosaurs are all pretty generic, and the action is often tres hard to believe.  (A kid kills a 7-ton ceratopsian with a knife tied to the end of a stick.  A carnosaur of some primitive kind with long arms effortlessly claws through tree branches six inches in diameter.)  Still, it's a light read that moves along pretty well. 

It's one of those books where I feel weirdly sympathetic to the author.  It's a first novel, and it's a good try.  But, seriously, those cheesy movies on the Sci Fi channel?  This.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on October 06, 2008, 02:16:41 PM
I picked up "Sixty Days and Counting" by Kim Stanley Robinson at the library the other day, brought it home, read like fifteen pages, and tossed it to the floor in disgust. WTF? I mean, it really really sucks. I thought I liked Robinson (all I've read of his has been the Mars trilogy), but this is poorly written enough to make me think that something tumorous has happened to his brain. It reads like one of those gazillions of bad technothrillers that came out to try and cash in on Tom Clancy's popularity back in the eighties.

In fact, what comes to mind is a gawper I read on a ship once; it was written by a former Navy Antarctic C-130 pilot, and it involved (OF COURSE) Nazis led by a 90-year-old Martin Bormann establishing the Fourth Reich in the Antarctic with Argentine assistance, and the only people who could stop them are the Navy C-130 pilots (no, really, fate of the world, etc) -- like the last chapter of Rocketship Galileo only on the ice instead of the moon.

Now that I write that all out I wonder if I didn't actually read a novel like that, but it was in fact some sort of sleep-deprivation dream hallucination thing.  Because, it can't be possible that such a thing could ever be published, right?

*googles*

:trance:

Oh. I see.

Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on October 06, 2008, 02:21:55 PM
Did you read Forty Signs of Rain and Fifty Degrees Below Zero first?  I only read the first 50-100 pages of FSoR.  I just could never finish it.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on October 06, 2008, 02:24:07 PM
No! That could be part of the problem -- huge background I'm supposed to have already but don't? Oops.

Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on October 06, 2008, 02:52:38 PM
 :lol:  Yeah, it's the 3rd in the trilogy.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: vox8 on October 06, 2008, 03:15:45 PM
I love the Mars books, but I think that my favorite KSR book is The Years of Rice and Salt.

If you haven't read it, might be worth a look.




PSA: Not part of any series nohow.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on October 06, 2008, 03:18:05 PM
Yeah, that's a good'n.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Talix on October 07, 2008, 09:15:13 AM
I started idly rereading Anna Karenina over the weekend.  I love the opening sentence:  "Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: whidB on October 07, 2008, 12:05:57 PM
Those poor Russians, always walking around with a feudal black cloud over their heads...
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on October 09, 2008, 10:35:02 AM
The dinosaur book continued to get more disappointing during the days after I finished reading it.  Kind of annoying that way.  I picked up a Robert Parker 'Jesse Stone' book (for a buck!) as light reading, to distract me, but it was pretty damned bad.  More endless depressing analytical relationship disaster stuff (where everyone talks like crazy but doesn't actually do anything) and a slightly mysterious homicide mystery that has an anticlimactic ending where the mystery isn't entirely solved and at least half the bad guys get away.  I also got (for a buck! although actually, both of these, for 75 cents, with my discount) one of his latest Spenser books, but I'm not sure I'll even read it.  We'll see.

I did pick up a ton of Doonsebury collections, though, probably 75-85% of the complete series from the beginning to 1990 or so, which I'm going to read in order, to see how much of the current-events stuff I still recognize.

And . . . I started reading another John Dickson Carr 'Dr Fell' mystery.  The last one was kind of disappointing, but the setups are so damned addictive!
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: flipper on October 10, 2008, 12:24:18 PM
Just started No Country For Old Men by Cormac McCarthy.  My first Cormac book.  So far so good.  Definitely compelling style of writing.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on October 13, 2008, 04:19:49 PM
I finished the Carr book (Death Watch, for anyone keeping score), which had a more satisfying solution than Three Coffins.  I like the Carr books enough that I might very well want to reread them at some point, but they're fairly scarce and pretty popular with some of our older customers, so I'll probably bring them back to the shop just the same.

I also read Maske: Thaery, by Jack Vance, which is a cracklin' good Jack Vance book, which is to say that it's great if you like his stuff.  It's one of the various 'Gaean Reach' books and also one of his many books that seems like surely it has sequels but doesn't.  It was pretty excellent, although it had one of his fairly typical not-exactly-climactic endings, which bug some people.

And I'm about halfway through Legacies, a Repairman Jack book, by F. Paul Wilson.  It hums right along and is good fun.  I'm kind of surprised at how much the book tries to revolve around something that isn't that interesting, though -- the suspense over the nature of the macguffin, which (A) is actually pretty obvious early on, and (B) doesn't, so far, seem like it will be that exciting.  I mean, it's fine as a macguffin (everybody wants it real bad) and isn't dumb, or anything, but it's not suspenseful.  The actual suspense is really more MacGuyver than macguffin -- it's all about how Jack will manage to get things done and save the day -- and it's more than enough to hold my interest.

I'm also always surprised at how much fans of the series tend to go on about how unique the protagonist is.  Repairman Jack is a fine character, but there have been lots of similar characters.  He's a very independent guy, almost a loner, who lives outside the system and who believes in doing whatever's necessary regardless of what society says he should do.  And he's sort of a vigilante-for-hire.  Even Jack acknowledges that he's kind of like The Equalizer.  Fans often go on about how libertarian Jack is, but, thank god, the books really aren't very preachy or anything.  The other one I read (The Tomb) went on a bit about gun control (and rather illogically, but never mind) but never got annoying.

I also read a bunch of stories in various old Alfred Hitchcock anthologies, which I have a soft spot for, and the first Doonesbury book, Still A Few Bugs In The System, which was mostly notable for the primitive art, endearing amateurishness, and bizarre surreal writing.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: whidB on October 13, 2008, 04:35:09 PM
Those old Hitchcock anthologies often have some incredible gems hidden amongst the "mystery," a very catch-all genre description to say the least. My favorites were the stories under five pages. Usually the weirdest. Or you'd have a twenty-thirty page novella by Theodore Sturgeon, which was definitely science fiction, and then they'd balance it out with some Rex Stout or something you'd read in Playboy--if you managed to get away from the pictorials. Then Robert Bloch, Richard Matheson, Fredric Brown...

Made me want to be a writer...
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on October 15, 2008, 11:51:46 AM
Finished the various things and have read up to around 1978 in Doonesbury.  Reading various non-fiction stuff in little bursts, on the side -- stuff on zoology, Japan, and The Twilight Zone.

Next up:  a horror anthology (it is October, after all) edited by August Derleth.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on October 15, 2008, 11:56:47 AM
"Reader's Digest Guide to Home Maintenance." Chapter 267.3, 'Replacing your garbage disposal'
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on October 15, 2008, 11:58:59 AM
Anti-vibration parts must not be skipped.

Trust me on this . . . .
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: dogbone on October 15, 2008, 05:31:37 PM
(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41SzjsTlv0L._SL500_AA240_.jpg) (http://www.amazon.com/Wordy-Shipmates-Sarah-Vowell/dp/1594489998/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1224109764&sr=1-1)

I highly encourage all of you to read anything by Ms. Vowell that you can get your hands on.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: NexR on October 15, 2008, 05:38:20 PM
The Wordy Shipmates?  That sounds truly awful.  Who wants to read a book about being stuck on a ship with people who won't shut the fuck up?  Pilgrims no less.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on October 15, 2008, 06:05:29 PM
You ... have just described my career
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: dogbone on October 15, 2008, 06:27:58 PM
It's fantastic. I also highly recommend Assassination Vacation and The Partly Cloudy Patriot. Both great books if you're a history nerd.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on October 15, 2008, 06:44:49 PM
And speaking of my career, I am reading "The Rising Sun" by Douglas Galbraith, a fictionalized account of the failed Scottish attempt to colonize the Isthmus of Panama (http://www.darkroastedblend.com/2008/09/darien-gap-most-dangerous-absence-of.html) in 1698. Apparently this is a Boy Book (http://www.bookreporter.com/reviews/087113781X.asp)  :whatever:  :eyeroll: (to be fair, my wife {Girl} didn't like it)

So far it's all been unpleasantness on ships. My kind of novel!
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: mrcookieface on October 15, 2008, 06:51:31 PM
Both great books if you're a history nerd.

Oooo, you just caught my attention.  I'm going to check her out.


Oh, she's charming (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JMYo0v93RFM)!  Haha.  I like her.


Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Talix on October 16, 2008, 08:56:14 AM
So far it's all been unpleasantness on ships. My kind of novel!

Did you ever read Fluke?  Not unpleasantness - Christopher Moore on science boats!
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on October 16, 2008, 10:18:33 AM
Quote
You ... have just described my career

:lol:
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: dogbone on October 16, 2008, 05:38:22 PM
Both great books if you're a history nerd.

Oooo, you just caught my attention.  I'm going to check her out.


Oh, she's charming (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JMYo0v93RFM)!  Haha.  I like her.




Shw was Violet in The Incredibles!
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on October 19, 2008, 03:21:09 PM
I finished all my Doonesbury books, which only took me up to about 1988, alas.  I believe I'm missing four books in that run.


I read a Richard Laymon book, Island, that I didn't know I had.  It's October, so I'm trying to read a little extra Horror.  Island was OK -- not his best work, but it's 500 pages I read in less than two days, so it's not like it dragged.  I think it's the first book of his I've read that didn't have a supernatural element to it; this one's just people being nasty to each other.  It reads like he wrote it in maybe two or three nonstop marathon sessions, just making it up as he went along.  It has the Laymon typical Men Tend Toward Barbaric Bad Behavior spin on it but an unfortunately anticlimactic ending (but with a decent, albeit easy to foresee, final twist). 

I still don't understand how I never heard of him until about a year ago.  Every one of his books I've seen is drenched in good press and fawning love from Koontz and King and so on.  Weird.  He apparently wrote like 30 novels and many more short stories, and I want to go back through all my Horror anthologies to see if I've read any of his short stories without realizing it.  But most of them are still in storage.


I'm about halfway through the Derleth anthology, Night's Yawning Peal, but it's more historical than horrific.  Most of the stories are at least sixty years old, and they tend more toward The Twilight Zone than scary.  Not bad, though -- the role call is impressive, including Dunsany, LeFanu, Blackwood, Block, Lovecraft, Wellman.  It also has a once-famous story by C M Eddy (a friend and neighbor of Lovecraft) called "The Loved Death" that was reputedly the first horror story blatantly about necrophilia, which caused a scandal when it was printed in Weird Tales in the 1920s. 

Next up, most likely, is a book I talked someone else into reading because I couldn't decide if it was going to be good or crap.  She really liked it, but (oddly enough) now she expects me to read it, which I guess is only fair.  (I hope I like it.)  It's a fantasy parody called Sir Apropos of Nothing, ancient joke but still an OK one, by Peter David.  She's already ordered the sequel from Bookfinder, so if I don't like it I'll have to make excuses.


I also started reading parts of Al Franken's The Truth, in spare moments, but it's not one of his hilarious books; it's the kind that makes your stomach hurt and your hands want to choke people.  I can't take more than about five pages at a time.  It's like the Project Censored books.  Too upsetting.  Too riling.  :angry:
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: stormneedle on October 19, 2008, 04:16:19 PM
I've been going back through the Dragerean stories by Brust, and Orca made me think of the financial fun we're having in real life. It's not the same situation, but close enough to bother me.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on October 20, 2008, 01:22:18 PM
I loved that series when it started, but it got so relentlessly depressing, and the main character so whiny and passive about his problems, that I totally ceased to enjoy reading them.  Brust is a helluva writer (and a snappy dresser), but he just can't seem to write male characters who aren't their own worst enemies, and I wind up wanting to take them somewhere quiet and strangle them.


Oh, I started Sir Apropos, and, uh, I think it's not the kind of thing I like.  A lot of it, I can see why it's in the Funny category, but it doesn't actually strike me as funny.  A couple of lines have, here and there.  Mostly, it's just narration -- the protagonist tells about this, and then about that, and about this guy over here, etc, and it's just boggy exposition.  I read the first 30-something pages, and two-thirds of it was exposition that didn't seem to really serve a purpose, and then the protag says, 'Well, I'm not a storyteller, but I felt like I should start off with some rousing action instead of boring exposition!  Now here comes the exposition.'  :eyeroll:

It's also weirdly inconsistently, on the humor thing.  I mean, some people have funny names (Sir Apropos, King Runcible), but most people don't.  I can't tell what kind of funny it's shooting for.  It doesn't seem to be crazy surreal funny, and it doesn't really seem to be parody.  A few passages work if I imagine it's Blackadder.  But mostly it seems like a straightforward self-aware fantasy with a main character who's a bit of a wiseass.  Bad things happen around him (sometimes because of him), and he's only interested in his own interests.  Well, OK, but it's not so much funny, and so far it's awfully slow. 

I just read like ten pages of Who My Mother Was, How She Got Raped This One Time, And A Bunch Of Other Stuff About Her, and I've been like . . . so what?  It's not grabbing me.  :shrug:
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: sm0k4 on October 22, 2008, 06:04:19 AM
I thought Sir Apropos was going to be way better than it was. I put it down after like thirty pages.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on October 22, 2008, 01:46:05 PM
Yeah, I think I've given up on Sir Apropos.

I read Jack Vance's To Live Forever, which was quite fine (albeit not entirely happy).  And something else, but now I forget what -- pesky having internet only at work, what with all my stuff being at home.  Hrm. 

I've read the first three stories in an SF story collection by Alexander Jablokov, who I don't think I'd previously heard of.  They're well-written although occasionally a bit unclear, but, man, two of them were (if you ask me) unnecessarily depressing.  Doesn't make me want to read more than one story in one sitting.

And I started a strange but so far engaging early-70s SF novel called The Hubschman Effect, which seems to be halfway between a pharmaceutical cautionary tale and Village of the Damned.  I'm reading it in spite of its terrible, terrible 1970s cover art.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on October 22, 2008, 01:50:02 PM
  I'm reading it in spite of its terrible, terrible 1970s cover art.

:galm: :rollin: :galm:

I can't recall how many times during the terrible, terrible 1970s I was either terribly relieved or terribly disappointed that the novel had little or nothing in common with the cover art. Pretty much every time I read one.

Which reminds me, if you ever run across "The Stars My Destination" by Alfred Bester ... keep running.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on October 22, 2008, 04:51:49 PM
Because of the cover art?  That is an awesome crazy book (and how have they not made a film of it?), but I'm sure there have been some ripe editions.

After our Banned Books and political displays go away early next month, one of the displays I'm going to do is all crazy-cover SF books from the 50s through 70s.  Because a lot of them are just patently insane.  Makes you wonder who would have bought those books . . . and makes it clear why we still have so many.

But I'm hoping they'll go for kitsch value.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on October 24, 2008, 12:55:39 PM
Finished The Hubschmann Effect, which was a nifty page-turner.  It's not groundbreaking, and its territory has gotten lots of traffic since it came out, but it's not slow or burdened, and it's written in the form of grand jury proceedings -- which could have backfired but works winningly.  I found it particularly interesting because of the massive current trend toward medicating everybody.

I read some more of the Jablokov stories.  Still depressing.  I sense a theme.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: flipper on October 24, 2008, 07:45:55 PM
Finished No Country for Old Men.  Pretty good read.  Just started Triangle by Katherine Weber.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on October 25, 2008, 09:38:27 AM
I gave Jablokov a rest to read a couple more stories out of the Aldiss anthology . . . and read two depressing stories in a row :lol:.  The Aldiss stories are niftily current, though.  The two I read were from the early 70s but could seamlessly have been from last year.

I've also been reading John Allen Poulos's A Mathematician Reads The Newspaper, which is OK but not nearly as good as Innumeracy.  Each chapter is really slight, despite sprinklings of good insights.  The chapters are so short, in fact, that it's occurred to me I should go back and read any introduction, etc, to see if maybe they were originally newspaper columns, or something.

The last chapter I read was partly about language use in print journalism, and he was talking about how he used a word processor's grammar checker to analyze and imitate tabloid journalism's style.  He said he wrote a fake article that had the right cadence and word choice, with the title Tornado Kills Five, Self :rollin:
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on October 25, 2008, 09:46:14 AM
OH.  How could I forget?

So . . . at work, a few months ago, we got in a weird Humor book that's actually a collection from a comic book I never heard of by an author/artist I also never heard of.  It looked odd -- potentially funny or potentially tiresome -- but a cow-orker told me it was good stuff, and so I bought it.  Forgot about it.

Read it last night in one sitting.  It's The Cowboy Wally Show, by Kyle Baker, and it has to be one of the funniest things I've read in years.  Holy crap.  I haven't laughed out loud while reading something that much in probably five or ten years.  I was often laughing so hard that I lost my place in the book.

It's hard to describe.  The writing is part Groucho Marx, part Berke Breathed, and part Woody Allen (the surreal part, not the nebbish, the neurotic, or the Jewish), but slightly drier.  The art is part Glen Baxter and part Bill Plimpton; it's minimalist but devastating -- I couldn't believe how funny the characters' facial expressions often are and how suggestively beautiful a lot of the female characters are.  The whole thing is 90% updated-vaudeville dialogue, and I wish I could talk that way as effortlessly as the characters seem to.  Also, the book contains a full parody of Hamlet, and, honestly, I wouldn't have thought there were funny and original parodies of Hamlet still possible, but I was wrong.

I wish to god someone could make a movie or miniseries or something out of this thing.  I doubt they could, but I wish.  Maybe animated.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on October 27, 2008, 01:24:52 PM
I read Pratchett's Making Money yesterday.  I'd read it before, but as soon as I read Going Postal a while ago I knew I wanted to reread Making Money, and, uh, so I did.  Nor do I regret it.

I read some more of the two anthologies, and what struck me about them is that they have some weird thematic similarities, and both tend toward depressing storylines, but the Jablokov stories are depressing, whereas the Aldiss stories are more thought-provoking and cathartic.  I think that's partly because, in the Aldiss stories, the characters don't spend so much time being depressed, even if they're in depressing situations (and even if those situations eventually kill them).  On the other hand, maybe Aldiss is just less convincingly depressing.  I don't know.

The Poulos book has picked up a bit, though, I'm happy to say.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: stormneedle on October 27, 2008, 01:39:19 PM
The Poulos book has picked up a bit, though, I'm happy to say.
I can fake his signature...
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on November 01, 2008, 09:55:57 AM
It was Halloween!  I didn't seem to have any great horror novels lying around that I hadn't already read yet.  Instead, I read most of a David Hartwell horror anthology, but it was mostly about horror fiction of historical significance, and so although it was interesting . . . mostly not at all scary. 

John Campbell's Who Goes There? was the scariest thing in there, and I've read it like a dozen times before, and it's got his Damn The Logical Torpedoes unabashed humanism all over it.  I always forget how cheery his version is.  I think John Carpenter improved on it in several key ways, although I wouldn't mind seeing an even more faithful film version of the original.

Anyway, that didn't take too long, so I also read Koontz's Ticktock, which happened to be handy.  Uh.  Strange book, even for Koontz -- it definitely reads like he mostly wrote it right off the top of his head.  It's weird, and then it gets much much weirder, and then there are a bunch of parts where I was just very WTF?  Then there's a bunch of funny stuff, and then a self-indulgent ending.  The supporting cast is far FAR more interesting than the dull and pretty dumb protagonist, but it all gets very Cat From Outer Space, largely in ways that are not so good. 

In an afterword, he says he wrote it for fun, to try his hand at comedy.  There are a lot of funny moments . . . in the last 50 pages out of like 370 pages.  I wouldn't say it's a funny book, all in all.  Plus, a lot of the humor comes from tough-as-nails little old ladies being wiseasses in the face of supernatural horror, which is practically cheating, because it's easy to make humor out of little old women acting against type.  But it wasn't so bad.  I sort of think of Koontz as a splatter painter.  He throws stuff up there, and he has moments of inspiration, but mostly it's just a mess, with some good bits.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on November 01, 2008, 11:14:05 AM
Is Ticktock the one where the guy stops time and rips that girls arm off at the rave?
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on November 01, 2008, 02:17:00 PM
Nope, although that would've been fairly mundane compared to some of the oddness it gets up to.

I think Koontz is on something.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: dogbone on November 01, 2008, 02:35:05 PM
Anansi Boys.

Hells yeah.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on November 01, 2008, 03:28:14 PM
Nope, although that would've been fairly mundane compared to some of the oddness it gets up to.

I think Koontz is on something.

Apparently the book is Dragon Tears.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on November 01, 2008, 03:51:15 PM
Ah.  Haven't read that one.  I mostly stopped (with a passion) reading Koontz after I read Mr Murder, which was a beautiful example of how not everyone can write science fiction.  (He later said that that one was supposed to be funny, too.  It's far from impossible that we have dissimilar senses of humor, but even so.)  Back in the day, I really liked Watchers and The Bad Place and Twilight Eyes.  I don't know.  I really liked Phantoms until I found out what was going on.

A lot of horror writers are fine with premise and character, and OK with suspense, but lousy with restraint, and they'll have something they think is going to be really scary happen . . . but it's actually the sort of thing you should just hint at and not try to show.  To me, this is kind of like how a lot of comedians are often really funny but sometimes just stupid/crass/offensive -- and they don't know which is which.  Like Jim Carrey talking with his ass, or the constant poop jokes on South Park.

I've been tempted to read some of Koontz's earlier stuff, back when he wrote out-and-out SF (which I'm curious about) and wrote horror under pseudonyms (maybe the editors were tougher with him?).  We have some of that stuff here, but it's mostly for collectors -- kinda pricey and more for protecting than for reading.  I'm sure I could find beat-up copies of Eyes of Darkness and Fear That Man and Starblood online, but I haven't been sufficiently motivated yet.


Huh.  Out of curiosity, I just checked Wikipedia to see how many pseudonyms he's used, and he's used about three times as many as I knew of.  One book I own (but haven't read yet), The Key to Midnight, by Leigh Nichols, is actually one of his.  :lol:  He originally released The Servants of Twilight as Nichols, too, but it must've been re-released under his own name fairly soon after -- I know I read it around 1991, and as a 'Koontz' book.

He also wrote an episode of CHiPs!  :rollin:

Busy guy.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: hajen on November 01, 2008, 05:48:33 PM
Oh god, that's the only Koontz I've ever read, Dragon Tears. Someone gave me the book and, phwoar, well, I thought it sucked balls. Did not, obvi, compel me to read any more of his work.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Hedaira on November 02, 2008, 10:43:19 AM
Koontz is hit or miss.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on November 04, 2008, 12:45:40 PM
Read a book called The Pleasure Garden, by Leon Garfield, that I got out of our SF section.  It turns out not to be SF but historical fiction -- kind of a murder mystery (but not really) and kind of a romance (but not so much) and mostly just a weird little characters-and-society thing.  I would've said it took place in 19th-century England, but the back of the book says 18th-century.  Eh.  There's nothing wrong with it, and the writing is good, but it wasn't exactly drowning in substance.  Took about two hours to read.

Then I picked up an Ellery Queen mystery I had, The Madman Theory, because I was thinking, "Have I ever actually read an Ellery Queen book?"  Turns out this one was actually written for the house by Jack Vance.  That explains why I have it, anyway.  It was fine -- not fantastic, but not bad -- and more of a police procedural.  I think it's the first non-SF/fantasy I've read by Vance, and it was surprisingly run-of-the-mill, but some of that may be the result of him trying to imitate another writer.  He wrote several mysteries (as John Holbrook Vance), but they tend to be rare and expensive.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Talix on November 04, 2008, 03:39:18 PM
Tolstoy twofer:  still working through AK in paperback and found War & Peace online.  (Literature Network (http://www.online-literature.com/) :thumbsup:)
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on November 06, 2008, 04:49:45 PM
I read Earth's Last Citadel, by Moore and Kuttner, a book I've been repeatedly told to read since, I don't know, the late 70s.  Well, I finally got around to it.

It's a perfectly good book, but I constantly heard how it was a tremendously important SF classic and an iconic book and all that.  OK, definitely iconic -- it's exactly like you might imagine a book that was 50% written by H G Wells and 50% by A Merritt.  Earth's Last Citadel was published in 1943, the year Merritt died; Wells died a couple of years later.  So it's mostly an iconic book in the sense that it's typical of the subgenre that writers like those two had already well-established. 

Not that there's anything wrong with that, not by any means -- it's a kind of book that I really like, if the writing is good, and Moore and Kuttner were good writers.  I'm just kind of mystified by the kinds of reviews I always heard.  Feels like I should go back in time and give those people copies of The Time Machine or The Face in the Abyss.  :shrug:
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on November 08, 2008, 09:08:02 AM
I read an illustrated post-apocalyptica novel, Among Madmen, by comic book hero Jim Starlin and his wife Daina Possibly Lithuanian.  It was OK, not great -- had a very 'first novel' feel to it.  The story kind of goes wherever, and the plot doesn't tighten up until almost the very end, which isn't necessarily bad except that it often wasn't entirely holding my interest, and the dialogue was a bit awkward.  I didn't always agree with the logic, either, but whatever.  The illustrations were OK but small, and sometimes (A) oddly chosen (the text has an action scene, but the illustration is just a portrait of some guy's face as he stares off into the distance) or (B) at variance with the text (he says he took the splint off the dog's foot, and the dog cooperated, but there's a picture of the dog going nuts).

Eh.  No biggie.

I started reading Bind Torture Kill, which is the True Crime story of Rader, the BTK serial killer.  There were several books about him; this is supposed to be the good one, and, I have to admit, so far it has the best True Crime writing I've seen in many, many years.  Not so much because it's so fantastic (although it really isn't bad) as because most True Crime writing is so goddamned awful.  With these kinds of things, there's always a line to walk between not providing enough details and just being sick and exploitive about it.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: vox8 on November 08, 2008, 09:24:16 AM
Hey Axe is there any chance that you have The Letters of Michelangelo Volume One Book by E. H. Ramsden, Michelangelo Buonarroti, E. H. Ramsden; Stanford University Press, 1963. 320 pgs

or the subsequent volume(s)? Just a wild shot!
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on November 08, 2008, 09:51:14 AM
Alas, no.  It looks pricey.  The cheapest copy I could find online is an ex-library copy for $30 (http://www.abebooks.com/servlet/BookDetailsPL?bi=1060833196).  Most copies were at least twice that.

Now I wish I had a copy . . . .
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: hajen on November 08, 2008, 02:15:47 PM
I started reading Bind Torture Kill, which is the True Crime story of Rader, the BTK serial killer.  There were several books about him; this is supposed to be the good one, and, I have to admit, so far it has the best True Crime writing I've seen in many, many years.  Not so much because it's so fantastic (although it really isn't bad) as because most True Crime writing is so goddamned awful.  With these kinds of things, there's always a line to walk between not providing enough details and just being sick and exploitive about it.

Yeah what you said.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on November 08, 2008, 04:58:02 PM
I'm reading Ghostwalk for book club, and Marley & Me and The Forever War for pleasure.  I also have The Cider House Rules and some book by the woman who wrote the True Blood books.  Then there was a book sale at the library today and I picked up 2 for $2.  Plus there's all the books Punk got me for Christmas last year that I haven't gotten to yet.  I spend too much time on the internet.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on November 08, 2008, 05:02:32 PM
I haven't read Marley and me yet but I've heard a lot about it. I loved the movie preview, however. Very cute.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on November 08, 2008, 05:11:20 PM
Which one, the one where they're all Chariots of Fire on the beach, or the long one where they get into all sorts of shenanigans?  From the long trailer it looks like they stayed really true to the book.  Except that both John and Jenny Grogan had perfect dogs when they were growing up, so Marley was a big surprise to them.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: hajen on November 08, 2008, 05:48:45 PM
I have the same problem. I almost never read books anymore because I do all my reading online =(

p.s. I never thought I would say this but I actually sometimes get BORED reading books now  :cry: they take too long and I get all my reading done in ten minute chunks. I used to enjoy the quiet half-hour or so to read and relax in the bath but if I don't have any magazines to read I get grumpy now because I can't bring the laptop in with me.

I think this means I need to unplug more. That is a horrifying thought, I must be addicted
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: sm0k4 on November 08, 2008, 06:01:15 PM
I just finished the latest (http://www.amazon.com/Scourge-God-Novel-Change/dp/0451462289/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1226185056&sr=8-1) in S.M. Stirling's Change series.  Parts of it sound downright axeish.  :thumbsup:
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on November 08, 2008, 10:41:54 PM
the one where they're all Chariots of Fire on the beach

I loved it. I didn't see the long one
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on November 09, 2008, 01:55:05 AM
Look it up on the you tubes.  All of the wacky hijinks in it were actually in the book.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on November 09, 2008, 01:41:54 PM
I'm not sure if I've read any Stirling yet.  Short fiction, maybe.  Years ago, I bought Island in the Sea of Time (or whatever the title is), and then a bunch of people told me I wouldn't like it, and it was enough to make me put it off for awhile.  I still have it somewhere but haven't read it yet.  :eyeroll:
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on November 09, 2008, 04:02:37 PM
I'm about halfway through The Forever War.  Haldeman is almost as obsessed with sex at Heinlein, but at least he's not as obnoxious about it.  The homosexuality shock factor is a little dated, though.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on November 09, 2008, 04:11:22 PM
I read The Forever War a zillion years ago, and here's everything I remember about it:

- It actually didn't seem like it went on that long.

- It did not make me think of the Vietnam War.

- The aliens rode broomsticks.

I think this is all probably my fault more than his.  I liked it OK, but it didn't make any great impression on me, and I never got around to the sequels.  I did read a strange but nifty book by him just recently (er, last year, maybe), with the unfortunate title The Coming.

There's a truly great anime miniseries called Gunbuster (in the US; in Japan, it's called Aim For The Top, which is not as appropriate a title) that does a really great job of portraying the problems of space soldiers who, thanks to relativity, come back home from each mission to discover that they've missed years or even decades.  Poignant but not sappy.  It also features schoolgirls doing calisthenics in giant robots :lol:.  (Yes, it's from Gainax.)  And there's a really, really weird sequel that came much later.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: sm0k4 on November 09, 2008, 04:20:04 PM
I haven't read that one yet, axe. I very much enjoy the ones I have read so far, but many people can't get past the main initial premise that one day, all of the sudden in some cataclysmic event, everything electrical stops working AND conveniently the laws of thermodynamics bend enough that guns and combustion engines stop working. The author never explains it either. If you just accept that and leave it alone, where he goes with the story is pretty interesting. Massive depopulation creates some very cool founder effects in the different groups that survive. It seems like the author had a good time cherry picking the different cultures and techniques and mashing up against each other. Neo-pagan celts in squaring off against Norman castles and armored knights in the Oregon wilderness. Plus, Stirling includes a lot of off-hand survival skills and improvised homemade weapons like naginatas out of a long stick with a kitchen knife mounted on the end. Battlements made out of rubble and rebar and poured concrete. One of my favorite, yet also groan-inducing facets: the LOTR geeks who evolve into elvish speaking Dunedain rangers.  :eyeroll: :lol:

It's like he took several decks of cards and shuffled them all together. A lot of the tidbits about post-apocalyptic survival reminds me of some of our zombie threads.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on November 10, 2008, 12:15:58 PM
Quote
many people can't get past the main initial premise that one day, all of the sudden in some cataclysmic event, everything electrical stops working AND conveniently the laws of thermodynamics bend enough that guns and combustion engines stop working. The author never explains it either.

That premise has been used a LOT in SF/F, sometimes to good effect and sometimes not.  If you want another take on it, you might seek out Steven Boyett's book Ariel, in which, yeah, shit stops working and civilization mostly crashes, but some mythical animals and some magic also comes back.  Society only goes slightly medieval by the time the story takes place, but Boyett's good at that kind of writing.  Or was . . . I guess he mostly got too cranky to keep writing, but c'est la vie.

Probably 2/3 of medieval weapons were, in fact, originally kitchen implements and agricultural tools stuck on the end of a longer handle.  There were lots of poor people and only a few knights, and the poor people tended to get cranky about all the repression.  Doesn't take a genius to realize that your belt knife might suck against a guy in armor, but a hatchet head on an 8' pole is another story.  Once a weapon gets proven useful, it starts getting fancied up, and you get your ornate halberds'n'shit.

Swords are rare formal weapons, just because there really isn't any such thing as an agricultural sword.  You can grab the biggest knife you have lying around, or you can mount it on a pole to make a spear or spetum or so forth, but you either have a sword or you don't.  Unless you live in the tropics, in which case you may have a machete, etc, that's a pretty good sort of a sword.  But anyway.

The elvish dudes sound funny . . . and plausible.  I could totally believe that 300 years from now the dominant religions will be Jedi and Amway.  History does that shit all the time.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on November 13, 2008, 01:34:09 PM
I read, lessee, another Pratchett book, Men at Arms (the one with the gun), which I found on my shelves and, looking more closely at it, realized I'd never read.  Hard to keep track, frankly . . . .  It was good, of course.


And I read a two-in-one Mickey Spillane book, Me, Hood!, which also includes Return of the Hood.  They're not bad, and you can read them in an hour.  They're weird because the Hood is, you know, a street punk, but both books involve international espionage and federal agencies and whatnot.  A lot of the plot twists are mighty easy to see, what with being gigantic cliches by thirty years ago, and female characters need to learn to duck more.  It's also funny to read them while noticing that no one ever swears.


Right now, I'm about halfway through Land of Unreason, by L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt.  It's fun, but (A) it utterly seems made up as they went along, and it's really uneven and peculiar, and (B) it's heavy with WWII sociopolitical allegory that frankly doesn't interest me.  Also, really racist in a casual 1940 way.  But still fun.  Not as fun as the Incompleat Enchanter series.


I also started reading The Plastic Abyss, by Kate Wilhelm, which is two novellas in one book.  It's mostly psychological character-driven SF, slightly psychedelic so far.  It's good, but kind of tiring to read and slow going.  Best digested not more than ten pages at a time.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on November 14, 2008, 09:39:14 AM
I finished Land of Unreason, which just kept getting stranger, and not entirely in good ways.  The first part of it was written for magazine publication (Unknown, I think), and holds together better but doesn't seem to have an ending . . . or else they chopped the original ending when they expanded it to book length.  The later parts don't fit well.  There's a twist ending that doesn't seem to make any sense and is just really, really odd.

The other strange thing about it is the protagonist's attitude toward women.  He keeps meeting beautiful women who fall in love with him, and his attitude is always, 'Yeah, but I've got this other thing I'm supposed to be doing, and I should really go.'  And he feels vaguely bad about it -- briefly -- while they sob (and possibly die at the hands of villains he's conveniently escaping), and then he never really gives it another thought.  It's not just strange, but strange compared to other stuff I've read by the same authors.  Weird and very distracting.


Anyway, I started a book called Expecting Someone Taller, by Tom Holt, which is sort of a light fantasy parody based on a notion that the events of Wagner's Ring opera were real.  It's often pretty damned funny, and it moves right along.  It wouldn't work the way it does if the protagonist weren't British, but, fortunately, he is.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on November 16, 2008, 01:25:21 PM
Finished the Tom Holt book, whose third act got surprisingly serious and got into some issues about Love and Power that were almost unsettling at times, even a little depressing.  It's kind of like reading a Douglas Adams book that starts off funny and winds up dealing seriously with parenthood, personal rejection, and the end of the world.  It's not a bad thing, but a bit icy.  Still, the Holt book was good; he's got another one called Who's Afraid of Beowulf? that I'll keep an eye out for.


I also finished Plastic Abyss, the first half of the Wilhelm book, and it was pretty WTF.  Parts of it were excellent, but it's kind of New Wave psychological-oppression SF with a semi-mystical ending that doesn't explain or resolve much, and . . . it's well-written but just not what I felt like reading.  I'll read the second story, but not right away.


I'm also currently reading a post-freezing-world SF novel called Tiltangle, by Mackelworth, and it's . . . odd.  The author has a very strange sparse way of sketching scenes that doesn't include all the details I would expect to find, and it makes it difficult to get a strong visual image of what's going on and, at times, to even follow the story.  I keep backing up a few paragraphs to see if I've missed something.  I get the impression that everything will make more sense after I get further into the book, but I'm not 100% sure that isn't a false impression.  We'll see. 

This is one of those books I picked up because we had it here in the shop for so long that it was priced less than a dollar.  I am weirdly curious about books that sit neglected for so long.  Lost gems, sometimes.  I don't pick up many of the ones that look really run-of-the-mill terrible, though, like the endless nearly identical Conan-ish things.


And . . . I'm reading Under Heaven's Bridge, by Ian Watson and Michael Bishop, an SF novel I picked up here at work because (A) it has a nicely bizarre cover, and (B) it's another one that had been on our shelves for over 20 years, and (C) I couldn't imagine Ian Watson and Michael Bishop writing a book together.  So far, it's pretty strange, with the promise of becoming very strange, but probably without also becoming awkward reading.  Thirty pages in, it's a character-driven story about humans trying to sort out a strange alien culture, and the aliens do seem pretty strange so far.  Hopefully, it's not all building up to some twist ending that has become a lame cliche.  We'll see.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on November 18, 2008, 01:21:58 PM
The Watson / Bishop book was good until the end, which was :thumbsdn:.  It was, like, good premise, good characters, good tension, good plot twist, mysterious plot twist, everybody goes home, 'Many years went by, and nothing ever came of it.'

Not exactly, but pretty much.  WTF, man.  Nothing in the entire book gets resolved.  This was very trendy once upon a time, but I didn't like it back then, either.  I know life is like that sometimes, but it gets tiresome in real life and can be equally tiresome in fiction.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on November 18, 2008, 02:40:17 PM
I read all 4 Twilight books, but bitched to my friends and coworkers about how sexist and puritanical they were.  Most people just thought they were romaaaaaantic.  This 19-year-old put it much better than I could here (http://psa.blastmagazine.com/2008/08/16/twilight-sucks-and-not-in-a-good-way/) and here (http://psa.blastmagazine.com/2008/08/23/twilight-a-follow-up-and-a-promise/) (WARNING: Spoilers in links).
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on November 18, 2008, 03:25:15 PM
I recommend you stay away from the comments if you want to keep your sanity intact.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: NexR on November 18, 2008, 03:55:48 PM
Haha.  I read the first review.  Awesome.  Well, now I don't need to read that series to know if it lives up to the hype.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Tripper on November 18, 2008, 04:29:33 PM
Back to O'Brian again.  I love the sloth and wombat.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: hajen on November 18, 2008, 08:30:42 PM
Reading the summaries/reviews/snark about the Twilight series told me all I needed to know with the bonus of getting to skip actually reading them, but the minus of boggling that they actually sold as well as they did. Gack.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on November 18, 2008, 08:35:13 PM
Back to O'Brian again.  I love the sloth and wombat.

Oddly enough I'm cleaning out the kids' rooms and found all my missing Hornblowers, so I'm on another Forester jag. :)
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on November 20, 2008, 04:12:46 PM
We found a Lists of Bad Movies book from 1980 in the Archives basement.  Written by Michael 'Satan in Disguise' Medved and his younger brother.  I bought it and read it -- apparently, the elder Medved used to have a sense of humor and like films.  The book was mostly hilarious and introduced me to many films I now very much want to see.

For example, in the late 1970s Tony Curtis apparently made a horror movie in which he plays a fortune teller whose girlfriend has a fetus growing in the back of her neck . . . and it turns out (more or less) to be a Native American version of the villain from Leprechaun.  :hmm:  Of course!
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: First Post on November 20, 2008, 05:18:30 PM
We found a Lists of Bad Movies book from 1980 in the Archives basement.  Written by Michael 'Satan in Disguise' Medved and his younger brother.  I bought it and read it -- apparently, the elder Medved used to have a sense of humor and like films.  The book was mostly hilarious and introduced me to many films I now very much want to see.

For example, in the late 1970s Tony Curtis apparently made a horror movie in which he plays a fortune teller whose girlfriend has a fetus growing in the back of her neck . . . and it turns out (more or less) to be a Native American version of the villain from Leprechaun.  :hmm:  Of course!

The Golden Turkey Awards! I loved that book. I think there was another one too, but that one's awesome.

Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on November 20, 2008, 05:31:56 PM
Yeah, I love books about film.  Actually, probably more than I like actual films . . . :eyeroll:.

Unsurprisingly, they listed Plan 9 From Outer Space as the worst movie of all time, and, I mean, it's really not.  It's watchable, for crying out loud, and it's got kitsch through the roof.  (I'd certainly rather see it again than sit through The Matrix again, just for starters, or The Mummy.  Or Independence Day, or, god knows, Armageddon or Deep Impact, or . . . .) 

I know what they're saying -- and that it was chosen by reader poll, anyway -- but I think a greater distinction needs to be drawn between Worst Movie and Most Widely Favorite Bad Movie.

:lol:

I'm reminded of an SF movie festival years ago that included Flash Gordon, which most of the folks there had never seen.  One guy kept complaining "This is the WORST MOVIE EVER!" until the catfight scene, when he suddenly said "This is the BEST MOVIE EVER!"
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: whidB on November 20, 2008, 05:43:21 PM
Or all 45 Rocky movies...
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on November 20, 2008, 05:57:02 PM
I have never seen more than about a quarter of any Rocky.  Also never seen any Jaws movie, any Godfather, etc.  Until the mid-90s, when I was stuck in Florida with cable but no car, I'd never seen any of Halloween, Friday the 13th, Porky's, and so on, either.

Not a badge of honor or anything but just how it goes.  I bought Brazil, there, the other week, from a rental place's bargain bin, so I could finally see it.  Now I have a TV again, but I can't find the tape.  :eyeroll:  It's around somewhere.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: First Post on November 20, 2008, 06:20:57 PM
I have never seen more than about a quarter of any Rocky.  Also never seen any Jaws movie, any Godfather, etc.  Until the mid-90s, when I was stuck in Florida with cable but no car, I'd never seen any of Halloween, Friday the 13th, Porky's, and so on, either.

Oh man you at least have to check out those Porky's movies, they're all classics...

haha, no I can't do it. I gotta rep for my man Stallone and the Rocky films. One could argue about the fifth one like that whole discussion about which Trek is canonical (and gawd does that go on. I have the animated series on DVD, which is considered non-canonical except for possibly two eps; supposedly the Great Bird of the Galaxy said it on his deathbed..."make sure...TAS...is...not...considered...canonical!" *gasps, dies*...mainly having to do with using some Larry Niven characters in a few eps and not wanting to pay him forever for it. TAS is how we know Kirk's first middle name is Tiberius tho, since we already knew his second middle name was Motherfucking. But anyway, we'll just skip the fifth Rocky film altogether for now), but the sixth one wrapped things up nicely. Rocky 3 was easily the height of Mr. T's acting career. They're all infinitely quotable: "Rocky, do you have anything derogatory to say about the champ?" "Yes I do. I think he's great."

It's the ultimate American triumph of write-what-you-know, since Stallone was a struggling actor and he wrote a lot of the struggling boxer's more moving dialogue from the standpoint of his own personal experiences of trying to get over in Hollywood, and then they gave him an unknown's shot to make the film and play the starring role, just like how Rocky gets to emerge from obscurity to fight a championship bout. Dreamin' it into being!

Oh and also the Godfather movies:  :thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup: The second one is particularly good.

 

Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on November 20, 2008, 06:25:03 PM
No, I mean . . . I did see the Porky's movies (at least the first two -- the sequels seem to have blurred together in my mind, probably to no great detriment) and the slasher films when I was in FL.  If nothing else, Porky's has a great Kim Cattrall bit.  I mean, it's a horrible bit, but she's great in it.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: whidB on November 20, 2008, 06:26:25 PM
Yeah well see that's why you have me. I'd throw Rocky under the bus in a heartbeat...

No guilt or strings attached...;)
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: NexR on November 20, 2008, 06:36:55 PM
I have never seen more than about a quarter of any Rocky.  Also never seen any Jaws movie, any Godfather, etc.  Until the mid-90s, when I was stuck in Florida with cable but no car, I'd never seen any of Halloween, Friday the 13th, Porky's, and so on, either.

I'd say you could ignore the existence of all of those except Godfather 1 and 2.  They're on a whole different level than the rest there.  The first Rocky is pretty good and so is the first Jaws, but even they don't hold a candle to the Godfathers.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Tripper on November 21, 2008, 11:56:36 AM
In the "It's So Bad, It's Good" department, "Bubba Ho-Tep,"

I mean, really.

I did laugh my ass off, but really.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on November 23, 2008, 10:31:55 AM
Just finished The Time Bender, by Keith Laumer, which is another of those normal-guy-travels-to-fantasy-realm-and-isn't-sure-it-isn't-all-a-dream stories.  It was OK, with some really good parts and some areas where the story just seemed to be wandering aimlessly.  On the negative side, it takes over 160 pages for the protag to decide that it really isn't a dream -- I admit, I get really impatient with this most of the time -- and a lot of the dramatic tension was not so tense.  On the plus side, there were a lot of departures from genre convention (the fantasy realm he ends up in has electricity and steam engines, for instance) and some wiseass dialogue.  It moved right along.

I think he mostly had a concept and felt like writing a particular type of story, as opposed to having an unusual character and burning plot in mind, but there's at least one sequel, and it's that kind of ongoing story.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on November 25, 2008, 12:28:05 PM
Seriously if someone can identify for me the time-traveling Viking turned Navy SEAL (http://questionablecontent.net/view.php?comic=1281) romance novels, I think I have someone's Christmas gift all picked out.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Hedaira on November 25, 2008, 12:34:17 PM
Seriously if someone can identify for me the time-traveling Viking turned Navy SEAL (http://questionablecontent.net/view.php?comic=1281) romance novels, I think I have someone's Christmas gift all picked out.

WTF? Because Vikings are totally known for their subtlety. Oh sure.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on November 25, 2008, 12:55:19 PM
Not like those Navy SEALs.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: stormneedle on November 25, 2008, 01:20:06 PM
Wait, a Viking Selkie? I could believe that.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on November 25, 2008, 02:55:03 PM
I recently read John Bellairs' The Treasure of Alpheus Winterborn, but it was another of his weaker ones, alas.  I sometimes wonder if he generally didn't enjoy writing all that much; some of his books seem really forced and uninspired.  The House With A Clock In Its Walls is flat-out historically great, and Figure in the Shadows and Face in the Frost are both good, but everything else I can remember reading by him has seemed like a faint imitation.

Right now, I'm reading a book called For My Eyes Only, by John Glen (no, not that John Glen), who directed a bunch of the James Bond films.  So far, it's mostly a lot more entertaining than the films themselves, and often quite funny.  Unfortunately, it leaves me with a tendency to have Bond theme songs stuck in my head, and then I wind up singing them, without really noticing it, with very wrong lyrics, which can confuse and sometimes alarm passers-by.  Especially at work.  Alas.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: whidB on November 25, 2008, 03:14:14 PM
If I had "Eye of the Tiger" going through my head, I'd consider blowing it off.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: hajen on November 25, 2008, 09:31:59 PM
Seriously if someone can identify for me the time-traveling Viking turned Navy SEAL (http://questionablecontent.net/view.php?comic=1281) romance novels, I think I have someone's Christmas gift all picked out.

The things I do for my friends.*
http://www.smartbitchestrashybooks.com/index.php/weblog/comments/its-all-about-the-subtext/

In the comments, someone corrects her, and says
"Actually, the book is Wet and Wild. He goes overboard in the 10th century and comes to in modern times where everyone thinks he’s Max, a SEAL trainee."

So there we are.



*okay, I admit I had to know if it really existed, because that would be some mad kind of WTF pure cheeze awesome, yo
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on November 25, 2008, 11:44:49 PM
OMG it's a whole article on the comic! That's great!

:hug: :hug:

Now I have to start looking through the bins for a copy of "Wet and Wild"
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: hajen on November 26, 2008, 09:54:40 AM
here it is on Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Wet-Wild-Sandra-Hill/dp/0843951591/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1227711059&sr=8-1) but not used bookstore prices cheap. still, less than 5 bucks

or you could just call our favorite used bookstore manager
mix it in with other equally believable/unbelievable titles ;)
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on November 28, 2008, 02:11:39 PM
OMG WILLIAM GIBSON DIED? (http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20081128.wobgibson1128/BNStory/Entertainment)

Oh okay. The other one.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Tripper on November 28, 2008, 10:19:40 PM
Jesus don't DO that!

I read it earlier.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on November 29, 2008, 09:58:20 AM
Oh, you people and your Gibsons!

I'm s l o w l y reading another Leslie Ford mystery.  It's good, but it's just that they're sort of taut-social-complications murder mysteries, and they always start off by introducing about 12 characters who have complicated social links, and even though it's done well it's still more soap opera data than I'm used to loading at one time.  So I read a bit, put it down, come back and read a bit, and by Chapter 3, where the plot really starts to thicken, I already have to start going back to see who was married to whom, and yadda yadda. 

Right now, the tension in this one (Road to Folly) is all about which young woman is going to get murdered.  I have my hopes up!  I think this is going to be the kind of mystery where the person you want to see murdered gets murdered, but the person most likely to hang for it is the one you least want to see hang for it.  BUM BAH BAHHHH!  On the other hand, it may be the kind where the person you least want to see murdered gets murdered, and the tension is all about whether the horrible one is the one who gets nabbed for it or if it's another of the nice ones who goes down for the count.  This one is set in circa 1935 Charleston, so, well, anything is possible.


Also still reading the James Bond-director book, which is an odd coincidence with just having seen one of the new Bond movies, but there's basically no connection there.  I keep being surprised at the rate with which people apparently die while making films, especially in the 1970s and 1980s.  I mean, I knew about Twilight Zone and The Crow, of course, but it seems like someone died as a result of working on almost every third movie this guy ever worked on.  Not to mention his comments like '[so-and-so] was a great cameraman and good friend, but he died while filming aircraft footage for Catch-22' and so forth. 

And those stunts that don't look all that impressive on screen often were far more harrowing in real life.  I always knew this about HK films, but I had no idea Western films sometimes went so far out of their way not to fake something, whether doing something really dangerous or just really difficult.  You remember that scene where Roger Moore's Bond gets left behind on a sabotaged plane, and he jumps out without a parachute and catches up to the pilot, fights him in the air, and takes his chute?  They filmed that (back in the day) with lightweight cameras that could only hold a very short length of film, and consequently they got like 3-5 seconds of usable footage per jump, so the second unit did like 75 jumps to film the main footage for that -- and then the editor had to cobble it all together.

It's all crazy.  Lazenby and Rigg were forbidden by the insurance company to do any skiing during the filming of OHMSS, so all of their skiing scenes were faked by having them kneel on special sleds pulled by skiers, or using rear-screen projection, etc.  Crazy.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: dogbone on November 29, 2008, 11:09:46 AM
As long as Henry, Kirk and Debbie are still with us, my Gibson glass runneth over.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on November 29, 2008, 11:15:28 AM
I'm reading The Cider House Rules.  I feel like I've read 3 or 4 books about these characters, but I'm only halfway through.  John Irving sure is a wordy bastard, but he can tell a good story.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on November 29, 2008, 12:49:04 PM
Quote
my Gibson glass runneth over

Maybe you asked for an olive, but they gave you an onion by mistake?
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: sm0k4 on December 06, 2008, 03:43:35 PM
Picked up some used Gaiman at an antique mart for $3 a piece.  :thumbsup: :thumbsup:
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Talix on December 06, 2008, 05:20:07 PM
Will be reading War and Peace pretty much for the next ever.   :nonplused:
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on December 06, 2008, 09:37:20 PM
Quote
Picked up some used Gaiman at an antique mart

That sounds funny out loud.



I finished the Leslie Ford book, and it was fine.  I also read a sequel to the Laumer light-fantasy-comedy book that I'd read a couple of months ago.  It was good, again, with some snappy dialogue, and all, but once again a lot of the plot revolved around the protagonist being kind of dense. 

Right now, I'm reading Flynn, which is by the guy who wrote the Fletch books.  Weirdly, Fletch has shown up in this one, but only off-stage -- he knows the eponymous Flynn and sent a letter to Flynn's daughter, although so far it doesn't seem to be part of the plot.  The book was really kind of elegant and arresting right up until about page 60, when it suddenly took a turn for the weirdly preposterous, and now I'm not sure if I can muster an adequate suspension of disbelief, although at the moment I'm still willing.  We'll see.  But, boy, it sure got strange in a whiplash sort of way.  Odd.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Hedaira on December 07, 2008, 12:25:29 PM
Got a big stack of books from Axe. w00t!
I just plowed through Pratchett's The Wee Free Men. My first Pratchett ever.  :detta: Took a chapter or so to get used to the writing style, but after that I was good to go.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: sm0k4 on December 07, 2008, 01:25:05 PM
Quote
Picked up some used Gaiman at an antique mart

That sounds funny out loud.

Yeah. Makes you hope it was good for him too.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on December 07, 2008, 01:47:05 PM
Quote
My first Pratchett ever.

Crivens!  I didn't realize that.  :lol:  I figured you might like the Nac Mac Feegles, though.  I've often thought how useful it would be to have a friendly tribe of them around . . . .
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on December 07, 2008, 02:34:30 PM
I started reading The Host by the Twilight lady.  Why do I do this to myself?  It's supposedly an "adult" novel, but so far the tone is very similar to Twilight.  The alien-invasion idea is interesting, which is why I picked it up, but I don't think she's grown as an author.  And she needs a new editor.  This thing is over 600 fluffy pages long.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: flipper on December 13, 2008, 05:13:58 AM
Currently reading Animal Vegetable Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Hedaira on December 13, 2008, 12:37:32 PM
Hogfather
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on December 13, 2008, 12:41:19 PM
HOGFATHER!!!

Wow, right time of year.


I'm reading some Hula Hoops . . . Happy Pigs or something book of essays on chemistry.  It's pretty entertaining so far, but a lot of the unintended subtext just reminds me of how stupid we are as a species.


edit:  But, then, so do most things.  Sailor Moon.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on December 15, 2008, 01:20:37 PM
We went to Half Price to sell our 25 gallon tub of used books.  They bought all but about 7 of them.  I remember that 2 they didn't pay for were The Rainmaker and Waiting to Exhale.  Anyway, we got 36 whole dollars!  And then I spent $5 of that.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on December 16, 2008, 12:01:29 AM
I'm reading Rose by Martin Cruz Smith. Amazingly it's not an Arkady Renko thriller. I really, really like it (as I do pretty much all his novels).
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on December 19, 2008, 11:02:16 AM
I read The Sixth Column, one of the last three Heinlein book that people tell me I can't judge him without having read.  It was . . . OK . . . probably the best Heinlein book I've read since Puppet Masters, a zillion years ago.  A lot of it read like a John Campbell story, except with the aliens replaced by Asians, and it had some nice moments.  On the other hand, quite a few passages could have been written by Piers Anthony, and not in a good way, and the story made less and less sense as I went on.  Definitely one of those books where the villains cooperated a great deal by reacting to lots of things in implausible ways.

Frankly, I've never been impressed by Heinlein's militarism; his fawning faith in military organization is just a bit twee, and his ideas of tactics are often painfully naive and bizarrely limited.  (And when his characters suffer a horrendous setback, their reaction is always one of fleeting grim resolve.  Fifty thousand civilians dead?  A damned shame!  We'll have to do better next time.)  And for a book that focuses on racial issues in many ways, it's odd that only whites and Asians are ever mentioned as segments of the US population.

BUT the book combines a couple of really cute premises, and its politics (racial, sexual, general) aren't too godawful, considering.  And it's short and mostly fast-paced.  If I'd read it as a teenager in the 1950s, I probably would've thought it was mighty cool.


edit:  I might as well add that the last two de rigeur Heinleins on my list are Starship Troopers and Farnham's Freehold.




In a not-exactly-related vein, I was reading a Popular Science from the early 60s or late 50s the other day, and there was an article by Arthur C. Clarke about how we should be farming whales and dolphins for meat.  Seems like it might be difficult, he says, but cetaceans are a lot smarter than people realize, and they're so smart that it would be easy to train them or trick them into showing up at the right time and place to be slaughtered.

Um . . . hurm.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: flipper on December 19, 2008, 04:08:02 PM
I'm a peacenik too, but I have to admit, DARPA does do some cool stuff, and the MIC has given us cool things like the internet.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Tripper on December 20, 2008, 01:46:23 PM
"The Far Side of the World"

And it keeps getting funnier every time!
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on December 21, 2008, 04:38:49 PM
I read Crichton's The Terminal Man yesterday.  It was one of those books that people had told me for years I ought to read.  Well, it wasn't bad.  If it'd been twice as long, it would've been bad.  Light reading, I would say.

The SF aspects of it hold up fine, even after all these years, chiefly because . . . there hardly are any.  Seriously, 90% of the book revolves around a guy with a weird medical condition and the very peculiar doctors who deal with him.  You could take the computer-implant stuff out and have almost the exact same novel.  Kind of amusingly, the specific sort of implant technology Crichton uses in the book hasn't advanced much by this late date, and so the exact same premise could be used in a book written this year.

Also kind of amusingly, the science the story does depend on -- the title character's psychomotor epilepsy -- is, alas, nonsensical, which Crichton himself admits with some chagrin in a postscript.  Still, people are out there with stranger neurological conditions, so if he'd just been less specific, he could've gotten away with it.

The real problems with the book are that:

- The characterizations are all pretty weak.  I mean, I, at least, didn't really care what happened to most of the characters.  The sort-of-main character who I was most sympathetic to I probably only cared about because she's supposed to be an attractive woman, and I'm an idiot.

- The characters are pretty stupid.  I mean, a dangerous patient escapes from the hospital, where he was under guard by the police, and . . . the doctors all withhold information about him from the cops (who honestly don't seem very interested), and they split up and go look for him themselves.  Really?  And the patient is supposed to be passing in and out of lucidity, but his 'lucid' actions don't seem to make any sense.

- The patient's secret (evil . . . sort of) goal is telegraphed about sixty hundred times, but no one figures it out until it's (sort of) too late!  Uh, no, seriously, you should've figured that out.  Although it turns out to not really matter.

- At the end . . . well, there isn't much of a climax, and there's no denouement.  Eh.  Whatever.  Considering how bad a lot of Crichton's endings are, I can't complain.

Still, the writing ain't bad at all, and none of the technical or futurist stuff is embarrassing (which is impressive for out-of-genre SF from 1970).  Crichton does a truly admirable job of keeping all lecturing to a bare minimum.  The text mostly moves right along, although that's partly because nothing much happens.

I don't know.  Some people have told me it's his best book, but it's pretty damned lightweight.  Certainly no Andromeda Strain or even Jurassic Park.  (Great Train Robbery is actually my favorite of his, but it's just a romp, with no serious much of anything to it.)
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: whidB on December 21, 2008, 05:48:37 PM
That book was lying around the house when I was a kid and I never, ever bring myself to get very far with it. Not nearly as interesting as the Andromeda Strain idear...
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: vox8 on December 21, 2008, 06:01:25 PM
I don't know.  Some people have told me it's his best book, but it's pretty damned lightweight.  Certainly no Andromeda Strain or even Jurassic Park.  (Great Train Robbery is actually my favorite of his, but it's just a romp, with no serious much of anything to it.)

As far as I am concerned, the first two are the only books of his worth reading. Granted, I haven't read Train, but everything else I have read has been crap.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on December 30, 2008, 02:58:29 PM
I just finished A Thousand Splendid Suns for book  club.  Somehow more depressing than The Kite Runner. :stbm:

Both are excellent books, though.  Afghanistan's been fucked over by everybody, including itself.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: eldiem on December 30, 2008, 04:18:32 PM
Is it really? I never finished The Kite Runner, both for lack of time and lack of wanting to be depressed.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on December 30, 2008, 04:22:52 PM
I think it is, just because of the extra hardship of being an Afghani woman.  I mean, a man wouldn't have to have an unsterile, unanesthetized C-section at a hospital, would he?
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: eldiem on December 30, 2008, 04:24:27 PM
No. He'd get the anesthesia.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on December 30, 2008, 04:43:01 PM
Exactly.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: hajen on December 30, 2008, 11:46:43 PM
/me immediately crosses that book off the TBR list
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on December 31, 2008, 12:08:47 AM
Because it's depressing or because of the gore?  It's actually not explicit at all.  The birth scene is about 1 paragraph in a 5 page chapter about the lack of medical care for women.  It's really an amazing book.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: eldiem on December 31, 2008, 12:29:56 AM
My guess is it was the thought of delivering NUMBAH FOAH without anesthesia.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Hedaira on December 31, 2008, 12:46:36 AM
Heh.
Do NOT read that sparkly vampire series then.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on December 31, 2008, 03:04:56 AM
 :lol:  No.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: hajen on December 31, 2008, 10:05:53 AM
When I read the summaries that talked about that scene, I was like HOLY CRAP HOW THE FUCK IS THIS MARKETED TO TWEENS?! The Mormon angle makes it even more bizarre.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on December 31, 2008, 11:15:26 AM
I'm reading Finity, an SF book by John Barnes.  I don't think I've ever read anything by him before, but this one is covered with impressive review quotes.  And it's not bad, but . . .

The problem is that reading it is like being stuck behind the slowest float in the exposition parade.  The exposition is mostly about things that are Fairly to Quite on the Interestingness Scale, but still.  I think I'm about 70-80 pages in, and the edges of the plot are only beginning to come into view, although I have several (apparently unrelated) pieces of premise and a bit of character development.  Mostly, there's a lot of world-building, and it's not bad world-building, but the narrator keeps describing things and commenting that that's how they always are.  This is a red flag (which even the writer should notice) that there's an expository problem. 

It's not quite in the AYKB or Tonto class of expository problems, but I wind up reading like five pages and then putting the book down.  And I'm really curious to find out what's going on, but the story keeps stopping so the main character can explain something that really isn't important. 
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on December 31, 2008, 11:18:31 AM
I'm finally getting round to The Omnivore's Dilemma. Sigh.

I like corn.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: vox8 on December 31, 2008, 11:56:45 AM
I'm finally getting round to The Omnivore's Dilemma. Sigh.

I like corn.
There is nothing wrong with sweet corn - ie: the kind you eat off a cob.

That isn't the kind of corn that he is saying is the antichrist.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on December 31, 2008, 12:02:39 PM
Heh. Yes. I also grow corn -- or so the IRS tells me every year -- the bad kind. ;)
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: flipper on December 31, 2008, 12:07:14 PM
When Sandy finds a job, we're going to swear off of the Agricultural Industrial Complex and go Locavore.  Adios CAFOs and Big Corn.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on December 31, 2008, 01:01:03 PM
I haven't read Omnivore's Dilemma yet, but my feeling is that it's Corn that's bad for everything, not corn.  And I don't particularly like corn, except for popcorn.

A corporation is a superpersonal social construct specifically designed to maximize impersonal things that have only a very specific kind of value, very much at the expense of many other things that have other kinds of value.  It is not cynicism to expect corporations to tend toward what we, as humans, very fairly consider evil.  It's just good sense.  Corporations need regulation like a nuclear pile needs coolant and radiation shielding.  Like a paratrooper needs a parachute.  That follows very simply.  You either have wise use or unwise use, and the people who have the greatest fetishism for incorporation are not wise-use types; they are pathological fetishists.

Agribusiness is not, by itself, anyone's friend, although a few people can certainly profit even more mightily and even more easily if society doesn't regulate it.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: flipper on January 01, 2009, 01:25:04 AM
And thanks Obama for giving the cookie monster the keys to the cookie jar (USDA secretary appointment)
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: NexR on January 01, 2009, 07:13:16 PM
Yay Corn!

</obligatory_illinois_native_response>
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on January 01, 2009, 07:23:41 PM
There's more than coooooooorn in Indiana!
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on January 01, 2009, 11:14:33 PM
I don't give a damn about the whole state of Ioway, who in the hell likes corn?

- U of M fight song
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on January 02, 2009, 10:59:29 AM
I reached page 100 in Finity, and the main character just finally acknowledged the existence of what seems to be the major element of the book's premise.  Honestly, it's more interesting, so far, than I'm probably making it sound, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't annoyed at the pace and structure.

Also annoying:  All the protagonist has actually done about said premise point, so far, is cry about it.  Literally cry, I mean.  And he's done that at least twice.  At one point, he got out of bed after his fiance fell asleep so he could sob privately while lying on the hotel room floor.  It doesn't seem to be getting him anywhere.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: dogbone on January 03, 2009, 04:29:15 PM
Nation (http://www.amazon.com/Nation-Terry-Pratchett/dp/0061433012/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1231018122&sr=1-1), by Sir Pratchett

and

Rock On, by Dan Kennedy (http://www.amazon.com/Rock-Office-Ballad-Dan-Kennedy/dp/1565125096)
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on January 06, 2009, 06:29:32 PM
Update!  Only one more incident of crying on the part of the protagonist.  I guess I should be happy with that.

On page 177 (out of about 300), the plot is introduced!  And it's . . . a quest novel!  Yes, a fellowship of characters has just been assembled and their mission revealed.  Unfortunately, I'm at about page 190, as of last night, and they hadn't yet, you know, actually done anything about their quest yet.  I'm seriously wondering if there's going to be some punch-out ending before they ever get around to Step One.

Even the author seems to have felt that everyone was too passive -- he literally replaced one character with a much more assertive version of herself.  But then he seems to have become concerned that readers would prefer this version (god forbid), so he went to excessive lengths to make her an unpalatable asshole.  At this point, there aren't any sympathetic characters.  There are two minor characters who might be OK, but they've had about six pages of narrative time between them, so far.

I can't understand the characters in this book, anyway.  Most of them seem like idiots, and peculiar idiots, at that.  I mean, they're intellectuals, academics, etc, but they're so damned odd.  They know people are hunting them and trying to kill them, but they seem to keep forgetting, and they go out in public, abandon their bodyguards, travel by themselves halfway around the world . . . to where their unguarded suburban house is . . . because they think maybe something bad has happened there. 

And they know that there's something Desperately Weird going on (like, with the fabric of reality itself), and they know they've been hired for some kind of research project revolving around the fact that something Desperately Weird is going on, and they know their boss is aware of the Desperately Weird.  Then they have a meeting with him about it, and they go on and on about how surprising it is that he would take time out of his busy day to talk to them.  Yes, how strange that this guy would want to talk to you about the most significant thing ever known to have happened -- which is still happening, quite inexplicably -- after he hired you specifically to talk about it.  What a strange guy he is, and what a strange occurrence.


Also . . . OK, minor, but, this book was apparently written in around 1995, but I think by then it was already painfully obvious that no one was actually going to call virtual reality 'VR' by the time we had virtual reality.  It grates on my teeth every time someone does.


The New York Times Book Review has a fawning quote right on the front cover.  This is not, by any stretch, the worst book I've read in the past year, or anything, but WTF, man?  It is just very strange, as a book.  I really hope that the editor, at least, had reservations, but just decided that it would be too much to ask to have the whole book restructured and the main characters changed.

I am going to finish this book before I start another novel, even if it drives me crazy.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on January 08, 2009, 02:39:33 PM
Update!  Just past page 200, the fellowship . . . agrees to go on the quest!

Last night, when I gave up for the night, they were literally boarding a bus so they could get started.  Also, the intervening exposition revealed story elements that, I'm afraid, I totally didn't buy, but maybe that's just me.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on January 11, 2009, 01:26:22 PM
Finished the damned book.  Read a bunch of online reviews just to see if I was the lone objector, but, no, even a lot of his fans hated this one.  That figures.  Why the New York Times Book Review and Kirkus thought it was so good is beyond me.  It's just totally broken and turns out to be full of plot holes and nonsense, one of those books where the more he explains the less sense it makes.  And it's a bad sign that, halfway through, the only reason I didn't want bad things to happen to the main character is that I didn't want to have to read about him crying again.

Maybe his other books are a lot better.  This is a book that needed serious help from the editor but didn't get it.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: flipper on January 19, 2009, 09:02:05 PM
I finally finished Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver and just started John Adams by David McCullough.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on January 20, 2009, 11:22:59 AM
Almost whenever YA books have come up lately, people have asked if I've read (A) Harry Potter and (B) Avi.  Well, I hadn't read anything by Avi, but I read Midnight Magic the other day.  It was OK -- not tremendous, but nothing I'd be disappointed to see my kid reading.

I also started reading a book by Kinky Friedman, who I'd never read before, and, uh, so far . . . I dunno.  Seems like he's trying too hard, to me, but this might be like Joe Lansdale, where it's just not my wavelength.  Very little has happened, several chapters in, and the main character hasn't done anything about any of the stuff that has happened.  Seems to be trading on color, and while it's colorful, it's not thrilling me yet.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: sm0k4 on January 24, 2009, 02:29:13 PM
I got a bunch of books for Christmas that I plowed through. Marjorie Liu's The Iron Dance (feh, despite the heroine covered in tattoos that peel off her skin at night and turn into little demons that eat metal and kill things. The second Compass Rose book by Gail Dayton (also a bit "feh", not as hot you would think in light of the whole polyamorous marriage thing). Richelle Mead's Storm Born was pretty badass, as is Lillith Saintcrow's Hunter's Prayer (she uses a bullwhip  :whip: = super+++) and Karen Chance's Midnight's Daughter.

I had a theme of kickass paranormal bitches, can you tell?
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on January 24, 2009, 09:18:04 PM
So ... autobiographical literature then. :D
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: whidB on January 24, 2009, 10:05:22 PM
You get a +10 for that.

Thass hot... :thud:
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Hedaira on January 24, 2009, 10:31:25 PM
... despite the heroine covered in tattoos that peel off her skin at night and turn into little demons that eat metal and kill things.

DAMN! I should have known that's what happened to my garlic press. I've lost a bunch of metal kitchen gadgets recently...

BRB, having a chat with my dragon.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on January 25, 2009, 02:00:07 PM
I read a book on British sports cars in the US and another Vance book, Throy, the last of the Cadwal Chronicles books (Araminta Station, et al).  I get the feeling he was kind of just fluffing his way through these.  The first one was pretty dynamic, but then they slow down and lose structure, even for Vance, and it's a fairly long trilogy but characters will sometimes go a few hundred pages between appearances, so the climax of the last book partly revolves around the comeuppance of a villain who hadn't actually been in the book so far.  It took me a few moments to remember who she was.

Still, it had a bunch of good parts, and, oddly for Vance, TWO happy romances at the end.

Still stuck in the middle of the Kinky Friedman book.  It just does not hold my interest.  It's not tough going otherwise -- if it were clicking for me, I'd've read it in one day, no problem.  But it's just like watching an hour of standup by a comedian you don't find funny, and I can only take it in small doses.  Maybe I picked the wrong one of his books, or something.

Someone just recommended John Connolly's The Book of Lost Things, so I may keep my eyes open for that one.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Talix on January 26, 2009, 10:43:40 AM
I've got like three hundred pages of WaP to go and I just. couldn't. bring. myself. to pick it up this weekend.  In the meantime I whipped through Bantok's first three Griffin and Sabine books and I'm hungrily eying the de Lint I bought Saturday (Moonheart).
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on January 26, 2009, 12:11:59 PM
I'm reading The Book of Lost Things and Reservation Road.  Both are real downers.  In TBoLT a kid's mom dies of cancer, the Blitz happens, and then books start talking to the kid.  In Reservation Road a kid gets run over by a guy and *his* kid, and it doesn't get any happier from there.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: ivan on January 26, 2009, 12:16:06 PM
The Omnivore's Dilemma, by Michael Pollan, because I have too few things to be depressed about.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: sm0k4 on January 26, 2009, 06:27:38 PM
The Griffin and Sabine books are soooo cool.  :thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup:
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on January 26, 2009, 07:40:18 PM
Perhaps someday I will eat Michael Pollan.

That'd show him.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: flipper on January 27, 2009, 05:04:38 PM
Yes, but would that be the heavily processed Michael Pollan, the agribusiness organically grown Michael Pollan, the sustainably farmed Michael Pollan, or the hunted and gathered Michael Pollan?
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on January 27, 2009, 05:49:48 PM
I was thinking of a buffet.


The Kinky Friedman book is just killing me.  Naturally, now a bunch of people have told me not to read the ones where he made himself the main character.  Too late!
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: whidB on January 28, 2009, 03:06:31 AM
I haven't read any of his books, and I can't even think of one of his songs, but I could understand criticism leveled at a rock star type suddenly trying to write fiction...
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: First Post on January 28, 2009, 07:09:17 AM
I can't even think of one of his songs

They Ain't Makin Jews Like Jesus Anymore (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ElDtH7rP3T0)

His books were probably more popular than his music, for the most part. He's done more books than albums, anyway.

I met him years ago when he regularly patronized an eatery at which my gf worked. She was amazed I'd heard of him; to her he was just another one of her crazy-but-nice regulars.

Personally I dug the Lansdale stuff I read, but I can see how the style of either might not appeal to everyone.





Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: eldiem on January 28, 2009, 11:47:44 PM
Which Kinky book are you reading?

I read Kill Two Birds and Get Stoned for my first ever book club meeting a few years ago. It was weird.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on January 29, 2009, 09:05:51 AM
It's Elvis, Jesus, & Coca-Cola.  I don't know . . . it picked up a bit around page 150, but I still find I can't read more than about five pages at a time.  About one joke in seven strikes me as funny.  I've read so many glowing reviews I have to conclude I'm just not in the target audience.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: TFJ on January 29, 2009, 12:08:17 PM
short stories of richard bausch (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Bausch). fucking great.

hey wood if you are listening, these things may appeal to you.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on February 08, 2009, 01:42:19 PM
Finished the Friedman book awhile ago.  It did pick up a bit after it reached a certain critical mass, but then the denouement where the mystery is explained had very little sense or plausibility.  Also, there are mob guys after Our Hero (the author!) throughout most of the book, but he takes zero precautions.  Fortunately, the mob guys can't seem to remember that they're after him, and they make one truly half-hearted attempt on his life (and are inexplicably scared away by . . . a Hefty bag full of trash) and then apparently lose interest.

Bizarre book.  I have to say that much about it.  Friedman gave me the impression that he'd really rather have written a book about his cat.

But anyway.

Next, I read an obscure SF novel from the 60s called The Revolving Boy.  It's by Gertrude Friedberg, who apparently wrote a few other SF short stories but was mostly known for Broadway plays she wrote much earlier (such as Three-Cornered Moon, which was also made into a film with a young Claudette Colbert).  It has a very 1960s Female SF Author sort of tone to it, sort of Kate Wilhelm-ish, but it moves along more easily than a lot of that stuff does.  It was engrossing and consistently interesting, but at the same time I had no trouble putting it down when I didn't have time to keep reading.

I just finished it, though, and I liked it a lot.  The futurism in it was interesting, and the characters were, too.  It takes place in maybe 2030 or so (it's not exactly specified, I think) and is about a boy who has an absolute sense of direction (he always knows where north is, etc) that seems to be attuned to what might be a signal from outer space.  I'm sure it was a fresher idea in the 1960s, but the book works fine here and now, too.  It reminded me of Haldeman's The Coming in that they're both books about first contact with extraterrestrials except that, in both cases, that's really mostly just the excuse for examining the characters and situations.  The aliens, themselves, aren't particularly important.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: pdrake on February 09, 2009, 02:21:17 PM
this is a real document. there's no way you can make this up. read until the end, it just gets better.



http://bunnitude.com/misc/files/pepsi_gravitational_field.pdf
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on February 09, 2009, 06:36:54 PM
I read the first Sookie Stackhouse book, which True Blood was based on.

True Blood > Dead Until Dark >>>>>... n... Twilight
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on February 09, 2009, 08:06:52 PM
:lol:

In the back room today, I saw that my boss has an advance proof of a book called Jail Bait Zombie, "by the author of Kama Sutra for the Dead", or something like that.  Honestly, I haven't bothered keeping track of the New Pseudohorror at all.  (I say "pseudohorror" not to belittle it but because although it uses conventions of the horror genre, most of it clearly isn't meant to horrify.)


I started reading Norstrillia.  I've always liked Cordwainer Smith, but I haven't read much by him.  So far, it reads like one of the best New Wave SF books I've ever read -- sort of like early Pratchett SF with some Jack Vance thrown in.  It's clever and crazy without being klever and pretentious.  Pretty nifty.  This kind of thing always seems hard to sustain, but we'll see.

I also HAD to pick up a book I saw on the 50-cent cart, The Man With The Tiny Head.  It seems to be a 1960s sleazy mystery, but I refused to check the date or read the back.  Aside from how the author uses colons -- to make sentences seem more impressive, as far as I can tell, rather than for any reason of punctuation or syntax -- it's readable pulp crap so far and reasonably amusing.  I'm only like 10 pages in, though.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: stormneedle on February 09, 2009, 09:04:49 PM
I saw the Kama Sutra for the Dead, but didn't pick it up.

Now if it had been in the relationship section...
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on February 09, 2009, 09:07:47 PM
Medical section.



I'm sometimes seriously tempted to shelve books in the wrong section on purpose.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: stormneedle on February 09, 2009, 09:12:47 PM
I'm sometimes seriously tempted to shelve books in the wrong section on purpose.
Isn't that what [strike]patrons[/strike] customers are for?
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on February 09, 2009, 09:31:07 PM
My choices would be funnier than theirs, though.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: flipper on February 10, 2009, 03:48:23 PM
Has anyone read Earth Dance (http://www.amazon.com/Earthdance-Systems-Evolution-Elisabet-Sahtouris/dp/0595130674/ref=cm_cr_pr_pb_t) yet?  I heard her talk on NPR last weekend during one of the Darwin segments.  I'm definitely intrigued.

Also has anyone read Anathema yet?  I have a copy, but I'm still in the middle of the John Adams bio and haven't had much time to read, so it could take me forever.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on February 10, 2009, 03:59:15 PM
We have Anathem both in book form and on CD.  Neither of us have gotten to it.  Punk is on The System of the World and then he's taking a Stephenson break for a while.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Talix on February 10, 2009, 05:02:14 PM
I finally slogged through the philosophy of history treatise at the end of W&P and haven't read anything heavier than a Western Buddhism magazine or Wired since.

Today I got The Brief Wonderful Life of Oscar Wao for my new book group.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on February 10, 2009, 05:13:12 PM
If anyone here does read Earthdance, I'd be interested to hear opinions.  I've seen a few reviews, and they all basically make it sound hippy-dippy low-actual-content while more or less saying that, no, it's seriously deep, like seriously.  They all sound like people I knew in high school who were way too into Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.

:shrug:

I'm not saying it's a bad book.  I haven't even seen a copy.  The reviews I've seen have all been extremely positive while (unintentionally) managing to make the book sound terrible.  I hate that.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on February 12, 2009, 07:26:13 PM
Finished Norstrilia, which was good, if oddly structured.  Really, you can tell Smith wasn't so much driven by plot as just wanting to play around with and talk about his Instrumentality of Man future history.  Smith was a weird genius kind of guy, with a lot of balls, and it shows in his stories. 


The Man With The Tiny Head is turning out to be such a solidly 1960s Swinging England groovy crime/spy caper book that it makes me want to watch Austin Powers again.  Really, the story is nothing so tremendous, and the plot doesn't have the most urgency in the world, but the characters are boldly extravagant and the dialogue and narration are often hilarious.  It reads almost like an early Ken Follett novel with collaboration from John Cleese, or something.  A bit of a page-turner, possibly a pot boiler.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: hajen on February 14, 2009, 12:21:05 AM
I refuse to read the books, but I enjoy reading the snark on the books:
LDS Sparkledammerung! (http://stoney321.livejournal.com/317176.html) (Mormon themes/points in the Twilight series)
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on February 14, 2009, 10:34:37 AM
I could not possibly read that whole thing, but the

Quote
HI THERE CREEPY AUTHOR WANTING TO BONE YOUR PROPHET.

stands out, and I laughed frequently as I paged down and caught fragments.


The other night, very late, caught in a bout of stuporous insomnia -- and this is absolutely true -- I discovered that I had accidentally (how else?) recorded Teen Wolf Too after Super Troopers, and, yes, I watched it.  I mean, hey, a college romantic comedy about a werewolf that becomes the star of the school boxing team?  How could you not?  And it does have a good moment.

But, mostly, I kept thinking, "I wonder if this is better than Twilight?"  Because, in a way, they're pretty similar.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Hedaira on February 14, 2009, 03:33:08 PM
Reading the books is kind of like eating an entire bag of jelly beans. No, actually, it's exactly like that.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on February 14, 2009, 03:46:52 PM
Hmm.  I see


I finished The Man With The Tiny Head, which was pretty entertaining.  The master criminal's makes very little master sense (although it turns out he was driven by a neurotic desire for revenge more than a lust for money), and there were a couple of Brilliant Plan scenes that I utterly did not buy for a second, but the characters and dialogue made it worth it, yeah.

Alas, we have nothing else by Ivor Drummond.  The internets tell me Drummond was really Roger Longrigg, who also wrote books as Domini Taylor, Laura Black, Frank Parrish, Rosalind Erskine . . . I don't know who-all.  Double-alas, we don't have anymore of his books under any of those names, not at the moment.  Apparently Longrigg established eight successful pseudonyms, each for a different sort of book, with over fifty books in all, from lesbian erotica to non-fiction about stem cell research.  Quite a guy. 


I started Consider Phlebas, by Iain Banks, one of his SF 'Culture' novels.  It's quite good so far, although he occasionally loses me briefly in some of his futuristic technoguff passages -- I have to go back and say 'What just happened?'  Some of the early dialogue is a bit stilted, and some of the early exposition is a bit clumsy, but it seems to have settled down after maybe ten pages.

All I've read by him before this is his very weird early book The Wasp Factory, which was fantastic.  His later books are a lot longer, but one of my cow-orkers talked me into reading this one right away.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Talix on February 14, 2009, 07:43:16 PM
I left Oscar Wao at work so last night I picked up Kafka on the Shore.  Less than a hundred pages to go.  :eek:
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: the other andrea on February 17, 2009, 05:03:27 PM
I'm trying to read Jane Eyre again, but what I find much more interesting is Charlotte Bronte's real life, which goes something like this:

1815 Battle of Waterloo
1816 Charlotte Brontë is born.
1821 Mrs. Brontë dies.
1824 Charlotte and Emily Brontë attend Cowan Bridge school.
1825 Charlotte's oldest sisters Maria and Elizabeth die of tuberculosis.
1825-1830 Charlotte is at home with her remaining siblings, studying with a governess. The siblings begin writing.
1831-2 Charlotte enters Roe Head school.
1835 Charlotte returns to Roe Head as a governess.
1837 Victoria becomes Queen of England.
1838 Charlotte suffers a near-mental breakdown.
1839 Charlotte leaves the school and refuses two marriage proposals.
1839-1841 Charlotte does two unhappy spells as a governess in two different houses.
1842 Charlotte attends school in Brussels.
1843-44 Charlotte returns to the school as a teacher and falls in love with the headmaster.
1845 Irish potato famine begins.
1846 Charlotte offers The Professor to publishers and begins Jane Eyre.
1847 Jane Eyre published and is an immediate hit.
1848 Charlotte's brother Branwell dies of alcoholism and opium addiction.
1849 Charlotte finishes Shirley, her second novel.
1851 Charlotte considers but is unhappy with the idea of marriage to another suitor.
1852 Charlotte rejects marriage proposal from Rev. Arthur B. Nicholls.
1853 Crimean war begins.
1854 Charlotte marries Nicholls.
1855 Pregnant, Charlotte dies of pneumonia.
1857 Charlotte's The Professor and Elizabeth Gaskell's Life of Charlotte Brontë are published.

:trance:
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on February 17, 2009, 05:11:25 PM
:hmm:  Charlotte Bronte was apparently a Thomas Hardy character.

Surprised I never noticed it before.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: the other andrea on February 17, 2009, 05:32:27 PM
EXACTLY!
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: hajen on February 17, 2009, 09:49:16 PM
 :lol:
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on February 18, 2009, 04:01:57 PM
Speaking of Thomas Hardy . . . I just finished Iain Banks' Consider Phlebas, and it was truly excessively grim.  As space opera, it fits pretty well between Larry Niven and Vernor Vinge, or like a grittier, less arty David Brin.  A little pulpier, closer to Vinge, most plot-driven than concept-driven, all in all.

But just unnecessarily down, bordering on gratuitous character abuse, and although the writing was good and there were lots of neat bits, it just left me disappointed.  I think I have another 'Culture' book (set in the same universe) somewhere (I think I have Use of Weapons), and I do still want to read it, but if it's as relentlessly miserable I sure wouldn't want to read a third one.

There were also some little continuity errors that bugged me and made me wonder if I'd read something wrong.  Nothing major.  And there's a bit of creeping implicit sexism in it that bugged me more -- which, in fairness, I've seen in Brin and Niven's stuff too, and it's just common in SF.  But annoying.  The female characters are often . . . competent . . . but almost never heroic (and when they try, they ultimately fail), and all too often they wind up being there so they can be endangered, for tension and to make things difficult for the male protagonist.  And especially when you're talking a far-future of superhumans who can change gender, it just doesn't wash with me.  I keep waiting for the stronger female characters to step up and be more aggressively take-charge, and they keep not doing it, and I keep noticing that they're not doing it.

:shrug:

The book was written in the early or mid 80s, which could be relevant.  I do wish I'd read it back in the 80s or 90s, since I was reading more space opera back then, but even now I don't see a lot of copies of Banks' books.  Apparently he's a lot more popular in the UK.


I started reading a book (Spaceling) by Doris Pischeria, an SF author who had a real burst of popularity about 20 years ago but who I've never read before.  I might have read a short story or two way back when and just not remember it.  It's fine so far, seems very post-New Wave, sort of experimental without trying to be too weird, but I'm just barely into it, so we'll see what happens.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on February 22, 2009, 03:47:18 PM
That's Doris Piserchia, actually.  Spelled her name wrong.  That book is fine so far -- odd, but fine.  She sometimes loses me a bit when she's describing a setting, which is a shame because much of the story takes place in weird alternate dimensions, but it's not a big deal.


I also started reading an SF book by Robert Sawyer, who I'd heard things about but hadn't read.  The book is End of an Era, and it has time travel, dinosaurs, aliens.  It's sort of written as if it were hard SF, but a lot of the actual SF elements (and a few of the other story bits) so far are very . . . hard to believe.  There might be justification for them later, but it doesn't seem likely.  It reads like older SF, pre-New Wave, and moves right along very easily, and it doesn't seem to be taking itself too deadly seriously, so that's all fine. 

Frankly, I'm just glad it's light reading.  Too many sloggy books in the last year.  I actually picked it up while I was looking for a different one of his books, Calculating God, which is about an alien who shows up on Earth to talk theology.  That didn't sound great to me, but people told me I'd be pleasantly surprised, so what the hell.  We didn't have a copy in paperback, though, so I got the other one.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on February 26, 2009, 03:29:21 PM
I am looking forward to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (http://popwatch.ew.com/popwatch/2009/02/monster-mash-up.html).
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on February 27, 2009, 09:53:44 AM
I read "The March" by E.L. Doctorow. Set in and around Sherman's army in 1864. Very strange, as are a lot of his books. What I found most disconcerting was characters (and their parents) from other novels of his -- like Coalhouse Walker Jr. (Ragtime)'s father, and the creepy Dr. Sartorius (the Waterworks).
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on March 05, 2009, 05:33:37 PM
I finished the Piserchia and Sawyer books, which were both OK.  The Piserchia book became ever more complicated as it went on, to the point where, over the last 30 pages or so, I'd lost track of some of it, but it didn't bother me.  I got the idea.  I think the book suffered slightly from an occasional lack of description, and I think the protagonist didn't make the best possible narrator, but it was a weird and entertaning book. 

The Sawyer book zipped right along to the end, very pulpily.  A lot of it, yeah, I totally didn't buy, but, yet again, it really didn't matter.  I mean, the basic plot has a geologist and a paleontologist going back to just before the KT extinction in the First Evar time-travel mission.  They have a budget of almost nothing, and they seem to have done very, very little planning.  Like The Lost World kind of little planning, only even less so.  At one point, they're just tooling around in a Jeep (which was donated to the project by a local dealership), and they see a pachycephalosaur and decide to dissect it, for research.  So one of them just rolls down a window and takes potshots with an almost-antique elephant gun.

This is not how modern scientists normally proceed.  Not your better ones, anyway.  Still, the book was goofy fun, often very 1940s and often just bizarre.


Then I read one of the Pratchetts I seem to have missed along the way, The Light Fantastic.  It's just the second Discworld book, and so it's a bit rough around the edges, but it was fine and entertaining.

I think I might read Nickel and Dimed, by Ehrenreich, next, but I also think it might really piss me off, so maybe not. 
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on March 18, 2009, 03:07:28 PM
Finished Jewel of the Seven Stars.  It had its moments, but, boy, did it have the Victorian Longwindedness Disease.  A trendsetter, to be sure, but no Dracula.  An awfully anticlimactic ending, too.  Still, it had a very sexy cover illustration.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on April 06, 2009, 05:50:29 PM
Finished The Assassination Bureau.  Weird book, not at all bad, certainly entertaining.  The basic concept is that a bunch of scholars form an assassination organization to improve society, based on philosophical principles and their mutual unshakeable ethical convictions.  Then a new guy convinces the leader of the organization that their principles are in error, and the leader agrees to destroy the organization.  He and the other assassins all remain friends, although they chase each other all over the country, with many deaths (no innocent bystanders) and rousing debates resulting.  Various complications round out the plot.

Jack London wrote maybe 80% of it and left notes for the rest (his second wife also left notes for her own ideas on how it should end), and mystery writer Robert Fish (who also wrote the novel Bullitt was made from) finished it.  This is the one made into a movie with Oliver Reed, Diana Rigg, and Telly Savalas.  Frankly, I can't imagine the film is too much like the book; it would be a very difficult, talky, cold-bloodedly funny movie which (A) would be hard to sell to a studio, and (B) does not at all match the paperback's movie-inspired jacket.  :lol:

I do want to see the movie now.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on April 06, 2009, 05:50:58 PM
I also started rereading Crisis on Infinite Earths, which I borrowed from the shop and which I have not looked at since it first came out.  I really didn't like it the first time around, although by now I realize that the reason I hated it so much is because of two things: 

First, Crisis was advertised to me, in advance, as being intended to remove the silliness and camp and Monty Hallity and overcomplication from DC, in order to establish a workable, consistent, more realistic canon.  That's not what it was really about, though.  It was about paring things down and regaining control, but it was mostly about doing that in order to attract a wider audience (fewer incomprehensible Earth-3 crossover stories and such) and allow market-sexy reboots -- a way to do new origin stories, etc.

Second, I generally hated the excess camp and melodrama that plagued (and, to my mind, diminished) most comics, but Crisis was largely an homage to that stuff, not just a flensing knife to cut it back.  So Wolfman was largely reveling in his chance (possibly his last chance, after all) to make little lakes with all that treacle.  In doing so, he was just parading it back and forth in front of me when it was exactly what I had hoped Crisis would get rid of.  But I can't blame him for liking it, even if I don't -- his nostalgia was based on his own experience of comics, after all.

So while Crisis didn't do what I wanted it to do, at least now I can, well, sort of enjoy it as kitsch.  Marv Wolfman still has one of the coolest names in comics.  Probably more to the point, he did what he wanted to do, and it's not his fault (or Perez's, obviously) that it's not what I wanted him to do.

It still annoys the hell out of me, though.  :lol:  I'm determined to read the whole thing nonetheless.

The Vertigo imprint finally got around to deciding to set up a sort of separate continuity for 'serious' DC comics, although they still seemed to think that 'serious' usually had to mean 'Darth Emo'.  Well, what can you do.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on April 06, 2009, 05:52:03 PM
I loved The Assassination Bureau!

And, um, also, every other scrap of media in which Diana Rigg appears. :innocent:
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on April 06, 2009, 06:00:03 PM
I just read some of the IMDb page, and although the film looks great, it is so very much not the book.  :lol:  Rather enormously different, I'd say.  In the book (these are not at all spoilers), for instance, the female character is much less active and is Dragomilof's daughter, not his love interest.  And the assassins are all Americans.  But the book is the book and the film looks like its own slice of awesome.

One erudite reviewer blames Fish for changing it to a broad comedy, which only shows he hasn't read the book.  Fish didn't do the treatment for the film.

Have you seen Bullshot!?  I ask mostly because I ask everyone who seems to like WWIish-period comedies.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on April 09, 2009, 09:04:38 PM
I finished Crisis.  Actually, it made a lot less sense than I remember.  It was highly more bizarrely confused and convoluted and such than I thought.  It had some nice moments, though, and the art (Perez) was much better than I remember -- not that I remembered it as being bad, but the composition's often surprising and the color processing is often downright nifty.  Plus, having to draw all those characters . . . .

They lose a billion points for expressly killing off Supergirl but not expressly killing off 1,000 super-lame characters -- and for expressly not killing off Firestorm, who should have had his own comic where he was killed off in every issue.  He's not the worst DC character, but he occupies a high plotting point on the Bad and Prominent two-axis chart.

Compared to the recent Justice League and related series, though, for instance . . . I still think it's not what it should have been.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on April 09, 2009, 09:23:32 PM
Ah shoot. I never replied to your previous, No, I haven't seen Bullshot but I will put it on my Netflix queue whenever I sign up for Netflix.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Hedaira on April 10, 2009, 12:44:47 AM
LoTR. It's ... not all that good.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: TFJ on April 10, 2009, 08:10:33 AM
the movies completely ruined that story.

Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on April 10, 2009, 08:49:56 AM
Eh.  Speaking of difficult adaptations with good casts, though, someone loaned me tapes of the TV film of The Color of Magic.

Well, the cast is great, although not as apt as in Hogfather.  The guy who plays Rincewind, everyone seems to agree, does not look like what Rincewind should look like, and his Rincewind isn't quite the one in the books, but he still manages to do a great job.  It's just a little odd.  And Sam Gamgee plays Twoflower, in another odd bit of casting that somehow works, although his Twoflower isn't really the one from the books, and so on.

The actress who plays the dragonlady, though, is amazingly hot.  Holy crap.

The film actually covers both Color of Magic and The Light Fantastic.  The sets and effects and costumes are better than you'd expect.  The director (same one from Hogfather) still doesn't 'get' the dialogue, alas, but his pacing is better in this one.  It's not really funny, but it's pleasant to watch because, really, it's a better adaptation than you'd expect, and you keep recognizing bits from the books and smiling at them.  90% of the jokes are gone; they seem to be treating it like a slightly humorous LotR.  But it's not bad, and some parts work really well.

I can't imagine what these films must seem like to someone who hasn't read the books, though.  Nigh-incomprehensible, for starters.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: vox8 on April 10, 2009, 09:59:05 AM
I just finished Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.

I really want to go plant stuff now.

And get some chickens.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: flipper on April 10, 2009, 06:11:37 PM
I just finished Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.

I really want to go plant stuff now.

And get some chickens.

I love Barbara Kingsolver!  Fantastic book.  I'd love to have a few acres so that I could do that.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on April 28, 2009, 05:16:06 PM
I've been reading a few books on cult films, which, of course, just makes me want to sit and watch a bunch of films.  I also looked through a book on Dark Shadows.  OK:  I have only ever seen about eight minutes of Dark Shadows.  I'm aware of its significance and have often been told that I surely must see it, but the opportunity hasn't arisen.  The book told me some interesting things I'd never heard before, though, such as that almost every scene was shot in just one take (budget constraints, mostly) and that they recycled cast members a lot, using them to play new characters, so they could kill off any character they wanted at any time without losing audience allegiance.

Otherwise, they make it sound like an overall-less-humorous Dr Who does a less puffy-shirted Interview With The Vampire.  I'm certainly interested enough to Netflix it someday, anyway.


I also finally read Soldier, Ask Not.  My younger brother is a huge Gordon Dickson fan.  Me, I read Tactics of Mistake a million years ago and thought it was OK but didn't rush out to read more Dorsai stuff.  Soldier, Ask Not is OK, but . . . I think the problem I have with Dickson is that I agree with him on some stuff but not other stuff, and in a particular way that sets up an intellectual dissonance.  It's like arguing with someone who almost agrees with you.  Soldier, Ask Not goes out of its way to convince you that the main character is deeply flawed in a particular way and that a particular type of cultural fanaticism is necessary for the human species.  For me, these elements just weren't convincing, and I was rooting for the wrong side.

Still, the writing's not bad and the action's often quite clever.  But Soldier, Ask Not is very short and the book I usually hear recommended as the best in the series, The Final Encyclopedia, is extremely long.  I don't know that I'll ever get around to reading it.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Hedaira on April 28, 2009, 05:58:34 PM
Quote
Otherwise, they make it sound like an overall-less-humorous Dr Who does a less puffy-shirted Interview With The Vampire.

It's exactly like that.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: vox8 on April 28, 2009, 09:20:08 PM
Read in the past week or so:
I Am Legend
My Life as a Furry Red Monster
Catcher in the Rye
You Suck
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on April 28, 2009, 10:07:45 PM
Liked
Haven't read
Liked
Loved
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Talix on April 29, 2009, 08:34:57 AM
Next book group book:  Geek Love.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: whidB on April 30, 2009, 05:54:48 PM
Serious question...where do you people (YOU PEOPLE) find the time to read?

Is it usually a before-bed thing, or do you read in the evening instead of watching TV?
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on April 30, 2009, 06:57:59 PM
Both of those. TV is not a huge deal ron hur.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on April 30, 2009, 06:58:37 PM
Before bed, instead of tv, sometimes I take a bath at night just so I can read in peace.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on April 30, 2009, 07:00:32 PM
Before bed, instead of tv, sometimes I take a bath at night just so I can read in peace.

That's right: Life begins when the kids fall asleep, is what I say
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: eldiem on April 30, 2009, 07:37:40 PM
I haven't been reading much lately, but when I do I read before bed or on the weekends instead of TV. For a while there too I was getting a LOT of reading done in airports.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: stormneedle on April 30, 2009, 07:47:22 PM
I was reading at lunch but knitting's taken that time over.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on April 30, 2009, 09:45:30 PM
Mostly read in bed and in little stolen moments here and there.  Can't afford cable, so my TV is just pre-recorded stuff, and internet at home is too PITA to gobble up much time.

'Civilization' without choice.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Talix on May 01, 2009, 08:11:26 AM
I read a lot on the weekends or before I go to sleep.  I also read online at work some.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on May 01, 2009, 09:51:58 AM
I've also been slowly going through lots of old science / DIY magazines, mostly during breaks at work, and that stuff always interests me.  Well, not the 56,000 articles on photography, although it's interesting to see what a huge hobby that was, with article after article about how to set up and improve your darkroom, etc.  But I love seeing the reviews of cars and comparing them to modern cars, and I love seeing how perspectives and attitudes have changed toward all kinds of technology. 

It's also cool to see how optimistic everyone was about (A) rockets (which the Post Office was constantly promising would soon be used to deliver mail on a regular basis), (B) nuclear power, (C) space, and (D) large construction projects.  And it's fascinating to see all the Next Big Things that didn't work out:  turbine cars, rotary engines (Wankel and other designs, some of which Wikipedia never heard of), electric everything, ladder-on-a-spool (such a good idea, it's a mystery that you don't see it now), improved steam cars, etc.

It's also humbling to see how much DIY has lost its ambition.  The 1950s and 1960s Popular Science, et al, have articles like Build Your Own Cabin Cruiser! and Build An All-Terrain Amphibious Car! and so on, and they're not talking about kits, either.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: flipper on May 01, 2009, 04:19:47 PM
I read this site and others online at work.  Lunchtime at work is usually my book reading time.  Bathroom time at home is for catching up on the Economist and Bon Appetit.  I really should be doing the audio editions of various mags like The Economist so that I could free up more book time.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on May 01, 2009, 07:07:08 PM
If I end up getting this job in Seattle I'll be taking the bus (free bus pass!).  That'll give me an additional hour or more a day to read.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Hedaira on May 01, 2009, 09:08:58 PM
 :detta: :detta: :detta:
 :shamrock: :shamrock: :shamrock: :shamrock: :shamrock:
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: NexR on May 08, 2009, 11:28:32 AM
I started the Foreigner series on Vox's (I think) recommendation from a year or two ago.  Love it.  I'm five books in and just ordered the next five.  I've noticed a couple books have weird flow to them, like she's not writing a traditional play in three acts, which threw me off because that's exactly how she did the first book.  But she's got killer suspense and the plots are truly brilliant in their humanism.  Thanks for pointing me in C.J. Cherryh's direction.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: vox8 on May 08, 2009, 01:30:40 PM
I started the Foreigner series on Vox's (I think) recommendation from a year or two ago.  Love it.  I'm five books in and just ordered the next five.  I've noticed a couple books have weird flow to them, like she's not writing a traditional play in three acts, which threw me off because that's exactly how she did the first book.  But she's got killer suspense and the plots are truly brilliant in their humanism.  Thanks for pointing me in C.J. Cherryh's direction.

That would be me and I am glad you like them. I find them completely different from most Run of the mill scifi. Apparently there is a brand new one out.

Yay! I always how my recs go.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on May 09, 2009, 10:17:51 AM
Cherryh is one of those borderline out-of-genre female authors.  She clearly knows the genre but simply does her own thing her own way, so sometimes she adheres to genre conventions and sometimes she doesn't, and she's a good enough writer to uniformly get away with it.  It gives her stuff an unusual foreign flavor, which is good since sometimes it starts to seem a bit densely packed.

She also does her own thing as far as story structure is concerned, definitely.  I've read that she usually conceives of 'series' as long novels and then just breaks them up according to what editors will want.  There's more leeway nowadays, but ten / fifteen / twenty years ago no publisher wanted to put out an 800-page or longer novel. 



I just finished a latter-day Robert Parker book (Jesse Stone series), and it was typically OK.  The relationship psychoanalysis is getting just a tad tired, after all these years, although I admit that a large part of the problem is that the Difficult Love Interest in the Stone books is not a deeply drawn character.  I'm sympathetic to Stone's obsession with her, but I don't like her.  She's very attractive and has some ambition but you can't help but feel he'd be better off without her, and maybe the reader would, too.

Parker's also gotten to the point where the mystery doesn't necessarily get solved, and he's long since gotten away from the detective's-eye-view unity of the genre, feeling free to switch to other perspective characters chapter by chapter.  He's been toying with this for a long time . . . and I've never felt like it works for these books.  Also, in this one he has a Florida cop named Kelly Cruz who he always refers to by both first and last name.  'Yadda yadda,' said Kelly Cruz.  WTF?


And I started a Ross MacDonald mystery.  Big mystery writer a few decades ago, never read one of his books before, didn't read the blurb.  Turns out to be a Lew Archer mystery.  OK, I've heard of Lew Archer.  And it's not bad, although old Lew is a tad passive.


I'm about 20% of the way through Ken Follett's Man From St Petersburg, but it's taken me maybe five weeks to get that far into it.  There's nothing wrong with it, but somehow it's just not holding me.  It seems more contrived rather than neatly puzzled together.  I don't know.  When I sit down and read a chapter, I don't get bored, but I don't feel driven to keep reading right away, either.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on May 19, 2009, 11:12:00 AM
The Ross MacDonald book was really odd.  Not bad, just strange -- it had a weird philosophical motif running through it (which made parallels of the relationships of (A) two people in love, (B) the mind and soul, and (C) North and South America), in three different languages, but it never drew attention to it.  Archer, the detective, never even notices.  I thought it was going to be an important clue.  :shrug:  Kind of an unusual red herring.

And Archer is an extremely passive hard-boiled detective.  He's persistent, but he's incredibly inoffensive.  Does not really play hardball at all, doesn't really pressure anyone.  He throws no punches and fires no bullets in the book.  At one point, he inadvertantly provokes the pantywaist who hired him, and the guy punches him in the face, and Archer just says 'I guess I had that coming.'

Still, it was a satisfying read.  Just peculiar.


Then I read a Brett Halliday book, for contrast.  Eh.  It was OK.  It was mostly notable because he was going to a corrupt mining town where he knew things were out of control (the cops were corrupt and routinely murdered troublemakers in broad daylight), and yet he brought his foxy young secretary . . . and repeatedly had her cozy up to dangerous men in order to elicit information from them.  :whatever:


Right now, I'm reading a John MacDonald book (not a Travis McGee one) and a weirdly gripping but generally depressing SF novel about a space empire in which social control is mostly achieved through Inquisition-style torture (An Exchange of Hostages, by Susan Matthews).  The main character is a brilliant young surgeon of noble class who's being trained as a torturer, with some ambivalence on his part. 

The torture aspect is certainly unpleasant, but what really annoys me is that it's one of those stories where all the characters have complex, articulate interiorities where they think everything through and agonize over what other people are thinking.  But they hardly ever talk to each other.  One or two characters like this, unpleasant but realistic.  These people are from different cultures and backgrounds, etc, but they're ALL like that, and half of their tensions arise from the fact that they're all incompetent at communicating and just make complicated assumptions about what everyone else is thinking and trying to do.

I'm at least 2/3 of the way through, and every ten pages or so I decide it's a stupid book and I don't even want to finish it, but nevertheless I keep going back to it and have probably read about 300 pages in three days.  At this point, I'm convinced it's going to have an ending that pisses me off, but I guess I have to find out for myself.

It also sometimes spends too much time on the wrong exposition (ie, not things I feel like I need to know, whereas there are other things I feel like I should know more about), and the author frequently doesn't make it clear who's speaking, which can make some of the dialogue confusing.  There are a few places where even re-reading the whole page didn't help.  Annoying, but I've seen worse.  Otherwise, it's pretty well-written.  Just pretty miserable.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on May 23, 2009, 12:03:52 PM
I finished the Susan Matthews book.  I don't know what I think of it.  A lot of it is torture-porn, and a lot of reviewers have used phrases like 'not afraid to tackle unpleasant issues', but, seriously, there's virtually no tackling of the issues; there's just a lot of talk about torture (much of it, I have to say, deeply unrealistic).  There's some handwringing (rather minor, albeit contextually understandable, I guess) about it by one (and only one) of the various characters, but there really isn't any philosophical analysis or debate.

It's mostly one of those books where you keep waiting for the protagonist to reach the point where He's Had Enough (or, Popeye-style, he's had all he can stans, and he can't stans no more) and take some serious action.  There are precisely two tiny moments of that, but the book ends before anything very dynamic occurs.  Turns out there are sequels, but will the action become more active?  There's plenty of set-up, but I'm not sure there will be knock-down.  All the Inquisition-style sadism kind of demands some sort of grand catharsis.



The MacDonald book is kind of infuriating.  It's a 1950s society-is-tearing-us-apart marriage-in-peril novel, with the tearing-apart driven by issues of fidelity and sexuality.  The problems with it are that there are three main characters who are all unsatisfying.  One is a perfectly nice, smart, fairly progressive housewife who can't deal with her husband and is content to give up.  One is the husband, who's an unthinking sexist dickhead who would be a nice guy if he weren't an unthinking sexist dickhead.  And one is a repressed, unfortunately miserable housewife who's looking for an outlet and really doesn't care about other people.

The husband is the real problem.  He's cheated on his wife quite a lot, extenuating circumstances aside (drunk, in one case, and stationed overseas during WWII in the others), but he learns that his wife was sexually assaulted while drunk and immediately decides he can't even stand to look at her and that he wants a divorce, and that maybe cheating on her again would help.  You know, at this point, I stop caring his problems, but I wish his wife would just poison him, take the kids and the insurance money, and move somewhere nicer.



For relief, I picked up a Pogo book I've never read before.  It's a tonic.  A quote from the Flea, a minor character:  Take it from me, a bald dog is a quivering desert of gooseflesh.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on May 25, 2009, 01:23:06 PM
I finished Cancel All Our Vows, the MacDonald book.  It's . . . well-written.  And it was written in the early 50s.  I still can't get past what a dick the main character is, although he grows up a bit by the very end.  Still a dick, though.


I started reading a book I stumbled across here at the shop, Hawkes Harbor, which is . . . a 2004 horror novel by S. E. Hinton.  I was not expecting that.  It mostly takes place in the 1960s and, so far (maybe a third of the way through), reads like a good Stephen King book with 90% of the extraneous material whittled out.  I am kind of irritated to be at work (I'm taking advantage of the fact that we're closed to clean the floors, and I come type crap like this while I'm waiting for a section to dry) when I could be home reading the book.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on May 25, 2009, 02:13:48 PM
I'm not a real big fan of YAF (as they say now days because "Young Adult Fiction" takes too long I guess) and I would be the first to admit that the whole "adolescent boy discovers he has secret powers and is initiated into a magical hidden world" genre has been DONE, really.

But I actually have been enjoying "Percy Jackson and the Olympians" by Rick Riordan. The first book, "The Lightning Thief," reveals amusing tidbits such as that Olympus is now located on the 600th floor of the Empire State Building, and the entrance to Hades is located in (of course) Los Angeles. Plus Procrustes owns a waterbed shop in Culver City (ok that cracked me up). But it's pretty well written and I like the young characters. And it's fun to try and figure out what mythological figure just pulled up on a motorcycle or whatever.

*runs off to confessions thread to confess he has been stealing books from his kid*
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on May 28, 2009, 03:45:25 PM
Quote
I would be the first to admit that the whole "adolescent boy discovers he has secret powers and is initiated into a magical hidden world" genre has been DONE, really.

Somewhere, I have a YA fantasy book that's about a teenage girl who gets sucked into a hidden magical world . . . and it turns out some jerk guy she knows from her school has already gotten sucked into the same world and taken over the place.  I have no idea if it's any good, but the concept made me laugh.  What?!?  Some other adolescent got here first?


Reminds me:  In junior high, a friend and I started writing a parody fantasy quest novel, like so:  Cliche fantasy world, cliche LOTR questy problem.  They know they need a Champion from another world (ie, Earth), but that the Champion will probably need a lot of help, so they assemble a fellowship of 'experts' to assist him.  Then they summon some poor schmuck, who of course turns out to be familiar with the trope, although they keep trying to explain the 'mysterious' situation, etc.  And the expert companions all turn out to be incompetents, but the Champion manages well enough due to (A) not being stupid and (B) having a good idea what to expect (since all the fantasy cliches are, indeed, cliches).

We got sick of it after about three chapters.  I'm sure someone else has done it, anyway.  I'm sure it wouldn't have been as good as Diana Wynne Jones's equally subversive Dark Lord of Derkholm.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on May 28, 2009, 03:52:12 PM
Oh -- finished Hawkes Harbor.  :thumbsup:  Strangest vampire book I've read in I don't know how long, and strange in quite a few ways.  I'm not convinced I like everything about it, but the win overwhelmingly outweighs the questionable parts.

It's not for the younger end of the YA spectrum, though.  There's a fair bit of sex and violence and quite a lot of pronounced profanity.  I saw a bunch of reviews with people spitting mad that it was sometimes taken as a Young Adult book, but I wouldn't think it was too graphic for the average 16-year-old, and, what, her gang novels were Disney?
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: unclejessie on June 05, 2009, 10:59:35 PM
While killing time at the airport in buffalo, I found some Rick Bragg. I read Ava's Man a while back and was a little wth about finding more adrift in a sea of Dean Koontz.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on June 05, 2009, 11:08:35 PM
adrift in a sea of Dean Koontz.

That was evocative. Of unspeakable horror :detta:
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Talix on June 06, 2009, 08:43:59 AM
I just read The Bell Jar for the first time, believe it or don't.  I'm also still working through Geek Love and have started Palimpsest, which was written by a friend of someone on my LJ f-list.  So far, I'm digging, if not quite completely getting it.

I also picked up the last of the Kushiel series in paperback.   :thumbsup:
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on June 06, 2009, 09:10:02 AM
We had a (now old) advance review copy of Palimpsest just sitting in our back room along with many other proofs that aren't going anywhere.  A former cow-orker was in the shop and said, "Ooh -- can I have that?  That's HOT right now."

Eh.  I let him have it.  It's not like we were making any money off it.  I'd never heard of it before.



edit:  I just read a Pogo book and am somewhere in the middle of a Keith Laumer hardboiled detective novel (not his usual) stuff that was made into a movie with Michael Caine at some point (probably in the 70s).  It's OK, occasionally better than OK, such as when he describes an abandoned building "that in happier days had been a funeral home."  :lol:  Chandleriffic.

I'm also plowing through an encyclopedia of horror films.  Unlike most film books of the sort that I read, it has the films listed by date rather than alphabetically.  That makes it more educational but also less varied.  It's interesting, though, to see just how incredibly unoriginal most of the early horror blockbusters were in their day -- they were just genre films, in the context of other horror movies of their day -- and how some of the ones that have vanished from public view were probably at least as good if not better.

I'd also forgotten what an incredibly tired cliche the horror-parody film had become by even the mid 1930s.  It strikes me as funny, mostly because I tend to think of film being an excitingly new medium at the time.  But horror-parodies had been popular on stage for a few decades by then, along with dramatic horror plays.  Broadway could use some new horror material, I think, and I don't mean Phantom musicals.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: sm0k4 on June 06, 2009, 01:21:51 PM
I finished Jacqueline Carey's Santa Olivia, courtesy of e!. It was good. Better than most of the drivel I read, but not in the same stratosphere as the Kushiel books. The protagonist is a chick who can't feel fear, and as a result she's kind of...disconnected it felt like from the people in the book that she's supposed to be the closest to. Has kind of a numb feeling to it. But the setup was cool, dystopian and a wee bit scifi. In general I give it  :thumbsup:
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on June 29, 2009, 02:07:18 PM
I'm pleased to report Copperfield's Books in Petaluma is still going strong. They've remodeled their kids' new book section, but the good old downstairs used books basement is still same as it ever was.

I bought one of the worst novels I've ever read there: Heavy Weather by Bruce Sterling (yes, the Bruce Sterling who wrote a pretty good steampunk novel with Gibson). It's Twister, remade in a post-global-warming Texas. Yes, that's right.

It sucks so hard I would like to recommend it to everyone. The sex scenes alone are so mind-bogglingly bad they should have won awards. This sinks down to and past the abyssal level of Clancy-clone technothrillers (fortunately eschewing the jingoism so prevalent in those). Reading this may have cured me of science fiction novels once and for all.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: vox8 on June 29, 2009, 03:07:00 PM
The Last Chinese Chef
Bone House
and the atrocity that is Otherland.

I have absolutely no interest in finding out what happens in the next 3 800 page books that follow Otherland. I had to force myself to continue reading about 1/2 way through, and I am not certain that was a good idea.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on June 29, 2009, 03:17:14 PM
:hmm:

Sterling's one of those authors where I think, "Have I actually read anything by him?"  I saw that book in the shop, looked it over, and thought, "Is this serious?"  But you do tempt me.  Maybe I'll pick it up.


I always forget this thread is here, somehow.  I recently read Fredric Brown's The Deep End, which was an OK detective story that included really a depressing (to me) relationship subplot.  Man.  Ugh.  Good book, though, if not his best work.

I'm currently reading an Edgar Pangborn short-story collection.  Pangborn's SF books, as far as I've seen, are mostly sort of like Riddley Walker in peckerwood cornpone mode, like Riddley Pogo except Serious and Profound.  The famous one is called Davy, and I guess it was written in the 1960s.  Critics loved it.  I can't read more than like three pages without putting the book back on the shelf.  It just rubs me the wrong way.  I hate reading the dialect, and it's all in dialect.  Personal bias, probably.

His short stories are pretty damn good.  Among them is a pre-Stephen King yeti-in-Maine story called Longtooth that's quite effective and a number of bizarre little SF stories, such as one in which people develop alien shadows that look like monkeys and act like consciences and a story in which a four-mile-long dirigible-style space cow escapes from a UFO and slowly floats over the northern US in distress.  The Air Force is, naturally, not sure what the best course of action is, aside from hoping it floats over Canada . . . .


I also read a fairly recent Spenser book that was easily one of the best in years except that the ending seemed really wrong and unsatisfying, and Spenser seemed . . . kinda dumb, frankly.  Of course, he must be, what, in his 70s by this point?  It's amazing he has sex with his girlfriend every other chapter.  Amazing and, fortunately, not directly described.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on June 29, 2009, 08:52:08 PM
I started Let Me In (http://www.amazon.com/Let-Right-John-Ajvide-Lindqvist/dp/0312355297/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1246326467&sr=8-1) aka Let the Right One In last night.  I'm not more than 30 pages in but the alienation and isolation are overwhelming.  I obv haven't read the Swedish version but I imagine the translator has done a fantastic job.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on June 30, 2009, 11:32:57 AM
Oooh . . . I haven't read that one yet (haven't seen a copy come through here), but I know a fair bit about it, due to the movie's :trance: influence.  The movie is lovely as an enigmatic experience, but a lot of the :confused: parts make more sense if you know some of the source material.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on June 30, 2009, 11:36:29 AM
Yeah, there was one part in particular in the movie where we were  :confused: but the internet told me what was up.

One of the jacket quotes says ".... vampires at their Anne Ricean best."  WTF are you on, woman?  This is not anything like Anne Rice.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: flipper on June 30, 2009, 02:09:05 PM
I finally finished the John Adams biography and have started on Our Band Could Be Your Life:  Scenes from the American Indie Underground 1981-1991 by Michael Azerrad
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on June 30, 2009, 02:29:00 PM
Quote
One of the jacket quotes says ".... vampires at their Anne Ricean best."  WTF are you on, woman?  This is not anything like Anne Rice.

Hence "best", I guess.



Sorry -- I like vampires, but a restless corpse that eats blood is a restless corpse that eats blood, and putting a revenant in a puffy shirt and making it bicurious does not make it sexy.

:harumph:
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Hedaira on June 30, 2009, 03:47:36 PM
I think it's the emo vampires that irritate me most. Yes, Mr. Sparkly Coldpenis was turned at seventeen, but, without the hormones and WITH a hundred years of unlife experienced, there is NO WAY he'd still be acting 17. I want to throttle S'Meyers.

See what happened there? It's making me abuse commas purposely. And enjoy it.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Talix on June 30, 2009, 04:07:25 PM
I want to throttle S'Meyers.

For a minute I conflated Seth Green with Breckin Meyer (:knotty:) and got worried, but I'm better now.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: hajen on July 01, 2009, 02:04:37 AM
In the wake of Eddings's death I am rereading the Belgariad, which I haven't reread in some years, and I must say even though the characters and plot twists are too transparent, the writing is quite well done, which surprised me. I think I figured the writing would be craptastic, you know, when you go back and reread stuff you liked as a young teen, and you have the wisdom now to realize it's utter poo and almost unreadable - like with the Shannara books. SNORT.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on July 01, 2009, 10:08:04 AM
Concur -- the Belgariad was really cleverly crafted and well-written.  I mean, it's a gigantic tapestry of fantasy cliches, some from really disparate traditions, but he not only weaves it all together but kind of makes you applaud the way he gets to have his dessert first over and over again.  Some people hate the way he handles the prophecy, and some people love it, but it was a new twist on an ancient cliche.  And his characterization and dialogue were great, again mostly breathing new life into classic tropes.

I felt bad that he kept writing more or less the same thing.  It's not that he did such a bad job in later series, but more just that he'd already done that.  Still, you can't entirely blame his publisher for wanting more of what was selling so well.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: stormneedle on July 01, 2009, 10:17:43 AM
The Elenium's & Tamuli's characters were near duplicates from the Belgariad & Mallorean, but there were some concepts in both sets that I really enjoyed. I know it's coming, [spoiler] but when Aphrael rises up from the darkness in Ghwerig's cave holding the Bhelliom, [/spoiler] I still want to cheer.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Talix on July 05, 2009, 05:17:02 PM
I read A Thousand Splendid Suns yesterday.  The whole thing.  First I was  :popcorn:, then I was  :shock:, then I was  :cry:, then I was  :eyeroll:.  But I learned a lot.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: sm0k4 on July 07, 2009, 06:05:59 AM
Just started Namaah's Kiss, the new Jacqueline Carey. :nanaparty:
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Talix on July 07, 2009, 07:41:43 AM
Liking it?
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on July 07, 2009, 09:28:15 AM
Jacqueline Carey is doing a signing near here.





At the audiobook rental place that no one NO ONE ever uses.  It's the place everyone is convinced is actually a front for the CIA or something.  They charge like $80 for a membership and then something like $20 to rent an audiobook.  My brother and I went in there once, looked at their pricing, and asked the guy at the counter who the F would bother?  (Especially since the local libraries have hundreds of audiobooks that you can borrow for free.)

And he told us that no one, really, ever comes in.  :hmm:

I'm also told she doesn't read her own books for the audiobooks (not that I blame her), so it's perhaps even slightly extra weird.  :shrug:
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: sm0k4 on July 08, 2009, 05:04:04 AM
Liking it?

Yeah. It's pretty awesome so far.

I would love to go to one of her book signings, but she never comes to the southeast.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on July 15, 2009, 01:37:45 PM
I'm reading genre microfiction (http://wondermark.com/genre-microfiction/). So far I like it a lot. He said, ironically.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on July 15, 2009, 02:41:26 PM
That's not bad.  There are already several categories for really short fiction, and usually I don't like it, but that's pretty amusing.  Although I don't need to read more than a page or so in that particular vein.


I just finished reading Frightening Strikes, a recent Remo Williams book.  It was mostly pretty entertaining, often funny, kind of a cross between the martial arts comic book superhero of your choice, X Files, and wiseass detective.  This particular story involved intelligent squid who can emit electricity-like sparks that steal life energy (which can be used to regenerate or alter living tissue) and a super-zombie Renfield character, all of whom are acting on the behest of a Lovecraftian monster.  It was sort of a cross between Lifeforce (the movie), some kind of squid horror movie, and Fist of the North Star.

I know that's a lot of crosses, but there you are.  Remo is marketed to the same people as Mack Bolan, though, and consequently the book is peppered with truly retarded right-wing guff that would make most freepers smile and shake their heads.  It's tongue-in-cheek but still annoying.  One typical bit has a Democratic governor trying to shift attention from his sex scandals by announcing amnesty for all felons on the grounds that science might some day come up with a way to disprove all the evidence against them; fortunately, he gets shot in the head before being able to put this into practice.

That crap aside, the book occasionally gets a little repetitive and boring -- it's clearly written by group effort, and the level of talent varies a lot -- but it's pretty fast-paced and has lots of good moments.  The supernatural martial arts stuff is often pretty funny and occasionally pretty cool, occasionally too ridiculous.   The humor is often humorous, occasionally a tad strained.  I've been told to read the early books, which are apparently less supernatural but no less tongue-in-cheek.

Still not as good as the movie, but for sheer amusing peculiarity it's up there.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on July 29, 2009, 10:46:58 AM
Never read any of the Flashman books.  Picked up Royal Flash.  Eh.  It's really clever, and really carefully done, and it has some beautiful moments, but it's failing to hold my attention for more than a few pages at a time.  I probably shouldn't have started with a sequel.  :shrug:


I read Michael Shea's A Quest for Simbalis, which is kind of an odd fantasy novel.  Jack Vance wrote a bunch of Dying Earth fantasy stories, set in a far future where the sun is unreliable and just about ready to go out.  Then he wrote a Dying Earth novel or two, and then . . . there was a long gap.  Shea got permission to write a sequel (in fact, two, I believe), and afterward Vance got inspired to write another one or two, himself.  I don't know if Shea's books are supposed to be canonical (I think they aren't), but it really doesn't matter.

Shea does a very decent imitation of Vance, which is a good thing, and the book is very inventive and atmospheric.  Still, it allegedly stars Cugel, a Vance antihero, but Shea doesn't actually seem that interested in Cugel, who occasionally moves out of the story's primary focus and, really . . . I liked the book, but he could've just as easily written a Dying Earth-like book, with all original characters, and done pretty much the same story.  I did like it, though.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: NexR on July 29, 2009, 02:13:44 PM
I've just started Asimov's Foundation series.  This is really the first I've read of his, but I really digged Foundation, so I expect I'll like the others.

Before that I read Mcarthy's The Road which was brutally depressing if you ask me.  I found out the other day that they're making it into a movie with Viggo Mortenson, which will probably work out just fine.  I also read (in keeping with the post-apocalyptic theme) Atwood's Oryx and Crake which was fucking brilliant.  I've been recommending it to everybody.

A while back I did a bunch of Heinlein's work.  Very good.  It's understandable why he's considered one of the big three.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on July 29, 2009, 02:41:54 PM
I liked Foundation but never read any more of the series.  Loved The Road.  I found it to be an uplifting and poignant comedy.  Or maybe the opposite of that.

Right now I'm reading quite a few books, but the most interesting one is Free-Range Kids (http://www.amazon.com/Free-Range-Kids-Children-Freedom-Without/dp/0470471948/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1248895598&sr=8-1).  It's mostly about how not to be a helicopter parent.  The author ("America's Worst Mom") was on all the morning shows and news channels because she let her 9-year-old ride the subway by himself.  THE HORROR.  She makes the argument that it's as safe now, if not safer, than it was when we were growing up and we had so much more freedom.  The emphasis is on preventing the things you can reasonably prevent, and letting go of trying to prevent the 1-in-7-million occurrences, like stranger abduction.  Her writing style is very bloggish and at first I was irritated by the lack of footnoting, but then I realized that she actually did cite in the back of the book.

The other interesting one is Satan: His Psychotherapy and Cure by the Unfortunate Dr. Kassler, J.S.P.S. (http://www.amazon.com/Satan-Psychotherapy-Unfortunate-Kassler-J-S-P-S/dp/059514506X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1248896200&sr=8-1).  I'm not very far into it, but a woman just had sex with a computer that is actually Satan.  It's pretty funny, in a black, Catch-22-ish sort of way.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: First Post on July 29, 2009, 02:54:54 PM
a recent Remo Williams book

Wow, I had no idea they were still doing new titles of stuff like Remo Williams and Mack Bolan the Executioner and etc. That was hot shit in like the 70s as I recall, right next to Zane Grey and Louis L'amour in the racks of cheap paperbacks. What a trip.

I've got a lot of new stuff to go through (the Shatner books where Kirk didn't really die in Generations, among others) but I did finish the latest from Author Y'all Don't Like, which I enjoyed a lot. As with their other titles, AYDL's work on this one is all about the little asides and factoids they like to throw in everywhere; in this case it's mostly centered around interesting historic quotes. I found it a nice read, even with the ESL-style dialect of the protagonist.

Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: NexR on July 29, 2009, 03:06:24 PM
Right now I'm reading quite a few books, but the most interesting one is Free-Range Kids (http://www.amazon.com/Free-Range-Kids-Children-Freedom-Without/dp/0470471948/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1248895598&sr=8-1).  It's mostly about how not to be a helicopter parent.  The author ("America's Worst Mom") was on all the morning shows and news channels because she let her 9-year-old ride the subway by himself.  THE HORROR.  She makes the argument that it's as safe now, if not safer, than it was when we were growing up and we had so much more freedom.  The emphasis is on preventing the things you can reasonably prevent, and letting go of trying to prevent the 1-in-7-million occurrences, like stranger abduction.  Her writing style is very bloggish and at first I was irritated by the lack of footnoting, but then I realized that she actually did cite in the back of the book.

I love this philosophy.  I think we've discussed this before.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on July 29, 2009, 03:06:44 PM
AYDL

L. Ron Hubbard?  Stephanie Meyer?
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on July 29, 2009, 03:12:08 PM
I love this philosophy.  I think we've discussed this before.

This morning while waiting in the doctor's office I was reading about Ben Franklin and Herman Melville and Mark Twain taking apprenticeships at 12 and getting on whaling boats at 14, while 13-year-olds aren't allowed to ride their bikes 6 blocks to school.  Surely there is some middle ground...
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: First Post on July 29, 2009, 03:33:09 PM
heh. It's just that there are some people whose work is impossible to discuss because it turns into a discussion on everyone's feelings of them as a person instead, so I try not to bother. The most prominent would be Michael Moore; I've always dug his whole vs. the corporations shtick, watched every ep of TV Nation and Awful Truth, but now everything he does has to be picked apart by wingnuts, so even liberals can't talk about his films as films without qualifiers ("I don't always agree with Moore or his methods, BUT"). You know, that just isn't as interesting to me.

Some of it is localized to the discussion setting too, hence the AYDL thing, as with another director I love who has a new movie coming out (starring a person who also starred in the movie version of one of AYDL's books, if that helps) that I won't even mention here when I go see it because it just turns into one of those Things.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on July 29, 2009, 04:16:10 PM
:galm:

Yeah, Michael Moore is FAT, man. So his argument is invalid.

Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: NexR on July 29, 2009, 04:47:21 PM
Y'know, I don't always agree with his methods, but I like that he tackles those issues.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: First Post on July 29, 2009, 05:02:09 PM
I dunno...as good as Sicko was, it allows people to go "oh, national health care is a Michael Moore thing then" and turn their minds off to it (or at least believe stuff like the current talking point going around: Obamacare is gonna pull the plug on old people! If you're over 65 they'll euthanize you, like a slow-moving version of Carousel!)

Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on July 29, 2009, 05:34:52 PM
Quote
The other interesting one is Satan: His Psychotherapy and Cure by the Unfortunate Dr. Kassler, J.S.P.S..

Hey, I have a copy of that, myself.  In a box somewhere.  Haven't read it yet, but it looked entertaining.



Yeah, FP, they're still doing Remo Williams books, but the Destroyer books were never quite really in the same genre as Mack Bolan -- they're almost but not quite a parody, if anything.  They were always tongue-in-cheek, and the recent ones are just flat-out bizarre.  One of the other ones I have, somewhere, is about the head of an HMO who trains big big dogs to smell cancer . . . and hunt down people who have it . . . in order to cut costs for the HMO.  It's like a more sarcastic kung fu X Files, and the sociopolitical commentary is all over the place.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: NexR on July 29, 2009, 05:48:57 PM
I was joking around.

"I don't always agree with Moore or his methods, BUT"

->

Y'know, I don't always agree with his methods, but I like that he tackles those issues.

:P
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on July 29, 2009, 06:00:02 PM
Obamacare is gonna pull the plug on old people! If you're over 65 they'll euthanize you, like a slow-moving version of Carousel!)

OMG, somebody was talking about that on facebook yesterday.  I didn't know WTF he was talking about!  He was also using terms like "Godbama" and "drive-by media", so I didn't think about it much.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: vox8 on July 29, 2009, 08:09:46 PM
My mother asked me where she could find a copy of the Health-care bill online because she wanted to read it herself. I told her that it was, like, 1K pages and she said that she knew that. She has been listening to some RW propaganda machines (ie FAUX news) and she said that some of the things they said just didn't make any sense to her and she just couldn't believe that these things were actually in this bill. Specifically one of the pundits said something about a "forced Abortion" portion of the bill.

I told her that I would start with the White House site and that the bill has to be posted somewhere.

****sniff****

I am so proud of her.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Talix on July 29, 2009, 08:43:19 PM
I just finished David Foster Wallace's Oblivion (short stories) and have started Spoon River Anthology.  I think I read it in high school, but don't remember anything besides the style.

Our next book club pick is Christopher Moore's Fool - we decided to lighten up after Geek Love.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on July 29, 2009, 10:45:38 PM
Fool is good!
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on July 29, 2009, 10:53:12 PM
Our last book club book was Garden Spells (http://www.amazon.com/Garden-Spells-Bantam-Discovery-Addison/dp/0553590324/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1248925610&sr=8-1), which I loved.  I thought it was very sweet and a very fast read.  The negative reviews are saying it's a rip-off of Practical Magic, but I've never read or seen that, so I dunno.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on July 29, 2009, 11:21:20 PM
I read Practical Magic, and I think it was a good one to rip off.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: flipper on July 30, 2009, 05:44:12 PM
Finally finished Our Band Could Be Your Life.  Interesting read and now I have a desire to check out Mission of Burma and Beat Happening.  The SF scene wasn't really represented  :thumbsdn:  But all in all :detta:

Now I'm reading The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: sm0k4 on July 31, 2009, 05:49:59 AM
Our last book club book was Garden Spells (http://www.amazon.com/Garden-Spells-Bantam-Discovery-Addison/dp/0553590324/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1248925610&sr=8-1), which I loved.  I thought it was very sweet and a very fast read.  The negative reviews are saying it's a rip-off of Practical Magic, but I've never read or seen that, so I dunno.

Yeah I liked that one too. I loved the flowers in the food.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on August 01, 2009, 12:12:04 PM
Stoatse, I just finally noticed that your current sig is a Dan McGirt quote.  Awesome with an 'e'.

:thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup:
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on August 01, 2009, 02:27:15 PM
I just finished August's book club book (http://www.amazon.com/Guernsey-Literary-Potato-Society-Readers/dp/0385341008/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top) and know I"m crying because it's all done.   :cry:  smoka, I think you'd like this one.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on August 01, 2009, 02:35:32 PM
Heh. Teh w1f3's book club is also reading that one. She also likes it, and she's Mikey when it comes to women's book club novels on the whole.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Tripper on August 02, 2009, 09:01:00 AM
A little over halfway through Peter F Hamilton's "Judas Unchained" for the third time.  He seems to have taken over the hard SF genre from Niven and IMHO is doing a good job of it.  He manages to create a lot of characters, throw in something wildly improbable, and make it all work in roughly 3000 pages over 2 or 3 books.

The third reading because he just published the second book in the sequel trilogy to the first 2 books (Pandora's Star & Judas Unchained, are you following along here?) that takes place a thousand years after the first two.  It was mildly annoying to find that it was the middle book, but I like his stuff, so more is always better.

If you want something with sort of a zombie twist, read his Night's Dawn trilogy (split into 6 books for US paperbacks).  Starts out on a penal planet patterned a bit after Devil's Island where "Things Go Wrong" in a genuinely creepy way then throws it an SF curve.  Good read.

Be ready though, the protagonist might not appear until at least halfway through the book.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: TehPnuk on August 02, 2009, 10:59:37 PM
Just finished Black Company. Liked it.

Starting A Canticle for Leibowitz. Hope I like it.

Also just completed by final writing project this month. 63,000 words later my month of crazy writing is OVER.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: stormneedle on August 02, 2009, 11:42:36 PM
Re-reading some middle Tepper. Specifically at the moment, Grass. I'm feeling a need for familiar terrors for some reason.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on August 03, 2009, 12:01:15 AM
Starting A Canticle for Leibowitz. Hope I like it.

This is one of my all-time faves.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: NexR on August 03, 2009, 09:06:26 AM
Also just completed by final writing project this month. 63,000 words later my month of crazy writing is OVER.

Congratz!
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Hedaira on August 03, 2009, 01:26:02 PM
I read the entire Twilight series again. Not for the ate-a-whole-bag-of-jellybeans sensation, but to analyze the formula.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Tripper on August 03, 2009, 01:33:28 PM
What is it?  Something like E=MC^Lusr?
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Hedaira on August 03, 2009, 01:49:11 PM
Depends. You could give Rowling the same amount of shit for doing the same thing. Can't argue with the fact that they're both commercially successful. Good for them, IMO.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: NexR on August 03, 2009, 02:51:53 PM
You could give Rowling the same amount of shit for doing the same thing.

And I do.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Tripper on August 03, 2009, 04:26:03 PM
I'm tempted to write some wildly erotic vampire story just to cash in.  I'll whore my talent for money, indeedy do I would!
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on August 04, 2009, 07:54:19 AM
The problem is that everyone and their grandmother is currently writing vampire porn.  I don't know how the editors are wading through it all, although maybe that explains why so much of what does get published is teh crap.  If you want to stand out, you've got to STAND OUT.  The editors I used to deal with at Tor once suggested to me that you include a box of chocolates with your manuscript.  I was a little worried something would happen and the chocolates would melt all over the manuscript . . . but, in the end, it all arrived safely.  And, uh, they ate the chocolates, anyway.  I got a thank-you note about that.

I guess Twilight is the closest thing so far to commercial vampire porn for kids.  That market's still open.  Or maybe you could write a gentle nostalgic vampire-porn comedy for elderly readers?  Stay offa my grave! etc etc.  And Anne Rice only touched on the vampire porn meets Steel Magnolias option.  Then there's vampire porn meets Clive Cussler!  Vampire sex in a submarine that's looking for a Viking meteorite with magic powers.  And make one of the vampires a forensic technician -- she could just taste the cadavers to do the chemical work.

:hmm:

I have other things to write, myself, but I offer these gems freely.


Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on August 04, 2009, 08:01:42 AM
I've been reading a crime novel called Smugglers Notch, basically because the story takes place in a part of Vermont I used to hang around in.  Meh.  It's not wall-to-wall terrible, but . . . the author doesn't understand how to change perspective between characters (and, I mean, a competent editor could have fixed this with ONE CONVERSATION, I swear to god) or which details are really important (there was a chase through the snow that went on for like four WTF-is-wrong-with-them pages before he mentioned that it was after dark).  And the cop protagonist is a really dumb cop, I have to say, and kind of a jerk (especially to his wife), which makes him a lot less sympathetic.  The villain doesn't seem to make sense, either, but I think he's supposed to be unhinged (I probably ought to be able to tell for sure, from the text, but . . . ).

Not horrible, but it's not keeping me gripped.


I also stole a bunch of manga from my brother while taking care of his cats t'other week.  I just re-read Takahashi's Mermaid series, and, I have to say, if you hate Inu-Yasha and Ranma, you should still read these, if you have any interest in manga.  It's not like Takahashi's other stories; it's like the characters from her other stories got serious and then wandered into a world of grim unremitting horror.  The basic concept is that mermaids are real, but really unpleasant, and if you eat a bit of mermaid flesh, you might become immortal . . . or more likely will either die or mutate horribly (more chud-style than tentacle-style).  And then she plays these ideas out in different ways, usually with morbid complications that make most vampire fiction look like Uncle Wiggily stories.  Almost no comedy.


I also read four volumes of Video Girl Ai, not realizing that the series went on longer than that but that my brother doesn't have the rest of it.  Video Girl Ai is a slightly lightweight high-school romance fantasy series, but the difference is (A) the depth of characterization and development and realism, and (B) that the author / artist (Masakazu Katsura) has a hammerlock on cute shoujo art -- especially faces, but, thank god, he's also generally aware of realistic body proportions, unlike the vast proportion of comic artists the world over.  The comic is basically without sex; it's not that kind of thing.  And some of the SF elements are a little twee or cliched (Japanese cliches).  But it's still entertaining.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on August 04, 2009, 08:30:02 AM
I have other things to write, myself, but I offer these gems freely.

:rollin: :rollin: :rollin:
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Tripper on August 04, 2009, 09:02:58 AM
Well, I could sorta go the Anne Rice route but base it in North Louisiana where I'm from.  New Orleans and anyone below I-10 regard anything above as Yankee.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: stormneedle on August 04, 2009, 10:17:42 AM
That forensics vampire amused me. But do vampires get colds?
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on August 04, 2009, 11:00:14 AM
Your typical revenant can get a truly revolting septic sinus infection, among other things, but, then, body maintenance skills and attention vary with the individual.  A normal virus can't infest a dead vampire, since they don't have the living cells for the virus to hijack.  Some revenants maintain live blood tissues, etc, but the level of RNA activity would still be so minimal as to effectively preclude viral success. 

Septic bacteriological infections (not to mention critters, saprophytic fungi, et al) is a whole other problem, though.  Albeit not very sexy.

Your pulp-lit / Hollywood randomly-magical vampire, though?  Depends on the writers.  Honestly, most of these people have vamps who drink blood all the time but never disgorge any.  Where do they think it all goes?  It's very woolly thinking, at best.

:harumph:
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on August 04, 2009, 11:05:26 AM
Well, we know Vampire Bill cries blood.  Lots of people have wondered about what happens during sex.  Maybe they pee blood. 

It's kind of along the lines of that "do zombies poop" article from a couple months back.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Hedaira on August 04, 2009, 11:23:56 AM
Yeah, that part always makes me wonder. Plus, vampire Bill has a lot of sex with Sookie so...

oh god.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on August 04, 2009, 11:34:28 AM
Young, dumb, and full of blood?
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on August 04, 2009, 12:07:53 PM
Oh, honestly.

Call me old-fashioned, but dead people are not for sex.  Not even if they take a hot bath first.  We need more pop-lit vampires who aren't dead in the first place.  I don't know why a creepy supernatural super-powered living person who eats a lot of blood and takes humans as prey isn't Out There enough for most people.  :shrug:

I blame the TV.  Maybe TV needs more sexy robots again?  Mann and Machine and that there Terminator show can't be entirely wrong.  Or a show full of sexy Middle Eastern spirits would be OK.  Or sexy Asian ghosts.  Or they could go Japanese and do soft-core angel pron.  I just get tired of pop-lit vampires.


As for zombies, there's a lot of different kinds, traditionally.  You've got your voodoo zombies (most kinds of which are really still alive, which = poop, although not much) and your hangon kinda zombies (simulated life, which = poop) and yadda, but if we're talking movie zombies . . . they mostly don't seem to poop.  Still, they tend to waste away, and they rarely get to eat that much, and as time goes by they lose a lot of mass in the form of noxious liquids that just drain out through whatever openings are available (including a lot that weren't there when they were alive).

So I'd say that, formally, no, they don't poop, but they do worse things.  I imagine if you gorged one, it would bloat up something fierce and probably suffer internal rupturing, although "suffer" isn't quite the right word.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on August 04, 2009, 12:48:57 PM
http://www.pvponline.com/2009/08/03/maneuvers-in-the-dark/ (http://www.pvponline.com/2009/08/03/maneuvers-in-the-dark/)
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: flipper on August 04, 2009, 02:36:34 PM
Vampires and zombies.  Why don't lycanthropes, reanimateds, and mummies get any love any more?
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Tripper on August 04, 2009, 05:19:13 PM
Don't forget Owen on Torchwood.

"That is the most disgusting thing I have ever seen!"
- Cap'n Jack.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on August 04, 2009, 05:30:37 PM
Don't forget that the industry name for Paranormal Romance is Werewolf Porn.  It just hasn't made it to TV yet.  Sexy vamps, after all, just need some powder and occasionally some teeth.  Whedon went a lot further than most bother to, and even he rarely had his vamps 'vamp out' into the extra makeup.

Werewolves are hard to make look good, and necrophilia remains more mainstream-acceptable than bestiality.  Mummies just aren't usually sexy, partly because everyone remembers Karloff's mummy and not Jewel of the Seven Stars.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: flipper on August 04, 2009, 06:27:35 PM
What about hunchbacks?
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on August 04, 2009, 06:38:27 PM
HUNCHBACK IN AN HOUR! 

Get it?



Actually, you've stirred up some vague memory of a bad hunchback sex scene that I had repressed.  Oh.  Damn.  It's from Candy.

Meh.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: flipper on August 05, 2009, 02:22:24 PM
/me wonders what happens when he mentions gimps.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: NexR on August 05, 2009, 07:37:12 PM
*nex brings out the gimp
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: stormneedle on August 05, 2009, 08:37:14 PM
*stormneedle points out that it wasn't a full break this time, even if I am gimpy at the moment.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: whidB on August 05, 2009, 08:42:53 PM
*whidB notes that Zed is dead, baby
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on August 06, 2009, 02:15:08 PM
Hey, Zed knew he would die when he destroyed the Tabernacle and fled the Vortex.  But he also knew he'd get to hump the crap out of Charlotte Rampling for many years.  Albeit apparently in a cave.

He knew what he was doing.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Tripper on August 06, 2009, 02:21:19 PM
But what do we do with the chopper now that we've lost out LA privileges?
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: NexR on August 06, 2009, 03:52:43 PM
Charlotte Rampling... mmmwrar!
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: dogbone on August 16, 2009, 07:44:03 PM
Fun: Death: A Life (http://www.amazon.com/Death-Life-George-Pendle/dp/030739560X)

Work/Career: Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior (http://www.amazon.com/Sway-Irresistible-Pull-Irrational-Behavior/dp/0385524382)

Ambient Findability: What We Find Changes Who We Become (http://www.amazon.com/Ambient-Findability-What-Changes-Become/dp/0596007655/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1250469691&sr=1-1)


I'll read pretty much anything with a colon.

("I have a colon, Greg. Could you read me?")
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Talix on August 16, 2009, 07:46:28 PM
Genius and Heroin (http://www.amazon.com/Genius-Heroin-Illustrated-Catalogue-Creativity/dp/0061466417)
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: whidB on August 16, 2009, 10:18:45 PM
You would have loved my English lit classes back in college.

First semester was "Creativity through Alcohol and Drugs" and next year was "The Literature of Intoxication."

Mostly alcoholic writers, but we studied the Beats, too, and the professor threw in DeQuincey for good measure...;)

No I'm not talking about my other extra-curricular activities...
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Tripper on August 17, 2009, 05:50:07 AM
Hey Axe!  Got any of this series?

(http://www.cracked.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/cover.jpg)
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: dogbone on August 17, 2009, 07:58:32 AM
From the looks of it, the dragon will be entering her...unless, you know, the dragon is into pegging. And I'm not judging him if he is, I'm just sayin'.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: whidB on August 17, 2009, 11:19:43 AM
Looks like bad Vallejo Photoshooping...
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on August 17, 2009, 11:26:37 AM
What happened to the right side of his chest?
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on August 17, 2009, 12:12:17 PM
Quote
Got any of this series?

:eek:

Although I noticed we do have a book in the Paranormal Romance that's titled Mr Ecstasy.

I told IJ they should come out with one just called Vampire Orgasms, but she topped me (so to speak) by suggesting Cunnilingus With Fangs.

S&M, I guess.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: flipper on August 17, 2009, 01:28:57 PM
So furries are into mammals, so a dragon thing would be called a scalie?
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: vox8 on August 17, 2009, 01:41:26 PM
So furries are into mammals, so a dragon thing would be called a scalie?

Actually, and unfortunately, yes.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on August 17, 2009, 01:45:48 PM
I'm reading my student's dissertation  :sleeping:
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: NexR on August 17, 2009, 02:12:58 PM
So furries are into mammals, so a dragon thing would be called a scalie?

Actually, and unfortunately, yes.

:shock:   :lol:
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Tripper on August 17, 2009, 07:32:19 PM
She's not kidding.  There were times I'd lower my camera and say, "Damn.  Just damn."
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Encino Man on August 17, 2009, 08:11:37 PM
Manuals. Got a netbook and an HP printer with CD/DVD print capability all in one day. Gonna get a wireless router tomorrow. Expensive week for us....   :eyeroll:
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on August 18, 2009, 10:58:59 AM
Read an old George R. R. Martin anthology (Nightflyers, which, yeah, included that story) of stuff he wrote during the early 70s.  Holds up impressively well -- not just as fiction but as SF, per se.  Kind of uniformly downer, though.  Go figure.

Some of the stories are in his future universe setting that I always think of as the Festival Universe (because the first thing I read by him, and still my favorite of his novels, was Dying of the Light).  I don't know what he calls it.  It's always been one of my favorite future universes not only because of its merits as a setting but because, although I've read a number of things set in it, I've never read any stories that establish it, if you see what I mean.  It's got all this interesting past history, but all the Festival Universe stories I've read take place after the war with the Hrangans, etc. 

It's tantalizing.  Still, with a lot of authors that would just piss me off.  Martin also gets away with character abuse I wouldn't accept from most authors -- he's often admitted that he sometimes kills off major characters just to lend gravitas or drama to the story.  I'm not sure what it is that, for me, lets him get away with it.

I haven't read any of his big recent fantasy series, though.  I don't know -- there's something off-putting about it.  :shrug:
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on August 27, 2009, 11:50:12 AM
I missed reporting on a couple of things, but by now I don't remember what I read.  Um.  Well, anyway, I just finished Keith Laumer's A Trace of Memory, which was fine, a kind of a typical Laumer book -- it's more like a few semi-developed novels combined into one short book.  Of course, SF novels tended to be a lot shorter back in the early 60s.  It's never dull, but it's full of elements that don't entirely go anywhere, and the plot turns a few unexpected right angles.


Now I've started an Elizbeth Peters book (Summer of the Dragon), which is really a Barbara Michaels book, although her real name is actually Barbara Mertz . . . but anyway.  I think the only other Michaels book I've read is The Crying Child, a gothic romance I read, um, like in 1980, maybe.  It was OK but, for me, it would've been better if it had gone further into the horror genre. 

I picked up Dragon long enough ago that I don't remember why I decided to pick it up -- which is how I prefer it.  I managed to read just over 75 pages before accidentally reading the title.  A lot of books are more fun for me if I have no idea what I'm getting into.  It's good so far.  Entertaining and fast-moving, although she's still mostly just hinting at what the plot will be.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on August 30, 2009, 01:39:07 PM
I finished the Peters book, which was . . . it's weird, really.  A good read; it flies right by; a lot of the writing is admirable and clever.  It's sort of a protest reversal of the sexist romance novel, in that the narrator is a strong, forceful, intelligent, extremely educated character who eats what she wants (a major part of the book, in fact), is not shy around men (although neither is she promiscuous), does not scream'n'faint, etc.  It's a good character.

At the same time, the narrator really doesn't do much -- except talk.  She does a lot of the sleuthing in terms of figuring stuff out and talking things through.  Other characters (men) do most of the actual action part of the activity, though.  Not all of it, but still.  Most of the action in the story takes place off-stage while the narrator is waiting to hear news about it.  It makes it feel as if the book consists almost entirely of setting things up.

It was still fun, though.  And funny -- because it still has the form of a romance novel.  By maybe chapter three I knew how it would end, even though I didn't know what the mystery was actually going to be.  This guy is being set up as the Obvious Boyfriend, so he'll turn out to be the villain.  This guy is tall and gorgeous but too bossy, and he seemingly doesn't like the narrator, so he'll turn out to be the boyfriend.  This guy is gorgeous and vastly wealthy but a little too old, and, yeah, the maid is silently in love with him, so they'll end up together.  :lol:


I started re-reading Things My Girlfriend And I Have Argued About, by Mil Millington, after finding it unexpectedly while sorting stuff.  Years ago, I found the website -- oh my god, it's still there (http://www.mil-millington.com/) -- and thought it was hilarious, and then the book came out . . . and the book is not that much like the website but is also great.  When I was just a fan of the site, I didn't realize he was a 'real' writer (as opposed to someone simply detailing their actually funny life, which the internet is full of), so I was surprised by the book.  :lol:

I don't know that he'd be flattered to hear that.  But, anyway, the book is priceless, especially for people who have been in the post-grad academic world, or like British things, or have had girlfriends, or possibly have had boyfriends, or at least had children.  I don't have a lot of time to read, but this is one definitely worth re-reading.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on August 30, 2009, 03:06:19 PM
Yeah, he still sends out the occasional story.  I've had his books on my Amazon wishlist for years but never gotten them.  I wonder if the library has them.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: flipper on September 08, 2009, 04:53:36 PM
Ten Things Every Child With Autism Wishes You Knew by Ellen Notbohm
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Hedaira on September 12, 2009, 10:16:55 AM
The sookeh! slaphouse novels.

First off - they're not bad.
Second, WTB Eric.
Third, want to slap the editor really really really hard. That is the worst book editing I have ever seen. Words missing that entirely change the meaning of the sentence, poor form, and worst of all - using words that do not mean what they think they mean.

Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on September 12, 2009, 10:26:46 AM
:lol:

I'm often amazed at how bad mass-market book editing is nowadays.  It was often a bit slapdash in the 50s and 60s, especially for genre fiction (which was usually seen as niche or downmarket anyway), but WTF is the excuse nowadays?  On the other hand, there are two book editors (at a major publisher which shall remain nameless) whose work situation I've known, and they spend virtually no time editing books.  They do, to their credit, spend a fair bit of time trying to help writers fix their books, but most of their other time is spent doing slushpile triage or traveling about to conventions or to care-and-feed important authors.  Most of the actual editing is done by interns and such.

But for what they charge for books nowadays . . . sheesh.



I started reading a comedy-fantasy novel called The Unhandsome Prince.  The first fifty pages or so were extremely variable, especially in tone -- which switches freely from semi-plausible medievalish to modern slang (I think when the sorceress says 'dweeb', it's supposed to be funny).  But it seems to have gotten a bit surer of itself, and it's not tough going, so I'll keep reading.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Encino Man on September 18, 2009, 10:56:48 AM
Lost Symbol - Dan Brown

Don't be haters
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on September 18, 2009, 12:05:19 PM
Never read anything by Dan Brown, and I haven't seen the movie -- in the ads, Tom Hanks looked ridiculous and faintly embarrassed, and the reviews were not encouraging.  But I saw a website making fun of Brown's writing, and all I could think was that his editor is not his friend.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: flipper on September 18, 2009, 12:09:48 PM
Lost Symbol - Dan Brown

Don't be haters

Let us know if it's worth reading.  I enjoyed his other books, in a kind of brane candy junk food type of way.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on September 26, 2009, 01:30:04 PM
Re-read Wyrd Sisters, by Pratchett.  Hard to believe now that the book is over 20 years old . . . and I feel old, too.  Still good, and I was amused by how much I had misremembered it.  I believe it's the second Witches book.  Largely an homage to Macbeth in particular and Shakespeare in general.


Read Triax, a 1970s anthology with three novellas -- a Keith Roberts story (Molly Zero) that sort of turns 1984 on its head in a way that I wish Hollywood would try, as it would be a refreshing change; a James Gunn story (If I Forget Thee) that combines virtual reality, shared memories, future shock, and identity and relationship issues (pretty depressing); and a Jack Vance story (Freitzke's Turn), from his Galactic Effectuator series, about a detective (of sorts) tracking down a really obnoxious mad scientist.


Also finally read The Year of the Quiet Sun, a 1970 time-travel novel by Wilson Tucker that's mostly about futurist cautionary tales of race and politics.  It was nominated for all kinds of awards (and won the Campbell) and was often recommended to me as a great time-travel book.  Well . . . it's well-written and has some really strong elements, but it also has a bunch that frankly didn't seem all that relevant, and probably 80% of it isn't about time travel.

The time travel stuff in it doesn't really make sense, either.  I mean, the futurism in it is fine, if not optimistic, but . . . OK, the time machine they have can only go forward to times when its power source (an external nuclear reactor) is still functioning.  Accordingly, the organization running the project explicitly plans to keep the project going at least until the furthest future time that they'll be sending the machine to.  In other words, if they want to send it forward to 2010, then they have to still be in operation in 2010 to keep the reactor running properly, etc.  The machine moves forward and backward in time but stays in the lab.  You see?

So when the time travellers go forward, they find equipment and notes left for them (from shortly before their arrival) by the lab personnel who are still working on the project.  The time travellers are supposed to be making a survey of the future, what's going on and what's changed.  But, uh, why doesn't the future lab staff just leave a report waiting for them?  In fact, why don't they just send an empty machine forward in time to where a report will be placed in it by the future lab staff?

Sidestepping paradox issues, and all, I mean.  It's just a bizarre setup that kept distracting me.  The idea is that a guy throws the switch and sends you 20 years into the future, and when you get there he's still in the next room (but 20 years older) monitoring your arrival.  Weird. 

The paradox issues (which basically simply weren't addressed) were awfully distracting, too.  I get that Tucker mostly wanted to write a bleak novel about how things might go wrong for the US in the near future, but maybe he should've just skipped the time machine angle.  Well, whatever.  It was OK.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: flipper on September 27, 2009, 02:15:09 AM
Just started Anathem by Neal Stephenson.  This may take awhile...
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on September 27, 2009, 01:47:11 PM
I finished Drew's book this morning.  Outside of me going "Hey!  I know that guy!" every few pages, it was okay.  There were some editing issues and it needed more of a conclusion than it got.  I felt like it just stopped after he got through the different types of fake news.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: flipper on September 27, 2009, 05:11:08 PM
Is it still worth a read though?  I'll have some time in another year when I finish Anathem.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on September 27, 2009, 09:59:55 PM
Eh, I suppose.  It's a quick read, fairly amusing.  But I don't think much in it will be very surprising.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Hedaira on September 27, 2009, 10:41:34 PM
Lightning stories lol.  :eyeroll:
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on September 27, 2009, 10:46:39 PM
Yeah, that was another "Hey! I know that guy!" moment.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on September 29, 2009, 08:13:47 PM
I've just finished Mil Millington's first 2 books.  The first one, Things My Girlfriend and I Have Argued About, kind of sucked.  The arguments between the main character and his girlfriend were funny, just like Mil's schtick, but the plot (which had nothing at all to do with his girlfriend) was kind of crappy.  I wouldn't recommend.

The second book, A Certain Chemistry, was much better.  I would recommend that one.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Encino Man on September 29, 2009, 09:37:20 PM
Still plugging away at Dan Brown's latest opus. It's offensive to science the way Da Vinci Code was offensive to the Church.   :eyeroll:
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Encino Man on October 11, 2009, 09:34:59 PM
Lost Symbol - Dan Brown

Don't be haters

Let us know if it's worth reading.  I enjoyed his other books, in a kind of brane candy junk food type of way.

It takes me ages to read books - I only dedicate 20 minutes or so a day to reading. Anyway - I finished 'Lost Symbol' last night. It was kinda 'meh'. It was okay. It didn't have the pizzazz of the da Vinci Code or Angels & Demons. And the ending was a bit of a lame letdown...
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: stormneedle on October 11, 2009, 09:55:32 PM
Re-reading Sabriel by Nix.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on October 12, 2009, 05:54:11 AM
Oooh . . . I haven't read any of the Nix books (they're scarce and popular), but they look interesting.  We had a cool promotional poster for Abhorsen awhile back, but one of the clerks bought it.


I was reading Moon on the Water, a collection of horror stories by Mort Castle, but I bogged down.  Castle is kind of a fascinating guy and very well-respected as a writing teacher, but his style isn't quite right for me.  The stories in Moon on the Water suggest he does for jazz and Illinois what Stephen King did for classic rock and Maine, and some of the stories are interesting sketches, but I'm just not in the target audience.

I'm also re-reading The Big Book of Weirdos, from the Paradox Press line, which I rediscovered while moving boxes the other day.  It remains groovy and amusing.

I'm also, in odd stolen moments, slowly chewing through an early Groff Conklin SF anthology, all stories from about 1930 to 1950.  Some are awesome (Sturgeon's Killdozer!, which I don't think I'd read since maybe 1980) and some don't hold up as well, but they're all interesting.  Many are prophetic pre-1945 tales of nuclear weapons, with guesses good or bad.

I just don't seem to be in a mood to read novels these days.  Too distracted, I think.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on October 12, 2009, 09:07:20 AM
Abhorsen is the third, iirc. Teh w1f3 loves those. Scarce and popular, eh? :hmm:


I just read "To Rule the Waves" by Arthur Herman, a history of the Royal Navy. It's chock-full of interesting little historical anecdotes that I found good to read, particularly about Drake and Hawkins and the early days. It was also fun to read about the events depicted in Stephenson's Baroque Cycle from a historical rather than a fictional perspective. On the other hand, once things get rolling the book is full of blatant, fawning apologism for British colonialism. I mean, the guy really comes straight out and says that the slave trade was much better (for the slaves) once the British started running it. O rly. Plenty of sighing nostalgia for the "good old days" when half the world was pink on the map. And naturally things were just fine in the Middle East until the US started interfering and stopped Britain and France from conquering the Suez. Yuck. It's a neocon textbook, without the Churchill worship (Churchill comes off pretty badly in this). Worth reading for the well-researched historical facts, but don't get brainwashed.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Hedaira on October 12, 2009, 09:50:31 AM
Quote
Abhorsen is the third,

I read that name and was all SON OF FRANKENSTEIN BWAARARARGH
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on October 12, 2009, 11:13:58 AM
Quote
I read that name and was all SON OF FRANKENSTEIN BWAARARARGH

Lolwut?  Why?  Not because of the Rathbone / Karloff / Lugosi movie, I assume?  :popcorn:


Yeah, we rarely see the Nix books, and they sell pretty fast.  We've certainly never had the whole trilogy at once.  Speaking of which, we (naturally enough) don't have Diamond Age or Bridge of Birds, either.  I could loan the Chinese girl one of my copies of Bridge of Birds, if I can find one in a box somewhere, but anyone want to recommend a book about China that was written by a Westerner?  Fiction or non-fiction is OK . . . hopefully we'll have it in stock.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on October 12, 2009, 11:20:12 AM
I read "The Man Who Loved China" by Simon Winchester recently. Biography of a British historian who basically introduced the grand sweep of Chinese civilization to the West in the 20th century. Fascinating.

Do not recommend "The Rape of Nanking" by Iris Chang. :( :cry:
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: stormneedle on October 12, 2009, 11:56:38 AM
The Abhorsen is a necromancer of the Old Kingdom, but the only one that returns creatures back into death.

Nix writes well. He writes young adult level, but the texture of his writing isn't simple. My wife was noting that he tends to describe things using all of the senses.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: First Post on October 12, 2009, 02:17:53 PM
Dr. Orpheus: Now I don't want to worry you with particulars, but I am by trade a necromancer. Do you know what that means?

Brock Samson: Uh, that you have sex with dead people?

Orpheus: Phile. Necrophile. A necromancer can bring the dead to life!

Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on October 12, 2009, 02:56:33 PM
Traditionally, a lot of Western necromancy did involve necrophilia.  I do tend to think that this was more because of necrophiliacs becoming necromancers than anything else . . . or because students are gullible and teachers are often cruel.  ('This is the worst lab class I've ever had!')

All I can say is that if you've tried everything else and are down to farking that cadaver to see if it'll perk up, maybe you should have already decided, like a while ago, that maybe you just aren't going to succeed anyway.  Of course, I also thought a lot of alchemists were somewhere between a little desperate and a little crazy, saving semen to put it in a furnace powered by human dung in order to try to grow a weird little dude who might or might not have magical powers.

And don't get me started on the voodoo, or kundalini magic that requires you to store gunk in your forehead.  I understand about captivating mythologies, but people are too damned weird.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Hedaira on October 12, 2009, 03:22:26 PM
Quote
I read that name and was all SON OF FRANKENSTEIN BWAARARARGH

Lolwut?  Why?  Not because of the Rathbone / Karloff / Lugosi movie, I assume?  :popcorn:


Yeah, we rarely see the Nix books, and they sell pretty fast.  We've certainly never had the whole trilogy at once.  Speaking of which, we (naturally enough) don't have Diamond Age or Bridge of Birds, either.  I could loan the Chinese girl one of my copies of Bridge of Birds, if I can find one in a box somewhere, but anyone want to recommend a book about China that was written by a Westerner?  Fiction or non-fiction is OK . . . hopefully we'll have it in stock.

Simple etymology.  Abhor Sen. Change that e to an o and you get "The name Abhorson means measure for measure an executioner." It's the perfect name for a mad scientist's humaniod monster along the lines of those old B&W horror movies. I am terrible at providing context sometimes, my bad. If I can find my copy of Diamond Age - I can ship it your way.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on October 12, 2009, 03:53:39 PM
:trance:


Wait, wait, wait . . . :lol: . . . context nothing -- that is just a beautiful spiral staircase of previously unspoken subreferential connections.  Maybe it would have made more sense if (?) I'd read the Nix books.


Quote
"The name Abhorson means measure for measure an executioner."

I had to google that, and it often comes up in baby name and name etymology pages.  It's got to be a misquote from some earlier uncited source.  Abhorson doesn't 'mean' anything, etymologically; it's the name of the executioner in Shakespeare's play Measure for Measure.  :lol:  Some confusion seems to have been introduced at some point.  Bill the Bard made it up and was probably just punning 'whoreson' and 'abhor'.

But it would be a really good name for a Mad Scientist monster, for a variety of reasons.

I would greatly like an extra copy of The Diamond Age (truly, you are too kind, Stoatse), although, for all I know, this girl has never read SF before and will be completely flummoxed.  But it's worth a try!
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Tripper on October 14, 2009, 05:42:50 PM
Stoatse graciously loaned me the Charlene Harris books.  Just on Dead Until Dark and it's pretty bang on for the first season; honestly, I don't miss Tara at all.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on October 14, 2009, 05:52:00 PM
I just finished Dead as a Doornail (book 5). 
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on October 14, 2009, 05:57:54 PM
NPR 7120.5D (http://nodis.hq.nasa.gov/displayDir.cfm?Internal_ID=N_PR_7120_005D_)

The Louvain Brothers, as it turns out, were right (http://www.1000recordings.com/images/artist-l/louvin-brothers-511-l.jpg).

Fuck. Can I rant a bit? Yeah? I know this is off topic.

Got here early but had to work mao last night, jetlag-assisted so I stayed up til one. There were this couple sitting on this park bench right outside my room talking really loud until two. Had to get up at six (jetlag=3) to get to work again before seven, and I'm still at it 12 hours later. Much more to do before my time is my own. I feel terrible and my ears are ringing and ...
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Hedaira on October 14, 2009, 06:06:34 PM
Alcohol or Sominex and earplugs my friend.

I ditched the Som for melatonin and while it could possibly be the placebo effect - whatever - it works like a charm and is probably way less nasty than the chemicals in the Som.

Back OT: I've been reading a book on basic electronics.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on October 25, 2009, 11:19:17 PM
I read "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society" in one swell foop last night (insomania). AWWWWWW it's cute like puppy. Except for when the Nazis take the heroine out of the concentration camp and shoot her in the back of the head. Oops that was a spoiler only not real surprising after like page 10.

Anyway, cute. Recommended.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on October 25, 2009, 11:20:44 PM
 :lol:
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Tripper on October 26, 2009, 07:55:45 PM
Just started "Dead as a Doornail".  Let me tell you, it is odd reading about where you grew up.  I reread the paragraph about the LSU student Sookie whacks with the tray about 5 times because he was from Minden, where I was born.

And her description of the bayou and woods around there in winter is dead on.  I was getting chills just remembering about how cold it gets out there and how dead the woods look.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on October 28, 2009, 03:05:20 PM
I'm reading more supernatural porn.  This is from a novella called Magic Mourns in the anthology Must Love Hellhounds:

Quote
They had a saying about werehyenas: fourteen to eighty, blind, crippled, crazy.

I'd never heard this saying until thed.  I didn't know it was an actual thing.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on November 05, 2009, 04:46:46 PM
I read "Travels with Herodotus" by (the late) Ryszard Kapuczinski, a Cold War-era Polish journalist who got to travel the world of the Sixties, mostly in a state of profound puzzlement (mostly because he didn't speak the language wherever he went). His only companion was a translation of Herodotus' Histories, which became the lens through which he viewed the world. Anecdotes about trying to hitch a ride in the Congo to get the hell out of the civil war zone (for example) are interspersed with tales of Darius' defeated Persian troops withdrawing from Scythia and so forth.

I was a little disappointed. There wasn't much of Kapuczinski in the book. As a memoir it kind of sucked for that reason. I learned nothing about Kapuczinski, or his feelings or thoughts, but I learned a lot about Herodotus and how Kapuczinski admired his methods of doing research. Basically it was about how Herodotus should be a model for journalists, in the objective yet intimate way he learned about people and cultures and historical events from the perspective of an outsider. Herodotus traveled a greco-metric fuckload, like Kapuczinski, and was careful to delineate his observations from his opinions, and was careful about reporting but not crediting hearsay. He was a good journalist. Maybe that's really what this was about, how Kapuczinski's personality became subsumed to Herodotus' because of journalistic integrity. Not sure.

It was ... interesting.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Talix on November 05, 2009, 05:00:44 PM
I'm currently trying to finish The Glass Books of the Dream-Eaters, the first part of which was our last book club selection.  Don't.  Next is Huckleberry Finn and Zombie Jim.  Before Glass Books I read The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, which I loved even while I wasn't getting parts of it.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on November 24, 2009, 10:10:23 PM
I'm reading Stephen King's Duma Key (http://www.amazon.com/Duma-Key-Novel-Stephen-King/dp/1416552960/ref=tag_dpp_lp_edpp_ttl_in).  I'm actually surprised at how good it is, especially since I just reread some of the Bachman books and really struggled to get through them.  He's a much better writer now than he was 30 years ago.  This one also clearly draws from his injuries and recovery when he run over by that van.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: dogbone on November 29, 2009, 10:13:51 PM
Everything by Richard Russo. Finishing up Bridge of Sighs and I'm not happy about it.

Get cracking, Russo. I'm waiting.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: stormneedle on November 29, 2009, 10:23:10 PM
Finished Karen Miller's The Innocent Mage and The Awakened Mage. Nice try, but... too many holes remain, and too gory for my taste. I kept reading hoping to find the answer to a couple of questions, and never did find them.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on November 29, 2009, 10:30:31 PM
I stayed up all night at my folks' house and read the latest Renko novel by Martin Cruz Smith -- Stalin's Ghost.

I dunno. Kind of routine for Arkady. I hate to say I'm disappointed, because it's really good, but if you really want some post-Soviet paranoia about the past in modern Russia try Archangel by Robert Harris. That was truly creepy.

Also I read two John Sandford crime novels on the plane. I love these because they're set in Minnesota.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on November 30, 2009, 12:25:43 AM
I thought you were in Australia or something.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on November 30, 2009, 11:40:56 AM
Oh that was last week.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Talix on November 30, 2009, 01:41:28 PM
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Zombie Jim, for book club.  Surprisingly enjoyable so far (and not just because I love zombies, because I don't, particularly) (almost halfway through)!
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: flipper on November 30, 2009, 05:53:15 PM
I'm two thirds of the way through Anathem by Neal Stephenson.  :detta:  A real winner for you philosphy :geek:
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on December 13, 2009, 12:46:31 PM
I've been reading a lot of old magazines lately.  Just haven't felt like starting a book.  But I did give in and start a three-in-one-volume of Pratchett's Johnny Maxwell books (Only You Can Save Mankind, etc).

Eh.  They're not bad, and they have lots of excellent Pratchetty bits, but there's something off about them, almost slightly hollow.  Not fully realized.  There are moments where he seems to be talking down to his audience, and I know these are 'children's books' in a way that most of his books aren't, but I didn't get this same feeling with the Bromeliad trilogy, for instance.

Still, the good certainly outweighs the bad.  Of necessity, some of his work has to be better than other parts, and it's mostly just the comparison to his best stuff that makes the Maxwell books seem a bit weak.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on December 29, 2009, 12:57:25 PM
Nobody got me Anathem this year.  :(

I picked up U is for Undertow at a Borders super sale. Alas, Sue Grafton is losing it, and her editors aren't helping. I hate to say it but she's going on my 2010 pool list. I have no confidence she'll make it to Z. :( Anyway, she tells you how it's all going to end on the first page, and she presages every upcoming event in the novel like Jan Brett does in her picture books. Only the usual Santa Barbara detective story game of spot-the-locations kept me interested.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: flipper on December 29, 2009, 04:31:53 PM
If you come up to San Jo, I'll let you borrow Anathem.  I just finished it.  Great read.  (I'd ship it but at that weight, it'd cost like a brazilian dollars).  Anyway just started Small Wonder by Barbara Kingsolver.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: vox8 on December 29, 2009, 10:17:29 PM
I just finished Lonesome Dove.

The vast majority of it pissed me off. I know that these men are supposed to be manly - but mostly they are just jackasses.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on December 29, 2009, 11:57:12 PM
Quote
these men are supposed to be manly - but mostly they are just jackasses.

There's a lot of overlap in that Venn diagram.  Alas. 

Well, nature built men to be aggressive, bitchy, and expendable, and society needs excitable types who look before they leap so that we find out whether the group can cross the river here or if we'd better go further downstream.  Somebody's got to go first, and testosterone is looking for volunteers.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on December 30, 2009, 12:39:53 AM
I just finished reading The Murder of Bindy Mackenzie, by Australian / Canadian author Jaclyn Moriarty.  People who pay an abnormal amount of attention to my blar may remember my review of another of her books, The Spell Book of Listen Taylor.  (Both books were published under different titles outside the US.)  They're both amazing Young Adult novels with strong female characters, which is kind of a weakness of mine, but, seriously, pretty amazing.

Moriarty reminds me of a cross between Terry Pratchett, in his more real-world modes, and Ellen Raskin, the sadly underknown YA author probably best known for the excellent book The Westing Game.  (Incidentally, don't look any of these books up on Wikipedia, as their entries are full of spoilers and no warnings.  The Westing Game is a puzzle mystery novel, and the wiki entry for it gives away every detail.) 

Bindy Mackenzie is an unusual and brainy Australian high school student who is not popular and not happy and doesn't understand why.  In fact, the first third or so of the book was a little uncomfortable, but the writing and characterization are great, and the story really picks up steam.  Also, a mystery develops, although this is the type where the detectives are at least as interesting as the mystery, not the kind where you're challenged to figure it out before the detectives do.

The copy I read is an advance proof, and I don't know if it's identical to the published novel.  Moriarty's books almost never come through our shop, and I keep an eye out for them.  If I didn't have a bazillion books waiting to be read, I'd be buying her other books online right now.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on February 07, 2010, 04:08:57 PM
The Professional, which I believe is the last Spenser book to come out before Parker's death, although I've heard there are still a couple that are in the pipeline.

OK, actually, it's probably the best Spenser novel in quite awhile.  It wasn't great, but it had good parts, and it wasn't consistently annoying, wildly unrealistic and unbelievable, or dull, which a lot of the later ones were.  It moved right along; in fact, I read 90% of it in two sittings over two days.  So, not so bad.

The title doesn't really fit, though.  Kind of random.

And a lot of the book revolves around a guy who's described right in the blurb (not a spoiler):  He sleeps with a lot of women and later blackmails them.  The book gives him more depth than that, some good and some bad, but what's weird is how pretty much everyone in the book really likes the guy.  Really?  The guy's a complete amoral pathologically narcissistic dick.  He has no compunction for how anything he does affects anyone else.  That's not just my observation; it's explicit in the story, too, and Spenser comments on it.  The guy might be charming and may not intend to hurt people, but he still sure as hell does a lot of damage, and, if left to his own, would cause a hell of a lot more damage.

Honestly, I don't get it.  A lot of the Spenser books, and especially the later ones, have some overarching Point to make, usually some comment on psychology or society or both.  Too often, the nature of Love, although this keeps up through the later Paradise books, and it doesn't seem as stale there.  But I'm not sure WTF Parker was hoping to get across in this one.  Spenser and Susan have a committed monogamous relationship despite not being married, OK.  The point's been made many times.  And . . . ? 

This other guy's OK because he's doing what he wants to do and doesn't mean to hurt anyone, even though it's obvious even to him that he does?

Meh.  Still, it wasn't a bad book.  I just don't understand why everyone liked the guy.  Maybe he was supposed to be far more charming than he seemed to me.  Dunno.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: sm0k4 on February 07, 2010, 07:47:53 PM
So I needed something to read that I could just pick up and put down, nothing too engrossing since I'm doin the grad school thing. So I picked up Kushiel's Dart, thinking since I've read it before that it wouldn't be involving. Yeah. It's still crack.

Axe, Jacqueline Carey lives in western Michigan. You should get her to do a gig at your bookstore. And snag me an autograph, k?  :love: :love: :love: :love: :needles:
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on February 08, 2010, 12:56:18 PM
:hmm:

I haven't read those books -- I looked at a couple of random pages in Dart, and the style looks like it wouldn't work for me -- but I'm pretty sure the owner here has met her.  I wonder if she'd sign stuff for us or do an appearance?  We're really not set up for that kind of thing anymore, since the other store got downsized, but who knows?
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: flipper on February 08, 2010, 04:00:05 PM
In N Out Burger
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: sm0k4 on February 08, 2010, 06:52:07 PM
Most of the appearances she's listed on her website before were local ones. So it's feasible.  :D
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on February 15, 2010, 01:57:42 PM
I read No Country for Old Men on the boat. No wonder I was depressed.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Hedaira on February 15, 2010, 02:17:21 PM
eCopies of books on Alchemy. The ones that Google finds. Not all are complete which is vexing.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on February 15, 2010, 05:30:26 PM
Scary-Go-Round collections.  They make me happy and sad.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Hedaira on February 15, 2010, 06:49:23 PM
Then they are working as intended.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: mybabysmomma on February 15, 2010, 06:50:42 PM
Inside of a Dog
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Hedaira on February 15, 2010, 07:13:30 PM
It's too dark to read.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: mybabysmomma on February 15, 2010, 07:17:35 PM
And it's very moist.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: TFJ on February 16, 2010, 10:51:36 AM
I read No Country for Old Men on the boat. No wonder I was depressed.

that ain't nothin. i'm re-reading blood meridian. something about it i just love. maybe the grim drunken murder-sprees?... the dust and bloody scalped haids?

you know, NCFOM made a better film than a novel, imho.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on February 17, 2010, 08:18:31 PM
Quote
Then they are working as intended.

I read Bobbins well before he got to Scary Go Round, and the first time he killed Shelley . . . ooooh, I was mad. 

So mad.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on February 17, 2010, 09:53:50 PM
Three Cups of Tea.  Who woulda thought that a guy who loves and educates rural Pakistani and Afghani people would be contemptuous of Rumsfeld?
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on February 21, 2010, 10:17:43 PM
I read Heinlein's original novella of Universe.  And that wasn't bad.  He wasn't hurting anyone.  And it was much more original back in 1941, but it's well-written, doesn't belabor cliches, etc.

I do like his earlier short fiction best.  I mean, I won't argue with And He Built A Crooked House, The Roads Must Roll, If This Goes On, Universe, Methuselah's Children (short story; never read the novel), Man Who Sold The Moon, Let There Be Light, or Year of the Jackpot.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: TFJ on February 22, 2010, 10:25:23 PM
when i'm gettin back and forth from school or eatin or something i'm reading "a wild sheep chase" by murakami again. love his stuff. (mostly...)
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on March 06, 2010, 08:55:25 PM
I am finally reading Anathem by Neal Stephenson (finally out in paperback, and there I was at Powell's, oh dear) -- it's far more accessible than I thought. I'm liking it. If I had to characterize it ... OK. You know how Cryptonomicon is Stephenson's Gravity's Rainbow -- well, Anathem is his A Canticle for Liebowitz. Clearly. But Anathem is not destined to be a Classic with a capital C. However it's good clean nerdy fun. Whatever they told you about it -- don't worry. It's readable. There's a lot of vocabulary you have to pick up, no big deal. It's not like he invented a new language for it. Way easier than Finnegan's Wake if that was bothering you. By all means go for it.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on March 06, 2010, 09:18:01 PM
:hmm:

The Diamond Age was the last thing I read by him.  Cryptonomicon looks like one of those things that may be a Great Book but that I wouldn't want to finish reading.  I'm much more interested in reading his Canticle for Liebowitz, though.

We just sold a copy of Anathem t'other day, though, and god knows how long it'll take to get another one.  Still, I have SO MANY freaking books to read . . . .

I'm about halfway through House of Many Ways by Diana Wynne Jones, which is the third book in the Howl's Moving Castle world.  So far, it's good, but not her best work.  But good.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Hedaira on March 06, 2010, 09:27:14 PM
I found a big box O books in the basement. Some were meh, one I had no idea why I would even read such a thing because it was just woeful suck, and the one I'm currently on is Robots and Empire. It's ... eh. Bland, actually. :shrug:
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on March 06, 2010, 10:00:44 PM
I've read a lot of Asimov short stories and non-fiction, but actually I think the only full novels of his that I ever finished were Naked Sun and The Gods Themselves.  I don't know why.  I liked both, but just not enough I guess.  :shrug:

I've thought about reading Foundation many times, and I really like the classic paperback cover illustrations.  I read the blurbs, though, and they always sold me on not reading them right now.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on March 06, 2010, 10:07:19 PM
JESUS CHRIST.

You really have to read more Asimov. Come ON man. That is just WRONG.

The Foundation trilogy is FUNDAMENTAL -- if you don't read it you DO NOT KNOW SCIENCE FICTION

OK I'm drinking. champagne. 21st anniversary. sorry.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: stormneedle on March 06, 2010, 10:18:28 PM
JESUS CHRIST.

You really have to read more Asimov. Come ON man. That is just WRONG.

The Foundation trilogy is FUNDAMENTAL -- if you don't read it you DO NOT KNOW SCIENCE FICTION

OK I'm drinking. champagne. 21st anniversary. sorry.
Harry Seldon predicted you'd say that.

And Happy Anniversary!
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Hedaira on March 06, 2010, 10:35:11 PM
Drunk Scientists in Trouble.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: pdrake on March 06, 2010, 10:43:37 PM
and heinlein . . . "the moon is a harsh mistress" is one of the best books i've read. it's stood the test of time, also.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on March 06, 2010, 11:07:45 PM
I've read quite a lot of Heinlein, and I've :soapbox: about it before, but some of his stuff is good.

Like I said, I've read a lot of Asimov's other stuff, and he was a genius and all, no question, seriously.  His novels just never thrilled me.  I'll get around to Foundation eventually . . . .

But, honestly, I have something like 2500+ books in my To Read 'pile' now.  :eyeroll:
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on March 07, 2010, 01:15:48 AM
Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman.  I loved loved loved this collection of short stories and poems.  One that really stuck out for me was called "Forbidden Brides of the Faceless Slaves in the Secret House of the Night of Dread Desire".  Very funny!  There was a story that took place in the Matrix universe that he had written for the website before the first one came out, and a novella sequel to American Gods.  OH!  I almost forgot the Sherlock Holmes/Cthulhu mashup.  And a story about Susan Pevensie.

Okay, just lots of good stuff in there.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on March 07, 2010, 01:27:55 AM
Susan Pevensie ... from Narnia?

Man Gaiman is such a nerd. I think I'd love that collection.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: vox8 on March 07, 2010, 07:41:38 AM
Things Fall Apart Chinua Achebee
The Stupidest Angel Christopher Moore
John Adams David McCullom
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on March 07, 2010, 09:52:47 AM
Quote
I almost forgot the Sherlock Holmes/Cthulhu mashup.

You might like Roger Zelazny's A Night in the Lonesome October, which is a short (some people say YA) novel that mashes up Holmes, Dracula, Frankenstein, Lovecraft, the Wolfman, and god knows what else, with illustrations by Gahan Wilson.  I bet Gaiman likes it.


I have to say that I generally LOVE Gaiman's shorter works better than I like his novels.  I think his mind is just perfectly tuned to vignettes and scenes and rebels against the rules that apply to longer structures.  But there's comparatively no market for short fiction.

Anyway, I'll have to keep my out for Fragile Things.

Never read Things Fall Apart, although I almost had it in a class in college.  Maybe someday.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: vox8 on March 07, 2010, 07:57:19 PM
Never read Things Fall Apart, although I almost had it in a class in college.  Maybe someday.

It is the second Achebee book that I have read; I read Arrow of God for a class.

Beautifully written and heartbreaking.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: flipper on March 08, 2010, 04:54:47 AM
I am finally reading Anathem by Neal Stephenson (finally out in paperback, and there I was at Powell's, oh dear) -- it's far more accessible than I thought. I'm liking it. If I had to characterize it ... OK. You know how Cryptonomicon is Stephenson's Gravity's Rainbow -- well, Anathem is his A Canticle for Liebowitz. Clearly. But Anathem is not destined to be a Classic with a capital C. However it's good clean nerdy fun. Whatever they told you about it -- don't worry. It's readable. There's a lot of vocabulary you have to pick up, no big deal. It's not like he invented a new language for it. Way easier than Finnegan's Wake if that was bothering you. By all means go for it.

I loved Anathem.  I still have flashbacks to it.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Hedaira on March 10, 2010, 02:40:12 PM
In the span of a day, I read Nevil Shute's "On the Beach."

Fffffffuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on March 10, 2010, 03:00:45 PM
Cheery, isn't it?


I've been reading Chobits.  Um . . . really, there isn't much to it.  It's not bad, just sort of slight, but it's not like you have to slog through it.  The questions of relationships between humans and sophisticated machines are worthwhile questions, and CLAMP certainly is bound to put a few weird spins and cute moments in there, but I'll probably sell the books back to the shop when I'm done, unless my brother wants them.

Apparently the series has more narrative weight if you've read other CLAMP series it ties into, such as Angelic Layer.  :shrug:
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Hedaira on March 10, 2010, 06:35:37 PM
It's a fast read for sure. And depressing. I do like how he didn't pull a last minute OOOOH BUT THEN IT ALL TURNED OUT OKAY as what happens with pretty much everything these days. I'd like to see a bunch of Smeyers fans forced to read this shit.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: flipper on March 10, 2010, 07:23:33 PM
I finished In N Out Burger on Monday and started Very Valentine by Adriana Trigiani yesterday.  Unfortunately my lunch was interrupted the past two days so I'm only up to about page 6.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: vox8 on March 10, 2010, 08:32:14 PM
Apparently the series has more narrative weight if you've read other CLAMP series it ties into, such as Angelic Layer.  :shrug:

Given my current bent, I automatically assume this is about a very well behaved chicken.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on March 10, 2010, 08:37:06 PM
:galm: :cock: :galm:
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on March 10, 2010, 09:10:25 PM
:rollin:

I have no idea WTF it's about, but knowing CLAMP . . . it's not impossible.  Except there would have to be girlish boys and tomboyish girls in very fancy costumes, too.

CLAMP is . . . effed up.  Usually entertainingly effed up.  It's a manga / anime studio made up of four women who clearly have complex personal lives and did not date much as students.  Their works range from the nearly incomphrensible magical-mech Girl's Own Adventure (Magical Knight Rayearth) to the surreal and casually obscene (Miyuki-Chan in Wonderland) to weird fetishistic magical-girl (Cardcaptor Sakura) to bizarre 'feminist' (but not :lol:) Boy's Own Adventure kiddie mystery (Clamp School Detectives) to I don't even know what else.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on March 18, 2010, 08:03:16 PM
Isle of Snakes, by Robert L. Fish, who's most famous for writing the novel that was turned into the film Bullitt.  Someone told me I should absolutely read Fish's mysteries, and, well, this is one of them from 1963.  It's set in Brazil, which is fairly interesting, and has two detectives, a Brazilian one and an American one, both working for Interpol.  It's really a detective novel, not a mystery, inasmuch as you can't figure out the mystery yourself and aren't supposed to try.  You're just supposed to go along for the ride.

The book is pretty good, not terrific, for my tastes.  I think it would make a better film, actually.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on April 01, 2010, 05:43:11 PM
One of the things I tend to notice at work is when some SF/F author I never heard of or only vaguely recognize has books that are covered in glowing reviews.  Especially if the books are from, say, 1970 to 1995.  I always think, Did I miss something awesome?  Is this someone who should have been the next big thing but didn't get picked up by readers?

I always think that it's bad to have been huge and then wind up largely forgotten in just a couple of decades.  But I think it's probably a worse to be heralded as the next big thing but then not actually catch on.  As a writer who once dabbled in seeking publication, I can imagine that must be rather awful.  So I figure that I should at least give these authors a chance.

Last month's author was Sharon Baker (http://www.isfdb.org/cgi-bin/ea.cgi?Sharon_Baker), whose name fell into the Vaguely Familiar category.  Her books, from the 1980s, glow with superlative reviews from major authors and professional viewers.  She published three books, all set in the same SF-with-hints-of-fantasy world.

Well . . . the books are written in a style that's a little too florid and formal and sort of Epic Fantasy for me.  It's not that she does it badly, but just that it has to be just right to work for me.  You read enough stuff that's written in slightly stilted language, and it gets old, is all.  The world seems interesting enough, but it just didn't grab me.

I think the second two books actually follow the same characters, between them, but not the same ones who star in the first book.  Baker apparently passed away in 1991, which is too bad because I'd be curious to see what else she'd written.  She had a poem published in a Gaiman-edited "anthology of nasty verse", too.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: mybabysmomma on April 05, 2010, 07:26:54 PM
The Greatest Dog Stories Ever Told

I'll be the judge of that.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: MamaTried on April 06, 2010, 07:00:37 AM
You Shall Know Our Velocity by Dave Eggers. It's been over a year since I read a book...find myself moving my lips.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Tripper on April 06, 2010, 09:12:13 AM
Honestly, Stephenson's Cryptonomicon and The Baroque Cycle are incredibly good history lessons.  Especially in the 'Cycle, where you get a very good lesson in money politics during the late 1600's to early 1700's.  And yes, Issac Newton was that crazy about protecting the Royal Mint's reputation.  The thing that glazed my eyes over was the multipage explanation on actual cryptograms.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on April 07, 2010, 03:28:18 PM
Recently found and just finished reading a George R R Martin book I'd never heard of before, Fevre Dream.  It's a 1982 novel about vampires and steamboats on the Mississippi in the second half of the 19th Century.  It's good, although the first third or so is sometimes a bit slow and the plot occasionally wanders a bit in ways that make me think he was changing his mind about the story while he was writing it.  Not that there's necessarily anything wrong with that.  His vampires aren't bad, and there's a whole lot of interesting steamboat stuff in there.

Incidentally, don't read the Wikipedia page for it if you want to read the book, as there isn't a whole lot there besides a plot summary that gives away the entire story.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: vox8 on April 07, 2010, 09:42:09 PM
I have been wanting to read that one pretty bad - but my libary doesn't have it.

Harumph.

You wanna mail it to me?

:batteyes:

Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on April 07, 2010, 10:01:23 PM
:hmm:

It might not happen until after the book show, but, yeah, I could do that.  Message or email me the address.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on April 19, 2010, 03:21:55 PM
Recently read Gonick's Cartoon History of the United States, which was good but not as good as the Cartoon History of the Universe.  What's covered / emphasized seems weirdly random.  I mean, I guess it's probably 50% what he thinks everybody ought to know about and 50% what happens to especially interest him, but it still seems like an odd survey.  Not dull, though.


Also just read a 1982 fantasy novel called Prince Ombra, one of those books I pluck from the shop's history bin.  This is a book that is COVERED in glowing reviews from sources as diverse and impressive as the Chicago Sun Times, the LA Times, the NY Times, Library Journal, Best Sellers, Publishers Weekly, and Harlan Ellison, comparing it favorably to Stephen King, Tolkien, the Brothers Grimm . . . and probably the Bible in there somewhere. 

But I never heard of it.  I asked around and didn't find anyone who'd heard of it.  I could have looked it up online, but I didn't want to know anything more about it until I read it, so I put it away and didn't start it until I took it off a shelf and only vaguely remembered even discovering it at the shop.  It's by Roderick MacLeish, who's probably best known as an NPR commentator.

And the book . . . I don't know.  OK, here's a nutshell:  Take Joseph Campbell's Hero With A Thousand Faces and make it a novel set in the present day with a 10-year-old kid as the protagonist.  Basically.  It reminded me in a weird way of The Talisman, although they don't have a whole lot in common except that they're fantasy novels with a kid protagonist but written for adults.  The book's impressive, but not perfect.  It has a lot of really great bits, but the end felt like an anticlimax -- not a horrible one, and handled well, considering, but not terribly exciting.  The build-up exceeds the payoff.

At the same time, it's about a little kid whose destiny is to fight a vastly powerful supernatural entity that's more or less the cause of all human misery.  I don't know how you write that without it being an anticlimax.  The Shining does a pretty good job of Kid vs Evil, but usually it doesn't play out well.  Also, I have to say that . . . there are a lot -- a lot -- of stories in which something evil influences people and temporarily makes them think and behave badly.  This almost always seems cheesy and unconvincing, but in this book, I think, it really works extremely well.

When I was reading this book, I often got the nagging feeling that I ought to be enjoying it more than I was -- and like this was a failing on my own part, not the author's.  I don't know.  I think I would've liked it a lot better and been more impressed if I'd read it in, say, 1985, but I couldn't say exactly why.

Still, it's a book that seriously does not deserve to have been overlooked and forgotten.  It surely ain't bad, and, considering its ambition, that's saying something.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Talix on April 20, 2010, 08:15:21 AM
Last book club books were Too Much Happiness by Alice Munro and And Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris.  Next up: Murakami's After Dark.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on April 28, 2010, 02:13:08 PM
Started reading Omnivore's Dilemma, but it's kind of slow going.  Most of the time, I agree with him in general but in that I-already-knew-that kind of way, and when he gets specific I sometimes start to doubt his research.  Or maybe he's just too casual.  For instance, he talks about biochemistry and describes water and carbon as being the two most common elements in the human body.  And he repeats the old legend of modern corn not being able to reproduce whatsoever in the wild (modern meaning of the modern era, not the latest transgenic strains), but, for instance, recognizeable maize (not teosinte) grows wild in the Amazon basin and is gathered (but not cultivated) by some tribes who live there.

The errors are all minor, but they make me wonder how much I can trust him when he pops up with some interesting fact that I hadn't heard before.  I think the main thing, though, is that I was already plenty anti-Corn.  I dunno.  I do think he's mostly right.  It's kind of like reading the back of a Jared Diamond book, where the reviews say it's incredible revolutionary stuff and the blurb makes it sound like the same stuff they taught us in grammar school.  :shrug:


I also read The Destroyer #13, Acid Rock, which was pretty good, as good as at least half the detective novels I've read, I guess.  It certainly had its moments.  However, it led me to rediscover (I'd forgotten) that Netflix doesn't have the Remo Williams movie.  WTF, mang?
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on April 28, 2010, 02:58:28 PM
I thought you knew. Someone invented a time machine and went back in time to make sure that movie never existed.

Really, they never should have given her a warp-drive equipped ship.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: vox8 on April 28, 2010, 04:05:32 PM
The corn part of OD is less interesting than the later portions of the book. When he goes to Salatin's farm, that I find fascinating. And the final bit, where it is 100% foraged - that is awesome.

I am currently reading In Defense of Food, if OD makes you twitch then IDoF would make you go into an epileptic seizure.

Quote
And he repeats the old legend of modern corn not being able to reproduce whatsoever in the wild (modern meaning of the modern era, not the latest transgenic strains), but, for instance, recognizeable maize (not teosinte) grows wild in the Amazon basin and is gathered (but not cultivated) by some tribes who live there.
.

I am going to have to accuse you of being willfully obtuse with this comment. It is very clear that he is specifically referring to the strains of corn that have been bread for centuries and are utilized in modern, industrial mono-cultures. I am sure that if you wandered the Amazon basin you could find several strains of corn that continue to reproduce sexually just fine - you could probably find the cure to AIDS and Athelete's Foot too ...

His statement is true within the context it is presented.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on April 28, 2010, 04:38:23 PM
No, seriously, he seems to be talking about Corn as in Corn Since The Pilgrims Learned From Squanto in that bit.  And I don't mean a 'natural' species of corn, either.  I guess I chose words poorly -- by 'wild', there, I meant 'escaped from farms', not indigenous.  The Amazon Basin is ecologically contaminated, I guess you could say, by corn that's spread from farms over the last fifty or maybe hundred years.  It's modern corn, just not GMO corn.  It's not a strain that arose naturally, but it spread by itself deep into the rain forest.

:shrug:  It's not a huge point, and I'm not calling him a dumbass or anything.  He just makes me wonder sometimes about his precision.  I'm also surprised that he's already talked so much about how cattle don't naturally eat grain but not mentioned the omega-3 / omega-6 thing yet.  Maybe later.

I do think he's an interesting journalist.  Somewhere, I have his earlier book about buying the calf and trying to follow its career.  I haven't read it yet (I lost it somewhere among my boxes of books when I moved), but it looks great and I've heard good things about it.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on April 28, 2010, 04:40:40 PM
I guess I should say, too, that I don't know there aren't GMO strains of corn growing wild wherever.  They're specifically meant to be unable to, but the genes have been known to migrate via vectors that aren't understood yet.  Monsanto doesn't have this stuff locked down as well as they'd like you to believe.

I'm also kind of surprised not to have seen a Three Sisters reference in the book yet, but I guess it's not entirely relevant to his point.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: First Post on April 28, 2010, 04:44:13 PM
Watch Food Inc, it's been on PBS a million times this past week I think. Omnivore's Dilemma guy is in it. Lotsa stuff about the corn.

(eta: yay it's online too (http://video.pbs.org/video/1472879887/))

srsly, everybody should watch that shit, cause damn

Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on April 28, 2010, 04:46:02 PM
I'll look for it on Hulu, I guess.  I don't got no TV except through the internet.  Cable is BS, mang, and it's been decades since I lived anywhere where you could get reasonable reception with an antenna.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: First Post on April 28, 2010, 04:49:26 PM
Link above. They really seem to be making a big effort to get this one out to people, at least on the local station; I swear it's on every time I flip the channel over there...

Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on April 28, 2010, 06:50:29 PM
Quote
I'm also surprised that he's already talked so much about how cattle don't naturally eat grain but not mentioned the omega-3 / omega-6 thing yet.  Maybe later.

Two pages later, in fact.  :lol:  I would've spent longer on it, but he hit it.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: mo on April 29, 2010, 05:00:00 AM
Watch Food Inc, it's been on PBS a million times this past week I think. Omnivore's Dilemma guy is in it. Lotsa stuff about the corn.

(eta: yay it's online too (http://video.pbs.org/video/1472879887/))

srsly, everybody should watch that shit, cause damn



Thanks for posting that, FP. I watched it last night. It gave me a Monsanto nightmare, but still, thanks just the same.

I knew some of the stuff they covered, but not all of it. I haven't seen POV in a long time. It must come on after my bedtime. Probably 10:00  :P
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Talix on May 14, 2010, 12:43:30 PM
I read the first chapter of Infinite Jest last night.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on May 14, 2010, 01:32:17 PM
Unfortunately, that doesn't reduce how many chapters are left.



I read a Dilbert collection I hadn't read before.  I think it's about five years old.  It was still consistently funny!  And it made me appreciate my job a lot more, once again.  I liked that.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Talix on May 15, 2010, 05:27:10 PM
I'm through the first three or four.  Sadly, that only equals about 30 pages.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: mybabysmomma on May 22, 2010, 09:00:20 AM
Lost & Found by Jacqueline Sheehan.  Pretty good, simple read, if you like the canines, it's even better.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Talix on May 27, 2010, 11:49:43 AM
Over 300 pages into IJ - not counting end notes.  Still enjoying it.  Okay..."IJ" looks weird in italics.  And...it looks weird not in italics too.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on June 27, 2010, 05:01:21 PM
The stuff on animal rights kind of killed Ominvore's Dilemma for me -- I'm at least as much of an animals' rights advocate as Pollan is; I just hate the logic in some of the arguments he presents (most of which are other people's arguments, but still).  I'll finish the book at some point.

Meanwhile, I read various short stuff, including the first two Girl Genius books (genius!).  I also read a Spy Vs Cultists books called Diabolus, from 1970 or so, which was written by "David St John", who turns out to actually be actual spy E. Howard Hunt, who, you may or may not remember, went to prison as part of the Watergate scandal.  Huh.  The book was OK, a little under-dramatized.  Wikipedia says it's part of a series where the same spy gets into tangles with other cultists, Satanists and witches and such.


I also read The Jungle, by Robert Westerby, a British author whose screenplays are probably better known in the US -- he did Malaga and The Three Lives of Thomasina (which I haven't seen) and the humongous 1956 Hepburn / Fonda War and PeaceThe Jungle is kind of odd -- Wikipedia doesn't even list it, and it wasn't published until after Westerby's death.  It's the only book I've read by him, and it's a pretty harmless little potboiler adventure about a mixed assortment of people whose small plane goes down in the South American jungle, and how they survive, etc.  It was OK.


And . . . I've started a Anvil of the World, a fantasy (comedy?) novel by much-recommended and cool-named author Kage Baker, who passed away early this year.  I think I've read some of her short stories and liked them, but so far the book isn't working for me.  For one thing, it makes me feel heavily tone-deaf:  I can't tell if it's meant to be funny, and, if so, if it's meant to be goofy.  When impossible or nonsensical things happen, I can't tell if it's an oversight or on purpose.  A lot of the characters have the same last name (Smith), which is sometimes confusing, but I'm not sure if it's a joke.

And, I mean, it starts with a caravan that's traveling a long distance across an expressly flat, featureless plain.  A day or two out, they get attacked by guys on hang gliders who use crossbows.  There's a lot that's wrong with that.  Much later, after dark, the caravan makes camp, and they get water from a pump.  Where is this pump?  Is it a formal campground?  Do they have a wagon full of water that has the spigot really high up and so needs a pump?  Do they have low-slung water tanks?  Imma confused.

Also, the main character gets shot in the leg with a crossbow bolt in the attack but waits all day and until after they make camp (not that he's needed for this process) in order to have the resident medical expert treat the wound.  Well, maybe, just maybe . . . but the description of the treatment includes removing the crossbow bolt.  So he was just sitting there all day with the thing sticking out of his leg?  That seems, at the very least, worthy of comment, but the story just skips ahead, and he acts like it's no big deal.  The text says his leg was throbbing.  Yeah, I should think so.

I think probably this book just isn't for me, but I'll persevere for a bit.  And I still might try something else by her even if I don't finish this one.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Hedaira on June 28, 2010, 12:26:20 PM
Quote
Ultimately, we all have to decide for ourselves what constitutes failure, but the world is quite eager to give you a set of criteria if you let it. So I think it fair to say that by any conventional measure, a mere seven years after my graduation day, I had failed on an epic scale. An exceptionally short-lived marriage had imploded, and I was jobless, a lone parent, and as poor as it is possible to be in modern Britain, without being homeless. The fears that my parents had had for me, and that I had had for myself, had both come to pass, and by every usual standard, I was the biggest failure I knew.

Now, I am not going to stand here and tell you that failure is fun. That period of my life was a dark one, and I had no idea that there was going to be what the press has since represented as a kind of fairy tale resolution. I had no idea then how far the tunnel extended, and for a long time, any light at the end of it was a hope rather than a reality.

So why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged. I was set free, because my greatest fear had been realised, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.

from this (http://harvardmagazine.com/commencement/the-fringe-benefits-failure-the-importance-imagination)
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on June 28, 2010, 01:05:04 PM
:clap:  I guessed immediately who that was.  I haven't been a pronounced fan of her writing, but I'm a big fan of her, herself, because she's pretty awesome.  I'm always impressed by people who fail and/or have failure thrust upon them who remain optimistic and persistent.

That bit's full of great quotes, too.  Best graduation speech I've seen in a long, long time.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on June 28, 2010, 01:17:42 PM
Yeah, very good. Nice complement to Rachel Maddow's, where she comments on the undesirability of success in certain things.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: mo on June 28, 2010, 04:39:05 PM
 :thumbsup: :thumbsup:

I've never read or watched any of the Harry Potter stuff, and never had the desire, but the writing in that speech intrigues me. She's very wise, and shows that on several levels in that speech. Most of the bits of wisdom she was delivering probably went right over the heads of the graduates, but still.

Also, why don't we use "expiry" in the states? I like that.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: TFJ on July 08, 2010, 05:24:02 PM
haven't read any piers anthony since i was a highsk00l/college kid. i need some mindless, fun light reading so i picked up the Nox book from incarnations series since it didn't exist yet back when i read that series.

 :thumbsdn: :thumbsdn: :thumbsdn: boooooo no. bad. so bad. levels. i see them. levels of BAD. wtf?
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on July 08, 2010, 05:52:15 PM
:lol:

I only ever read the early wackazoid Anthony, or his bizarre short stories.  I can't take a lot of his stuff.  It's also amazing how much of his work seems amusing the first time through but is appalling on re-reading. 

I also find it odd that some of his more seriously acclaimed stuff is stuff I can't even get fifty pages into:  the Cluster books, Macroscope, the Battle Circle trilogy.  Ugh.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on July 08, 2010, 06:34:00 PM
OH yeah. "In the Barn." HOOOOOOOooooly :boobies: insanity Batman. :nuts:
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on July 08, 2010, 06:44:31 PM
:lol:  The thing is, that one is TYPICAL.  It's the way he'll take an idea and not only run with it but immediately head for either skeevy territory or maximum cheese. 
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on July 08, 2010, 07:22:26 PM
I'm reading "Nation" by Terry Pratchett. I love his writing, but jeesche the story is ... well ... predictable. For the most part!
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: TFJ on July 09, 2010, 08:25:35 AM
yeah here's a typical line : hey wanna fuck? nope, i'm a pedophile. oh ok. you're hired.

but i did discover Robert Charles Wilson, who so far, seems like an ok guy for fun and light SFy type stuff.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Hedaira on July 09, 2010, 10:40:56 AM
Wait ..... WHAT?

All I ever read was On a Pale Horse and that series that goes with it and those were fine. Never read anything else. Still better than S'meyers.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: stormneedle on July 09, 2010, 11:31:45 AM
The Incarnations series has some of his writing fetishes, but in that series they don't get in the way so much. I like some of his work just fine. But most of the later Xanth books seem to be written only to get shaggy dogs puns out and I haven't actually read any of his stuff in ... wow, 14 years or so?
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on July 09, 2010, 11:48:10 AM
Yeah, Anthony is a freakdog.  He's one of those writers whose mind is always whirling away, and he's got to get it down on paper.  He's incredibly productive, just puts a zillion words on paper every year.  But he doesn't have heavy filtering.

The Tarot series is a spinoff of the Cluster series, apparently, and I've read Tarot but not Cluster.  Tarot is more or less about a monk (Western, but he knows kung fu) who gets sent to a very strange planet to investigate if the seemingly magical things happening there are in fact supernatural.  The story is very strange and often a little perverse, and the SF in it varies from serious to cheesetastic, but at least half the series consists of long digressions.  On the planet, people go into these hallucinatory episodes where other people on the planet become characters in little historical or phantasmagorical dramas, most of which have something to do with tarot cards.  Jesus is a fairly major character.  And there's a very long lecture about the biology of fungus.

He also wrote an SF novel called Steppe, for instance, in which a steppe horseman (think Genghis Khan) winds up in a future where there's a really important VR game that's like Risk on steroids and all about the Asian steppe.  Advantage, barbarian!  The whole novel really exists just so Anthony can talk about the history of the Asian steppe.  Similarly, after chopping firewood one day, he wrote an OK and pretty cute short story (non-perverse, even) in which a kid sent to chop firewood is abducted by aliens and taken to an interplanetary alien-wood-chopping competition, where he has to split logs from weird alien trees.  Anthony's strange and compulsive.

If you want a taste of his weird perverse stuff, I'd recommend Phthor, even though it won't entirely make sense -- it reads better (faster, anyway) than the book it's a sequel to (Chthon), and is about a kid who's raised in an underground prison inside a sapient planet.  One of his playmates is a girl who's actually of a genetically engineered race where the women are mildly telepathic, super-tough, built for sex, and have their pain / pleasure inputs reversed.  To be fair to Anthony, lots of people were writing that kind of exploratory gunk during the New Wave -- Philip Jose Farmer wrote reams of it -- but he never really lost his taste for it.

You could also just find a copy of Anthonology, which collects a bunch of his short stories (including In The Barn and a really bad one that involves a man having sex with a robot the size of a Barbie doll), good and bad.

The original trilogy of the Apprentice Adept series is among his better work, and it's only mildly perverse.  That's Split Infinity, Blue Adept, Juxtaposition.  They're not perfect books (the tone varies just a tad), but you can read 'em in a weekend and they showcase most of Anthony's better traits.  They actually make a truly beautiful example of premise / plot construction for SF/F, too.

Anthony also co-wrote (ie, edited and somewhat fixed; the other author was science writer Clifford Pickover) one of the most bizarre and bad novels I ever read, which I reviewed here a couple of years ago, Spider Legs.  That book is just too strange for humankind.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: TFJ on July 09, 2010, 11:59:11 AM
Wait ..... WHAT?

All I ever read was On a Pale Horse and that series that goes with it and those were fine. Never read anything else. Still better than S'meyers.

yeah Nox is the last of that series, like a decade after he wrote the "last" one (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Under_a_Velvet_Cloak), and was basically written by a fan. ( :confused:) and yes it shows. i liked the other ones too.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: flipper on July 26, 2010, 04:16:06 PM
Just started The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest today.  I couldn't wait anymore for the paperback version so I bought the hard one on Amazon.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on July 26, 2010, 04:32:49 PM
I still haven't read ...Who Played With Fire.  Good reminder to put it on hold at the liberry.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: flipper on July 26, 2010, 07:01:09 PM
They are totally addicting, and the first film was a good (not perfect) adaptation.  Very rare in this world.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on August 23, 2010, 10:12:46 PM
I finally gave up on the Kage Baker book.  It got better as it went along, but the plot and story development remained in the Bored Author category, and the lazy-fantasy syndrome stuff was bugging me, mostly because of the plot issues.  I still may try her SF, though.


Anyway, we got two first-edition paperbacks of Larry Niven's World of Ptavvs, one in really nice shape and one beat-up reading copy.  I hadn't read it since the early 80s, so I bought both copies, one to save and one to read.  It holds up great.  He wrote it in the mid-60s, but it's still better than most of the hard SF I've read lately, for science, for plausibility, and for writing.

It is tellingly sexist, though, and occasionally dates itself in other ways.  With the older SF, it's always interesting to see what's still futuristic and what's a total miss.  Fusion drives are still futuristic, as are time-dampening fields, but the story takes place shortly after 2100 . . . and they play computer games by drawing dots and lines on a screen with a stylus.  And they do their navigational math themselves, although I don't think the book mentioned a slide-ruler.

Still, it's a very cool book and helps set up Niven's expansive Known Space milieu.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Talix on August 24, 2010, 09:44:23 AM
Just finished John Waters' Role Models.  Weird one, that Waters kid.  And how had I not gotten the "toilet waters" aspect of his name before now?  How perfect!
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: flipper on August 24, 2010, 01:10:38 PM
Ooooh, that sounds like a good one for the queue.  I finished the Millenium trilogy (http://www.amazon.com/Stieg-Larssons-Millennium-Trilogy-Bundle/dp/0307594777/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1282673318&sr=8-2) by Stieg Larsson.

Now I'm rereading THHGTGFBT (http://www.amazon.com/Ultimate-Hitchhikers-Guide-Galaxy/dp/0345453743/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1282673406&sr=1-1), but in a single book with extras.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: mybabysmomma on August 24, 2010, 01:13:54 PM
I have been wanting to reread that.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Talix on August 24, 2010, 01:40:24 PM
JUST finished talking about that book.  It was one of the popular things my TL avoided.   :eyeroll:
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on August 24, 2010, 02:12:31 PM
Next time, tell him:

One is not superior merely because one sees the world as odious. - Vicomte De Chateaubriand.





It's just fun to say Chateaubriand, anyway.  I think I'll start saying it when I sneeze.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Hedaira on August 24, 2010, 06:44:31 PM
Just finished Mockingjay. One major part of it was pretty redonk, but I just ignored it. Some of it was lifted from the Myst series - who in turn could have lifted it from someone else, so who knows. Still loved it and the end made me  :cry:

 :detta:
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: vox8 on August 24, 2010, 07:23:20 PM
I just finished The Naked and the Dead by Norman Mailer.

I am not really sure why I read it and I am not particularly glad that I read it. But I can now say that I read it.

That's about it.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on August 24, 2010, 07:40:14 PM
:shock:  I've never read a whole book by Mailer, but one of the non-fictions I'm working through is a critical history of horror films called The Naked and the Undead.  It's OK.


We just got Hunger Games at the shop this past weekend, and I didn't recognize it as something I'd heard of.  Work in a used book shop long enough, and hearing about the latest books gets to be kind of weird.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on August 24, 2010, 08:53:23 PM
I remember reading that. It was wrenching. Mailer was pretty hot shit.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on August 24, 2010, 09:30:20 PM
I was reading The Complete Short Stories of Mark Twain, but I only got 100 pages in, even after renewing it once.  I'd like to finish it, but I think I need a long time to get through it. 
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: TFJ on August 25, 2010, 08:24:48 AM
this is pretty interesting. it reminds me of some of yall.

how to read the bible  (http://www.amazon.com/How-Read-Bible-Guide-Scripture/dp/0743235878/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1282742639&sr=8-1)
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on September 14, 2010, 09:56:40 PM
Has anyone here read Farmer's Dayworld series?  I have an idea someone mentioned it a long time ago, but it's not coming up on the search.

I have a really beat-to-crap hardcover of the first book, and I'm torn between throwing it away or reading it and then throwing it away.  I've read stuff by Farmer that I really enjoyed, and I've read stuff by him that I really did not like at all, and this is apparently a long trilogy, so . . . I'd like to hear a recommendation from someone else.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Talix on September 15, 2010, 07:55:43 AM
Just finished Mary Karr's Lit - I'm a sucker for intellectual drunks/addicts who get sober.  This one had a crazy upbringing, too, the tales of which make up her first two memoirs (The Liars' Club and Cherry, which are now on my list).  Now I'm reading Await Your Reply (Dan Chaon) - Matt Gallaway (semi-famous Tumblr)'s review of it sounded interesting.  

Next book club book is Nabakov, Despair.  Like fall and the shortening days aren't enough.  :eyeroll:
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on October 06, 2010, 07:41:40 PM
I finished Robert Parker's Stranger in Paradise, a fairly ho-hum Jesse Stone novel but one it seems like he had fun writing, so it's a bit floaty but entertaining enough.  Curiously more upbeat than most of them -- the irony is that that just makes it feel like he's setting things up for a disaster.  :lol:

Also re-read How to Be a Superhero, which remains awesome and hilarious.

I'm slowly reading Xorandor, a nerdy Young Adult SF novel from quite awhile ago about ultra-geeky teenaged twins who discover a Martian silicon-based lifeform in England, with complications.  The book is largely told through twinspeak that's informed by programming languages, so it can be tough to sit down and read 30 pages at a time, but the story isn't bad, and there's a lot of 'unnecessary' depth thrown in.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on October 06, 2010, 08:10:59 PM
I have started "The Enchantress of Florence" by Salman Rushdie. Man, dude can tell a story. I envy him.

He's like the Neal Stephenson of the Booker Prize set. :galm:
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on October 06, 2010, 08:30:39 PM
Rushdie's one of my brother's favorite SF writers.  :lol:  So far, I've only read Grimus, which took awhile to get going (too arty / relentlessly morose at first) but is pretty awesome.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Hedaira on October 07, 2010, 01:52:25 AM
George R. R. Really Likes Incest Martin's "Game of Thrones."
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: mybabysmomma on October 07, 2010, 07:47:37 AM
I have started "The Enchantress of Florence" by Salman Rushdie. Man, dude can tell a story. I envy him.

He's like the Neal Stephenson of the Booker Prize set. :galm:

That's what I am just starting to read. 
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Talix on October 07, 2010, 08:32:05 AM
George R. R. Really Likes Incest Martin's "Game of Thrones."

I couldn't possibly love that series more.

I'm dragging myself through Nabokov's Despair for book club.  It's not that it's a bad story poorly told or hard to read, although some of his joking back-and-forth with the reader I could live without - there's just other stuff I find myself wanting to do with my free time.   :knotty:
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on October 20, 2010, 09:10:49 PM
Alexei Panshin is one of those authors I was told to read but never read.  As it turns out, he didn't write all that many books, and he's probably most famous either for his debut novel, Rite of Passage (1968), which won a Nebula, or his controversial analysis of Heinlein's works, Heinlein in Dimension, which also came out before 1970.

I read neither of these, as we didn't have them at the shop when the whim hit me.  Instead, I just finished The Thurb Revolution (also 1968), which turns out to be the second book in the Anthony Villiers cult series.  Having finished it, I can't tell if I really should have read the first book (Star Well) first, or if that wouldn't matter.  It's kind of like a cross between Jack Vance and William Goldman's fictional author S. Morgenstern (who, as it were, wrote The Princess Bride).  A little more high-falutin' than either.  (Oddly enough, in The Thurb Revolution there's an important author named Morgenstern, but I have no idea if this is merely a coincidence.  Probably?)

The Thurb Revolution is not really what you'd call plot-centric.  It's not a long book, and you can almost to the end before there's any real feeling of dramatic tension.  The main character, a sort of upper-class space rogue, also isn't very central.  More than anything, it's a sort of gently wiseass philosophical story about young people and their crazy notions and slow journey toward maturation.  Sort of.

The writing is breezy but requires that you pay attention.  As an example, here's a scene where an assassin (who isn't in the book much) is preparing to break into a house:

He knew the routines of the household.  At any moment Lord Broccoli's faithful family robot Morris would come down the great stone steps from the maison, cross the lawn with tinny dignity, and fill the bladder bat feeding station with a select mixture of sixty-two percent farofa, thirty-three percent seeds and nuts, and five percent candy and surprises.

There are also many brief asides from the author talking about life, youth, and whatever.  At the end, a young person offers a poem called To a Teacup Held For Murder, which is pretty good.  But is the book, in itself, pretty good?  I don't know.  It had a hard time really holding my attention, but it was never unpleasant.  Maybe if I can get my hands on all three books.  The style seems clever and admirable, but the story doesn't do much, and the characters don't have much character -- especially the main characters.  Maybe they were established in the first book?
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on November 03, 2010, 08:35:02 PM
I finished The Bishop's Jaegers by Thorne Smith, a 1932 saucy comedy more or less about a hodgepodge of New Yorkers who wind up shipwrecked in a nudist colony.  It's uneven, but often quite funny and admirably dirty.  One refreshing element is how liberated the female characters are -- some more than others, but they would terrify the cliches imagined by people who misconstrue Leave It To Beaver and such.  It's still sexist by modern standards, god knows, but not in the ways most people would expect.

It's the first Thorne Smith book I've read, and I'd forgotten he wrote Topper, the film of which is on my list to see.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Talix on November 04, 2010, 11:18:11 AM
In Other Rooms, Other Wonders , by Daniyal Mueenuddin.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on November 04, 2010, 12:52:32 PM
The library was giving out age-appropriate books for Halloween.  Lilia's age group gotThe Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything (http://www.amazon.com/Little-Old-Lady-Afraid-Anything/dp/0064431835).  I keep wanting to call it The Little Old Lady Who Doesn't Afraid of Anything (http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/pretty-cool-guy).
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: flipper on November 04, 2010, 02:09:28 PM
Just finished the Complete HHGTTG five books + ZB short.  Started The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder by Rebecca Wells.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on November 09, 2010, 09:13:42 PM
Finished a Richard Laymon book called Night in the Lonesome October, which was, in a couple of ways, maybe the mildest book I've read by him.  Most of it is basically a slow (for Laymon), wandering, and only slightly surreal Into The Night story, spread out over several nights, as a college student starts roaming the town after dark, seeing weird things and getting into strange predicaments.

It feels very much like it was just made up as he went along, but it's still not bad at all.  Definitely not his strongest work, though.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: eldiem on November 09, 2010, 09:33:50 PM
Ok I haven't actually read or seen this book in person, but I think it's ranking up there for my favorite of all time, based on the title.

http://www.amazon.com/Standard-Formulary-Pharmaceutical-Preparations-Requirements/dp/1142213927/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1289356204&sr=8-2
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on November 09, 2010, 11:41:51 PM
The author's name is incredible, too!  And the co-author's name is A. Emil Hiss.  :lol:

Weirdly, although several places are selling it as an "exact reproduction", the title listed varies slightly, and I had to go to Google Books (which does have it) to see a repro of the title page in order to get the really truly entire title.

Awesome.  I wish I had a copy, myself.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: eldiem on November 10, 2010, 02:49:53 PM
I found it looking for books on veterinary pharmacology/pharmacy using the school's library catalog. Apparently there's a copy of the 1897 version down in Chicago but it's non-circulating. I think non-circulating books aren't eligible for inter-library loanage. Sad face.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on November 15, 2010, 03:31:18 PM
Started reading World War Z, and I'm about 120 pages in, which is a little over a third of the way through.

The Good:  Brooks is a pretty good writer, and clearly a decent researcher.  The book's concept is good, and so was its timing.


The Bad:  It gets repetitive really quickly, and most of the characters sound the same -- so much so that when one comes along who has a distinctive voice, it throws me for a moment.  Also, I get distracted by some poor editing, mostly involving apostrophes.

But mostly . . . the zombie stuff isn't working for me.  And neither is the military stuff.  In a book about a world war fought against zombies, that's kind of a key set of elements.

With something like zombies -- with any kind of speculative fiction -- you have to have a set of propositions that you're going to work from.  As always, if you don't have a good explanation for any of those propositions, then you really should not explain them.  The zombies Brooks is working with aren't very consistent, and I can't get a good feeling for them:  are they fast or slow, intelligent at all or completely stupid, etc.  And the stuff he explains about their ecology (zombieism is caused by a virus, etc) is not good science fiction.  So far, it doesn't add to the story much, either, and it'd be better if it had been left out.  It don't work.

Besides, if you're going to explain how zombies work, then you can't just shrug and say no one understands stuff like why they don't starve, why they thaw out and start up again, etc.  And he's hung up on this idea of deadly underwater zombies walking along the shoreline, riverbed, and so on.  How can they do this?  They should be more buoyant than living people.  And they don't seem coordinated enough to swim, so they should just pile up against dams, wash out to sea, bob around helplessly, etc.  That would still make for good story elements.

Equally problematic, for me, are the military issues.  In one anecdote after another, it always boils down to three things:  One, the military made really, really stupid errors and never learned from them.  Two, zombies are magically immune to military weapons.  Three, difficult choices were made.

This last one, sure, I'll give him that, although endless reports about it lose most of their impact pretty fast -- and in many cases, the difficult choices result from the stupid military decisions.  I have no trouble with the idea that many stupid errors would be made, but he makes every military in the world seem like the Keystone Kops.  And, I'm sorry, but the military-grade weapons he specifies would not be ineffective against the zombies he describes.  A fifty-caliber machine gun does not incapacitate people through shock, pain, and blood loss.  It incapacitates people by shredding them.  High explosives do not kill purely through hydraulic overpressure at close range.  And military incendiaries don't just kill people; they reduce their body mass quite rapidly.

Besides, if you have a 60-ton tank with 1500 lb-ft of torque (or more), no mass of zombies is realistically a problem.  You drive over them, come about, and drive over them some more.  It doesn't matter if they swarm over the outside of the tank.  They're not even likely to dislodge a tread with their bones, nor are they likely to damage the fuel tanks or clog the air intakes (and most modern tanks have stored air as part of NBC defenses).  You don't even need ammunition.

And if the zombies are mindless, and you're a government organizing a massive halfway well-equipped response, you don't need refugee groups to distract them.  If you're using human bait, even a non-military leader would realize inside of a month, if not a week, that you could lure them into vast traps.  Like, oh, a moat of gasoline.  And really big groups of zombies become largely self-defeating if you have a week or two to prepare your defenses.

I suppose it's harder (although certainly not impossible) to write a similar story if the human response to the zombie threat is less incompetent, but it just pisses me off, all the same.  The way he's constructed his story, he'd be better off not having any government or military people interviewed.  Keep that bit as vague as possible, and just talk to the refugees and DIY survivors.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on November 22, 2010, 12:32:05 AM
Finished World War Z and read Shortcomings (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shortcomings_(Graphic_Novel)), a slice-of-life graphic novel about young Asian-Americans and their relationships.  I don't know if it's great, but it's really well done.  I read a lot about it afterward . . . .

I haven't read the rest of the author's work, and I'm not confident about assigning to him the views his characters have.  The characters have major but realistic problems, which some of them deal with and some of them fail to deal with.  You know how in a lot of Woody Allen movies the characters are all tied up with their neuroses?  This is kind of like a non-comedic version of that, except the characters are Asian-American rather than Jewish.  They all trip over their philosophical and psychological struggles with politics, culture, racism (their own, mostly), sexism, and even geography.  With the exception of the main character's lesbian friend, none of them are making any progress.

It's too real to dismiss, too painful to really enjoy, although you can enjoy the quality of the execution.  The characters are flailing about a lot -- especially the main character -- and the title is well chosen.  The cliches are all there, but the characters are aware of them, and frustrated by them.  I don't know that most of the characters should be dating anyone, but what can you do.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on December 06, 2010, 09:42:25 PM
Starship Troopers, finally.

First, I have to say that this is one of the most misrepresented books I've read.  I've heard the same criticisms of the book over and over again -- that it advocates fascism, militarism, meritocratic democracy, etc.  To my surprise, this is complete crap.  The book only advocates the mildest form of fascism, and its 'meritocracy' is milder than what the GOP typically rolls out against motor-voter initiatives.  And it's similarly not painting a very militaristic society.  Heinlein's clearly in favor of the military, per se, but he paints them as a tiny minority that, as a matter of honorable duty, protects a much larger majority that holds a somewhat different set of values but that even soldiers don't find distasteful.

Seriously, this book is practically left-wing.  The only right civilians don't have is the vote, but they live in an affluent, egalitarian, liberal global society.  In the book, the veteran's right to vote is basically a badge of honor more than a vital or consequential liberty.  And it's explicitly not very meritocratic -- there's a long lecture about how this system works not because veterans are better rulers, but, in fact, nobody knows why.  They simply stick with it because it does work, he says.  Well . . . this is hardly propaganda.

The book does make soldiers out to be heroes, but mild worklike heroes.  Well, it's written from a soldier's point of view.  During a war against scary monsters where the survival of humanity is at stake.  Again, hardly propaganda.  Seriously, the vast majority of the book is astonishing for how much it isn't preachy -- compared to other military stories, compared to a hell of a lot of SF, compared to most books by Heinlein.

I know a lot of the criticism started back when the story was published as a serial, because Heinlein was in favor of nuclear testing at a time most scientists and SF writers were against it.  But, really, this book is less subversive and militaristic than Tunnel In The Sky, for crying out loud.  It says that anyone who wants to be a soldier and earn citizenship can be, and the military will find useful service for them regardless of their abilities.  And he agrees with me that it's not a volunteer military if you're not allowed to quit.

I had to read almost a hundred pages before he said something I disagreed with (some nonsense about morality and evolution), which is probably a first for Heinlein.

However . . . .

Frankly, it's god awful.  Seriously.  The majority of the book is boring as hell -- I mean, really boring.  Chapter after chapter of the dryest exposition as the narrator says 'Then we did this, and then we did that, and they made us do this, and then this other thing happened.'  Most of it could be any boot camp memoir, and it's duller than the majority of them.  The most interesting details are almost always things the narrator only mentions in passing.  Oh, hey, we fought another race of aliens, but I'm not going to tell you about those; instead, here's three pages about calisthenics.  Then I met this guy, but he died not that long after.

Oy.  In fact, it wasn't until page 180 -- out of 205 -- that there's any interesting combat action.  Even then, it isn't excitingly described.  If you took out half the generic boot camp saga, and actually expanded on the SF and war elements, you'd have a much better book.  Much better.

It's almost enough to make me think the movie is an improvement on the book in many ways.  It's a hell of a lot dumber, but also a lot easier to sit through.  But the animated series is still miles better than either.

So I didn't hate the book for the reasons so many people told me I would object to it, but good god was it unbelievably dull.  I wouldn't have finished it if it were so short and so historically important.  All in all, I'd have to say it's the third worst Heinlein book I've read, and the funny-uncle anthem Door Into Summer is not in the top two.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on January 25, 2011, 03:32:36 PM
I read a Peter Saxon SF thriller from 1967 called The Disorientated Man, which was made into the film Scream and Scream Again.

It's kind of complicated -- although short, in fine 1960s fashion -- but is largely about Scotland Yard in pursuit of an impossible (and perhaps supernatural) serial killer.  Mixed, all in all, and the ending is a bit of a letdown because it seems to think you're going to be shocked by a reveal that wasn't very surprising even in the late 1960s, I think, and certainly isn't shocking now.  (Weirdly, it's similar to the anticlimactic ending to Wilson's Space Vampires.)

It does, however, have a fine bit where the police are closing in on and chasing a serial killer who turns out to be a vampire.  It's the second book book from the late 60s that I've read in the last few years that had a sequence like that, the other being Progeny of the Adder.  And I saw a good similar bit last year in an episode of The Night Stalker.  It's really a tricky sort of thing to pull off well, but there you go.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on February 09, 2011, 09:53:43 AM
An interesting and entertaining Star Trek-related book I hadn't seen before, Stephen Whitfield's The Making of Star Trek, from 1968.  I'm not far into it, but it's good so far, and sometimes unintentionally funny.  It has excerpts from various early Roddenberry proposals for the show, including promises that the plots would not be too cerebral or 'out there' or feature magic-like aliens.  :hmm:  Well, it wouldn't be the show it is.

My favorite so far is his promise to the network that the focus would be the human drama and not the spaceship or the futuristic setting and its technologies.

Quote
GALAXY TRAVEL FULLY PERFECTED.  [...]  The perfected spaceship concept allows us to move efficiently from story to story, freeing the audience from the tiresome details of technology and hardware.

Scotty would be glad to hear it.  Personally, I didn't feel this issue got too tiresome until the Next Generation's tendency to reduce things to interference from handwavion particles that invariably were rectified with an inverse handwavion field near the end of the hour. 

The problem, of course, is that the ship and futuristic technologies are so powerful that they wreck a lot of stories if they're working right and used properly.  It's the old superhero problem of being too powerful.  So they constantly insert magic-like aliens or reasons why the technology's not working.  You can hardly blame Bones for being reluctant to use the transporters.  He's seen some shit go down.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on February 09, 2011, 10:47:22 AM
Wait. Wasn't there a book by David Gerrold with the same title from about that time? I seem to remember two books: one about the series in general entitled "The Making of Star Trek," and one about the making of "The Trouble With Tribbles." Hmm, maybe Gerrold just wrote that second one (obvious).
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on February 09, 2011, 10:57:04 AM
He wrote The World of Star Trek in 1973, after the show had been cancelled.  Apparently he criticized several elements of the show and noted the changes he would have made, and quite a few of those changes wound up on Next Generation, such as having a ship's psychologist, a Klingon in the crew, and the captain having a First Officer who generally headed up away missions rather than going himself.

I haven't read that one, but if I see it . . . .
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on February 09, 2011, 11:07:27 AM
OK yeah, that's the one I remember. Plus the tribbles one.

Hate to say this, but I got those books when they came out. Probably at the Federation Trading Post in Berkeley or somewhere.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on February 10, 2011, 08:58:53 PM
So I just read "Packing for Mars" by Mary Roach, (author of "Stiff" and "Bonk"). It is basically a collection of weird-shit anecdotes about living in space. Apparently her earlier books are collections of weird-shit anecdotes about death and sex, which I think are much richer topics, so I may read those too. I started out wanting to love this book, but she lost me with the very first sentence and I had to really apply a lot of restraint to give it another chance. So I did, and in the end it was ok. There's a lot of very witty stuff in there; some very nice writing, a fair number of interesting things I didn't know, and some thoughtfulness. But her overall attitude is exactly what pisses me off about journalism at all levels these days: a whole lot of condescending my-aren't-they-cute-nerds attitude about scientists and engineers. She also conflates them with bureaucrats, which is basically unforgiveable. She gets kind of buddy-buddy with a retired shuttle astronaut who is a total bro. Military pilot, obviously, and obviously contemptuous of everyone else who's not. IMHO wrong guy to get buddy-buddy with. A huge chunk of the book is lifted from other books by that astronaut and others, which is just fucking lazy.

But as I said there are some gems, such as when she renders Jim Lovell speechless with interview questions that he quite graciously says he's never been asked before (which is saying something since he's been getting interviewed since the mid sixties). And there's a whole lot about sebum that I found fascinating, and a whole lot about :shit: that I found :puke: Also fascinating. I can't say whether I recommend this or not. Well; I'm glad I read it, even if it did piss me off a lot. Get it from the library.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on February 10, 2011, 09:31:19 PM
From what I've seen -- seen, only; I have Stiff somewhere in here, but I don't know where -- Roach is an OK writer-researcher with the gall to publish popular books about grabby subjects.  And someone's got to do that!  She seems amused, anyway, and her presentations have amused me, even though her research sometimes seems a little half-baked.  Almost like she's doing it for a variety show, Daily Show Lite or something.  Not bad.


For no real reason except its own awesomeness, I'm reminded again of Buzz Aldrin on 30 Rock yelling at the moon.

This clip is good, but I wish it were slightly longer (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=adz4rbKSsDI).
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: flipper on February 10, 2011, 09:31:59 PM
So is Stiff about sex or death?
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on February 10, 2011, 09:33:12 PM
Death. It's about what happens to human remains in America.
I don't think I can have that one in the house.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: hajen on February 11, 2011, 10:39:35 AM
I read Stiff and Bonk, and vaguely remember enjoying them. That's the type of books I read now pretty much - accessible nonfic. I think I have Packing for Mars on the giganto "someday I will have time to read books again HAHAHAHAHAHA cough cough" Amazon wishlist.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on February 22, 2011, 10:53:05 PM
In addition to the Making of Star Trek, I've been reading a book of historical trivia about Michigan, since I've been here so long, and also I've been reading a book of quotes from Hollywood people about the biggest / worst flops they were ever in.  That's pretty interesting, especially when multiple people cite the same films.  It makes you want to see them to see if they're as horrible as all that.  Some of them flopped for reasons other than being horrible, but still.

Some of the standouts:

- Adventure (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adventure_(1945_film)).  A Clark Gable flop whose plot no one's even bothered commenting on.  IMDb just says "Sea-going roustabout falls for meek librarian," which is an excellent capsule description.  :lol:  Viewers' comments I found online are just mystifyingly peculiar.  Weirdly, Victor Fleming, who directed, also made another film called Adventure twenty years earlier, based on a different novel.  I don't know if that one was also a flop.


- Arch of Triumph (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arch_of_Triumph_(1948_film)).  Based on Erich Maria Remarque's allegedly more popular novel of the same name (more popular at the time, apparently, than All Quiet on the Western Front).  A disaster from well before filming began, and then Ingrid Bergman was supposed to play a tiny frail French girl, and the guy they got to be her romantic interest was considerably shorter than she was, and oy.  The plot is Les Miserables kind of complex but in Nazi-occupied France.  Wikipedia says

The MPAA's head of the Production Code Administration at the time, Joseph Breen, made the film's studio tone down the violence in the script. The scene where Ravic kills Haake also included him stuffing Haake in the car's trunk, stripping him naked, burying him and burning his clothes, was cut from the film.

:trance:  Geez, they cut that?  In 1948?  Oddly enough, this one was remade in 1985 with Anthony Hopkins and Lesley-Anne Down, and apparently that version flopped, too.


- The Ice Follies of 1939 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Ice_Follies_of_1939).  Jimmy Stewart plays a successfull ice skater (!) who marries a nice girl who can't skate (Joan Crawford) but who becomes a movie star, and their careers threaten to wreck their marriage.  Or something.  Apparently neither of them could skate and the script was god-awful.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on February 22, 2011, 11:06:25 PM
Also, some things I've learned from the Star Trek book:

- People often complain that all the 'liberal hippie stuff' in Next Generation and afterward wasn't part of the original concept and was shoehorned in.  But the book has excerpts from stuff Roddenberry wrote for background or for proposals to studios, going back at least to 1964, and it includes things like there being no unemployment, poverty, or money in the Star Trek milieu, and racism being a quaint idea.

- Roddenberry also figures they'd have sexism licked by then, so to speak, but it's amusing how sexist (sometimes weirdly sexist) he was even while he was trying to be unsexist.  It's not just romantic elements of the show, or the uniforms.  He has a bit about a female yeoman being on the planet with the away team but not having much to do.  So he says they should give her a handheld camera so she can record what happens and let Kirk make log entries.  He also says that of course she already has considerable accessories.  :huh:  But he says the camera would be good because it could also be used for merchandising as a toy for "female type children".  Uh, what?  We call those 'girls', in our language.

- Leonard Nimoy developed Spock's speech patterns by listening to recordings of Somerset Maugham reading his own works.  He also has a small part in Them!.

- DeForest Kelly had a professional singing career in his youth.  Between acting jobs, he made a living as an elevator attendant.  He was a writer for Walter Cronkite's You Are There (and apparently appeared at least once) and played an Earp brother in the big 1957 Gunfight at the OK Corral . . . which makes the Trek episode Spectre of the Gun even weirder.  In 1956, he had a role as a doctor in The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit where he tells Gregory Peck "This man's dead."  He also played a doctor on Bonanza and in an episode of The Virginian . . . where his patient was played by Leonard Nimoy.

- In canon, McCoy has a 21-year-old daughter, who I think gets mentioned maybe once or twice on the show.  Roddenberry intended her to join the Enterprise crew in the third season and to be seduced by Kirk.  Awkward.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: pdrake on March 01, 2011, 06:05:31 PM
goodnight dune (http://goodnightdune.com/)
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: flipper on March 01, 2011, 06:40:40 PM
Nice!  Ian loves this one (http://www.amazon.com/Goodnight-Goon-Petrifying-Michael-Rex/dp/0399245340)
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Hedaira on March 05, 2011, 02:34:46 AM
Read the latest Kim Harrison novel. The writing was ... not good. I still love the characters and the story line, but, this one was phoned in.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Talix on March 07, 2011, 10:04:34 AM
I just read The Wizard of Oz. Yay, free Kindle books!
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on March 07, 2011, 01:45:38 PM
I'm reading The Art of Racing in the Rain for book club.  I'm about 10% into it, but I like it so far.  It's a story told by a dog about his master.  The dog is very very old and wants to be put to sleep so he can be reincarnated as a human.  He got this idea from a documentary he watched about Mongolia.  It sounds silly, but it's actually quite angsty so far.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on March 07, 2011, 02:23:00 PM
I read the first page of that one then put it down and had to go take a walk.
I'm sure it's great, but dang.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on March 07, 2011, 02:41:45 PM
If you're referring to him laying in his pee, he did that on purpose.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on March 07, 2011, 05:07:31 PM
No, it's just that I have a very old dog right now and just the thought of what's coming is a bit too much for me.

Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on March 07, 2011, 05:14:17 PM
Oh, yes.   :(
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: mrcookieface on March 07, 2011, 05:28:21 PM
:(

Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Hedaira on March 07, 2011, 06:16:48 PM
 :thumbsdn:
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on March 07, 2011, 06:22:03 PM
Dogs are too good at looking forlorn and miserable.  I couldn't get through more than maybe the first twenty or thirty pages of The Plague Dogs because it was too depressing.

A harsh story with a cat protagonist, you feel like the cat will tough it out.  A harsh story with a dog, you feel like the dog will just endure . . . forever.  Too depressing, definitely.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: mrcookieface on March 07, 2011, 07:03:50 PM
I couldn't get past the first twenty or thirty pages of The Plague Dogs because Adams spent far too long tediously listing every single village and hamlet in England.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: mybabysmomma on March 07, 2011, 07:09:56 PM
 :lol:
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on March 07, 2011, 07:32:54 PM
:lol:

I don't even remember that.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: mrcookieface on March 07, 2011, 07:52:21 PM
Oh yeah.  It was almost as bad as Melville going on and on and on about whaling.

That book shouldn't have been called Moby Dick.  It should have been called How To Moby Dick.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: vox8 on March 07, 2011, 08:38:41 PM
I feel that way about Clancy.

I don't actually need to know how to drive the freaking submarine.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on March 07, 2011, 09:10:21 PM
:lol:  So true.  You can go too far in the other direction, as in the hilarious bit in Throw Mama From The Train, but a lot of those military action thriller authors are obsessive with the details.

What I really hate -- and Clancy drives this into the ground -- is when they get smug about it.  The bomb, dropped from the 20,000-foot altitude traditionally favored for Black Ops stealth missions, of course had a casing of choate cellulose, which would naturally render the nature and origin of its manufacture completely undetectable to standard bombsite forensics after the blast of its typical 3400-kilogram triple-twist RDX lefthand-thread warhead, which would explode in the spiral pattern of extreme brissance at 5600 degrees Fahrenheit as bombs of this secret type always do, you moron.

Yeah, blow me.

He also gets way too fawning over stuff that just is not cool.  It's one thing to be pro-military, and it's another thing to partly think that guns are cool toys, but when he pulls up his knees and sinks his chin in his hands and gets all doey-eyed over every random detail of rah-rah chest-thumping I'm An Awesome Badass guff, it gets a little sickening.  I never like military stories of the tenor 'They made me do 500 push-ups in the latrine with a glass Coke bottle wedged between my cheeks while the Master Sergeant told me what a scummy cockroach I was -- AND I LOVED IT.'  Clancy tends to veer in that direction, too.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on March 14, 2011, 07:51:33 PM
I read the first three volumes of Appleseed (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Appleseed_(manga)), by major manga author Masamune Shirow.  I don't have the fourth volume.  It's an 80s story about fairly near-future humans, bioengineered androids, cyborgs, big military robots, and so on. 

I don't know how much more original the themes were in 1985, but a lot of them are pretty cliched by now, at least, although Shirow handles them well.  The storytelling is a trifle muddied, though, and some of the action sequences are very hard to follow.  It makes me wonder what's lost in translation.  The mechanical designs were groundbreaking and influential, though, as is usual for Shirow -- he also did Ghost in the Shell -- and some of his cyborgs in particular are still very avant-garde.

There are a few weird things about the series, such as how the third volume suddenly gets into animal-people bioengineered critters, plus the fan service (nudity) abruptly increases from Really None to Quite A Lot.

There are three Appleseed films, and I've seen two of them, but I'm not 100% sure which two.  One was the early one that most people apparently didn't like, and the other was one of the two later CGI ones.  I seem to remember liking both of them, overall.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: the other andrea on March 31, 2011, 11:16:23 PM
I'm getting a better picture of what my cousin is like these days... she "liked this on Facebook.

It should be no surprise, really, since my uncle is a staunch Republican/born again Christian/reformed alcoholic:

Quote
Piercing the Darkness, which was published in 1988, is a sequel to Frank E. Peretti's novel This Present Darkness. It shows contemporary views on angels, demons, prayer and the spiritual realm. Piercing the Darkness won the ECPA Gold Medallion Book Award for best fiction in 1990. The book, along with This Present Darkness, has been instrumental in promoting belief among Christians in Territorial Spirits. They have also increased an interest spiritual warfare.
Plot summary

It follows the journey of Sally Beth Roe as she tries to escape her past and slowly overcomes her constant struggle to discern the Truth. Also told is the story of another small town, similar to that of This Present Darkness and called Bacon's Corner, and a resident named Tom Harris. His kids are ripped from his home by Child Services. Seeming to have no connection with other events at first, a young police officer, Ben Cole, is convinced what is being brushed off as a suicide is actually a murder, and ends up losing his job over the issue... which brings him to the side of the embattled Christian school. Caught in the crossfire is a little girl who's been forced into a curriculum of "meditation techniques" and "inner spiritual guides" that control her moods, attitudes, and actions, the little Amber Brandon, and her mother Lucy who realizes this lawsuit and the people who are "helping" her may be much, much more than she bargained for. Before the paths that Sally Roe and Tom Harris are on collide, the Ashton Clarion editor and his wife, Marshall and Kate Hogan (from This Present Darkness), make a return appearance as veteran fighters in this war against the powers of darkness that threaten freedom of religion everywhere. As the story unfolds, the lawsuit and its participants are soon locked in a struggle of ethics versus non-ethics, absolutes versus relativism, right versus wrong, and those with interest in this battle are shown to be even in the highest places of government.

Sounds...  :eyeroll:

Anyone heard of this book?
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: stormneedle on March 31, 2011, 11:23:49 PM
Oh, wow. Sounds like they needed a clue by eight to do the subtle parts of the review. Hopefully they tried using pens to write the book, but I don't think I'll hold out any hope.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on April 01, 2011, 05:39:28 AM
I read This Present Darkness maybe fifteen years ago, when Peretti was on an upswing.  A guy I knew who was in the film business told me that he'd like to pitch a story like Peretti's but not so dumb and without having to pay Peretti for it, so he asked me to read the book.  I did read the book but told him he didn't need my help.

The book . . . it reads kind of like a really weak Stephen King novel, except with painfully cheesy neo-Christian New Age guff.  The irony is that one of the main sets of bad guys is an Evil New Age Cabal that's anti-Christian.  Well, no one hates a splinter sect like another splinter sect.

Basically, there's this Small American Town, and it's being threatened by (A) a big New Age cult / educational group, and (B) demons and fallen angels, who mostly just possess people and make them act as villains, if I remember correctly.  Then there are humans who are good guys (all neo-Christians) and there are invisible angels who combat the demons.  The angels need 'prayer cover', which is the equivalent of air support and is provided by, well, humans praying.

Meanwhile, it has a weird conspiracy theory / obey authorities thing going through it.  When the demons want to go after the good guys, they typically get them arrested on trumped-up sex charges (prostitution, rape, etc).  But to defeat the New Agers, the good guys get the DA and FBI involved.  So the cops are demons in disguise, but the feds can be trusted.  Weird even for this kind of weirdness.  The writing occasionally had good passages, and then bits that literally made me groan out loud and, probably, roll my eyes.

So it's like a cross between Left Behind and a watered-down Invasion of the Body Snatchers, except as a Manichean neo-Christian cheeseball.  It wasn't that hard to get through, but it didn't make me want to read anything else by him, either.  It might be a more exciting read than a lot of evangelical novels; I don't know.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on April 30, 2011, 12:30:56 PM
Somebody in my book club wrote a book and self-published for the Kindle.  It was $5 and I was curious, so I bought it.  Yeah, it's not good.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on April 30, 2011, 04:37:10 PM
Speaking of YA fiction, I read The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan, and I liked it.

It's YA fiction, so, ymmv. I mean, the whole teenager-discovers-he-has-mysterious-powers-and-is-initiated-into-a-mysterious-hidden-world thing has been beaten to death, set on fire, and had its ashes spread throughout the world via satellite, so you know. That. Otherwise, fine. It's again the first of a series of I don't know how many.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on May 07, 2011, 09:25:55 PM
I read a 1973 SF book called The Hero of Downways, by Michael Coney.  Coney was a British SF writer who was kind of excellent for various reasons, including that his middle name was Greatrex.  Hero of Downways is pretty good, a fairly quick read like a lot of books of that era.  It's a little inconsistent, especially in tone, and the characterization could be a little stronger, but I enjoyed it just the same.

Basically, it's a coming-of-age story about a girl who lives in a community of people who live underground, where they retreated generations ago because they couldn't survive on the surface.  They have the remnants of advanced technology, which they only partially understand, and they have a mythology about who they are and how their situation came to be.

The story keeps developing throughout the book, and although some parts were cliches even in the early 70s, other parts still seem fresh enough.  Some of Coney's books are supposed to be considerably better, but oddly enough they're not always easy to find nowadays.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: stormneedle on May 07, 2011, 09:53:04 PM
Sounds vaguely like the Ember novels, which are way more recent.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on May 07, 2011, 10:08:44 PM
Definitely some similarities, but the basic concept isn't very exclusive.  Coney's book plays on Cold War fears and the very concept of heroism.  In Hero of Downways, there was a local hero who died killing a supposedly unkillable monster that threatens the underground community.  The community believes it's threatened by another monster, so they use the remnant technology to clone the Hero, only to remember a bit belatedly that he was kind of a jerk and troublemaker, monster-slaying aside.

They also deal with the community of mutants descended from imperfect children they've abandoned, and so on.  The main character, the girl, is a bit too bright to be satisfied with the mythologized traditions of the community, so she's always poking at them and causing a bit of trouble, herself.  She does end up solving a number of mysteries about the book's premise, and the solutions are pretty satisfying.  The book's themes are things like the nature of heroism and the differences among perception, socially accepted norms, and reality.

It's a bit YA, but I'm told that some of Coney's other stuff was more explicitly YA.  I haven't read the Ember books, but I had to look them up the other day, and I was surprised to learn from the Wikipedia page that Lowry's The Giver is a science-fiction novel.  We sell that book all the time, and I guess I never looked closely at it.  :lol:
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on May 08, 2011, 11:02:29 AM
Sounds vaguely like the Ember novels, which are way more recent.

Yeah, kind of exactly. Huh. Definitely look into the Ember books and see. They're kind of okay.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Hedaira on May 08, 2011, 11:25:52 AM
Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Saw the movie which was ok. Book, so far, is better.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: mo on May 08, 2011, 02:49:31 PM
I've seen all three of the movies now. #2 was kinda meh, neither were as good as #1. The trilogy doesn't really get deeper as it goes along, it just sort of ties up loose ends.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on May 08, 2011, 06:09:12 PM
Yeah, the movies can't go as deep as the books did.  They'd be really long and boring.  I liked the 2nd book a lot, then thought the 3rd book was really boring until I got to about pg 100 and something happened that made me go WTF>??!! and then I sped through the rest.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on May 08, 2011, 06:10:09 PM
I finished book-club lady's self-published novel.  It was terrible.  Ugh.  I hope I never have to tell her I read it.

Now am reading Bossypants.  Good stories, kind of disjointed.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: flipper on May 09, 2011, 04:30:15 PM
Read all three books.  Saw the first two movies and the third one is sitting on my dresser.  Someday I'll get time to watch it and send it back to netflix.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: hajen on May 11, 2011, 11:41:18 AM
I've actually READ SOME BOOKS for the first time in, uh, mumble, it's shameful. Well, unless you count the handful of Sunfire teen romances I reread since I ordered a bunch for Xmas and never gave them to my sister yet. Heh heh. (Some of them were done very well for what they were!)

So I picked up Bright-Sided by Barbara Ehrenreich and Bonk by Mary Roach off the remainder table at Chapters a couple weeks ago. Both thoughtful and good. Worth reading.

I finished book-club lady's self-published novel.  It was terrible.  Ugh.  I hope I never have to tell her I read it.

What genre is it? Yeah, I've done some self-publishing research - hoo boy there is some srs crap out there.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on May 11, 2011, 11:47:37 AM
It was chick-lit, which is really weird.  This lady is a huge literature snob so I was surprised when she told us the genre.  It ended up being around 400 pages long, with HUGE, rope-like threads left dangling, no climax, and no ending.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on May 11, 2011, 11:55:00 AM
She probably wrote a fantasy climax and ending that she's just not comfortable showing anyone else.  

I have seen this before.



edit:  ALSO, literature snobs love to write genre fiction because they're sure they can do a better job of it.  Writing a Major Novel seems awfully daunting, but they figure they can tear off trash that's better than the trash published by trashy writers.

There are a lot of English professors who are sure they could retire by writing Romance novels.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: hajen on May 11, 2011, 12:09:01 PM
It was chick-lit, which is really weird.  This lady is a huge literature snob so I was surprised when she told us the genre.  It ended up being around 400 pages long, with HUGE, rope-like threads left dangling, no climax, and no ending.

I have to say I'm always surprised by how badly edited/put together these books are. How do people not realize they left plots wide open and unresolved or stuff like changing character names in the course of the story??
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on May 11, 2011, 12:23:24 PM
Our local borders is circling the drain so we mounted a quick raid and I got a copy of "Zero History" by William Gibson. Haven't cracked it yet, but I'm anxiously anticipating. Unlike pretty much everyone, I liked "Spook Country" and "Pattern Recognition."
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on May 11, 2011, 01:02:48 PM
changing character names in the course of the story??

I realize this isn't what you mean, but the main character adopted a kitten in the middle of the book and she renamed it 200 pages later.  It was annoying.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on May 18, 2011, 11:04:24 PM
I read The Pritcher Mass, a 1972 SF novel by Gordon Dickson, which I guess was probably his third or fourth book.  I like some of his stuff, but, oddly enough, I'm not a huge fan of the Dorsai books, which my younger brother loves.

This one takes place in a future Earth where environmental damage has forced everyone to live in sealed areas.  Meanwhile, there's a huge (and very exclusive) project to build a huge psychic machine of sorts, the Pritcher Mass, out beyond Pluto, with the hope that it can somehow be used to locate and travel to new worlds.  The main character is a loner with mild psychic powers who hopes to be among those chosen to work on the Mass.

Complications ensue, including saboteurs, conspiracies, witches, a talking wolverine, an intelligent cartoon praying mantis . . . there's a lot of stuff thrown against the wall.  Some of it works, but it does seem a bit random at times, and it's a bit anticlimactic at times, and occasionally it didn't quite make sense.  Still, in the early 1970s an SF novel was a short novel, so it doesn't outstay its welcome.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Talix on May 19, 2011, 10:52:00 AM
I'm in the middle of Let the Great World Spin, which I am enjoying, but have to get Kapitoil read for book group a week from Tuesday. I started it last night and already feel smarter as NPR had someone on from Doha and I knew where it was (Qatar).  Heh - literally, it is "the big/sticky tree".  As Tree is one of my nicknames, I think it's time to stop that line of questioning.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Talix on May 26, 2011, 09:24:59 AM
Finished Let the Great World Spin last night and Kapitoil earlier in the week.  Recommend them both - Kapitoil had a sad, quiet ending that I never saw coming, while LtGWS is just a great story of how lives intertwine and affect each other with Philippe Petit's incredible high-wire walk between the Trades as the charming connecting - ahem - thread.

Started The Habitation of the Blessed by Catherynne M. Valente - was introduced to her through an LJ I used to read.  Her latest books have gotten extremely high praise from the likes of Cory Doctorow and Neil Gaiman.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: mo on May 26, 2011, 11:35:31 AM
I'm going to put this link here so I can read it later. I saw the author on Jon Stewart the other night, and this article is much more interesting than he came across on the show.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/may/21/jon-ronson-how-to-spot-a-psychopath
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on May 26, 2011, 12:09:48 PM
Good timing!  I just finished In The Woods (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/In_the_Woods), by Tana French.  I'm pretty good at spotting psychopaths, which is relevant, although frankly I think the one in that book could have been wearing a spinning bow tie with lights that spell out I AM A PSYCHOPATH.

I'd never heard of the book before it crossed my path at the shop, and it is dripping with gushing reviews from major sources, plus it won the Edgar for First Novel.  Personally, I thought it was miserably unsatisfying but reads like an adolescent novel by a very good writer.  I'm trying to make up my mind if I want to read any of her later books.

Basically, it's a police-procedural mystery, with two mysteries.  It starts with an overly florid prologue meant to give the impression that This Is A Serious Novel.  Then the tone settles down nicely, both mysteries are set up, good characters are introduced.  But a little over a hundred pages in, the tone goes all wrong.  The first-person perspective becomes flat-out narration, with the protagonist directly addressing his audience (the reader? another character?), and we go from vague tonal foreshadowing to Emo Pronouncements of Doom.  Even now, I look back and wonder where everything went so horribly wrong, and like that.  

:vomit:

Then the main character becomes a total cliche wanker and clot.  The policework is often a bit peculiar, and most of the book turns into a drawn-out episode of Law and Order: SVU set in Ireland.  I don't see how a lot of people could find the resolutions of the two mysteries very satisfying, and the ways the character drama is resolved is plausible but in that way that's too unpleasantly drab and realistic.  It's not very cathartic, and it's certainly not escapist.

So . . . meh?  But the worst is that the most interesting elements of the book are just there to tease you, and the author clearly doesn't intend to deliver on those promises.  It's meant to be that way; it's trenchant, or something.  To me, it's just a pretentious juvenile stab at depth that's forgiveable but a waste of a good opportunity.

The glowing reviews . . . when I read mainstream bestsellers, I'm often appalled, and that this book should be so beloved by critics just adds to my notion that most of what they read must really be pretty bad.

French isn't a bad writer, though, even if I'm not wild about her story or some of her character stuff.  Her books apparently have a daisy-chain structure, where the second-main character of In The Woods narrates her second book, The Likeness, and then a character from that book narrates the next one, and so on.  The character who goes on to narrate The Likeness is the best one from In The Woods, which is promising, but is she just going to turn her into a miserable wanker, too?  I dunno.

I've treated characters a little poorly at times, myself, when I felt it was realistic or necessary to a plot, but I seem to have less and less patience for it as time goes by ([cough]whedon[/cough]), and characters who act stupidly without a convincing reason are equally unpleasant to chew on.  So maybe it's just me.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on May 26, 2011, 12:22:12 PM
yes, please send Professor Hare to the U.S. Congress
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: stormneedle on May 26, 2011, 10:46:45 PM
http://geektyrant.com/storage/page-images/Science%20Fiction-History%20-Map.jpeg?__SQUARESPACE_CACHEVERSION=1299778005713
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: mo on May 27, 2011, 04:06:33 AM
 :hmm:
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on May 27, 2011, 06:10:21 AM
:lol:  It's cute and clever and thought-worthy.  :thumbsup:

The Miriam Allen deFord quote is always great.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on May 28, 2011, 05:52:07 PM
Just finished Donald Westlake's The Busy Body.  It was OK.  It took until almost halfway through to really find its groove, but then it rolled right along.  It's a trifle misogynistic, but, then, Westlake's books tend to be.

Apparently it was made into a crazy film by William Castle (and I thought he only did gimmicky horror films), starring Sid Caesar, Anne Baxter, Richard Pryor (before he was famous), Dom DeLuise, and Arlene Golonka.  Netflix doesn't have it, unfortunately.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on May 31, 2011, 12:34:48 PM
Finally read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I kinda liked it! Emphasis on kinda. The central mystery was good. I liked the Salander character, even if she was utterly implausible. I hated the f*ck out of Mikael, however. Pretty much every woman he met except for the evil old grandmother slept with him, which, ONLY IN YOUR OVERHEATED DREAMS, THE LATE MR. LARSSON. And all the Wennerström baloney was, I dunno, not that captivating and I found the resolution unsatisfying - which, um, TACTIC, as now I want to read the sequels. :doh: Am sucker.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Hedaira on May 31, 2011, 01:10:10 PM
Hahaha. Still haven't finished the first one. I know in the movies - the third movie leaves the ending open-ended. I hope that the book does not.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on May 31, 2011, 01:42:40 PM
I don't remember anything being open-ended in the book.  What was left open in the movie?  I thought it was pretty wrapped up.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on May 31, 2011, 02:18:33 PM
Heh, there's a bootleg around of the trailer (http://filmdrunk.uproxx.com/2011/05/the-girl-with-the-dragon-tattoo-got-a-trailer) for the American remake of the film of the book. Daniel Craig is obviously Blomkvist, Christopher Plummer is the old guy, and Skellan Skarsgård is obviously Martin. Could be fake, apparently, but it really looks like the film ought to look.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Hedaira on June 01, 2011, 12:20:58 PM
When she's getting carted away, they do that slow You Should Notice Something Pan shot. Usually that's when the velociraptors or some shit attacks
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: TFJ on June 01, 2011, 12:36:19 PM
i just started game of thrones. so far so good. i haven't seen the HBO series yet so it's all new.

Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Talix on June 01, 2011, 01:38:20 PM
Love. That. Series.  Seriously, George R. R., get the last one out before you die!
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: mybabysmomma on June 01, 2011, 02:03:57 PM
Read Glass Castles this weekend.  It made me a little bit punchy and stabby.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: stormneedle on June 01, 2011, 11:48:21 PM
Cute ads for a bookstore http://www.mymodernmet.com/profiles/blogs/find-your-book
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on June 06, 2011, 05:48:18 PM
A Tale of Time City, a decidedly more SFnal book by Diana Wynne Jones, from 1987.  Roughly speaking, a preteen British girl from WWII ends up in Time City and drawn into various time-traveling adventures in an effort to more or less keep history from largely being destroyed.  She spends most of the book in times and places in our future.

The details are often cute/clever/amusing, but it's not one of Jones' best books, although it was still pretty good.  Some of her books have a very made-up-as-she-went-along feel to them, which sometimes works well and just makes them more surprising (Archer's Goon, for instance).  This one felt a little half-baked, though, and while the characters were decently well-drawn, most of them weren't that incredible, and a lot of the most interesting elements are the ones only revealed or hinted at in the denouement.

Still worth reading, but not her best.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on June 06, 2011, 05:58:07 PM
We read Austenland (http://www.amazon.com/Austenland-Novel-Shannon-Hale/dp/B001P3OMY6/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top) for book club this month.  It was a bad, bad book.  It should feel bad about itself.  Five of us were discussing it over facebook.  Three read and hated it.  The other two hadn't read it yet and said they weren't going to, thanks to our glowing endorsements.  We're having book club at the bar, instead.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on June 06, 2011, 07:19:48 PM
Huh.  We have that at the shop, at the moment.  I wasn't likely to pick it up, though. 

Although I did like the Lost in Austen film sort of thing, and Colin Firth is pretty terrific.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on June 06, 2011, 07:33:51 PM
Me and a friend watched Lost in Austen a week or so ago, and ugh.  The protagonist was SO. DUMB.  She had no idea how to time travel!  We hated that, too.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on June 06, 2011, 07:41:43 PM
:lol:

She's kind of a schmuck, yes.  But the story was so weird -- and kept weirding -- that it kept me hooked, and the cast was good.  It's a mess, but I found it a hypnotic mess.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on June 17, 2011, 10:03:38 PM
I recently finished The Red House Mystery, A. A. Milne's only mystery novel.  He's remembered much better for Winnie the Pooh, mostly, of course.

The book is . . . agreeable.  Mild, even.  It's a locked-room mystery investigated by an amateur Holmes and Watson, who seem to regard it as beastly business, yes, but jolly good fun.  The murder scenario (as discovered) wasn't explained all that well the first time through, so that I wasn't sure exactly what puzzle was being presented.  Even so, as soon as the amateur detective starts discussing the case with his amateur sidekick, I was able to guess the central trick and the murderer.

It's not terrible, but it's not great, either.  It does have one superlative passage, though, which occurs about a hundred pages in when the detective is trying to throw off an eavesdropper:

Quote

     Bill's face was an open book.  Excitement was written all over it.
     "Well," he said eagerly, as he sat down to the business of the meal, "what are we going to do this morning?"
     "Not talk so loudly, for one thing," said Antony.
     Bill looked about him apprehensively.  Was Cayley under the table, for example?  After last night one never knew.
     "Is--er--"  He raised his eyebrows.
     "No.  But one doesn't want to shout.  One should modulate the voice, my dear William, while breathing gently from the hips.  Thus one avoids those chest-notes which have betrayed many a secret.  In other words, pass the toast."
     "You seem bright this morning."
     "I am.  Very bright.  Cayley noticed it.  Cayley said, 'Were it not that I have other business, I would come gathering nuts and may with thee.  Fain would I gyrate round the mulberry-bush and hop upon the little hills.  But the waters of Jordan encompass me and Inspector Birch tarries outside with his shrimping-net.  My friend William Beverley will attend thee anon.  Farewell, a long farewell to all thy grape-nuts.'  He then left up-centre."
 

Unfortunately, most of the dialogue is far more ordinary.  But it's OK.  Not great, but OK.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on June 20, 2011, 10:53:51 PM
I've been reading Daphne du Maurier short stories.  Never read her stuff before, that I remember, but I read Don't Look Now to see how different it was from the film.  (Pretty different.  Some good, some bad.)

Her short stories -- which aren't that short -- are pretty weird, and in fact they read like very mild 'weird tales'.  There's suspense, an otherworldly atmosphere, often some occult elements, and a twist ending.  There are even little Lovecraftian hints in there.  But mild.  The pacing is a little slow by most modern standards, but it's steady and deliberate.  It's good stuff, but I find myself admiring it more than devouring it.

I mostly thought of her as an author of costume dramas and gothics.  I only just recently found out she wrote The Birds.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: TFJ on June 21, 2011, 09:40:35 AM
well shoot, after casually reading game of thrones a few weeks ago, i was less than captivated. i know a lot of yall love the series. :shrug: maybe it was all the "must needs" and "lord father"s that were irking me. i really wanted to love it.

i'm nearly done with four fingers of death, which is amusing, then on to try the Malazan series. i'm looking for a good, long, engrossing, entertaining series that will take awhile to read. preferably of the science-fiction or fantasy variety.

any suggestions? (looks at Raxe)

Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: TFJ on June 21, 2011, 09:42:04 AM
i just re-read 100 years of solitude recently.  :thumbsup: gotta love it. but right now, i'm looking for entertainment more than literary enrichment.  :P
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on June 21, 2011, 10:32:17 AM
I'm probably not the person to ask, since I mostly read short stuff these days, and older stuff.  I haven't touched Thrones yet.  I think the last Martin I read was either Nightflyers or Tuf Voyaging.

I think the last 'long' series I read was probably Vance's Demon Princes (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demon_Princes), which is high pulp SF and is mostly great because of Vance's style.  The series isn't long by recent standards, though.  Put together, it might only be as long as one book in the Thrones series.

If you like SF, you might try the Iain Banks Culture (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Culture#Novels) novels, which aren't exactly a series but take place in the same universe.  Banks is good at what he does but sometimes a bit of a downer.  And I wouldn't read much from the Wikipedia page before reading the books.  Basically, the Culture is a semi-utopia run by artificial intelligences, with some members who use their free time and philosophical high-handedness to improve other cultures whether the other cultures like it or not.  It ain't Star Trek.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Hedaira on June 21, 2011, 11:23:28 AM
Thrones is okay. The next Tolkien (spel czech?) he is not.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: hajen on June 21, 2011, 12:53:00 PM
i just re-read 100 years of solitude recently.  :thumbsup: gotta love it. but right now, i'm looking for entertainment more than literary enrichment.  :P

 :thumbsup: I re-read that at least once every couple years.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: vox8 on June 21, 2011, 01:48:29 PM
well shoot, after casually reading game of thrones a few weeks ago, i was less than captivated. i know a lot of yall love the series.

I actively loathe GofT.

I have not read the most recent addition and frankly I may not ever until they are all written and possibly GRRMartin is pushing up daisies so that I know that he isn't getting any of my money.

I love the shitstorm that is happening about the Sean Bean character - all I can say is "Get used to it." Martin spends pages and pages and pages of exposition getting you invested emotionally in a character for the sole purpose of it being a better abdominal sucker punch when he kills them for absolutely no good reason other than he can.

There is only one character I am rooting for, and that is the Dragon Lady. And the only reason I root for her (because she is despicable also) is that her main goal is to get across the ocean and kill all of the other assholes. That I can get behind.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: flipper on June 21, 2011, 02:31:32 PM
I'm reading The Birdwisher by Anna Joy Springer (http://www.etsy.com/listing/44279559/the-birdwisher-an-illustrated-novella-by)
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: First Post on June 22, 2011, 06:52:17 AM

I love the shitstorm that is happening about the Sean Bean character

Even Sean Bean got a kick out of this response (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=owf6D2vfZqM) (interview (http://nymag.com/daily/entertainment/2011/06/sean_bean_on_whats_next_for_ga.html))

And yeah, I get the whole "deconstruction of classic fantasy tropes" thing, and the whole "anybody can be killed at any time" thing too, but I just finished the entire run of Oz and that probably did the latter concept better, as HBO shows go. The tv series has kept my interest, at least with the few characters who don't seem like cardboard sociopaths. As far as the books, I kinda lost patience with them early on, but that's probably just me. Maybe if I read them earlier or something, like back when I made it through over half of the Thomas Covenant books and shit like that.

Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: mybabysmomma on June 22, 2011, 08:24:12 AM
I'm reading The Birdwisher by Anna Joy Springer (http://www.etsy.com/listing/44279559/the-birdwisher-an-illustrated-novella-by)

I read that as the birdwasher.  :lol:
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Hedaira on June 22, 2011, 03:22:04 PM
I guess I've seen enough Whedon stuff that I wasn't surprised. Even reading the books I was thinking "yeah, Joff's gonna gank him because he's a murderous fuckass."
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Sidious on June 22, 2011, 06:23:14 PM
I've been reading the Simple Sabotage Field Manual (http://www.amazon.com/Simple-Sabotage-Field-Manual-ebook/dp/B002RKSAYE) lately.  It's from 1944, so there's nothing really earth-shattering in it, though it has given me a few "Ah-HA!" moments here and there.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on June 22, 2011, 08:48:14 PM
Nice! I used to have one of those, but I lost it. It was a lot of fun.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: flipper on June 23, 2011, 09:38:09 PM
Palo Alto Stories (http://www.amazon.com/Palo-Alto-Stories-James-Franco/dp/1439163146) by James Franco.  I guess he's a famous actor or something but I bought it because it's about teens in Palo Alto
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on June 23, 2011, 10:27:31 PM
Oh god, Paly kids *sticks finger down throat, makes gagging sounds*
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: flipper on June 24, 2011, 12:33:48 PM
They have some MA and Gunn kids mixed in.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on June 24, 2011, 12:36:23 PM
Gunn? Franco's not that old, is he? Wait. Did they reopen Gunn?

ETA: no, duh, I'm thinking of Cubberley. Gunn never closed. *jedi hand*
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: flipper on June 24, 2011, 05:10:28 PM
I guess they didn't mingle too much with the Sacred Heart or Menlo School kids.  Not even a reference yet and I'm about halfway through.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on July 02, 2011, 12:13:14 PM
Just read The Deadly Isles, by Jack Vance (as John Holbrook Vance), one of his mysteries.  It was pretty good.  The first half or so had some slow moments, but it picked up speed nicely, and some of the dialogue was, as expected, awfully sharp.  His female characters . . . I don't know that they're bad or even necessarily sexist, although the lack of real variety in his female characters is pretty sexist.  But almost everything he writes is pulp, and most of his male characters aren't exactly flattering, either.  They just have slightly more variety.  And at least he's not preachy about This Is How Women Are, unlike some male authors.  He's only concerned with how a few women are.

The mystery is fairly mysterious and has a nice gimmick -- the murderer is bumping people off, and the protagonist doesn't know why; meanwhile, the protagonist is one of the victims, whom the murderer thought he'd killed but doesn't recognize.  They're all on a series of boats and small islands in the region of Tahiti, so the protagonist has to worry that the murderer will suddenly find out who he is.  Hey, aren't you that guy I thought I already murdered?  WTF?

In Vance style, the ending is also somewhere between abrupt and poetic.  I like Vance, myself, so it worked fine for me.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Talix on July 05, 2011, 10:45:59 AM
Motorcycles & Sweetgrass (http://www.amazon.ca/Motorcycles-Sweetgrass-Drew-Hayden-Taylor/dp/0307398064/ref=tmm_pap_title_0/191-4522725-4341933), although I think I've just decided I'm going to be at the beach for the next book club.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on July 05, 2011, 11:53:18 AM
I forgot to report on Zero History (http://www.williamgibsonbooks.com/books/zero_history.asp), which I had to keep retrieving from teh wifenkids because they wanted to read it too. It was fine! I hope he moves on to something else, though, because I'm tired of the characters in this "trilogy" for the most part. Fortunately he writes in groups of three books so this should wrap it up. The central mystery in this one is not as good as the one in the previous Spook Country.

We had a dinner table discussion about how these books are emphatically set in the modern day, with little emphasis on technology - it's there, as an undercurrent, but it's not got any of the hey-wow-look-what's-coming stuff that was so prominent (and disturbingly accurate) in the Virtual Light - Idoru - All Tomorrow's Parties sequence. Some find this disappointing, but I like how he develops characters whether they're living in 2002 Manhattan or in some future orbital colony or decaying arcology.

And - bonus for Random Axe here - the epilogue is set aboard an ekranoplan!
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: stormneedle on July 05, 2011, 11:59:52 AM
You're making me look things up. GBY - I need to do that more often.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on July 05, 2011, 04:15:47 PM
Quote
And - bonus for Random Axe here - the epilogue is set aboard an ekranoplan!

Aw, man.  I don't think I've liked anything I've read by Gibson after the Burning Chrome anthology.  And that was when I was still in high school.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on July 05, 2011, 04:22:53 PM
I'm reading One Hundred Years of Solitude for book club.  I like it, but I feel like I should have started it 6 months ago.  I don't see how it's possible for me to finish it and give it to my friend in time for HER to finish it before 7/21.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Talix on July 06, 2011, 01:11:07 PM
Our book club is good about keeping our selections to less fewer than 350 pages.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on July 07, 2011, 10:44:25 PM
I recently finished The Weathermonger, a 1968 SF/F novel by Peter Dickinson, an author whose name I recognized although I'm not sure I'd ever read anything by him before, with the exception of the amusing book Flight of Dragons, in which he semi-seriously lays out an explanation for dragons as historical fact (though now extinct).  Dickinson wrote mysteries, SF and fantasy, children's books, and I don't know what else.

The Weathermonger turns out to be a YA novel, although my edition is the 1974 DAW book, which was marketed as SF, period.  It's beautifully written but oddly constructed, with an almost dream-like progression.  The book revolves around two children, a boy in his late teens and his eleven-year-old sister, who live in an England that has abruptly returned to the Dark Ages, much to the consternation of the rest of the world.  Machines are hated and feared, and people who use them are executed as witches.  Even the animals hate machines.

Also, some people can control the weather.  Not instantaneously, superhero-style, but over the course of minutes and hours.  The boy happens to be a weathermonger, and he also happens to have lost about five years' worth of his memory.  He and his sister wind up on a quest to find out WTF has happened to England.

A lot of their quest is pretty nicely realized, and some is a bit more pedestrian (no pun intended) but also a bit of a love letter to the regions they travel through, and it doesn't bog down.  There are more than enough surreal elements, and then the explanation is surprisingly satisfying, although -- since this is SF from the 1960s -- the book is so short that I could have put up with a more extended payoff.  Also, there are a few bits in the denouement that I thought weren't as good as the rest and weren't necessary.

Wikipedia tells me that Dickinson wrote two sequels, which are actually prequels in reverse chronological order (each takes place before the previous book, I mean), which the DAW edition does not mention, even though the last book came out four years before the DAW book.  Maybe they had no plans to print the whole trilogy, I don't know.

Also according to Wiki, in 1975 the BBC made a TV series from the trilogy, called The Changes.  It does seem right up their alley.

I definitely want to read more by Dickinson.  He apparently won awards for several categories of reading and was an editor, poet, and reviewer at Punch for 17 years.  Well done.  Apparently his most celebrated book is Tulku, a children's historical fiction that takes place in China and Tibet during the Boxer Revolution.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: TFJ on July 09, 2011, 06:27:26 PM
I'm reading One Hundred Years of Solitude for book club.  I like it, but I feel like I should have started it 6 months ago.  I don't see how it's possible for me to finish it and give it to my friend in time for HER to finish it before 7/21.

yeah that one takes some digesting. it gets a little confusing. but one of my favorites! i love... the ending which i won't talk about.  ;) 
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: the other andrea on July 10, 2011, 02:46:58 AM
Anyone read David Wallace Foster? Specifically, Brief Interviews with Hideous Men?

I just watched the last half of John Krasinski's adaptation, made in 2009, and the subject matter of this film made me extremely curious about DWF.

I'm not really that big on modern literature, like I know i should like Bukowski or Jesse Bernstein...
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on July 10, 2011, 08:15:40 AM
It's a fast seller, and consequently I haven't read it, not because I'm a snob but because I don't compete with customers for those kinds of books.  He has a good reputation, though, and the title is a good hook.




It's 'David Foster Wallace', though.

Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: the other andrea on July 10, 2011, 05:10:57 PM
Damn chemo brain! (http://www.sluniverse.com/php/vb/images/smilies/shake%20fist.gif)
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on July 10, 2011, 05:35:19 PM
Oh, hell, I do that shit all the time.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Talix on July 11, 2011, 08:07:01 AM
I'm a big DFW fan.  I think he writes wrote like I think, only his thinks were so much better than mine are.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on July 11, 2011, 09:17:17 AM
That's what you think.  Maybe your thinks are just as good or better, and you just don't think they are.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Talix on July 11, 2011, 09:54:04 AM
 :hmm:
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on July 21, 2011, 10:06:38 AM
I read Chris Fuhrmaun's The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys, not my usual sort of thing.  It's not a perfect novel, but it's worth reading.  It's kind of like Stand By Me set in Savannah in the 1970s, except the kids are more aggressively rebellious and less talky.

The plotting is OK, and the characterization varies -- some characters are pretty full, and some are well-established in just a scene or two, and some never really materialize.  The voice is good, though, and the writing is good enough so that at least once every couple of pages I'd pause to admire a sentence.

It was a first novel, and unfortunately it was a last one, as the author died young before he finished editing the book, which was pushed through publication by a friend.  It's a real shame there won't be more Fuhrman books, because I get the feeling he hadn't hit his full stride yet and had the potential for an admirable career.

The book was also made into a film several years ago.  I haven't seen that.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on August 07, 2011, 08:49:35 PM
Read Richard Laymon's To Wake The Dead, which was an unusual one for him.  Most of his books start with a slam-bang premise (ie, it starts raining black rain, and if you get any on you, you become murderously hostile) and then follows through at high speed.  This one combined several disparate storylines that eventually intersected. 

Frankly, it felt like two or more incomplete stories that got welded together, but the welding was nicely done, and they're good pieces.  So it was still a good read, if not as gripping as his best novels.  It still read like an improved Dean Koontz novel, though.

Also read much of The Hounds of Tindalos, an anthology of Frank Belknap Long's earlier / Lovecraftier stuff.  It's good fun, although some of the conventions of Lovecraft's day and style are definitely a bit wearisome today, particularly the indirect narration that was meant to lend verisimilitude to the story (as with the FOAF meme in modern urban legends -- This didn't happen to me, but it did happen to someone) and of course the campier histrionics.  You know the famous bit in Holy Grail where they're reading the inscription that tails off in an inscripted scream?  Yeah, that actually happens in a Long story.  :lol:

My favorite so far is The Space-Eaters, which has three thinly fictionalized main characters -- Long himself, Lovecraft, and H. G. Wells.  Wells is characterized rather unflatteringly as a sort of country bumpkin, and one wonders if he ever read it.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: MamaTried on August 09, 2011, 09:41:46 AM
I'll Never Get Out Of This World Alive, by Steve Earle. A junkie abortionist haunted by the ghost of Hank Williams...aided by a Mexican girl who develops mysterious healing powers after she cuts herself on a chain link fence waiving at Jackie Kennedy a day before JFK was assassinated...a worthwhile read.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: unclejessie on August 19, 2011, 03:39:25 PM
Hank Williams jr or sr?

Yes, it matters.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on August 19, 2011, 04:18:20 PM
I thought I heard that they have the same ghost.  Maybe I was thinking of someone else.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: MamaTried on August 23, 2011, 07:58:53 AM
Hank Williams jr or sr?

Yes, it matters.
Senior. Junior isn't worth talking about.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on August 24, 2011, 02:02:22 PM
I was trying to see who was responsible for that Jackie Chan movie being so bad, and I followed a couple of Wikipedia links and got to this page (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Greer), which had this book review:

Quote
James Greer, one of the nimblest and most multilayered American fiction writers, has, with his latest novel The Failure, pulled off a sublime and shivery-smooth literary hat-trick-cum-emotional-gotcha. I defy anyone to come up with an equation to explain how this book's first impression as a ridiculously clever, funny crime story can gradually disclose a metanovel built from far more encyclopedic scratch only to reveal upon its conclusion a central, overriding thought so heartfelt literally it trembles your lower lip. This is one stunning piece of work.

OK, first of all, that is clearly a Written By A Friend review.  It's also way too fawning, and way too obtuse.  Frankly, that is a terrible, terrible review.  So bad it's kind of fascinating, from "hat-trick-cum-emotional-gotcha" to "encyclopedic scratch" to the misplaced "literally".

As it turns out, the guy who wrote that review was also the publisher.  :huh:

Greer, the guy he's talking about, is kind of interesting, though.  Former member of Guided By Voices, engaged to Kim Deal for five years, reasonably successful novelist and screenwriter, senior editor at Spin.  Keep trying.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on August 28, 2011, 09:31:34 PM
I recently finished Unseen Academicals, a relatively recent Discworld novel by Pratchett.  I didn't enjoy it as much as I should have, but I don't think it's the book's fault.  It was pretty brilliantly conceived, constructed, and written.  I wasn't really in the right mood, but I wanted to read it right away so I could loan it out.


I also recently read Monster, by A. Lee Martinez (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A._Lee_Martinez), a strange fantasy novel that's more or less about a guy whose job is animal control for mythological beasts.  More or less.

It . . . didn't really work for me.  It had some cute ideas, some nice snippets, but I just felt like I was watching a program that other people really like but that leaves me cold.  In that respect, it reminded me of the last three-quarters of Lamb.  There were occasional moments that I thought were too glib, or so forth, but mostly I couldn't say exactly why it didn't work for me.  So I'm not sure if it's a good book or what, but other people might like it.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: slippy on September 02, 2011, 07:48:26 PM
Vacation reading included:

Hemingway's "A Moveable Feast", because it was mentioned by my father-in-law in his speech and happened to be on the 2-for-1 table at B&N when we went shopping (serendipity!).
Vonnegut's "Slaughterhouse Five", because I'd never read it and it was also on the 2-for-1 table.
And a re-read of Christopher Moore's "Lamb", because it's awesome.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on September 02, 2011, 09:01:48 PM
:lol:
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on September 11, 2011, 08:23:22 PM
I accidentally wound up reading a True Crime book at home and another at work -- oddly enough, both are about the murder of a devoutly Christian woman.  I don't generally read a lot of True Crime books, mostly because the majority of them are badly written, with a combination of exposition and background done in Particularly Dry Wikipedia Article style and dramatization done in Manufactured Outrage style.

To be fair, I realize there are difficulties involved.  If you're the writer, you generally have to pick a timely story -- 'ripped from the headlines' -- and often you start the work without knowing how the investigation or trial will turn out.  It's entirely possible you'll do two years of work and learn the story isn't going to be interesting after all.  Or that three other writers already have advances from other publishers to cover the same case.  Or that the accused won't grant an interview.  Or that the police can't get anywhere.

This doesn't excuse bad writing itself, but the whole thing does seem like it's probably usually a risky process of alternately hurrying and waiting.

Anyway, this morning I finished a book called The Good Wife, by Clint Richmond, which is about a Texas homicide case I've referred to before.  The husband was convicted of killing his wife, and he sure looks guilty.  If he did it, he's an idiot, but the process of rationalizing a crime includes so much fuzzy thinking that it often also leads you to think that your plan is great even if it's really stupid.

Maybe we should just run PSAs that say YOU ALWAYS OVERLOOK SOMETHING, AND THAT'S WHY THEY'LL CATCH YOU.

The details of the trial annoy me, though.  In brief:

- Dude had motive and opportunity.  Dumpster at his office had a trash bag from his house with the murder weapon, latex gloves with his fingerprints and her blood, and other incriminating evidence inside.  He acted weird after she was dead, and I don't just mean emotionally weird -- the way he behaved suggested he knew ahead of time that she'd be dead, and so on.


- The only realistic defense was to suggest that he was framed.  There were two good candidates you could have suggested.  One of them, the mistress, vanished before the trial.  Instead, the high-profile 'dream team' defense specifically argued that he was framed, but not by either of them.  Derp.  So, what, some random person came in, murdered the wife, and stole valuable jewelry that was only used to frame her husband?  You should give your fees back to the defendant.


- Ambiguous fingerprint and DNA evidence was collected at the murder site, which was the couple's home.  There was nothing to suggest it belonged to any suspicious person, or that it had anything to do with the crime.  This is not evidence.  Pretty much anybody's home has ambiguous DNA and fingerprint traces that the police probably couldn't identify.  Nevertheless, the trial wasted a huge amount of time on this stuff.

(The Austin PD somehow didn't think of checking the doors to the house for fingerprints, even though the back door was unlocked, and any third-party murderer would've had to come in that way.  Derp.)


- The defense complained that they didn't get the full discovery.  The judge ruled that they got a ton of discovery, and he said he didn't see how a small amount of evidence could be important, considering how much they did get.  Derp.  Judge, I am disappoint.


- The courtroom was not well-controlled.  During a recess, for instance, a juror went over to talk to the defendant.  I don't believe that's supposed to happen.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Talix on September 12, 2011, 01:50:38 PM
 :uncertain:
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: stormneedle on September 12, 2011, 02:52:57 PM
If a juror can be held in contempt for Facebook friending a plaintiff or defendent (I forget which), it's a pretty good bet they shouldn't be talking in the courtroom. It's been against the rules at every trial I've witnessed.

Discovery is important. That judge (if it was real) should have gotten nailed by his peers on that one.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on September 12, 2011, 04:16:28 PM
It's not just that he was blowing off discovery and handing them good grounds for an appeal -- which they didn't get, even though the stuff that wasn't given to them was arguably evidence that the prosecution's crime lab was trying to hide something important(ish) from them.  It's that his attitude and reasoning was that they'd gotten reams and reams of stuff, and he said something like 'one or two little pages more can't matter'.

This shows a truly shocking lack of logic and, you know, familiarity with how evidence works.

On the other hand, the defense largely consisted of filing a billion technical motions for dismissal, etc, and I think he was just sick of them.

I have to admit, if I were on the jury, on the second day of arguing about the DNA evidence I would have stood up and shouted IT DOESN'T MATTER ANYWAY and then gone to jail for six weeks.  It would have been impossible to keep my mouth shut.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: flipper on September 13, 2011, 08:29:57 PM
This (http://jadedibisproductions.com/VICIOUS.html)

Total trip so far.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on September 14, 2011, 08:37:04 PM
The other true crime book I've been reading is When Satan Wore A Cross, by Fred Rosen, which is about the Gerald Robinson case (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerald_Robinson_(priest)), in which a priest was eventually convicted of murdering a nun decades earlier.

The book is . . . kind of insane.  It needed more editing, certainly.  But it's just all over the place.  Rosen seems to be leaning toward lending credibility to one thing, and then another, not in the sense of being even-handed, but just weirdly.  At one point, right after the murder occurs, he briefly describes a psychological profile produced by an expert, in which the suspect is "a non-white male, mid-20's, possibly Spanish." 

What, because a white dude wouldn't murder a nun?  If there's any justification to the 'psychological' profile, it's not given, but Rosen seems to think this is perfectly reasonable.

Later, the book gets into Satanic Panic -- which is actually relevant to the case, but Rosen's treatment of it is similarly peculiar.  He invokes the McMartins, and I was all Jeez, not this shit again, but then he goes on to say it was all hysteria and bad psychology.  Then he says a major British study found that some Satanic pervert cults were real.  Uh, do you have a cite or more information on that? 

Robinson wasn't indicted for the murder for decades, and what reopened the case was Robinson being included in accusations of Satanic cult whatnot.  Unsubstantiated and rather implausible and wide-ranging accusations, although Rosen seems neutral about it. 

Similarly, there are claims the murder was a ritual Satanic act.  These claims . . . are not impressive.  More embarrassing to the state.  Frankly, it's totally possible Robinson committed the crime, but it sounds like the trial was crap and the prosecution's case was massively prejudicial and circumstantial.

Rosen mentions witch hunts and says it might be hard to believe the killing was a Satanic ritual, but then he says that ritual sacrifice is common to a lot of cultures.  He gives the Maya and Inca as examples.  Um, sure, but Jews and Christians celebrate ritual sacrifices, too, albeit ones that are (fortunately, if you ask me) much more abstracted.  I'll grant you that, but a lone murderer is not persuasive evidence of a huge secret cult.

Then he names Charles Manson and David Berkowitz as examples of Satanic cult murderers.  :eyeroll:  Dude, your credibility just evaporated.  Manson was his own cult, and most recently a Scientologist, for crying out loud.  Berkowitz admitted making up the Satanic thing, and there's no credible evidence for any of it.

The only Satanic-ish things in the murder of the nun in question is that some of the stab marks, if you squint, could sort of line up into a not quite upside-down cross, except crooked.  Sure, and Ursa Major looks just like a bear.  Oh, and she was murdered in a chapel sacristy.  You know, where she worked.

Honestly.  Simple human murder just isn't enough for people.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on September 22, 2011, 06:07:32 PM
Night Walk, the first SF novel (1967) by Irish author Bob Shaw.  Shaw is one of those 'lost' SF authors I tend to notice at the shop -- very popular and/or well thought of at one time, but now largely forgotten.  He's best remembered now for his stories popularizing the concept of Slow Glass, which is a glass with an atomic structure that vastly reduces the speed of light traveling through it.  It can take light decades or longer to pass through a window of slow glass, so that you may live in the city but have a window that still shows the countryside.

Later writers pointed out that the energy storage in slow glass like that would be enormous.  If you dropped and broke a piece, the new edges would release light that was at that point in the glass, and possibly the entire thing would simply explode violently.  So be careful with it.

Anyway.  A couple of years ago, I read a nifty and slightly disturbing novel of his called Dagger of the Mind, about a man whose sanity is being affected by a telepathic alien.  Shaw also wrote the Land trilogy about a planet where human technology has to develop without access to metals.

Night Walk is largely about a spy, on a colony world, who must make a long journey through hostile territory without the use of his eyes, which he's replaced with a device that lets him see through the eyes of other organisms nearby.  It's also about how hyperspace may work, and a political commentary.  The sociopolitical stuff is typical of the time, to the point where I could figure out a quarter of the way through how the story would end, but it's written with more talent than most. 

Also typical of its time, it ZIPS along, in terms of plot.  It's not full of gripping depth and color, but nowadays it would be three or four times as long, so that's the trade-off.  Overall, I liked it, but it wasn't as good as Dagger of the Mind.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: stormneedle on September 22, 2011, 09:13:23 PM
Asimov used the Slow Glass concept in one of his mysteries, didn't he?
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on September 22, 2011, 09:31:22 PM
Probably.  I think Shaw won a Hugo for one of his Slow Glass stories, and it was a really popular idea for awhile.

I have no idea if Shaw's Slow Glass is plausible (he apparently had its material characteristics worked out in considerable detail), but nowadays there are a number of funky materials that do 'impossible' things with light, from Bose-Einstein condensates to metamaterial super-refractors. 

The metamaterial stuff is getting freaky -- they recently had a lab paper about a material that can bend magnetic fields back so sharply that even a thin shielding keeps the field entirely on one side.  I don't know if it doubles up the field on that side, like a mirror, or what.  The article I saw was too technicaly for me.  Mostly people were talking about using it as perfect shielding to keep magnetic fields off of sensitive stuff or away from prying eyes.

Metamaterial lenses (which don't look like lenses) also let them do things like get really high (previously impossible) magnification levels out of thin flat surfaces.  They might eventually lead to amateur-astronomy telescope binoculars that you can wear like sunglasses.  There are also weird things you can do with holography and so on.  Weird things.  And lots of applications in solar power, etc.


Per Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slow_glass), apparently the first mention of Slow Glass was a French SF novel from 1933.  :trance:  That was written by Maurice Renard (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maurice_Renard), speaking of 'lost' authors.  He seems to have been quite ahead of his time.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Talix on September 23, 2011, 08:46:00 AM
The Pale King, DFW's unfinished book.  He would have loved the current government machinations.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on September 30, 2011, 07:31:08 AM
I recently finished Ai Yori Aoshi (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ai_yori_aoshi), a manga series from about 5-10 years ago.  It's a Harem Comedy, which means it's about one guy surrounded by several possible love interests.  It's . . . OK.

It's also the mildest Harem Comedy I've ever seen or read.  It's set in the modern day and has essentially no fantasy elements and really not too much drama.  The main character is a young man who was once heir to a very wealthy family, but he abandoned them because they were too strict (frankly abusive).  As a child, he was betrothed to a slightly younger girl from another wealthy family.  He manages to raise himself and get into college, not realizing that the girl is fixated on him and still plans to find and marry him and has devoted her life to preparing to be the perfect wife.

Meanwhile, he manages to unintentionally attract several other women (and a high school girl and her friends), and they all wind up living together in a boarding house owned by his fiance's family.  The fiance's family refuses to let her marry him unless he becomes heir to his former family again.

There's almost no drama because (A) almost everyone is extremely nice and quite reasonable, and (B) the guy and his childhood fiance immediately fall in love and remain devoted to each other.  So there are constant threats to their relationship, but most of them are mild, and they simply stay optimistic and constant and ride everything out.  Most problems solve themselves.

Still, the art is nice (except that when the girls get too emotional about something, their noses vanish, and the look just doesn't quite work), and the characters aren't bad.  There's some humor, and some fanservice, although there's an age issue at times -- the high school girl's age seems to fluctuate from Too Young to Seriously, That's A Little Too Young, and when the story starts to bog at one point, the author adds two of her friends.

The story works weirdly well, and I think the reason is that there are a ton of Harem Comedies out there, and most writers can do romantic tension but not romantic success, as we know from the many sitcoms that died when the main characters finally got together.  Ai Yori Aoshi is just a lot nicer.  Low-stress.  There are something like sixteen volumes, and it doesn't take long to read them.  It's less fraught than Love Hina, much less something complicated like a Takahashi series or Tenchi.  It just rolls along amiably.

They did an anime series, which I haven't seen, and even a video game.  I can't quite imagine either.  The manga is enough, and reading it once is probably enough.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: First Post on October 20, 2011, 08:26:19 PM
Ready Player One.

"The best book I have read in years" -First Post

srsly, can't believe this is by the same dude that did fuckin' Fanboys. It's right up there with Snow Crash and all that. I guess now I'll have to check out the audiobook read by Wil Wheaton as well.

Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Hedaira on October 20, 2011, 08:30:54 PM
Lilith Saintcrow books.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: flipper on October 20, 2011, 09:06:59 PM
I just started Reamde.  It will keep me busy for a few months.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on October 21, 2011, 01:13:48 PM
I'm finishing up A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.  Started Uglies by Scott Westerfeld.  Fans of dystopian YA might take a look at this series.  Punk is on me to read A Clash of Kings.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on October 21, 2011, 01:43:00 PM
I've been reading a bunch of random stuff, collections of cartoons from The New Yorker and Punch and Look and such, books about WWII aircraft, pre-production art from Star Trek, and whatever else.

I'm also almost halfway through a book called Our Mother's House, by Julian Gloag, from 1963.  It's sort of like Lord of the Flowers in the Attic.  Several British children live with their mother, who's become steadily more eccentric as her health declines, and when she passes away, the kids decide to keep anyone from finding out.  It immediately becomes unpleasant, mostly because two of the kids are also unhinged -- one goes power mad and the other becomes convinced that their mother speaks to her through seance-like ceremonies.  Then there's the pedophile next door.

Frankly, it was sufficiently unpleasant (mostly in tone and suspense, not because of any graphic content) that I was going to quit it, but a customer told me that it should soon pick up significantly.  So I guess I'll keep going.

Kids on their own in these situations has been a pretty popular topic for fiction.  Our Mother's House was apparently made into a feature film, sort of a creepier (and earlier) Where The Lilies Bloom
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Sidious on October 21, 2011, 01:57:24 PM
I decided a little while back that it had been since I was 13 or so that I read Jules Verne's "Journey To The Center Of The Earth", so I just read that.

Now I finally got off my ass and started reading "Game Of Thrones".  Good so far, but I've always loved Martin's style.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on October 21, 2011, 02:05:48 PM
I've never read his non-Song of Ice and Fire stuff, but I checked Dying of the Light out from the library.  Have you read it?  I hope it's good.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Sidious on October 21, 2011, 02:28:24 PM
Nope, never read that one.  But if you liked what you have read of his, check out "Fevre Dream".

It's my all-time favorite vampire novel.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on October 21, 2011, 02:38:43 PM
Dying of the Light has a few weak spots, but it's actually my favorite thing he's done.  The world-building is great, and I spent decades hoping he'd write more stuff related to it.  My brother prefers Tuf Voyaging.

Neither of us has read the Thrones series, though.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: TFJ on October 22, 2011, 09:06:01 AM
reading some Nathanial West lately. along with perpetual non-fiction from the late '30s. :rolleyes:.

BUT i'm still looking for the right SF or fantasy series that is 1) very long 2) very entertaining. was not impressed with Malazan etc. it reads like an encyclopedia entry. although, i have to say my sleep situation has improved. i think because of the Schisandra chinensis tea i've been making latley.

Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on November 14, 2011, 07:35:40 PM
Blood Games (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blood_Games), a 1992 Richard Laymon book.  A weird one, for him.  Five women, friends since college, take a trip together to an abandoned resort in Vermont, where things go wrong.

It's not bad, but it feels like it was an idea he wanted to use, and then the story wouldn't flow and had to be forced.  Most of his books read as if he made them up as he went along -- but in a good way.  They have a crazy frantic dream-like pacing that runs along about as fast as you can read.  Kind of like Dean Koontz, but more natural.

Blood Games alternates the main story with flashback chapters about the gang's college adventures.  Both parts are kind of random, hit and miss, and the story just doesn't build much suspense, although it does get peculiar.  It's not much like ihs other books -- it takes 250 pages for something particularly violent to happen and the plot to pick up, and that's about 245 pages later than usual for him.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on November 14, 2011, 07:47:25 PM
I just finished up Faithful Place (http://www.salon.com/2010/07/04/faithful_place/singleton/) by Tana French for book club. I loved it, and put one of her other books on hold.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on November 14, 2011, 08:00:16 PM
Quote
by Tana French

I AM STILL FURIOUS over Into The Woods.

:harumph:

I do think she can write.  I just found that book infuriating.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on November 16, 2011, 08:28:26 PM
I joined a feminist book club (Punk: "Why would you join ANOTHER BOOK CLUB?!!") and I'm reading my first book, Colonize This!: young women of color on today's feminism (http://books.google.com/books/about/Colonize_this.html?id=tCZQo3aHhpIC).  I've only read the first 3 essays, all by biracial queer women.  I'm hoping for a little variation as I go on...  Anyway, I can't argue with anything being said in the book, but it's hurting my little white feelings.  I'm derailing in my head as I'm reading it.  I guess it's good that I'm noticing it?  I'm a little nervous about the meeting in 2 weeks.  I'll probably keep my mouth shut, esp since it's my first.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on November 16, 2011, 08:37:28 PM
:galm:

/has some experience with this
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on November 16, 2011, 08:39:04 PM
 :lol:  yes.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on November 16, 2011, 08:48:50 PM
/reconsiders

//stays out of it
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on December 11, 2011, 07:37:49 PM
I just finished >An Artist of the Floating World (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/An_Artist_of_the_Floating_World) by Kazuo Ishiguro (Never Let Me Go, The Remains of the Day, etc). Story is set in an unnamed Japanese city in the five years following WWII in which the protagonist (an artist who embraced the militaristic regime) reflects upon his life while gradually fixing up his bomb-damaged house (in which his wife was killed).

Wow.

All I could think about while reading this was Mother Night (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mother_Night). Ono is very much the Japanese analog of Howard W. Campbell, Jr.

Only at the end {SPOILERS} Ono is not repentant. He does not acknowledge that the evil he did outweighed the good. He. Is. A. Monster. Just like the one he takes his grandson to see at the cinema (although, gotta say, Godzilla in general is way less evil than your average imperialist). {/SPOILERS}

This makes me appreciate Vonnegut more and more. This novel was a Booker Prize finalist. I'm not feeling that at all, but as is usual with Ishiguro the atmosphere is palpable even when virtually nothing happens. It's amazingly skilful. It's also depressing as hell. The humor and vitality that pervaded Mother Night is absent, and the only 'hope' in the story is encapsulated in Ono's observation of the completion of the demolition of the ancient 'pleasure district' of his city (said demolition started, of course, by American B-29s) and its replacement with the sleek modern industrial headquarters buildings of the new Japan. There is, despite this, a stunning lack of resolution.

But ok, I'm stunned. This is worth a read. It is brief, as Booker Prize finalist novels go, so by all means. Particularly if you're feeling pretty complacent about humanity and want to be taken down a notch. ;)
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on December 11, 2011, 08:05:48 PM
Years ago, my mother and I went to a church in the middle of nowhere and heard him read from The Unconsoled, which is the one of his books my brother is always trying to get me, in particular, to read.

I had no idea he was British, so that made quite an impression on me.  :lol:  The passage he read was beautiful, although that's all I remember about it now.  My brother's read all his stuff and strongly recommends it.

Some day, some day . . . .
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on December 14, 2011, 11:46:41 PM
Finished An Abundance of Katherines (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/An_Abundance_of_Katherines), a YA novel by John Green, one of the Vlogbrothers guys.

Colin is a child prodigy who's recently graduated from high school and is thus no longer a child or a prodigy.  He feels that his major distinguishing characteristics are (A) having failed to turn from prodigy to genius, and (B) having been dumped by nineteen girls, all of whom were named Katherine.  He goes on a road trip with his wisecracking friend Hassan and winds up having a growing-up adventure in Gutshot, Tennessee.

Kooky, right?  And it is.  The writing is uneven, but pretty quick, mostly quite good and sometimes really clever.  And it's sincere.  There's a lot of math that I wish was more facetious, and a lot of anagrams, which are OK, and a bunch of nerdism, some of which was a little off.  I think it's more of a nerdy book written for not-so-nerdy people.

The thing of it is . . . I think a lot of people would like the book much more than I did.  For me, the problem is that I don't really like Colin.  It's not that I dislike him, but I knew a ton of kids like him, and I feel for him, but I don't want to hang around with him.  If that makes sense. 

Kids like him get the wrong kind of education, and it screws them up a bit.  People find out that these kids can absorb information and learn processes like magic -- and so they just fill them with information and processes.  They talk to them but not with them.  I get that, incidentally, because, well, what it boils down to is that most of the insights of a 9-year-old prodigy are things that other bright people think of by the time they're, say, 20.  So if you're 30, it's still like hearing the ideas of a college sophomore, and it gets tiresome.  Meanwhile, you can fascinate these kids by rambling on about whatever, because they find all intellectual input interesting. 

So people just lecture them and feed them novel ideas constantly but don't ask them to manipulate those ideas, or to be too creative, or to come up with their own ideas.  They get treated like really smart monkeys.  And it does mess them up.  The irony is that they're going to absorb a crapton of information no matter what you do with them, so that emphasis is all wrong anyway.  You meet these kids, and they can beat you at chess and quote Aristotle and conjurage irregular German verbs, but if you ask them to drawn a picture of a house, tree, and person, you're going to get the same thing any five-year-old would draw.  Or they'll just stare at the paper in panic, trying to figure out what they're supposed to produce.

Anyway.  Those kids always put me on edge.  They've been awkwardized.  And they've been told they're so smart, but they have vast gaps in their self-sufficiency and self-direction.  Colin would ironically be better off if he stopped trying to figure everything out.  He's not doing problem-solving; he's just doing puzzle-rotating.

:shrug:

The book is pretty cute, and sort of romantic, and clever.  It just happened to irritate me, is all.  And at least Colin's parents didn't put enormous pressure on him to be competitive, although the book does have some decent things to say about that, too.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on December 18, 2011, 11:57:38 PM
Read about thirty or forty old home improvement magazines, and put aside the ones with dazzling hints or (nearly) irresistable projects. 

Read a later Spenser novel, Now & Then.  It's better than a lot of the later Spenser novels, but it still pales in comparison to the earlier ones, mostly because of repetition.  It's not as bad about this as some, but it's just so heavily focused on the characters, and . . . Spenser is not a terribly complex character.  It's not complexity that makes him interesting; it's idiosyncrasy.  Having him explained and re-explained doesn't improve him.  Watching him do stuff improves him.  The later books are too much Tell and not enough Show.

The story also doesn't 100% make sense, and definitely there isn't enough emphasis on the mystery he's investigating.  In fact, for much of the book it's not clear exactly what he's investigating, or what he's doing.

Still not bad, but . . . I'd probably have been better off re-reading an earlier one.  Pastime or before, so 1991 or earlier.  I do like the Jesse Stone books, though, so I don't think the problem was Parker so much as Spenser.  Wikipedia says Pastime was the 18th in the series, and eighteen is a pretty good run.  (I don't actually remember Pastime well, but I remember thinking the next one, Double Deuce, was the first really weak one.)
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on December 24, 2011, 12:45:41 PM
Any of you folks read MZB's Darkover series?  My brother was a big fan, back in the mid-80s, but I never got into them and wasn't a huge MZB fan.  But I see the books all the time here at the shop, and the worldbuilding and longevity of the series makes me curious.

Bradley seems to have published new stories in that series over a span of more than 30 years -- not counting stuff that had co-authors -- which is positively Tolkien-esque.  Counting the stuff that has co-authors, the series spans over 60 years of new publications.  That's some serious staying power, I tell you what.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: stormneedle on December 24, 2011, 03:00:34 PM
When I was younger the entire series had a huge influence on me, but it sort of petered out. I enjoyed them individually, but got frustrated in that I wanted more details that didn't seem to be of interest to her (I guess I wanted Darkover written jointly by MZB and Le Guin). There's a lot of gender equality themes, somewhat sabotaged by a language that enforces gender, that I used for a paper in college.

The stories are good. I can't remember what the character development was like any more, but I remember thinking it was realistic.

I keep thinking I need to re-read what I have and go looking for new stuff, but I haven't in over a decade.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on January 09, 2012, 10:00:43 PM
Picked up this book, The Nature of Balance, by Tim Lebbon.  It's a horror novel, I hadn't read anything by him, and it's dripping with good reviews.

Well, it sure doesn't work for me.  The writing is as florid as five Mafia funerals.  It's just Trying So Hard to be intense, but it's like it was written by a sixteen-year-old.  I bet he refers to the "stink" or "stench" of blood at least once every ten pages, and there's never a moment of less-is-more. 

The characters don't do much, but he keeps telling you what they're like.  This one has serious inner strength.  Seriously, did I mention the inner strength?  Because he positively radiates inner strength.  Inner strength, it's dripping from him.  And the creepy one?  The others are like, hey, she's kind of creepy.  And then she's like, hey, by the way, I'm totally creepy and will murder you all soon enough!  And the others are like, hey, she sure is creepy!  But they don't do anything about it.

Meanwhile, there are two basic horror premises that, as of two-thirds of the way through, seem to be totally unrelated.  Just slightly odd.  On the one hand, it's Freddy Krueger writ large, with everyone having nightmares and then magically suffering the injuries for real.  On the other hand, nature is being perverted, with people being eaten by cows and flocks of starlings and so on.  The nature stuff is so-so, but the dream sequences really don't ring true to me, personally.

The only reason I'm still reading is because I want to see how he justifies and relates these premises.  I'm pretty sure I know where he's going, but if there's a good twist or unusual explanation at the end, I don't want to miss it.  So I'm almost skimming, at this point, but it's still a chore.

He's popular, though, so maybe it's just me.  On the other hand, apparently his two best-selling books are (A) the novelization of 30 Days of Night and (B) another book in which nightmares kill people.

:whatever:
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on January 13, 2012, 11:34:58 AM
Finished the Lebbon book.  I feel bad picking on it because it seems . . . vulnerable . . . but Lebbon's won awards and had at least one bestseller, so my theory is that criticism can only be helpful.

The book is incoherent nonsense, I'm afraid, half-conceived (really two unrelated ideas mashed together but not united), hugely underplotted, and badly overwritten.  The end was a huge anticlimax with details that don't make sense or don't have any weight, and the nightmares-can-hurt you thing -- which was the central premise of the first two-thirds of the book -- is never explained or justified.

Seriously, just not good.


However, I also read the graphic novel Anya's Ghost, by Vera Brosgol (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vera_Brosgol), and it was pretty brilliant.  It's the story of a high school girl who makes friends with a ghost who turns out to be less than the greatest friend ever.  It would have been perfect for one of those episodes of Buiffy that's mostly not about the main Buffy characters.

Brosgol used to write (but, alas, abandoned) a cool webcomic, Return To Sender, but I'd mostly lost track of her.  Turns out she did storyboards for Coraline.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: TFJ on January 31, 2012, 11:06:35 PM
murakami 1Q84

anybobby else readin that? tal?


Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on January 31, 2012, 11:19:05 PM
Hey, I read several random pages from Wind-Up Bird Chronicles at work today, as a matter of semi-related fact.

It seemed good, but it also made me sigh a lot in non-cathartic ways.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: TFJ on January 31, 2012, 11:29:41 PM
you gotta give his style a chance. that's one of his good ones. well worth the time.  :thumbsup:

the girl in that book seems like probably your dream girl ;)

Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on January 31, 2012, 11:46:03 PM
The nihilist boyfriend-murdering teenager who looks prepubescent?
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: TFJ on February 01, 2012, 12:02:52 AM
exactly.

Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: flipper on February 01, 2012, 01:07:25 AM
:galm:
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on February 01, 2012, 09:27:31 AM
:lol: :nonplused: :lol: :cry: :whatever:
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: TFJ on February 01, 2012, 09:33:29 AM
 :thumbsdn:

come ere yew ole :needles:

Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on February 01, 2012, 09:37:12 AM
So your theory is that you're an improvement over a nihilist boyfriend-murdering teenager who looks prepubescent?




:P
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on February 01, 2012, 09:46:02 AM
I've been reading Douglas Starr's The Killer of Little Shepherds, a recent non-fiction account of Joseph Vacher, a French serial killer at the end of the 19th Century, and the development of forensic science.

The subject matter has always been fascinating to me -- I admit a morbid interest in True Crime, but most of the genre is written in atrocious and exploitive tabloid style, and I've always been interested in forensics.  Lacassagne and Bertillon and the other early geniuses of forensics (including the ones who were wrong about almost everything) are also pretty fascinating.  Vacher was a crazy bastard who wandered about the countryside murdering and sexually assaulting people, but he also wrote a huge amount of correspondence to his family and his terrified ex-fiance, which is kind of interesting.

The book is mostly really well-written, with occasional repetition or other minor faults.  It's as much about the history of the time, contemporary law enforcement and science, as it is about Vacher, which is fine.  Still, you can only read so much in one sitting.  It's sad to read it and realize that much of the US still lags behind circa-1900 urban France when it comes to forensics and detection, but we still haven't really grown out of the Find A Suspect frontier-justice model.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: TFJ on February 01, 2012, 12:48:32 PM
nihilist boyfriend-murdering teenager who looks prepubescent?

she's also japanese.

Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on February 01, 2012, 01:05:39 PM
Well, I like Japanese women fine, but it's not a fetish for me, or anything.  I've passed up a couple of chances to date a very attractive Japanese woman because of the pesky issue of her having a boyfriend back in Japan, and she was in her twenties, definitely not pre-pubescent, and has a PhD.

On the other hand, she totally needed to murder her boyfriend who was back in Japan, now that you mention it.  Someone needed to, anyway.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: TFJ on February 01, 2012, 01:15:24 PM
see?

Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Talix on February 01, 2012, 02:42:32 PM
murakami 1Q84

anybobby else readin that? tal?

It's on my bookshelf, waiting.  It took me a month to get through DeLillo's Falling Man; I can't imagine how long 1Q84 might take.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on February 01, 2012, 05:31:17 PM
Quote
see?

The murdering part wasn't the stopper for the fictional girl, either.  Who, among other things, is fictional.

The boyfriend in question was the one who, when she flew to Japan from the Midwest to visit him, would not let her see her family, who lived in the same town, on the same trip.  Because then they'd find out he lived in the same town, and he'd feel like he had to visit them occasionally, too.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: TFJ on February 01, 2012, 06:02:15 PM
i've dated several japanese women who had boyfriends back home in japan and never had a problem with them :shrug:

 :P
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on February 01, 2012, 06:08:11 PM
:lol:  No, I'm the one who had a problem with it.  She was cool with it, and the boyfriend in Japan was sleeping around over there.

It's not like I was worried he was going to show up and start a fight.  I spend a lot of time alone with my principles . . . but they're not arbitrary.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: TFJ on February 01, 2012, 08:17:15 PM
i never did sleep with a high school employee. it's brave of you to admit that here in the open like that.

Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on February 01, 2012, 10:04:50 PM
And apparently it's at least a threeway.


Weirdly, we just put out a hardcover of 1Q84 today.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: TFJ on February 01, 2012, 10:51:26 PM
 :lol:

Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: flipper on February 02, 2012, 03:38:20 PM
And apparently it's at least a threeway.


Weirdly, we just put out...

Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: TFJ on February 02, 2012, 10:48:41 PM
:eek:
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on March 03, 2012, 05:27:52 PM
Started reading Day of the Dragonstar, by David Bischoff and Thomas Monteleone.  Turns out it's the second book in a trilogy (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dragonstar_(science_fiction_series)).

It started out kind of like Rendezvous With Rama, except Rama's full of dinosaurs.  Fair enough!  But it needs some work and rewriting.

For one thing, the alien spacecraft is a giant cylinder 300+ kilometers long and 60+ kilometers in diameter.  It's described as both tumbling end-over-end and rotating along its longitudinal axis (to produce 'gravity' along the curved inner wall).  It's not likely to do both, and it's apparently been doing both for about a hundred million years without the longitudinal spin being affected.  Precession says no. 

Besides which, the end-over-end would screw up the internal gravity a lot.  I initially got the impression it was tumbling pretty quickly, which would tend to make everything inside end up crushed against the ends.  But re-reading seems to reveal that they don't say how fast it's tumbling.  Even with a very slow tumble, I'd think the water would mostly have ended up at the ends within a million years, easy.  It might evaporate and move back toward the center, etc, but then it would wash the soil toward the ends, and things get worse.

There are a lot of details like that which bug me.  If the editor had had more time, maybe there'd be fewer of them?  It's the kind of book where people watch something from 100 meters away and are able to see small details.  A hundred meters is a long freaking way.  It's the length of a football field plus one end zone.

And two people get ripped to shreds by a couple of compsognathoids (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compsognathus), which is like getting ripped to shreds by housecats.  The compies ignore being shot with several .50 explosive military rounds.  And the way that the characters behave is often pretty hard to believe.

Also, although the book doesn't seem too slow, I'm almost halfway through and not much has happened yet.  But it's not a tedious read, so I'm sticking with it. 
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on March 03, 2012, 06:46:54 PM
And another thing!  Two characters have a conversation about whether humans may have evolved on the spaceship.  They decide it's not likely because the dinosaurs on board haven't gone extinct.  This does not make sense, but . . . one of the characters says that humans weren't around until 10 million years ago at the most recent, whereas the ship and its contents must be 160 million years old.  Although how they've determined this, I have no idea.

OK, some of the dinosaurs on board have been Jurassic, but they've seen gorgosaurs, which are from like 80-90 million years later.

They also speculate (you can see where this is going) that intelligent dinosaurs may have evolved.  I have no problem with this, but there doesn't seem to have been much other evolution among the other species.  Maybe the ship hasn't actually been up there for 160 million years, or maybe the dinosaurs have only been out of stasis for a short while, or something.  But something's wrong.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on March 03, 2012, 07:34:46 PM
 :banghead:

There were several whole sessions at the Ocean Sciences Meeting (and a plenary address given by this guy who's been trying to hire me at Oregon State, sorta, since 1992) about science communication to nonscientists.

I really don't know why they bother. We can't do it. We cannot compete with mass media, as we can't be loud enough to drown out the noise. We should really focus on working behind the scenes, like the Illuminati.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on March 03, 2012, 07:54:54 PM
Quote
We should really focus on working behind the scenes, like the Illuminati.

:hmm:


The mass media generally doesn't care about accuracy, which doesn't help.  Actually, the trend toward reduced content in general has gotten pretty bad.  And considering that the fact that it's a trend means our standards are constantly being lowered by attrition means that it must really be pretty bad.

There's a lot of hard-SF sciency stuff in Day of the Dragonstar that is way out of my experience, so I have no idea if it's accurate or not.  It's a cliche in SF writing that if you put 100 'factual' details in your story, everyone will look at the 10 they feel they know something about and judge the other 90 by those 10.

But, for example, the . . . turning . . . alien ship is visited by a small exploratory ship.  That small ship puts itself in a matching orbit (I'm assuming they mean matching solar orbit; the alien ship is in a cometary sort of orbit) so it can get a good look at the alien ship.

OK.  BUT.  Their orbit keeps them within a set distance of the thing as they drift along its length, and the lengthwise drift seems to be the only relative motion.  This is physically impossible.  No matter which way the alien is turning, you can't stay next to it in free fall without it turning relative to you.  You'd have to be orbiting it in a 'geosynchronous' orbit.

You could do an artificial 'orbit' under power, but that would be difficult (computer-controlled, no doubt) and worth mentioning in the text. 
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on March 03, 2012, 08:12:28 PM
Most SF authors are astonishingly lazy when it comes to some things.

My grad school housemates and I had a theory about this: you were only allowed to violate {a certain number of} laws of physics at any one time. For example, there was this character in a book series we read (Wild Cards? dunno) who could transmute himself into another animal. BUT!!! he had to follow the law of conservation of matter. So he could be like, a two-foot-tall T. rex because that was all the mass he had.

:doh:
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on March 03, 2012, 09:58:42 PM
It's always something.  :lol:

Years ago, at a convention party, Hal Clement told me that the actual difference between hard SF and pulp isn't whether the science is real.  He said that pulp starts with a story and writes made-up science details to suit it.  Hard SF starts with made-up science details and then figures out where the story can and can't go without breaking those rules.

It makes me think -- at a Boskone before my time, Frank Herbert said he didn't intend to write a sequel to Dune, but then at some other con years before a fan asked how come there was an oxygen atmosphere on Arrakis.  He hadn't thought of that, and it made him start thinking about the whole thing more and more, and he couldn't leave it alone.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Sidious on March 04, 2012, 02:29:46 PM
Lately I've been reading Piers Anthony's "Bio of a Space Tyrant" series, which, considering I'd read pretty much all of his other stuff, was conspicuously absent from my collection.

It's surprisingly good, though appalling in how he presents women in it.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on March 04, 2012, 03:42:29 PM
He has very fixed ideas about women.  He thinks he's very liberated and pro-woman, but not everyone would agree . . . .

There's a lot of his stuff that I occasionally consider re-reading.  That applies to a lot of authors, though.  If I liked them in the mid-80s, would I still like them now?  Is it better not to find out?

For instance, I keep thinking maybe I should re-read the Well World series, by Jack Chalker.  But the details I remember from it don't seem to add up too well.  Is that me, or is that the books?  And I've relatively recently picked up later stuff by him, so shouldn't I just read that instead?  :shrug:

As for Anthony, the older I get, the more I prefer his crazy-ass stuff to his more mainstream stuff.  The weak spots are easier to forgive when the story is completely unhinged bizarreness, and yet his bizarreness reads very fast, unlike a lot of New Wave SF that sounds great when you read a blurb but bogs down like a peat mummy when you try to get through three chapters.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: TFJ on March 06, 2012, 05:40:38 PM
the very last Incarnation book sucked... major... ass. horrible.

Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: stormneedle on March 06, 2012, 05:59:11 PM
Green Mother, or And Eternity? It seemed like the Evil and Good books were almost not planned, and he'd already written himself into a tiny corner.

Chalker - I loved them when they were new. Now... it doesn't quite work for me.

I re-read some books because we've got them and I don't want to go hunting in the bookstores right then. I can't think of any that always are appealing no matter what mood/frame of mind/whatever I'm in. More often, there are books that have a number of elements that appeal most of the time, and I will keep re-reading those just to get to the places where I enjoy being.


Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: TFJ on March 06, 2012, 06:07:48 PM
the nox one (http://www.amazon.com/Under-Velvet-Cloak-Incarnations-Immortality/dp/1594262942)

 :thumbsdn:
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on March 06, 2012, 06:46:50 PM
There are humor books that always work for me, but most of them are cartoons or comic strips.  How To Be Topp is mostly prose.

Trying to think of others.  Pratchett, almost.  The Princess Bride, maybe.  Hmm . . . .
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Sidious on March 06, 2012, 07:59:19 PM
I'm about to re-read Chalker's "Dancing Gods" series for the first time in about 20 years.  I have fond memories of it, but it's been so long I have utterly no sense of whether or not it sucks.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on March 06, 2012, 09:03:41 PM
:lol:  That's actually the series that weaned me off of his stuff.  It wasn't bad, and it had some clever elements, but I felt like he wasn't playing to his strengths (funny SF/fantasy is SO much harder than it seems), and it felt like it was probably more fun to write than to read.  It didn't make me think less of his work, just less interested in it.

I remember when the Four Lords of the Diamond series came out, it seemed like a really nice blend of New Wave anything-goes with a more ahead-of-its-time 'hard' SF flavor thrown in.  Although it was the third series in a row that I read by him where he centrally used SF to justify 'magic', and three times was maybe once too often.  The Flux and Anchor series was crazy, but, man, if The Matrix had gone thataway, it would've been so much moreso.

Actually, I think the Flux and Anchor books came out after the Diamond books, but I read them in the other order.  Also the Flux and Anchor prequel where he did the backstory bored me, but the first few were interesting.

Wikipedia says the Dancing Gods series came out in the middle, not afterward.  Huh.  :shrug: 
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on March 06, 2012, 09:11:39 PM
OH, so, earlier I mentioned problems with guns and with units of distance in the Dragonstar book.  I don't want to harp on it, but just as an example . . . if you're writing something, and you put in a fixed unit of something, make sure that (A) you really want to, and (B) you've got the right amount.

For example When they got to within ten feet, we saw that they were sweating. isn't necessarily better than When they got close enough, we saw that they were sweating.  The latter leaves you more wiggle room -- the readers can make their own assumptions.  And if you say within fifty feet, well, now you're saying something pretty definite about how much sweating we're talking about.

In Day of the Dragonstar, a woman who's never fired a gun before takes a .44 Magnum and shoots a charging chasmosaur in the face multiple times at 20 meters without missing.  YEAH RIGHT.  Twenty meters is a long way to hit a parked car with all three shots your first time using a gentle handgun.  Never mind a dinosaur that's charging at you, with its head bouncing up and down, etc.  She was aiming for its eye, but fortunately she wasn't quite that accurate.  (Frankly, I doubt the gun would be that accurate even if her aim was perfect.)

It's not just these guys, though.  My personal favorite George R. R. Martin book is Dying of the Light.  In it, they have laser duelling pistols that are intentionally made so they take 15 seconds to recharge.  At one point in the story, someone -- by surprise! -- shoots someone else like five times with one, once for every word in a sentence they're saying angrily, and everyone else stands around too shocked to react until it's too late.

Um . . . really?  Well, one awkward scene doesn't do the book much harm.  But c'mon.  Over a minute is a long time to stand shocked while someone's shooting someone else repeatedly.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on March 12, 2012, 05:02:52 PM
Finished Dragonstar, which . . . is OK as a juvie written in the early 80s.  The characters constantly do unbelievable things instead of obvious things, and the science is bad, and a lot of the potential plot tension evaporates nearly instantly.  (Like . . . humans meet the intelligent dinosaurs, and the intelligent dinosaurs are immediately all WE LIKE YOU GUYS LET'S BE FRIENDS.)

So, whatever.

In the interim, I read a few short stories by Norman Spinrad.  He's one of those Big SF Writers who I'm not sure I ever actually read.  Not for any reason, but a customer asked me, and I was like . . . "He wrote The Void Captain's Tale, which I haven't read, and, uh, he looks a little like Ted Sturgeon.  Oh, and he wrote an alternate history where Hitler is Tolkien, sort of.  I think."

Anyway, I got home and found that I owned Void Captain's Tale and The Men in the Jungle and an anthology called No Direction Home.  The latter is New Wave stuff, so far, deliberately outre but not bad as that sort of thing goes.  Probably not his best work.  Wikipedia pointed out that he wrote the Bug Jack Barron stories, which I've heard of but not read, and that he's one of the serious SF writers who wrote for Star Trek (he wrote "The Doomsday Machine") and Land of the Lost.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on March 12, 2012, 11:10:27 PM
Oh good, you redeemed yourself with the last sentence there ;) the doomsday machine is my favorite TOS episode. OR maybe balance of terror.

shit.

Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: stormneedle on March 12, 2012, 11:13:57 PM
Land of the Lost I just can't remember enough of to judge the writing.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on March 12, 2012, 11:25:31 PM
The original Land of the Lost was a lot stranger than adults-at-the-time tend to remember and a lot, um, lower-budget than kids-at-the-time tend to remember.  I resaw a few episodes when it was shown on, what, Cartoon Network? Nick at Night? years ago.

Sleestaks, pylons, time travel paradoxes, the pocket universe where everything orbits a strange object that occasionally absorbs its little satellites, time travel, and the Land itself being topologically limited . . . weird for a kids' show.  The Ewok-apeman and a lot of the dinosaur stuff, very low-budget.  It aspired to Johnny Quest but was pretty random.  There's an episode where they fight Medusa.  It's trying to be higher-brow than its limitations want to allow. 

It was a Kroft Bros show, and those were always weird, but rarely were they so highly written.  They even hired a linguist to make up the language for the ape people.

Niven and Ellison and David Gerrold all wrote for it, but I didn't know about Spinrad.  And I just found out the other day that Detroit Pistons bad-boy enforcer Bill Laimbeer played one of the Sleestaks.  :eek:  Presumably a tall, mean one.

Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Land_of_the_Lost_episodes) also says that Ben Bova, Ted Sturgeon, D C Fontana, and Walter Koenig wrote for the show.  Quite the pedigree.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: stormneedle on March 12, 2012, 11:57:57 PM
Hard science fiction? In my children's show?

It's more likely than you think!
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on March 13, 2012, 05:55:20 AM
You didn't know about Bill Laimbeer? That's like one of the standard trivia questions of my generation ;)

I actually didn't know Harlan Ellison wrote for the show, however. That's kind of wacky. Dude will do anything for a buck, and will be really obnoxious about it, too. :sigh:
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on March 13, 2012, 07:36:53 AM
One of our customers is a premiere Ellison collector, and he's contributing to an Ellison bibliography that's being published someday when they can finish it.  Every month, he turns up more obscure stuff that Ellison got into print. 

Ellison is an abrasive jerk who does not entirely comprehend human sensitivities, but he had an impressive output -- he's one of those rare types who combines artist with hack.  His catalog of items sold but never published / filmed is probably twice as long as most wildly successful writers' entire bibliographies.  He probably wrote questions for The Match Game.

I'll never forget him on TV (early Sci Fi Channel?) doing reviews of SF books, though.  What a dick.  He was going on and on about a "good friend" of his who he said was one of the greatest novelists of all time but who now wrote nothing but utter crap because it was commercial.  He called the guy out by name and put his photo on the screen!  Named a couple of his utter-crap books, but not any of his allegedly good ones.

God save us from friends like that, man.  Ellison's own writing is awfully up and down.  When I read it, I'll be like, hmm, nice turn of phrase, good concept, decent twist, overwrought, maudlin, excessively self-impressed, that is not an ending . . . .
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: flipper on March 13, 2012, 04:23:01 PM
I have the DVD set for Land of the Lost.  I also have Lidsville, HR, Sigmond, and a few samplers of their shows.  I loved Electrawoman and Dynagirl and Dr. Shrinker back in the day.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on March 13, 2012, 05:19:04 PM
Well, I certainly liked Electra Woman and Dyna Girl.  Electra-Vibe indeed.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on March 22, 2012, 01:30:19 PM
I picked up this 2003 SF novel called Star Dragon, by Mike Brotherton.  It has glowing reviews from Booklist, Locus, Publisher's Weekly, David Brin, and all manner of online reviewers.  The basic story is that a spaceship is sent to Cygnus X1 to capture a 'dragon', a new form of life observed living in a star's accretion disk.

I'm not all that far into it, and I'm not sure I'll finish it.  It obviously works well for a lot of people, but for me the characters aren't coming across, and . . . almost none of it makes sense.

In the first place, it's hard SF with no FTL anything.  Consequently, a slower-than-light probe had to travel out to Cygnus X1, take pictures of the dragon, and send them back by radio -- and because of how far away Cygnus X1 is, that means the story has to be about 600 years in the future.

Six hundred years in the future, but not much has changed.  Hrm.  Some planets have been colonized, and there are tons of biological modifications available, which seem to go as far as extending your lifespan or growing gills or little wings on your ears.  Really?  Meanwhile, biotech is used all over the place for things like chairs ("chairbeasts") and beds ("bedbeasts") and punching bags ("bagbeasts") . . . erm.

The spaceship is mostly mechanical rather than biological, but its propulsion system requires creating an unbound singularity -- yet they're going to capture this dragon because they think it has a biological fusion engine.  Why do you need a biological fusion engine?  You can easily create unbound singularities!  You can't possibly have a power shortage.

Plus, the mission will take over 500 years.  The characters muse that they may return and even find that there are no humans left.  Kind of a strange mission, isn't it?  I'd be more worried that you'd get there and find that a much faster ship left at some point after you and got to Cygnus X1 a century or more ahead of you.

And so it goes.  The ship has a crew of just five, and within a chapter or so of their departure the men are running into the problem of there only being two women aboard.  Oy.  And even though there are only five characters, I only have a good idea of what two of them are like as people.

I still like the premise of the dragon living in the accretion disk, but I just don't feel like the pieces of the novel go together well enough to make sense.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: TFJ on April 12, 2012, 08:53:38 PM
for anyone interested in my opinion of 1Q84: it's definitely worth reading, but it's no Kafka on the Shore. if you haven't read KotS, read it first seeing as how it is a masterpiece.



 
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Talix on April 12, 2012, 09:02:45 PM
I'm so glad I'm not the only one who remembers ElectraWoman and DynaGirl!

ObOnTopic:  Great Expectations.  I love free classics on the Kindle!
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: flipper on April 13, 2012, 12:57:55 PM
I'm so glad I'm not the only one who remembers ElectraWoman and DynaGirl!...

 :love: :tal:
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on May 04, 2012, 06:45:23 PM
I recently finished a book called The Straw Men (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Straw_Men), by Michael Marshall.  Wikipedia tells me he's the same guy as Michael Marshall Smith, under which name he published SF.  The Straw Men is a book I picked up because we had it at the shop and couldn't tell from the outside of it whether it should be in Horror or Mystery.  It has a glowing review by Stephen King, and even though I generally discount author reviews, I decided to give it a shot.

The book is basically a serial killer thriller, although it also deals with various other kinds of antisocial violence, the internet, and genetics.  Overall, I found it disappointing.  It starts off pretty strongly, but the plot unravels in more senses than one as you go along, and generally things become more and more implausible and unsatisfying and less original.


The Good:  Marshall is good at observational writing.  When his characters reflect on random things about life, it's entertaining.  He has some nice turns of phrase.  The mysteries have pretty good hooks.  One of the aspects of the serial killer story is pretty original.


The Bad:  OK . . . first of all, the book changes back and forth between two main storylines that eventally intersect.  One of these, the serial killer one, I found about ten times less interesting than the other.  The way the stories intersect is awkward at first and then really more and more unbelievable -- and also less original.

Worse, the main story is told in first person, and the serial killer in third person.  This is a Writer Trick of the sort that should almost never be attempted.  Like most tricks that draw attention to the fact that the story is just a story, it tends to derail the story.  And, like most of them, it's incredibly hard to do well.  At least for me, it completely does not work here.

(Other examples of such tricks:  Writing the story in the present tense, or the second person, or reminding the reader that it's a fake story.  Neal Stephenson and William Goldman may have gotten away with these tricks, but they are the tiny exception.  And even then, the book is largely defined by the trick rather than the story.  Robert Parker, an expert stylist, can't pull off the first-and-third-person thing.)

The tense of the story occasionally changes, too, and there are a few continuity errors.  But this is relatively minor.

The implausibility is another major problem.  The book starts off seeming realistic enough so you can relate to it.  By the last hundred pages or so, I didn't find it even vaguely convincing -- partly because of some of the premise, but mostly because most of the characters behaved in ways that I can't believe.  The only character whose motivations and thought processes I didn't question (constantly) was the crazy serial killer, because he was crazy.

No one else behaves like a human.  They're ALL CARL and won't stay in the house.  The main villains are utterly stupid and bizarre in how they behave, but the heroes, especially.  There are four heroes.  A former CIA agent.  A seasoned CIA operative.   A seasoned FBI agent.  A brilliant former LAPD cop who's an expert on serial killers.

These geniuses never call for backup or assistance.  They never think ahead.  They never attempt diversions.  They constantly blunder around insanely, even when they know a vastly connected conspiracy is trying to kill them.  Cause a disturbance at a bar?  Why not go back a few hours later?  Someone blew up your hotel room?  Keep getting hotel rooms using your credit card and stay in them for days at a time.  Trust everyone!

Seriously, these are the people who have a friend get stabbed by a psycho and then go out the next night, in the dark, without a flashlight, because they heard something.  They are so dumb, I have to believe you will be lecturing them out loud while you read.

I'm not mad at this book like I still am at Tana French's In The Woods, but I can't say it's good.  It has moments.  But the plot needs a savage beating.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on May 04, 2012, 06:46:02 PM
OK, that's probably too long.  But it accurately reflects how annoyed I was by the time I finished reading.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: flipper on May 04, 2012, 07:23:19 PM
I just started the Mongoliad by Neal Stephenson et al (http://www.amazon.com/The-Mongoliad-Book-Foreworld-Saga/dp/1612182364/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1336177373&sr=8-1)
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on May 04, 2012, 07:28:36 PM
See, that project looks totally awesome, and I completely support it.  But I can't even imagine getting into it.  Seems like a lot of commitment.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: mybabysmomma on May 04, 2012, 07:38:38 PM
I just read In The Woods,,,it made me mad.  I wanted to cock punch that guy sooooo hard.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on May 04, 2012, 08:01:03 PM
I haven't read it yet.  Have you read any of the others?  I really liked Faithful Place.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on May 04, 2012, 08:15:14 PM
Quote
I wanted to cock punch that guy sooooo hard.

I know!  I was reading it going YOU DOUCHE!  YOU ASSHOLE!  I'LL COME IN THERE AND STRANGLE YOU MYSELF!

Plus, two mysteries, and the interesting one never gets solved.  The other one, the secret of it is telegraphed way too far ahead.


I haven't read anything else by her.  Her writing is good, but I don't even know how long ago I read that one, and I'm still pissed off at it.  Her books are apparently semi-connected, with a supporting character from each book becoming the narrator of the next one.  So at least we don't have to deal with the narrator from the first one again, I guess.

I'll have to wait longer to try her again, though.

God damn, I hated that guy.  What a clot.  I wanted to kill him with salted sandpaper.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Hedaira on May 06, 2012, 06:19:23 AM
Someone posted excerpts from that Fifty Shades of You Have to be Fucking Kidding Me book on ONTD and OH WOW. Wow. I'm kind of torn between wanting to ban that awful woman from ever picking up so much as a half-melted crayon under penalty of death, or taking everyone that loves that series and dropping them on an isolated island so they can no longer inflict harm on the rest of us, or just rounding up the people responsible for publishing that mess and setting them all on fire.

I was able to slog through Twilight to see what the fuss was all about. This, however, just makes me hate people.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on May 06, 2012, 08:00:15 AM
On a happier note, Twisted Toyfare Theater Volume 8 came into the shop, and I bought it before we had a chance to pencil a price in.  I used to own 1-3, although I haven't seen them in a long time, so I probably loaned them out.

Twisted Toyfare is fumetti made by posing Mego action figures (and sometimes other toys), with some special effects, and adding funny dialogue.  It's related and similar to Robot Chicken, but heavy on Marvel superheroes, Star Trek, and GI Joe.  On average, for whatever reasons, it's a lot funnier than Robot Chicken -- and I like Robot Chicken.

Few things make me laugh so hard I drool or drop what I'm reading, but Twisted Toyfare does it pretty consistently.  It's farking awesome.  And its wiseass cynical What Now depiction of Spider-Man is easily my favorite rendition of the character.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: flipper on May 07, 2012, 05:11:02 PM
See, that project looks totally awesome, and I completely support it.  But I can't even imagine getting into it.  Seems like a lot of commitment.

I'm reading the paperback which was just released and I pre-ordered the second one.  I couldn't do the e-reader and joining and reader interactiveness thing.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on May 07, 2012, 05:18:01 PM
Oh.  I hadn't even heard about that part.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: flipper on May 07, 2012, 05:29:20 PM
Yeah, it was an online subscription based thing.  I don't think they intended to even do a book release, but I guess there are still enough of us troglodytes to warrant a release.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: flipper on May 07, 2012, 05:31:18 PM
Here it is if any of you'uns are interested:  Mongoliad (http://mongoliad.com/welcome)
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on May 07, 2012, 06:53:49 PM
I'm not bothering much with the electronic stuff until (A) there are good readers available and (B) they've been out long enough so I can afford one.  I don't have anything against early adopters -- on either side of the content -- but I'm not one of them.

Shared-world stuff is monumentally hard to do properly, but this group is quite a group.  Gotta figure at least some of what results will be fairly terrific.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on May 09, 2012, 09:59:14 PM
(http://24.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m3sdh06U2D1royo5qo1_500.jpg)

Also, having it for dinner
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Sidious on May 09, 2012, 10:02:34 PM
Lately I'm reading A Dance With Dragons by George R.R. Martin, the US Army Counterinsurgency Operations Field Manual, and The New John Connor Chronicles: Book 1: Dark Futures by Russell Blackford.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: stormneedle on May 09, 2012, 10:42:22 PM
Re-reading the Foundation series, and catching up on the ones I didn't read when I was in college. Some of the concepts I can't remember reading, but I do remember absorbing. Eerie.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Sidious on May 09, 2012, 10:50:18 PM
I've been meaning to re-read the entire Foundation series for ages.  I should do that next.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on May 09, 2012, 11:05:18 PM
I never read any of the 'new' ones ('80s?), only the original trilogy. Huh. I probably should catch up to that.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on May 29, 2012, 10:17:25 AM
Recently read Rewind (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rewind_(novel)), a 1997 SF novel by Terry England.  I was unpacking a box of books I brought home from the shop, trying to figure out where to put them, and when I saw this one I couldn't remember what made me buy it.  I'm still not sure, but it wasn't bad.

The basic premise:  Aliens visit Earth, share awhile, and then abruptly leave.  Right before they go, they take seventeen seemingly random adults on board and transform them, physically, into 9-year-old kids.  Then they deposit them on a hillside and vanish without an explanation.  The kids retain their adult personalities and memories but present a problem for a paranoid world, etc.

The book wanders a bit as it addresses the various issues this raises.  Some of it is pretty satisfying, and some isn't -- I wasn't convinced at all about the government's approach or by some of the media reactions.  The characters aren't bad, though, and the book moves along.

There's one extremely strange bit about 3/4 of the way through where the scientists make a discovery about the aliens that sure SEEMS like it completely explains why they changed a bunch of people into kids:  It turns out that the aliens, themselves, regress into juvenile forms for space travel.  But this discovery, which serves no other purpose in the story, isn't mentioned again.  Even if it was a red herring, I found it impossible that none of the scientists said, oh, hey, don't you think this is probably connected?

I admit I was more interested in the aliens than the humans, but maybe that's just me.  In any case, this was apparently a first novel, and as such it's certainly not bad.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on June 03, 2012, 09:43:50 PM
I was just at Wikipedia and looking at a list of Locus Award-winning novels, and I noticed that one of them was a Bujold book called Mirror Dance, which turns out to be in the Vorkosigan storyline.

I have never seen this book, nor heard of it before that I remember.  I've read two or three books in that series, and they were fine, but obviously I haven't followed it closely.  But it is/was certainly popular, and now I'm wondering why I haven't seen that book before. 

:shrug:
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on June 05, 2012, 10:49:50 PM
I was lucky enough at work to pick up the first volume of Yotsuba& (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yotsuba%26!), a manga done by the same guy who did the excellent Azumanga Daioh (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Azumanga_Daioh).  This is the kind of thing that's suitable even for people who don't like manga or anime, by and large.  It's fairly 'Japanese' in the sense that it does have a lot of culture-specific stuff, but it's not sexualized or creepy and doesn't feature violence or robots or so on.

Yotsuba& is about a little girl named Yotsuba and her peculiar interactions with the world.  She's stranger than most five-year-olds and is unfamiliar with many things you'd expect a kid to know about.  For instance, when she finds a playground swing, she can't even figure out what it's for until another kid shows her.  So she has strange reactions and says strange things, etc.  Much like a normal kid, except moreso.

She generally likes everything and is enthusiastic and upbeat.  I've only read one volume, but I doubt there's much tragedy ahead.  It's funnier than I'm making it sound.

Azumanga Daioh is about a group of high school girls with idiosyncratic personalities (but not too idiosyncratic) and their daily life.  I'm pretty sure there's no nudity, and there are no serious fights, just occasional sports contests.  One girl gets bitten by cats fairly frequently, although this doesn't dissuade her from petting strange cats.  They do have a creepy but not really threatening teacher, who's a little too interested in high school girls, but he's a fairly minor character and just played for laughs.

Azumanga Daioh is kind of interesting because it's not a comic-book manga but a comic strip, four panels at a time.  It was adapted very well into an anime just the same, which I suppose shouldn't be surprising (Peanuts didn't have a problem with this, for starters), but I found the anime first and then was surprised by the manga.  But the manga works well even for those of us reading it in translation.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Talix on June 06, 2012, 08:25:59 AM
Crime and Punishment.  I expected a whole lot more jail; I'm almost 2/3 of the way through and he's still just driving himself nuts on the outside.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on June 06, 2012, 08:30:29 AM
Well, it's very Russian to be your own tormentor.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Talix on June 06, 2012, 08:43:15 AM
Tru dat!  So says a quarter of mine own heritage.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: TFJ on June 06, 2012, 09:11:43 AM
nice. see also Ms. Lonelyhearts for a nice pairing.

Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Talix on June 06, 2012, 11:30:19 AM
Oooo.  Looks like I'd need a Douglas Adams chaser after every chapter.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on June 06, 2012, 10:02:18 PM
So.  A customer at work today was talking to us about Bradbury, and he asked when was the last time an author passed away who was (A) so well known to the general public and (B) primarily known for writing SF/fantasy/horror.

We talked about this for quite awhile.  Asimov, maybe.  Maybe.  Same realm, anyway, but probably not quite as widely known?  Maybe back in the 1980s.  Carl Sagan doesn't really qualify because he only wrote the one SF novel, and if people think he was an SF writer, that seems like a technicality.

Hundreds of millions of people have seen stuff by Harlan Ellison or Robert Bloch, but they don't realize it was by Ellison or Bloch.  And Stephen King is still alive.

The customer felt Asimov just wasn't as widely known and thought maybe you had to go back to H. G. Wells.  That seemed impossible, in a way, but . . . :shrug:

Burroughs wasn't thought of as mostly an SF author.  So who is it we're not thinking of?
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on June 06, 2012, 10:03:50 PM
I should add, I thought of Richard Matheson, but he has the same problem as Ellison and Bloch.  (Also, Ellison is still alive, too.)  And the customer suggested Rod Serling, but two other customers who were listening by that point hadn't realized that Serling, himself, wrote.  They thought he was strictly a producer/presenter.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Sidious on June 06, 2012, 10:25:34 PM
Heinlein?
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on June 06, 2012, 10:48:30 PM
Yeah, I don't know.  He was huge in the late 60s and early 70s, when Stranger in a Strange Land was a mainstream phenomenon of sorts.  But by the mid-80s, I don't think most people would have heard of him.

Clarke had a huge boost into the mainstream with 2001, but same deal.  Neither book was the kind of mainstream success that Fahrenheit 451 is, for starters. 

But maybe we're overstating Bradbury's mainstream success, too.  Heck, for all I know, when Aldous Huxley died, most people thought of him as that Brave New World guy.  Orwell didn't escape 1984, in the US.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: vox8 on June 06, 2012, 10:52:18 PM
I don't know about general public, but I think the last death of this caliber was McCaffery.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on June 06, 2012, 10:58:39 PM
Yeah, I know what you mean about McCaffrey.  I didn't like some of her later stuff -- which to me means Damia, et al -- but she was MZB kinds of huge, and her first two Pern trilogies were revelations when I first read them, no doubt.


Ironic, that Bradbury is mostly thought of, in the genre, as a 'soft' SF / fantasy / horror writer, and yet it's his most futuristic (in the sense of futurism) and realistic book that's had the most success.  And its predictions remain eerily good, book-burning aside (one hopes).

Although Something Wicked This Way Comes is probably his second most widely known.  I think.  Martian Chronicles is really pre-New Wave New Wave. 

He was first published in 1938, his last novel came out in 2006, and some or other publisher reportedly still has over a hundred print-worthy unpublished stories of his.  One of the major houses has released one of three planned collections of previously uncollected short stories that were published in digests and magazines, and those apparently have two dozen stories in each volume.  Wikipedia says 27 published novels and over 600 published stories.

I knew he'd written a strange book about Moby Dick, but I didn't realize until today that he wrote the screenplay for the Gregory Peck film of the book.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on June 07, 2012, 12:17:34 AM
Met him, once. He was totally deaf. ;)
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: vox8 on June 07, 2012, 11:41:30 AM
Yeah, I know what you mean about McCaffrey.  I didn't like some of her later stuff -- which to me means Damia, et al -- but she was MZB kinds of huge, and her first two Pern trilogies were revelations when I first read them, no doubt.

I think that McCaffery did almost as much for setting the ground rules for Fantasy as did Tolkien. She was a woman in an all male world and she held her own. It is like all of the "that's a cliche" moments in LOTR that you have to remind young-uns that it is a cliche because Tolkien invented it.

All of the "psychically linked with a companion animal/critter/dragon/unicorn/cat" what-ever can be traced to the Dragonrider stuff. The new big thing ie: Song of Ice & Fire, is a direct rip-off of McCaffery's "failure to respect old ways, gonna bite you in the ass" theme. "Winter is coming" is pretty much "Thread is going to fall." Complete with one family/group that maintains the "old ways" and gets mocked & ridiculed for it.

The thing I found fascinating about the Dragonrider stuff is that she, eventually, brought it all back around to hard science fiction. It appears to be fantasy - but we eventually find this is a planet colonized by humans and the dragons were genetically engineered ... pretty stupendous revelation.

But, I could be talking out my ass and there was a predecessor to these ideas that I haven't read.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: flipper on June 07, 2012, 12:00:25 PM
As required reading in HS we had to read both Martian Chronicles and Fahrenheit 451 so that is pretty doggone mainstream.  I don't believe we had any other SF as required reading in my school. 
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on June 07, 2012, 12:28:30 PM
Backing up a bit, the original question was about "SF" authors whose prominence was such that the mainstream media paid attention when they passed. And I don't remember anything big happening in the media for Anne McCaffrey, although I do remember seeing an obit (wire service?) in some of the papers I read. Which is a shame, because she was a hugely important writer, as you say. But I think the difference here is Bradbury was a Sagan-level cultural phenomenon, and McCaffrey (and many others) was important just to her readers and the science fiction and fantasy community. Which she totally ruled. I think McCaffrey was way more influential then MZB (er - SCA aside, that's a different cultural phenomenon ;) ) because she was always from the beginning considered to be part of the science fiction genre rather than the 'fantasy' genre. Arguably she started the spinoff of the fantasy genre from science fiction that became more obvious in the seventies as many following writers tried to capture her vibe.

Anyway, I know I'm just talking out of my as... imov.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: vox8 on June 07, 2012, 01:13:15 PM
Yeah, I went off on a tangent. I didn't really see a new answer to the original question. I don't think that there has been a more significant death in mainstream recognized SciFi authors in recent memory. I don't even know if Asimov would count.

I think you would have to go all the way back to Jules Verne.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on June 07, 2012, 02:28:42 PM
:hmm: Clarke, actually. So, not so long. But yeah.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on June 07, 2012, 03:33:57 PM
Yeah, see, 2001 aside, I don't think Clarke penetrated the mainstream so much -- and by now few people remember he was involved with 2001.  I do think it must be Verne / Wells.


Tolkien didn't invent fantasy tropes quite so much as standardize them -- I'm not picking on him, just making the point that for the most part he was choosing from a large body of related myths and assembling a personal-preference mythology to work from.  He was really good at it and had really good taste, so it stuck and was widely copied.

McCaffrey was similar in some ways because whether or not all of her ideas were completely original, she made transformative use of them.  There aren't many 'original' ideas in SF by now, but her portrayal of Thread and its migration from the eccentric-orbit neighboring planet is singular and pretty damned awesome.  (Although I always assumed that the characters had an exaggerated idea of just how dangerous Thread was, or else it would have devastated the ecosystem before they arrived, no?  But it's not a plot problem.)

The human-animal psychic bond does predate her, although she hugely popularized it.  Corwainer Smith's "Game of Rat and Dragon" (1950s) has humans psychically bonded to cats for the purpose of fighting aliens.  The cats have the fast reflexes necessary.

The Pern books were so huge back in the day, so huge.  I remember going to a Boskone in 1982 or 1983 and seeing Menoly costumes everywhere.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: stormneedle on June 07, 2012, 04:15:59 PM
I remember changing my .finger and .plan to turn me into Mnementh one April Fools Day way back when.
/Unix 4BSD , whippersnappers.
//"You are standing on a green lawn. An old man is yelling at you to get off of it."
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on June 07, 2012, 04:22:14 PM
"I found a bowl!  Good for me!"

/Freakazoid
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on June 07, 2012, 04:23:32 PM
Actually, speaking of Boskone, I just remembered that I paid $25 at the con for a huge poster of art from the cover of one of the Pern books.  I remember thinking later that that was way too much money for a poster, but stupidly I can't remember which book's art it was.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on June 08, 2012, 10:18:04 AM
In the book of essays about horror movies that I read a few months ago, there was a piece by John Farris that caught my interest.  He wrote for films like When Michael Calls and De Palma's The Fury, both adapted from his own novels.  He's gotten a ton of publication, but I hadn't read anything by him, so I picked up a couple of books.

I finished Nightfall, from 1987, which is . . . an odd confection.  It's sort of 50% well-written and 50% sort of perfunctory.  It feels like it was written quickly by someone who's very good at the mechanics of writing a novel but who was only semi-interested in the novel in question.  The premise has a lot of embellishments that are admirable, but the plot feels rushed. 

It almost feels like a Barbara Michaels novel rewritten for a wider audience.  A woman has escaped an abusive husband who's now in an institution, and she's taken her somewhat traumatized 8-year-old son with her to an antebellum plantation house in Louisiana.  There she meets a nice ex-Navy pilot and starts thinking that, hey, having a relationship can be rewarding after all.  But the husband has escaped from the asylum . . . .  It's very much a gothic.

But it's more told from the ex-Navy pilot's point of view.  Also, the woman and the psycho ex have Mafia connections, and there's a sinister mob hitman in Louisiana to protect the woman and her son.  And the psycho ex is a nearly supernatural killing machine.  And also an expert hacker.  And the Navy pilot has developed severe night blindness.  And so on.

Again, it's not bad, and some touches rise above the rest of the material.  It's oddly paced, though.  It gives me the impression that you might not expect a startling masterpiece from Farris, but if you needed a ghostwriter or someone to rewrite a broken screenplay, he'd be the type you'd want.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on June 22, 2012, 11:18:26 PM
Time Pressure, by Spider Robinson, a 1984 novel that depends on plot surprises heavily enough so that I don't want to link the Wikipedia page for it, which gives much too much away.  I didn't know it until I was almost finished the book, but Time Pressure is a sequel to Mindkiller and the middle volume of his Deathkiller trilogy, also called the Lifehouse trilogy.

The book is set in 1974, and most of its plot deals with time travel, although not in an intricate time-travel-gimmick sort of way.  However, most of the book is not plot but setting, characters, and philosophy.  The time travel is largely used just to justify a nostalgic description of being a hippie in Nova Scotia in the early 70s. 

These are the self-sufficiency hippies, not just the drugs and love and anti-establishment hippies, and I always think of them as 'hippertarians'.  They're people I admire to some extent in theory, but in practice they always annoy me (and vice versa, I'm sure) within about three days.  Most of the ones I've known -- and, I think, the ones in the story -- are the sort who are thinkers enough to know when they've encountered a big idea, and to be impressed by it, but not thinkers enough to figure out whether that big idea is bullshit.  Like, almost ever.

So that was a problem for me, but I don't think it reflects on the book itself.  I also disliked the narrator, by and large, who is very much a Heinlein Overconfident Narrator, one of those guys who's almost always sure he knows the best and only way to think about everything but is sometimes obviously being stupid.  The book sort of knows this and reacts to it, though.

Eventually, the plot itself develops.  Seriously, it doesn't pick up any speed until about 150 pages in, and the book is like 240 pages long.  The book is well-written enough that I think this is only a problem if you dislike the scenery.  If you find the hippies and setting and narrator more pleasing than I did, then I think the book's defense that Yeah, But This Is How It Happened, Man is a perfectly good excuse.

The plot does also rely on the notion that if you go back in time, you have to be careful not to make any major changes, or it's a paradox disaster.  I happen to not believe this, as a matter of reality, and as a result, although I think it's fine for a short story, it's hard for me to hang a novel on it.  BUT once again this is just me.

At the end, there's a big infodump that is largely a recapitulation of the plot of the first book.  Normally this is a cardinal sin, for at least a couple of reasons, and it's pretty awkward, but, again, the book knows you're not supposed to do this, and I'm inclined to let Robinson get away with it.  (Weirdly, the internet suggests that this book's summary of its prequel doesn't actually match the prequel.  I don't know what to make of that.)  It's easy to see how he finished the first book and then still wanted to do some more with the ideas.

Even with all of these personal peeves, I think it's a good book that does a good job with some clever ideas.  And the writing is good, almost early Stephen King good.  I just wasn't the right audience.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on June 27, 2012, 10:11:49 PM
I'm reading REAMDE (http://www.nealstephenson.com/reamde/).

Oh fuck.

It's ... good and not good. On the one hand, it's a 600 page chase scene that you can't put down. On the other hand, it is a 1000 page fellation of American survivalist gun nuts and their (fallacious) virtues. On the gripping hand, it lacks those great things that Stephenson novels usually have - a bunch of utterly different storylines, all converging together in something shocking and exciting. Instead they all converge in something completely predictable and practically boring.

I don't think I could be more disappointed. I'm gonna read it again though.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: flipper on June 27, 2012, 10:16:47 PM
Pretty much my summation.  Kinda like someone switched Stephenson's brain with Dan Brown's for a bit.  Nevertheless I still enjoyed it.  The Mongoliad book 1 kicked ass though.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Sidious on June 28, 2012, 12:46:20 AM
I'm reading the Robot series as well as the Foundation series by Asimov.  I'm currently on "The Currents Of Space", one I never actually read before.  It's quite interesting.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on June 28, 2012, 01:58:39 AM
Asimov reminds me of what Robert Graves said about Shakespeare being really good in spite of how everybody always says he is.  Asimov's SF has more elegant depth to it than I expect when I go back and read it.  He gets away with a lot of exposition sort of sneakily, and it feels like there's ten times as much worldbuilding as he bothered to dump on you.

Even so, I've never read him compulsively, only opportunistically.  I couldn't say why.  :shrug:


Hmof, whether you meant to or not, you made Reamde sound awful to me.  And please tell me the name is meant as a play on "Readme", because it's like an icepick in my brain.  Stephenson has become one of those things where people tell me it's great, but their explanations of why it's great make it sound like I won't like it.

I did like Zodiac, Snow Crash, and The Diamond Age, but sort of increasingly uneasily.  They have such awesome elements, but . . . they made me feel like a young woman who had the firm intention of this one polite date and then never speaking to the guy again, and yet here I am on the couch with half my clothes off, and how did I let him get away with so much?  Ridiculous.

And his longer books sound so long.  Soooooo long.  Long.  I weary of them just looking at how thick they are.


Anyway, lately I . . . read through a few books on aircraft, mostly WWII fighters; started a book about a murder in Hawaii; read a book on cars of 1969; read some 1960s horror stories by Charles Birkin; started Parker's last Spenser novel.  This last one is sort of symptomatic of the later books -- he's clearly pretty bored with Spenser and would really rather do something else, and so you get this really odd mishmash. 

Any Spenser book that sometimes switches to some other character's point of view is a problematic one.  I'm sure the publisher begged him to write more Spenser books, and possibly if he'd written something completely different they wouldn't even have guaranteed printing it.  So it goes.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on June 28, 2012, 04:58:17 PM
Hmof, whether you meant to or not, you made Reamde sound awful to me.  And please tell me the name is meant as a play on "Readme", because it's like an icepick in my brain.  Stephenson has become one of those things where people tell me it's great, but their explanations of why it's great make it sound like I won't like it.

Yeah, it is, it's the name of a computer virus involved with a MMORPG, that rather innocently precipitates the motion of the plot. I have to say, that that was the shortest 1000 page novel I've ever read. I guess that makes it "gripping" or a "page-turner" because there's hardly a break in the action for, as I said, over 600 pages. So it's possible it's not that long, depending on whether or not the chase grabs you (and it very well may not).

I've been willing to put up with the length of Stephenson's long (i.e. post Diamond Age) novels for the thread convergences, which often contain a lot of dramatic and emotional impact and make the journey worthwhile. Like the scene on the top of the Tokyo high-rise when Avi and Randy realize that Goto Dengo is the one who buried the Japanese gold in the Philippines in Cryptonomicon, etc. Often there's some interesting and thought-provoking stuff in the journey which keeps me engaged (and there's often stuff that I skim over as fast as possible). Not everybody likes that sort of thing, and I appreciate that. This is entertainment, not Grande Literature, so it's gotta grab you, yeah. Anyway. I don't think I'm being too spoileriffic here by saying the climactic convergence here is not worth it. It's a conventional resolution, and there's even a Harry Potter Epilogue epilogue. Sometimes this works for me, as it did in Anathem, but this time it flopped. So I'm disappointed.

But the chase ... was a good chase. It flew by, and I was intensely irritated when anyone tried to talk to me while I was trying to read it. :shrug:

I'll read his next thing, for sure, but he's gotta read the feedback properly and apply macro-scale creativity to the problem.

Oh listen to me, the highfalutin literary critic. OK let me summarize: there is a lot of gunfire and explosions in this novel. And that's about it.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: flipper on June 28, 2012, 06:00:36 PM
Future Michael Bey movie.  The chase was a great page turner.  I think the predictability and the good guys win with almost no casualties bothered me the most.  But I still liked it, it's just not up to the usual Stephenson fare.

Perhaps I can see this as having mass mainstream appeal, which probably ruins it for me.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: pdrake on July 11, 2012, 05:04:54 PM
has anybody read this?

http://www.amazon.com/Great-Apes-Will-Self/dp/0802135765
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on July 11, 2012, 05:13:22 PM
Someone bought me a copy of that when it came out, and it looks interesting, and I have no idea where it is right now.  I've never gotten around to reading it.  I read something else by him that was pretty impressive, but I can't remember what.  I don't think it was a whole book -- like an essay or an editorial or something.

Helpful, eh?
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on July 11, 2012, 05:21:48 PM
Oh, yeah -- I read Sixkill, the last Spenser book written by Parker himself, although, as it turns out, not the last Spenser book.

Sixkill is OK, and better than some of the latter Spenser books, but with a lot of the same problems, especially repetition, to the point where these books have their own whole set of hackneyed cliches.  Chapter about Spenser and another character, chapter about the mystery, chapter about Spenser and Susan, repeat.  The stuff with Spenser and Susan -- surprise, surprise -- is so cliched at this point that you could swap 90% of it for the Spenser and Susan stuff from a dozen other Spenser books.  It's just not cute anymore.

The novel introduces a new seemingly major character, Zebulon Sixkill, a Cree ex-football player who's adrift but adopts Spenser as a role model.  I won't say it isn't problematic, but it works far better than I expected.  Still, Sixkill is basically a Hawk replacement, and it starts to seem real racist if you look at it that way.  Awkward.

Parker has short bits that are from Sixkill's point of view.  He's done this before, where he steps away from Spenser's viewpoint, and usually it's a trainwreck.  (Switching from First Person to Third Person almost never works.)  In this case, it actually works well enough, so I guess Parker finally learned how to finesse it.  But it still seems like a bad idea.

I didn't realize it, but apparently there are somehow several recent Spenser books that I haven't read.  I don't know if I'll read them.  Probably better to go back and reread ones from 1991 and earlier.  Still, definitely one of the most impressive series of detective fiction to date.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: stormneedle on July 16, 2012, 11:01:54 AM
We try to keep up with whatever the nephews and nieces are reading if they happen to tell us that they found something they like. Right now, it's the 39 Clues series; Eli was trying to figure out reading while walking for the first time. Think "National Treasure" world-wide mixed with a quest for the Philosophers' Stone. It's fairly good, and the various authors seem to have had a guidebook since the characters' voices are fairly consistent. I'm only up to book nine of eleven, and there is a e-book only series along with web tie-ins.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Talix on July 16, 2012, 12:43:58 PM
Finished The Time Machine over the weekend. 
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on July 16, 2012, 02:12:32 PM
Quote
Finished The Time Machine over and over the weekend.

FTFY.




/morlock
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Talix on July 16, 2012, 04:25:53 PM
 :D
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on July 21, 2012, 04:38:48 PM
Hadn't read one before, but I picked up and read a Sue Grafton book at random, E is for Evidence.

It was . . . OK.  It mostly rolled right along, which (to me) is one of the most important points for a detective novel.  It was quite light in certain areas, though, and not in a good way.  The main character had almost no characterization, and she had almost no procedure, either. 

I mean, a lot of fictional detectives just bumble along in a tug-this-thread fashion and see where it leads, but in this book . . . she occasionally follows leads, but most she seems to be doing other things at random and simply stumbles across clues.  It's especially odd for an ex-cop.  Also, although she does a few clever things, for the most part she just seems magically able to get people to talk to her.  She doesn't convince them to; she just starts talking to them, and they start providing clues and exposition, even in cases where they started off not wanting to talk to her.

I'm also not convinced the mystery actually made sense.  It felt like Grafton only made up her mind who the culprit was when she was writing the last two chapters.

But I also get the feeling this isn't the best or most rounded book in the series.  Most of the regular supporting characters are absent in it.  Maybe I just happened to pick the wrong one.  It really wasn't bad, so I wouldn't be averse to trying another one.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on July 21, 2012, 04:46:19 PM
Also read a true crime book about a particularly awful sexual assault and murder in Hawaii.  It was depressing all around.  The criminals are thoroughly terrible people, but it's also not at all certain that they were the right ones.  There was almost no concrete evidence of any kind, and one of the three convicted for the crime was a guy who got off almost scot free for pleading guilty and testifying against his brother.  The other one was a jackass who made various confessions that don't match each other or closely match the physical evidence.

Meh.

Also, this is set another case where the prosecution presented a theory of the crime that included conjectural details that they couldn't substantiate.  Prosecutors seem to do this all the time, and for the life of me I can't understand it.  It often winds up making them look very, very bad, and it often provides huge amounts of reasonable doubt.  In this case, the victim was struck by a vehicle and then moved to another location.  The prosecution said she was moved in the truck of a VW Beetle.  They had no actual evidence of this, and the defense argued it wasn't even physically possible, and it became a big deal.

Why specify how they moved her?  It's known that whoever did it did, in fact, move her.  It's known that the perps had a vehicle.  THE END.

Apparently this is the same as science fiction.  If you don't have a good explanation, don't give a bad one.  If you say something the defense can prove is wrong, it makes your whole case look bad.  I think, in this case, the first defendant was convicted just because the jury thought he was a scumbag.  He was probably involved, but the prosecution's case was extremely weak.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on July 21, 2012, 05:21:37 PM
Every once in a while Grafton really grabs me. So I keep reading'em. By the way, there's no way she's gonna get to Z, which is kinda sad. She's really slowed down. She used to crank one out every other year; at her current rate she's gonna be like 95 ... :(

She's got talent, to be sure, but sometimes, as you observe, the plots don't make a whole lot of sense. I kinda don't care. I love the town I live in portrayed as dark and chilly and filled with malevolent people with horrible secrets, which is all kind of true but is not at all what the tourist brochures say ;)

IIRC my favorite might have to be K (is for Killer). The end is a series of bang-bang-bang surprises which come together well (with surprisingly small amounts of violence).
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on July 29, 2012, 09:30:44 PM
Without really intending to, I picked up and started reading another later Spenser book at work, Rough Weather, from 2008.

OK, like Sixkill, it's better than a lot of the later ones.  Not terrific, but not bad.  But what struck me about it is that I really don't think Parker wrote it.  I think it was probably a test case for having someone else take over the series.

The plot is semi-Spenserian, except that less happens than usual.  Blessedly, there's less Spenser And Susan repetition than most of the later books have, and Hawk is usually around to break those segments up a bit.  The dialog is mostly spot on, but occasionally Spenser says something out of character, and Hawk's street dialect is wrong, by which I mean it's not the same as usual.  A dozen members of the supporting cast make appearances, as if the writer was trying them all out.  Most of them come out right.

It's also a little sloppier.  There are dialog errors where the same person speaks twice, and clearly someone else's comment in between has gone missing.

What kills is me is that after I finished it, I went and read a half dozen reviews to see if the ghost writer was outed, and I didn't see anyone else commenting on any of this.  Personally, I think it was hard to miss.  I think the reviewers had read so many Spenser books that they were mostly just skimming along.

Eh.  It's too bad Parker didn't let Spenser retire and just focus on the Jesse Stone books.  Now I kind of want to read the new Spenser book by Ace Atkins to see if I can tell if he's the one who wrote Rough Weather.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Talix on July 30, 2012, 08:30:13 AM
Just finished The Color Purple and started The Art of Fielding, which my sister has been after me to just read, already.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on July 30, 2012, 03:52:40 PM
When she asks you if you like it, say "Do I like it?  I'm just reading it."
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on August 05, 2012, 06:15:11 PM
I'm halfway through On the Beach.  Sweet Jebus, this book is boring as fuck.  And Holmes's wife is an idiot.  I want to punch her in her stupid face.  It's supposed to be a classic but it's just making me want to break my Kindle in half.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on August 05, 2012, 06:16:49 PM
I'm also reading In the Woods, which I know several of you hated.  But at least it's more interesting.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on August 05, 2012, 08:35:38 PM
It's been like 25 years since I read On The Beach.  I liked it, did think the characters were kind of dumb.  Author convinced me that they just couldn't figure out how to cope with the end of the world. 

I saw a copy of In The Woods the other day, at the university salvage store, and got all ranty.  :lol:  But instead I bought a few random optics and what the cashier thought was some kind of a mortar tube.

(It's actually a heavy-duty stainless steel cafeteria fixture for dispensing disposable cups.  I bought it because it looks like a mortar tube or something.  Cashier is psychic.)
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on August 05, 2012, 08:38:20 PM
Oh.  Read another Richard Laymon book, Body Rides.  Pretty good, but definitely not his best.  Wanders around quite a bit -- his books tend to feel like he just made them up as he went along, but in a surprisingly good way.  This one has a central supernatural premise that vanishes from the book for long stretches for no good reason.

But it was still pretty good.  And weirdly upbeat for Laymon, all in all.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on August 05, 2012, 11:44:58 PM
It's been like 25 years since I read On The Beach.  I liked it, did think the characters were kind of dumb.  Author convinced me that they just couldn't figure out how to cope with the end of the world. 

I just read a chapter about how a guy went to town to buy a playpen. 
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: flipper on August 06, 2012, 01:18:34 PM
I'm reading Wicked right now and really enjoying it.  Sandy has seen the musical but I haven't, I'll have to remedy that.  In other news, Ian picked a WoO DVD up at the library yesterday so it'll be good to watch that again.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Talix on August 10, 2012, 02:58:18 PM
Finished The Art of Fielding.  Fine story; engaging; didn't change my life.  That the primary female character found herself while washing dishes may have been the fatal flaw.

Started A Member of the Wedding.  I'm not sure that several pages in my Kindle version weren't out of order.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on August 20, 2012, 08:43:46 PM
Catching up and stuff:

Read Grafton's K is for Killer.  I officially still don't understand the depth of the appeal of this series.  I guess it's just not for me, but even beyond that . . . I don't get it.  There's something about the structure of these books that eludes me.

In the first place, the mystery involved is convoluted and feels contrived, and it's never solved, although the book acts as if it were.  Kinsey, the detective, comes up with an unsupported conjecture.  She does identify a bad person but doesn't put any of the pieces together, and then the book just ends.  There's no confession, no corroboration, no specific motive.  People have died, but without any real explanation or even any surety that the events are connected.  The clues don't actually go together and often aren't plausible on their face.

Sometimes that's fine for a mystery novel, but it doesn't seem to be the book's point.  It doesn't seem to be about the randomness of the universe, or how the truth is often unknowable.  At the end of the book, Kinsey doesn't seem to realize that she hasn't solved anything.

And she still doesn't seem to be much of a detective.  She doesn't do much and doesn't really follow any procedure.  She has some kind of miraculous charm, which she's unaware of, that makes people talk to her.  No one ever seems reluctant to talk to her, no matter how awkward or unpleasant the subject or how unexpected or intrusive she is.  They're just immediately cooperative and forthcoming, almost without exception.  Even the police, who help her out freely and offer to let her photocopy confidential evidence reports as a favor. 

She rarely applies any leverage.  People just deliver information to her.  And she rarely analyzes it much or tries to imagine how the pieces go together.  She just keeps talking to people.

Considering what she does do, it's surprising her PI's license doesn't get pulled.  She indirectly causes multiple deaths, tampers with evidence, breaks a bunch of laws, and screws up at least one major police investigation.  And I can't stress enough that she doesn't even solve the mystery.  She runs across many apparent crimes, apparently connected, but only solves one minor one (the disappearance of some money and jewelry), which she doesn't do anything about.


Don't get me wrong: It's not terrible.  The actual writing is OK, even if the plotting isn't great.  The flow is pretty good, and there are some nice descriptive passages, although they often feel like they were inserted during the revision process. 

But it's not gripping, and there isn't much suspense or excitement, and there isn't much humor.  Kinsey just constantly complains about being tired (in both books I've read) as she schleps around talking to people and failing to form a picture of what may have happened.  Like in E is for Evidence, there's one boffo unlikely act of violence that isn't terribly plausible.

:shrug:  It's not Evanovich kind of amusing, and it's not plotted like the old-time 'talking mysteries' of Allingham and Marsh and Tey and Christie.  Kinsey just doesn't do anything, and then suddenly the book is over.

I've certainly read worse, but . . . .
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on August 20, 2012, 09:04:20 PM
Also read the first collection of Ninja High School (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ninja_high_school), a comic I was aware of back in the mid-80s but wasn't hooked by.  It's a little slight and fairly random, especially early on, but the real reason it didn't hook me was that I hadn't seen enough of the manga and anime that it parodies.  In the early years, it's about 50% actual ninja high school manga and 50% Urusei Yatsura (aka Lum), and I don't think I started reading Urusei Yatsura until maybe '87 or '88.

Reading Ninja High School now is sort of a faux nostalgic pleasure.  I can see now how ahead of its time it was and imagine how funny it would have been, back then, if I had known what it was doing.  It's cute.  And it played a huge part in starting the trend of Western manga (for good or bad).  I didn't realize until now that it's actually still in publication, although Ben Dunn has apparently handed it over to other people.  That's a good run for an indie comedy comic.

It's also kind of funny because it really reminds me of the days when 'furries' were just anthropomorphic animal characters and not a lifestyle minority.  Or, at least, when that was what the term was known for.  Not that anthropomorphics, as they were also called, weren't sometimes sexualized (Hellooooo, Omaha), but they weren't sexualized because they were furries.  Except to the extent that it was easier to get away with putting explicit sex scenes in comics if there was a clear element of the impossible.

I was drifting with those thoughts and naturally looked up the amazing Albedo (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albedo_Anthropomorphics), which unfortunately I never owned more than a couple of issues of, and then I went to look for the finestkind Fusion (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fusion_(Eclipse_Comics)).  I had not realized that Steve Gallacci had worked on both.  His Wikipedia page says

Quote
Gallacci also worked on Fusion, a SF adventure comic from Eclipse Comics similar to the TV show Firefly, though pre-dating it by nearly twenty years.

Huh. I would not necessarily have thought of that comparison, but I see where they're going with that.  And I had somehow forgotten the brilliant Weasel Patrol altogether.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on August 21, 2012, 06:38:12 PM
I also recently read Street Soldier (http://www.amazon.com/Street-Soldier-Enforcer-Whitey-Bulger/dp/1586420631), a book written by a former leg-breaker / drug dealer who worked for crime boss Whitey Bulger in South Boston.

The book is . . . OK.  Eddie Mac, the author, has reasonably plausible veracity.  He probably exaggerates his own criminal career some, and a lot of critics have complained that he wasn't as tight with Bulger as he says.  The thing is, he actually doesn't say he was high up in Bulger's organization.  He's pretty clear about it.  Bulger occasionally pays personal attention to him, but I'm sure Bulger paid similar attention to a lot of his thugs and dealers, and I didn't feel like Eddie was was making a lot of special claims about his own importance.  Often quite the opposite.

Eddie is a borderline sociopath, though, and a sadist, and spent most of his life regarding women as another species.  He often admits this sort of thing, but he generally doesn't really get it.  It's more that he knows how he looks to other people.  He'll frequently tell a horrible story that he thinks is funny, the kind of thing you often hear from these sorts of people.  He'll say, OK, it was wrong to do that, and I'm a scumbag.  But he's still chuckling at the memory.

Almost his entire history of personal relationships is a complete disaster, too, and he has the same tone deafness there.  OK, he knows he screwed up his marriage.  OK, he knows he shouldn't have gotten this teenager pregnant.  Or this other woman.  And he shouldn't have set up one-way mirrors and spied on the women's showers in his gym.  Now he has daughters, and he went to college and was amazed by the women's study course he took.  Maybe he's starting to get it.  But mostly he doesn't get it.

Also, he's terrible with money, and frequently just dumb.  So he's not exactly entirely sympathetic.  But he had a horrific childhood and wound up in a soul-eating environment pretty much his whole life.  And he says he's trying to reform but admits that it's pretty much impossible.  He's been arrested for assault and fraud since the book came out. 

The book is like a travelogue through a country you wouldn't want to visit.  If you liked The Departed or Goodfellas, it's that sort of thing.  At times it's pretty fascinating, and at times it's just more of the same thing. 

Frankly, for whatever reason, what bugged me the most was the foreword by one of his closest friends, his defense attorney for over thirty years, who brags that Eddie basically never spent a day in jail while he was defending him.  Yeah, the guy committed dozens of major crimes of a dozen different kinds and is no kind of saint.  You're good at your job, but maybe you shouldn't brag quite so loudly.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: flipper on August 21, 2012, 08:26:20 PM
I'm reading Slaughterhouse Five right now.  Why hadn't I read this before?
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on August 21, 2012, 08:54:49 PM
Time travel.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Min on August 31, 2012, 09:20:32 PM
I'm reading Wicked right now and really enjoying it.  Sandy has seen the musical but I haven't, I'll have to remedy that.  In other news, Ian picked a WoO DVD up at the library yesterday so it'll be good to watch that again.

I thought Wicked was pretty good.  But when I got to Son of a Witch...the author read it (I do the audiobook thing) and it was a terrible reading.  Sometimes you can't tell if it's a terrible reading or terrible writing.  I'm not really sure and that soured me to the whole thing now.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Sidious on August 31, 2012, 09:40:30 PM
I liked Wicked too, but I avoided the sequel because of your review of it.  :D
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: flipper on August 31, 2012, 11:35:33 PM
Well my dad liked it so I borrowed his copy.  I'll start it next week since I just finished Slaughterhouse 5
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: TFJ on September 01, 2012, 07:53:01 AM
i like Wicked. i distinctly remember reading it one hot summer in a camper (wanna go campin :knotty:) in KY ( :knotty:)

you people got me hooked on the Game of Thrones series despite my initial complaints about it. the show really got me on it, i suppose. it's totally a nice break from reading anything serious, which i haven't done for like a month :lol: i'm on book 4 about 1/3 through.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: hippielunatic on September 04, 2012, 12:55:13 PM
I personally found other Maguire books much more appealing, though I own the whole Wicked series, I have yet to read them all.

Right now, I'm working on Sisters Red.   Enjoying a new twist on an old tale.

My Steampunk character is going to be Little Red Riding Hood, so I'm kind of working on building a complete library around the fable.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on September 04, 2012, 01:39:03 PM
:hmm:
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Talix on September 06, 2012, 02:13:26 PM
I personally found other Maguire books much more appealing, though I own the whole Wicked series, I have yet to read them all.

I listened to Lost on a road trip and really liked it.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: unclejessie on September 11, 2012, 10:46:12 PM
http://www.openculture.com/free_ebooks
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: stormneedle on September 11, 2012, 11:21:24 PM
http://www.openculture.com/free_ebooks
Goodies!!!!
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: flipper on September 11, 2012, 11:43:16 PM
Free regular books at the Library.  I still can't get into the e-book thing.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: hippielunatic on September 12, 2012, 08:31:32 AM
I have (most of) my library cataloged on librarything.com and they do an early reviewers program.  I have gotten about 30 free books over the last few years, which I have to admit, makes it worth the $25 lifetime membership fee I paid.  ;)

But, I'm with :flipper: I haven't been able to get into ebooks.  I like the pages and comfort of a physical book.... but I completely understand why they are taking over.  Books are heavy on vacation. 
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on September 12, 2012, 09:34:21 AM
The e-readers currently available are still crap.  It may be another four or five years until there are good ones.  The technology is already out there for e-readers that look and feel like lightweight softcover books, but it's still too expensive.

Personally, I wouldn't buy one until they fix the content ownership issues.  A book is not software.  If I buy a copy, I'm buying a goddamned copy, not leasing an instance that's particular to a single machine, etc.

The happy medium solution would probably be to have you pay to buy the ownership of a copy -- and then a nominal fee to download your copy onto a reader.  Then anytime you want to download a copy (like if you buy a new reader), you pay the nominal fee again.  If you want two simultaneous copies, you have to pay the original ownership fee again.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: flipper on September 12, 2012, 02:25:28 PM
When I can get free downloads from the library, I might think about trying it  :P. 

But then again, I do purchase books from authors I like (Stephenson, Kingsolver, Moore, Trigiani, etc.), the library is more for older works where the authors have already made their buttload or are so long dead that I don't see a reason for anyone to get paid.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on September 12, 2012, 02:43:58 PM
When I can get free downloads from the library, I might think about trying it  :P. 

You probably can.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on September 12, 2012, 08:22:21 PM
Every author I've ever heard say anything on the topic has said that while sales are great, they mostly just want as many people as possible to read their stuff.  Even Harlan Freaking Ellison says that.

I'm not saying their stuff should be pirated.  But I've never heard an author object to the library or to used book stores.  I'm sure there are a few out there who object, but they must be a tiny minority.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on September 17, 2012, 11:38:49 AM
Finally read Anansi Boys (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anansi_Boys). Finished last night. :detta:

The down side is, spiders. Spiders EVERYWHERE. EVERYWHERE, I TELL YOU. Black widow in the garage, something like it in my gym bag, 3' wide orb web above the garbage can outside.

AAAAH.


AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on October 07, 2012, 07:27:34 PM
John Dies at the End (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Dies_at_the_End).  It's pretty confusing.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: flipper on October 09, 2012, 04:56:04 PM
Read Be Different by John Elder Robison.  Started HHGTTG Original Radio Scripts today.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Hisey on October 31, 2012, 04:54:58 AM
I like paying for nothing.
I am too time-strapped to get to the library.
SO.. best site ever:

Kindle buffet: http://www.weberbooks.com/kindle/ (http://www.weberbooks.com/kindle/)

Has links to current Kindle freebies.
I've found quite a few decent books this way, granted they aren't blockbusters or anything, but most if it is 25487964 times better than 50 shades of grey.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: mo on October 31, 2012, 08:23:10 PM
I meant to post this earlier and forgot about it. Maybe it's not news to y'all, but I just recently noticed it. I don't have a reader, so I haven't been able to take advantage of it, but there's been several interesting articles on there that I've been meaning to get around to reading.

Quote
Launched in April 2010, Longform.org (http://longform.org/) posts new and classic non-fiction articles, curated from across the web, that are too long and too interesting to be read on a web browser.

Longform supports “Read Later” saving to Readability, Instapaper, Pocket, and the Kindle.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on October 31, 2012, 08:31:49 PM
Too interesting to be read with a browser?  :lol:


Back when it was still a cool markup language, I used to download a lot of stuff in HTML and read it with a browser.  I used to use the browser sometimes to read RTF files I didn't intend to edit, a long time ago, but I can't remember which browser that was.  I just checked, and the version of Opera I have on this machine right now apparently can't render RTF.

:nonplused:


edit:  Obviously I still download HMTL docs and read them with the browser.  I meant non-webpage docs much longer than a typical webpage.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on November 01, 2012, 11:47:05 AM
We were cleaning out our bargain carts, and I often feel a compulsion to rescue dollar or fifty-cent books that have been out there for years on end.  The carts have a lot of weak books, but also just a lot of unfortunate ones, the things that slip through the cracks.

A couple of weeks ago I rescued Night Cries, by Terry Krueger, from the mid-80s.  It looked like a run-of-the-mill B-tier horror novel.  I gave it a chance, and it was worth my time.  It's kind of a high-concept semi-Lovecraftian semi-academic werewolf story.  Lots of anthropological and archeological commentary, some of which seems to be real and some of which seems conjectural / tailored to the story.  Man Into Wolf as a horror novel, basically.

A lot of the book is very well done.  A few parts are a bit rough.  The final act doesn't quite live up to the intellectual intrigue of the academic puzzle the story poses, and the story picks up a little too much speed just as it's getting a lot more complicated. 

So it's not perfect, but it's above average.  The subject matter happens to be a pet favorite of mine, and I didn't hate the book's treatment of it, whereas most modern werewolf stories fail to impress me.  I'd read another book by the same author, although I'm not sure there are any out there.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Hisey on November 01, 2012, 06:05:06 PM
amazon says that's the only one.. fwiw
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on November 01, 2012, 07:40:14 PM
Yeah.  I hope it's because the author lost the writing bug and not because this book sold poorly and ended the writing career.  I'm often amazed at how frequently I find 'unknown' books that are way better than most bestsellers (Naked Came The Sasquatch always leaps to mind, even though I haven't read it in forever), and if I go up and down the shop's aisles I can always find books with reviews proclaiming the author the Next Big Thing . . . and it's a book almost no one remembers, and there are no more by that author.

The publishing industry is hell.  Even though I make my living (such as it is) from print books, it does seem likely that what's next offers more hope.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Hisey on November 01, 2012, 09:37:34 PM
independent or self-publishing?
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on November 01, 2012, 09:46:34 PM
Electronic.  Since maybe 1980, SF writers have dreamed in print about a publishing industry where anyone could trivially publish anything, readers could sift at will (for pennies or for free) and upvote what they liked, and you could find what you'd like by picking from the most popular or from the flavors you preferred.

I don't think the print publishers generally took it too seriously when this was the case with webcomics and fanfic -- although I know some SF editors took it seriously even in the early 90s, although they knew it wasn't going to happen immediately.  But it's part of the reason for all the foofaraw in front of the Supreme Court right now.

Right now they're trying to make it illegal to share or resell copyrighted material.  Then they're going to try to control copyrights themselves.  Maybe make it so the distributor controls the content, instead of the creator owning it.  We'll see. 

They want everything to be Kindlish:  You only rent a temporary right to use a single instance of art when you 'buy' it.  They can terminate that at will.  Ideally, to them, you won't ever be able to transfer it up to a new device without paying for it again, either.  Eventually, most likely, that will be replaced by an upstart using cloud sourcing of content, and you'll have a license that lets you download it whenever, to whatever, one instance at a time, perhaps for a limited duration.  Which would still be evil compared to buying a book, much less free text, but it would be less inconvenient.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: flipper on November 02, 2012, 03:18:47 PM
If libraries are legal, why can't the public sector provide free of charge cloud libraries?  The infrastructure would be hella cheaper than brick and mortar libraries.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on November 02, 2012, 05:09:52 PM
The industry's public view of that would be that a library buys a book and loans it to one person at a time, whereas they don't trust electronic copies to be used equally fairly.

More realistically, they figure that almost no one uses the library, so it doesn't matter what a library does.  But people would use an electronic library a lot, and that could hurt sales, even if no one figured out how to copy the ebooks.

Something more like Netflix's model might work.  And an all-text book would trivially fit on a flash card.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Sidious on November 02, 2012, 07:17:14 PM
I've been reading this (http://www.amazon.com/Choke-Chuck-Palahniuk/dp/0385720920/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1351901755&sr=8-1&keywords=choke) lately.  I'm about 2/3 of the way through it.

It's depressing, and yet I can't put it down, because I actually identify with some of it.

At this point, I'm actually kind of hurrying through it so that I can finish it and read something else.  Some of the main character's psyche is a little close to home for me.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Hisey on November 04, 2012, 08:21:58 PM
The books I've read of his are like that also. Unhappy stories, for sure.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on December 01, 2012, 10:09:18 PM
Recently read a couple:  The Grey Ones, by the fairly amazing John Lymington (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Lymington), who had a hell of a career.  The Grey Ones is a short 1960 SF novel in which a whole town goes mad at once, seemingly except for one man who has to try to figure out what's happened and how to stay alive.  The premise and setup are pretty great, and then the book goes downhill a bit as it explains the situation.  The explanation doesn't exactly hold together seamlessly, although it has a few great moments.


Also read Krampus, by Brom, who I knew was a fantasy artist, but I didn't know he could write.  Turns out he can.  Krampus is a reworking of Xmas myths from a mostly Nordic perspective, and it reads like an improved Dean Koontz novel.  I wasn't as happy with the last act as I could have been, but I really can't complain.  The story has some very fresh zip to it, and it moves right along.  Early on there were some bits that had me thinking "He'll never pull this off."  And I was wrong.

The edition I read was a pre-release reviewer's copy, which had a bunch of full-page illustrations, too.  I hope they make it into the published edition, which I gather is just out on shelves now.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: flipper on December 01, 2012, 11:50:37 PM
Reading book 2 of the Mongoliad.  So far so good.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on December 07, 2012, 12:25:55 PM
I finally called up Cocks Communications and ganked the cable TV service, saving me ~$50 a month I really truly need right now. Still have internets, but I think this means I'll be posting in this thread a lot more and that's all kinds of good.

I just finished The Man Within My Head by my neighbor Pico Iyer (best known as Time's travel writer). It is ostensibly about the late English novelist Graham Greene, but in reality (and it took me a while to figure this out) it is an autobiography of Iyer as he sees himself, which is some kind of analog of Greene. It's a pretty weird conceit for an autobiography, but as Iyer points out repeatedly it is not original in any way, and in fact other people have done the same thing involving Greene. Something about Greene was quite fascinating in a very deep way to these people, and in particular to Iyer. The other weird thing about it is that it is punctuated by major life events that have deeply touched Iyer - most of which are the major wildfires that we've had here. So when he talks about the trauma of his family's home burning down in the Painted Cave fire in 1990, I know exactly what he's talking about, as I watched the house burn too, in person, from mine, and found it pretty traumatic myself. The house was (and is, after being rebuilt), an easily seen landmark on the ridge that the old stage road runs up. It's here (http://goo.gl/maps/iOAUp) (he said, creepy-stalkerily).

Anyway, it's interesting. The parallels mainly consist of the fact that Iyer and Greene went to the same 500-year-old English public school, where they were both educated to lead an Empire that, by the time Iyer graduated, had evaporated. This led to a fairly rootless life for them and their peers, who basically went out into a world that they didn't like much and that barely tolerated them, etc. There's some symbolism in there having to do with the fact that Iyer did try to set down some roots of his own, only to have them repeatedly catch fire. He now lives in Tokyo, but his mom still lives in the house (parents were academics, professors of some sort, at an educational institution in Santa Barbara, which is why they moved here). I found it very interesting that nothing at all was made of the fact that he is quite obviously ethnically Indian and probably the only one in his English school - even though this certainly must be a part of the whole fish-out-of-water thing that he and Greene both suffered from. Or maybe not: perhaps Iyer was totally assimilated and was embraced by his English classmates (certainly some are still fast friends, as he writes about, sharing near-fatal car wrecks in the Andes and Ethiopia, etc).

Makes me want to read more Greene, as I've only read Our Man in Havana and The Quiet American. And Greene does have a weird effect upon people - no less than John Le Carré basically copied Our Man in Havana to write The Tailor of Panama and said so in the introduction. So far Greene has not grabbed me in any way, but I think it's worth another try.

I'm currently cracking open John McPhee's Annals of the Former World, which is a collection of all of his books and essays concerned with geology - Basin and Range, Assembling California, and some others - it's monumental and nerdy as hell, which is just what I need right now after so much moral ambiguity and weird coincidence.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on December 07, 2012, 01:31:21 PM
Quote
they were both educated to lead an Empire that, by the time Iyer graduated, had evaporated. This led to a fairly rootless life for them and their peers, who basically went out into a world that they didn't like much and that barely tolerated them, etc.

Happens repeatedly.  Over here, it's the central theme of the Lost Generation and Gen X, and whatever the first post-Revolution generation was called (I forget).


I just finished We Have Always Lived in the Castle, by Shirley Jackson, which I hadn't read since I was a kid.  It's good.  Borderline depressing, but good.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on December 12, 2012, 03:40:17 PM
Recently read Richard Laymon's After Midnight and Guy Delisle's Pyongyang.  Very different, both good.

After Midnight is one of Laymon's One Damn Thing After Another novels, with little plot cohesion -- it feels like he wrote it by making it up as he went along.  He was pretty good at that, so it's not a bad thing, but it can get a little exhausting.  In this one, a young woman who's all alone in a big house in the woods is harassed by a crazy naked prowler.  When she's had enough, she gets a Civil War saber off the wall and goes out to defend herself in a proactive manner, and . . . after that it's one damn thing after another.

It's entertaining, but it's not his best book.


Pyongyang is a graphic novel describing the author's experience working as a consultant at a North Korean animation company.  If you've heard stuff about North Korea, this will confirm a lot of it; it's crazy stuff.  Delisle doesn't actually comment on it too much.  Mostly he just made little summaries and sketches of things he saw while he was there.  There isn't really a lot of narrative.

But North Korea is so messed up that it can't help but be interesting.  The book he brings with him on his trip is 1984, which is apt.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on December 12, 2012, 04:06:23 PM
I read Vol. 2 of The Walking Dead because the library hasn't sent me vol. 1 yet.  It was like 2 seasons all at once.  There was no sense of how much time was passing.  In one panel, they just got to the farm.  In the next panel, they'd been there three weeks.  I hate the way that random words are bolded in comic books.  All in all, meh.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: phyre on December 12, 2012, 04:16:40 PM
Yeah, I've been zipping through the Walking Dead graphic novels also; a lot of stuff gets packed in to just a few pages. I'm a little annoyed how each of them ends on some kind of full-page cliffhanger thing, and the next edition might or might not make a huge deal out of it. I mean, I've got the next one right here, so I'm not missing much in between, but I can imagine how people must feel when they have to wait a month to find out what happens next.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: stormneedle on December 12, 2012, 04:23:00 PM
Diane Duane's updated the first couple of the Young Wizards series, and is working on the rest. The OCR isn't perfect though, and it's bothering me just a tad.

I'm reading a lot of younger fiction lately. It's not completely intentional; I like serial pieces and they seem to be a bigger market for that sort of work. While I'd like to re-read Modesitt's chaos and order mage books, those are buried in storage and I'm not quite willing to re-purchase them electronically yet.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on December 12, 2012, 04:27:46 PM
Quote
The OCR isn't perfect though

This is one of the saddest things I've heard in a long time.

Good YA fiction is often terrific for any reader.  A lot of 'adult' SF/F is bogged down with tedious crap, padded with dull verbiage to increase the profitable wordcount, and/or Serious Business with extra misery heaped on top of the story.  YA often just has better genre conventions.

I still haven't read Modesitt.  Tor really screwed him over.  His novels all have interchangeable looks, and most editions don't have blurbs (SO stupid) or series listings.  If you pick one up, you don't know what it's about, or if it's a standalone or Book Three out of six or what.  I used to go to cons where he was a guest, and lots of people would be complaining about that.  Tor doesn't do that with any other author, that I've ever noticed.  Really strange.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: phyre on December 12, 2012, 04:57:00 PM
Man-Kzin Wars (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Man-Kzin_Wars), which isn't by Larry Niven, as I'd originally thought (it's an anthology format using stories from other authors set in Niven's universe, with a couple by Niven). I'm really enjoying it; it stands up in spite of the stories being a little dated; none of them rely heavily on the technology to make the story, although all are "hard SF" in the way that the technology they do employ has some scientific basis in fact. The format of having other authors write the stories is entertaining; no one author has too much control over the perspective of the entire series, so each story is a different view of the entire struggle, sometime just a microcosm of the Wars set against a larger backdrop, sometimes including massive fleet actions spanning years of maneuvering through the voids of space.

Recommended.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on December 12, 2012, 05:11:30 PM
Yeah, I've read some of those, although my memory suggests that some of the later volumes are weaker.

Niven's one of those SF writers whose 'universe' is sufficiently neatly mapped out that it's only fair to let other writers play in it.  Professional fanfic.

(Actually, Niven has at least two SF 'universes', the 'bigger' Known Space one and then the one that the Draco Tavern stories are set in.  Do the Svetz time-traveling-animal-collector stories count as their own universe?  I'm not geeky enough to have kept careful track.)
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: phyre on December 14, 2012, 09:40:10 AM
Well, this reading stint is part of a broader foray into Niven's fiction. I've read his work before, but in no organized fashion or particular order (other than reading Ringworld before Ringworld Engineers). I became interested in Known Space and decided I had to start somewhere, so I read The Gift From Earth, then picked up Man-Kzin Wars. I'm running through the anthologies in order right now, but if I find you're right and the later collections drop off in quality, I might digress into other Niven-authored works.

One reason to love BitTorrent; I can get these collections free and just load them on e-reader; then pick through them at leisure. Particularly beneficial for the older ones.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on December 14, 2012, 10:39:26 AM
His early stuff is good, and his middle stuff is great.  At some point in the 90s, his later stuff devolved to not quite as good -- I haven't read the last Ringworld book (or two?), but the first two are good, and then they start to drop off.  Destiny's Road disappointed me pretty hard.  But he did an impressive job with Crashlander, in the mid-90s, which is a difficult fix-up novel of short stories from a wide range of years.  Especially tough to do in SF.

His personal politics also got creepier over the years, but it's not obvious (or necessarily relevant) in the writing.  Anyway, the Known Space stuff is the best, overall.

Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on December 19, 2012, 12:23:57 PM
The Loveliest Dead, a horror novel by Ray Garton (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ray_garton), who I mostly think of as a splatterpunk writer.  I'm not a big fan of most splatterpunk, which, to me, is generally the literary equivalent of torture porn -- it's trying so hard to be shocking and graphic that it fails to seem like anything other than artifice.  I haven't read much of Garton's stuff, and Loveliest Dead had incredible reviews, so I figured what the hell.

Loveliest Dead isn't splatterpunk, at least.  A family struggling to make ends meet moves into the former home of the wife's estranged father, and naturally the house is haunted.  Some elements were great, and some were pretty tired, and it didn't all go together for me, but it wasn't bad.  Just wasn't really my thing.

The good elements include some of the characterization (mostly the supporting characters) and the way a variety of 'psychics' and experts go through the house, with different results.  The husband character was annoying, though, and mostly served to slow down the plot.  I also didn't like the foreshadowing, which was too explicit, removing most of the suspense of what was going to happen. 

Beyond that, what did happen was never enough of a payoff.  The house is haunted, and we immediately know it's haunted, and so do the characters, but the haunting stops being interesting before the book is half over.  It's like he mostly ran out of ideas for what could happen next.

There was something about the book, too, that was unpleasant in the wrong way.  A horror story naturally has to have bad things in it, but it has to justify its use of those things.  This is the major area where splatterpunk often goes bad, in fact.  This one wasn't deeply appalling -- unlike, say, Dan Simmons' otherwise mostly excellent Carrion Comfort, which is really entertaining until he starts putting real-life horrors from the Holocaust in there. 

But Loveliest Dead is just kind of flip about pedophilia and torture and murder in ways that didn't quite play.  It doesn't treat it as a joke, but it definitely comes across as just an excuse for the haunting.  I don't know, it might not be a problem for most readers.

Still, I admire Garton's output, and it's not a bad book.  It just didn't work for me.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on December 19, 2012, 05:17:51 PM
This One is Mine (http://www.amazon.com/This-One-Is-Mine-Novel/dp/B005EP279I/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top)

I've never so enjoyed a book about characters I loathed so much.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: flipper on December 20, 2012, 12:38:30 AM
I just finished Mongoliad book 2 and am starting Some Remarks (http://www.amazon.com/Some-Remarks-Essays-Other-Writing/dp/0062024434/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1355981780&sr=1-1-fkmr0&keywords=some+thoughts+neal+stephenson)

So far so good.  The first piece was entitled Arsebestos and yes, I'm really paying the price physically for the electronic plantation to which I'm enslaved.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: vox8 on December 20, 2012, 08:46:43 AM
This One is Mine (http://www.amazon.com/This-One-Is-Mine-Novel/dp/B005EP279I/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top)

I've never so enjoyed a book about characters I loathed so much.

I just read the Amazon blurb and I already hate the characters.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on December 20, 2012, 06:19:18 PM
I think the blurb was pretty kind, too.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: vox8 on December 25, 2012, 10:03:53 AM
Coming back from Mississippi I was pretty desperate for something to do so I had to look at my Ipad to see what I might have randomly downloaded in the past to read. Because I don't have a data package or anything.

What did I end up reading?

The Jungle by Upton Sinclair.

Holy crap, that was depressing. Also, it should be mandatory reading for every jackass who says we need less regulation and that we should do away with the FDA/USDA et all.

Can I get a nice hardback copy of it with which to beat Ron Paul about the head and chest?
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on December 25, 2012, 02:22:24 PM
Poor Sinclair.  He thought he was writing a book promoting socialism and workers' rights, but everyone freaked out about the human meat.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on December 25, 2012, 09:46:57 PM
There's a great book called something like The Good Old Days -- They Were Terrible that's all about inobvious ways in which life wasn't great in the early 20th Century.  It's hilarious, and alarming, and depressing, and it sure as hell makes the case for regulation.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on January 01, 2013, 09:24:45 PM
Mentioned these before, and I realize this won't interest everyone, but I've nearly finished reading Azumanga Daioh (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Azumanga_daioh), which is the sort of manga I mostly prefer nowadays -- character-driven humor, generally without fantasy elements.  Azumanga Daioh is about a group of high school girls, and that's about the whole thing. 

There's one minor character who's male (a teacher who's a little too interested in young girls), and some male classmates occasionally appear in the background, but this is about the girls and two of their female teachers.  It's not about secret girl stuff, either.  It's basically just a sitcom about teenaged girls, plus a precocious pre-teen who's skipped several grades.  They have good personalities and do and say funny things, but half the appeal is nostalgia.  The author (who's a man) has an amazing ability to remember what it was like to be in high school.

Unusually (especially for manga brought to the US), it's mostly written in four-panel sequences, like a Western comic strip.  Unexpectedly, this works brilliantly.  (Incidentally, the anime of the series is also terrific.  Well, I can't vouch for the dubbed version.)

I've read both the ADV English-language version and the Yen Press version.  They're both good and each have slight advantages, but I prefer the ADV version.  I like the translation a bit better.  The Yen version made awkward choices I don't like for two of the most distinctive characters -- and partway through switched to a really horrible font for the dialogue of one of them.  Not sure what happened there.


I've also been reading another manga by the same author called Yotsuba&!, which instead is about a five-year-old girl who is basically enthusiastic about everything.  It's kind of a female Japanese Calvin & Hobbes, minus Hobbes, and with a younger kid.  It's brilliant.  Again, I've read some ADV and some Yen, and I think they're more evenly matched in this case.  Either is good.  A poster of nothing but Yotsuba's facial expressions would definitely go up on my wall.  It's a much longer series, and I'm fortunately not even halfway through.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on January 01, 2013, 09:36:28 PM
I also recently started reading The Road.  I know it was popular and won the Pulitzer, but I'm not liking it at all so far.  I'm about 35 pages in.  I feel a certain sympathy for the characters, but not a whole lot.  I can't tell if the father is meant to be . . . not that bright, I guess, or if he's supposed to be more affected mentally by the situation than is obvious.  He seems unable to think well; he's terrible at what he's trying to do.  I've considered that maybe his stated goal isn't his real goal, but it hasn't helped.

Mostly, though, the style is like picking through garbage.  I mean, it obviously works for a lot of people, which is great, but it's killing me.  I can't read more than a couple of pages at a time, and I'm really not confident I'll finish.  The random use or non-use of punctuation, random clause structure, sentence fragments or wandering sentences that don't really make sense even upon re-reading . . . it just makes me want to slap the book.

I get that the story is sort of told from the father's point of view (sort of, but not solidly), and I get that he's . . . perturbed.  But it doesn't convince me.  It just feels contrived and badly put together.  It necessarily insists on comparison to Riddley Walker (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Riddley_Walker), and that doesn't do it any favors.  Riddley Walker is a difficult read, too, but for me it works vastly better.  The protagonist's voice makes more sense and the language is more controlled, for starters.

Anyway, maybe The Road will grow on me, and I'm trying to give it every chance, but I think it might not be the Cormac McCarthy book for me.  :shrug:
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on January 01, 2013, 11:25:41 PM
If you can't bear the style then no McCarthy is for you.  All of his books are that way.  The Road is the only one I've gotten through.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on January 02, 2013, 01:02:35 AM
I read No Country for Old Men at sea and I considered throwing myself off the boat there for a while. Not feeling a real need to read more McCarthy for a while.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on January 02, 2013, 09:00:18 AM
The story isn't depressing me.  Reading the pages is upsetting.  Someone told me I'd be surprised it won the Pulitzer (as if I know what it takes to win a Pulitzer), but I keep thinking that I'm surprised it got published.

It's just exactly not my kind of thing.  But I've read lots of post-apocalyptic books, and since this particular one has gotten such acclaim, I really want to know if it's going to do anything remarkable.  I'm not at the point of reading the summary on Wikipedia yet, though.

I really disliked Grimus until maybe the last third of the book, and then I suddenly really liked it.  Of course, I might still dislike the first two-thirds if I re-read it.  :lol:
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: stormneedle on January 02, 2013, 12:01:02 PM
I'd never actually read "Brave New World", just saw part of a movie of it once. About as subtle as a sledge hammer - maybe there are aspects I haven't noticed yet.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on January 02, 2013, 01:23:01 PM
I read it in high school and loved it.  Picked it up again a few years ago and couldn't get through more than a few chapters.  ugh.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: flipper on January 02, 2013, 01:59:37 PM
I read both The Road and No Country For Old Men At Sea (just kidding about the At Sea part, but that's how I read HMOF's post).  I liked them both.  In the former, the bond between the father and son really struck me.  I also liked the descriptive style which took me away to that post-apocalyptic scene.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: mo on January 02, 2013, 05:39:44 PM
Quote
No Country For Old Men At Sea

 :lol:
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: eldiem on January 02, 2013, 07:13:49 PM
I read Brave New World over the summer.

Didn't really understand how f-ed up it is that there's an actual drug product named "Soma" today.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on January 02, 2013, 07:21:36 PM
Quote
No Country For Old Men At Sea

 :lol:

Exactly :rollin:
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on January 02, 2013, 08:51:16 PM
I talked to half the staff at work today, and none of them have actually read Cormac McCarthy.  :shrug:  EL and her husband inhale post-apocalypse stories and such, and they have a copy, but they haven't read it yet.  There are so many post-apocalypse books to read . . . .  They haven't read Tevis's Mockingbird yet, either.  We didn't have a copy at the shop, but I think I have a loaner copy or two somewhere.


I read Brave New World in junior high, in high school for a class, and again in my 20s, but not since.  I liked it all three of those times.  :shrug:
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on January 05, 2013, 11:58:40 AM
We got in copies of Blood Meridian and No Country For Old Men today, and I read little snippets, and . . . for people who like that sort of thing, etc, etc, but I have a strong suspicion that I won't be finishing The Road.  :whatever:
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: TFJ on January 05, 2013, 03:47:54 PM
Anyway, maybe The Road will grow on me, and I'm trying to give it every chance, but I think it might not be the Cormac McCarthy book for me.  :shrug:

Blood Meridian is perhaps my favorite novel of all time. (OF ALL FUCKIN TIME!)

In a nearly blasphemous demonstration of my non-favoritism for the author or his work, I almost like the film version of No Country for Old Men better than the book. I nearly dislike All the Pretty Horses. The Road, though, I read several times (the film ain't bad actually!) I think the book is quite well made... don't understand why Oprah has anything to do with it or why Cormack has anything to do with her (http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xb74sg_cormac-mccarthy-bombs-on-the-oprah_creation#.UOiQO4njle4). I read The Road for the first time in a near suicidal state of drunken starvation, having not eaten for about 3-4 days and slamming down beer after beer while chain smoking. 

good times, good times. (not recommended)

Blood Meridian is probably ... maybe... one of the finest American novels ever written.  :trance:
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on January 05, 2013, 05:19:13 PM
That's as may be.  I can't say what goes on in it.  But, by my tastes, it might be the worst-written best novel of all time.  If he were in my Freshman Comp class, he'd either keep rewriting it or fail the class.

Mileage varies, and all, and there's nothing wrong with that.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: TFJ on January 05, 2013, 05:54:16 PM
The language of Blood Meridian is antiquated and weird, true. It's not going to win a prize for grammar. It's also bad ass.  If The Road fails you, maybe try that one before shutting the door on McCarthy. I think it's miles beyond his other work.

I can't wait/am terrified to see what they are doing with the film.

Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on January 05, 2013, 06:14:11 PM
Well, I see what he's doing.  It's just that, for me, I don't think he's making it work.  It's like the Noel Fielding / Russell Brand thing again:  Fielding makes a heavily and deliberately mannered style work brilliantly (for me), whereas Brand just seems like a colossal git who's trying too hard at a style he can't carry.  But Brand's gig works for a lot of people, and who am I to say it shouldn't?  It just really doesn't work for me.

Similarly, McCarthy's writing style, to me, seems like a kid who's pulling out all the stops to try to impress -- intentionally screwing up the grammar and punctuation, being gross and hyperbolic, and so on.  To me, it just seems affected and ill-advised, and occasionally in poor taste.  It doesn't convince me. 

I'm sure that if I liked his work more, then it would justify (to me) the excesses of his style.  I mean, again, Riddley Walker works for me, and so does Pogo, and Monty Python, and How To Be Topp, and lots of other hyperbolic, mannered stuff.  But with McCarthy, I try to read a paragraph, and I just literally keep saying "No, no, no, no!"  I almost want to slap his hands.  I've been trying and failing to think of a stylist whose style I like less.  I just really don't like it.  I can hardly even get to any story content in there.

It's the sort of thing that keeps me reading genre fiction, although I don't argue that it's better.  It just generally works better for me.  I clearly don't get a lot of what's considered the best of the mainstream, which I swear I'm not representing as a superior perspective.  (I still can't fathom why so many people went gaga over There Will Be Blood, for instance.)

Frankly, it tends to leave me a bit mystified at times.  One of his books that I saw today had a review by the Houston Chronicle on it that called McCarthy "our best living writer", and I didn't sneer at it; I just wondered.  I'd have to be having angel-assisted vision-blurring orgasms on every other page to get there.  Clearly, they're getting something out of it that I can't crawl through the brambles to find.

The movie of No Country For Old Men certainly had some excellent moments and pieces, although I wasn't thrilled by the plot structure.  I might try Blood Meridian eventually, but . . . not soon.  :shrug: 
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: TFJ on January 05, 2013, 06:36:59 PM
In ten or fifteen years when it's your favorite novel OF ALL FUCKIN TIME! I will say I tole yew so mang ;)

I don't know, I think these things can be circumstantial. I read it at just the right/wrong time in my life and the aesthetic of the novel resonated with me. Maybe it will never resonate with you. I can say that I started to read it again about two years ago and couldn't ride it out all the way through.


Similarly, I just don't dig Murakami the same way I used to.
(http://i.imgflip.com/1bhf.jpg)
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: TFJ on January 05, 2013, 06:45:08 PM
Fiction-wise, I most recently read Day of the Locust and Miss Lonelyhearts. I can appreciate the "hard-boiled" tone, but definitely think it would have resonated with me much more about 10 years ago.

Right now, I'm reading William James.  :rolleyes:
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on January 05, 2013, 06:59:28 PM
I hope I'm not too late to read Murakami!  :eek:

I also still haven't gotten around to reading The Unconsoled (it's . . . around here somewhere), and I haven't read any other Ishiguro, and someone told me at a party maybe six months ago that if I would have liked it ten years ago, well, then I probably won't like it now.  :shrug:

The Road has definitely made me think about literature.  I can definitely say that.  When I was talking to EL about it, and about surreal post-apocalyptic character journeys in general, it made me think of Dhalgren (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dhalgren), by Sam Delany.  I really liked that when I read it in maybe 1990, but I've never picked it up again, and I suspect I might not get through it if I started it again now.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: TFJ on January 05, 2013, 07:18:42 PM
I covet your Murakami-cherry.

(wtf  :confused: what a ... BC!)

Kafka on the Shore is a solid favorite, followed by Wind-up Bird Chronicles, Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, and A Wild Sheep Chase. Of Murakami's work, I most recently read 1Q84. I did enjoy it. But I didn't ... have angel assisted orgasms or anything. :lol:

A friend has solidly recommended Republic of Wine by Mo Yan, which is on my list.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: flipper on January 05, 2013, 09:42:58 PM
Haven't read Murakami either.  Remind me in six months if I've exhausted the queue.  I'll also give Blood Meridian and try since I liked The Road and No County For Old Men At Sea.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on January 05, 2013, 11:57:07 PM
:galm:

Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: flipper on January 06, 2013, 12:24:13 AM
I think we should write the dude and demand he change the title.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on January 11, 2013, 08:23:21 PM
Over the years I've read about half a dozen books by strange SF author Ian Watson (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ian_Watson_(author)), although, it turns out, apparently mostly not the ones that are more famous.  Well, it's just by chance.  I liked Deathhunter well enough and found the Black Current books . . . weirdly constructed but very readable.

Recently I read The Power, which I just happened across in the Horror section and then noticed was by Watson.  The title isn't very suggestive, and the cover illustration wasn't impressive, so it was surprising I gave it a second glance.

It, too, is a strange book.  It takes place in the 70s or maybe early 80s in a small English town where a bunch of the locals are sort of post-hippie, semi-socialist peaceniks, objecting to nuclear war in general and the nearby American military base in particular.

Odd, unpleasant, supernatural things start happening.  And then there's a nuclear war and the world ends -- except for in the village.  Oh, most people die, but they keep right on trying to go about their business as if they weren't dead and rotting.  But the little circle of peaceniks is still alive, trying to figure out why and what's going on and what's next.

The story is mysterious and unexpected enough that it kept me reading, although it's fairly slow for quite a bit, and, honestly, you'd think there'd be more description of the end of the world.  The gruesome parts are deeply gruesome.  The story never stops being really weird but eventually makes a sort of sense, although I didn't find it entirely satisfying. 

I think this is a book in the vein of A Nuclear World Is An Insane World, and I understand the sentiment, but all in all I'm not sure it quite works.  It has some impressive moments, and I'm not sorry I read it, but I think it may have been a much timelier book back in 1987.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: stormneedle on February 03, 2013, 10:05:28 PM
I finally (six years later) started using LibraryThing (uspoulos). I've only added the ebooks from B&N and O'Reilly - and I have a lot I bought and haven't actually read, yet.

It's going to take a while to add everything - the bookshelves in the back room are buried, and I know some of the books are boxed up (most of Pratchett's Discworld is actually in one box, in order - but which one?).

Currently? A Wizard Abroad, Sister of the Dead, and Training Kit for 70-461.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: TFJ on February 04, 2013, 10:13:32 AM
Finally started Republic of Wine (the novel)

Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on February 04, 2013, 10:52:28 AM
I read a kids' anthology of horror stories, which was uneven but pretty good, and a Robert Bloch anthology, which was quite fine. 

Also read Bad Boy From Rosebud, by Gary Lavergne, a true crime book about Kenneth McDuff (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kenneth_McDuff), a jackass serial killer whose case was used to grotesquely ramp up Texas's prison system. 

McDuff was one of those dumbass hick sexual psychopaths whose career was prolonged because of the rambling randomness of his crimes, which mostly targeted prostitutes and were committed across various jurisdictions.  His case was notable mostly because he was released from prison after 13 years despite having been given three death sentences and a 25-year sentence, and he started killing again in less than a week.

The book is . . . OK.  It's thorough, and it's not one of those true crime books that goes out of its way to be lurid and melodramatic, but it isn't tremendously well constructed.  A lot of the information in it probably wasn't needed, and the timeline of events is often unclear.  The Wikipedia page is more interesting, all in all.  Also, the book takes a pretty fawning attitude toward law enforcement but inadvertantly makes them look pretty damned bad, not so much for how they pursued and caught McDuff but just in general.


Next up, I was supposed to start John Dies At The End, but instead I started one of John DeChancie's Castle Perilous books from the 1980s.  I'm also about halfway through an SF anthology (I forget the title) of stories from the 60s and 70s.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on February 04, 2013, 12:23:37 PM
His case was notable mostly because he was released from prison after 13 years despite having been given three death sentences and a 25-year sentence, and he started killing again in less than a week.

Wait wait, let me guess ... WHITE
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: mo on February 04, 2013, 01:01:42 PM
I'd guess white is a given, the question is who was he related to?
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on February 04, 2013, 03:20:57 PM
There's some claim that his crazy mother bribed the parole board, but it's worth noting that he was up for parole several times before he was actually let out. 

No, what happened in Texas -- and has happened in many places, over and over, because we are a stupid species.  It's in the middle of happening here right now, in fact.  What happened is that people got into office by being Tough On Crime.  The prisons filled up, and then overfilled. 

Then, inevitably, the cost of all those prisoners became impossible, and the prison conditions became untenable, and a combination of budget cuts and federal regulation made them either release a crapton of convicts or build a crapton of prisons.  And you can't build prisons overnight.  Especially since inspections had revealed that many of their prisons were unconstitutionally bullshit.

Of course, once they had all those new prisons built, they had to keep them full, and the corporations that made billions in the prison game didn't want to stop.  But soon, I'm sure, budgets will require some governor start dumping the convicts onto the streets again.  The Dems usually take the blame for this, mostly because they're terrible at politics.

The kid who stole a few thousand dollars' worth of comics from our shop got nicked about 2.5 years ago for multiple home invasions.  He got caught during the last one, which, impressively, was a judge's house.  Well, we found out that he just got busted yet again for multiple home invasions . . . and, yet again, the house they caught him in the process of robbing was a judge's house.  But not the same judge.  At least there's that.

Hard to believe he was already out of jail from the first time around.  But this state is broke, oddly enough.  And the prisons are full of people who got busted for pot.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: the other andrea on February 09, 2013, 05:17:45 PM
I can't tell you how mad the pot laws make me.

The fact that marijuana is a SCHEDULE 1 controlled substance is so absurd -- "The drug or other substance has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States."

But COCAINE is listed as schedule 2 -- "The drug or other substance has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States or a currently accepted medical use with severe restrictions."  :eyeroll:
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on February 09, 2013, 06:21:38 PM
Yes.  Moronic.  They must be smoking too much weed.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on February 10, 2013, 08:16:10 PM
The Casual Vacancy for book club.  This prose is very purple.  It's not that I'm disappointed that it's not another Harry Potter book.  It is entirely different from Potter, so I usually forget that I'm reading Rowling.  It's just quite overwrought.  The characters are mostly very unpleasant, but I think this is going to be one of those books with Characterization and Unfolding Secrets and such.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on February 10, 2013, 08:25:48 PM
I admit that I'm curious what else she'll write. 


HS is halfway through The Road, and she really likes it.  She says the style is OK to her, except that she can't stand his refusal to use apostrophes correctly.  Why that in particular bothers her whereas the hundreds of other can't-be-bothered stuff doesn't, who knows?  But otherwise she thinks it's fine.

She said, "You missed out on a really graphic description of cannibalism."  I said, "Yeah, I figured."  :lol:  GO CRY, EMO BOOK.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: flipper on February 11, 2013, 02:00:39 AM
I'm starting Sacre Bleu by Christopher Moore tomorrow.  Just finished Some Remarks by Neal Stephenson.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on February 15, 2013, 04:15:12 PM
SO after HS and I disagreed about The Road, she challenged me to name a major 20th Century American novel other than a genre novel that I had read and really liked.

And I thought, OK, that's easy.  :hmm:  Well, I don't read much non-genre fiction.  And my memory does not work on command.  Well.  Hmm.  Fuck.

Not that non-genre fiction is necessarily better, yadda yadda, but I know what she's getting at.  And mostly I was thinking of British authors.

OK, Jack London.  I really, really like White Fang.  Yes, it's told from the point of view of the dog (a half-wolf counts as a dog), but it's shelved in General Fiction.  Or Shirley Jackson.  Poe!  Oh, wrong century, and arguably . . . well, we primarily shelve him in General Fiction.  Vonnegut . . . but all the Vonnegut I've read is really SF.  Thorne Smith?  Faulkner's short stories aren't bad, and I liked Old Man and the Sea OK.  No, she says I have to have really liked it.

Probably I'm just forgetting a bunch of authors.  But, fine, I know Steinbeck is her favorite.  So I said, OK, I'll read any Steinbeck novel of your choice -- except not Grapes of Wrath, because I have so many books to read. 

Naturally she picked East of Eden.  620 pages.  Crap.  :lol:  Good thing she didn't say Of Mice and Men, which I'd forgotten about.  I was thinking of the short Steinbeck novels that I'd read a million years ago, like Cannery Row.  No such luck.

I was supposed to read John Dies At The End next, but I guess it'll have to wait.  East of Eden is on deck.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: flipper on February 15, 2013, 06:15:54 PM
I detest most Steinbeck.  But as for General Fiction novelists, I really like Barbara Kingsolver and Adriana Trigiani.  Oh and I enjoyed Water For Elephants (forgot the author).  You could give those a try.  I also enjoyed Rebecca Wells' Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood and another that I forgot that was about a cosmetologist.

But mostly I like the speculative fiction stylings of Stephenson, Moore, Pratchett, Adams, et al. and more non-fiction stuff like biographies, special interest (food, biotech, business, economics, etc.)
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on February 15, 2013, 06:26:44 PM
Yeah, I mostly read SF/F, Detective/Mystery, Horror, and non-fiction.  Most non-genre fiction bores the shit out of me.  Regular people in regular situations . . . I'm almost never surprised by anything in the book, and half the time I either hate the style or hate the characters.  :shrug:
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on February 16, 2013, 12:34:34 PM
OK, a customer was asking us for an SF/F book, which he thinks was the first in a series.  Google failed me spectacularly, but I figured maybe one of you people would recognize this.

He says he thinks it's from the 80s or early 90s.  The main character starts off as a blacksmith's apprentice.  His master has syphilis and goes crazy.  Then the character winds up on a ship, but the captain trades him for supplies -- specifically, he trades him to a group of creatures who, for religious reasons, infect him with a strange parasite.  The parasite makes you able to survive stuff that would normally kill you, and at one point the guy drinks everything a bar has to offer, including poisonous things.

Eventually, he becomes a pirate king.

Of course, some of this might be misremembered.  Any ideas?
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: the other andrea on February 16, 2013, 05:49:21 PM
Strangely, it sounds familiar, but I can't offer any more than that.  :bummed:

I think you'll like East of Eden. I like Steinbeck -- to me, his style of writing is engrossing and realistic. I think I read it in two days, but that was back when I was a pre-teen and reading anything that was on my parent's, or their friends', bookshelves. It's still stuck in my mind after 35+ years.

East of Eden is particularly depraved -- or at least it was for its time -- thanks to the Cathy/Kate character. But I'm a fan of depravity. :shrug:
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: mybabysmomma on February 16, 2013, 07:34:27 PM
Kingsolver, bllllllleeeech.

Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: flipper on February 17, 2013, 11:24:37 PM
Kingsolver, bllllllleeeech.

Why?  I'm talking more her general fiction like The Lacuna, The Bean Trees, Poisonwood Bible, etc.  Her environmental fiction can be a bit preachy.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: mybabysmomma on February 19, 2013, 01:10:54 PM
I can't read her because I keep wanting to correct her writing.  I think her writing is horrible.  The stories are ok.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: flipper on February 19, 2013, 01:49:47 PM
Explains
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on February 19, 2013, 04:28:44 PM
Oh . . . that sounds like I won't like her stuff, then.

I don't know how weird this seems to non-grammarfreaks, but while I'm OK with descriptivist writing in dialogue (or monologue), I stumble over it in most of the rest of writing.  Even stuff that I'm theoretically all right with, or even sometimes do myself.

The one I notice constantly lately, without trying, is when a non-essential descriptive phrase following a conjunction is set off with just one comma rather than parenthetical commas.  In descriptive terms, yes, people often speak that way, with just that one pause.  But prescriptively, it's broken grammar; that comma does not make logical sense, and it doesn't parse properly.

Um, example:

    Bob went to the door, and because he was in a hurry, didn't grab his coat.

Grammatically, that punctuation is wrong.  The first comma is optional, since the subject of the second clause is the same as the first, but that's fine.  The second comma, though, separates the coordinating conjunction from its clause, and that's wrong. 

Really, it should be either this:

    Bob went to the door, and, because he was in a hurry, didn't grab his coat.

or this:

    Bob went to the door, and because he was in a hurry didn't grab his coat.

But one or the other.  You can replace the commas associated with the descriptive phrase with parentheses, which makes it clearer:

    Bob went to the door, and (because he was in a hurry) didn't grab his coat.

You wouldn't use just one parenthesis.  But in speech the single pause is common usage, so it proliferates even in formal writing -- journalism is lousy with this.  It's especially common with "but", probably because "but" seems to introduce an adverbial construction anyway.

    Bob went to the door, but because he was in a hurry, didn't grab his coat.

That seems natural because that "but" seems to be linked to the phrase "because he was in a hurry" as much as to the actual clause "[he] didn't grab his coat".



Tune in next week for another exciting episode of Mr Language Person Drives Himself Crazy, And No One Else Understands It.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: mybabysmomma on February 19, 2013, 04:38:16 PM
I don't know, you may like it.  If you look up her stuff on Amazon and do the "take a look inside" thing you can decide for yourself.  I think it's clunky and her writing gets in the way of what she's trying to say.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: mo on February 19, 2013, 05:24:11 PM
Quote
Tune in next week for another exciting episode of Mr Language Person Drives Himself Crazy, And No One Else Understands It.

 :lol:

Yeah, I was gonna say, sorry, I'm sure I get this wrong all the time, because what you say is correct looks wrong, and vice versa. Not that the commas in that sentence look anywhere near correct  :P
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on February 19, 2013, 06:22:18 PM
Yeah . . . the art of apposition has kind of been lost, for one thing.  They used to teach prescriptive writing, but then they started to feel that they were discouraging kids from writing altogether.  So they really toned it down.

I'm not a total traditionalist hardass, or I never would have written "So they really toned it down." as a standalone sentence -- or at least I would have put a comma after "So".  I'm mostly prescriptivist, but I don't necessarily worship any particular tradition.  I just do what I think is best.  Which is why I put non-essential punctuation outside quotation marks in casual writing, for instance.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: mo on February 22, 2013, 09:45:17 PM
Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us (http://healthland.time.com/2013/02/20/bitter-pill-why-medical-bills-are-killing-us/print/)

Jon Stewart interviewing the author (http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/thu-february-21-2013/steven-brill)

Everyone knows the healthcare system is f*cked, but this article is pretty amazing. Of course it will make you angry, depressed and feel helpless, but still, amazing  :P
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: feffer on February 22, 2013, 10:21:28 PM
An interwebs friend of mine had to take her husband to the ER last night for a sudden and terrifying medical emergency.  He'll be hospitalized for an undetermined amount of time.  He's the sole breadwinner and they have no insurance.  They also have a toddler and a 5-week-old baby.  They're already in medical debt for something unrelated.  She is, understandably, freaking out.  Somebody set up a donation site for them, and it already has over $2k in it, but that's not going to even touch it.   :(
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: mo on February 22, 2013, 11:54:24 PM
 :(

Yeah, you probably don't want to read that article.

One of the facts mentioned is that 60% of bankruptcies are due to medical bills.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: mybabysmomma on February 23, 2013, 10:50:57 AM
I thought it would be even higher than that.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on February 23, 2013, 01:03:45 PM
It probably doesn't consider elderly 'spend-down' to be bankruptcy, although, in essence, it is.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Hedaira on February 25, 2013, 03:53:44 PM
Omnibus editions of the first 9 Dresden Files.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on February 26, 2013, 12:26:53 PM
I've heard good things, although it's the sort of thing that, to me, looks like it's probably not going to be good, just because it's the sort of thing that's tough to pull off.  But if Butcher pulls it off well, then it's probably pretty damned good.

It's also the sort of thing that we always have people looking for, so I haven't read any of it.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: TFJ on March 01, 2013, 08:52:07 AM
finished Republic of Wine a little while back. I liked his style - Mo Yan. Of course every time I saw his name, I think of Mo. It's funny, weird, entertaining... I wouldn't recommend it though if you are trying to get off the sauce and are easily (or even not so easily) triggered by massive chunks of text that celebrates booze. It makes me wonder why my friend reccommended it to me - I guess he thinks I must be normal now.

Anyways, Mo Yan is pretty cool. I hate to compare to Murakami because they are both asian fiction writers... BUT. If you like Murakami, you may like Republic of Wine.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: robin on March 02, 2013, 02:59:08 PM
 "Anne Frank Beyond the Diary"  (A Photographic Rememberence ) 

 Don't know why, but for the last year, I've been drawn to this small book. It's a great browse... only 107 pages. Lots of photographs and excerpts from "Anne Frank's Diary", required reading for all 8th graders in 1968.  Not only were the Jews being systematically tortured or killed...Gypsies, Blacks, Mentaly incompetent...basically anyone who didn't, couldn't or wouldn't fit or conform within the confines of the German Nazi Party. It's scary to see how a government can sneak and eat like a cancer. Can't say you feel good after reading this.
  The authors of "Beyond the Diary", are Ruud van Rol and Rian Verhoeven (for the Anne Frank House in Germany)
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: mybabysmomma on March 04, 2013, 09:13:08 AM
Don't forget the Gays and their little pink triangles.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: mo on March 04, 2013, 09:44:37 AM
Embarrassing confession: I did not know that was the origin of the pink triangle  :redface:

Those crazy Nazi graphic designers got a little carried away, didn't they?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nazi_concentration_camp_badges#Table_of_camp_inmate_markings
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: flipper on March 04, 2013, 04:33:04 PM
Wow.  That was news to me too.  I knew about the numbers but that was it.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: robin on March 05, 2013, 12:36:02 AM
Wow... all I knew was jews had to wear the star badge. Had no idea about the coding or the different badges.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: vox8 on March 05, 2013, 08:24:36 AM
Yeah, I was wondering how much mileage they got out of the Jew/Jehovah's Witness badge?
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: mybabysmomma on March 05, 2013, 08:31:46 AM
I learned about that stuff from a young age.  When I was very little, one of our congregation members was a camp survivor.  She always dressed impeccably and I was always trying to get a look at her numbers.  Morbid I know.  She always wore long sleeves no matter the time of the year.  She got me hooked on coffee candies.  She was the sweetest woman.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on March 26, 2013, 11:08:40 AM
Read a couple lately that seem worth mentioning.

I'm always looking for detective novels I'll like, and I tried A Thousand Bones, by P J Parrish.  Hadn't read any of Parrish's books before.  (Parrish is actually a pseudonym for two sisters who write the books together.)  This one's apparently a little odd because it's told in flashback from the point of view of a woman their usual main character is dating, and it's set in Michigan, whereas most of their books are apparently set in Florida.

It's really a thriller, mostly, and a detective novel, and really not a mystery, although it does toy for awhile with giving you scenes from the murderer's point of view without identifying him.  But mostly you're meant to guess at what's going to happen, not who's going to do it. 

And it's pretty good!  I mean, I liked it enough to read another of their books.  It's oddly constructed, at times, and occasionally the prose gets a little purple, but in a way that somehow seemed naive rather than pretentious.  Easy to gloss over.  Otherwise, pretty strong all around.  It's not the kind of book where you put it down and say "Wow."  But I found it easy to read 50-100 pages in a sitting.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on March 26, 2013, 11:12:59 AM
I also read another Richard Laymon book, Flesh, from 1987.  It's sort of a small-town cross between Alien and Heinlein's The Puppet Masters.  It had less sexual content and graphic violence than the average Laymon story and a more traditional plot structure and generally seemed more general-audience.  It was, perhaps as a result, a little low-key (for him), but definitely not bad.

I think I've read ten of his novels, now, and I've liked them all.  I only currently have two or three more that I haven't read yet.  I wouldn't generally say they're great literature, but for the specific thing that they are, they're the best I've seen.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on March 30, 2013, 04:24:39 PM
I forgot that I'd read another Laymon book, too -- No Sanctuary, which was pretty good.  It feels like a stitch-up of a couple of novels that didn't quite fill out.  There are two POV characters:  Rick, who had a traumatic experience while camping as a teenager but gets dragged out on a camping holiday with his sexy girlfriend, and Gillian, who breaks into homes for kicks and stays in them while their unsuspecting owners are away on vacation.

These threads are linked in a torturous way, not organically as if it had been planned from the start.  I mean, Gillian doesn't, say, break into Rick's house.  Meanwhile, there's a serial killer, some ne'erdowell Evil Men (nigh-feral types who a bit excessively run toward sex and violence, a definite Laymon archetype), and a crazy backwoods preacher. 

It does all tie together somewhat abruptly, and it does make sense, but it very much feels like the Rick and Gillian stories were originally unrelated.  Frankly, it feels like the Rick story ran out of gas, and/or he got bored with it.  Late in the book, some minor characters suddenly become POV characters in order to smooth out the progression of the plot, which is generally frowned upon in writing, but what the hell.  It's a breezy fast novel anyway, because that's basically the kind Laymon wrote.  Still fun.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on March 30, 2013, 04:29:44 PM
And I read The Murder That Wouldn't Stay Solved, an amusing and peculiar procedural by Hampton Stone, who's actually George Bagby under a pseudonym.  It's a 1950s How The Crime Was Solved sort of story, although my copy is from a 1970s printing, so the cover shows the main character holding a gun in one hand and, in the other, the end of a hair ribbon worn by a young woman wearing little else.  No such thing occurs in the book.  :lol:

In reality, the main character is a New York ADA of the sort who masterminds an investigation rather than the sort who stands in court a lot.  He and his partner Gibby (with whom by modern standards he has a 'suspicious' relationship -- I love the apparently unwitting subtext of a lot of older mysteries) question the witnesses and suspects.  Then they think of problems with the various stories they've heard, theorize what might've really happened, and go ask more questions.

There's one or two brief chases, three homicides, and a lot of vague blind alleys.  The dialogue is pretty sharp and the pace is pretty quick, considering.  And it's from the days when a novel was routinely thin enough to fit in your pocket without stretching the material (pocket or story), so it's not like it's a major commitment.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: flipper on April 02, 2013, 11:37:31 AM
Just finished Ape House by Sara Gruen.  A good brain candy type of read.  Page turner, yet quite predictable.

Today I'll be starting God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on April 04, 2013, 02:44:01 PM
Reading a Douglas Preston technothriller, Impact, on the grounds that it's a huge bestseller that's drenched in fawning reviews, and sometimes I see that as a challenge.  I haven't read any of his other books, written with or without Lincoln Child.  I think I'm about halfway through.

So far . . . it's kind of admirably constructed, in some ways, but it's too much Clive Cussler and not enough Michael Crichton -- and Michael Crichton wasn't that good.  For one thing, almost no one has a name; almost all the characters have Names.  Wyman Ford, Kirk Killerguy, Wexley Dirkcanyon, crap like that, although only the first one is actually from the book.  Those names slide off my brain like bad nonsense grease.

For another thing, I keep wondering at the physics and other research-based elements.  A 100 lb meteorite going 100k mph hits a tiny rocky island and leaves itself easily removable in a 5' crater.  That seems unlikely.  And another meteorite lands in Cambodia, and in a couple of weeks guerillas have turned the site into a forced-labor pit mine, extracted severely radioactive gemstones from it, polished them, and sold them, and the gems have turned up in jewelry all over the world.  That seems fast -- and peculiar, since the stones are pretty severely radioactive.

And a 19-year-old meth addict, who is high and a little drunk, rows several hundred yards at night, in impenetrable fog, in a perfectly straight line, by dead reckoning.  There are just a bunch of plot holes that are tough to ignore if you ask yourself 'but, why' now and then.

At the same time, the book has a really manufactured feel to it, but I mean that in a sort of admiring way.  There are a lot of scenes where it feels like he went, OK, in this spot I need a scene that introduces such-and-such a character and connects Plot Element A to Plot Tab B.  And so he cooked one up and then wrote it.  And the result isn't terrible.  That is good hackwork.  With most writers, manufactured scenes like that turn out awful.

So I have mixed feelings.  I'm not hugely enjoying the book, but I am curious what happens next, and it's not unpleasant to read.  It sort of seems like it's about right for a bestseller, although it could be a bit faster.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on April 22, 2013, 12:49:43 PM
I finished Impact, which was . . . unterrible.  The SF elements just get more peculiar / silly / unworkable as it goes along, but it's not really science fiction, so . . . I dunno. 

It's weirdly clear how research was involved but the author has not internalized the SF elements.  For instance, alien machine shooting deadly SF stuff at da Earf!  At pretty regular intervals of not that long.  Better send a message to try to get it to stop.  Yeah, but using the numbers given in the text [Again, never explain what doesn't need to be explained!] the projectiles must take two months to reach us.  So by the time you phone ET, ET already shot us, like, thirty days ago.  Too late, boss.

Also, there's a red herring for Who Is The Spy.  It's a little obvious, but turns out to be wrong, of course, but then the actual spy is WAY more of a cliche, and way less likely, and pretty racist.  Oof.

So.  I've read worse, but it feels like a reasonable international bestseller.  But it makes me think that, say, Footfall, for all its weaknesses, should have outsold the Bible.  And maybe some of us have been too hard on Michael Crichton . . . .
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: flipper on April 30, 2013, 11:26:03 PM
Finished The Stupidest Angel by Christopher Moore (with bonus extra chapter), started A Lion Among Men by Gregory Maguire
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on May 01, 2013, 01:14:53 PM
I've been reading lots of little stuff -- short stories, anthologies, old magazines, comics, whatnot.  I'd forgotten just how great Concrete (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concrete_(comics)) was.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: the other andrea on May 03, 2013, 12:06:46 AM
I wish I could read German, because these Karl May books look interesting...  :bummed:
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: TFJ on May 03, 2013, 06:26:32 AM
Reading Stephen King for the first time in a long time. The JFK one. He has his little things he does that annoy me, but I have to admit... I get sucked in.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: First Post on May 03, 2013, 06:54:27 PM
That JFK book is pretty good.

Really enjoyed the late Charlie Louvin's book Satan Is Real, about the Louvin Brothers. The co-author lets Charlie's conversational style shine through, and there are so many amazing stories about their rough early life, their music career that they saw as a means of escaping from it (and which they almost gave up on, before it finally started rolling), and the colorful people they met through years of being involved in country music and the Opry. His brother Ira's lifelong struggle with alcohol is not glossed over (he tells the whole story of the time Ira was yelling racial slurs at Elvis backstage, for example), and Charlie is not shy about giving his opinions on things like the Korean War and justice in America ("you only get as much of it as you can afford, and if you can't afford much, you won't get much")...fascinating dude, great read. Interesting to listen to their music again after hearing so much of the background behind it all.

Also been reading the Culture novels, which are badass.


Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on May 04, 2013, 11:28:30 AM
Iain Banks is way above average, but his tendency toward downward endings makes me leery.  It's not that I always need a happy ending, but somehow some of his make me feel like I spent three days preparing an elaborate meal and then dropped it on the floor.  One of the Culture novels in particular was great until the depressing anticlimax at the very end, and I was like . . . what, really?

But The Wasp Factory is way up there for amazing surprising out-of-nowhere books, regardless.


Speaking of King, a customer was asking me the other day to recommend 'contemporary novels', which apparently meant mainstream fiction of the last twenty years.  (I said . . . "Ishiguro?"  Because I have no idea.  :lol:)

I asked him what he'd read, and, bang, first thing he said was The Road -- and he said, "It was OK, but if Stephen King had written it in 1985 it would have come out as one of the greatest American novels of all time."

:hmm:
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on May 30, 2013, 02:14:37 PM
Going through lots of boxes . . . reading stuff I didn't know I had.  I read the first volume of Silent Möbius (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silent_Mobius), a seminal but not entirely terrific manga from roughly twenty years ago.  It's sort of Ghostbusters done in the style of Blade Runner except much more Japanese -- the major characters are all sexy young women with silly names, etc.

Honestly, it wouldn't be that interesting if it weren't for the fact that it hustles right along and is occasionally unintentionally funny.  The Engrish names are pretty priceless, such as Rally Cheyenne, Gigelf Liqueur, Avanlanche Wong, Kiddy Phenil, and, best of all, Lebia Maverick.  And, yeah, in Japanese that "e" sounds like an English long "a".  :huh:


I also picked up a Ruth Rendell mystery.  She gets strong reviews, and she's written like 60 of the damned things, so I figured it might be a good vein to mine.  The one I picked up, Monster in the Box (which is a slightly funny title), was covered in glowing reviews -- the Washington Post rated it the "Best Book of 2009".  Not best mystery, mind you, or even best novel, but best book.  Review right on the back says it's great for people who haven't read anything else in the series.

As it turns out . . . :sleeping: .  I've read about 100 pages, and I don't look forward to picking it up again.  I think the real problem is that it's not a good one to start with.  It seems to mostly be about the main character's past -- how he got into policework, how he met every one of his girlfriends over the years, how he came to live in the town he lives in, etc.  It's done through exposition, exposition, narration, and some more exposition.

I suspect this is an 'indulgence' book meant for people already invested in the characters, like, say, Robert Parker's Early Autumn or Back Story, which would be terrible for introducing someone to the Spenser books.  Damn reviewers screwed me again!  And frankly they're not doing Rendell any favors, either.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on May 30, 2013, 04:22:19 PM
best of all, Lebia Maverick.  And, yeah, in Japanese that "e" sounds like an English long "a".  :huh:

... BAND
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: flipper on May 31, 2013, 12:43:45 AM
Finished A Lion Among Men by MaGuire.  Started Fool by Moore.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on June 13, 2013, 04:34:52 PM
I just finished Julia, a Peter Straub novel from the mid-70s that turns out to have been his first supernatural horror novel.  I read Ghost Story years ago and felt that the plot was disjointed and mis-timed, which rather spoiled the effect, and the film is curiously similar.  Otherwise, I may have read a short story here and there, but The Talisman is the only other long work by him that I've read.

I'm not sure why I picked up Julia, but I'm not sorry I did.  It's a very stylistic novel, following a small number of closely intertwined characters, especially the title character, who's dealing with the death of her young daughter and collapse of her marriage only to discover she's being haunted by the ghost of a little girl.  All of the POV characters, to different degrees, experience breaks with reality, which is a very hard thing to write well.  The book is a little confusing at times, but in a way that's intentional and atmospheric.

Still, I'm not really sure the plot's timing is quite right.  The climax feels like an anticlimax; a lot of the major plot developments are a bit anticlimactic.  They feel like there could have been more development.  But the characters are good, and the writing is good, and by modern standards it's quite short.  Some elements are pretty cliche now but would have been fresher in 1975, and they have a sort of purer ring to them than recent derivatives tend to have.

The book was compared, favorably, to the earlier Rosemary's Baby, to which it has mostly superficial similarities.  Weirdly, a celebrated film was made of it, starring Mia Farrow.  The movie seems to deviate from the book a great deal.  Frankly, the film sounds like it was extremely heavily influenced by The Omen, which had just come out a year or two earlier.  Both films have good casts, although personally I always found The Omen surprisingly dull.  The film of Julia is apparently hard to find, but I wouldn't mind seeing it.
Title: Re: What are you reading lately?
Post by: random axe on July 24, 2013, 01:06:15 PM
I recently read Dark Harvest, by Norman Partridge (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norman_Partridge).  I thought his name was familiar, and now I realize that somewhere I have an as yet unread copy o