RedEyedGhost

What you're reading - July 2017

115 posts in this topic

23 minutes ago, Damelon said:

Well, the change in language for starters. The change in arena, characters and topic, for seconds. And the humor for dessert...?



Well, fair enough, but usually if I'm looking for a palate cleanser I don't plump for something that's unspeakably sad...

I don't remember it being particularly humorous, but (1) I guess you don't necessarily know that going in and (2) I may have missed it, because it was an emotional read for me given that I read it not only just after Banks himself died of cancer but a year after my mum did. So I probably didn't react to the book the way most people did.

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3 hours ago, polishgenius said:



Well, fair enough, but usually if I'm looking for a palate cleanser I don't plump for something that's unspeakably sad...

I don't remember it being particularly humorous, but (1) I guess you don't necessarily know that going in and (2) I may have missed it, because it was an emotional read for me given that I read it not only just after Banks himself died of cancer but a year after my mum did. So I probably didn't react to the book the way most people did.

I see. Thank you for your sincere reaction. I do know Banks himself died, and the topic of the book. Had no idea about your mother, I'm very sorry if my reaction was insensitive, I had no idea. There have been a lot of people dying of cancer in my environs, including my mother's partner.

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1 hour ago, Damelon said:

Had no idea about your mother, I'm very sorry if my reaction was insensitive, I had no idea.

Oh, no worries, even if it had bothered me (it didn't ftr) how could you possibly have known? I was just thinking why I might have missed any humour in it (coz let's be fair, if there's anyone who's going to mine black comedy out of the subject matter it'd be Banks).

I seriously need to read more of Banks' non-M fiction. So far I think it's only been this, The Crow Road and Wasp Factory (the last of which was disappointing, considering its reputation).

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On 7/9/2017 at 0:03 AM, Iskaral Pust said:

It was your rec that drew me into this series. I'm in the middle of #3 right now and still enjoying his style and insights very much, but tiring of the pervasive religiosity. 

Well I have good and bad news, mostly bad, for further books in the series.  Volume IV, Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea, focuses mostly on Greco-Roman thought so the religiosity is minimal.  However Volumes V and VI will have it particularly because they focus on the High Middle Ages and the Renaissance/Reformation era; yet there is going to be a tension between the Greco-Roman and Judaeo-Christian traditions as well as a growing focus on art.  If I were to guess, and this is just a pure guess, Volume VII will be how the West turned into a more secular society.

That being said, I finished Heretics and Heroes on Monday and while I loved the information Cahill was giving I would have enjoyed it if his personal opinions did not bleed into the text which somewhat undercut his writing.  A few days afterwards, I'm wondering if I noticed more of Cahill in the text because I read two of his books back-to-back.

Yesterday I started Edgar Allan Poe: Complete Tales and Poems, the book starts off with his poems over the first ~110 pages of the 1020 page book.

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32 minutes ago, Garett Hornwood said:

Well I have good and bad news, mostly bad, for further books in the series.  Volume IV, Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea, focuses mostly on Greco-Roman thought so the religiosity is minimal.  However Volumes V and VI will have it particularly because they focus on the High Middle Ages and the Renaissance/Reformation era; yet there is going to be a tension between the Greco-Roman and Judaeo-Christian traditions as well as a growing focus on art.  If I were to guess, and this is just a pure guess, Volume VII will be how the West turned into a more secular society.

That being said, I finished Heretics and Heroes on Monday and while I loved the information Cahill was giving I would have enjoyed it if his personal opinions did not bleed into the text which somewhat undercut his writing.  A few days afterwards, I'm wondering if I noticed more of Cahill in the text because I read two of his books back-to-back.

Thanks.  I was hoping, just based on the names, that the remaining volumes would be less religious.  I'm going to take a break from #3 for a while.  I may continue to #4 afterward but #5 and #6 are doubtful if they're just another chorus of hosannas.  How can he possibly focus on the high middle ages and Renaissance/Reformation ahead of the Enlightenment and Modernism*?  It's not as if these are in chronological order, and he has already more than plumbed the influence of Christian and proto-Christian (Torah) influence on culture and philosophy.  Oh well, I still appreciate the rec for an engaging writer of non-fiction history similar to Luc Ferry, including heavy reliance on the Classical period that seems mostly overlooked now.

*Of course Christian philosophers seem to ignore the Enlightenment and Modernism generally and look to the Renaissance as the start of the last great chapter in human thought.

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20 hours ago, Iskaral Pust said:

Thanks.  I was hoping, just based on the names, that the remaining volumes would be less religious.  I'm going to take a break from #3 for a while.  I may continue to #4 afterward but #5 and #6 are doubtful if they're just another chorus of hosannas.  How can he possibly focus on the high middle ages and Renaissance/Reformation ahead of the Enlightenment and Modernism*?  It's not as if these are in chronological order, and he has already more than plumbed the influence of Christian and proto-Christian (Torah) influence on culture and philosophy.  Oh well, I still appreciate the rec for an engaging writer of non-fiction history similar to Luc Ferry, including heavy reliance on the Classical period that seems mostly overlooked now.

*Of course Christian philosophers seem to ignore the Enlightenment and Modernism generally and look to the Renaissance as the start of the last great chapter in human thought.

Personally I wouldn't call any of these books chorus of hosannas, I'm religious (weekly church attendance in addition to being a deacon) and I've come to the conclusion that Cahill is a nominal Christian, who picks and chooses what he wants to believe.  Though this is obviously my opinion, I'm basing it on life-long reading of very religious material from "tame" inspirational books to conservative stuff that makes me question what Bible the author is looking at or if they decided to cutout all the stuff that appears to "liberal" (basically 180-degree opposite of Cahill).  But again that's from my perspective.

As for the Enlightenment and Modernism, my guess is that the Enlightenment will be Volume VII as Cahill's last three volumes are under the subsection of "Making of the Modern World".

Cahill originally didn't plan to write a 7 book series, after How the Irish Saved Civilization just blew up on the bestseller list his publisher wanted him to follow it up and that's how Hinges came about.  He even admits that the series should properly go like this Jews-->Jesus-->Greeks-->Irish-->Middle Ages-->Heretics/Heroes-->Volume VII.

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On 12/07/2017 at 10:44 PM, Darth Richard II said:

Yeah I didn't know that book was supposed to be humorous at all.

Have you read it?

It's not dissimilar to other Banks novels, and having read this one, your comment does not make any sense at all. Just because a book is about somebody who is dying of cancer, doesn't mean that it does not contain humor, does it?

 

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Posted (edited)

11 hours ago, Damelon said:

Have you read it?

It's not dissimilar to other Banks novels, and having read this one, your comment does not make any sense at all. Just because a book is about somebody who is dying of cancer, doesn't mean that it does not contain humor, does it?

 

I have. I did not find it funny at all.

@polishgenius did you find any of it funny?

Edited by Darth Richard II

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Posted (edited)

DODO (Stephenson). 

Too long, not enough Stephenson™ geek, cartoon characters, but surprisingly there is an ending!

Edited by brunhilda
trademark correction

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Kushiel's Dart was Tor's free e-book of the month. I've been wanting to try the series for a long time now so, despite my promise to myself to try another Mitchell novel next, I'm reading Kushiel's Dart. I have no will power :lol: 

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Posted (edited)

On 6.7.2017 at 8:04 PM, Plessiez said:

After a short break, I went back to Max Gladstone's Craft sequence.  I'd been pretty disappointed with the second book (Two Serpents Rise), but the third book (Full Fathom Five) is much better.  The world-building feels a lot more coherent and none of the characters are as irritating as Two Serpents Rise's Caleb.  I enjoyed it quite a lot..

I have just plowed through all five of the Craft Sequence volumes - they go down easy, but odd-numbered installements seem to be markedly better than even-numbered ones and, as far as I am concerned, "Three Parts Dead", is still the best. In particular, in "Two Serpents Rise" the plot was obvious a mile off and I can't agree with authorial insistence on

Spoiler

Caleb not being at all responsible for the calamity, when his holding stuff back for hormonal reasons very much contributed to it, IMHO.

Dresediel Lex is potentially a very interesting setting that didn't quite live up to it's potential, yet.

On the whole, it is indeed refreshing to have a series that plays with different concepts, isn't afraid to switch the protagonists/locations and thankfully eshews some overworn tropes, but all in all I can't help but feel that it was a little over-hyped. Something is missing for true greatness, but I can't tell what. Certainly worthy of following, though, particularly since a number of popular decent-ish urban fantasy series  have grown repetitive and stale and the Craft Sequence kinda has a similar vibe, but still is different and fresh.

Well, it has been some time since I have posted in one of these threads, so most of these are from June:

 City of Miracles (The Divine Cities #3)  by Robert Jackson Bennett - I was initially hesitant about picking up this one, because Sigrud seemed very much like a "been there, done that" kind of protagonist/PoV character and I didn't particularly like the event that was described as kicking off the plot. I am very happy to admit that my scepticism was wholly unwarranted. I really loved what delving into his character revealed, how it retroactively informed his role in the trilogy and his developement in the novel.

Generally, this book delivered a very emotionally satisfying wrap-up to various characters and plots of the trilogy and stuck the landing as an excellent ending to it, IMHO.

Personally, I am still not entirely satisfied with how the issue of Divinities was handled, but it has been clear for some time that the author preferred mystery to answers in this, and everything else works so well that I'll just let it slide.

Raven Stratagem by Yoon Ha Lee - a direct sequel to "Ninefox Gambit", starting, like, a few days to a couple of weeks later. Possibly even better than the first, certainly much more transparent setting-wise, since all the big setting-establishing info-dumps/confused cold starts have been done already. Interesting, engaging characters. Explains quite a few of seeming disconnects of NG, particularly in respect to Jedao's motivations and plans and hints at more. A very strong continuation and I can't wait for the next installment.

I do wonder about one seeming incongruity, i.e. in NG:

Spoiler

Cheris's squad sergeants didn't have any difficulties with disobeying and questioning her unorthodox orders, to the extent that she had to kick them and their units out of formation, so how does it fit with enforced slavish, brain re-writing obedience to a legal superior among the Kel in RS?

Oh, and I can't recommend enough reading/listening to The Battle of Candle Arc story/novelette here:

http://clarkesworldmagazine.com/lee_10_12/

It is not necessary to get into the books, but it does provide additional insight into Jedao, state of the heptarchate while he was alive, etc. and is just a very interesting story, IMHO.

 

All Systems Red by Martha Wells - a tor.com novella and the first in a series of the same focused on the self-named Murderbot, a security/protection android/cyborg tasked by the Company with servicing mining outposts, expeditions and the like. Great stuff - funny, insightful, with a nice adventure plot and a very memorable protagonist. I have always liked Wells' stuff, but this may be her best yet.  Here is an excerpt:

http://www.tor.com/2017/04/28/excerpts-martha-wells-all-systems-red/

 

 2 more volumes of The Memoirs of Lady Trent series by Marie Brennan - The Tropic of Serpents and The Voyage of the Basilisk. To shamelessly copy-paste from Goodreads:

"Set in an alternate world based on our own nineteenth century, the Memoirs of Lady Trent are a five-book series chronicling the adventures and discoveries of Isabella, Lady Trent, renowned dragon naturalist."

The series starts in around secondary world's 1870-ties, I guess, depicts the trials and tribulations of a pseudo-English young woman (initially) from a good family, who is obssessed with the desire to study dragons, the obstacles she has to overcome, expeditions she manages to finagle herself into, political entanglements she causes wherever she goes, etc. Just lovely, lovely books that I am thoroughly enjoying. Criminally overlooked, apparently.

And to dilute all the gushing a bit, I have dropped Michael Chabon's Summerland - the first book of his that I found to be frankly boring and couldn't finish. Yea, it is YA, but I normally don't have anything against such, and I at least liked everything else of Chabon's that I have read until now and loved a few things.

And I am also grimly slogging through Lev Grossman's The Magicians, which I _will_ finish, but what a disappointment after a very promising beginning and all the buzz. 

 

Edited by Maia

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Just finished "homo deus" which wasn't as good as "sapiens" but was still fascinating. Especially when it got to the post human parts at the end of the book. Chilling.

Now I'm reading "the big sleep" which is real fun and I'm realising how big an effect this book had on the noir genre. It should almost sound cliched given how many others have imitated it but it says a lot for the quality of the writing that it still shines despite the years of homage.

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1 hour ago, red snow said:

Just finished "homo deus" which wasn't as good as "sapiens" but was still fascinating. Especially when it got to the post human parts at the end of the book. Chilling.

Now I'm reading "the big sleep" which is real fun and I'm realising how big an effect this book had on the noir genre. It should almost sound cliched given how many others have imitated it but it says a lot for the quality of the writing that it still shines despite the years of homage.

I will be interested in hearing whether The Big Sleep book makes more sense than the movie. It's a great movie but with some gaping plot holes. 

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4 hours ago, Maia said:

And I am also grimly slogging through Lev Grossman's The Magicians, which I _will_ finish, but what a disappointment after a very promising beginning and all the buzz. 

 

That book is a slog, but a good one, sort of? It's hard to explain. I definitely think that reading the entire trilogy makes a more enjoyable arc as the first one is so mired in Q's depression. But I found that interesting even if difficult to read because I am someone a lot like Q.

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Finished the Unholy Consult. Need definitely something lighter after this, so started Sanderson's Warbreaker.

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4 hours ago, TheRevanchist said:

Finished the Unholy Consult. Need definitely something lighter after this, so started Sanderson's Warbreaker.

I think it's darkly humorous to think something called "Warbreaker" can be the "something lighter."

I finished Denis Johnson's The Laughing Monstors which was like a weaker John Le Carre novel.

I'm almost done with EL Doctorow's City of God which is up there for the least accessible book I've ever read.

 

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3 hours ago, Triskan said:

I think it's darkly humorous to think something called "Warbreaker" can be the "something lighter."

It really is much lighter. Think "Sci Fi Romance with a little Intrigue"

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Unseen Journey:  Mileposts on the Road Least Travelled by Robin Lynn Frank.  It's marvelous.  A memoir compiled and edited by one of our very own!  I just got through the first 50 pages or so, but there is a loneliness to the childhood described that resonates with me.  I imagine it would with many of us who buried ourselves in reading.  It's moving really quickly.

So glad my Hugo voting is over.  Cannot wait to read Raven Strategem with the rest of you.  I also want to chow through the two series I loved in the Hugo packet.  Rivers of London and the rest of the Craft Sequence.  I only have a few weeks left before school starts back up, so I'll be haunting this thread for more good stuff.

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18 hours ago, TheRevanchist said:

Finished the Unholy Consult. Need definitely something lighter after this, so started Sanderson's Warbreaker.

C’mon. You set it up so nicely, why not write “so started McCarthy’s Blood Meridian” or “The Gulag Archipelago” something like that.

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