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Astromech

February 2018 Reads

77 posts in this topic

8 hours ago, Iskaral Pust said:

I think it’s genuinely difficult for authors to write scenarios where the protagonist outmaneuvers everyone, unless it’s in military tactics.  Most plausible outmaneuvering in business and finance is too arcane and lacking in drama to suit a broad audience. 

This may be true but most fantasy and popular writing both on duels/individual fighting as well as military tactics seems also extremely cavalier about details and often plain unrealistic, unless directly modelled on some historical campaign or battle. (To be fair there were some actual historical events that almost feel like badly made up, like the siege of Antioch that inspired the 2n volume of Bakker's series.)

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2 hours ago, Jo498 said:

This may be true but most fantasy and popular writing both on duels/individual fighting as well as military tactics seems also extremely cavalier about details and often plain unrealistic, unless directly modelled on some historical campaign or battle. (To be fair there were some actual historical events that almost feel like badly made up, like the siege of Antioch that inspired the 2n volume of Bakker's series.)

There is the important caveat - the author's job is to make something appear realistic, even if it actually isn't. Something may or may not be accurate, but so long as the audience believes it to be accurate, the author is successful.

On the subject of protagonists outmanoeuvring everyone, I think the big danger is that you might end up with a Mary Sue or a Mary Sue de Ville - a protagonist who is simply warping reality. One could write business/financial scheming without going into arcane detail (the trick is to not provide context when our protagonist picks up the phone, and orders his broker to sell. The next week he's a millionaire). Then there's the point that dwelling on technicalities distracts from the human interactions - no-one watches court-room dramas for the law, they watch it for the drama.

 

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Finished A Fire Upon the Deep. Will post a longer review in the sci-fi thread but I enjoyed it well enough. I quite liked the first person POV and exploration of an alien race built upon a hive mind. However I think I prefer the sequel A Deepness in the Sky more because of the more compelling antagonists.

Still making my through Drugs: From Discovery to Approval which gives a very concise overview of the pharma/biotech industries, operations and regulations.

Also picked up Gomorrah by Roberto Saviano because the TV show might be my favorite show ever (and I enjoyed reading Homicide:Life on the Killing Streets after watching the Wire). Interestingly enough, another Roberto Saviano book about cocaine was on the shelf at my library sitting right next to.... the Corner by David Simon.

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19 minutes ago, WarGalley said:

 

Also picked up Gomorrah by Roberto Saviano because the TV show might be my favorite show ever (and I enjoyed reading Homicide:Life on the Killing Streets after watching the Wire). Interestingly enough, another Roberto Saviano book about cocaine was on the shelf at my library sitting right next to.... the Corner by David Simon.

I was tempted to pick up Zero Zero Zero the other day while at the bookstore. I've never read any of his books, so I'll probably start with Gomorrah.

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I've set foot down the longest road, entering the slog of slogs. Re-reading The Prince of Nothing trilogy. I think I made it mostly through The Judging Eye before I was overcome with madness. Now that the second series is finished, I've been making excuses to read other things for long enough. I've notified my next-of-kin to check on my sanity and general whereabouts.

Edited by Argonath Diver

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Fiinally finished The Fifth Season. My last update was rather skeptical, but the last third or so really upped the game and I ended up thinking it was a fantastic book. So many broken people and broken land and really well-done worldbuilding. It took me longer than it should have to twig to everything, but I did get there eventually!

Spoiler

I was trying to figure out the timeline between the various parts, and I had the feeling that at least one of the characters was Essun's backstory, but I didn't realize it was *all* Essun's backstory! Jemisin really pulled it off well. I could really relate to that feeling of just being different people at different points in your life. Also the Guardians are creepy af. Schlassa man. Damn.

 

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2 hours ago, Peadar said:

I have started Autonomous by Annalee Newitz. 

You are in for a treat.  I just finished The Only Harmless Great Thing by Brook Bollander.  It's incredible.  Prose is so dense it took two weeks to get through it.   On to Kameron Hurley's The Stars Are Legion.  I want to finish it and Six Wakes before Hugo noms close.

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On 2/22/2018 at 4:40 PM, Iskaral Pust said:

Similar for me.  I loved DA’s Long Price Quartet, but thought Dagger & Coin felt flat by comparison.  It wasn’t terrible, and I liked the idea of a series that didn’t lean on grimdark or winning through violence, plus the Venetian/Genoan-type setting was novel, but the prose lacked any sparkle, the self-inflicted antagonist felt contrived and the Machiavellian genius felt ordained-by-author rather than believable.  I think it’s genuinely difficult for authors to write scenarios where the protagonist outmaneuvers everyone, unless it’s in military tactics.  Most plausible outmaneuvering in business and finance is too arcane and lacking in drama to suit a broad audience. 

Dorothy Dunnett does this very well. But you're right, it's hard. Still, I loved the D&G series.

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What I was going to say upthread is that a lot of people who liked Dagger and Coin would tell you that the first book is weakest...almost like the story hasn't really started, and it starts to get better in book 2.  

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I finished Politics by Aristotle, while it was an thought-provoking read it was also incomplete and disorganized.  However my two complaints are do mostly to factors not under Aristotle's control as some of the lecture went missing over the millennia as well as parts being order incorrectly.

I just finished Foundation and Empire by Isaac Asimov, unfortunately I liked it less than the first Foundation book mainly because the two novellas somewhat exposed how flat Asimov's characters are (though this was more in the last two-thirds of the book in "The Mule").  Also the big reveal at the end of "The Mule" wasn't really a mystery, though Asimov might not have meant it to be a mystery to readers only for the characters BUT it was a long slog.  However I am interested in the Second Foundation, so hopefully it'll be better.

I've started reading I Shall Wear Midnight as part of my read though of Discworld.

In my home reading, I read A Tippy Canoe and Canada Too by Sam Campbell which is the fourth book of his Living Forest series.

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I've spent all month with very little time to read, and have therefore been working on To the Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey.  It's a wonderfully charming book about a US army colonel surveying a mythical river in Alaska not long after its purchase from the Russians.  It's told mostly as journal entries of the colonel and his wife who remained at the fort in Vancouver Washington.  There's also snippets from "newspapers," letters between the two principal characters and their parents, and letters between a modern times Alaskan museum curator and a great nephew of the colonel's (who sent all of the material we're reading to the Alaskan museum).  All these letters are making me nostalgic for the time before email, and worried about the impermanence of digital media long after we've all passed.  Ivey's first book, The Snow Child, is also highly recommended.  If I had had any free time this month I think I would have finished it in two days, as it stands I'm only 75% through.

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I finished Eugene Rogan's The Fall of the Ottomans: The Great War in the Middle East. A much more fluid front of the war compared to the Western and Italian Fronts. It still amazes me how ruthlessly the Ottoman Empire was sliced up after WW1.

I'm going to switch to some memoirs with Ernst Junger's A Storm of Steel on Peadar's rec and Robert Graves's Goodbye to All That.

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16 hours ago, Astromech said:

I'm going to switch to some memoirs with Ernst Junger's A Storm of Steel on Peadar's rec and Robert Graves's Goodbye to All That.

I read the same two books as a pair also. I was looking for balance, I suppose. In the end, I liked them both. Hope you do too.

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On ‎3‎/‎1‎/‎2018 at 8:31 AM, Peadar said:

I read the same two books as a pair also. I was looking for balance, I suppose. In the end, I liked them both. Hope you do too.

I'm  about 1/3 through Storm of Steel. Very good so far. It amazes how the horrors of war can become routine and mundane. Junger's recounting of the Battle of the Somme and other smaller engagements is eerily emotionally detached or numbed in sections.

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3 hours ago, Astromech said:

I'm  about 1/3 through Storm of Steel. Very good so far. It amazes how the horrors of war can become routine and mundane. Junger's recounting of the Battle of the Somme and other smaller engagements is eerily emotionally detached or numbed in sections.

Yeah. I'm feeling tempted into a reread to be honest. Maybe next month.

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