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Jo498

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    OPPIDVM CHATTICVM

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    Johannes

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  1. Jo498

    Third Quarter 2019 Reading

    If one generally likes Abercrombie, Red Country is worth trying and of course the Shattered Sea trilogy (which I find comparably underrated, it's less ambitious and it has faults but overall it's in some respect better (less rambling) than the 6 FL books). I liked Red Country the least but I did finish it. The only one I did not finish is the Sharp Ends anthology... Overall he is fairly consistent, so it's also unlikely that someone would love a later book when disliking the first three or so.
  2. Jo498

    Third Quarter 2019 Reading

    I don't claim originality, I think someone else made the comparison in this forum years ago.
  3. Jo498

    Third Quarter 2019 Reading

    BSC is basically a mix of Kill Bill and Mission impossible in a fantasy setting. Among all of them it is most like a 1990/early 2000s revenge action movie. (As I see the first trilogy as a whole and don't remember sufficiently what exactly is in which book, for me Red Country clearly is the most disappointing.)
  4. I re-read about 7 or 8 of Van Gulik's Judge Dee mysteries and I still love them and highly recommend them. Sure, they are not all on the same level, some have fairly contrived plots and a few plot elements repeat regularly. But they are very well done and medieval China was an absolutely fascinating civilization (with both amazing and admirable as well as rather horrifying elements). My only recommendation is to skip the one that Van Gulik translated from Chinese (and only slightly streamlined) and leave it for later. Start with either the chronologically first one (Chinese Gold mystery) or the first one published (Chinese Maze).
  5. Jo498

    What should be done... about climate change

    And the buggy riders were perfectly correct about crashes and often fatal injuries. It's just that we "decided" to pay that price for the benefits of automotive travel.
  6. Jo498

    What should be done... about climate change

    No, the history of humanity is mostly one of violent conflict. For some reason intellectually lazy people blame religion (or the nation state or what have you) for this and kid themselves into the illusion that it would end violent conflict if one were to abolish religion or the nation state or whatever. But there is no reason to assume that these institutions are particularly prone to violence whereas there are many reasons to assume that culture and civilization are impossible without at least one of them or a close substitution like empire, federation, ideology... that will have similar faults and similar benefits.
  7. Jo498

    What should be done... about climate change

    The most frustrating thing (and the reason why I have a hard time believing in the newest wave of lipservice sunday sermons) is that "we" basically knew about a lot of this more than 40 years ago (first Club of Rome paper), then we got acid rain and Chernobyl more than 30 years ago, the dwindling ozone layer a little later and so on. We banned the spray cans and cooling fluids destroying the ozone layer (in hindsight I am surprised that this really was done). Than we started big conferences (thousands of people flying around half the world) like Rio, Kyoto etc. 25 or more years ago. And now consider this: Tons of problematic stuff didn't even exist in 1986 (Chernobyl) and was only slowly starting in mid 1990s (Kyoto conference). - fast fashion - frequent flying, including comparably short distances but also a huge increase in transcontinental travel - mailordering everything, leading to an explosion of traffic and packaging waste - take away coffee etc. leading to billions of paper/styrofoam cups - SUVs (more than ever in Germany, the segment is growing much faster than the rest of the automotive industry) - all kinds of electronic gadgets (smartphones, tablets etc.) with a commercial (if not actual) half-life of two years at most. Interestingly, meat consumption peaked in Germany in the mid-80s or so and has been decreasing (very slowly) since then. Overall, agriculture has been much more industrialized (viz. also insects and birds vanishing) even in these last 35 years. So our general lifestyles where most of the above is considered perfectly normal have become less sustainable despite 25-45 years of lip service and environmental awareness. That's why I simply cannot believe that this will change in the next 10 years in a way that matters. Even what may be technically feasible, overall it is socially and politically impossible. And this list above concerns only "the West". The more important development is that while in 1990 the West did matter most wrt climate change and a changing of our ways would have had an impact, this is not longer true.
  8. Jo498

    Look On My Works Ye Mighty and Despair: the Literary Future

    "She" is really pretty good, it's about the best of that kind of adventure novel I have read, a deserved classic (even apart from Jungian subtexts or whatever). KSM is less ambitious but also good. However, I found "Ayesha" (Return of She) too weird to continue with more HRH. He has plenty of beautiful noble savages, one of the main characters in "She" is so ugly that the natives call him "baboon" as nickname, and he is probably less racist than most contemporaries but note how the hottentot guide in KSM is expendable (he freezes do death on their quest) and "She" is of course white (like Conan's "Queen of the Black Coast") leading a coloured people etc. As I said, I know nothing about Henty, but that quote describing some natives (or blacks) as "childlike" and in danger of falling "back into barbarism" without the leadership of the white man is a standard trope and rather mild for its time, certainly not worth singling out as a particularly vile bit of racism.
  9. Jo498

    Look On My Works Ye Mighty and Despair: the Literary Future

    I never read The White Company but I think my brother read it years ago and liked it well enough. I think the "Professor Challenger" (Lost world etc.) novels and novellas are not worse than the Sherlock Holmes stories (admittedly I only read them once around 20 years ago whereas I have revisited some Holmes once in a while since I read the first ones aour 35 years ago as a kid). A few weeks ago I read all or most of the "A. J. Raffles" stories by Doyle's brother-in-law Hornung and while they are entertaining enough, it seems quite understandable and deserved that they are mostly forgotten, certainly didn't acquire the status of the Holmes stories. As for Henty, I had not heard of him but what is quoted on wikipedia seems in no way extreme for 19th century views; sure, it's racist, but I am pretty sure one would find similar quotes in better known authors like Rider Haggard. Heck, even Mark Twain who must be considered as on the side of the coloured depicts Jim sympathetically but Jim (an adult) is clearly no way as smart as 13-14? yo Huck Finn. (And then there's that halfbreed Injun Joe who is not stupid but evil.)
  10. Jo498

    Look On My Works Ye Mighty and Despair: the Literary Future

    Nassim Taleb has that "law" that the longer something has been around the more likely it is to stay around. So, yes, put your money on Shakespeare before Dickens, on Dante before Shakespeare and on Plato, Homer, the Bible and the Vedic writings and similar stuff before all of them. As you hint at, some things survive in strange guises. I mostly unironically read "The last days of Pompeii" as a young teenager (in German and probably abridged) and even in primary school I had encountered animated cartoons of Don Quixote, Pinocchio and Gulliver's Travels (especially the latter had almost nothing to do with Swift, besides a few names and that there were small people). And yes, Werther was still required reading in my 11th grade German class in 1988-89. And even more funny, as quaint as Werther might be, to me the book we also had to read seemed to have aged more in less than 20 years than Werther had in more than 200. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Die_neuen_Leiden_des_jungen_W.
  11. Jo498

    What should be done... about climate change

    E.M. Forster: "The Machine Stops" might be the first scenario with something like an "AI takeover": https://www.ele.uri.edu/faculty/vetter/Other-stuff/The-Machine-Stops.pdf
  12. Jo498

    Libraries in fiction

    - Eco: Name of the Rose, which is of course a huge hommage to Borges - Wolfe: Book the New Sun, dito - Pratchett: Discworld - Walter Moers: The City of Dreaming Books - There is (at least) one MR James ghost stories that uses the Bodleian Library or a fictionalized variant as (part of) the setting - I had a Jack Vance story in mind but apparently what I thought of is actually a museum (in "Guyal of Sfere", the last story of the first Dying Earth book)
  13. Actually, the example in the spoiler is not very good for the point that class privileges are helping Wimsey, because it rather shows a disadvantage for Wimsey because is cover is blown. It is a point for him being annoyingly brilliant at everything he touches, though.
  14. I believe that Sayers thought she gave Wimsey some flaws. He is suffering the post traumatic stress (shell shock), he is actually not well liked by several members of his noble family, he is supposedly not "serious" enough about life (one model was Wodehouse's Bertie Wooster). And he is aware of his privilege at least to some extent and his relationship to his good friend (the lower middle class police inspector who later marries Wimsey's sister, IIRC) suffers from this class tensions and Wimsey is aware that there is only so much he can do about it. Anyway, I think the Wimsey series is worth it and deserved regarded as a classic despite some flaws.
  15. He is a bit of Gary Stu, no doubt about it. I think there are two main reasons for this. One was jokingly granted by Sayers that when she was too poor to afford bus fare she gave Wimsey a 12 cylinder luxury car etc.. The other are probably characters like Sherlock Holmes, Raffles (gentleman cricketeer and master burglar) and other figures of late Victorian/Edwardian mystery fiction or pulp. Conan, Tarzan and John Carter of Mars are also Gary Stues. Sure, one could argue that the overall context of Sayers' novels is too realistic and they are to literary and ambitious for pulp so Wimsey certainly does stick out more than Conan.
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