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Wilbur

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  1. Wilbur

    Literature Of Old: Plutarch, Appian, Herodotus

    Alcibiades is such an interesting character individually and in the history of Athens. Like a lot of the historical characters mentioned above, you can read him as a hero or as a villain, and neither one is probably wrong. With the several different historians or philosophers who wrote about his life, his story is one of the most well-rounded. Xenophon's books are both very interesting, and the encomium is just as revealing of Greek culture as it is of the lives of the Persian monarchs, given his reactions to the things he describes. One aspect of classical literature and history that most fascinates me is my own perception of the Greek historians and the Roman historians. For me, reading of the Greeks, from Ancient through Classical to the Alexandrian period, always seems a little like mythology. On the other hand, reading the Roman historians (Sallust, Tacitus, Livy, etc.) feels a lot more like a contemporary account of news. Perhaps it is because the recently-concluded American Century took a form so similar to late Republic and then early Imperial Roman times, but the Roman histories have an immediacy and recognizability that the Greek ones do not. I don't say that they are better than the Greek, or that I enjoy them more, but the Greek histories just seem to have a sheen of the exotic/foreign/distant that the Roman ones do not.
  2. Do you currently subscribe to Analog / Asimov's or the MFSF? Those three that you mentioned would seem to provide a suitable introduction to a lot of new authors and ideas each month. Over the decades the quality of the content has varied across all three as editors came and went, but none of them ever really dropped below "meets expectations". Another good source would be the various incarnations of the Year's Best SF anthologies, which are a good place to experience the work authors you might not have read othewise: 1966-1971 1972-1990 1972-1987 (Carr) 1996-2013 (Hartwell / Cramer) 1984-2019 (Dozois) And Fantasy has an equivalent, 1975-1988 And if you are truly serious about delving into the depths of stuff you haven't read before, peruse the pages of Good Show, Sir and actually read the books featured in its rogue's gallery of terrible cover art. I have read several of the books I have seen on GSS over the years, and they are not what I would have picked otherwise.
  3. Wilbur

    Elizabeth Moon Palladin's Legacy series

    Elizabeth Moon seems to give her characters, particularly her female characters, a lot of agency within the story, and she is a writer whose style is flowing and easy to read. This is simply and overtly true in the Deed of Paksenarrion and Legend of Gird books, and becomes more subtle and sophisticated in her Paladin's Legacy novels. Her science fiction books also show this refinement in approach and style, from the Familias Regnant series where Bertie Wooster's aunts own and operate the story, to the Vatta's War novels of greater complexity. If you start to stall within her earlier works, be encouraged that her later stuff shows her maturing skills and rewards attention. She also provides about the most accurate and complete view of military life of anyone who isn't Glen Cook, without necessarily glamorizing it or glorifying war, even though the plots of her stories often contain war. Wounds and illness are particularly well done IMHO. Her work might seem tightly focused on the broad themes of traditional conflicts of high fantasy or space opera, but a second reading shows that she is thinking and causing the reader to consider how cultures and peoples can come together and reintegrate during or after a struggle for supremacy or territory, and she does a tremendous job of illustrating how compassion and compromise are the ideals of a real hero. Moon also has a truly excellent touch in dealing with the struggle of personal loneliness as demonstrated fully in both Remnant Population with an aging protagonist and in The Speed of Dark with an autistic protagonist. For me, her sensitivity and creativity in addressing people who are on the margins is second only to Vernor Vinge's Rainbow's End. I strongly recommend all three of these works.
  4. Is there talk of such a thing? The NBA season is way too long, grinding players down and making the playoffs less interesting because half the players are carrying injuries. Think of how the 1987 and 1989 Finals were so badly marred by absent or hurt players. Ever since I was a kid, I have wanted to see a 30-game first half that ends at Thanksgiving, followed by a Christmas tournament, followed by the second half of the season lasting 30 games that re-starts in January, with the Finals back in May where they belong. The Christmas tournament I envision is played entirely at the Palestra or some place similar, single-elimination with some big cup and cash prizes, and the winner gets an automatic bid to the playoffs. I know in today's commerical world this would never fly - the Palestra is too small, the league wants the money generated by all the games, etc. But the basketball quality would probably improve.
  5. I re-read them with my daughter over the last decade, and the Robert Arthur, Jr. ones hold up very well indeed. Some of the books from the 1970s focus on things that were prominent in the 70s but don't pose much interest today (witchcraft, sharks, UFOs), and only a couple of the books in the 80s are worth a second reading. William Arden seems to have done a competent job throughout his share of the books while Nick West and M.V. Carey are a little more variable in their quality. Later the estate also authorized additional "Find Your Fate" and "Crimebusters" stories, but the attempts to update the Three Investigators to a more modern era don't really work. Part of the original attraction of the 1960s era California setting is the limitations the boys work within - needing a ride from Worthington in the Rolls-Royce or from Hans or Konrad in the truck, needing to go to the library to look up facts, the constant question of how to communicate via telephone, secret signs, walkie-talkie, etc. when they were separated, and the question of whether Chief Reynolds will believe them. Robert Arthur, Jr. solves those problems in a believable manner, while the later books use his ideas for wish-fulfillment fantasies that the reader can't really buy.
  6. The Three Investigators series was an outstanding set of books, at least for the first thirty or so volumes, of which Robert Arthur Jr. wrote the first ten. They were my favorite books as an elementary student, and they inspired me to settle in the West once I was an adult. I also went out and found them for my own child, who also loved them. The creator, Robert Arthur Jr. also wrote a couple of very good science fiction stories. He also wrote for The Twighlight Zone, and several Alfred Hitchcock Presents... anthologies. His stories appeared on Dimension X and X Minus One, particularly the mystery/scifi hybrids, so if you want to listen to the stories read in mid-Atlantic accents and interrupted by ads for cigarettes, track down those audio files. Similarly, he wrote for The Mysterious Traveler and The Sealed Book which were very popular radio serials that you can find online. Audio stories on Librivox - some good readings in there. Big Old List of his mystery stories - I have tracked down a few of these over the years, and they are very much of their time, but he is a master of evoking a time and place in prose. He was an interesting guy - His daughter said that when he arrived in California, he couldn't believe how beautiful it was compared to Michigan, New Jersey, the Philippines, etc., and that is why he wrote with the backdrop of Rocky Beach or Sonoma County. Some examples: The Indulgence of Negu Mah Ring Once for Death Another Ring Once for Death
  7. That is an excellent characterization of the Leon mysteries!
  8. Donna Leon's Brunetti books are very good, if quite melancholy in tone. The sadness of a sinking city and the corporate corruption that is inherent in life around a US Airbase in Italy is pervasive in her books. I think that reading them in order is important, as the characters grow and mature as the series progresses more so than in a lot of other mysteries where the detective character is rather static. The other character with strong growth would be Decius in John Maddox Roberts' SPQR books, who grows and is damaged by the fall of the Republic and the destruction of his relationships that politics brings. Thames TV and Granada created an entire televised version of both volumes of The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes - a couple of them are in this playlist, and some of the actors appearing as much younger versions of themselves will surprise you! Most of the authors of the original anthology are well worth a read as well.
  9. An excellent thread with a lot of very interesting authors - thank you! Others you might add to your list include the following. Michael Pearce wrote two very fine period mystery series. The Mamur Zapt books feature a Welsh chief of secret police in Cairo at the turn of the century during the British administration of Egypt. Excellent characterizations and plot, sumptuous descriptions of Egypt under the khedive, and a fair bit of romance. A Dead Man in... books cover the pre-WWI European scene, with a Scotland Yard etective sent by the British Foreign office to investigate deaths in foreign cities. Again Pearce's characters are vivid and his place descriptions make the cities a character as well. Margery Allingham was a stylist whose Albert Campion mysteries rival Dorothy Sayers. Lug the former-thief-and-now-butler by himself is worth the price of admission. Lawrence Block wrote a series of murder mysteries set in the 1970s and 1980s in New York City featuring the cat thief and bookstore owner Bernie Rhodenbarr where once again the city is a character as much as any of the human actors. Ernest Bramah's stories of the blind detective Max Carrados outsold the Sherlock Holmes stories at the time of their publication, although they did not receive the popular movie treatments that kept them in the public eye as A.C. Doyle's did. The late Andy Minter's readings of four of the stories are delightful. John Maddox Roberts was an excellent writer in the science fiction and fantasy genres who never broke through to popularity the way I thought he should, but his SPQR historical mysteries set in the close of Republican Rome have political intrigue, romance, high personal and national stakes, the whole shooting match. Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe mysteries are a timeless wonder, as Wolfe and his all-action secretary Archie Goodwin solve crime in New York City throughout the twentieth century. The audio books read by Michael Pritchard are the gold standard for audio book readers. Again, the plot details are excellent, and mid-century New York City is a sort of character in and of itself. E.W. Hornung's Raffles is an early example of the tortured soul who must do what he does not wish to do, and also has some curious elements of mystery stories without being actual mysteries, probably because of the English Country House setting. Science Fiction Grand Master Jack Vance wrote several very good mysteries set in California as Ellery Queen. I recommend A Room to Die In and The Madman Theory to your attention, and of course there is the classic award-winning Bad Ronald. Eric Ambler wrote a group of high quality socialist mystery adventure stories that are often described as spy novels. Don't let that fool you, they are mysteries set in central Europe with lots of critical views on the Cold War. Hugh Laurie, aka Dr. House to Americans or Bertie Wooster to the rest of the world, wrote The Gun Seller. If you like Ian Rankin, don't sleep on this one. Georgette Heyer wrote romances posing as mysteries such as Why Shoot a Butler? starting during the Great Depression and set throughout English history. Marion Chesney writing as M.C. Beaton wrote a large number of humorous British mysteries set in the Cotswolds (Agatha Raisin) and the Highlands (Hamish MacBeth). These were realized as TV shows on Sky1 and the BBC, showing their popularity. She also wrote an Edwardian mystery series about Lady Rose Summer, but those are harder to find.
  10. Wilbur

    The Vorkosigan Saga by Lois McMaster Bujold

    SkynJay, are you following the Tor re-read? There is some very interesting discussion along the lines you mention. https://www.tor.com/series/rereading-the-vorkosigan-saga/
  11. Wilbur

    Football, a Sterling effort, but Virgil got Dijk'd.

    Best joke I have heard so far:Q: "Why did Barcelona FC go to Liverpool?"A: "Fo(u)r Nothing!"
  12. Wilbur

    Favorite and least favorite Anime and Cartoon openings?

    Thundarr was the Vancian Dying Earth we all wished we could see, but with He-man carrying a lightsabre instead of Cugel.
  13. Wilbur

    RIP Gene Wolfe

    And is the obituary from Tor.com. https://www.tor.com/2019/04/15/gene-wolfe-in-memoriam-1931-2019/
  14. Wilbur

    RIP Gene Wolfe

    After coming back to the States for college, I remember picking up The Claw of the Conciliator at The Big Bookstore and, upon reading it, realizing that this was the sort of book to which I could actually apply the ideas and concepts I was learning in my literary criticism class. Once I finally realized that he was writing of a Vanceian milieu, my mind was really blown.Probably my favorites among his books, however, were Solider of the Mist and Soldier of Arete. Wonderful in their conception, they put me exactly into that spot where I, too, saw the world new everyday as a Greek soldier of the classical world having suffered a head wound and unable to form new memories. We had a re-read of The Book of the New Sun led by Fragile Bird going on here in this forum that ended after the third book - I wish it had continued.
  15. Wilbur

    Best GRRM Short Stories

    If you do read through GRRM's short works, I highly recommend Preston Jacob's series of analytic videos on The Thousand Worlds stories.
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