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williamjm

Third Quarter 2021 Reading

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3 hours ago, polishgenius said:

There's also M Suddain's Hunters and Collectors, a half-comedy half-noir all fruitloop  crazy veering into horror tale of space-based restaurant criticism. The premise might make one think of Hitchhiker's Guide but that's really, really not what it is.

 

I second this recommendation, what a great book.

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13 hours ago, ljkeane said:

I'm reading Emily St John Mandel's The Glass Hotel, which is a little strange. It's quite well written but I'm not sure I really see the point of all the somewhat interconnected vignettes it's made up of so far.

I read that a little while ago and found that they never really did gel into a story I cared about.

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17 hours ago, Starkess said:

I read that a little while ago and found that they never really did gel into a story I cared about.

Yeah, same for me in the end. It was all just a bit too directionless for me to really enjoy it.

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2 hours ago, ljkeane said:

Yeah, same for me in the end. It was all just a bit too directionless for me to really enjoy it.

There were bits of it I Iiked, but I agree it could have done with more of a plot.

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Second those: I didn't list them coz they're not the same kind of weird I was thinking of, but they're definitely (1) strange and (2) either one has a strong shout to be the best SF book/series to come out in the last ten years or so.

Last book in Terra Ignota hits next month so if someone has been waiting on the series to complete before starting now is a good time.

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On 9/9/2021 at 10:34 PM, polishgenius said:

Anyway, off the top of my head, Yoon Ha Lee's Machineries of Empire trilogy is the prime candidate. I really liked that. It's a bit less eerie (or intending to be eerie) I guess, but it mixes some military SF bombast with just being very odd. 

Thanks for the recommendations!  Will definitely check some of these out.

I read Ninefox Gambit soon after it was published and I think liked it well enough.  But I'm not sure I can actually remember anything about it and for some reason I never picked up the sequels.    Sounds like maybe I should give the series another try though.

I like what little VanderMeer I've read quite a lot (I think that's just City of Saints and Madmen, Shriek: An Afterword and Annihilation, plus maybe some shorter stuff in various places?). But for some reason I seem to only read his books several years after they're published, which is probably why I've not got around to Borne yet.  Will try to fix that.

Hunters and Collectors sounds really interesting but (at least in the UK) it also seems to be out of print now.

10 hours ago, mix_masta_micah said:

On the topic of weirdness infused sci fi, I ighly recommend Gnomon by Nick Harkaway and/or the Terra Ignota series by Ada Palmer. 

I'm a big fan of the Terra Ignota series, but I'd agree that I don't think it's "weird" in quite the same way I was thinking of. 

(Though I'm not exactly how best to express what I was thinking of, really.  Horror-adjacent, maybe?  Characters confronted with a universe which is fundamentally alien and unknowable, though perhaps not actively hostile?  As I said, some of Adam Roberts stuff comes close to what I have in mind, and probably more overt horror stuff would too, if I had the stomach for it.)

Will definitely try Gnomon at some point soon.

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I finished Parable of the Talents, which was such a depressing book that it was pretty hard to get through, but a good book nonetheless. I read that Butler intended it to be a trilogy, or perhaps even a longer series, before writer's block and her untimely death ended that. I'm kind of glad it's only a duology, though. I think the ending works really well.

Spoiler

Word is the third book, Parable of the Trickster, would have dealt with unhappy colonists on another world. And while that is logical, I like the hopeful ending of Talents as it stands. Besides, the first two books are so anchored on Olamina that it wouldn't really feel the same.

Also, I went to update my Goodreads and good gods they've fucked up that UI. It's so bad now. grumblegrumble

Edited by Starkess

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14 hours ago, Starkess said:

I finished Parable of the Talents, which was such a depressing book that it was pretty hard to get through, but a good book nonetheless. I read that Butler intended it to be a trilogy, or perhaps even a longer series, before writer's block and her untimely death ended that. I'm kind of glad it's only a duology, though. I think the ending works really well.

  Hide contents

Word is the third book, Parable of the Trickster, would have dealt with unhappy colonists on another world. And while that is logical, I like the hopeful ending of Talents as it stands. Besides, the first two books are so anchored on Olamina that it wouldn't really feel the same.

 

I agree with what you have in your hidden contents. I think it ends best where it is.

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I finished listening to The Dragon Republic by R.F. Kuang. This is the second book in the Poppy War series, a thinly fictionalized version of Chinese history. The books are pretty well written and engaging, but the main (and only POV) character is an absolutely abominable human being, and I find being in her head for so long (the books are also long af) pretty unpleasant. I'll finish the trilogy, but definitely need a break before I do.

Next up, I have The Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo. I found the Grisha trilogy to be okay but not great, so I'm excited for this as I've heard it's much better.

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7 hours ago, Starkess said:

I finished listening to The Dragon Republic by R.F. Kuang. This is the second book in the Poppy War series, a thinly fictionalized version of Chinese history. The books are pretty well written and engaging, but the main (and only POV) character is an absolutely abominable human being, and I find being in her head for so long (the books are also long af) pretty unpleasant. I'll finish the trilogy, but definitely need a break before I do.

I've been thinking of reading the Poppy War books. Is the protagonist intended to be awful, or does the author not realise how unpleasant she is?

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I'm moving on to the third of Charlie Stross's Merchan Prince Omnibusses.

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I just finished Citadel by Marko Kloos the third book in his Palladium Wars series. They're a little bit odd in that it doesn't really feel like they're distinct books, the narrative just sort of carries on, but overall they're okay. I wouldn't necessarily recommend them but I got them all while they were on offer on Amazon and they're reasonable enough at that price.

Next up I'm going to start The Wisdom of Crowds.

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Last week I finished Chronospace, a time travel science fiction novel by Allen Steele. One of its main premises is that flying saucer UFOs are not alien vessels but time travel machines from our own future. I liked the characters and it was interesting to see what he came up with for a new timeline when his time travelers changed history by inadvertently delaying the 1937 explosion on the airship "Hindenburg" by half an hour so that no one is killed as a result of the disaster. 

The PrimeTimers club for older gay men I now belong to in Omaha has started a book discussion group. Last night I finished The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman. the book club's first selection. It's a mostly "cozy" murder mystery where the amateur detectives are four residents of an upscale retirement community in the Weald district of England's county of Kent. It was well-written and had lots of twists and turns. The four members of the club are very different from one another despite having ended up as residents of the same retirement village. Though at one point Elizabeth, the leader of the Thursday club, seemed a bit too arrogant and domineering in her treatment of the local police to me, it was mostly a fun read -- though Americans will have to Google a lot of references to modern British slang and business names (such as Waitrose, an upscale supermarket chain) to fully understand some of them.  So a good choice if one is looking for a light murder mystery. 

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13 hours ago, dog-days said:

I've been thinking of reading the Poppy War books. Is the protagonist intended to be awful, or does the author not realise how unpleasant she is?

I'm honestly not sure. I thought it was supposed to be clear that she's awful, but reading some people's reviews, man, they LOVE her.

I did read that she is intended to be a Mao Zedong parallel ('Rebecca Kuang once described her Poppy War fantasy series as "what if Mao Zedong was a teenage girl?" '), so I'm pretty sure no?

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5 minutes ago, Starkess said:

I'm honestly not sure. I thought it was supposed to be clear that she's awful, but reading some people's reviews, man, they LOVE her.

I did read that she is intended to be a Mao Zedong parallel ('Rebecca Kuang once described her Poppy War fantasy series as "what if Mao Zedong was a teenage girl?" '), so I'm pretty sure no?

:blink: I think I may have to read them now! Or at least the first one. 

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15 minutes ago, Starkess said:

I'm honestly not sure. I thought it was supposed to be clear that she's awful, but reading some people's reviews, man, they LOVE her.

 

 

She fucking

commits genocide

in the very first book. Like she's supposed to be a sympathetic villain with a sympathisable backstory, a sort of look into radicalisation, for sure, but she's definitely a villain.  

But people come away loving Caine or Rorshach etc so it's not that surprising that people do. Hell, I still love Caine even though he's clearly a massively evil bastard. 

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2 minutes ago, polishgenius said:

 

She fucking

  Reveal hidden contents

commits genocide

in the very first book. Like she's supposed to be a sympathetic villain with a sympathisable backstory, a sort of look into radicalisation, for sure, but she's definitely a villain.  

But people come away loving Caine or Rorshach etc so it's not that surprising that people do. Hell, I still love Caine even though he's clearly a massively evil bastard. 

I KNOW! It's shocking to me that anyone is on her side, in the story or as a reader.

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3 hours ago, Ormond said:

Last night I finished The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman.

I've heard of this.  Sounds like the right sort of novel for 9 PM on a Sunday night in January as we're all locked in.

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3 minutes ago, Starkess said:

I KNOW! It's shocking to me that anyone is on her side, in the story or as a reader.

 

In fairness like what she did is

very much a Hiroshima and Nagasaki metaphor

and quite a lot of people think the people who did that in real life are heroes or at worst people who did what need to be done, so...

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