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What Are You Reading? Third Quarter, 2022


Fragile Bird
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On 7/17/2022 at 2:07 PM, polishgenius said:

I read Miles Cameron's space opera, Artifact Space. We know by know what we're getting with Cameron- protagonists leaning towards the mary-sueish, but written with verve and character and with entertaining twisty plots combining mazes of intrigue with intricately-detailed battle/fight sequences. He transposes that formula from medieval fantasy to space well, and I gotta say I enjoyed this more than his last series. Bit less hurried. Looking forward to the next, although I see that it's not scheduled yet and in the interim he has published the first in a completely separate series (back to the fantasy). Will pick that up at some stage.

Enjoyed this much more than Red Knight which was the only other  Cameron book that I read ...

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15 hours ago, TormundsWoman said:

His Three Body Problem has been on my “to read” pile forever I just never got around to it. It’s on audible and I will probably get it to listen on my drive to work. 

I thought The Three Body Problem was fantastic. I think some people are disappointed because they expect it to be a Neal Stephenson or Greg Egan kind of hard scifi, and it isn't.

The trilogy is much more in the spirit of Asimov's Foundation series. That is, the characters have no depth, but it is rich with ideas and the story is absolutely wonderful. Probably one of my favorite trilogy of books.

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19 minutes ago, IFR said:

I think some people are disappointed because they expect it to be a Neal Stephenson or Greg Egan kind of hard scifi, and it isn't.


My problems isn't that it's not that kind of sci-fi but that it's written in a lot of places like that kind of sci-fi and isn't. The line is obviously different for everyone and it isn't necessarily a flaw in itself, but I find it hard to get into something that spends time on detailed technical explanations that I know enough to know are just untrue.

 

Spoiler

My biggest problem was still that I find it genuinely offensive that the plot hinged on the idea that scientists finding out the universe doesn't work like they thought wouldn't go 'oh cool a new mystery' but just kill themselves en-masse, though. 

 

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14 minutes ago, IFR said:

I thought The Three Body Problem was fantastic. I think some people are disappointed because they expect it to be a Neal Stephenson or Greg Egan kind of hard scifi, and it isn't.

The trilogy is much more in the spirit of Asimov's Foundation series. That is, the characters have no depth, but it is rich with ideas and the story is absolutely wonderful. Probably one of my favorite trilogy of books.

Hmmm, must read them then!

I wanted to read some of the Adrian Tchaikovsky books mentioned but my library doesn’t have them, and I have such a pile of unread books that I really don’t want to run out and buy them.

I put a hold on The Three Body Problem.

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2 minutes ago, polishgenius said:

My problems isn't that it's not that kind of sci-fi but that it's written in a lot of places like that kind of sci-fi and isn't. The line is obviously different for everyone and it isn't necessarily a flaw in itself, but I find it hard to get into something that spends time on detailed technical explanations that I know enough to know are just untrue.

Sure, I remember our discussion. It's a fair opinion.

2 minutes ago, Fragile Bird said:

Hmmm, must read them then!

I wanted to read some of the Adrian Tchaikovsky books mentioned but my library doesn’t have them, and I have such a pile of unread books that I really don’t want to run out and buy them.

I put a hold on The Three Body Problem.

I'm going to get into Tchaikovsky pretty soon myself!

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39 minutes ago, IFR said:

thought The Three Body Problem was fantastic. I think some people are disappointed because they expect it to be a Neal Stephenson or Greg Egan kind of hard scifi, and it isn't.

Already downloaded it on audible. It came highly recommended from a family member and also a friend. It seemed to be generally appreciated in the sci-fi community too so I had to :D

 

15 hours ago, LongRider said:

Are you referring to Obama as the president you mentioned. He certainly is a good speaker and decent man.   :)

Zorral is correct. I was trying to make a funny at the expense of the dude who thought Frederick Douglass was something new to everyone but himself. Possibly that he is a contemporary alive activist who's work is getting more and more recognition.

Obama, I'm sure, knew of him from Kindergarten and most likely Douglass is one heroes and his struggles and life's work an inspiration!

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18 hours ago, Underfoot said:

I've been on an Adrian Tchaikovsky kick recently, thanks to the thread started for him. I started with Guns of the Dawn, which was excellent, possibly a perfect novel? Characterization, prose, pace, story... 

I followed that up with the Echoes of the Fall trilogy. The first, The Tiger and the Wolf was the best, benefiting from a tighter focus and better characterization, but the series progressed well / at a good pace, and I loved the way the story ended. The lore of the world was so fun, and partway through the second book I sensed the tie to the Shadows of the Apt series (which I haven't read), so will have to go back to that to see what I missed. I do think the worldbuilding held up just fine on its own, and maybe added more of a sense of mystery than otherwise. Thanks for the rec @williamjm!

I tried getting into Tchaikovsky a couple years ago and started with the Shadows of the Apt series. I read a couple of them but just never really got into it. You've got me thinking I should give one of his other series a try!

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3 hours ago, shortstark said:

Enjoyed this much more than Red Knight which was the only other  Cameron book that I read ...

I also found the Red Knight less satisfying, but Cameron's Long War books, about Arimnestos of Plataea's life during the Greek and Persian Wars was very, very much to my taste.

Ranging from the Ionian Revolt to Marathon and the Battle of Artemisium and finishing on the Dance Floor of Mars at Plataea, it describes Arimnestos' life as he goes on trading missions, learns to become a smith, is enslaved, and explores the known Western world for a new source of tin.

Less Mary Sue-ish than Artifact Space, but with many similar themes, just set in the world of the Classical Greeks.  I recommend them to you.

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17 minutes ago, Wilbur said:

set in the world of the Classical Greeks.  I recommend them to you.

Thanks!  I will look for them, having just finished the Landmark editions of Herodotus, and of The Anabasis, about to embark on Thucydides.

Maybe you would like to put this suggestion into History in Books thread as well?  Or, not! :read: :thumbsup:

Edited by Zorral
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21 hours ago, Underfoot said:

I've been on an Adrian Tchaikovsky kick recently, thanks to the thread started for him. I started with Guns of the Dawn, which was excellent, possibly a perfect novel? Characterization, prose, pace, story... 

I followed that up with the Echoes of the Fall trilogy. The first, The Tiger and the Wolf was the best, benefiting from a tighter focus and better characterization, but the series progressed well / at a good pace, and I loved the way the story ended. The lore of the world was so fun, and partway through the second book I sensed the tie to the Shadows of the Apt series (which I haven't read), so will have to go back to that to see what I missed. I do think the worldbuilding held up just fine on its own, and maybe added more of a sense of mystery than otherwise. Thanks for the rec @williamjm!

I'm glad you liked it.

Spoiler

If I ever re-read the trilogy I'd be curious to see if there were any hints in The Tiger and the Wolf that it was connected to the Apt books because I didn't pick up on anything until we meet the 'little monster' midway through the second book and the description of their wings was immediately reminiscent of those books. I think in some ways it's more of an Easter Egg for people who have read the earlier series because the events in the two series don't really have any impact on each other and the only direct narrative connection between them is in one of the short story collections. I think being familiar with the other series gives a bit more insight into the motivations of the different factions of the 'Plague People' but it's not crucial to understanding the trilogy.

 

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2 hours ago, Zorral said:

Thanks!  I will look for them, having just finished the Landmark editions of Herodotus, and of The Anabasis, about to embark on Thucydides.

Maybe you would like to put this suggestion into History in Books thread as well?  Or, not! :read: :thumbsup:

OK, will do.

You might also consider Harry Turtledove's Hellenic Traders books, if that milieu interests you.

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5 hours ago, Starkess said:

I tried getting into Tchaikovsky a couple years ago and started with the Shadows of the Apt series. I read a couple of them but just never really got into it. You've got me thinking I should give one of his other series a try!

Worth a shot!? Guns of the Dawn was a good place to start for me. A standalone (even a long one) is not as daunting as a 10 or even 3-book series, and sci-fi isn't really my thing. The Tchaikovsky thread had some good conversations that helped me figure out where to start. 

2 hours ago, williamjm said:

I'm glad you liked it.

  Reveal hidden contents

If I ever re-read the trilogy I'd be curious to see if there were any hints in The Tiger and the Wolf that it was connected to the Apt books because I didn't pick up on anything until we meet the 'little monster' midway through the second book and the description of their wings was immediately reminiscent of those books. I think in some ways it's more of an Easter Egg for people who have read the earlier series because the events in the two series don't really have any impact on each other and the only direct narrative connection between them is in one of the short story collections. I think being familiar with the other series gives a bit more insight into the motivations of the different factions of the 'Plague People' but it's not crucial to understanding the trilogy.

 

Spoiler

They mention Plague People and the Pale Shadow, as well as crossing the sea to escape. Not sure if there'd have been enough there even for a reader "in the know" though.  I don't remember any hints around "black and gold" which is what stood out in book 2 for me, as Empire in Black and Gold has been on my to-read list for ages.

 

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7 minutes ago, Underfoot said:

Worth a shot!? Guns of the Dawn was a good place to start for me. A standalone (even a long one) is not as daunting as a 10 or even 3-book series, and sci-fi isn't really my thing. The Tchaikovsky thread had some good conversations that helped me figure out where to start. 

  Hide contents

They mention Plague People and the Pale Shadow, as well as crossing the sea to escape. Not sure if there'd have been enough there even for a reader "in the know" though.  I don't remember any hints around "black and gold" which is what stood out in book 2 for me, as Empire in Black and Gold has been on my to-read list for ages.

 

Spoiler

I think the 'Plague People' and 'Pale Shadow' are terms Maniye's people use for them not what they use for themselves.

 

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After a long hiatus from fantasy books, in the last 2 weeks I read the Licanius trilogy. I think that the first two books were nothing special, but the third book was really great, and had an awesome conclusion, where everything suddenly made sense. In general, I found the trilogy being quite creative.

There are some things I did not like though:
- The books (especially the first two) were not written nicely. Felt a bit like Elantris/Warbreaker from Sanderson, where the plot is good but the writing is quite meh.
- Main characters except Tal are generic. Except for the name, they are completely the same.
- The books seemed to be very preaching in nature, and the author seems to want to educate the reader on his personal Christian beliefs.
- The battles were nowhere as epic as they could have been.

However, I think that the strengths outweigh the weaknesses:
- Tal is an all-time great character.
- The plot is quite complex, but not for the sake of being complex. It also makes sense in the end.
- Not a fan of time-travel, but here it was done exceptionally well.
- The Venerate were infinitely more interesting than Davian, Ash, and Wirr. I would definitely love to read a book about Alaris and co.
- That Tal is actually not the strongest of the Venerate as I was thinking at the beginning.
- The two twists were really nice, although I was expecting both of them.
- The story of Ghash and Alarius was chilling. Especially after you realize who are them.

Something that I would have liked to see:
 

Spoiler

To not be stated that the protagonists were right and the Venerate were wrong. To not be stated that Shammaeloth is evil, and El probably exist. Probably better if that would have been left ambiguous.

Also, is it only me that found one of the twist a bit disturbing:

Spoiler

Davian being able to manipulate kan in that city stuck in time had a bit anti-abortion tendency (life starts at conception).

The epilogue is one of the best epilogues ever.

Spoiler

Tal going to Davian's mother and sending infant Davian to that Gifted guy I forgot his name. Then Tal finally seeing the real Elliavaria after 4,000 years and resisting both the temptation to stay there, and also to tell her that she will die soon. But at the same time, the contrast between him telling Ell that he will burn the world to get her back (which he ultimately did), while her saying 'he wouldn't do so cause that is not what she would want', which is touching because eventually Tal stopped doing evil things and saved the world.
And then, Tal shapeshifts into Davian and 'suiciding himself'. 

Extremely touching!

Of course, as a big fan of Wheel of Time, I couldn't miss the analogies:

Spoiler

Tal is Lews Therin Telamon.
Gassandrid is quite a bit like Ishamael. Unlike the others who kind of reluctantly accept doing evil stuff for the greater good, it seems that Gass more or less is past that stage and kind of knows the truth, but that does not stop him (he wants to undo what he did to his city, regardless of the cost).
Davian is Rand. He even survives in a similar way (Rand jumping into Moridin, Tal shapeshifting into Davian).
Ash and Wirr are Egwene and Matt.
Venerate are obviously the Forsaken. The greatest/strongest heroes of their time, becoming evil.
Shammaeloth - Shaitan, even they start with the same letters.
El not intervining in the universe and everything being predetermined is similar to The Creator not intervening and 'the wheel wheeling as the wheel wills'.
Banes are trollocs (well Orcs), shaktar are Fades (well, Nazgul).

Of course, it has enough differences to be its own thing. Most notably, LTT/Rand being divided into two characters here.


 

Edited by TheRevanchist
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I started listening to the 3rd book in the Veronica Speedwell series but noped out after 3 chapters or so. I wasn't blown away by the first two books, but they were mildly enjoyable and the library had all the audiobooks, so I was continuing on...no more. It's like the author took all my complaints from the first 2 books and boiled them down into their most concentrated form to start book 3. So I'm done with THAT series and just waiting for another hold from the library to come through.

On 8/2/2022 at 6:43 AM, TheRevanchist said:

After a long hiatus from fantasy books, in the last 2 weeks I read the Licanius trilogy. I think that the first two books were nothing special, but the third book was really great, and had an awesome conclusion, where everything suddenly made sense. In general, I found the trilogy being quite creative.

Interesting, I also enjoyed the Licanius trilogy but had the opposite thought--the first book was really great and the second two much less so. Also I never really noticed the WoT parallels you pointed out, funnily enough seeing as WoT is one of my favorite series of all time and I've read it like 4 times. Ha!

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Back from camping, and made a huge dent in my stack.!

I finished “What I Talk About When I Talk About Running” by Murakami, and “Intuition Pumps and Other Tools for Thinking” by Dennett.  The former was a really quick read for me, I really enjoyed the perspective and approach he had toward life and creative endeavors with endurance running and its approach and benefits - I feel the same way about mountain climbing, and it makes me want to try a triathlon and/or a marathon.  The latter was a little challenging to get through, but was a pretty approachable philosophy book with some good brain benders and thoughts on how to approach consciousness and free will.

Almost finished “A Swim in a Pond in the Rain”, by Saunders - I have really enjoyed this a lot, and am taking it slower than normal to savor it. Great writing advice and analysis of a grip of Russian short stories, stepping the reader through what makes them hum and the technique they use, based on a course he teaches at Syracuse.  Can’t recommend this enough to anyone who might write a short story, it’s really a fun and educational book.

Just started “Wonderland” by Dickman, and “The Tyrant Baru Cormorant” by Dickinson. The latter is the final book in a trilogy, the second book (read last year) took some interesting turns that I wasn’t really enthused with, so I didn’t go directly into this book - but I probably should have.  I forgot the depth of the world and how well-done the perspectives are, I got sucked into it this afternoon and can’t wait to devote more time to it this weekend.

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