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Author Topic: The Book Thread  (Read 32216 times)

Spike

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The Book Thread
« Reply #765 on: February 27, 2016, 11:02:52 PM »
well, for the umpteenth time I've started GT Almasi's 'Blades of Winter".  I swore I've been lugging this book around for ten years, but since the copyright is only 2012...

Let me put it gently.

Its bad.

Yet I shall force myself to make it past chapter three this time, and maybe even finish it, so I can more clearly explain WHY it is so very, very bad*.  And who knows? Maybe the plot will redeem the writing.







* An example to whet your appetite: in chapter two the main character (19 year old cyber-spy/gymnast) is talking to her mother in a way that simply SCREAMS sociopathy.  Now, I don't think the character is supposed to be a sociopath, and I'm reasonably sure GT Almasi isn't a sociopath, but his inability to write the scene of a late teen girl manipulating her mother, with interior dialog, creates the impression of a person who doesn't 'get' emotions, but does know how to pretend to feel them.

Of course, 19 year old girl cyber-super-spy is a bad enough premise I'm not entirely sure why I bought it in the first place.
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One Horse Town

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The Book Thread
« Reply #766 on: March 03, 2016, 11:02:31 AM »
I'm not a massive SF fan anyway, but i was disappointed with Revelation Space by Alastair Reynolds. Nothing particularly exciting happens to a bunch of unsympathetic characters and there's telling, not showing, a lot of the time.

Bedrockbrendan

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The Book Thread
« Reply #767 on: March 05, 2016, 08:34:51 AM »
Finally tracked down a new copy of Arthur C Clarke's The City and the Stars (not a fan of used books). This was the novel that first got me into science fiction as a kid and I haven't read it in ages because it has generally not been that easy to find. Curious how well it holds up after all these years.

Bren

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The Book Thread
« Reply #768 on: March 05, 2016, 11:12:45 AM »
I recently read The Anvil of the World, a fantasy novel by Kage Baker published in 2003. I knew nothing about the author beforehand and it was a very pleasant surprise. It's a picaresque kind of tale with the tone of Lord Dunsany crossed with the characters of Jack Vance with a dash of Fritz Leiber. I gave it 3.5 out of 4 stars.
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One Horse Town

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The Book Thread
« Reply #769 on: March 23, 2016, 06:45:32 AM »
Currently nearly finished book 2 in the Voyages of the Chathbrand series. The Red Wolf Conspiracy was great and whilst the 2nd book, The Rats and the Ruling Sea has dropped the excellence a notch, i look forward to getting and reading the last 2 books in the series.

It's all a bit gonzo, which isn't that common in fantasy books, which is odd when you think about it. We have a race of 6 inch high human stowaways, woken animals who are some of the major characters in the series, a mage who lives in another world that can only be accessed through a portal found in a maritime clock...and he takes the form of a woken mink when he emerges. You have child-abducting Flikkermen, which are humanoids with a bit of electric eel DNA in them, shape-changing shark-men, cannibal mermaids, ghosts of all the captains that previously ran the Chathbrand - which is a super-ship that holds 800 men. Add in a plague of rats woken by an apocalyptic artifact in the hold that resides in the grasp of a man who has been turned to stone and is guarded by a sorcerer who survived being hanged for nine days, being cut into pieces and flung into the sea.

Did i mention its a bit gonzo?

The Butcher

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The Book Thread
« Reply #770 on: March 23, 2016, 03:36:49 PM »
Quote from: One Horse Town;883043
I'm not a massive SF fan anyway, but i was disappointed with Revelation Space by Alastair Reynolds. Nothing particularly exciting happens to a bunch of unsympathetic characters and there's telling, not showing, a lot of the time.


Redemption Ark is better. Absolution Gap has a great buildup but the ending is very unsatisfactory.

Didn't read the others.

Saplatt

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The Book Thread
« Reply #771 on: April 01, 2016, 02:09:35 PM »
Quote from: The Ent;773898
I'm currently reading Enter Player One. It's basically a love letter to 80s geekery.


I spent most of the 80s in bars or behind bars, but Ready Player One still made me laugh out loud at least 5 times.

Highly recommended!

One Horse Town

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The Book Thread
« Reply #772 on: April 16, 2016, 04:07:15 PM »
So, i've moved on to alt history for a bit. I've finally finished Quicksilver by Neal Stephenson which is so dense you could stand a spoon in it. Not an easy read at all, but pretty damned engrossing all the same. I didn't have the heart to move on to its 2 equally large sequels until i've recovered.

Instead i moved onto some steam-punk alt-history, The Strange Case of Spring-Heeled Jack by Mark Hodder featuring Sir Richard Burton (the explorer not the actor chap) and the poet Algenon Swinburne investigating the eponymous jack. Even though its perfectly ok, it seems so light-weight and insignificant compared to Quicksilver.

Oh well, i'll have to move on to one of my favourite books of all time The Stress of Her Regard by Tim Powers. I didn't even know that he'd penned a sequel of sorts to it a few years back, which i have promptly ordered Hide Me Among the Graves, which moves on a generation from Shelley, Keats and Byron onto the pre-raphaelite movement and the Rossetti family (and also features Algenon Swinburne!). Really looking forward to revisiting Stress and reading Graves for the first time.

Completing my 'historical artistic figures in alt-history and supernatural situations' suite of books is Dan Simmons Drood which sees Dickens chasing after a shadowy figure that haunts him and remains his unfinished novel.

Blimey, that lot is very nearly literature! I'm off for a glass of port what! what!

One Horse Town

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The Book Thread
« Reply #773 on: May 13, 2016, 12:01:14 PM »
Thought i'd have time to read that lot as i'm laid up but haven't even finished Stress yet!

Bedrockbrendan

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The Book Thread
« Reply #774 on: May 22, 2016, 12:46:27 PM »
Started reading Grace of Kings by Ken Liu. About half way through and really enjoying it. Someone recommended it to me as kind of fantasy wuxia. It isn't quite a straight analog, it is more like it takes a lot of the underlying themes and concept but makes them more universal. It definitely has a strong Imperial china root to it, but there are airships and the people of the setting are pretty diverse. Feels a little like Game of Thrones or Way of Kings in terms of scale and flow (but so far not nearly as dark). There is also definitely a Romance of the Three Kingdoms vibe to it. The prose is strong, the characters are interesting and the story engaging (I find myself quite interested seeing how things pan out). The world building is good too. One thing I like about the writer is he isn't striving for authentic Chinese material. It is more like he is building on a living tradition and he freely draws from other sources. I started the book half expecting it to be an obvious China analog, but it was more than that. Some of the sentiments feel a bit modern on occasion; that doesn't bother me in fantasy literature, as long as it is consistent with the setting material.

One Horse Town

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The Book Thread
« Reply #775 on: June 06, 2016, 06:14:15 PM »
Finished Drood by Dan Simmons. Not a lot happens over 700 pages that i thoroughly enjoyed reading, although the ending left an unsatisfied taste - which i guess is what happened to Dickens eponymous last novel. Bit too contrived when all is said and done, but i enjoyed the ride, even if i disliked the fixed grin of the driver.

Spike

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The Book Thread
« Reply #776 on: June 06, 2016, 09:24:15 PM »
Quote from: danbuter;822339
Next up is Cold Days by Jim Butcher. It's part of the Harry Dresden series, and I suspect I will like it. The first couple chapters are certainly pretty good.


I finished up Skin Game a couple of weeks ago. Curiously, I hated the first couple of chapters, but liked how it ended up.  Of course, I've got an issue with teh Harry Dresden stuff, in that I've only read a few books, scatter shot fashion, and Butcher, like most long series writers, relies heavily on self-reference.  Huge chunks of the plot apparently happened in previous books, and several long running ideas (I think) were resolved (?) in Skin Game. I put that (?) in there, because I seem to recall that Butcher is one of those authors who can tie up a plot thread in one book, and in a later book reveal that it isn't over, it's... evolved.

For example, from Skin Game,: once upon a time the fallen angel Lashiel possessed Dresden (or somethign), and left in his head an imprint he named Lash.  Then Lash became good instead of evil, so thread resolved. Then Lash Died, so thread Resolved. Now Lash has left a baby in Dresden's soul that has to be born or it will kill him, which is Resolved at the end of Skin Game.

Five books later (at a guess) teh Lash Baby Spirit thing will now be the big McGuffin all the evil people want to use to take over the world, the Farie Queen/God Morrigan (Mab?) wants to kill it for practical reasons, and Harry Dresden has to drive across Hell Itself in a SmartCar (TM!), in order to save the world and his spirit-baby!.

Or something.




One problem I did have with Skin Game was that the plot apparently was resolved (In a manner of speaking) back in Chapter Two, off screen.  I thought the difficulty tracking I was having was simply crap writing, but it was deceptive crap writing instead.  There is such a thing as being a bit too elliptical for your own good.
For you the day you found a minor error in a Post by Spike and forced him to admit it, it was the greatest day of your internet life.  For me it was... Tuesday.

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Spike

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« Reply #777 on: June 06, 2016, 09:39:25 PM »
Just re-read the Unremembered Empire by Dad Abnett, one of the Horus Heresy books. I liked the series when it first came out, but someone realized it was a money making machine, and it very quickly degenerated into  devoting entire books on essentially minutia, instead of pushing the Heresy forward. So the first few books resolve most of the Heresy very quickly, then... the interminable grind as Horus Lupercal advances on Terra to be soul smited by Da Emprah!.

Twenty books now?


Dan's a good writer, for all that, but I could feel him chaffing at the bit.  A lot happens, but almost all of it is just moving pieces around the board for later.  With Sanguinus arriving on Maccragge near the end of the book I have to wonder if the series editor (or whomever is planning these suckers) has lost the ball.  A BIG part of the plot of the battle for Terra was Robot Gullman stuck on Maccragge, too far away to intervene at teh start of the siege (and threatening to emanenetly arrive at the end, leading to Horus's 'big gamble' of luring Da Emprah! to him.  Big Gamble, because the official text pretty much establishes that Horus curb stomped Da Emprah pretty handily for all that he lost in the end.

But, of course, Sanguinus is there on Terra for the whole fight, defending the Gates to the very last, then dying to Horus on the barge. So two pieces are in the same place when they should be a galaxy apart.

The other nagging bit, one that surfaces frequently in the series (and other books...) is a question of ability.  Robot is depicted as merely sorta superhuman. A single squad of Alpha Marines almost end him in an assassination attempt.  Kurze on the other hand is shown being capable of murdering the entirety of the Ultramarines Legion, the Dark Angels Legion (say 40k Space Marines), along with thousands of other Space Marines just lying around aimlessly in most of a single night.  Bolter round impacts to Robot's armor genuinely hurt him and impair his fighting ability, but Kurze gets stabbed quite a few times, drawing blood, once with a chain sword, and merely seems annoyed. Lion El Johnson is showed to be as capable at hunting Kurze as Kurze is at avoiding him (ruling out excessive deamonic influence), until, of course, Kurze takes two Primarchs on at the same time and suddenly Lion El Johnson is only slightly better than his lieutenants.

Who knew there was a rule of Ninja Conservation for Primarchs?

But seriously: I expect that roughly equal beings of roughly equal power to be at least roughly equal matches. Sure, some primarchs are better in some areas than others, but this book puts Kurze on a level above, to the point its not even close, and only fate intervenes saves him from essentially murdering everyone.  That is not good writing.


And since this post has not yet met my minimum word count: This is especially bad seeing as the only main non-marine character thumps a whole lot of 'Primarchs are only human' into the heads of Robot's men after his attack, and just before Kurze lands on Macragge.
For you the day you found a minor error in a Post by Spike and forced him to admit it, it was the greatest day of your internet life.  For me it was... Tuesday.

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Simlasa

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The Book Thread
« Reply #778 on: June 17, 2016, 01:03:23 PM »
I just finished reading Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere... and was entertained enough to finish it... but only just.
A kitchen sink of cool-ish ideas, with flat but familiar archetypes as tour guides. The story isn't much of a story and the whole setting seems pasted together with spit and glue... I got no sense of ANYTHING going on outside of what was on the page.
Maybe I would have gotten more out of it if I'd spent more time in London? (I did once wander its streets all night, interacting with various street characters... ALL of whom were more interesting than any character presented in this book).

I also think the overall tone was a bit too 'twee' for me... it kept suggesting danger and darkness but pretty much always pulled its punches, never letting it get anywhere near as dark as it kept teasing it would be.
 
I've never read Sandman but I've liked some other projects that had his name on top... but now I'm wondering if I should bother reading more, except maybe to mine for game ideas.
« Last Edit: June 17, 2016, 01:08:41 PM by Simlasa »

One Horse Town

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The Book Thread
« Reply #779 on: November 27, 2016, 05:35:28 AM »
Here it is. For some reason this sub-forum defaults to showing only the threads from the last month.