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January 7th, 2008, 14:02
Well, another plane trip this week … so I decided to read a book

Completely read Vonnegut's Breakfast of Champions - it is my original 30-year old paperback, and in terrible shape at this point (pages falling out). Fortunately it is still intact. Another wonderful read - full of humor and insight and cynicism … and complete chaos!

— Mike
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January 7th, 2008, 20:25
You're spending a ton of time on the road one way or another lately Mike. You might want to check out that title I talked about earlier—The Algebraist. It is definitely a Vonnegut influenced sci-fi space opera, with a lot of pages, too.

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January 7th, 2008, 21:31
Finished off the Sandman series. Now there's something that gets better as it goes along: three of the last four volumes were superb, and the penultimate one (The Kindly Ones) is really, really hard to beat in any medium. Wow. Very very highly recommended!

Also picked up and read "Lucifer: The Devil At The Gate," a Sandman spin-off. It was surprisingly good, although I suppose it would be hard to go wrong with a comic about the Captain of the Hosts of Heaven (dishonorably discharged), Lord of Hell (retired), and best nightclub pianist in Los Angeles (and almost certainly the world.)

Starting with Stiglitz's "Making Globalization Work" next.

PS. @magerette, I'm thrilled you liked The Algebraist. Iain M. Banks is somewhat addictive, though, so be warned…
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January 7th, 2008, 21:50
currently reading 'The 12th Planet' by Zecharia Sitchin, first book in the earth chronicles.
disputed - yet enjoyable , sumerian mythology
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January 8th, 2008, 03:18
Originally Posted by magerette View Post
You're spending a ton of time on the road one way or another lately Mike. You might want to check out that title I talked about earlier—The Algebraist. It is definitely a Vonnegut influenced sci-fi space opera, with a lot of pages, too.
I know, I know, I know … more flights in the last 4 weeks than the last 4 years!

Anyway, re-reading Guerrillas by V.S. Naipaul … more wonderful stuff.

— Mike
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January 8th, 2008, 08:50
reading "Jewel of Tamar". Anyone who have played BG2 mod Tsujatha might know of this novel… thinking of buying the 2nd novel as well.
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January 9th, 2008, 14:01
On the flight home I re-read Asimov's Foundation … and a bit more of Guerillas

— Mike
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January 9th, 2008, 16:10
Started Captain Alatriste, by Arturo Perez-Reverte, story of a 16th century swashbuckling, mustachioed ex-soldier who now makes a seedy living as a sword-for-hire in Madrid. Great writing, but as with most translations, a lot of references to Spain, spanish customs and words that go over my head—I see a Spanish-English dictionary in my future.

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January 10th, 2008, 14:54
Wow! Lots of my favorites are being read here. I'm a huge Sandman fan (eyes left, my avatar is The Sandman ), Asimov is one of my favorite authors and Foundation is a great series, and I finally got around to reading Vonnegut with Slaughter-House Five and A Man Without a Country.

I'm not proud of it, but I'm currently reading the first Harry Potter book. I have to admit I'm coming at it highly skeptical since fantasy for me is defined by Tolkien, but I've heard so many adults recommend it, that I've decided to take the plunge. So far I'm a bit disappointed since it's so obviously targeted at children, but I'm keeping an open mind and will stick with it. The series is supposed to get better and darker, more engaging in later books.

For those of you that like graphic novels, I highly recommend Lone Wolf and Cub by Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima. It's about a ronin assassin that is on a quest for revenge that takes his toddler son along with him in a baby cart. Sounds kind of dark and it is at times, but it's mostly uplifting and moralistic…er, in a secular way, not a right wing demagogic way.

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January 10th, 2008, 15:59
Harry Potter was a big let-down for me. I never even finished the series. The only redeeming feature it has IMO is that the author does capture something real about what it's like to grow up; I imagine that this is why so many pre-teens and teenagers identify with it so strongly. And its flashes of cheerful irreverence are likable too.

But the rest? Derivative, clumsily paced, often clumsily written, sometimes to the point of being downright irritating.
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January 10th, 2008, 16:28
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen - Dark Dossier

Retro-future with filth thrown in - good stuff.
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January 11th, 2008, 07:00
A bit further along in Captain Alatriste—Perez-Reverte is really an engaging writer—short example below if interested—(to set the scene, Alatriste is in The Tavern of the Turk, run by his benefactress a former prostitute who has taken him under her wing, drinking with his cronies—a lawyer, a Jesuit priest , and a poet in and out of political favor):

Spoiler – Quoted Passage


'Kay sorry all—back to my reading.

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January 11th, 2008, 11:33
Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post
Harry Potter was a big let-down for me. I never even finished the series. The only redeeming feature it has IMO is that the author does capture something real about what it's like to grow up; I imagine that this is why so many pre-teens and teenagers identify with it so strongly. And its flashes of cheerful irreverence are likable too.

But the rest? Derivative, clumsily paced, often clumsily written, sometimes to the point of being downright irritating.
In a way I agree with you. Harry Potter series started off really good but towards the end it kinda went down hill. I personally didnt like order of the pheonix. All harry does is getting pissed at everything for no apparent good reason. And I have to admitt, last one was bit of a let down as well.

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January 11th, 2008, 13:47
Originally Posted by purpleblob View Post
All harry does is getting pissed at everything for no apparent good reason.
Sounds like a hormonal teenager … oh, wait, he *was* a hormonal teenager!

But I definitely think that at least starting with Goblet of Fire (and the dreadful 200-pages of Quiddich World Cup that made the Episode I Pod Race look interesting) she really needed an editor to make judicious use of, say, a hatchet and sledgehammer!

— Mike
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January 11th, 2008, 14:51
Ugh, after all these pithy comments about Harry Potter, I may have to give it the boot. I have too many other things I'd like to read. I'll finish the first one, but after that I'm reading my Christmas gifts, Blackwater by Jeremy Scahill and Michael Palin Diaries 1969 - 1979, The Python Years, by, well Michael Palin.

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January 11th, 2008, 14:55
Since you already started, you might as well finish the first book. You'll know if you're interested enough to grab the next one.

Harry Potter is sort of like the Oblivion of fantasy novels. Lots of people like it, most of whom aren't too familiar with the fantasy genre, so it has got to be doing something right.

(FWIW, I liked Jonathan Stroud's take on the "wizard's education" theme much better; I read The Amulet of Samarkand and The Golem's Eye, and liked them enough to keep an eye out for the final book in the trilogy… but not so much I'd just go and order it from Amazon.)
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January 11th, 2008, 15:54
Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post
Harry Potter is sort of like the Oblivion of fantasy novels. Lots of people like it, most of whom aren't too familiar with the fantasy genre, so it has got to be doing something right.
I think it is wonderful for younger kids - we started years ago doing read-alouds, and last year even though our kids could chew through the books in a couple of days we *still* did read-aloud for the last one.

The good thing about Harry Potter - and to a lesser extent the Eragon books - is the amount of kids reading them. Despite declining trends worldwide in terms of reading, these books have helped slow that decline. For our kids, they have led to curiosity to read other stuff in and out of the genre.

Also, when compared against 'great literature' or even the LotR books the Potter stuff is lacking, but compared to stuff like Stephen King, Halo and Star Wars novels, RA Salvatore and other fantasy stuff … it really isn't so bad …

— Mike
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January 11th, 2008, 16:50
I just started "Death Star." I'm not one generally for Star Wars novels, as less than half of those I read were worth the time, but I figured I'd give this one a try. Only 60 pages in and so far not too bad. Not to the level of the Ep III novelization, but much better than Cloak of Deception (which I think was one of the worst books I've ever read). I realize Sci-Fi can be hard to write as you are trying to describe things that don't exist, but Cloak just miserably failed in that department!

My only compliant so far is that there are a LOT of different characters with different story lines. If they don't start entwining soon, it will get old real quick!
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January 11th, 2008, 17:07
Originally Posted by txa1265 View Post
The good thing about Harry Potter - and to a lesser extent the Eragon books - is the amount of kids reading them. Despite declining trends worldwide in terms of reading, these books have helped slow that decline. For our kids, they have led to curiosity to read other stuff in and out of the genre.
Absolutely. Anything that gets kids to line up in front of a damn bookstore is worthy of a big tip of the hat in and of itself. I just didn't like it much myself, and I was speculating that most people who have read more than a couple of fantasy books might feel the same.

Perhaps the only thing that annoys me about Pottermania is that IMO there are a quite a few books out there that are much, much better and at least as well suited for kids. But, as you say, getting into reading through Potter makes it much more likely for a kid to grab one of them than never getting into reading at all.
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January 11th, 2008, 17:27
I just finished "Shield of thunder" by David Gemmell.It's the second book of the trilogy "troy".A very nice book with a small historical touch.The bad is that Gemmell died and the third book will be finished by his wife.
I recomend Gemmell to all who want to read a good fantasy book.Simple but addictive
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