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April 8th, 2009, 17:45
I'm making progress in The Punishment of Virtue, by Sarah Chayes, who gives a first hand account of the fall of the Taliban and subsequent events in Afghanistan from her perspective as an NPR reporter and aid worker. Interesting but slow going. Also started Thunderer by Felix Gilman, (referred to as new weird earlier in the thread) and even though I read very little fantasyish sci fi these days after burning out on Robert Jordan, I'm enjoying it quite a bit. Labyrinthine, to say the least.

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April 14th, 2009, 15:05
Originally Posted by Benedict View Post
Ordered a load of books for my trip to Australia, i hope my girlfriend doesn't want me to talk to her on the plane at all. I've got Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (Susanna Clarke), Accelerando (Charles STross), Natural History (Justina Robson), The Etched City (K.J. Bishop), Palimpsest (Catherynne Valente) & Sacco And Vancetti Must Die (Mark Binelli). Mostly new weird / fantasy type stuff, should be interesting. Plus I've ordered The Onion's Our Dumb World atlas thing for some toilet reading.
Made a fair bit of progress with these:

Palimpsest / Catherynne Valente - I feel like I should probably have enjoyed it more than I did. The imagination behind it was brilliant and the overall narrative arc was quite good but I just never really got into it. The characters were fairly inaccessible and as it jumped around between four of them quite a lot long before it came up with a solid context for why it was important it took a long time to really get into it. Overall just a bit too dreamlike for my liking, never made it far with Finnegans wake either no matter how good a book I know that's supposed to be.

The Etched City / KJ Bishop - Much more enjoyable, kept it to only a couple of main characters and got a strong narrative dynamic going early on so it was far easier to read, but still had a lot of depth. Wasn't what I'd been expecting in a lot of ways, I think I'd expected the city itself to feature more prominently as the key to the whole story (given the name) but it was more just a setting that the story took place in. Well worth reading though.

Natural History / Justina Robson - I liked the prose style and it was generally quite a good read, threw a lot of jargon and different characters in though so it's again not one to flick through if you don't want to risk backtracking because you've missed something. I like the world created though, some good thoughts on the possible next stages of human development and the political situations that might result.

Accelerando - Charles Stross - reading this now, not mad keen on the prose style but it's picking up fairly well so far. Comes closer to being hard sci-fi than a lot of things I've read recently, I've always found science fiction's vision of the future to imagine more in the way of increasing engineering mastery (spaceships and so on) and far less in the way of increasing data mastery (people on spaceships still using slide rules and tape based media for example, always funny) than has generally been the case so it's nice to see something taking the sheer information explosion of the last few decades and imagining where that might go in time.
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April 14th, 2009, 15:06
Originally Posted by magerette View Post
Also started Thunderer by Felix Gilman, (referred to as new weird earlier in the thread) and even though I read very little fantasyish sci fi these days after burning out on Robert Jordan, I'm enjoying it quite a bit. Labyrinthine, to say the least.
Glad you're enjoying it so far, hopefully enough of a departure from the robert jordan school of fantasy that it'll be a bit different
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April 14th, 2009, 15:14
Ordered a load of books for my trip to Australia, i hope my girlfriend doesn't want me to talk to her on the plane at all.
Hope your GF is not reading this forum That would be quite sad lose out to a piece of paper…..
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April 14th, 2009, 16:19
No progress on Ms. Clarke, benedict?

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April 14th, 2009, 17:08
Originally Posted by dteowner View Post
No progress on Ms. Clarke, benedict?
The book is MASSIVE. And in hardback, it just didn't make sense in terms of weight allowances to take it on holiday.
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April 15th, 2009, 17:54
Originally Posted by Benedict View Post
Glad you're enjoying it so far, hopefully enough of a departure from the robert jordan school of fantasy that it'll be a bit different
I think it's very well written and engaging, just not my genre unless I'm in a certain mood. (I read about one or two sci-fi/fantasy books a year out of the hundreds I devour. For entertainment, I'm pretty much into crime fiction, historical fiction and the odd thriller.)
I really really am burned out on the whole writing style that uses ten or fifteen different alternating character viewpoints that Jordan specialized in. I know it's supposed to keep things interesting to switch to a new protagonist and a new situation every few pages, but it has to be done very well, and also fairly, by which I mean, tying up all the loose ends of all the characters' stories, which Jordan never did—or I lose interest. So far, in this book that's not happening and all the characters are quite interesting, it's just a question of the book asking me to pay a bit more attention to it than I'm able atm.

Good to see you back, btw.

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April 15th, 2009, 18:22
Originally Posted by magerette View Post
I think it's very well written and engaging, just not my genre unless I'm in a certain mood. (I read about one or two sci-fi/fantasy books a year out of the hundreds I devour. For entertainment, I'm pretty much into crime fiction, historical fiction and the odd thriller.)
I really really am burned out on the whole writing style that uses ten or fifteen different alternating character viewpoints that Jordan specialized in. I know it's supposed to keep things interesting to switch to a new protagonist and a new situation every few pages, but it has to be done very well, and also fairly, by which I mean, tying up all the loose ends of all the characters' stories, which Jordan never did—or I lose interest. So far, in this book that's not happening and all the characters are quite interesting, it's just a question of the book asking me to pay a bit more attention to it than I'm able atm.

Good to see you back, btw.
Never been keen on too many different strands in books, it's okay if each one gets a fair amount of time at once before it flips to the next but otherwise it generally just destroys any immersion in a single story line. Not read any Jordan stuff anyway, I've largely given up on any fantasy I can actually buy in a normal bookshop, possibly quite unfairly. I blame David Eddings.

Thank you, I was in Australia for a couple of weeks

Oh, and while it's vaguely on the subject - my brother has been nominated for the best newcomer Hugo award Fingers crossed he'll get it, although only four people need to die to make it a shoe in, unless they can award it posthumously (I should probably check that before making any arrangements)
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April 21st, 2009, 06:29
just read arthur schnitzler's dream story. it was alright. the interplay of fantasy and reality was intriguing but the solely male narrative sat a little uneasy. the stories' expression of eroticism provoked interest but I'm not comfortable enough with the narrative to appreciate nor indulge in it
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April 26th, 2009, 16:50
Nonfic for a change: I'm reading Aramis, or the love of technology by Bruno Latour. It's a sociological study of a failed engineering project.

Aramis was supposed to be a "people mover" — an entirely automated light rail system, where you would go to a station and push a button to summon a four-seat vehicle, get in, punch another button for your destination, and then lay back as the machine took you there, with no transfers, stops, or detours. France spent about a half a billion francs (that's perhaps $50,000,000 and change) on it between 1973 and 1987, when the project finally got killed. It got as far as several fully-functioning prototypes, but never made it to production.

The book's pretty interesting; it's written in a pretty funky style that mixes excerpts from interviews and original documents with novel-like prose and academic discourse. It digs through the history of the project, with occasional comparisons to another public-transportation project of similar scale, scope, and ambition that actually succeeded — the fully-automated light rail system called VAL, in Lille. The interesting thing is that the same people were involved on both projects.

It's a good read; if you're interested in how technology projects work (or don't, as is so often the case), I highly recommend it.
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April 26th, 2009, 18:21
Pretty light reading, because I have a lot of work at the moment: Feynman's Surely you're joking, Mr. Feynman.

As the title suggests, the book is not about physics at all (Richard Feynman won the Nobel Prize in Physics 1965 for his work in quantum electrodynamics). Instead, it contains funny and sometimes insightful anectodes out of his life touching a wide variety of topics ranging from his amateur experiments on the behaviour of ants over his experiences with the military while working on the nuclear bomb in Los Alamos to Bongo music. He approaches each subject with a good measure of disrespect for the common or scholarly opinion, sometimes being ahead of the time in this way, and is extremely clear and illustrative in his descriptions, which I found very refreshing. In the chapter "Safecracker meets Safecracker" for example, he provides enough details for the reader to understand the mechanics behind lockpicking.

Since the book is devided into 40 independent chapters of one to twenty pages each, it is ideal for distracting yourself for a while when you do not have a lot of time — probably good for people with short attention spans, too. Either way, I found it difficult to stop once I started reading one of the chapters.

If Feynman is prejudiced about something, it would probably be his negative opinion on psychology and modern philosophy. Also, he was obviously sure of himself and likes to boast. For me, that is part of the book's charm, but it might not be to everyones taste.

It first appeared in 1985 so I imagine this is old news for most, but I was pleasantly surprised and can only recommend it.
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April 28th, 2009, 15:30
Currently I'm rereading "Ghost story" by Peter Straub. I must say this is the best ghost story/horror story I've read ever.

It's a bout "the Chowder Society", 5 old men in the town Milburn. They meet once a week to tell stories. At the start of the book, one of the members is dead. The others have recurring nightmares. Then another one dies, then….

The story develop very slowly, getting more an more eerie and scary. A woman is mentioned, Eva Galli, then we realize something happened looong ago… I'll say no more.

Recommended!!!!!

BTW: A film was made around 1980 with Fred Astaire in one of the main roles, the last film he ever made afaik. And no, there's no dancing.

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April 28th, 2009, 20:42
Ordered some more LOTR books yesterday to quench my thirst for Middle-Earthian knowledge. Right now I've got The Hobbit, The LOTR, The Silmarillion, The first 5 books from Histories of Middle Earth, and the 10th volume, Morgoth's Ring. And I'm damned proud. I've only read The Hobbit and LOTR so far, but I'm gonna start on The Silmarillion as soon as possible. I love Tolkien's writing.
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April 28th, 2009, 20:55
I still think The Silmarillion is Tolkien's best work. If you're expecting it to be anything like LOTR, you're in for a bit of a shock, though.

Most of the rest of the History of Middle-Earth is pretty dispensable IMO. There were a few bits in Unfinished Tales that I thought were worth reading, but the rest is for hard-core Tolkienistas only.
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April 28th, 2009, 21:00
Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post
I still think The Silmarillion is Tolkien's best work. If you're expecting it to be anything like LOTR, you're in for a bit of a shock, though.
Cool. Can't wait to get into it.
Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post
Most of the rest of the History of Middle-Earth is pretty dispensable IMO. There were a few bits in Unfinished Tales that I thought were worth reading, but the rest is for hard-core Tolkienistas only.
That's pretty what I'm expecting it to be. Simply lore of the world, and I'm fine with that. Tolkien crafted a wonderful world and I like being a part of that.
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April 28th, 2009, 21:53
Originally Posted by danutz_plusplus View Post
That's pretty what I'm expecting it to be. Simply lore of the world, and I'm fine with that. Tolkien crafted a wonderful world and I like being a part of that.
Actually, it's not. It's about the history of the creation of Middle Earth — how the mythos evolved in Tolkien's mind. You'll find lots of (usually relatively minor) variants of material you already know about, with commentary by Christopher Tolkien. There's very little genuinely "new" stuff there.
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April 28th, 2009, 22:03
Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post
Actually, it's not. It's about the history of the creation of Middle Earth — how the mythos evolved in Tolkien's mind. You'll find lots of (usually relatively minor) variants of material you already know about, with commentary by Christopher Tolkien. There's very little genuinely "new" stuff there.
Oh. Ok. That sounds interesting too. I'll have to read them to see more.
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May 6th, 2009, 00:01
I'm reading "The Shadow of the Wind" by Carlos Ruiz Zafón.

It's a novel taking place in Barcelona, where a kid called Daniel reads a book by a fairly unknown author, Julián Carax. The book has a great effect on him, and he tries to find other books by this writer, but cannot find any existing copies, so he tries to solve the mystery surrounding Carax.

I like it very much, so far! It's pretty interesting. In fact, I should probably log out now, and go back to reading.
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May 6th, 2009, 00:29
David Drake's Lord of the Isles. Not bad; I'll have to check out some of his other work.

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May 6th, 2009, 01:21
Blue Mars, by Kim Stanley Robinson. Red Mars was exhilarating - it's a must read; Green Mars was good…

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mars_trilogy
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