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Books, I read them ...



  • I did go through Garden's on the Moon and I'm glad I went on to Deadhouse Gates. I remember Sasquatch saying earlier it felt like a collection of short stories which does make it hard to connect. Whereas with the Wheel of Time despite everyone's warnings about I have that connection so I still want to see it though(currently on The Shadow Rising now. Maybe I'll give Memories of Ice another go since I'm on vacation this week.
  • I definitely agree that the gentleman bastards series gets worse as it goes on, not that it actually gets bad, but the first book was an instant classic in my eyes.
  • Disaster averted. The mystery of Area X is explained in the last book.
  • @Ikken

    Wheel of time is alright for the first few books. I remember liking the first three very much. Unfortunately, after (and possibly even during) those first few books the quality of every female character declines to the point where I stopped a bit short of halfway through the fifth book over a year and a half ago and have not thought even once of going back to it. The female characters (and the male ones to a lesser extent) become incredibly annoying and a good portion of the 4th and 5th books, both of which are over a thousand pages long is spent having the characters bitch at each other and tug on their own braids.
    Don't forget straightening their dresses. I just told my girlfriend that I never noticed how often women fixed their dresses in this book. I guess it started up in book 4.

    Hopefully I can find these books while I'm out.
  • You got me into the Southern Reaches thing, Joel, mostly because you said that they actually explain the mystery. I am getting the same sense from the story so far that I got from Myst (and it seems to me that I heard someone else describe it that way.)
  • It's brief, and you don't know everything about everything, but the cause of Area X is explained.
  • Currently reading An Artist of the Floating World by Kazuo Ishiguro. Incredibly poignant. It's like Remains of the Day x 10.
  • About half way through The Book of The New Sun. I keep finding this book very frustrating and fascinating. Any other tips for books set some kind of incomprehensible super-far future?
  • The Culture Series might fit the bill. We read Player of Games when the book club was a thing. (I miss the book club.)
  • I believe Wolfe based the setting on the works of John Vance, so maybe check him out? Wolfe's 'Fifth Head of Cerberus' is also pretty similar, but generally considered equally frusterating as The Book of the New Sun.
  • ^^I also miss the book club. That should be a thing again.
  • I'll second that Culture series for the reference. Player of Games was really great, even though it had a few problems, it was still very well-written and imaginative.
  • edited August 2015
    The Southern Reach books were pretty classic cerebral sci-fi. I enjoyed reading them, although there were definitely some "wait, what the fuck happened with (thing)" bits at the end. Some of things that either should have been expanded on to get proper closure, or excised entirely.

    The series *does* pretty much explain--or, at least, give a reason for--what happened, although if you want sourcebook-style discussion of "this thing happens because of that" and so on, you're definitely not going to get it.
  • I still really want to know exactly what happened to Saul.
  • edited August 2015
    Can we still do spoilers here? Or should I just post my thoughts?
  • edited August 2015
    Spoiler: RobotBastard
    Spoilers for spoilers.
  • edited August 2015
    Ah, thanks.

    I think Saul was infected (or maybe it's better described as colonized) by some kind of extradimensional entity, the thing that fled from wherever Area X originated. But its effects on a person are highly dependent on that person's state of mind, and since Saul was so focused on his fever-dream sermon and his emotional tie to his lover, he didn't completely disappear into Area X. And he was pretty much stuck forever re-experiencing the time from the first moments he encountered the entity until the last moment before he fully merged with it. So it would write its words and go down the stairs, and when it reached the bottom it would go back to the surface (causing a cataclysm in Area X) and start over again. I think this is why the last bit of his last chapter repeats the first bit of his first one.

    As to what happens after the end of the book, I get the sense that all the strange Area X things stopped happening when Control jumped into the light at the bottom of the tower, and the entity that started Area X realized what Earth was actually supposed to be like. As in, all along it was Saul refusing to give up that was causing Area X to be a nightmare world rather than remaking Earth into a garden.

    Although that does raise the question of whether it's just a reset button, or whether there will be caretakers. Like, will you turn into a pig monster if you throw your cigarette butts on the ground.

    The whole "what happens is based on your mind" thing is, I think, why the one guy turned into a horrible monster; Lowry's hypnotic messing-about caused it.

    What I wanted to see was less of a goofy, hallucinatory interpretation of Henry (the guy who made a hole in the lens and released the entity). The book seemed to be presenting him as this mysterious figure who might not be real--the whole "there's more than one of him, he's not listed in the staff" thing--but the author didn't really do enough to make that work, I feel.

    Also, there was an interesting part where Control seems to still have a simulacrum of Lowry in his mind, but that just kind of gets dropped. I would have liked to see it make an appearance at the very end, something like "the Lowry in his mind screamed. Control thought, but don't you see, this is what happens. Nobody actually leaves Area X once they've entered it."
  • Making my way through Crime and Punishment. It is good, but Dostoyevsky seems to really like to say the same thing multiple times.
  • Just finished the chapter where Raskolnikov commits the murder. That chapter and the few chapters leading up to it were increadible. This translation is excelent.
  • ^C & P is amazing and possibly my favorite novel of all time, it only gets better. I've been meaning to pick up the Pevear/Volokhonsky translation to see how it compares to the Penguin one I have.

    For my part, just finished Blood Meridian last night. As I was telling a friend, it feels kind of perverse to say I "liked" it, especially given how I see-sawed throughout between finding it impossible to take McCarthy's portentousness seriously and finding passages that were legitimately beautiful, but on the whole it was an experience I was glad to have had. It took until towards the end of the book for the near-constant grotesque violence to finally get to me, but once they get to Glanton and the crew taking over the ferry and the fallout from that it finally got me.

    Also, not super comfortable with the dehumanisation of The Fool and Jackson; I get the vibe McCarthy was writing his narrator as being a product of the universe that exists within McCarthy's novels, but when your narrator drifts from telling the story from the perspective of the kid to eventual omniscience, maaaaaybe we don't refer to the neuroatypical guy as "it" and the one PoC part of the cast as "the black."
  • I'm reading the McDuff translation. I wish my Russian was good enough to read it in the original languages.
  • just read a bunch of Pushkin until it gets good enough to read something other than poetry.
  • I love the chapter that is just Porfiry and Raskolnikov talking at Porfiry place. Raskolnikov seems totally out of his league and playing right into Porfiry's hands. Which of the two am I suppose to be rooting for?
  • ^Literally my favorite part of the book.
  • Same. I also love dinner party where Pyotr Petrovich gets his mental ass handed to him by Dunya. Pyotr Petrovich is an asshole.
  • Keeping on the Russian train, I picked up both Tolstoy's Anna Karenina and Dostoevsky's Demons. Going with Anna Karenina first.
  • "There's Tolstoy gibbering on for hundreds of pages about the Russian peasant's spiritual relationship to yakkety yakkety yak, and me going 'Leo, why'd she fuck the guy?' " -- P.J. O'Rourke
  • I don't know, the book is as much about 19th century Russian society as it is about Anna Karenina. I don't mind that at all.
  • Crime and Punishment ended strong. I was a little surprised at first that the first half of part 6 focused more on Svidrigailov than Raskolnikov, but then I realized that Svidrigailov is suppose to be what Raskolnikov would turn into if he doesn't confess.
  • Managed to get my hands on a copy of The Summer of the Ubume by Natsuhiko Kyogoku. I dig a lot of mysteries so can't wait to get into it.
  • The Psychopath Test is really quite fascinating
  • He just wrote another about crowd behavior on the internet that sounded cool, too.
  • I was reading Neuromancer until the pointless sex scene. Felt like I was finished with it at that point...

    Got any better sci-fi recommendations for some one who's only read enders game, it was good.
  • "The Final Reflection", by John Ford, is really good.

    I also suggest "Lieutenant Leary Commanding", by David Drake.

    And, if Neuromancer wasn't what you were looking for in cyberpunk, you could try Hardwired (it has sex scenes but I don't feel like they're entirely gratuitous).
  • If you didn't like the sex scene in Neuromancer, Hardwired isn't for you either.

    Reading To Save Everything, Click Here. Morozov can't be a little abrasive but I do appreciate his appeal to flesh and blood humanity in the face of the Utopian vision of technology commonly espoused.
  • I don't even remember the sex scene in Necromancer. I read it after Snow Crash so I probably just zoned out through it.
  • It's pretty early on and pretty out of nowhere, but when I think about it, how many Cyberpunk novels DON'T have that?
  • I guess it's notable that Adam Jensen doesn't bang anybody...
  • Guess I will just have to train with Deus ex before I can endure the lame sex robot crop.

    Thanks for the recommendations too!
  • I remember the Neuromancer sex scene sounding way more uncomfortable than erotic, but I think it's the only one in the book so you're already over the hump. Oops, I swear I didn't originally intend that pun.

    The newest Jon Ronson book was good but takes some time to get going, more than the others I've read. Them! is still my favorite of his.
  • Just finished Thomas Ligotti's The Conspiracy Against The Human Race. Like a lot of (what I'll classify him as for lack of a better term) existential/cosmic/Gothic horror writers I find his fiction only mildly interesting and generally underwhelming; this, while occasionally funny both intentionally and in a "this would not sound even the slightest bit out of place coming out of the mouth of a mid-90s JRPG villain" sort of way, and thought provoking with some interesting insights into What Makes Horror Work, was a meh use of my time.

    Currently reading Goethe's Faust for a class and The Beauty of the Husband by Anne Carson, quite enjoying both of those.

    @GingaBulls: I'd say it's worth reading through the rest of Neuromancer even if it isn't even Gibson's best, that's the only weird cyberpunk sex thing in the book IIRC.
  • The thing is, though, that sex and human intimacy are a big part of what cyberpunk is all about. And sometimes "this sex is weird and mechanical" is kind of the whole point.
  • I was finding Russian novels to cheerful, so I read Grapes of Wrath.
  • The fact that the dust bowl was a real thing that happened still kinda blows my mind.
  • So much in that book blows my mind. and made me cry.
  • The real tragedy is that the revolution Steinbeck presaged was completely forestalled by WWII.
  • RIP Umberto Eco
  • Picked up Alan Moore's new book Jerusalem. I read some reviews saying it was fanfucking tastic, including one from NPR. I'm excited for this one.
  • About 100 pages into Jerusalem. The book may be long, but it is a fairly easy read so far. Every chapter seems to follow someone different and Moore's prose do an excellence job of confirming to the way the character would think and talk. I'm told the chapter about Joyce is one of the hardest to read for that reason.
  • Blast from the past.
    kaazuwulf said:

    Le Guin is SO good! Speaking of which, i just picked up her novel The Dispossessed. I have heard it is pretty much her best work, but how anything could be better then Left Hand of Darkness is beyond me.

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