Whatcha Reading? (Picking it up again)

Remarkable book. Being very unfamiliar with Brunner’s writing i wasn’t sure what to expect but so much of this reads as contemporary that i had to keep checking when it was written. I don’t really mean specifics, just the general sense of a wtf world and characters who are frogs boiling in water until it’s too late. There are bits that could easily be from now even though he’s basically firing a shotgun at a wall and we’re just drawing a bullseye around the largest cluster. Still, i must read the others in the Rome Quartet.

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Shockwave Rider is one of my all time favorites.

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I look forward to reading that. I noticed in his little bio on the back that he was a linguist and that really shows through in his writing, also The Shockwave Rider is such a great title.

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This one is great so far!

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catching up,

The Expert System’s Brother, The Expert System’s Champion: Really good stuff. Not as deep or dense as The Children of Time books, but interesting worldbuilding. I wonder really if these aren’t in the same universe, it would certainly work.

Walking to Aldebaran : FREAKY. After reading Piranesi earlier in the year I couldn’t help but compare the two. This is like Piranesi on bath salts and ancient space horror. I liked it, but it’s a nightmare.

Slough House: Always a fun espionage read. Mac & Cheese. I dunno how he gets away with Jackson Lamb’s humor anymore.

The Hollow Places : I didn’t enjoy this as much as I expected to. It was fun, but I think maybe after other stuff I have read lately I expected to have more revealed about the mechanics and origins of the mysteries involved. I also found it difficult to believe that people would choose to remain silent about the stuff that was going on.

Shards of Earth Wow. I rushed to see if there were sequels and realized it came out this year. I want more so badly. Adrian Tchaikovsky is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. So impressive.

I loved Fun Home and I’ve given it to lots of people (including my own copy it seems!), But I didn’t really like are you my mother. It was one of those therapy as art things, rather than art being therapeutic.

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Exactly. I kept thinking of the phrase “navel gazing.”

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I’ve been trawling for old SF books I’ve missed, and recently just read all of Chris Moriarty’s Spin trilogy, which are fucking great along with all of Sean Williams’ stuff ((which is inconveniently nearly all dead-tree format, but it’s well worth seeking out).
risingshadow.net is an excellent source for trawling through SF books; you can search by genre, year, etc, and unlike Amazon, it doesn’t bombard you with all the Kindle unlimited Sad Puppy dross that makes one want to give up on the entire genre.
P S. Anyone who hasn’t read all of Kameron Hurley’s books, especially the Belle Dame Apocrypha ones should probably go do that

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Looks really good, thanks! Adding that to my list.

Really enjoyed While No One Was Watching as an audiobook. I did figure out the situation early on, but that’s from reading too many thriller/mysteries. The downside was that I found the end reveal all too depressingly possible.
So there are two poems about birds and hope and singing, that my brain has managed to insist are about the same bird:
This one;
Hope” is the thing with feathers -
That perches in the soul -
And sings the tune without the words -
And never stops - at all -

And sweetest - in the Gale - is heard -
And sore must be the storm -
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm -

I’ve heard it in the chillest land -
And on the strangest Sea -
Yet - never - in Extremity,
It asked a crumb - of me.
Emily Dickinson
And this one;
Of Mere Being

The palm at the end of the mind,
Beyond the last thought, rises
In the bronze distance.

A gold-feathered bird
Sings in the palm, without human meaning,
Without human feeling, a foreign song.

You know then that it is not the reason
That makes us happy or unhappy.
The bird sings. Its feathers shine.

The palm stands on the edge of space.
The wind moves slowly in the branches.
The bird’s fire-fangled feathers dangle down.
Wallace Stevens

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Here’s an amazing story I found today. I’m not really sure where to share it, but the “reading” topic seems as good a place as any.

This thread seems slow but I’m gonna put this out there

This is hands-down the best American history book I’ve read, ever. (I’m perhaps biased because I live in MO and am very familiar with STL.) Features mound builders, fur trappers, Indian killers, slavers, rioters, abolitionists, secessionists, unions, Communists, Anarchists, developers, speculators, demolishers, racists, Veiled Prophets, Chicagoans, railroaders, activists, cops, citizens, prisoners, soldiers, refugees, and many more characters.

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Heres a fun (if poorly copy edited) review of a book that I didn’t realize appears in QT’s “Pulp Fiction,” An Atlas of Extinct Countries, by Gideon Defoe:

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Years and years ago Ellen Kushner wrote Swordspoint, a lovely little novel of intrigue and sword fighting. There followed two other novels, also lovely. Now I’ve discovered that she and a group of friends have been using that world for a long running podcast called Tremontaine. They’ve published the first season as a book, which is what I saw first, but I’m listening my way through. It’s fun. The different authors are easily distinguished, there are enough plots going to keep things interesting, and the characters are solid. The different readers I find harder to deal with-one of them is quite breathless and excited all of the time, which makes the sex scenes (there are lots of them, very few cis-het) sound rather more salacious than I enjoy. Definitely worth the listen.
Also working on Barcley Liinwood’s latest thriller, about a guy who discovers he has Huntington’s Chorea and has to track down his kids-turns out he was a sperm donor back in college. When people start dying there is quite a cast of possible villains. I won’t be surprised to discover that there are several bad guys working at cross purposes.

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Before getting round to catching up with Terry Pratchett’s books, that’s a lot so I’ll be a while, thought I’d mention a few.

The woman in white by Wilkie Collins. He was a friend and protégé of Dickens. It’s a really intesting read, I say only interesting because in my opinion a lot of what was standard in fiction writing in the 19th century is what we would call bad now. So there’s some awful overlong waffle page filling going on. This book is in the bones of so much later literature from Gaslight to Sarah Waters’ Fingersmith (and the TV show, and the Korean film) all of which I enjoyed and now I feel silly not even knowing that it was based on it. I mean it is very obviously a riff on it.

I also just read The Riddle of the Sands, a proto spy novel and originator of the German invasion craze which later took off. Written by a British soldier and imperialist who later became an executed Irish revolutionary (there were surprisingly many of them!). Unfortunately I know nothing about sailing so many passages went right over my head. Again interesting for the history of genre and I intend to read a book of John Buchan. Who led a much more conventional successful life in the British establishment and didn’t get killed. Nor did his son become president. So there is that.

Just started the Moonstone by Collins which is supposed to be the first modern English detective novel. I’m enjoying it. I read all of Sherlock Holmes one time after an accident meant I had to get a bus to work for a while so I see already how he nicked a bunch of stuff from this.

The Holmes books were shite btw. Absolute muck in general. The odd decent story in there but you can see why he killed him off as he was really writing by numbers at that stage.

I’ve been listening to some classic ghost stories so looking into the 19th century and early 20th emerging genres was something I was interested in.

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Rereading Stanislaw Lem’s “Cyberiad”. About two makers written way before making was cool. Funny light read with some deep themes. I first read it as a teenager. Includes the phrase “you can tie them in bundles and roll them down hills”, which is a helpful answer when anyone asks what you’re going to do with a collection of items that you find valuable but they can’t see the charm of. Not much like his “Solaris” in tone if you’ve seen or read that.

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Lem is one of my favorite authors, and it was fascinating to see how widely the translations varied in quality. One of my best moments was seeing Michel Kandel at Worldcon and saying “You did such a great job with Lem’s books!” I’m not sure he’d been recognized in public before. Very nice man.

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Andy Weir: Project Hail Mary

Some 120 pages in, jury’s still out.
Very interesting premise.

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Adrian Tchaikovsky: The Doors of Eden: Interestingly different that Tchaikovsky’s other works. He’s become one of my favorite authors for his hard SF, this was a different mix of things. I haven’t read any of his fantasy work, this seems to be kind of a melding of the two, with a little espionage feeling mixed in.

Adrian Tchaikovsky: One Day All This Will Be Yours: More Tchaikovsky. This is a lot like Walking to Aldebaran in that left me with the shudders. Not because it was bad writing or the quality of the story, but the main character is just someone I would not want to know, at all. If Walking to Aldeberan is like Piranesi on bath salts, this was like Dr Who on meth.

Christopher Paolini: To Sleep in a Sea of Stars: Really enjoyable read. Comfortable. It’s like a basket of old standard scifi tropes with a really likable voice.

Yan Ge, Jeremy Tiang: Strange Beasts of China: This one I felt I struggled with. I stumble across books that give me the feeling “I am just not getting this” sometimes. Umberto Eco was like that a lot for me, I ended up reading Island of the Day Before like 3 times before I really felt comfortable with it. Haruki Murakami also, I always felt like there were varying levels of understanding at work and I was a bit beneath the most profound. I enjoyed this book, it was moving. It was hard not to read it allegorically given the sociological nature of the subject matter, and I am not sure if I should have. I think I will have to give it a bit of rest and read this one again.

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