March's Manic Marauding of Maverick Meanderings

Discussion in 'General Book Discussion' started by GOLLUM, Mar 3, 2012.

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  1.  
    GOLLUM

    GOLLUM Moderator Staff Member

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    Ok I admit the February leap year bug got me too...but time to post what you are reading for March....:)
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    thatollie

    thatollie Kraken Addict

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    I'm still finishing books I started last year. Le sigh.
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    J-Sun

    J-Sun Active Member

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    Finished Harry Harrison's Make Room! Make Room!. Not sure what to make of this. First of all, there is a story called "Roommates" which is composed of four extracts from the book with some slightly modified segues. You should not read that first (as I, unfortunately, did). Second of all, I've never seen Soylent Green but I'd suspect it's like many movies in having almost nothing to do with the book and should be put out of your head as much as possible - unspoilers I'll mark as spoilers just in case people think unspoiling would spoil things ;) but
    there is no "soylent green" in the book at all, which is the most famous thing from the movie that even people who haven't seen the movie can't escape - though there are soybean/lentil burgers, steaks, etc
    .

    The book is initially very interesting and seems to have a neat and seemingly effortless plot. (Cop with roommate assigned to murder case where perpetrator tries to hide and cop meets interesting people and political shenanigans and mob scenes briefly ensue.) I liked the spare, simple prose. I liked the dynamic characterization. It seemed to have a good topic working for it. But then it began to sort of drag before Part 1 ended and then Part 2 has one character getting extremely didactic right when the reader needs to be feeling the most sympathy for him (perhaps Harrison thought the reverse - that our sympathy would make the didacticism more palatable) and the plot threads that seemed so nicely started never really came together in a satisfactory way. It ends up being a tale full of sound of fury signifying nothing but that overpopulation is bad, m'kay?

    Incidentally, the 1966 book is set in 1999 New York City and, rounding to the year 2000, the projected and actual numbers of world, US, and NYC population, and murders per day in NYC, were:

    Code:
    2000       MR   Act.
    World Pop.   7B   6B
    US Pop.    344M 281M
    NY Pop.     35M   8M
    NY MPD     7-10    3*
    
    * Though it did reach 7 in 1990, before going back
      down to approximately 1966 levels.
    So he's way the hell off on NYC, significantly off on the US, and slightly less off on the world. But the depiction and general zeitgeist is off, regardless of numbers. That said, it is interesting that he depicts incredibly hot summers, incredibly cold winters, people eating a bunch of non-food, people using welfare cards, describing demographic skew with a baby boom and bust (proportionally, I guess, as the population still skyrockets), and people "occupying" New York in tents and just sleeping outdoors and in cars and whatnot. Some of that seems ever so slightly familiar.

    Anyway - summary: interesting but problematic read.
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    hitmouse

    hitmouse Member

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    Soylent green is quite a good film. Edward G Ronson's last movie, Charlton Heston cast slightly out of type. 2000AD fans will note that Sam Slade (RoboHunter) looks very similar to Heston's character in this fim.
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    Rothgar

    Rothgar New Member

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    I was on vacation last week and able to make my way through a number of books. I finished The Broken Kingdoms - NK Jemisin which was good but not as good as the first installment in the Inheritance trilogy. The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins was excellent. It was a fast and brutal story, I can't imagine who wouldn't enjoy it, and I can hardly wait to read the next two books. Orphans of the Sky - Heinlein was an ok installment in his universe. Crack'd Pot Trail - Erikson was an interesting story, but it would be nice if it wasn't advertised as being about Bauchelain and Korbal Broach. It was disappointing to not have them in the story at all until the final pages. If you realize that ahead of time I think it would make for a better read.

    Currently I'm working through Titus Groan - Mervyn Peake.
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    AndrewT

    AndrewT New Member

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    I don't think it would be possible for NY city to go that high. Prices would go up which would cause people to spread out to lower pop places by general economic laws. That is, unless the job growth there supported those prices, although that seems like it couldn't happen.
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    J-Sun

    J-Sun Active Member

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    Yep, I basically agree. Two things in his defense: 1) most everybody's depicted as basically being on welfare or scavenging or committing crimes, so jobs aren't really available and prices (at the consumer level) aren't really a factor. But that just raises the question of how to explain all that not resulting in warlord scenarios and a replacement of the current government. 2) He tries to address why people don't just get the heck out a couple of times, sort of implying a rigid government that's basically turned large areas into cropland to help feed all the people in people-land, plus a new Dust Bowl that makes some areas uninhabitable and so on. Yet he does have one cop declare he's gotten a job upstate and is leaving.

    Basically, the dystopia should arise not from 35 million people packed together being miserable but in the agony that comes from radical readjustment to escape the misery: the migrations, wars, diseases, and things that regulate population downward while modern tech and social structures provides the "death control" (at least for the wealthy - and, btw, that useful term comes from the book) that regulates it upward.

    Though I brought them up, I wouldn't think it'd be fair to pick on his numbers, as that's just a fictional extrapolation and the dedication says he hopes his book turns out to be a work of fiction. And, on the one hand, it may not be perfectly fair to even pick on the milieu given the numbers, as that could be secondary to plot/characters/etc. But even plot/characters/etc. is partly flawed and seems basically secondary to the dystopian warning. So, on the other, maybe it is fair to pick on it after all.

    One thing that is odd to think about, though, is that Shanghai has a population of almost 18 million now.
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    No One

    No One Orange Aide ;)

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    Finished Roger Zelazny's Lord of Light a while ago - and a very good read it was.

    Now onto the light-hearted Space Captain Smith by Toby Frost, which so far isn't all that I'd hoped it would be, but I'll reserve judgement until completed.
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    Extollager

    Extollager Active Member

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    Have just reread the Conrad, and am thinking of writing an article to be called something like "Conrad's 'White People" and Machen's 'Heart of Darkness': Two Studies in Idolatry" -- the transposition of titles being intentional.
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    AE35Unit

    AE35Unit ]==[]===O °

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    Oh man I thought Id enjoy this Heinlein book (number of the beast) but Im finding the characters really annoying, and the plot non existant. Im tired of picking up books that dont do it for me, grrrr!
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    J-Sun

    J-Sun Active Member

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    Late Heinlein's good for that. ;)
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    AE35Unit

    AE35Unit ]==[]===O °

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    The thing is I loved his The Cat Who Walked Through Walls and Job, A Comedy of Errors, both late books, but I didnt get on with his much- vaunted Moon is a Harsh Mistress! I just think he's very hit and miss! Either way 555 pages is a long slog if youre not fully engaged!
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    Perpetual Man

    Perpetual Man Former Comment Giver

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    Well I did not post in the February thread, which just tells how long it took me to read Toll The Hounds by Steven Erikson.

    Putting the reading time aside I found this book hard going, the better part of it, in fact. But it certainly exploded to life for the last four chapters, blowing me away. (As I said elsewhere I don't think the book would have worked so well if it had not been a struggle to start with.)

    Am now about to start Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson
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    J-Sun

    J-Sun Active Member

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    Hm. IIRC, Cat either started out well or some part of it was good, anyway, but didn't work overall for me. But I can see liking that or Friday (Friday's good until the very end). And Job did have a bit of a plot, at least, right? There are aspects of Number that are quite fun and it is kind of key to understanding late Heinlein/Heinlein overall - pantheistic solipsism and all :) - but is very wandering and tiring and mostly pointless and, if the characters don't hit you right, I reckon it'd be unreadable.

    I need to re-read Moon soon. That technically is "late" ("middle", anyway and definitely not "early"*) Heinlein, too, but I remember liking it and making an exception for it. But you may be right - maybe it doesn't hold up.

    * maybe approximately:
    Early: 1939-1959 [a zillion novels and stories - almost all good to great]
    Middle: 1961-1973 [Stranger? Moon? a couple of stories?]
    Late: 1980-1987 [honorable mention for Friday]
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    j d worthington

    j d worthington Moderator Staff Member

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    Yes, The Number of the Beast is one of those which either appeals or not -- there doesn't seem to be much of a middle ground. Personally, I rather like it, but the first time around the middle was a bit of a slog -- second time, I enjoyed it though. I've always found it interesting that this one did so well on its initial publication here in the U.S.....
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    J-Sun

    J-Sun Active Member

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    Probably pent-up demand since it'd been seven years since his last one. Might also have been a case of self-fulfilling prophecy - I think the publisher gave him a huge advance because a) he was Heinlein and b) this was a boom time in SF - so it got a lot of publicity for the fact itself and people bought it. Not to mention the publisher being full-tilt behind it in general.
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    j d worthington

    j d worthington Moderator Staff Member

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    I think, too, some of the points raised against it elsewhere were actually in its favor at that period, especially as there was still a good bit of the 60s culture hanging on....
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    AE35Unit

    AE35Unit ]==[]===O °

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    Well I think I'm gonna give Slan by A.E.van Vogt a go next
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    Fried Egg

    Fried Egg Active Member

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    Right now I'm making my way towards the end of J. G. Ballard's "Unlimited Dream Company".
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    AE35Unit

    AE35Unit ]==[]===O °

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    Ooh why is my avatar so tiny? I resized it 100x100 but it's half that!
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