February 2019: Reading thread

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dannymcg

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This morning I'm starting Thin Air by Richard Morgan... it's been mentioned in reading lists and already reviewed here in Chrons.

I got this at Christmas and had read a few pages, then it got put aside due to various things.
As I've done before with other books, I thought I'd finished it (put on the second shelf beside my bed!) so I read fresh books and then suddenly realised I never carried on with it!

Senior moments
 

Hugh

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Michael Swanwick: "The Iron Dragon's Daughter".
Hmmm. mixed feelings about this. I had difficulty starting, then really liked it and thought it was going to be really good, then got bored about halfway through, and it never really picked up again for me, the more so as I got a sense of how it might end.

SPOILER ALERT....
I wonder
(i) How many books use the plot-line of the patient returning from another reality to wake up in the psychiatric hospital where they've been all along?
and
(ii) Who was the first author to use this?
In this connection, it's been a long time since I read it, but I thought Joanne Greenberg's "I Never Promised You a Rose Garden" (?1964) was excellent, though that, I believe, was significantly autobiographical.
 

HareBrain

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@Hugh, I re-read it a couple of years ago, my third read, and still really liked it even though I knew how it would end. The ending didn't feel to me as cut and dried as perhaps your spoiler question makes it seem, though I'm prepared to accept that the sense I got, of something spiritually bigger going on, might just have been authorial trickery.
 

dannymcg

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I wonder
(i) How many books use the plot-line of the patient returning from another reality to wake up in the psychiatric hospital where they've been all along?
Have a look at this month's 75 word challenge, a story titled L'état, C'est Moi by Victoria Silverwolf, number 10 in the list
 

Hugh

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@Hugh, I re-read it a couple of years ago, my third read, and still really liked it even though I knew how it would end. The ending didn't feel to me as cut and dried as perhaps your spoiler question makes it seem, though I'm prepared to accept that the sense I got, of something spiritually bigger going on, might just have been authorial trickery.
I became less enthralled after the dragon left, up until that point I thought it was going really well. However, this loss of interest may be more a reflection of my gnat-like attention span than the quality of the writing. I may well have missed stuff that helped it hold together.
 

Brian G Turner

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Finished reading Roman Britain: A New History by Guy de la Bédoyère.

As a general overview of the latest in British Roman archaeology, this book is superb. Guy de la Bédoyère lays out such a rich spread of information that on this point the book should have 5 stars. Where it falls down is the author's almost total refusal to speculate. On the other hand, he does point out that multiple interpretations of a particular site may be possible - the frustration is that he rarely ever throws his hand in with any one theory.

A case in point: Fishbourne Palace, the most magnificent, biggest, and earliest significant structure found in Britain is mentioned repeatedly through the book, along with the mystery of who its owner might be. Meanwhile, he also happens to mention - repeatedly - that we've no idea where the Roman governor of Britain lived, other than it should be the most magnificent, biggest, and earliest significant structure found in Britain. It's only toward the end of the book that he even dares suggesta connection, and even then it's with the greatest hesitation.

Juxtaposing his caution in interpreting the archaeology is his general acceptance that any Roman document must be true - a general bias within the discipline of Classical Studies that is really underlined here.

Overall, a wonderful book of information, but frustrating in that the author repeatedly hesitates to connect that information into anything more than the most generic narrative.
 

Pedro Del Mar

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Last night I finished Day of the Triffids. Wow! That was right up my street, I absolutely loved it. What surprised me and made it more enjoyable was that the Triffids themselves were secondary to the novel rather than being the actual driving force. It ended rather quickly but on a high. Fabulous book!

Next up is Heroes Die by Matthew Woodring Stover
 

Spade

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I have pretty strong feelings about this book. I'll be interested to see how you feel about it after finishing it.
I would give it an 8/10. Honestly, this probably could have been more than one book. When things were getting really interesting and weird, I felt like it rushed towards an ending.
 

HareBrain

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In the middle of Aspects of the Novel by E.M. Forster. Extremely good.
Needless to say, as soon as I posted that, it became less good. Still an interesting and very intelligent read, though, and a useful complement to more modern "how to" books.

I've now started a re-read of The Seventh Sword by Andrew Collins, and am already tingling with a heady blend of excitement and nostalgia. Psychic questing in the English countryside in the 1980s! Occult secret societies!! Non-fiction**!!! How could a book be any better?

** supposedly
 

Bick

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Same here. A Thousand Words for Stranger was a very nice surprise after picking it up on a whim. But one the other hand, I got tired of the Expanse story after the third book or so.
I tried this and didn't get into it either, and stopped about 50 pages in. I'm just not sure its that well written... the prose is somewhat clunky and occasionally jarring, and the skipping perspective was off-putting. It did nothing to pull me in, plot- or character-wise, either.
 

vanye

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I tried this and didn't get into it either, and stopped about 50 pages in. I'm just not sure its that well written... the prose is somewhat clunky and occasionally jarring, and the skipping perspective was off-putting. It did nothing to pull me in, plot- or character-wise, either.
I am sorry to hear it, Bick. I genuinely liked it, maybe because it is SF with the occasional light touch of fantasy ...

Talking about fantasy: I just finished The Goddess Project by Bryan Wigmore. The beginning had me a bit disappointed because it turned out that it is fantasy with both: magic and science. Call me an old, set-in-my-ways coot, but I like my magic with swords and maybe sailing ships, but not guns and steam ships. Though there are some steam punk novels I adore - go figure ...

So it was a very pleasant surprise when I got pulled into the rabbit hole right quick and loved the story (and the telling of it) more with every page. I will certainly grab the sequel (The Empyrius Proof). Can‘t wait to dive back into the story and (I hope) finally meet Gheist in person.
 

williamjm

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Michael Swanwick: "The Iron Dragon's Daughter".
Hmmm. mixed feelings about this. I had difficulty starting, then really liked it and thought it was going to be really good, then got bored about halfway through, and it never really picked up again for me, the more so as I got a sense of how it might end.
Several people I know whose taste in books I usually agree with really like this, but I had a similar reaction to you. There were bits I liked but I felt the book got less interesting as it went along.
 

Parson

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I would give it an 8/10. Honestly, this probably could have been more than one book. When things were getting really interesting and weird, I felt like it rushed towards an ending.
I would agree with what you say about the book. For me the whole book collapsed under the increasingly nasty and worse increasingly unlikely conflict between the two main characters (When your life is on the line and the whole community is in danger you have to find a way to work together!!!). I liked the science a lot. I liked where it all led, and would have liked more of that, like you. But I could only give it 5/10 at most because of the corrosive personal relationship at the center of the story.
 

Bick

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I’m continuing my reading of Elizabeth Moon’s Vatta’s War series, and have started book 3, Engaging the Enemy. Good so far, I think these are superior space opera, well crafted with engaging characters.

(I’m still reading Dickens’ The Old Curiosity Shop too, and I’m enjoying that also (I’m about half way through), but it’s a bit unwieldy to take out for a quick read over lunch in a cafe, hence the parallel reading - which is unusual for me.
 

Hugh

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Needless to say, as soon as I posted that, it became less good. Still an interesting and very intelligent read, though, and a useful complement to more modern "how to" books.

I've now started a re-read of The Seventh Sword by Andrew Collins, and am already tingling with a heady blend of excitement and nostalgia. Psychic questing in the English countryside in the 1980s! Occult secret societies!! Non-fiction**!!! How could a book be any better?

** supposedly
This sounds interesting. Does it link at all with another found sword non-fiction psychic saga "The Green Stone" Graham Phillips and Martin Keatman. Also a follow-up "The Eye of Fire". I remember they made me pretty uneasy when I read them back in the 80s.
 

HareBrain

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Does it link at all with another found sword non-fiction psychic saga "The Green Stone" Graham Phillips and Martin Keatman.
Very much so -- the first part of the book is about the finding of the Green Stone (following the first sword), but from the POV of Collins rather than Phillips (though Phillips is the main character). I'd be interested to read The Green Stone afterwards to see how they compare.

If you want to try an Andrew Collins book that doesn't cover the same material, I'd recommend The Black Alchemist.
 

Hugh

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Very much so -- the first part of the book is about the finding of the Green Stone (following the first sword), but from the POV of Collins rather than Phillips (though Phillips is the main character). I'd be interested to read The Green Stone afterwards to see how they compare.

If you want to try an Andrew Collins book that doesn't cover the same material, I'd recommend The Black Alchemist.
I'll definitely read the Seventh Sword, fairly soon probably. It'll be interesting to get a different perspective on The Green Stone. I'm afraid The Green Stone felt so real at the time and it made me so uneasy I didn't like having the book in the house and passed it on to someone else who was interested in it. I must have had a hardback copy soon after publication. I don't remember another book having that effect on me. Maybe these days it might feel mundane if I re-read it. However I did read the follow-up, when, if I remember right, those involved get even more freaked out, and I kept it for some years. A bit like Most Haunted but for real.
 
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