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March 2019: Reading Thread

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vanye

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Yes, different views which is great. I struggled a bit with Chanur in books 3 and 4. Cherry seemed to write the same books over and over in that series. The first one is terrific though, and I do like Cherryh genrally, I just feel she can be a bit hit and miss. Her writing has a detail and density to it that can work extremely well (Downbelow or Morgaine for instance) or it can turn into pretty turgid stuff (I really struggled with Invader). Moon's writing seems effortless, which is actually a very clever trick and her story arc is much better handled than Chanur I think (not that the Chanur plot itself isn't good).
I felt Vatta's War was entertainment candy. Good to read, relax and enjoy the adventure. But that was all I got from it. Maybe a bit better than her earlier space opera (Heris Serano etc.). The one from Elizabeth Moon that I liked best, though, is The Speed of Dark, because it has that extra dimension beyond adventure. Alright, so it is not space opera, but still ...

Concerning Cherryh, I agree that some of her writing - and in my opinion especially some of her later works - can be hit and miss. The Foreigner series, for example was not a high point in my opinion, and the Fortress books even weaker (relatively speaking, of course, because I have yet to read a weak book by Cherryh).

I like her writing the best, though, when she explores questions of "other", like in the Chanur series, Cuckoo's Egg or The Faded Sun. In these her writing really shines and her stories become so solid and real that reading becomes an experience.

Oh well, I reckon you could tell from my nick that I am a fan. But sometimes it is nice to remember why. I hope you don't mind.
 

vanye

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Just finished a completely different kind of space opera: The Soldier by Neal Asher. This is a fairly typical, nay a quintessentially typical, book of the Polity. As usual, Asher delivers what we have come to expect from him: a riveting story, lots of far-out characters (in the widest sense of the word) and some serious space battles. And for long-time readers of the Polity books maybe even more interesting: new background information on the Jain and the Spatterjay virus. So that's all good.

On the negative side is the typical trap of long-running series: The bad guys have to get badder, bigger and meaner, the good guys have to keep up and even overcome, so after a while, it goes a bit over the top. And after another while, even that becomes routine and suspense of belief becomes hard. Which is especially detrimonious to a story that draws a lot of its humor and its attraction from the absurd. At least that's how I felt when reading The Soldier.

Still, I will probably read the next book in the series, as well. So there ...
 

Parson

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It seems as though I haven't been keeping up here very well. Hm ..... Have I mentioned this? I finshed Blood for Blood by Victoria Selman. Solid and will likely read more from her when I run across it. Finished Hold Still by Lisa Regan. She is one of the thriller/mystery writers that I almost always enjoy. This one is no exception. Read Telepath by Laurence E. Dahners. He's one of the S.F. writers I read everything by. Telepath is certainly not his best work, but it still does what he does for me. Give me something that's solidly S.F. where the sides are neatly drawn, and makes me think about how the world might change if this or that happened. Presently reading Attack on Phoenix by Megg Jensen. I'm 2/3's through it and it's one of those books that I think I should like, but somehow hasn't quite caught me. But it still might score high if the ending comes through in a big way.

------

You guys are a very bad influence on me. For one of the first times in my life my "To be read" pile of books is more than one or two deep. ---- Is that a bad thing? I guess I'm not sure.
 

Randy M.

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Finished an associational read: Available Dark by Elizabeth Hand. Noir with an extra dose of noir on the side. The sequel to Generation Loss, this finds Cassandra Neary back in NYC recovering from the events of the earlier novel (not really sure you have to read GL, but it wouldn't hurt). She's also nervous that the police will catch up to her and question her about those events. Within a short time she is offered and accepts a job that will take her to Oslo, and receives a letter from an old friend that prompts her to head from there to Reykjavik. Shortly after she lands in Reykjavik, she learns two of the people she dealt with in Oslo had been murdered by brutal means.

That's a bare bones summary. In the telling Hand taps into the kind of suspense and imagery she could build with her horror writing. She also develops Neary's character -- a veteran photographer, she sees the world in frames, contrasts, color and lighting. Hand also incorporates the myths and legends of Northern Europe in disquieting ways, referring to Tolkien, and inserting a thin thread of the supernatural.

All in all, a fascinating if sometimes vulgar and violent mystery.


Just starting Troubled Daughters, Twisted Wives, an anthology of domestic mystery/crime stories written by women. Sarah Weinman, the editor, has been resurrecting the work of women writers who weren't in the Agatha Christie/Dorothy L. Sayers mode, or the hardboiled American mode. The anthology includes work by Patricia Highsmith and Shirley Jackson, probably the two most recognized writers in the book, but also Nedra Tyre, Celia Fremlin, and Charlotte Armstrong, among others, who were known and often anthologized and recognized by the MWA with Edgar Awards, but have faded from memory since.

Randy M.
 
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Brian G Turner

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Picked up Vespasian: Emperor of Rome for just over £1 in the Kindle store - the final (?) book in this historical fiction series. Looking forward to finishing it - then re-reading the series in one go. :)
 

HareBrain

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Lanny by Max Porter was brilliant. A bit like a short, rural version of Moorcock's Mother London.

Having read Aspects of the Novel by E.M. Forster a while back, I decided to see if he could practice what he preached. On the basis of the first fifty pages of A Room With a View, the answer is very much yes. It's a slyly witty comedy of manners, in which superbly drawn characters do rather little, but do it grippingly.
 

Randy M.

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Having read Aspects of the Novel by E.M. Forster a while back, I decided to see if he could practice what he preached. On the basis of the first fifty pages of A Room With a View, the answer is very much yes. It's a slyly witty comedy of manners, in which superbly drawn characters do rather little, but do it grippingly.
I've never gotten to that, but A Passage to India is a brilliant novel, immersive and suggestive and beautifully written.

Randy M.
 

Rodders

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Finished Tony Frost's Pincers of Death. Great fun, as you'd expect from Space Captain Smith.

Now on to John Scalzi's Old Man's War.
 

HareBrain

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Finished E.M Forster's A Room With a View, which I really liked. I'll probably go on to another of his soon, depending on what the library has in stock.

It's a shame, but I can't think that such a comedy of manners is possible now, or not set in the modern day. The central plot driver of ARWAV is a man kissing a woman (on the cheek!) and it being improper for him to do so. You can imagine how little traction you'd get out of something like that these days. Of course it's good that in real-life we're no longer bound by such ridiculous conventions, but, as with some other things, I think it's fiction's loss.
 

Parson

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Just finished Attack on Phoenix by Megg Jensen. I thought that this book had a promising premise, it did. I thought that it would be something I would like. It wasn't. What I expected to be an interesting S.F. story turned into a run of the mill Fantasy Quest/Love Story. Not my kettle of fish and I will not be looking at the sequel. (I suppose since all of her other work is in Fantasy, I could have expected the result.)

Started Crystals by "Colonel Jonathan P. Brazee USMC (ret.)"* This is the second of the Navy of Humankind: Wasp Squadron series. After finishing the above the beginning was like a breath of fresh air. We'll see how long the fresh air blows.

*Frankly anyone who puts that nomenclature on their novel starts out behind in my book. My first reaction "It's not about you!" --- (I know it's the preacher in me, but what can I say?)
 

Simbelmynë

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I started The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K Le Guin this week, after recently enjoying some of her short fiction. I read A Wizard of Earthsea a couple of times as a kid, and it has definitely stayed with me, so this has been on my mental “to read” list for a few years.

I’m about half way through it. So far mesmerised by the concepts and I love Le Guin’s literary voice, the way she signifies words themselves, particularly names, in her work. The ideas - gender, “ambisexuality”, war, the absence of both patriarchy and matriarchy - are slowly sinking in, and I’m enjoying that experience. I expect to revisit the book once I’m done. The themes are BIG.

I’ve developed a taste for older, harder sci fi, where writers get to the meat more concisely and avoid fattening up their ideas with description and characterisation. The Left Hand of Darkness definitely falls into this category, and I’ll be seeking out more of Le Guin’s science fiction this year.

Also working my way through short story collections by Asimov, Gene Wolfe, China Mieville (I purchased The City & The City along with the Le Guin novel, which i’m looking forward to, Mieville’s been a favourite for years) and an interesting compilation of very early sci fi (the oldest story in there is from the 1700’s!) called Far Boundaries, compiled by August Derleth.

I also finished Winter’s Heart by Robert Jordan... I have a love-hate relationship with The Wheel of Time, and after starting it many moons ago I do intend to finish it before I die. If nothing else it’s refreshing to have something to offset the hard sci fi.
 

Brian G Turner

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I’ve developed a taste for older, harder sci fi, where writers get to the meat more concisely and avoid fattening up their ideas with description and characterisation.
Welcome to the chronicles forums. :)
 

EdLincoln

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The last book I read that was really good was One Wakes Up by Lee Gaiteri. Obscure zombie novel from the point of view of a "28 Days Later" style zombie who finds himself recovering, and tries to impersonate an uninfected human. It dealt with what being a zombie feels like, and explores what it means to be human. It was set set during the rebuilding phase after the initial chaos ends. That was a plus for me, because I kind of like stories about rebuilding...(I find it harder to do but more intersting then books about things falling apart). It was also neat to see a zombie story that wasn't so gleeful about shooting (former) people.

On the subject of Post Apocalyptic fiction, at the end of February I was desperate enough to read Stray Magic by Jenny Schwartz. It was a deeply weird book where Faeries destroy most of humanity to save the planet. It started out with a rather good Disaster Prepper section followed by a weird Magical Sensei section. You know, like Luke in Return of the Jedi...if Yoda was replaced with Thanos and Luke had Stockholm Syndrome. Hated the the idea but the book had a bloody car wreck fascination for me.

I abandoned Revelation Space. It was my second attempt and I got roughly halfway, but just sputtered out.
... snip... I struck out on Peter Hamilton as well, and am thinking I may just be losing my ability to show patience with extended multi-volume SFF.
I want to like Alastair Reynolds but I also tend to bounce off him. A bit too...slow and pretentious? I liked Terminal World. I liked Hamilton's Reality Dysfunction.

As an antidote to pretentious si fi I read The Spoken Mage. It was a Young Adult series set in a world where writing triggers magic mundanes can't handle and thus wizards have a monopoly on the written word. (You know, in addition to having magic). It deals with class difference in an unjust society in addition to reminding us how amazingly useful writing is.
 

Ian Fortytwo

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Well I've started reading The Colour of Magic, by Terry Pratchett. So far so good.
I finally finished reading the book today, I quite enjoyed it, however I don't want to overdose on Terry Pratchett, so I'll wait awhile before buying another in the series. I might head further into the series for one of his later books. Rated by me 4/5.
 

Bick

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I finally finished reading the book today, I quite enjoyed it, however I don't want to overdose on Terry Pratchett, so I'll wait awhile before buying another in the series. I might head further into the series for one of his later books. Rated by me 4/5.
They get a good deal better, in many ways - you're going to have to divvy up quarter or eighth stars to discriminate with other discworld books if you do read more.
 

Paul_C

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Finished Vurt, I liked it a lot :)

Last night I started Patterns, a collection of short stories by Pat Cadigan.
 
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