April 2019: Reading Thread

HareBrain

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and at times scaring themselves silly.
I've sometimes wondered how much trauma could be caused to a psychic questing group in mid-meditation merely by shouting "Holy sh*t, it's coming!!" at the right moment.

I remain very glad indeed that I have never been remotely drawn into getting mixed up in any of this good vs evil psychic questing
Before I read any Andrew Collins, there was The Unexplained magazine part-work. On the basis of a couple of articles about strange goings on at Clapham Woods, near Worthing, I and some friends visited it one night looking for God (or the Devil) knows what. When I later read Collins's The Black Alchemist (also recommended if you haven't read it) and realised the place was a base of operations for a group called The Friends of Hekate, I felt pretty lucky not to have found anything.
 

Jondo_

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I've dived into some nonfiction this month, with Maya Deren's Divine Horsemen (an ethnographic book on Haitian Voodoo, published in the '50s) and Paul-Alain Beaulieu's A History of Babylon, which is a lot more like a textbook than what I usually read, but I'm still fairly interested. Both are making me rethink my approaches to writing SF/F, especially writing about religion/myth.
 

Hugh

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Before I read any Andrew Collins, there was The Unexplained magazine part-work. On the basis of a couple of articles about strange goings on at Clapham Woods, near Worthing, I and some friends visited it one night looking for God (or the Devil) knows what. When I later read Collins's The Black Alchemist (also recommended if you haven't read it) and realised the place was a base of operations for a group called The Friends of Hekate, I felt pretty lucky not to have found anything.
That sounds genuinely scary.

One thing I found frustrating with all three of the books that I've read around these events is the regular reference to dark forces and satanic-type groups who are opposing the "good" work of the psychic questers, but (perhaps fortunately) these stay just out of sight, only appearing in psychic guidance. All good solid occult conspiracy stuff without necessarily any reality other than projection of inner fantasy. True, on occasion, for instance in "The Green Stone", unknown individuals make an appearance at inconvenient moments, though I suspect if it was proved that these are actually ordinary passers by, the authors would still argue that they have been influenced psychically by dark forces to jay walk awkwardly.

That said, this stuff does make me uneasy enough not to wish to read "The Black Alchemist" at this time. Even so, I guess that the "Alchemist" will be immensely powerful while staying just out of sight, gadding all about the UK and elsewhere creating mayhem at subtle energy levels that threaten the world. The pattern of the questers seems to be that they pull off something amazing, only for things to get even worse. Depending on what I have just eaten, I veer between terror, horror, cynicism, and amazement at their naivety.
 
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Brian G Turner

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Today I finished reading Ancient Cities: The Archaeology of Urban Life in the Ancient Near East and Egypt, Greece and Rome by Charles Gates, which is a comprehensive tour of the Mediterranean and a few places beyond but connected to it. Some of the sections on architecture I found dry, but there was enough political and social history salted into the narrative to help bring something of these cities to life. The scope of it was quite brilliant, actually - I don't know of another book that aims to be so encompassing.

However, I've also started Barbarians: An Alternative Roman History by Terry Jones and it's hugely disappointing. It's basically a tabloid rant, which is bad enough, but it's so thoughtless to the point of being misleading. I don't know whether to just grit my teeth and press on, or to just put the book down in case it inadvertently fills my head with misinformation. I enjoyed Terry Jones's books on mediaeval history, but I don't think he anything but a passing knowledge of the ancient world and it's jarring.

I'm still dipping into the shepherd book and it's well-written and entertaining. I don't think I'm reading any novels at the moment, though.
 

HareBrain

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regular reference to dark forces and satanic-type groups who are opposing the "good" work of the psychic questers, but (perhaps fortunately) these stay just out of sight, only appearing in psychic guidance.
They do get somewhat more solid in The Black Alchemist, especially the Arundel-based Friends of Hekate. And the Alchemist himself is not particularly powerful, though in this kind of narrative he doesn't need to be. (Incidentally, the most disturbing thing that happens to the protagonists, I used as the basis for Tashi's meltdown experience in the hotel room in The Goddess Project.)
 

Hugh

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They do get somewhat more solid in The Black Alchemist, especially the Arundel-based Friends of Hekate. And the Alchemist himself is not particularly powerful, though in this kind of narrative he doesn't need to be. (Incidentally, the most disturbing thing that happens to the protagonists, I used as the basis for Tashi's meltdown experience in the hotel room in The Goddess Project.)
Many thanks for clarifying further. I think I'll stick with the benign aspects of Hecate for the time being. I don't like to commit myself to reading beyond the next week or two.

However, clearly I need to ruffle through some pages in The Goddess Project.
 

Brian G Turner

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Finally finished The Shepherd's Life by James Rebanks and really enjoyed it. There's a strong sense of voice and a lot of passion in it, not least the author's consternation that traditional farming practices are frowned upon and denigrated by mainstream society, even though these traditions may have a history going back centuries or even millennia.

However, this book isn't isn't some misty-eyed grumble about pastoral concerns but instead an often angry yet poignant account of hardship, death, and defiance. Perhaps what's more extraordinary is how someone who completely rejected school and struggled with hand-writing managed to get into Oxford University.

Set out in short, sharp sections of prose that jump between the past and the present, this book was a real eye-opener, engaging, and ultimately provided a very human story that still continues.

Definitely recommended for those open to something a big different.
 

williamjm

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I finished Ian McDonald's Luna : Moon Rising. I thought it was a good ending to the trilogy. There's still plenty of scheming between the five dynastic families who dominate Lunar society but it also became about something more than just that struggle for power, and I think the ending felt more meaningful because of that. It did take me a while to remember all the details of what happened in the previous book and how all the different factions felt about each other, I think was maybe a bit overcomplicated at times and some plotlines felt a bit redundant (such as Marina's plotline on Earth, although it was interesting to see a different perspective). The lunar society is fascinating, and although I think the plotlines here have been wrapped up well I wouldn't mind reading more stories set in the same world (it would be interesting to see how things would have changed a few decades later). I think McDonald is one of the best current writers of SF and while I don't think this is necessarily his best work (I'd probably say that was River of Gods) it's still well written throughout.

Now I'm about halfway through James S.A. Corey's Tiamat's Wrath. It's been very entertaining so far, even if I'm struggling to understand how a certain science experiment ever got approved.
 

Vaz

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I finally got around to reading Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell. Absolutely love both book and movie, especially Frobishers chapters.

I also finished A Song for Arbonne and Last Light of the Sun by Guy Gavriel Kay. Song is beautifully written as is all his works and Light is a slightly darker affair that reads like an old saga. Thought both were fantastic.

And last but not least I read One Day by David Nicholls. with love featuring heavily in my own writing I thought it best to read some romance, although I hope to read better than this story - the ending was very predictable.

Now reading Hadji Murad by Leo Tolstoy.


V
 

Rodders

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Just finished F. Paul Wilson's Hosts (A Repairman Jack novel). I must confess that I really enjoy his writing. It draws you in quickly.

I thought I'd start reading the short stories from the Expanse, so I'm currently reading "The Butcher of Anderson Station".
 

Cat's Cradle

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Hi @Rodders. I like F. Paul Wilson, too. I've read and loved The Tomb several times, and I have the next book in the series in queue. I've recently finished his novella, Wardenclyffe, which is a sort of homage to Lovecraft, and has Nikola Tesla as one of the main characters. A lot of fun, a really good story, and really nicely written, I thought. You might enjoy this. CC
 

The Big Peat

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I'm floating between the following three books as I wait for something to command my attention entirely -

Redemption's Blade - Adrian Tchaikovsky
The Killing Moon - NK Jemisin
Last First Snow - Max Gladstone

So far my editing is winning, with Last First Snow the runner-up, with The Killing Moon a little behind. Redemption's Blade is lagging a fair amount - its not bad, but it feels a bit humdrum compared to the rest.
 
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thaddeus6th

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Reading The Blue Book of the War (a reprint from 1917 so I think it came out late 1916). Really... distinct tone. There's some anti-German sentiment but praise for the Turks in skilful manoeuvring, and singled out as good men are not just soldiers but priests giving the last rites, including one who was doing so for a German soldier. Optimistic to a refreshing degree, and with some old-fashioned vocabulary choices (describing the start of a battle as the beginning of an adventure) it's fascinating to get a little inside the mindset of someone from the time.
 

Matteo

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Bit of March here as well but...

Read the four Runestaff books by Michael Moorcock and enjoyed them. A little bit "episodic" (fights one bad guy...then fights another) and perhaps simplistic, but not enough to stop me from reading all four.

Then read what I thought was the six Witch World books by Andre Norton (Witch World, Web of the Witch World, Three Against Witch World, Warlock of Witch World, Sorceress of Witch World, Year of the Unicorn) as I bought them as a set, but now realise there are far more. They were a better read but the "last" was quite weak and a confusing read in parts. I know realise I may have read that out of sequence but I don't think that would have made a difference. Don't think I'll be picking up any others.

Currently most of the way through The Far Call by Gordon Dickson. A bit dry in parts but liking it.

I found this copy of Dhalgren

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about a week ago and so may tackle that next - though I realise opinions are very divided.
 
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