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June 2019: Reading Thread

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Rodders

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On to Gridlinked by Neal Asher.

I must confess to have put off Neal's "Agent Cormac" books for some reason, even though I love all of Neal's work that I have read so far. Time to remedy that as I have bought all five books in the series.
 

Vertigo

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On to Gridlinked by Neal Asher.

I must confess to have put off Neal's "Agent Cormac" books for some reason, even though I love all of Neal's work that I have read so far. Time to remedy that as I have bought all five books in the series.
Bear in mind that one - Gridlinked - was, I think, the first book written in the Polity universe (though my no means the first chronologically) and he is sort of finding his legs a little in it. The subsequent books are, in my opinion, better. In fact I think it might have been Asher's first full length novel.
 

Rodders

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Thanks Vertigo, I will bear that in mind.
 

tegeus-Cromis

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I think I'm going to give up on Adam Roberts' "The Thing Itself." I'm about 1/3 of the way through it, and... it's not as great as I thought it would be. Plus, for an SF (or PhF) book based on Kant's philosophy, is it so much to ask for it to get that philosophy right? I've also been reading, pretty desultorily, Shirley Barrett's "The Bus on Thursday," but I've been much more enjoying the biographies of German Romantic poet Friedrich Hölderlin ( by Pierre Bertaux) and German philosopher G.F.W. Hegel (by Terry Pinkard), which I've been reading in parallel. Born the same year (1770), the two met and became the closest of friends at university (the Tübingen seminary), were both deeply transformed by the French revolution, and ended up going in very different directions: Hölderlin wrote a gorgeous novel, fell deeply in love with a woman whose children he was tutoring (and who fully requited his love), wrote perhaps the most beautiful, mystical poems in the German language, then, when, after having been forced to leave town, he learned of his beloved's death in 1802, he fell into a deep depression from which he never fully recovered, and spent the second half of his life in the grips of mental illness (possibly schizophrenia by 1806), dying only at the age of 73. Hegel, who last saw his friend in 1802, went on to develop perhaps the most all-encompassing system of philosophy ever, some of it arguably under the influence of Hölderlin's thought.
 

williamjm

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I've been reading through some of this year's Hugo nominees.

I read Rebecca Roanhorse's Trail of Lightning. It's an interesting premise, much of the world has been drowned by the 'Big Water', a massive rise in sea levels but the book isn't really about that. The book takes place in the Navajo Nation which has been left intact as the US collapses, and various beings and powers from Navajo mythology have re-emerged. In many way it feels like an urban fantasy story, although the word 'urban' isn't really appropriate. I thought the characterisation was good for the protagonist Maggie and the other main characters, although some of the supporting cast could have done with a bit more development. The book is fast paced and there's an effective mix of action and horror elements as Maggie tries to take on a plague of monstrous creatures. I think the book's biggest flaw is that the ending feels a bit rushed, and I think it leaves too many questions unanswered. Presumably the sequel will answer many of those questions, but at the moment some parts of it feel a bit confusing.

I then read Aliette De Bodard's novella The Tea Master and the Detective. This is basically a Holmes and Watson story in space (one character even introduces herself as a 'consulting detective'), even if the Watson role is taken on by a sentient starship who makes its living by brewing tea. I think so far I like De Bodard's shorter fiction more than the novel I've read by her. The mystery itself is reasonably interesting but I think the main strengths are the setting and characters. I liked the characters and would happily read more if they end up taking on another case in the future.

I was going to read Martha Wells' nominated novella Artificial Condition next, but since it's the second part of a series I'll begin by reading the first part.
 

thaddeus6th

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Having finished After the Ice, I've begun The Hundred Years War, by Alan Lloyd.

Not familiar with the post Henry V-detail, but I know the basics. It's a thinner volume from a (presumably enormous) series called The British at War. Maybe a fifth into it. Light on detail but gives a good impression of how things tick along, and there were some things I hadn't read elsewhere (relative population of France to England and so on).
 

Ian Fortytwo

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I'm reading V O X Silence Can Be Deafening, by Christina Dalcher. It's one of the books from the book group. A story where women are limited to 100 words a day, if they speak one word more a thousand volts of electricity will course through their veins. The new government is in power, overnight, bank accounts are frozen, passports are taken away and seventy million women lose their jobs. Even more terrifyingly, girls are no longer taught to read or write. One woman sets out to gain their freedom.
 

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I just read Heinlein’s Orphans of the Sky. I thought it was terrific. Written in 1941, it occasionally creaks with its age a little bit, but it also has a lot to mull over, some great science ideas, and it was the first ‘generation’ ship story. Much to recommend. It’s also part of Heinlein’s ‘Future History’, following on almost directly from Methusalah’s Children.

I’m now reading the fourth book in Elizabeth Moon’s Vatta’s War series, Command Decision. So far, really good - I do like Moon’s writing and this is a decent military SF series.
 

Av Demeisen

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I finished A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine. A superb debut novel, worthy of year-end lists and award nominations. I was worried about the importance of language and poetry in particular to the world building and plot, but found the book accessible and fast moving in plot development when it mattered. The final chapters in particular were very satisfying.

I understand Martine is working among other things on a second book in this Teixcalaan series, and it cannot come soon enough!
 

mistri

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SFF wise, I've just read Peter Newman's The Deathless and The Ruthless (this one early via Netgalley) books - really enjoyed these though the second one is very much 'second in a series' and doesn't carry a lot of weight on its own. Enjoying the concepts and the worldbuilding a lot.

Also read Seven Blades in Black. Sal (main character) is a HUGE voice and at times I found her a bit much for me but it's well done with a rogueish/piratey tone at times.

I was going to read Martha Wells' nominated novella Artificial Condition next, but since it's the second part of a series I'll begin by reading the first part.
The Murderbot concept is great! I'm waiting for the price to come down on the other volumes though as I'm cheap (well I'm not actually, I want to give authors my cash but on a budget so this one has to wait a bit).
 

Av Demeisen

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The Murderbot concept is great! I'm waiting for the price to come down on the other volumes though as I'm cheap (well I'm not actually, I want to give authors my cash but on a budget so this one has to wait a bit).
Same here. I bet Tor pockets the extra money made on those overpriced novella hardcovers, though. I am not a charity for publishers.
 

mistri

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Same here. I bet Tor pockets the extra money made on those overpriced novella hardcovers, though. I am not a charity for publishers.
Think they'll do them as an omnibus? I really don't want to pay £8 a go for a novella if a collection does appear one day.
 

Av Demeisen

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Think they'll do them as an omnibus? I really don't want to pay £8 a go for a novella if a collection does appear one day.
I don't know, but it's what I am waiting for.
 

Vertigo

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Think they'll do them as an omnibus? I really don't want to pay £8 a go for a novella if a collection does appear one day.
I don't know, but it's what I am waiting for.
I read the first one and frankly I don't consider it worth the money being asked. Even if they drop the price I'm still not convinced. It was a great idea, poorly accomplished in my opinion.
 

dannymcg

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I've today finished this one by Stuart MacBride; The new Logan MaCrae book All that's Dead.

Starting right away on The Somnambulist by Jonathan Barnes.

Also I'm still re-reading the original 1978 The Stand
 

Vertigo

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Children of Ruin by Adrian Tchaikovsky - a very good if slightly slow starting sequel to Children of Time. More here.
Ascendant by Jack Campbell - good military science fiction hokum; a good light read. More here.
 

williamjm

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The Murderbot concept is great! I'm waiting for the price to come down on the other volumes though as I'm cheap (well I'm not actually, I want to give authors my cash but on a budget so this one has to wait a bit).
I've read the first one now, I don't think any of the elements are particularly new (although perhaps the way in which they are combined is) but it was a very enjoyable story to read.

The later stories do seem pricey considering their length. The first was relatively cheap on Kindle and I have the second for free in the Hugo packet, but £7.50 does seem a bit much for a novella.
 

Parson

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I was going to read Martha Wells' nominated novella Artificial Condition next, but since it's the second part of a series I'll begin by reading the first part.
I read the first one and frankly I don't consider it worth the money being asked. Even if they drop the price I'm still not convinced. It was a great idea, poorly accomplished in my opinion.
The price for the novellas is high. I read them, and if you are interested this is what I said about them after finishing. April 2019: Reading Thread
 

Bick

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The price for the novellas is high.
Yes, it's relatively high for a short book but its not that much in actual terms is it? A few quid or dollars for decent entertainment. A coffee and danish from a cafe will cost you as much and give much less enjoyment (and you can't drink or eat them again), a cinema ticket is much more and the movie lasts less long. I don't really get it when people wait until a book is 99c on Amazon, to save a couple of bucks. Have we devalued books?
 

Vertigo

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Yes, it's relatively high for a short book but its not that much in actual terms is it? A few quid or dollars for decent entertainment. A coffee and danish from a cafe will cost you as much and give much less enjoyment (and you can't drink or eat them again), a cinema ticket is much more and the movie lasts less long. I don't really get it when people wait until a book is 99c on Amazon, to save a couple of bucks. Have we devalued books?
Looking on Amazon at the moment, and bearing in mind they are all of novella length only, the ebook prices are in British pounds: 2.22, 7.59, 6.54 and 7.59. The cheapest one is the first novella, the hook! Now I don't mind paying £5-£7 for a full book without bothering to wait for the 99p deals, but these 'books' are all around 150 very loosely printed pages and that is, I feel, taking the p**s. It's not helped by the fact that I also don't really share @Parson's high opinion of them.
 
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