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July 2019: Reading Thread

dask

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Okay, now reading this:
the-black-mask-boys-cover.jpg

First story is "Three Gun Terry", wherein appears Terry Mack, "history's first full-fledged private eye" according to editor William F. Nolan, an over confident tough guy who constantly plows his way to the razor edge of amorality then takes a small step back. Hack writing has never been so gripping.
 

dask

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Okay, now reading this:
View attachment 54179
First story is "Three Gun Terry", wherein appears Terry Mack, "history's first full-fledged private eye" according to editor William F. Nolan, an over confident tough guy who constantly plows his way to the razor edge of amorality then takes a small step back. Hack writing has never been so gripping.
Neglected to mention the author of "Three Gun Terry" is the popular pulp writer Carroll John Daly.
 

Spade

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Xeelee Redemption by Stephen Baxter. Going to finish this up and start reading the rest of the short stories and novellas that I haven't gotten around to over the years.
 

dannymcg

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I've just started the 'Defragmenting Daniel' trilogy in omnibus by Jason Werbelof.

Very of a kind with Robert Silverberg's Caught in the Organ Draft.
And 'Never Let Me Go'

The orphans are harvested for body parts and desperately try to survive in the bleak dystopia.

TBH it's written a bit too much YA voice for me, I'll probably continue a couple more chapters and then give it up
 

Hugh

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Nicholas Murray “Aldous Huxley, An English Intellectual”.

This seems a straightforward biography of Aldous Huxley, charting his life story very readably through its different phases from bright young satirist to Californian mystic and environmentalist. I knew relatively little about him, so found it interesting, though, personally I felt more sympathy for him once he had begun to move away from the relative cynicism of the Bloomsbury set - in which (to my jaundiced view) clever people sat around saying clever things to each other while living on their inherited wealth and being supported by an array of servants.

One point that got my curiosity going was whether Huxley and Tolkien crossed paths at all as Oxford undergraduates. Tolkien was at Exeter College from 1911 to 1915, changing from Classics to English Language and Literature in 1913, while Huxley studied English Literature at Balliol from 1913 to 1916. Both would have studied Anglo-Saxon, and though the tutorial system was geared to the different colleges, there might have been some overlap at lectures. I haven’t delved into the internet significantly about this, but I think it must have been very much a case of ships passing in the night. I doubt they would have had much in common at that time (if ever). Huxley seems to have effortlessly gained a brilliant reputation as soon as he arrived at Oxford and was invited to meet the Bloomsbury posse while still an undergraduate. In addition his poor eyesight meant that he was rejected by the army as unfit (on three occasions no less: the pressures of WWI!) so could not have joined Tolkien in the Officer’s Training Corps. Furthermore, at that time I suspect Huxley was something of a snob in his own way (for instance, age 26 one of his letters refers to H.G.Wells as that “horrid, vulgar little man”).

It’s been many years since I last read “Brave New World”, and while the outline of it is still etched in my brain cells, I don’t remember understanding that Huxley was arguing that this view of the future involved a society in which people “loved their servitude” having been made docile by advertising and brainwashing. In my mind it’s always been linked with George Orwell’s “1984”, probably because I first read them both around the same time. In fact Huxley saw them as very different, and wrote to Orwell (whom he had taught at Eton!) that he saw his book as a more likely prophecy than the violent state repression of “1984”. I also see that Brave New World, published in 1932, was banned in Australia until 1937.

I didn't know, or had forgotten: Aldous Huxley, C.S.Lewis and John F. Kennedy all died within a few hours of each other.
 

Vertigo

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Huxley was arguing that this view of the future involved a society in which people “loved their servitude” having been made docile by advertising and brainwashing
Yes this was very much how Huxley presented it; a much more insidious form of tyranny as compare with Orwell's overt up front form. And I'm in agreement with Huxley about which is most realistic. In fact you could argue that we are very much seeing it already.
 

Bick

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I’ve recently read Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo’s The Abominable Man. Excellent, like all their Beck novels.

I’m now reading Heinlein’s The Puppet Masters. Terrific stuff.
 

hitmouse

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Just read Consider the Oyster by MFK Fisher. Which is a book about oysters ( surprise!) and the varied delights and ways of eating them. I feel hungry now.
 

Victoria Silverwolf

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I have started Solaris Rising 2: The New Solaris Book of Science Fiction (2013) edited by Ian Whates, an anthology of original stories. Most notable to an old-timer like me is a new story by Norman Spinrad.
 

Hugh

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David Grann "Lost City of Z"
Many thanks to @Vince W for mentioning this some months back. I was enthralled by "Exploration Fawcett" at age 13, and was delighted to hear of a book that documents the remarkable Colonel Fawcett's life and disappearance. Given that his character would fit easily into "King Solomon's Mines", I was interested to hear that the small stone idol that he carried around with him (mentioned in Exploration Fawcett as perhaps originating in Z) was actually given to him personally by Rider Haggard. I see that he also had contact with Conan Doyle. Although "Exploration Fawcett" may have been generous with the truth - for example a sixty foot anaconda, and a tribe covered in shaggy body hair - it seems certain that he was way out on a limb in his determination to communicate with and befriend Amazonian tribes that were considered hostile savages by the rest of the world, and that he was a truly unique individual, in many ways ahead of his time, in others a Boy's Own hero from the Victorian age of exploration. I was interested also to read of his distinguished service in WWI, including the Somme.
At the same time, initially I found the book disappointing. The chapters jumped around in time and place, and (presumably due to formatting) the index is out by a couple of pages, always very irritating.
Towards the end of the book I enjoyed reading of current archaeological thinking of the Amazon as having been home to a large, cultured, vibrant population that disappeared almost without trace due to the advent of western diseases. I've read elsewhere of the account of the Dominican friar Gaspar de Carvajal @1541, of how he and a band of Conquistadores were inadvertently forced to travel the length of the Amazon to the Atlantic Ocean when they got separated from the main body, and of the extensive towns and villages that they passed, and it's good to see this validated.
 
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Bick

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I finished Heinlein’s The Puppet Masters - a nice, classic, alien invasion story. It also has a lot of the ideas and stances in it that Heinlein focused on in his later novels I thought. The commonly held view is that his later books are quite a diversion from his simpler, more direct earlier works, but I’m now not so sure. Puppet Masters was written in ‘51.

I’ve now started a P. G. Wodehouse: Big Money. Terrific, of course.
 

Rodders

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Finished Neal Asher’s The Line Of Polity. I enjoyed it a lot.

Now on to F. Paul Wilson’s Gateways (book 7 in the repairman Jack series).
 

Vince W

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David Grann "Lost City of Z"
Many thanks to @Vince W for mentioning this some months back. I was enthralled by "Exploration Fawcett" at age 13, and was delighted to hear of a book that documents the remarkable Colonel Fawcett's life and disappearance. Given that his character would fit easily into "King Solomon's Mines", I was interested to hear that the small stone idol that he carried around with him (mentioned in Exploration Fawcett as perhaps originating in Z) was actually given to him personally by Rider Haggard. I see that he also had contact with Conan Doyle. Although "Exploration Fawcett" may have been generous with the truth - for example a sixty foot anaconda, and a tribe covered in shaggy body hair - it seems certain that he was way out on a limb in his determination to communicate with and befriend Amazonian tribes that were considered hostile savages by the rest of the world, and that he was a truly unique individual, in many ways ahead of his time, in others a Boy's Own hero from the Victorian age of exploration. I was interested also to read of his distinguished service in WWI, including the Somme.
At the same time, initially I found the book disappointing. The chapters jumped around in time and place, and (presumably due to formatting) the index is out by a couple of pages, always very irritating.
Towards the end of the book I enjoyed reading of current archaeological thinking of the Amazon as having been home to a large, cultured, vibrant population that disappeared almost without trace due to the advent of western diseases. I've read elsewhere of the account of the Dominican friar Gaspar de Carvajal @1541, of how he and a band of Conquistadores were inadvertently forced to travel the length of the Amazon to the Atlantic Ocean when they got separated from the main body, and of the extensive towns and villages that they passed, and it's good to see this validated.
Glad you liked it overall. You pretty much sum up my feelings about the book as well. In the end it came off as a bit pop-y. Written to be read and forgotten.
 
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