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August 2019: Reading Thread

Vertigo

Mad Mountain Man
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I am reading Absolution Gap by Alastair Reynolds. The first one I read was Chasm City and thought it was one of the best sci fi I've ever read. But then I read Revelation Space and it seemed a little slow and cumbersome in comparison but not bad. Anyone else share that opinion and like some of his other work better than the RS trilogy? It may have been me because I was getting home late and trying to read it while tired.
Yes! (Have you not missed out Redemption Ark?) The RS books were my first exposure to Reynolds and I did rate them quite highly but I've since enjoyed his other work rather more, I think. Note there was one, now two, books also set in the RS universe which I found better which are The Prefect (now republished as Aurora Rising) and Elysium Fire (published fairly recently).
 

Ian Fortytwo

A desk is a dangerous place to view the world.
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Somewhere on this mortal coil.
I'm now reading the second book from the book group, The Last, by Hanna Jameson. A murder mystery when the World has ended in nuclear war.
I read it earlier this year, I'd be interested in your opinion when you're done with it.
I finally managed to read The Last, by Hanna Jameson. It was okay and managed to keep you guessing, however I found the narrator very weak. 6/10.
 

dannymcg

"It places the lotion in the basket"
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I’d had this on the shelf for a small number of years and had been really looking forward to it after I immensely enjoyed Lucifer’s Hammer. The theme, the authors, the recommendations, everything seemed to be in its favour yet strangely I didn’t really enjoy it. I think it was the characters that I didn’t really take to.
Just finished it this afternoon (I've read it maybe eight times since it was first published) and I enjoyed it just as much.

Now starting Velocity Weapon by Megan O'Keefe
 

williamjm

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I finished one of Adrian Tchaikovsky's latest novels Cage of Souls (I saw one of the latest because it's only been out four months but I think he's published two more books since then).

The setting is significantly different to any of his previous books, it's a 'dying Earth' setting where even the Sun seems to be dying and what remains of humanity has forgotten most of its history. The story is split into two parts, the main portion tells of the narrator's efforts to survive exile on the prison colony known as 'The Island', that storyline being periodically interrupted as Stefan fills in the backstory about his life on what is probably the last city on Earth and how he ended up being exiled. There's a general tone of melancholy to the story, even the parts not set in a brutal prison, although there are still occasional moments of hope. It's a vividly described setting, particularly the inhospitable jungle surrounding the Island which is full of life, little of which is friendly, the Underworld beneath the city of Shadrapur is another fascinating part of the setting. While it's not a short book it's still impressive how many ideas Tchaikovsky manages to throw into the story, some of the subplots could have been the basis for novels in their own right. There are also a lot of interesting mysteries in the story, some of them crucial to the plot, many of which Stefan never finds out the answer to. I don't know if every reader is necessarily going to appreciate the lack of answers but I think it does work well - the book is more about figuring out how to survive than figuring out how the world works.

If I had a small criticism to make, it it that while Stefan does get some good character development throughout the story I think he's maybe not the most compelling of protagonists and he himself comments that he's often only peripherally involved. This is somewhat counteracted by it having plenty of memorable supporting characters and the Marshal and Gaki are very effective antagonists.

I thought this was a good book, although I might rank it slightly below some of Tchaikovsky's other books (such as Dogs of War of Children of Time), it is perhaps a bit slow paced to begin with although it does get more compelling as it goes along and it does have a strong ending.

Next up I think I'll read Lois McMaster Bujold's latest Penric and Desdemona novella, The Orphans of Raspay.
 

dannymcg

"It places the lotion in the basket"
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I finished one of Adrian Tchaikovsky's latest novels Cage of Souls (I saw one of the latest because it's only been out four months but I think he's published two more books since then).

The setting is significantly different to any of his previous books, it's a 'dying Earth' setting where even the Sun seems to be dying and what remains of humanity has forgotten most of its history. The story is split into two parts, the main portion tells of the narrator's efforts to survive exile on the prison colony known as 'The Island', that storyline being periodically interrupted as Stefan fills in the backstory about his life on what is probably the last city on Earth and how he ended up being exiled. There's a general tone of melancholy to the story, even the parts not set in a brutal prison, although there are still occasional moments of hope. It's a vividly described setting, particularly the inhospitable jungle surrounding the Island which is full of life, little of which is friendly, the Underworld beneath the city of Shadrapur is another fascinating part of the setting. While it's not a short book it's still impressive how many ideas Tchaikovsky manages to throw into the story, some of the subplots could have been the basis for novels in their own right. There are also a lot of interesting mysteries in the story, some of them crucial to the plot, many of which Stefan never finds out the answer to. I don't know if every reader is necessarily going to appreciate the lack of answers but I think it does work well - the book is more about figuring out how to survive than figuring out how the world works.

If I had a small criticism to make, it it that while Stefan does get some good character development throughout the story I think he's maybe not the most compelling of protagonists and he himself comments that he's often only peripherally involved. This is somewhat counteracted by it having plenty of memorable supporting characters and the Marshal and Gaki are very effective antagonists.

I thought this was a good book, although I might rank it slightly below some of Tchaikovsky's other books (such as Dogs of War of Children of Time), it is perhaps a bit slow paced to begin with although it does get more compelling as it goes along and it does have a strong ending.

Next up I think I'll read Lois McMaster Bujold's latest Penric and Desdemona novella, The Orphans of Raspay.
Nice review, cheers, I'm dithering whether or not to buy it
 

AndrewT

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Yes! (Have you not missed out Redemption Ark?) The RS books were my first exposure to Reynolds and I did rate them quite highly but I've since enjoyed his other work rather more, I think. Note there was one, now two, books also set in the RS universe which I found better which are The Prefect (now republished as Aurora Rising) and Elysium Fire (published fairly recently).
My mistake, I am currently reading Redemption Ark and ordering Absolution Gap. The first few chapters have me hooked. It seems a little better than book 1. Thank you.
 

Extollager

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Piers Brendon's The Dark Valley: A Panorama of the 1930s is very readable, but I am pausing for a second time in my reading of it. The first time, I wanted to read Robert Southey's Life of Wesley and the Rise of Methodism, and now I wanted to get going on Bernard De Voto's Across the Wide Missouri. This last is a richly-illustrated account of the Western Plains fur trade, etc.

Of sfnal interest, I just read John Brunner's More Things in Heaven, which I gather is a padding-out to make a full-sized novel of one side of an Ace Double published as The Astronauts Must Not Land. I wish I had had the latter to read. The book I read kind of fails; it felt like Brunner was spinning it out, through much of the book -- but, when the big revelation arrived, that seemed a bit of a wrap-it-up info dump. The book wasn't awful, but it ought to have been quite a bit better. The original might have been just right for length.

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dannymcg

"It places the lotion in the basket"
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I'm reading The Naive and Sentimental Lover, by John le Carre. It is one of his more obscure novel's, and I am enjoying his writing in this one.
I think it's the only one of his I haven't read, or been inclined to read.

Not a spy book? What's he playing at?
 

Victoria Silverwolf

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I have started What If Our World Is Their Heaven?: The Final Conversations of Philip K. Dick (2000) edited by Gwen Lee and Doris Elaine Sauter. It's a slim little volume, collecting unedited transcripts of recorded talks between PKD and Lee a few months before his death.
 

Hugh

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I have started What If Our World Is Their Heaven?: The Final Conversations of Philip K. Dick (2000) edited by Gwen Lee and Doris Elaine Sauter. It's a slim little volume, collecting unedited transcripts of recorded talks between PKD and Lee a few months before his death.
What did you think of this? I'd be interested to know....
 

Victoria Silverwolf

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Frankly, it wasn't much. It read exactly like what a typical conversation between two friends would sound like. They leave in every "uh" and "you know" and every time the talk wanders into trivial things, like PKD's toy Yoda doll. The topics of discussion are mostly Blade Runner, based on what PKD was able to see before the film was released; PKD's planned but never finished novel The Owl in Daylight, about aliens who do not have sight, so they experience human knowledge of light as a mystical sensation; and, of course, PKD's weird experience that led to the whole VALIS thing. Recommended to serious PKD fanatics only.
 

Hugh

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Frankly, it wasn't much. It read exactly like what a typical conversation between two friends would sound like. They leave in every "uh" and "you know" and every time the talk wanders into trivial things, like PKD's toy Yoda doll. The topics of discussion are mostly Blade Runner, based on what PKD was able to see before the film was released; PKD's planned but never finished novel The Owl in Daylight, about aliens who do not have sight, so they experience human knowledge of light as a mystical sensation; and, of course, PKD's weird experience that led to the whole VALIS thing. Recommended to serious PKD fanatics only.
Many thanks. I’ll give it a miss.
 

Randy M.

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Finished The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes. Very good time travel thriller, well-paced, with an ending that suggests something perhaps even more chilling than a time traveling serial killer.

Just started European Travel for the Monstrous Gentlewoman by Theodora Goss. I enjoyed The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter and this is the next adventure of the Athena Club. The premise is that the daughters -- actual and, um, created -- of certain Victorian notables have discovered each other and formed a bond, which group is sometimes directed and assisted -- often to their annoyance -- by a certain consulting detective and his colleague.

Randy M.
 

Parson

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I have been lax in getting things down into this thread. So I'll talk about a few things.

Recently I've read two books of the same title. The Girl with no Name by Lisa Regan and The Girl with no Name by Marina Chapman. However, the books could hardly have been more different. The former by Lisa Regan is a part of the Detective Josie Quinn, series. I've liked this series well enough. Josie Quinn has an interesting back story and it does a lot to inform her investigative techniques and tenacity. The later by Marina Chapman is an astounding true story. A small girl, almost 5, is kidnapped from a small village in South America, probably to be sold. But there is some difficulty and the kidnappers flee pursuit through the jungle and wind up just leaving her there. --- From there the story is one of her survival for something like 8-10 years with a pack of monkeys. To say I was mesmerized by this story is to understate it by half. By all accounts this story is true to the best a little girl could remember and the story could be checked. I can say that it rang absolutely true to me. Highly recommended.

I've also read and finished Children of Ruin by Adrian Tchaikov. This is a sequel to Children of Time. The sequel is not the novel that the original was. Children of Time was a tour de force, and Ruin is not much more than a solid hard(ish) S.F. story. It is an excellent read.

I've also read and finished The Body Counter by Anne Frasier it is the second book in the Dectective Jude Fontaine Mysteries. Another solid read for me.

Right now I am reading When the English Fall by David Williams. This is his debut novel and it is a GEM! I will say more when I've finished, but it is Speculative Fiction in that it is a dystopian novel and there is some hints that one of the characters can sometimes see the future.
 
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