September 2019: Reading Thread

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EdLincoln

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Lately I've been exploring the seedy world of LitRPG. It's horrible! But as with any subgenre, there are a few gems.

I read the webnovel The Salamanders by Jack Wake. I started it for the interesting magic system and exploration of how game-like mechanics like levels and monster filled dungeons affect society. Unexpectedly, it morphed into one of the best Coming of Age stories I've ever read. It dealt with social anxiety, adolescent self doubt, impostor syndrome, and being a teen "in the closet" in a way I identified with more then any other book. It's one of those books that has me desperately Jonseing for something similar.

Unfortunately, it is still unfinished. The plot is a bit slow, new chapters come out weekly, and it periodically goes into Dungeon Diving scenes, so it will probably be years before I get any kind of resolution. It's weird how I've reached the point action scenes often boor me.

I also read Street Cultivation by Sarah Lin. This was an attempt to to take the cliches of Xianxia (Martial Arts Magic) and apply them to the modern world. It was also an allegory for the subprime crisis and the plight of the working poor, that explores the question "Do the poor have a chance?". Actually very good.

I also finished Shade's First Rule which started out with a very good premise and quickly degenerated into cheesy Dungeon Diving.

A number off books I'd been looking forward to have come out, but I just can't bring myself to be interested in them. The third books in the Misfit Pack series, A Mage Champion, and Midnight Tides are all books I was looking forward to when the prior book came out, but I can't quite get excited about them, for reason.
 

tobl

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Now teetering on the brink of The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. Slightly daunted by its length and the fact that whenever I open it at a random page, nothing much seems to be happening. But people I know seem to like it, so ...
the second volume is even bigger lolo all i can say is that is the second best book i ever read
 

Elckerlyc

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Lately I've been exploring the seedy world of LitRPG. It's horrible! But as with any subgenre, there are a few gems.
There's one LitRPG I follow and that stole my heart and that's The Wandering Inn, currently at volume 6 and ongoing. Though the first 4 or 5 chapters are badly written, once beyond that the story and quality grows and grows. Each volume is 500K+ words. I discovered this jewel when volume 5 was completed. Five volumes makes about 2.500K words. I have read it and nothing else in between until I had finished it.
The writer publishes 2 chapters each week, about 15K words on average per chapter. An incredibly output.
 

EdLincoln

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There's one LitRPG I follow and that stole my heart and that's The Wandering Inn, currently at volume 6 and ongoing
I started that and loved the beginning...I kind of like Slice of life books with characters that aren't trying to Save the World. It lost me when it introduced Ryoka. I know they were trying to do a Strong Heroine that LIVED LIFE ON HER OWN TERMS but she ended up seeming kind of whiny and self destructive to me. What I liked about the book before then was the pragmatism of the heroine.

Name of the Wind didn't seem at all slow to me...it sort of brezed by.
 

tobl

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There's one LitRPG I follow and that stole my heart and that's The Wandering Inn, currently at volume 6 and ongoing. Though the first 4 or 5 chapters are badly written, once beyond that the story and quality grows and grows. Each volume is 500K+ words. I discovered this jewel when volume 5 was completed. Five volumes makes about 2.500K words. I have read it and nothing else in between until I had finished it.
The writer publishes 2 chapters each week, about 15K words on average per chapter. An incredibly output.
there are a few that i follow that are quite fun. if you want any suggestions just ask
 

thaddeus6th

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Currently reading Michael Psellus' Chronographia (with the sadly dumbed down, if accurate, title, of Fourteen Byzantine Rulers). Quite interesting.
 

Victoria Silverwolf

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I have started a two-in-one volume of The Wind From Nowhere and The Drowned World (both 1962) by J. G. Ballard. For whatever reason, the book places The Drowned World before The Wind From Nowhere, when the original publication order makes it the other way around, so I'm reading the second half of the volume first. (It seems that Ballard didn't care for The Wind From Nowhere, his first novel, very much, so that's another reason to read them in that order.)
 

hitmouse

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I have started a two-in-one volume of The Wind From Nowhere and The Drowned World (both 1962) by J. G. Ballard. For whatever reason, the book places The Drowned World before The Wind From Nowhere, when the original publication order makes it the other way around, so I'm reading the second half of the volume first. (It seems that Ballard didn't care for The Wind From Nowhere, his first novel, very much, so that's another reason to read them in that order.)
The Wind from Nowhere is the weaker book, and is the the least of the 4 which also include The Crystal World, and The Drought. It is still interesting.
 

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Starting the award winning novella by Mike Resnick, Seven Views of Olduvai Gorge. This won the Hugo and Nebula awards as well as a raft of other gongs. Published back in 1994; I’ve got a paperback copy - I suppose it’s a ‘booklet’. I’ve read a fair few Resnick novels but not much of his shorter work; looking forward to this.

This means I finished The Pastel City, of course - it was terrific. Like a cross between Moorcock and Wolfe.
 

Paul_C

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Last night I finished Late Riser - Jasper Fforde, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Not outstanding, but a very good read, much like most of his work.

Next up is either going to be The Rift - Nina Allen or Palimpsest - Catherynne M Valente
 

Hugh

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William F. Nolan "WonderWorlds" (1977) & "Impact-20" (1963)
Two collections of short stories, most of which are @seven pages long, rarely longer than twelve.
At their best these are amusing, zany, imaginative. At the same time they are more than a little dated, harking back to the days when men were astronauts, television executives, writers, hoodlums, sadistic killers, while women were housewives, secretaries, swingers, actresses and could usually be described as "blonde and full-bodied", or "red-haired, full-breasted", or even a "genuine forty-one". Naturally several of these were first published in Playboy. I was impressed with Impact-20 age 14 in 1966, but have felt too embarrassed to re-read it for many years, however, in re-reading it I can appreciate that the stories are at times a lot of fun.
 
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HareBrain

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Now teetering on the brink of The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. Slightly daunted by its length and the fact that whenever I open it at a random page, nothing much seems to be happening.
If anyone here has a seething, frothing prejudice against prologues and wishes to justify it, I can give no better advice than to check out this book.

I can understand the temptation to mask a slow chapter one with an incident-packed prologue, but it hadn't occurred to me that someone could use a completely incident-free prologue to make a slow chapter one feel action-heavy by comparison. It's almost a kind of genius.

(I really don't think I'm going to get very far with this.)
 

Randy M.

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William F. Nolan "WonderWorlds" (1977) & "Impact-20" (1963)
Two collections of short stories, most of which are @seven pages long, rarely longer than twelve.
At their best these are amusing, zany, imaginative. At the same time they are more than a little dated, harking back to the days when men were astronauts, television executives, writers, hoodlums, sadistic killers, while women were housewives, secretaries, swingers, actresses and could usually be described as "blonde and full-bodied", or "red-haired, full-breasted", or even a "genuine forty-one". Naturally several of these were first published in Playboy. I was impressed with Impact-20 age 14 in 1966, but have felt too embarrassed to re-read it for many years, however, in re-reading it I can appreciate that the stories are at times a lot of fun.
A number of years ago I read a review of a Nolan collection of horror stories. The reviewer was largely dismissive and only had good words for one of the stories. I had recently picked up a pb copy and thought, nah, he can't be that bad. He's been around for years, there has to be something there.

I read pretty much just the stories the reviewer mentioned by name and put the book aside. I completely agreed with the reviewer, a rare experience, and never finished the collection and probably won't. It's odd to think he is a contemporary and was a friend of Richard Matheson and Charles Beaumont, and part of the circle that included Ray Bradbury and Charles Clayton Johnson. It's possible I should give him another try, but from what I've read stories by Matheson, Beaumont and Bradbury are far more substantial.

Randy M.
 

Hugh

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A number of years ago I read a review of a Nolan collection of horror stories. The reviewer was largely dismissive and only had good words for one of the stories. I had recently picked up a pb copy and thought, nah, he can't be that bad. He's been around for years, there has to be something there.

I read pretty much just the stories the reviewer mentioned by name and put the book aside. I completely agreed with the reviewer, a rare experience, and never finished the collection and probably won't. It's odd to think he is a contemporary and was a friend of Richard Matheson and Charles Beaumont, and part of the circle that included Ray Bradbury and Charles Clayton Johnson. It's possible I should give him another try, but from what I've read stories by Matheson, Beaumont and Bradbury are far more substantial.

Randy M.
That's very interesting. I wasn't that keen on the horror-type stories in these two collections. The others are probably best described as "slight", but have some mileage if you're re-visiting your adolescent self.
 

Bick

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I'm surprised you bothered with The Name of the Wind, Harebrain, as the trilogy isn't finished and in modern-GRMM-style looks like it never will be. I'm not inclined to start unfinished series myself, and your comments on the prologue don't change my stance in this instance.
 

tobl

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I'm surprised you bothered with The Name of the Wind, Harebrain, as the trilogy isn't finished and in modern-GRMM-style looks like it never will be. I'm not inclined to start unfinished series myself, and your comments on the prologue don't change my stance in this instance.
the end of the trilogy, called the doors of stone is scheduled for august 2020. and everything that is this good takes time
 

williamjm

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Ok, so I've been making my way through A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet, and it's getting more and more like molasses. Hitmouse, Vertigo and Danny all warned me it was underwhelming after I announced I'd started it - I doubted they could all be wrong (being such well read sensible folk), and it transpires they're not.

The book starts brightly, and the prose and plotting is entirely in keeping with setting up and developing the characters and initiating a space opera plot full of tension and ideas. The problem is that while the writing works for a introductory chapter, then one expects the story to, you know, go somewhere interesting. Do something with these characters, Chambers! There is no tension, there is very little plot, there is little or no science, there is no urgency or dilemma, and everyone's nice to each other. The inter-species romance is stale and a bit meh. There are some interesting SF ideas here, but Chambers doesn't seem to know what to do with them. A chapter on buying soap! A chapter on an alien molting! This could have a consequence that introduces tension or develops the plot, but no, the alien molts, everyone is sympathetic, the end, next chapter. I was hoping that it would improve as I got into it, but there seems little chance of that now. I've read 200 pages, and I almost never do this, but I'm thinking I'll put it down and give up - unless someone tells me anything of interest is about to happen - is the first 200 pages the introduction, and the next 200 the actual plot? I've read that Chambers couldn't find a publisher for this, so she self-published initially until it got picked up. The first thought of the publishers to reject was the right one - it's a weak book. (I'm not sure how it got nominated for the Arthur C Clarke Award which is what tricked me into getting it). Becky Chambers can write quite well, but needs to learn about developing tension and actually having a plot. And when I say tension, I don't mean 'space battles' - I would suggest all good books develop tension and then provide payoff for the reader - it's there in Austen and Dickens in spades.
The final section of the book does have a bit more action, although I suspect not enough to change your opinion of it.

I did enjoy the book but it could have done with a bit more plot.

the end of the trilogy, called the doors of stone is scheduled for august 2020. and everything that is this good takes time
Last I heard Rothfuss still hadn't said anything about a release date so I'm sceptical about August 2020.
 

HareBrain

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I'm surprised you bothered with The Name of the Wind, Harebrain, as the trilogy isn't finished and in modern-GRMM-style looks like it never will be. I'm not inclined to start unfinished series myself, and your comments on the prologue don't change my stance in this instance.
I have two friends who really like it, so I thought I'd give it a go. I'll give it another chance tonight, since there's nothing else to hand at the moment I'm desperate to read.
 

Elckerlyc

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Last I heard Rothfuss still hadn't said anything about a release date so I'm sceptical about August 2020.
There's nothing about book 3 on his website, except at the bottom of the section 'Author' where it says: "at the moment he's working very hard at book 3". Well, so does GRRM, working very hard.

Have you read The Slow Regard of silent Things? A novella about Auri, about her life under the University.
 
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