January 2020 Reading Thread

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Hugh

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Sue Cheung " Chinglish"
Adolescence in a Chinese Takeaway. Very young adult. Not my normal reading fare. I hadn't expected the young adult at all, as I'd heard the author being interviewed and thought it sounded an interesting read. Given some rather strange experiences in Chinese Takeaways over the years, I've always been curious re the story backstage. The book seems to have been a big success and that's great.
 

hitmouse

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Have a few days break, so going to select a Wodehouse and The Wallet of Kai Lung by Ernest Bramah, to take away for a leisurely reread.
 

Brian G Turner

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Current book is The Holocene: an environmental history by Neil Roberts. However, I really feel like following up with a general overview of archaeology, so might get a Cunliffe afterwards.
 

tachyon

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Happy New Year everybody. I found the first 2 Baru Cormorant books at the library before Christmas and finished #1 during the holiday. Working on #2 now.

The Traitor Baru Cormorant
The Monster Baru Cormorant

by Seth Dickinson

I knew they got a lot of hype a while ago but I skipped any reviews/publicity and went in cold. I was expecting space opera!

Traitor was really good, and I'm enjoying Monster just as much.
 

williamjm

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Replying to @Wyrmlord from the now-closed December 2019 thread

I recently finished Mr. Robot and was in the mood for a hacker-like book. I already tried Neuromancer but couldn't get into it. I recently stumbled across Reamde by Neal Stephenson. The premise seems interesting, but I'm very hesitant about the 1,000+ page investment. I read Seveneves a couple months ago but dropped it halfway due to the glacier pace and, what I thought, was unneeded infodumps. I haven't read anything else by Stephenson. Has anyone read Reamde and could vouch for its positives?
Reamde isn't a bad book, but I think Stephenson has written better and he seems to get a bit bored with the Online RPG plot about half way through the book and instead switches to a completely different topic. There are also a lot of infodumps, although that's pretty standard for Stephenson's writing. If you're looking for hacker-like books then I think Snow Crash, Cryptonomicon and The Diamond Age are all more relevant and I think they're all better books. From memory, Snow Crash and The Diamond Age are also a lot shorter than Reamde.
 

Wyrmlord

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Replying to @Wyrmlord from the now-closed December 2019 thread



Reamde isn't a bad book, but I think Stephenson has written better and he seems to get a bit bored with the Online RPG plot about half way through the book and instead switches to a completely different topic. There are also a lot of infodumps, although that's pretty standard for Stephenson's writing. If you're looking for hacker-like books then I think Snow Crash, Cryptonomicon and The Diamond Age are all more relevant and I think they're all better books. From memory, Snow Crash and The Diamond Age are also a lot shorter than Reamde.
Thanks! I think I might try The Diamond Age. Snow Crash is also on the list :)
 

Bick

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On New Year's Day I finished David Drake's With the Lightnings. I liked this, by the end, and may well read on in this series (The RCN series). It starts quite slowly, and I was not convinced in the first 50-100 pages, to be honest. There are some plot deviations Drake takes to build character and lay some small plot devices which slow things down and these are done in a quite a clunky way. It seems that Drake knows he wants to build characters and situations that are nuanced, and that will offer shades of grey and complexity, but he's not all that good (in this book at least) at achieving it in a smooth way. That said, its an honest go at trying to make this more than just a simple military SF novel, and I give him real credit for aiming high, even if he seems to struggle a bit with pacing things. We get past these issues by about a third of the way through, after which Drake enters the part of the book where he's more in his element, I suspect, which is the main action and driven plot. Drake was in the military, and it shows, not so much that he gets arms and military details correct (weapons are made-up futuristic ones anyway), but that he conveys the chaos and random crap that war brings in really quite a fine way. Another aspect that plays out well, is that Drake approaches his characters in a very gender-neutral way. You get the impression he flipped a coin to decide if each character was male or female, and it works well. It's also nice that while the two main characters (who are both rounded and appealing) are male and female, there is no romance between them. It's not an issue, its not necessary to the plot, they just happen to be male and female and on the same side. It was strangely refreshing for an author not to feel his leads had to develop a romantic connection, and that they could simply just be capable colleagues. I've heard that the issues I had with the somewhat clunky and slow character development and early plot in this novel improve in the second novel of the series (Lt Leary Commanding), so I may well read on.

I'm now reading Robert Silverberg's The Stochastic Man (1975), which is good so far. This was nominated for both the Hugo and Nebula Awards, and being mid-70's Silverberg I'm expecting it will be layered, subtle and superior.
 

HareBrain

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Just started Masters of Atlantis by Charles Portis. A wryly amusing tale of the setting up of an esoteric society in the first half of the 20thC.
 

dannymcg

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Early pages of a crime thriller by Alex North, The Whisper Man, a bit creepy so far
 

The Big Peat

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Sue Cheung " Chinglish"
Adolescence in a Chinese Takeaway. Very young adult. Not my normal reading fare. I hadn't expected the young adult at all, as I'd heard the author being interviewed and thought it sounded an interesting read. Given some rather strange experiences in Chinese Takeaways over the years, I've always been curious re the story backstage. The book seems to have been a big success and that's great.
Do you get any of the story backstage? Or did it not deliver there at all?



As for me - finished Jo Nesbo's Nemesis and really enjoyed it.
 

Hugh

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Do you get any of the story backstage? Or did it not deliver there at all?
Yes, it gives a good account of backstage life for that particular family and feels very real. My only difficulty was the young adult style in diary form, and that’s probably a reflection of my age ( late 60s) and gender. Overtones of Adrian Mole, though very different.
One thing that made me smile was that the mother would not let the children eat the takeaway food, even though they cooked it there, because she said it was not nutritious enough, giving them traditional food such as chicken feet instead.
 
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