February 2020 Reading Thread

biodroid

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Just finished The Last Mile by David Baldacci, with a bit of a disappointing ending that had basically nothing to do with the story and I felt the main plot was not resolved well, it went to the 60s in Mississippi with segregation to motivate 3 characters that were only mentioned in the last 40 or so pages of the book.
 

tobl

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Just finished The Last Mile by David Baldacci, with a bit of a disappointing ending that had basically nothing to do with the story and I felt the main plot was not resolved well, it went to the 60s in Mississippi with segregation to motivate 3 characters that were only mentioned in the last 40 or so pages of the book.
one of the best books i read in a long time
 

Paul_C

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My description was only part of the quote from the cover :

"Lesbian necromancers explore a haunted gothic palace in space! Decadent nobles vie to serve the deathless emperor! Skeletons! --Charles Stross"

I came across it as a friend of mine is a writer and she mentioned looking forward to it a few times, the above quote made it sound like fun :)
 

J-Sun

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Currently reading Isaac Asimov's In Memory Yet Green, The Early Asimov, and Foundation. Well, and I, Robot, too. (I'm reading his autobiography and his stories in order so far, which means I'm in the middle of a lot of stuff. :))

My description was only part of the quote from the cover :

"Lesbian necromancers explore a haunted gothic palace in space! Decadent nobles vie to serve the deathless emperor! Skeletons! --Charles Stross"

I came across it as a friend of mine is a writer and she mentioned looking forward to it a few times, the above quote made it sound like fun :)
That seems to be a book that's making some noise. My cousin-in-law got it for Christmas.
 

Hugh

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Currently reading Isaac Asimov's In Memory Yet Green, The Early Asimov, and Foundation. Well, and I, Robot, too. (I'm reading his autobiography and his stories in order so far, which means I'm in the middle of a lot of stuff. :))
I'll be interested to hear what you make of In Memory Yet Green. I've picked up a copy recently and will be reading it in the next few months. I'm a little apprehensive as (1) I've probably already read the best anecdotes elsewhere (2) the thought of 700 pages of him writing about himself does not necessarily appeal to me.
 

Victoria Silverwolf

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I read both volumes of Asimov's autobiography and found it quite enjoyable.

I am currently reading/looking at (because it's mostly beautiful images, with some text) Molecules: The Elements and Architecture of Everything (2014) by Theodore Gray, with photographs by Nick Mann. It's the middle book of a trilogy, the other volumes of which are The Elements: A Visual Exploration of Every Known Atom in the Universe (2009), which I have already read/viewed, and Reactions: An Illustrated Exploration of Elements, Molecules, and Change in the Universe (2017), which I will tackle next. Popular science, with lots of nifty pictures.
 

Parson

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Finished Fate of Devotion by K.F. Breene. Another solid, not spectacular SF. This might be the last in the series. There is nothing which says another one is in the works, but although this story came together well there is room for another book if she would like.
 

J-Sun

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I'll be interested to hear what you make of In Memory Yet Green. I've picked up a copy recently and will be reading it in the next few months. I'm a little apprehensive as (1) I've probably already read the best anecdotes elsewhere (2) the thought of 700 pages of him writing about himself does not necessarily appeal to me.
I read both volumes of Asimov's autobiography and found it quite enjoyable.
I'm 2/3 through (in terms of the six parts) or just over that (in chapters and pages) and, so far, I'm with Victoria. It drags just slightly in two brief places but is remarkably interesting and entertaining, even for Asimov, and I would think even non-Asimov fans might find it of interest, though they'd almost certainly want it shorter. So your second point may mean you might not enjoy it as much as I have. Still, he covers his ancestry which gives insights into a culture, place, and time that's not all that familiar to many people, and he covers what it's like to be an immigrant in New York in the 20s and then into the Depression and WWII and the Golden Age of SF with many mentions of Campbell, Pohl, Heinlein, de Camp, and many others. So it's not all about him, despite being all about him. :) As far as your first point, it's true that many of the anecdotes are familiar and he does basically incorporate often verbatim or slightly altered passages from things like The Early Asimov and Before the Golden Age and so on, but there's much in here that I wasn't familiar with and I've read a lot of Asimov's stuff. I'm certainly looking forward to finishing it and going on to the second volume though there, myself, I wonder if it'll be as interesting once the Golden Age passes and his SF output diminishes. It's also unfortunate that it stops right before he started writing a lot of SF again in 1982 or so and all we've got for that period is I. Asimov (which I have read and is also good but is more a "memoir" or group of snippets (which goes over the same period as the earlier books again before extending the coverage to just before his death) and less a sustained autobiography).
 

Hugh

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I'm 2/3 through (in terms of the six parts) or just over that (in chapters and pages) and, so far, I'm with Victoria. It drags just slightly in two brief places but is remarkably interesting and entertaining, even for Asimov, and I would think even non-Asimov fans might find it of interest, though they'd almost certainly want it shorter. So your second point may mean you might not enjoy it as much as I have. Still, he covers his ancestry which gives insights into a culture, place, and time that's not all that familiar to many people, and he covers what it's like to be an immigrant in New York in the 20s and then into the Depression and WWII and the Golden Age of SF with many mentions of Campbell, Pohl, Heinlein, de Camp, and many others. So it's not all about him, despite being all about him. :) As far as your first point, it's true that many of the anecdotes are familiar and he does basically incorporate often verbatim or slightly altered passages from things like The Early Asimov and Before the Golden Age and so on, but there's much in here that I wasn't familiar with and I've read a lot of Asimov's stuff. I'm certainly looking forward to finishing it and going on to the second volume though there, myself, I wonder if it'll be as interesting once the Golden Age passes and his SF output diminishes. It's also unfortunate that it stops right before he started writing a lot of SF again in 1982 or so and all we've got for that period is I. Asimov (which I have read and is also good but is more a "memoir" or group of snippets (which goes over the same period as the earlier books again before extending the coverage to just before his death) and less a sustained autobiography).
Many thanks for this encouraging reply. I actively look forward to reading it now. I read I Asimov some years ago, but it's a bit of a blur by now.

It's a very interesting experience to read an author's stories in historical sequence and get a sense of their development. I've only done it a few times (and not for some years), and never alongside biographical reading
 

Bick

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Good to see you back on the boards, J-Sun!

I just finished A Memory Called Empire, by Arkady Martine. I'm slightly in two minds about it. Not as to whether its a decent SF novel (it is) but whether its quite as good as reviews have tended to suggest. There's a lot I like about it - the imago devices provide an interesting plot and they are a great SF device. Also the characters are roundly drawn and appealing. There's more than a hint of Cherryh's Foreigner books in the dense political aspects to it, and this will be good or bad, depending on your view of those rather slow books. Much is achieved through subtle influence and pressure by certain individuals upon other individuals to bring big changes in the Empire. This gives the book a sense of depth and maturity, but I'm not sure it quite rings true. Political change is more complex and harder to redirect than is implied. A few other very slight misgivings: while its a space opera in a sense, the locations occasioned by the characters (mostly interiors of rooms in the one city), give it a slightly claustrophobic feel, metaphorically more like a play than a film. I feel it would have benefited from a broader canvas to provide a better sense of scale and significance to the Empire. Secondly, The apparently fluid sexuality the main characters display is fine in one sense (I don't have a moral issue with it of course), but to have many of the main characters bisexual seemed unnecessary and artistically I'm not sure what point the author was making if any. Lastly, my main reservation is in the pacing. Much has been written about how exciting and pacy it is. It's actually not. It has periods of excitement and portions that are well paced, but it is very patchy in this regard. Martine unfortunately breaks up the pace with too much exposition and description of internal thought, and between the faster plot elements her writing feels a touch turgid. It does, to me, read like a first novel, by a very talented new author who's still refining her trade. So, it's good (very good for a new author), but it seemed a long book and took me a while to finish, as its not perfect by any means. A solid 'B', perhaps.

Now I've moved on to a mammoth tome, Eric Flint & David Weber's 1634: The Baltic War. So far, this is actually better crafted and paced than the book above (yes, really). Which is just as well as it clocks in at over 1000 pages! Eek.
 

elvet

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After Return of the Crimson Guard, I was going to go back to Erikson and Reaper’s Gale, but decided to follow Kyle, Greymane, and Iron Bar’s story into Esslemont’s Stonewielder.
 

Extollager

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I’ve begun a second reading of William Morris’s The Well at the World’s End, which I read around 1975.
 

Hugh

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J.G. Ballard's autobiography "Miracles of Life"
I thought the first half of this detailing his pampered childhood in Shanghai, followed by internment under the Japanese, was absolutely brilliant. I may be biased because I have an occasional interest in things Chinese but I thought it remarkable. I also found his impressions of post-war UK very interesting - he was seeing it for the very first time, age 15. After that it remains interesting, but seems to lose its way and become more of a chat much of the time. This made sense when I came to the final pages and found he had begun it in 2007 after diagnosis of terminal cancer (the book came out in 2008, and he died in 2009). I even wonder if he already had much of the first half written in draft.
I've read very little Ballard other than some of his 60s books and short stories. He lost me after that - went way over my head. I haven't even read Empire of the Sun. Following this I'll get round to re-reading The Drought in a while as images from that still stay with me. This book does give me a much better sense of what drove him. Something that particularly impressed me was the unembroidered matter of fact way in which he describes people dying and being killed. I realised afterwards that this might be the product of necessary detachment - I was reminded of a conversation years ago with a young man who'd come out of an African death camp some months before in which he equally matter-of-factly described the feel of the flesh of dead bodies that he'd been tasked to dig up and rebury.
Many thanks to @Victoria Silverwolf for bringing this book to my attention.
 

dannymcg

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Project Solaris book one: 'A Hero Born' by Chris Fox.

Come on fellow Earthlings (especially if you have superpowers), let's track down and fight those evil Gray aliens that have infiltrated society

Enjoyable hokum so far
 
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