December 2020 Reading Thread

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HareBrain

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Christmas/ Winter Solstice is exactly the right time to reread Susan Cooper, especially The Dark is Rising. Terrific stories.
According to that podcast, there's a community who read The Dark is Rising (the book) in real time, staring on Midwinter's Eve. So I'm a bit late and kicking myself that I didn't think of that in time. (Though then I might have had to wait until October to read The Grey King.)
 

hitmouse

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Just rent a cottage near Tywyn next summer for The Grey King. Anywhere in N Pembs, Ceredigion will do, really. More sleeping kings and mysterious stones than you can shake a stick at.
 

HareBrain

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Just rent a cottage near Tywyn next summer for The Grey King. Anywhere in N Pembs, Ceredigion will do, really. More sleeping kings and mysterious stones than you can shake a stick at.
I am aiming to go to N Wales next summer, if I can. (I need to check out Dinas Emrys for a book I've written, for a start.) I've walked up Cader Idris in the past and it was a magical experience, though I'm not sure I could do it now.
 

Stephen Palmer

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I’ve been reading Take Back Plenty, by Colin Greenland. I’m about 120 pages in, and considering giving up on it, but would appreciate others’ thoughts before I chuck it.

First problem - the blurb on the cover says that Plenty is a ‘ghetto planet’. This clearly leads one assume it’s space opera, set somewhere else in the galaxy, and that the story will be about the lead character somehow rescuing a planet. Not so, Plenty is a small space station orbiting Earth, and the story is all set in the solar system. The blurb lies, basically.

Second problem - the plot and secondary characters are soooo annoying, I’m not sure I can be bothered with it. When you spend every single page hoping everyone in the book other than the protagonist Tabitha will please just disappear never to return (or preferably that they die horribly), it’s a sign things are not well with the cast. Do the twins and Marco $&@# off and leave the story after a short while, or does the reader have to suffer them throughout the book? If it’s the latter, this one is for the op-shop I think.
I really enjoyed it.
The second one is even better.
Can't remember anything about the third one...
 

Vertigo

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A Scanner Darkly by Philip K Dick - A sad and disturbing read and not really SF but still PKD at his best. more here.
Unseen Academicals by Terry Pratchett - Classic Pratchett, mercilessly satirising some things whilst lovingly poking fun at others. more here.
 

vanye

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Yes I've observed the same and I suspect you are right that it is an economics thing and that is also quite possibly a side effect of self publishing. Since self published books are generally cheaper, the consumer is growing to expect those cheap prices and the big publishers will have to make cuts to achieve them. In real terms I don't think there has been much shift in the price of traditionally published books for quite a few years. There are some very cheap and some very expensive but I'd say the average price has remained largely unchanged; certainly well below inflation. My guess is that every step in the process is done more cheaply, including, I imagine, the royalties paid to the author.
I suspect that automation is also creeping in. It‘s way cheaper than paying a real person for their expertise. Look at what‘s happening to translators.
 

Danny McG

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Nucleation by Kimberly Unger. The blurb says "a near future cyberpunk space opera"
We shall see ....
 

HareBrain

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Aaaaah, The Dark is Rising first chapter. I can't work out how much is a nostalgia hit and how much just sheer brilliant writing.

It seems cruel that its creator can never herself experience reading it as an eleven-year-old.
 

Vertigo

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I suspect that automation is also creeping in. It‘s way cheaper than paying a real person for their expertise. Look at what‘s happening to translators.
Yes I'm sure you're right. It would be interesting to know how much proof editing is done with something like Grammarly rather than a real person reading it.

[Isn't there a certain irony that a program like Grammarly is named with an ungrammatical word. Grammar is a noun and has no right pretending to be an adverb!]
 

Danny McG

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Aaaaah, The Dark is Rising first chapter. I can't work out how much is a nostalgia hit and how much just sheer brilliant writing.

It seems cruel that its creator can never herself experience reading it as an eleven-year-old.
I'd never heard of it until about 1969/1970 when they read the first book over five days on Jackanory
 

HareBrain

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I'd never heard of it until about 1969/1970 when they read the first book over five days on Jackanory
That was Over Sea Under Stone, the first book in the sequence, but at the time it was meant to be a standalone. The sequel, which gave its name to the series, wasn't published until 1973.
 

biodroid

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Life Expectancy - Dean Koontz. I stopped in the middle of Nophek Gloss - Essa Hansen due to all the whiny/self-pity of the main character.
 

Danny McG

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That was Over Sea Under Stone, the first book in the sequence, but at the time it was meant to be a standalone. The sequel, which gave its name to the series, wasn't published until 1973.
Yeah, I remember when the film came out 2007 (still haven't seen it) and not long after I saw some of the books in W.H. Smiths. I bought them on some special offer they were running.
I was reading the first one and giving it "but I know this! How do I know it?"
Then the Jackanory memory surfaced and gave me a wow moment.
 

Danny McG

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Tonight's book is a space opera mil sci fi.
Patrick S Tomlinson...In the Black
I've mentioned already the abrupt end of this book, obviously a sequel is planned.
Tonight I've looked at the book covers and the blurbs, nowhere does it mention that this is the first in a series/trilogy/whatever.
This is a hate of mine, why can't writers/publishers let you know up front.
I'd probably have bought all three in a year or so, but now this writer has been added to my never buy again list
 

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Finished book 9 of the April Series: "Been There Done That" by Mackey Chandler. It continues the tradition of the others. Interesting characters, exploring big ideas, questionable proof reading, and a glowing tribute to a kind of elitist libertarianism which never considers those who are going to need other people to treat them kindly, or the solid reasons for some social norms. One of the story lines in the series has begun to lift up how smart survivalists are, while ignoring where someone whose only obvious concerns are with "what makes me feel good and safe" often lead. Positively, another part of the story is using FTL star ships and there are aliens who have been seen but not met. On to book 10 All in Good Time.
 

The Scribbling Man

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This month I've read:

The Left Hand of Darkness (2.5) - Ursua K. LeGuin
Akira, Vol. 6 (4) - Katsuhiro Otomo (Graphic novel)
Boy In Darkness and Other Stories (4) - Mervyn Peake
They Walked Like Men (3.25) - Clifford D. Simak

I'm just taking a breather, but I think I will likely start No Country for Old Men next. My first McCarthy.
 

kythe

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I've been reading The Kishi by Antoine Bandele, an African fantasy inspired by Angolan folklore about shapeshifting people and ancestral magic. Most mythology-based stories I have read have European roots, so it is refreshing to be introduced to a story based in a different part of the world. The characters are vibrant and story is captivating.

I also have been reading Into the Second World: An Alt-Earth Tale by E.L. Knox. This is yet another good story in the alt-Earth series by sknox. This one seems to be a re-telling of Jules Verne's Journey to the Center of the Earth, except the adventure includes dwarves, an ogre, and their related magic.
 
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