April 2021 Reading discussion

Bick

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I'm reading the newest Issue of Clarkesworld Magazine, like I always do (gotta enjoy what is given to you for free!). I've said in the last discussion thread that that month's issue was the best in a long time, and the first one that I read all the stories without getting bored to death.
Well, it still is.
I'm finding this new issue's stories to be extremely derivative. For instance, A House Is Not a Home, about a high-tech house with "feelings" is pretty much There Will Come Soft Rains, by Ray Bradbury; or The Sheen of Her Carapace, about an astronaut whose body is changing, thus becoming much alike the aliens he encounters in a new planet (uh, Avatar?). I instantly link the stories with something I have read or watched, so nothing feels new. This doesn't mean the stories are bad per se. I just had the bad luck of having the "source material" fresh in my mind.
I've reviewed it now and I agree, alex - it's a very poor 'issue'. I didn't have too much of a problem with the stories being derivative, I was more bothered that each was at least one of the following: boring, badly written, pretentious or far too long. Several were at least three of these. There was one good story: Sarcophagus by Ray Nayler. My full review is here.
 

Hugh

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Murray Leinster "War with the Gizmos" (1958)

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Aaah! Murray, you can write so much better than this! Still, Hitchcock could have made a good film out of it, and hopefully it paid a few bills at the time.

Something invisible is suffocating wildlife and humans in ever increasing numbers.

The main point of interest for me was that this was one of the first 50s pulp stories I ever read, aged eight or nine. I'd considered putting a description up on Booksearch, but was unsure I really wanted to read it again. Then I came across it a few days ago and got stuck in straightaway. I found I remembered the beginning and ending very well, while the middle was sadly repetitive and could have been greatly reduced into short story form.

Perhaps the highlight of this "Gold Medal Book" edition is the descriptions in the back of other "Exciting Original Suspense Novels". For example: "Savage Bride" by Cornell Woolrich -" Overnight the sweet girl he had married turned into a she-devil, a tigress in his arms. And now he watched her kneeling, chanting to her pagan gods, promising them a sacrifice - a human sacrifice." And that's one of the less lurid....
 
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Garfunkel

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I finished Later by Stephen King this morning. It was pretty good; strong narrative voice, interesting story and well-drawn characters. I've started The Last House on Needless Street by Catriona Ward, but I've not advanced far enough to have any opinion on it.

My anxiety has flared up again this week, which is frustrating, but this morning I found listening to calming music while reading was helpful, so that might be something I continue with going forward.
 

Randy M.

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I finished Later by Stephen King this morning. It was pretty good; strong narrative voice, interesting story and well-drawn characters. I've started The Last House on Needless Street by Catriona Ward, but I've not advanced far enough to have any opinion on it.

I'll be interested in hearing what you think about Ward's novel. It's not due to be published here until the Fall.
 

Extollager

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I've begun The Surgeon's Mate by Patrick O'Brian, the 7th in the Aubrey-Maturin cycle. I've reread Coleridge's tantalizingly unfinished poem "Christabel" and have begun read a book about it, Nethercot's The Road to Tryermaine. (I just finished a rereading of Malcolm Guite's very fine book about the "Rime," the life of Coleridge, and us, Mariner.) I've been dipping into Izaak Walton's Compleat Angler and enjoying that 17th-century classic. And more.
 

Danny McG

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This book is, in the main, a 'found footage' story.
The protagonist is part of an archeology team exploring a ruined city and finds a diary/journal written many decades ago. She attempts to retrace the steps of the survivor who wrote it all.
Then the story suddenly stops!
End of, no further input from the archeologist. The journal ends and that's all she wrote*

(*see what I did there?)
 

Bick

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This book is, in the main, a 'found footage' story.
The protagonist is part of an archeology team exploring a ruined city and finds a diary/journal written many decades ago. She attempts to retrace the steps of the survivor who wrote it all.
Then the story suddenly stops!
End of, no further input from the archeologist. The journal ends and that's all she wrote*

(*see what I did there?)
Is there a sequel?
(I did note that the only cover comment on the book was from Charlie Jane Anders, which would be a red-light for me, I have to admit).
 

Hugh

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Eric Frank Russell "Wasp" (1957)
Re-read after a gap of a mere forty years. Still enthralling, could barely put it down, despite remembering it fairly well. However, this time round there were certain things I noticed that probably went over my head before:
(1) The main character/hero is a manipulative psychopath. And then some.
(2) There are no women. Not a single mention of one. Not in the street, in cafes, in air-raid shelters, or even in the hero's imagination.
(3) Gene Roddenberry read this book: the standard goodbye that people say to each other is "Live Long".
 

Danny McG

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Is there a sequel?
(I did note that the only cover comment on the book was from Charlie Jane Anders, which would be a red-light for me, I have to admit).
I don't think so, unless the writer decides that she needs to finish the story.
It's £2.37 that I'll never get back, doesn't seem worth it for half a story.:unsure:
 

Bick

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Eric Frank Russell "Wasp" (1957)
Re-read after a gap of a mere forty years. Still enthralling, could barely put it down, despite remembering it fairly well. However, this time round there were certain things I noticed that probably went over my head before:
(1) The main character/hero is a manipulative psychopath. And then some.
(2) There are no women. Not a single mention of one. Not in the street, in cafes, in air-raid shelters, or even in the hero's imagination.
(3) Gene Roddenberry read this book: the standard goodbye that people say to each other is "Live Long".
I like it when you can see inspirations for Star Trek or Star Wars in old stories. My favourite ‘inspirations’ would appear to have been two read by Lucas; i.e. lightsabers in Gordon Dickson’s Wolfling, and Wookiee’s with bowcasters in George Martin’s And Seven Times Never Kill a Man.
 

Brian G Turner

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Stumbled onto Prisoners of Geography on Amazon, written by the political editor of Sky News, and was hooked by the preview.

Basically, it's an simple guide to geopolitics, explaining why Russia was so upset over Crimea, and why China is getting aggressive about islands in the South China Sea. Very illuminating, yet a very easy read.

The ebook is currently on offer for only £1.69, as the sequel on future geopolitics is out in a few weeks.
 

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