June 2021 Reading Discussion

Vertigo

Mad Mountain Man
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I tried but failed to read this a few years ago. Like most of Egan's works I found it impossible to get to grips with
Yeah, some of his stuff is brilliant (Quarantine, Schild's Ladder) but much of it gets too detailed even for lovers of hard SF like myself! Funnily enough the other big Greg - Greg Bear - is not dissimilar. Not quite sure what I was thinking but I'm reading one of his right now only a month after this Egan one!
 

Ori Vandewalle

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Yeah, some of his stuff is brilliant (Quarantine, Schild's Ladder) but much of it gets too detailed even for lovers of hard SF like myself!
I really enjoy Egan but I remember a comment from him some time ago--I think in response to a bad review--along the lines of, "Well if you aren't willing to take some notes and do some back of the envelope equations while reading, maybe SF isn't for you."
 

AE35Unit

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Yeah, some of his stuff is brilliant (Quarantine, Schild's Ladder) but much of it gets too detailed even for lovers of hard SF like myself! Funnily enough the other big Greg - Greg Bear - is not dissimilar. Not quite sure what I was thinking but I'm reading one of his right now only a month after this Egan one!
Oh I find Bear much more accessible. Though I've not read his newer stuff from Darwin's Radio (also his book Slant was awful)
 

Danny McG

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Everything is on hold!
I hadn't noticed the new Neal Asher book Jack Four had popped up in my Kindle app.
(No other reading until I get through this)

This high-octane adventure is set in the same world as Neal Asher's acclaimed Polity universe. It's a thrilling, fast-paced standalone novel, perfect for fans of Alastair Reynolds and Stephen Baxter.

Created to die – determined to live . . .


Jack Four – one of twenty human clones – has been created to be sold. His purchasers are the alien prador and they only want him for their experimentation program. But there is something different about Jack. No clone should possess the knowledge that’s been loaded into his mind. And no normal citizen of humanity’s Polity worlds would have this information.

The prador’s king has been mutated by the Spatterjay virus into a creature even more monstrous than the prador themselves. And his children, the King’s Guard, have undergone similar changes. They were infected by the virus during the last humans-versus-prador war, now lapsed into an uneasy truce. But the prador are always looking for new weapons – and their experimentation program might give them the edge they seek.

Suzeal trades human slaves out of the Stratogaster Space Station, re-engineering them to serve the prador. She thinks the rewards are worth the risks, but all that is about to change. The Station was once a zoo, containing monsters from across known space. All the monsters now dwell on the planet below, but they aren’t as contained as they seem. And a vengeful clone may be the worst danger of all.
 

Ori Vandewalle

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Finished The Gone World a couple days ago. Intense, with some great and terrifying visuals. Enjoyed it quite a bit, although the ending might leave one a little unsatisfied, depending on one's tastes. And there are some plot holes--not thinking about the wild timey-wimey stuff, just my personal pet peeve of "you know, if the bad guy had ever just stopped doing bad things and talked to someone..."

Now reading I Am Providence by Nick Mamatas. Takes place at a tiny Lovecraft writers convention. So far, it's wry and funny; anyone who's been to a small-scale local SF/F convention will recognize the personalities and traditions being made light of. But it does come across as a little mean, so we'll see if that keeps up.
 

Randy M.

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Now reading I Am Providence by Nick Mamatas. Takes place at a tiny Lovecraft writers convention. So far, it's wry and funny; anyone who's been to a small-scale local SF/F convention will recognize the personalities and traditions being made light of. But it does come across as a little mean, so we'll see if that keeps up.
I'll be interested in hearing what you think. It's in Mount TBR and looks like fun. Tangentially, ever read Bimbos of the Death Sun by Sharon McCrumb?
 

tachyon

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Last month got away from me and I didn't do a post, but I wanted to mention a couple of the books I read that stood out for me.

Ninth City Burning by J. Patrick Black
A post-apocalyptic SF setting with magical technology. Alien invasion from another universe has mostly destroyed civilization on Earth, but survivors are holding out with the help of alien-derived high tech weaponry. This sounds like a lot of other setups but this take is fresh and interesting. The strengths of this book are the multiple POV characters who each have a distinct voice and personality, and the slow reveal of the worldbuilding, history, and present status of humanity on the planet. The action & battle scenes are great too. It starts with a clever youth in a seemingly dystopian society and I was prepared for a lot of YA tropes but his book surprised me and developed in completely unexpected directions. After I finished it I immediately went looking for the sequel, which is apparently in progress, but I couldn't find any details about release date.

Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve
YA post apocalyptic earth where cities have become mobile and hunt each other on the great hunting grounds of the devastated continents. This one has been around for a while but it's a YA and I kindof had an idea what it was about from reading people's reviews, and I wasn't in a hurry to read it. I have not seen the movie. I listened to this as an audiobook from my library in the course of a long car trip. Another one that really surprised me, though I knew basically what to expect as far as general premise, the execution was a lot better than I'd been expecting, I enjoyed the book a great deal.

I read through a bunch of others last month but don't want to dig into kindle/libby/etc trying to piece together a list.

I'm in a bit of a reading slump this month, my attention is on work & other things. I have some vacation coming up at the end of the month, I'm planning to read a bunch of Murderbot.
 

williamjm

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I finished S.A. Chakraborty's The Empire of Gold which I thought was a good conclusion to the Daevabad trilogy. At the start of the book there are a lot of plot threads left to be resolved but I thought the book managed to tie them together well while at the same time providing a number of new revelations (some of which I was expecting and some of which I was not). I did like that although it ends fairly conclusively it's clear that the characters will still face plenty of challenges going forward and there's no suggestion that all of Daevabad's problems have gone away. One of the things the series did well was to show how all the different factions had agendas that made sense to them and how most of horrible things they sometimes did were the result of previous things done to them. This continues in the final book as we learn more about some of the more enigmatic players in the story, although the main villain did lose any subtlety and nuance as the book went along. I think the first two books might have had a better antagonist.

I do also like how the characters have developed since the first book, the first one did start of a fairly typical coming-of-age epic fantasy but I find the more mature Nahri of the second and third books to be more interesting. I thought the story arcs of the main characters also came to some good conclusions although some of the supporting characters get a little bit forgotten at times, it might have been interesting to see things from Zaynab's point-of-view, for example. The second book did take place almost entirely in Daevabad itself and venturing beyond that to human Cairo and the djinn community in Ta Ntry did bring something extra to the story. There are a lot of different types of magic being thrown around in this book and I think some of the details of how that all works got a bit confusing at times.

Overall, I enjoyed the trilogy a lot, it does sometimes use some familiar epic fantasy tropes but I think the Arabian Nights-inspired setting does bring something new.

I don't think any more books in the world are planned at the moment although the edition I read does have a bonus 'alternative epilogue' which could easily have served as the set-up for a possible sequel.

Next up I'm going to read Adrian Tchaikovsky's new space opera Shards of Earth, which I've heard good things about.
 

Vertigo

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Last month got away from me and I didn't do a post, but I wanted to mention a couple of the books I read that stood out for me.

Ninth City Burning by J. Patrick Black
A post-apocalyptic SF setting with magical technology. Alien invasion from another universe has mostly destroyed civilization on Earth, but survivors are holding out with the help of alien-derived high tech weaponry. This sounds like a lot of other setups but this take is fresh and interesting. The strengths of this book are the multiple POV characters who each have a distinct voice and personality, and the slow reveal of the worldbuilding, history, and present status of humanity on the planet. The action & battle scenes are great too. It starts with a clever youth in a seemingly dystopian society and I was prepared for a lot of YA tropes but his book surprised me and developed in completely unexpected directions. After I finished it I immediately went looking for the sequel, which is apparently in progress, but I couldn't find any details about release date.

Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve
YA post apocalyptic earth where cities have become mobile and hunt each other on the great hunting grounds of the devastated continents. This one has been around for a while but it's a YA and I kindof had an idea what it was about from reading people's reviews, and I wasn't in a hurry to read it. I have not seen the movie. I listened to this as an audiobook from my library in the course of a long car trip. Another one that really surprised me, though I knew basically what to expect as far as general premise, the execution was a lot better than I'd been expecting, I enjoyed the book a great deal.

I read through a bunch of others last month but don't want to dig into kindle/libby/etc trying to piece together a list.

I'm in a bit of a reading slump this month, my attention is on work & other things. I have some vacation coming up at the end of the month, I'm planning to read a bunch of Murderbot.
That's interesting; I've been having very similar qualms about getting Mortal Engines. Maybe I should give it a try, though I'm not a great lover of YA - I generally find them a little too simplistic for my tastes, both morally and around plot and characterisation.
 

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