October 2021 Reading Discussion

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williamjm

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I read Naomi Novik's The Last Graduate, the second book in her Scholomance trilogy. I enjoyed it as much as the first book in the series, and I liked that while it started off continuing on in the obvious way from the ending of the first book it did after a while change direction to a less obvious and more interesting plot. I thought the secondary characters were developed more than in the first book and while the plot is still very focused on El she does have to rely on others a lot more and although she sets the plot in the second half into motion she isn't the one that comes up with the key revelation about how to make things work out. There are occasional times, particularly early in the book, where it does verge on getting bogged down in exposition about how some aspect of the magical society works, but other than that I thought it was well-paced. I'm definitely curious about where the final book is going to go, not so much in terms of resolving the immediate cliffhanger that this book but also about what is going to be a longer-term solution to the overall plot.

I then read P Djeli Clark's novella Ring Shout. It's set in in the 1920s Deep South which is an unusual setting for a fantasy story. Having never read any H.P. Lovecraft stories the recent trend for revisionist Lovecraftian stories do sometimes have the tendency to make me feel I'm missing something by not being familiar with what they are reacting against but I thought this stood-alone better than some other examples. It did have some memorable monsters in it, although I think the Night Doctors were possibly creepier than the actual antagonists were. I thought the story had good momentum, sometimes novellas feel like they have a novel's worth of plot crammed into a smaller page count but I think this was about the right length.
 

tobl

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Yeah, it will have to be a slowly-slowly type of project that may never get completed. The way to start is get the most recent books first and work my way backwards.
try second hand stores and garage sales, small chuch sales, etc. you never know
 

HareBrain

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I finished The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury. (Not that much of an accomplishment given its length.) It's been something over forty years since I previously read it, but even so, I was surprised to find that absolutely nothing of the story seemed familiar at all, except the existence of the titular tree and a boy named Pipkin (also the title of a disturbing children's puppet TV show at the time I read it). To be honest I didn't really rate it this time. It's written in a style I find far too exuberant, almost frantic, and which makes nothing feel real or dangerous.
 

Randy M.

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I finished The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury. (Not that much of an accomplishment given its length.) It's been something over forty years since I previously read it, but even so, I was surprised to find that absolutely nothing of the story seemed familiar at all, except the existence of the titular tree and a boy named Pipkin (also the title of a disturbing children's puppet TV show at the time I read it). To be honest I didn't really rate it this time. It's written in a style I find far too exuberant, almost frantic, and which makes nothing feel real or dangerous.
It was written for kids, so that probably explains it. I also felt it was a watered down revisiting of Something Wicked This Way Comes.
 

Randy M.

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The Dying Earth (Jack Vance) is a funny old book. Not sure how much I’m enjoying it. I knew going in it was fantasy, and I prefer SF (especially, I think, from Vance), but was not necessarily expecting the short story/collection format.

Unfortunately, the stories themselves are not that successful. They each centre on a different character, preventing character development (they are all paper thin), and are too episodic to be really immersive. I was hoping the book would chronicle the dying Earth in some way, but not so far. Everyone in it is either a magician of some sort, or a demon, and there are no ‘normal’ people. The tales themselves are pulpy (written back when Vance was still using overt purple prose) and come across as unconvincing sword and sorcery. The use of the book by the inventors of D&D is very clear, which is interesting, but does make the stories now read like badly constructed D&D fiction. Perhaps the whole will be greater than the sum of its parts? I’m about halfway through so I’ll give it a bit longer and see.
I could be wrong about this, but I understood the stories to be inspired by Clark Ashton Smith's Zothique stories of how the world ends. Those didn't have a through-line story, either.
 

Bick

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Yeah, it will have to be a slowly-slowly type of project that may never get completed. The way to start is get the most recent books first and work my way backwards.
I like the idea. I recently purchased all the Dune first editions except for the first book itself… that will have to wait until more funds or I find an unusually good/cheaper copy. (It nonetheless cost many hundreds of $$ to get books 2-6, eek).
 

Vince W

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I like the idea. I recently purchased all the Dune first editions except for the first book itself… that will have to wait until more funds or I find an unusually good/cheaper copy. (It nonetheless cost many hundreds of $$ to get books 2-6, eek).
Book lots are a good way to find rarish books. There can be one gem amongst the stone.
 

tobl

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Yes, quite right .
yes... but i still don't get the interest about first editions. Honestly i care about the content, nothing else. Reminds me of a conversation i heard many years ago in a second hand bookstore... 2 persons where talking and one said: i colect syfy books from that colection just because of the drawning on the book face but i don't like syfy.... i almost said to him: ehy keep the drawings and give me the books
 

J-Sun

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The Dying Earth (Jack Vance) is a funny old book. Not sure how much I’m enjoying it. I knew going in it was fantasy, and I prefer SF (especially, I think, from Vance), but was not necessarily expecting the short story/collection format.

Unfortunately, the stories themselves are not that successful. They each centre on a different character, preventing character development (they are all paper thin), and are too episodic to be really immersive. I was hoping the book would chronicle the dying Earth in some way, but not so far. Everyone in it is either a magician of some sort, or a demon, and there are no ‘normal’ people. The tales themselves are pulpy (written back when Vance was still using overt purple prose) and come across as unconvincing sword and sorcery. The use of the book by the inventors of D&D is very clear, which is interesting, but does make the stories now read like badly constructed D&D fiction. Perhaps the whole will be greater than the sum of its parts? I’m about halfway through so I’ll give it a bit longer and see.
As yet another person commenting on this post, I can see why you say everything you do and I'd ordinarily agree with it all but I read the book and, while I don't recall it well, I liked it enough to buy an omnibus of the four Dying Earth books. On the other hand, I didn't like it so much that I've actually gotten around to reading that omnibus. Still, I recall it being a colorful picaresque which is more mood and whimsy, I guess. If it hits you right, it seems well-done and entertaining and worth exploring further but I can see how it just wouldn't connect, too.
 

Victoria Silverwolf

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I am about to start The Warrior Woman: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts (1976) by Maxine Hong Kingston. (My edition is a 2015 reprint, with a new introduction and afterword.) It relates the author growing up as the American-born daughter of Chinese immigrants.
 

Vertigo

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The Dying Earth (Jack Vance) is a funny old book. Not sure how much I’m enjoying it. I knew going in it was fantasy, and I prefer SF (especially, I think, from Vance), but was not necessarily expecting the short story/collection format.

Unfortunately, the stories themselves are not that successful. They each centre on a different character, preventing character development (they are all paper thin), and are too episodic to be really immersive. I was hoping the book would chronicle the dying Earth in some way, but not so far. Everyone in it is either a magician of some sort, or a demon, and there are no ‘normal’ people. The tales themselves are pulpy (written back when Vance was still using overt purple prose) and come across as unconvincing sword and sorcery. The use of the book by the inventors of D&D is very clear, which is interesting, but does make the stories now read like badly constructed D&D fiction. Perhaps the whole will be greater than the sum of its parts? I’m about halfway through so I’ll give it a bit longer and see.
I'll chip in my twopenny worth. I feel pretty much exactly as you appear to feel. It felt disjointed to me and really did little to draw me into either his world or his writing. I accept that is a little unfair, but I've not been inspired to return to his writing. This is, admittedly, reinforced by my losing interest in fantasy and really the nearest I get to that sub-genre now is historical fiction and science fiction, of course. I think this is just down to me and not really enjoying Vance's style of writing any longer.
 
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