January 2022 Reading Thread.

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tobl

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Ray Zdybrow

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It would be nice to see more Victorian London crime stories that aren't sherlock Holmes or Jack the ripper based. Maybe something set in the earlier part of Victoria's reign rather than the late 1880's.
Anyone remember the tv series "Cribb"? I do only vaguely. I think Cribb (the police detective character) was in an anthology called "The Rivals Of Sherlock Holmes". Will have to dig it out!
 

Ray Zdybrow

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Just finished the last volume of Charles Stross Merchant Princes series, Invisible Sun.
The series and to some extent the book has already been mentioned numerous times.

Due to multiple deaths and things that the entire world is experiencing, the publication of both this book and its predecessor was delayed by years. I remember the series well, but the details of what happened in vol. 8, three years back, returned to me slowly as I read this 376 page work. Having been in an odd corner of the book business (librarian for 35 years) I notice things like type size and paper weight a little more than many. They didn't cheat. It's a hefty 376 pager.
Stross took good advantage of his delays, to write in asides and threads about American elections, surveillance technology, and even a comment that Elon Musk offerred to handle a rocketry project for (relatively) cheap.
Stross is a craftsman. In an afterward he says that he learned a lot about writing in the 20 years since he started volume one. He certainly throws in more twists and plot developments, here occurring on two primary world lines and at least four subsidiaries, than I have seen in any one book. Usually I do not like an overabundance of complications outside the main thread of the story, but the glee with which he presents what is going on with major characters, and his skill at interworking them, certainly carried me along.
Some characters come across as good guys n' gals, but they are equalled by the capabilities of their opposition. Who are generally presented first person. You see where they are coming from.
In a previous sentence I said guys n' gals. Not a misstatement, but the bulk of the action is carried by women. A tendency that shows increasingly in all of Stross' various series.
Both here and elsewhere, he not an optimist about where technology and politics are taking us. The ending does tie it up but with a little bit of a deus ex machina feel to it. He does not back off from his general cynicism.
Absolutely read it. The earlier volumes are lighter, sort of an adult portal Narnia. By #9 it outpaces Le Carre in its realpolitic convolutions. The overall word count is greater than War and Peace. It's easy for me to recommend because I did spread it out over more than a decade. But it was worth it.
Stross at his best is SO good, and his satirical points are spot on and have real bite.
I'm interested that you've been a librarian for 35 years. Nowadays people are expected and encouraged to change jobs and employers to make use of their "transferable skills" which imo is bs. When I go into a library I want the staff to have deep knowledge of what they're doing, rather than be worrying about their next gig.
 

Danny McG

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Any relation to the podcast "Rabbits"?
Rabbits ARE creepy, think of Donnie Darko, Harvey, etc.
Also, never go to Stevenage railway station in the early morning *shudder*
I've found this Goodreads review that says it is indeed based on the podcast....

Rabbits follows K., someone who has become obsessed with seeking out and discovering patterns and connections throughout their day-to-day life. A few years ago, they discovered an almost alternate reality style game played in secret amongst a select few. Very little information is available about the game, but its roots run deep in both culture and time.

K. is approached by Alan Scarpio, a somewhat reclusive billionaire believed to be one of the winners of a past iteration of Rabbits. Over a plate of pie in a Seattle diner, Scarpio tells K. that something is wrong with the game, that he needs K.’s help to fix it. Before he can explain, Scarpio is interrupted by a phone call and abruptly leaves. The next day, Scarpio is reported missing, leaving K. to pick up the ball and run.

Based on a podcast of the same name, Rabbits has achieved a certain level of notoriety through its compelling first season. Author and podcast creator, Terry Miles, launched a Kickstarter to fund a potential follow-up but with the fundraising coming up short, a book became the next logical medium
 

Bick

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There Will be Time (1973) by Poul Anderson was a cracker of a short time-travel novel. It has some aspects that make it seem like an earlier Boat of a Million Years, though that one’s theme is of course immortality not time travel. This was certainly one of the better time travel SF stories I’ve read, and Anderson’s historical knowledge was very evident. The early chapters offer a terrific polemic on the misdeeds of modern man, too. I agreed with every aspect of Anderson’s extended rants.

I’m now moving on to Empire of the Atom, by A. E. Van Vogt, which will be cheerful news to hitmouse, who has commented favorably on it in the past. I’m expecting (hoping) for odd and eccentric happenings, of course.
 

pogopossum

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^Remember both fondly. One of Anderson's fortes was combining the current with the past, particularly the Scandanavian. He has several historic creations that although somewhat turgid,also show a deep love and desire to describe that history. His The Man Who Came Early is perhaps the classic refutation of the assumption of modern superiority.
Van Vogt? Love his paeons to the superior man. Even kept a few when I moved and got rid of 90% of my collection.
 

Bick

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Anderson's … The Man Who Came Early is perhaps the classic refutation of the assumption of modern superiority.
Yes, that’s a strength and a hobby horse of his. And a perspective I have a lot of sympathy with. I’ve not read that particular story of his so I’ll have to look it up. I love discovering Anderson work I previously had little knowledge of, which is easy to do, given he wrote so bloomin’ much.
 

Victoria Silverwolf

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Yes, that’s a strength and a hobby horse of his. And a perspective I have a lot of sympathy with. I’ve not read that particular story of his so I’ll have to look it up. I love discovering Anderson work I previously had little knowledge of, which is easy to do, given he wrote so bloomin’ much.


"The Man Who Came Early" is one of my favorite Anderson stories, and one of the best time travel stories I've ever seen. Highly recommended.

I also greatly like "Journeys End" by Anderson (sometimes incorrectly called "Journey's End;" the title comes from the Shakespeare quote "journeys end in lovers' meeting," and is used ironically.) It's one of the best ESP stories I've seen.

Third on my list of great Anderson short stories would be "Kyrie," which is the best story about a black hole I know.

(It may be just my taste in fiction, but I should note that these are all stories with less-than-happy endings.)

Where to find them:



 

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I read very little out-and-out fantasy - perhaps occasional books like these fit the bill for me more than adequately. I've just finished these two:

Chic and Sandra Tabatha Cicero: “The Essential Golden Dawn, an Introduction to High Magic”
An introduction to the Golden Dawn occult teachings, giving historical background and a basic overview of the basic ideas, rituals, and initiations. Fairly easy reading and well meaning. One point of interest for me: there’s just two pages on “the problem of ego” (together with the recommendation that psychotherapy is highly recommended for the serious student) when it’s well known that some of those drawn to these practices are prone to all manner of self-inflation and problematic relationships.

Mary K. Greer: “Women of the Golden Dawn, Rebels and Priestesses”
I was looking forward to this book. It sounded really good – an account of the lives of Florence Farr, Annie Horniman, Maud Gonne, Moina Bergson Mathers, four most unusual women, all born in the 1860s, who managed to break out from the woman’s role in Victorian society and live independent creative lives, all of whom were deeply involved for a while in the Order of the Golden Dawn. There’s much that I found interesting in this book - it’s remarkably well researched and has clearly been a labour of love. Sadly, there’s one great frustration for me: the author is an accomplished astrologer and is frequently (very frequently) prone to filling gaps in what is known about someone’s life by explaining what was probably happening for them, both externally and internally by reviewing transits and aspects of their astrological chart – sometimes for pages at a time. I’d have so much preferred it if she’d just presented a few guesses or hypotheses instead of these lengthy astrological formulations.
 
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hitmouse

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Anyone remember the tv series "Cribb"? I do only vaguely. I think Cribb (the police detective character) was in an anthology called "The Rivals Of Sherlock Holmes". Will have to dig it out!
Yeah I vaguely remember this: late 70s, early 80s.
 

Rodders

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I finished Dust, the final book of Hugh Howey’s Wool Trilogy. Like the others in the series, I felt it could’ve been trimmed a little, but overall it was a pretty decent story and i enjoyed the ending. I think i missed something. The book mentioned that the silos would be closed down one by one depending on results from IT, but i couldn't figure out why. Why only have one silo left?

Books read in 2022: 1

Now returning to Dan Abnett's Gaunt's Ghost series with Blood Pact.
 
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Randy M.

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Anyone remember the tv series "Cribb"? I do only vaguely. I think Cribb (the police detective character) was in an anthology called "The Rivals Of Sherlock Holmes". Will have to dig it out!

I haven't seen the show but the name, Cribb, tickled a memory. According to IMDB, the series ran 1980-81, and was based on a series of books by Peter Lovesey -- the first book titled Wobble to Death -- who also wrote for the show. Lovesey, now 85, has been publishing since the late 1960s. He's pretty well-regarded in crime/mystery circles.
 

pogopossum

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Read Ann Leckie's Ancillary Sword. The second in her Radach trilogy.
I am sure that these are not new to the bulk of readers here as the first in the series won the Hugo and the Nebula Best Novel award. Sword won the BSFA and the Locus novel award.
What was striking was the perspective of a basically inhuman intelligence becoming more "human" than almost all of the homo sapiens that she has to deal with. All this in an stratified racial/racist empire that is gradually falling apart. The development of the lead "Ancillary" is gradual. She has what in other contexts might be called "human" feelings to the extent that they are almost incomprehensible to the people emeshed in their upbringing. She is in a position of official power so she can generally force some change in practice around her. One commentator notes that at least in the first two books her desire is not to overthrow the system, but to shape it to something closer to its professed ideals.
Other aspects are the presentation of shared multiple consciousnesses, the oddest racist imperialist society that I have seen in years, the assumption of femaleness of all of the characters and technological weaponry used to good effect without any bushwa of explanation.
The sheer unthinking callousness of oppression and occasional genocide reminded me of British imperialism exemplified by the Amritsar massacre where more than a thousand peaceful Indian demonstrators were casually murdered for the crime of protesting against Brit policy. American atrocities and casual racism was no better, but I just recenly read about Amritsar.
Book two was highly rated. It was seen by some as a slightly weaker continuation of the series and by at least one (at TOR) as superior. One pan I read was that the attitudes expressed were a little too current attitudes. I didn't see that as a problem.
For me it was an almost seamless continuation from the first book.
I just started book 3. Usually I give it a rest between volumes of a series.
 
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worldofmutes

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Upton Sinclair - Oil! (1927) - 4

Lian Hearn - Heaven’s Net is Wide (2007) - 4

A.S. Byatt - Possession (1990) - 3

Mario Puzo - The Fourth K (1990) - 3

Greg Iles - Black Cross (1995) - 3

Haruki Murakami - Kafka on the Shore (2005) - 5
 

Vertigo

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the assumption of femaleness of all of the characters
I'm not sure that's quite the right view; no gender is assumed or, I think, intended to be implied, it was just that the female pronoun was chosen rather than introduce a new gender impartial word. Something I for one was very grateful for. I loathe books with invented pronouns that I stumble over every time I read them. The point I took from the exclusive use of female pronouns was not an implied femininity but rather the irrelevance of gender which worked for me very well; I very quickly stopped thinking about the gender of the Radch characters.
 

Hugh

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Robert A. Heinlein: “The Green Hills of Earth” (1951)

Classic collection of ten SF short stories. Ages since I’ve read some of these – many of the titles were unfamiliar – but as I read through them, in almost every story something fell into place at some point and I remembered it as one that I had enjoyed many years ago.
 
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