January 2022 Reading Thread.

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Foxbat

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Have you looked at The time of the Hawklords by Michael Moorcock?

A long time since I read it - it's the first of a SF trilogy based on the band
I’ve been considering looking for it. The author of the current Hawkwind book I’m reading isn’t very complimentary about it but, then again, I find myself disagreeing with much of his thoughts on the various Hawkwind albums so I won’t take his view as anything worthy of following.
 

Bick

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I finished Past Master by R. A. Lafferty; it's surreal - in a genuine way - and deep, and full of interesting thoughts and theses. It is mostly allegory, I think, and the use of Thomas More to explore the place of theology in culture is rather good. I wouldn't be so presumptive as to suggest I understood everything Lafferty meant in it, but I got enough from the book to enjoy the reading experience. The central theme of technological progress leading to cultural collapse is one that appeals to me as a notion, as I share some of his apparent reservations. The character names are universally terrific, and the way Lafferty more or less ignores the passage of time gives it a very dreamlike feeling. It struck me the style of this novel has some similarities with Kafka (and perhaps Joyce), sharing some of the same surreal assumptions and other-worldliness. This wont be for everyone, I think its fair to say, but is recommended if you are looking for something more literary from a unique voice in the field.

And now I'm heading back to Herbert's world of Dune - having read the original trilogy before Christmas - and so the next in my re-read through the series is God Emperor of Dune. While Herbert has a tendency for obscurity in his plotting and character interactions, I expect it will seem like cut-glass after Lafferty. I'll be reading this first edition, recently acquired:

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Bick

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And this morning I'm having another long overdue reread.

Lord Valentine's Castle
Funnily enough, I’ve had a similar thought recently to re-read this. It must be at least 35 years since I read it. I thought it was great back then - I’ll be interested to hear your thoughts now. I know it was my first Silverberg; I’ve read all his great 60’s/70’s novels much more recently (most within last 10 years or so).
 

Hugh

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W.B.Yeats "Memoirs"
These comprise the first draft of autobiography covering @ the late 1880s to the late 1890s, and a journal that he kept from 1909 up to @1914.
I found the journal less interesting, mainly because it contains more politicking and much less of his psychic experiences and unrequited love for Maud Gonne. However, both have moments of wonderful prose in among many many references to people unknown to me. Both Oscar Wilde and Aubrey Beardsley make all too brief cameo appearances, Madame Blavatsky too: Yeats was a great supporter of Wilde and held Beardsley in high esteem, while he knew Blavatsky through the theosophical society.
One central thread shines through - he believed it was all-important to awaken a uniquely Irish spirituality both in Irish literature and in the hearts of the Irish people.
 

Stephen Palmer

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Meanwhile, my next book confirms the high level of nerdiness in my blood.
It’s called Hawkwind: every album, every song. So far I’ve found it quite interesting but after reaching the Live ‘79 album, I’m starting to lose interest. I’ve always struggled to like anything by Hawkwind beyond the early 1980s. Don’t know if I’ll finish this one.
Agreed, though I love Electric Tipi - a career highlight for the band - and the glorious Space Bandits. I worked with Bridget for many years when I had my band Mooch.
 

tobl

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I’ve been considering looking for it. The author of the current Hawkwind book I’m reading isn’t very complimentary about it but, then again, I find myself disagreeing with much of his thoughts on the various Hawkwind albums so I won’t take his view as anything worthy of following.
you know i just discovered hawkwind and it begs the question: what kind of mind altering substance do you guys suggest for me to apprecciate that?
 

AE35Unit

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Meanwhile, my next book confirms the high level of nerdiness in my blood.
It’s called Hawkwind: every album, every song. So far I’ve found it quite interesting but after reaching the Live ‘79 album, I’m starting to lose interest. I’ve always struggled to like anything by Hawkwind beyond the early 1980s. Don’t know if I’ll finish this one.
The only Hawkwind song I know is Silver Machine. Used to love it as a kid, but it doesn't age well I'm afraid. Wasn't Lemmy in the band?
 

Foxbat

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Agreed, though I love Electric Tipi - a career highlight for the band - and the glorious Space Bandits. I worked with Bridget for many years when I had my band Mooch.
I‘d given up on Hawkwind by the time she joined so I’ve never heard her contribution. Something I should remedy.

I think, when it comes to Hawkwind for me, it’s all about Bob Calvert. A somewhat tragic figure blighted by mental illness but a sharp eye and wit meant for some memorable lyrics. Who but he could have pulled off Captain Lockheed And The Starfighters with such aplomb?

Wasn't Lemmy in the band?
Indeed he was. You should check out the album Warrior On The Edge Of Time. His bass playing provided the driving force to Assault And Battery (one of my favourite non-Calvert Hawkwind songs).
 

hitmouse

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you know i just discovered hawkwind and it begs the question: what kind of mind altering substance do you guys suggest for me to apprecciate that?
I think their favoured substance was speed, which is a crap drug. Great band though.
 

Hugh

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It's been a while since I read it, but I thought Carol Clerk "The Saga of Hawkwind" gives a thorough history. Favourites? For me the first album "Hawkwind" (1970) by far.
 
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tachyon

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Finished A Master of Djinn by P. Djèlí Clark. I don't think it worked as well as his shorter fiction I've read. I liked it well enough, but it didn't grab me.
 

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I posted the following review on the Military SF Single Ship Novels thread but thought I should put it here as well.

I finished Here Be Dragons by Craig Alan. In many ways this was a great book. It had an interesting and pretty unusual story to tell. It gets high marks for being a self-contained story. I'm in favor of more science and less hand-wav'em* in a S.F. story, and this book was clearly that. I found the political situation to be believable, interesting, and thought provoking. This is pretty much a tour-de-force for a first time (or at least I'm assuming a first time) author. I thought the ending was utterly believable, even if it wasn't what I expected.

Negatively, I detested the continual flash backs. I can tolerate a high tension opening scene, which this book had, and then traveling back to see how this came to be. If we then get the story in order. This book does not do that. It tells a bit of the tale nearing the climax and then goes back 6 months in time showing how the pieces came to be on the board. Rinse and repeat several times. I felt this technique was used to bring a lot of the back story in while being interspersed with the action at the climax so that the back story wouldn't be seen as boring. In my opinion the back story was anything but boring, and the lack of it often made scenes of the climax less tense than they would have been if I would have had more known nuance. One particularly galling thing was that an important piece of technology is named but never described in the climatic scenes of the story. I googled the word a couple of times to see if I could get any hint of what was being talked about, but I saw nothing pointing me the right way. And then in one of the last flash backs the technology was described. I almost howled with frustration. It would have been so good to know earlier.

I also had a slightly negative reaction to the foreign language use in the book. Unless you have a little Spanish and a little Hebrew in your bag of tricks you miss a bit here and there. Fortunately, I have those, but I would guess that it is not common.

Overall, solid four stars out of five.

*There is one serious piece of hand-wav'em in that there is working anti-gravity in the story without any serious consideration as to how that could function
 

Victoria Silverwolf

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While away from the computer, I made my way through a couple of very small books from the specialty publisher PM Press, which were part of their Outspoken Authors series. Both take their titles from one of the pieces in the book.

The Wild Girls (2011) by Ursula K. LeGuin; the title story plus essays, poems, interview, etc.

The First Law of Thermodynamics (2021) by James Patrick Kelly; the title story plus others, essays, plays, interview, etc.

Now I am well into another little book, How to Be a Motorist (2015 reprint of 1939 original) by K. R. G. Browne, with illustrations by Heath Robinson. The illustrator is much more important, it seems, as his name is in giant letters on the cover, and Browne's is in tiny letters. Anyway, it's a humorous book about automobiles, with numerous droll drawings.
 

williamjm

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I read Ken MacLeod's Beyond the Hallowed Sky. I've read most of MacLeod's previous books and there are definitely some familiar elements here, but also enough new plot ideas to be interesting. It does cover a lot of ground, from exploration of Venus to interstellar travel to enigmatic alien artefacts to a world locked into something of a Cold War between three different blocs while struggling with the impact of rising sea levels. It does move at a good pace, possibly some plot points could have had a bit more time spent on them. As the first book in a trilogy I think it's a decent start but there's so much left unexplained that it's difficult to really judge it without reading the full trilogy.

I've now started Hench by Natalie Zina Walschots, which seems interesting so far.
 

worldofmutes

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For all you English on here, I just took on the enormous task of reading this classic.

Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray. Loved it. Way better than the movie, although watching the movie helped with the confusion. What a book that was…
 

hitmouse

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I am reading Medical Grade Music by Steve Davis and Kavus Torabi. Basically the story of how the ex-snooker player with a reputation for being very boring, hitched up with a rock musician (Gong, Cardiacs) , and how they have gained a reputation as alternative DJs. Turns out Davis has a serious longstanding prog rock/zeuhl/Canterbury/electronica addiction, complemented by Korabi’s love of music. This is a really engaging and funny story. Something I stumbled across accidentally, and I am glad I did.
 

REBerg

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books.jpg


I finally finished this 2020 Christmas gift from my wife, this week.

The first volume featured:
The Space Merchants (1953) – Frederik Pohl and C. M. Kornbluth
More Than Human (1953) - Theodore Sturgeon
The Long Tomorrow (1955) – Leigh Bracket
The Shrinking Man (1956) – Richard Matheson

The second:
Double Star (1956) – Robert A. Heinlein
The Stars My Destination (1956) – Alfred Bester
A Case of Conscience (1958) – James Blish
Who? (1958) – Algis Budrys
The Big Time (1958) - Fritz Leiber

I have several of them on my bookshelves, purchased as paperbacks and read a half-century or so ago, but the only one I vaguely remember (and my favorite of the nine) is Double Star.
The Sturgeon and Bester novels were the most thought-provoking. The Space Merchants projected a disturbingly clairvoyant vision of corporate-controlled society. The Blish, Budrys, Bracket and Matheson books were creative but a bit tedious. The Big Time was downright bizarre.
Fading memory is not normally considered a good thing, but it is certainly economical when it comes to reading. :)
 

Fiberglass Cyborg

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For all you English on here, I just took on the enormous task of reading this classic.

Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray. Loved it. Way better than the movie, although watching the movie helped with the confusion. What a book that was…
A fantastic book! For an 800-page Victorian novel, it's amazing how much it doesn't drag. Been a couple of decades since I read it, but Becky Sharp and Amelia Sedley are still as fresh in my mind as if I read it yesterday.
 
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