March Reading Thread

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The Word For World Is Forest, by Ursula Le Guin.

A good novel (or novella), but one with a couple of weaknesses. The story it tells, while very believable, has been told in more depth elsewhere since this book came out. Also, its villain is convincing (in that the circumstances would attract a man like him) but one-note and without nuance (but then many of the villains of history have been, too). Overall, good.
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Read Shadows of Eternity by Gregory Benford, based on a recommendation elsewhere and on previously liking Benford quite a bit.
Had very mixed reactions. The concept of a SETI library on the moon that comprises not just messages but interactive AIs, that communicate and pass on information, was both creative and well handled (at least initially) The book basically charts the operation through the eyes of a newbie staffer "librarian" and consists of three segments, plus a coda. Each of the three is basically a separate adventure. charting the development and advancement of the hero "Rachel.". Another well handled idea was that these AIs were generally the products of ancient civilisation, millions and billions of years of age, but often deceased, each with its own experience and motivations
I made what was probably a mistake, looking up reader commentary (Goodreads and a couple of others) when I was most of the way through the book. The commentary was generally vitriolic. Oddly they often started out positive and then went negative. One thing frequently mentioned was Rachel's sexuality, something that I, at that point, liked. SF characters are often presented without active sexuality, leaving out much of what is important to most humans. The sex was not explicit but was part of her coping through outre experiences that wrecked many of her colleagues.
After a while the experiences, literally cosmic in nature, got somewhat over the top. Even as a fiction it was a stretch that one person, even a hugely talented one, could have the level of impact described I could go into detail but that would be a tell. Should have put it down for a rest, as the somewhat confessional first person account did start to drag. Even the sex became an unrealistic plot element.
So, anyway, A disappointment. Hugely creative, with much good writing, but ultimately annoyingly sort of a potboiler, making you wonder "What next?" but not in a good way. The "Coda" read as a mismanaged attempt to sum it all up.
Have a few on the go.

The Iliad and Archeology by Eric Kline. A series of lectures by the eminent archeologist.

The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine by Ilan Pappe. A serious account of 1948 by the Israeli historian.

And on a lighter note.

The Second Incarnation of Beelzebub by Anthony O Connor.
Just wrapping up Solaris, got maybe 20-30 pages to go, and god damn this book nearly turned me off early on with a lot of exposition and A GEOLOGICAL INFORMATIONAL OVERLOAD; but when it picks up the pace, it is fantastic. Really glad I stuck with it because ol' Lem wasn't giving me too much to work with at times there.
Time to catch up again. This has not been a good stretch for me.

1) Echoes from the Moon -- The Token: Book One -- by Nathan Hystad .... This turned into a DNF for me. Alternate history is definitely not my thing, and this book is an alternate history of the aftermath of the American Moon Landing. On the moon the astronauts find something that the astronauts keep secret until roughly this present day. But now that they are aging and going senile and the truth is starting to leak. That just all seemed too dumb and unlikely for me. I quit reading after 33%.

Avoid --- Not Recommended --- Flawed --- Okay --- Good --- Recommended --- Shouldn’t be Missed

2) The Truth -- The Four Worlds -- by Skyler Ramirez. Skyler Ramirez is quickly becoming one of the my favorite authors. He is the author of what I call "The Worst" series. (The books all start with the title The Worst... Ship in the Fleet, Rescuers, et. al.) I've read a lot but not all of those, but they are still on my list. Before I finished that series I moved over to The Four Worlds series. This is SF from the far future and because of a space time anomaly four worlds are cut off (more or less) from the main body of humans. Those four worlds are The Earth, the moon, Mars, and Titan. A repressive form of government holds sway in the other 42 colonies and lies have been told about the history of humanity and the "Four Worlds." This story rings true. I love the characters in it. I love that there are some people who are dedicated Christians, but they are far from the majority and the main character in the story is interested but far from convinced. The story does not end on a cliffhanger, but it is clearly meant to lead into book 2.

Avoid --- Not Recommended --- Flawed --- Okay --- Good --- Recommended --- Shouldn’t be Missed

3) Subversion -- The Four Worlds -- by Skylar Ramirez. Picks up where book 1 ended. It continues the story but the action has moved from the colonies to the Four Worlds. Things are very different politically on the Four Worlds, but that is not to say good. Our group of main characters finds themselves unable to convince the majority of the humans on the Four Worlds about the threat the colonies are, and unknown to the main characters and most of the Four Worlds, the colonial government already has their agents on the Four Worlds. Unfortunately, book 3 awaits publication until this fall. Book 3 might be the end of the trilogy, but the story seems far to rich to let it end so soon.

Avoid --- Not Recommended --- Flawed --- Okay --- Good --- Recommended --- Shouldn’t be Missed

4) The Handler -- Maddie Castle Thrillers, book 1 by L.T. Ryan and CR Gray. This is a story about one of the cases of Maddie Castle who was a young detective, who was also a dog trainer, but was seriously injured when she was shot. As a child she had a seriously messed up childhood with a father who left her and a mother who was an addict and emotionally abusive. As a child/teen she'd been somewhat into the drug culture, and after she was shot she found herself hooked on prescription drugs. In this story she's just beginning to find her way out the other side of addiction and into the life of a private investigator, when a case falls into her lap which is far too close to her and her problems. I loved how Maddie works hard to overcome her addiction, how she saves a police dog, starts a friendship with her next door neighbor and his daughter, and solves the case. My only real complaint was that the conflict was more internal than external, but at least it's understandable given the set up.

Avoid --- Not Recommended --- Flawed --- Okay --- Good --- Recommended --- Shouldn’t be Missed

5) Tracking Justice -- Maddie Castle Thrillers, book 2 by L.T. Ryan and CR Gray. This book continues the story of Maddie Castle the career defining case she's been working with the help of her dog and her neighbor. She seems somewhat more adjusted, but she still can't trust others any further than she can throw them. Another good story but I found myself getting more frustrated at the internal struggles which consume more and more of the story rather than the really good external story. Reading this story without reading the first is not advised.

Avoid --- Not Recommended --- Flawed --- Okay --- Good --- Recommended --- Shouldn’t be Missed

6) Hunting Grounds -- Maddie Castle Thrillers, book 3 by L.T. Ryan and CR Gray. This was a DNF for me. This book is about another case for Maddie Castle and her dog. I got about a third through it and I threw it down and declared that I'm not going to read any more in this series. It is just hashing over the same internal and relationship struggles from before and the real story had not even really begun at the point I threw my fit. I have a low tolerance for stories that are about inner struggles when I'm looking for exciting external struggles.

Avoid --- Not Recommended --- Flawed --- Okay --- Good --- Recommended --- Shouldn’t be Missed
Up next, The View from Serendip, non fiction (mostly) collection by Arthur C Clarke. Serendip is an old name for Sri Lanka (Ceylon at the time)
Read: Seeds of Destruction by William F. Engdahl, and I'm busy with Altered Genes, Twisted Truth by Steven M Druker.
I’ve made a start on The Rise of Silas Lapham, by William Dean Howells. I shall comment in the Howells thread on the Literary Fiction board in due course. Good thus far.
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