April Reading Thread

It's been a long time since I read this but I remember really enjoying. Comparisons with Enders Game and Joe Halderman Forever War? Only because of the futuristic type war setting etc (Does that genre have a name?!)
Military SF. Though Haldeman is not a very comfortable fit into that genre.
I finished A Far Sunset, by Edmund Cooper which I liked a good deal (review here).

I've now started a re-read of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, by PKD. It must be at least 35 years since I last read it so I'm interested to see how it compares with the film - I'm aware they are quite distinct, but I can't recall exactly what the dissimilarities and similarities are, my memory from so long ago being pants.

I've also obtained the Penguin Classics volume of Herman Melville's most famous short stories, so I'll be reading Bartleby the Scrivenor and Billy Budd shortly also.

My reputation for never reading fiction precedes me, but I have taken to re-reading old genre favourites last thing in the evening. Here's what I'm currently re-reading...
Reading a little old 1950s/60s SF before bed gets the synapses all sparked up for good creative sleep journeys.
My reputation for never reading fiction precedes me, but I have taken to re-reading old genre favourites last thing in the evening. Here's what I'm currently re-reading...

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I am also on a bit of a Vance reread at the moment. Finished Lurulu, his last novel, at the weekend, and I am now 2/3 through Night Lamp.

Lurulu is a meandering story about a young man on a tramp spaceship. Nothing really consequential happens, and it pretty much duplicates the plot of the preceding novel Ports of Call, as Vance freely admitted. However, for those who like Vance, this has all the comforting familiar elements of his work. A pleasing minor Vance.

I remembered Night Lamp as an impressive, critically neglected later Vance. It is even better on rereading. I had completely forgotten the first half of the story which is really good, idiosyncratic stuff about an amnesic boy with a mysterious past who is adopted by an otherworldly academic couple. The second half is a memorable exploration/ revenge story. Highly recommended.
Just Finished “Wave Without a Shore” by C.J. Cherryh, a story where philosophy has taken over from common sense. The philosophical duels are a bit of a struggle, but it is interesting to read a book where you are absolutely required to read between the lines in order to understand what is going on, and I really enjoyed it. It is set in the same universe as “40,000 In Gehenna” (hopefully I’ve got the number right) and is similar in a way, except that the alien culture which everyone wants to understand is a human culture based on the existential philosophies of Kierkegaard and the like.
Now about halfway through A Division of the Spoils, volume 4 of The Raj Quartet. And frankly looking forward to being finished with this after so long! OK, Scott wrote another volume years later (Staying On) but I'm taking a break. :) My present feeling is, great story that could have been told, with all of its character development and period atmosphere, in about half the words!

What next? The choices are:
- Aurora (Kim S. Robinson)
- Cibola Burn (J. Corey)
- Non-Stop (B. Aldiss)
- Xenogenesis trilogy (O. Butler). This absolutely blew me away when I first read it in the 1980s. My brief review on Goodreads for anyone interested.
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Since I'm retired I am less of a fervent reader as I was before. Partially perhaps because I need the escapism less now life is no longer dictated by work and other obligations, partially because I find it increasingly difficult to be impressed or engaged by what I read. Perhaps I am just spoiled rotten and quality is hard to find. When I read these days it is mostly non-fiction and recently much about The Netherlands in 19th century, the rapid developments in the cities and the countryside, about people and how one effects and defines the other. These concern Dutch books, so not really useful to mention here.
What have I read lately, in fiction?
I keep following The Wandering Inn, but after 10 million words I am growing tired of it. It needs a conclusion, but that seems still distant.

I reread Rothfuss's The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man's Fear. It remains a good read - albeit one that also remains without conclusion - but it now tended to irritate me at times with its style and a protagonist who was brilliant with everything he did or tried.

My last read was Starling House by Alix E Harrow. I do enjoy this writer. Her novels The Ten Thousand Doors of January and The Once And Future Witches were engaging and interesting.

What caught my attention was
Just seen that your first post was about "Wasp" by Eric Frank Russell, @waterfall_manc - have you read "Next Of Kin" by the same author? If not, try it - it's quite similar, but totally different, if you know what I mean!
I have read Wasp, with pleasure, so I'll try Next Of Kin next.
Reading a little old 1950s/60s SF before bed gets the synapses all sparked up for good creative sleep journeys.
I daren’t read just before going to bed - my imagination starts running riot and I can’t fall asleep for hours, literally.
Relisten STARSHIP TROOPER, Robert A. Heinlein. I Haven't seen the movies.

I read the book as a child and enjoyed it. I saw the first movie as an adult and squirmed my way through the bloody violence, but it is an example of a movie which is at least as good as the book - they are rare, and so each one is worth celebrating. I just can’t remember if there was any black humour in the book - as an innocent nine-year-old I wouldn’t have noticed it - but it’s a feature of the movie which raises it above the norm, and I watched the movie twice as a consequence. Unfortunately the bloody violence is just as horrible the second time round!
Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life...And Maybe the World, by Admiral William H. McRaven (2017). A more detailed version of Admiral McRaven’s legendary speech.

I remember the admiral’s University of Texas of Austin 2014 commencement speech going viral at the time. He is a Navy SEAL officer who graduated from that same university. In that speech, he lists 10 lessons he learned from SEAL training; the book is a more detailed version of that list. It’s a very short book (80 pages long), and I devoured it. I was worried at first because it was a fairly expensive book, and I hadn’t realized its length until I bought it. But it’s absolutely worth it. Life-changing. Very inspirational. Also, it’s a page-turner because he tells several stories of his time in Basic Training.

Strongly Recommended.

The Knight in Rusty Armor, by Robert Fisher (1987). A knight who gets stuck in his own armor goes on a journey to get to know himself.

Got this via recommendation from a psychologist. A bit silly at first, but it gets better. It’s an obvious metaphor, written in a very simple way, so it took me some time to get the hang of it. He just got to the Path of Life (the best part), and I can say I’m enjoying the ride so far.

Leviathan Wakes - The Expanse Book 1, by James S. A. Corey (2011).

I’ve been avoiding this book for some years now. How foolish of me. It’s great; really my type of read.
While away from the computer, I read:

The first issue of Crazy magazine (October 1973), Marvel comics imitation of Mad.

Basil Wolverton's Culture Corner (2010), a collection of that cartoonist's half-page strips of the same name which appeared aa fillers in comic books from 1945 to 1952, each offering absurd advice on how to do simple things.

The Ape-Man Within (1995) by L. Sprague De Camp, which wanders all over the place, but basically contends that humanity's destructive behavior is a result of what were survival traits in hunting/gathering days.

Lanterns & Lances (1961) by James Thurber, a collection of essays (mostly from The New Yorker) on this and that.

I have now started Kalimantan (1993) by Lucius Shepard, which contains the long novella of the same name, previously published as a separate book, and two much shorter stories, "Solitario's Eyes" (1983) and "The Arcevoalo" (1986), both from The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.
THRILLER 2 :STORIES YOU CAN'T PUT DOWN,Edited by Clive Cussler. 23
Different writers stories. Audio.2009.
This past week and a bit, I've read:

~The Queen's Agent by John Cooper. [History/Biography] A serviceable, but uninspiring, biography of Queen Elizabeth I's principal secretary and spymaster: Sir Francis Walsingham.

~The Way of Wyrd by Brian Bates. [Historical Fiction/Philosophy/Spritualism] A compelling, semi-factual and reconstructed story about the journey of a Christian monk and scribe as an apprentice to a pagan Anglo-Saxon sorcerer.

~The Mabinogion translated by Sioned Davis. [Mythology /Folklore/Tales] A lovely collection of medieval Welsh mythology, folktale, legend, pseudohistory, and Arthurian tales translated by Sioned Davis.

~ Grendel by John Gardner. [Fiction/Fantasy/Philosophy] Loved this. Grendel's story as told by Grendel. A multi-layered, semi-philosophical, eloquent and beautifully written story that deals with finding meaning in the world, the power of literature and myth, and the nature of good and evil.

~A History of π (Pi) by Petr Beckmann [History/Audiobook]
A blithe, breezy, mathematically dense, rant-filled, and opinionated history of how mathematicians through the ages tried to calculate π used as a vehicle to tell the story of man and the progress (or lack thereof ) of mathematics/science. Not recommended unless you are more interested in the author's personal rants.

~The Great Courses: Ancient Writing and the History of the Alphabet by John McWhorter [History/ Audiobook] Sixteen interesting (but weird) lectures on the history of the development of various alphabets and writing systems and the letters of the English alphabet. I do not recommend this due to the author's distracting attempts at jokes, occasional musical routines, funny voices, personal anecdotes, and old cultural/TV references that aren’t really as amusing or helpful as he seems to think it is.

~2 plays by William Shakespeare: King John and Richard II. Politics and war. * yawn * Unmemorable.
I'm doing a reread of Dune, I have the next five in the series - all the ones written by Frank Herbert - so these will probably be my back up reading for the rest of this year
I'll be interested to hear (eventually) how the later ones compare. I have definitely read the last two but only the once and I remember zilch.
This past week and a bit, I've read:

~The Queen's Agent by John Cooper. [History/Biography] A serviceable, but uninspiring, biography of Queen Elizabeth I's principal secretary and spymaster: Sir Francis Walsingham.
You thought more highly of it than I did then! My mini-review for my then blog in 2014 was "a less-than-compelling partial biography .... Jumbled and confusing, cravenly fence-sitting, and unlikely to be intelligible to anyone who didn't already have some knowledge of Walsingham and his activities."

(I wish I'd made more of a note, as I don't remember what the "cravenly fence-sitting" refers to! Perhaps whether the plots to rescue Mary QoS were actually incited by his agents provocateurs??)

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