May Reading Thread

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The Lost City of Z by David Grann

Col. Percy Harrison Fawcett, a British geographer, artillery officer, cartographer, archaeologist, surveyor, and explorer disappeared in the Amazon Jungle in 1925 (along with his son and his son's friend). Based on early histories of South America and his own explorations of the Amazon River region, Fawcett theorized that a complex civilization once existed in the Mato Grosso state of Brazil, and that isolated ruins may have survived. He named this the Lost City of Z, and was obsessed with finding it before anyone else.

Most of Grann's book provides a broad overview of Fawcett's personality and his numerous hazardous expeditions into the Amazon, culminating in the trip that ended with the final (and undoubtedly fatal) journey to find the Lost City of Z. Fawcett's disappearance resulted in a vast number of rescue missions, theories, and searches by amateur's and experienced adventurers alike, that also usually ended in disaster.

This particular book makes a nice complement to "Exploration Fawcett" compiled from Percy Fawcett's notes and letters by his youngest son, Percy Harrison Fawcett, and published in 1953. Exploration Fawcett provides more detail about the various expeditions. Grann, however, also includes information on what happened after 1953: the various search and rescue missions and how Fawcett's family dealt with his disappearance. What I found particularly interesting about Grann's book is the last chapter that deals with the archaeological complex of Kuhikugu, near the headwaters of the Xingu River, Brazil (which is the area where Fawcett went missing). Kuhikugu was first uncovered by anthropologist Michael Heckenberger, working alongside the local Kuikuro people, who are the likely descendants of the original inhabitants of Kuhikugu. It is widely speculated that legends regarding Kuhikugu in its hey-day, as well as Fawcetts claim of discovering large numbers of pottery sherds in the Amazon on previous expeditions, may have been the reason for Fawcetts certainty of the existence of the Lost City of Z. The fate of Fawcett's last expedition is still unknown.

I didn't find this book particularly compelling to read (probably because I read Exploration Fawcett not so long ago, and because I wanted more details), but it was interesting, especially the last chapter.​
 
Richard III by William Shakespeare. Now this is more like it!
I had to read it as a schoolboy and it put me off all the classic literature for a long, long time.
But about 20 years ago I was idly channel surfing on the telly and the film starring Laurence Olivier was just starting.... After five minutes I was proper enthralled by it and really enjoyed it.
Soon afterwards I began expanding my reading and getting heartily stuck into some of his works.
 
THE DREAM MASTER ,Roger Zelazny, 1965,again.
DEEP SIX ,CLIVE CUSSLER ,1984.
I read Deep Six one summer when I was 19. My first Cussler. I thought it was hilariously bad in a good way. Clearly written for adolescents. Very low rent. I should read it again.
 
"Letters of Leonard Woolf"
Remarkably, these cover the years 1901 - 1969.
An interesting man, often ahead of the game. For example, in the early 1920s he was advocating immediate independence for most parts of the "British Empire", in the 1950s the return of the Elgin marbles to Greece.
A few months ago, I'd have been amazed to find I'd read anything by him, but first there was his novel of Sri Lanka, then five volumes of autobiography, now his letters. Maybe this is enough.
 
I've finished The Gunslinger by Stephen King, and I'm now returning to London Rules by Mick Herron. I think I'll alternate between the two series now.

I did like the Gunslinger once I got into it. It really consisted of 5 short stories from the late '70's/early '80's. Lots of back story about the Gunslinger and lots of world building. I can see that the AMC TV show Into The Badlands was heavily influenced by this book (IMHO obviously.) The book is only an introduction to The Dark Tower series, and I felt there was some treading of water due to that, especially in the last story, which was an anti-climax. The first story was probably the best of the 5.
 
I finished Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind. This is an interesting attempt to disguise a book of philosophy as a history. Is there history? Most certainly, and he does a good job painting wide sweeps of history with very broad strokes. But I found his constant referral to humans at every time (save the far future) as doing fine job of creating fictions to live by, to be maddening. In almost every case the humans of every age are painted (in my words) "as deep down knowing that what they were saying was not truth, but not having any better explanation for it shaped their lives by these fictions." I kept thinking that he wasn't open to the possibility that there might be truth that he did not already know. I kept wondering what he would have written before germs and bacteria were known. I kept thinking that he needed to give more grace to people who were in his words "living in a fiction." I will give grace to him. -- This is an interesting attempt to do what is impossible and maybe should be read by anyone who wants to consider the "history of humankind. -- But it needs to be read with a very healthy dose of skepticism.

Avoid --- Not Recommended --- Flawed --- Okay --- Good --- Recommended --- Shouldn’t be Missed
 
I would take anything Klaus Schwab's acolyte writes with a boat load full of salt. Those guys are unhinged and unfortunately have too much money and influence for anyone else's good.
 
The last murder at the end of the world by Stuart Turton.

It's a post apocalypse yarn about a small community of survivors generations after a deadly fog swept the planet.

Question:- Why do such people in these kind of tales always seem to talk and think like they're in a YA story, even though the only ones in this book (so far as I've read it) are aged between thirty and sixty?
Are the writers trying to indicate what happens when education dwindles?
 
I have just started Year's Best SF (2008) edited by David G. Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer. Stories from 2007 (and older translated stories, if they first appeared in English in 2007.) The first story is "Baby Doll" by Johanna Sinisalo, translated from Finnish, in which language it first appeared in 2002. Besides the fact that it's the first example of Finnish SF I've ever read, it's also a real eye-opener. It extrapolates the sexualization of preteens into the very near future of 2015. The protagonist's slightly older sister (about ten or eleven) is a top model for sexy lingerie. Worthy of Dangerous Visions!
 
I'm beginning The Ferryman by Justin Cronin
Finished it this morning, I had "the plot revelation" worked out round about the halfway point, nevertheless it was still a good story.
I've been given this as present. Apparently, it's Waterstones top fantasy book. So, I'll probably rearrange the order of my stack of books to read now to accommodate it.
 
Started Ghost Station by S. A. Barnes. Not sure why, I didn’t enjoy Dead Silence
 
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I read Ann Leckie's short story collection Lake of Souls. It's a mixture of 3 stories in the world of her Ancillary books, 7 in the world of her fantasy novel The Raven Tower and a bunch of others. I think the most common theme is exploring how beings with different perspectives on the world interact together, whether it's a first contact story or the interactions between humans and gods in the Raven Tower books. There is a lot of variety in tone, there are some tragedies but also the farce of Saving Bacon. I liked most of the stories, a few of the shorter ones could probably have been omitted without losing much. The title story and She Commands Me And I Obey were probably the highlights.

I then read Lisa Tuttle's The Curious Affair of the Missing Mummies, the third of her Jesperson and Lane mysteries. Although set in the Victorian era the plot about some mysterious thefts from the British Museum did feel quite topical. The series is clearly taking a lot of inspiration from another duo of Victorian consulting detectives, although with some added supernatural elements. I thought it was a bit slow at first, but became more compelling towards the end.

I have now started Martha Wells' Witch King. I have previously only read her Murderbot series so this is the fantasy story I've read by her.
 
Emily Wilde’s Encyclopedia of Fairies, by Heather Fawcett

I’ve been curious about this one for a while and finally gave in, bought it and read it. For me, it felt very slow at the start, but once I became acquainted with the characters and their situation, it drew me in. The interactions between the two main characters, Emily and Wendell were amusing. However, though much has been made of the romance in reviews around the internet, it’s left unresolved by the end of this first book in the series, and there was really very little in the way of romantic interaction, anyway (mostly just hints that the romance-minded reader might build upon if so inclined) so for those who might be put-off by the idea of romance . . . there’s hardly anything to it. Don’t stay away on that account.

I particularly liked the combination of authentic folklore regarding fairies, and the author’s own imaginative interpretations. The mysterious “Tall Ones” were particularly well-done.

In the end, there was not much in the way of real depth to the story, but it was an enjoyable reading experience anyway, and a nice break from some of the darker things I’ve been reading lately (though that is not to say that there are no dark moments in this story, because there certainly are).
 
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