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Current reading - Page 106

post #5251 of 5292
Assail was .. well, it was OK. Esslemont doesn't have the fluidity, grace or style of Erikson's prose and I can sometimes find it hard to follow, even from sentence to sentence. Still an interesting enough plot and I do like the Malazan world.

Now onto The Fell Sword, part 2 of Miles Cameron's Traitor Son cycle. Ridiculously excited.
post #5252 of 5292

Currently reading Ann Leckie's Ancilliary series. The first one Ancillary Justice won the Hugo, Nebula and Arthur C Clarke award (not bad for a debut novel). Whilst it's not quite that good, I did enjoy it. Certainly enough for me to grab the sequel immediately which I'm currently working through. It's got a very Iain Banks Space Opera vibe from the story. Certainly scratching the itch that his passing has left me.

 

One of the key gimmicks is the primary species totally disregard gender as a concept... everyone in the book is referred to as "she" regardless of penis ownership and whilst we get certain gender identification of some of the characters (via outsiders) it's left vague as to the gender of many of the characters. The book rarely makes a big deal of this, it doesn't matter to our heroine so it stops being important to the reader. Quite fascinating.

 

Fox has optioned the series. God knows what they're going to make of a dark skinned race of androgynous protaganists.


Edited by flint - 11/4/14 at 2:33am
post #5253 of 5292
Quote:
Originally Posted by flint View Post
 

. It's got a very Iain Banks Space Opera vibe from the story. Certainly scratching the itch that his passing has left me.

 

 

Sold :)

post #5254 of 5292
Hmmm, maybe it's time I checked me out some Iain Banks.

I haven't read a lot of fiction over the last decade or so but I've just finished Old Man's War. Fun ideas and a nice light sense of humour but a lot of the writing is very pedestrian and the characters are barely there. Only Perry's pal Harry really seems to live beyond the page and even Perry himself is very thinly drawn, feeling more like a cypher than a person. There is one great passage that'll stick with me but most of it was kind of a let down considering the high regard in which it's held.

I'm right in the middle of two other books, Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty by Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson and The Silver Pigs by Lindsey Davis. Why Nations Fail is kind of a response to Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs and Steel and contains many a ripping historical yarn in its arguments and The Silver Pigs is a hard-boiled historical fiction detective novel set in 70AD Rome which is light but very fun if you're a sucker for ancient Rome like I am.

I started The Silver Pigs a few months ago but then became distracted by Barce Raid, an account of a real-life daring special forces raid into Libya during WW2. Coming back to The Silver Pigs immediately following Old Man's War has unfortunately made me even harder on Old Man's War. Davis's world and characters are so much more vital and vibrant than Scalzi's it has me wishing for a science fiction novel or series of equal vitality and vibrancy. The last I'd read before Old Man's War was perhaps around 2006-2007 when I read Peter F Hamilton's Night's Dawn Trilogy, but for me that suffered similar shortcomings to Old Man's War. Even in fantasy and sci-fi for me character comes before ideas, but so many authors who have great imaginations in terms of creating futures or alternative pasts seem to fall short when it comes to creating human beings.


TL;DR - I'm inexperienced in reading sci-fi since the mid 90s and hoping someone can recommend some modernish sci-fi with not just fun futuristic ideas but also characters and environments which really pop. I'd take that lived-in feel over epicness any day, but if you guys and gals can pimp something which has both, I'm all ears. If a sense of humour comes as part of the package (Pratchett is my dude) all the better.
post #5255 of 5292
Scalzi has gotten better. Remember, Old Man's War was his first novel. That whole universe has been developed well and I thoroughly enjoyed Zoe's Tale. Redshirts was forgettable (i have no idea why or how it won the Hugo) but don't give up on him based on just that one book.
post #5256 of 5292
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bucho View Post

Hmmm, maybe it's time I checked me out some Iain Banks.

I haven't read a lot of fiction over the last decade or so but I've just finished Old Man's War. Fun ideas and a nice light sense of humour but a lot of the writing is very pedestrian and the characters are barely there. Only Perry's pal Harry really seems to live beyond the page and even Perry himself is very thinly drawn, feeling more like a cypher than a person. There is one great passage that'll stick with me but most of it was kind of a let down considering the high regard in which it's held.

I'm right in the middle of two other books, Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty by Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson and The Silver Pigs by Lindsey Davis. Why Nations Fail is kind of a response to Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs and Steel and contains many a ripping historical yarn in its arguments and The Silver Pigs is a hard-boiled historical fiction detective novel set in 70AD Rome which is light but very fun if you're a sucker for ancient Rome like I am.

I started The Silver Pigs a few months ago but then became distracted by Barce Raid, an account of a real-life daring special forces raid into Libya during WW2. Coming back to The Silver Pigs immediately following Old Man's War has unfortunately made me even harder on Old Man's War. Davis's world and characters are so much more vital and vibrant than Scalzi's it has me wishing for a science fiction novel or series of equal vitality and vibrancy. The last I'd read before Old Man's War was perhaps around 2006-2007 when I read Peter F Hamilton's Night's Dawn Trilogy, but for me that suffered similar shortcomings to Old Man's War. Even in fantasy and sci-fi for me character comes before ideas, but so many authors who have great imaginations in terms of creating futures or alternative pasts seem to fall short when it comes to creating human beings.


TL;DR - I'm inexperienced in reading sci-fi since the mid 90s and hoping someone can recommend some modernish sci-fi with not just fun futuristic ideas but also characters and environments which really pop. I'd take that lived-in feel over epicness any day, but if you guys and gals can pimp something which has both, I'm all ears. If a sense of humour comes as part of the package (Pratchett is my dude) all the better.

For big space opera, Iain M Banks is your man. Wildly inventive but great characterisation and never deus ex machinas out like the Nights Dawn Trilogy did.

I'm a massive fan of Richard Morgan's Takeshi Kovacs trilogy (Altered Carbon, Broken Angels and Woken Furies). The first is very hard boiled scifi noir and the other two use the central conceit of that to launch into something very different.

However for the closest to Pratchett definately, definately read Michael Marshal Smith's Only Forward. I read it based on a poster I saw in a book shop describing it as a cross between Douglas Adams and Blade Runner. Then read Spares. Both of them are outstanding, inventive, funny and heartbreaking. I re-read these two nearly every year.
post #5257 of 5292
Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy Bain View Post


For big space opera, Iain M Banks is your man. Wildly inventive but great characterisation and never deus ex machinas out like the Nights Dawn Trilogy did.

 

 

Use Of Weapons is so fucking good I'm forcing myself to read it slowly.

post #5258 of 5292
Thanks chaps.
post #5259 of 5292

SOOO fucking good.

 

I generally thrust Player of Games at people as a first dip. It's more accessible, but Use of Weapons is the best.

 

If you are seeking the humour (and again, Banks is good for this), you might want to give Charles Stross a try. Maybe Glasshouse, but I'm quite a big fan of most of his stuff.

 

China Meiville is an acquired taste, but I find some of his ideas to be mind blowing.

post #5260 of 5292
Quote:
Originally Posted by flint View Post
 

China Meiville is an acquired taste, but I find some of his ideas to be mind blowing.

 

One of the few writers where I literally go "this guy is a genius" as I read them.

post #5261 of 5292

Trying to explain the chase sequence in The City & The City is almost impossible but as it was happening I just couldn't help but admire how he'd constructed the setting to get to that point.

post #5262 of 5292
The City & The City is breathtaking. Such an amazing feat.
post #5263 of 5292
I veer between Use of Weapons, Against a Dark Background and Consider Phlebas as my favourite M. Banks books. There's a later book which is a tangential follow up to UoW. I wont spoil what one as I only twigged about half way through snd when the book confirmed it at the end I jumped about for joy.

A Fell Sword is one of those blisteringly page turny books that I simultaneously want to finish but also never want to end. 150 pages to go and I can't not read it but I'm dreading it finishing. It's so damn good.
post #5264 of 5292

Speaking of Pratchett, I love what he and Stephen Baxter (? - IIRC) are doing in their LONG EARTH series. 

post #5265 of 5292
Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy Bain View Post

I veer between Use of Weapons, Against a Dark Background and Consider Phlebas as my favourite M. Banks books. There's a later book which is a tangential follow up to UoW. I wont spoil what one as I only twigged about half way through snd when the book confirmed it at the end I jumped about for joy.
 

 

I'd give it to Use Of Weapons, even though I'm only half way in. It's seriously fucking good.

post #5266 of 5292
Excession. Why is there no love for Excession?
post #5267 of 5292

It's one hell of an oeuvre.  

 

Especially if you consider his non "M" books.  In fact, the Crow Road is one of my favourite books of all time.

 

I was thinking about Excession while I watched Interstellar actually (4th dimensional object appearing in 3D space).

 

 

 

 

Now I'm depressed he's dead all over again :(

post #5268 of 5292
Finished the first six October Daye novels by Seanan McGuire. It's basically a female Dresden files with the fairy parts amped up to 11.
post #5269 of 5292
Quote:
Originally Posted by Anakin's Dad View Post

Finished the first six October Daye novels by Seanan McGuire. It's basically a female Dresden files with the fairy parts amped up to 11.

Interesting. Haven't heard of them but I might have to check it out.

 

Working through Jack McDevitt's latest, Coming Home. Latest in the Alex Benedict series. Reading like it's gonna wrap up the series, but a couple of his other books in the series have read the same way (esp. Firebird) so I've been surprised before. Of the two series he writes, I like the Hutchins series better but I admit that I like the character of Benedict more.

post #5270 of 5292

The Fell Sword was so damn good. Shit gets rather real at the end.  Can't wait for the next one.  At least he's no GRRM and appears to be pumping them out one a year.

 

Back to Sherlock.

post #5271 of 5292
Heh, GRRM used to do that too.

I just finished the Magicians trilogy by Lev Grossman, and it was quite lovely. Really cool ideas, really well constructed psychology, and the worlds it was playing with were vivid and fun. I would say the middle book, The Magician King, was the high point, really the Empire Strikes Back of the whole thing, but taken as a whole I enjoyed the ride a lot. And I'm hard on fantasy of this type usually.
post #5272 of 5292
Weekend in Welly where they still have good bookshops (makes up for the wind, hipsters and coffee wanks)

$100 later..
post #5273 of 5292
Couldnt find any Ann Leckie. Will need to be an online purchase frown.gif
post #5274 of 5292

Just finished King's latest, "Revival".  As someone who was less than impressed with his recent work, even the more well-received novels, I have to admit that I'm a little shocked, both by the quality and the overall bleakness of the story.  The book has a level of nastiness that I think only Pet Semetery comes close to.  Really unexpectedly dark and vicious in a way that I didn't think King was capable of anymore.  It actually reminded me in many ways of Peter Straub's 'A Dark Matter", except that it wasn't awful.  


Edited by Kevin Macken - 11/16/14 at 12:49pm
post #5275 of 5292

Yeah, that ending was bleak and nihilistic. Haven't seen a mindfuck ending like that from King since "The Jaunt." It's nice to see the old man can still fuck with his readers.

post #5276 of 5292

interest piqued...

post #5277 of 5292
Yeah, I haven't read it yet (or any other recent King, for that matter) but reviews have been good.
post #5278 of 5292
I'll get to it sooner or later. There's only half a dozen Kings I haven't read. This probably moves it closer to the top of the queue though. I think NOS4A2 comes first though.
post #5279 of 5292
I enjoyed The Wasp Factory, but Banks's sci-fi just leaves me cold. I've started several of the Culture novels and haven't gotten further than 100 pages on any of them. I think I'm missing that particular nerve center in my brain.

It was said before unthread, but NOS4A2 really is the best Stephen King novel--really a culmination of the man's work, yet an entity all its own. I even forgave Hill for the atrocious title midway through.

I'm lost in a tome of Gore Vidal essays after watching the doc on Netflix. The film is subpar, but the man himself makes such an impression that I'm 500 pages in, not even halfway through, and still turning pages with anticipation of the next wicked insight or bon mot.
post #5280 of 5292
Quote:
Originally Posted by Arjen Rudd View Post

I'll get to it sooner or later. There's only half a dozen Kings I haven't read. This probably moves it closer to the top of the queue though. I think NOS4A2 comes first though.

 

I still haven't gotten to LISEY'S STORY, DUMA KEY, BLAZE or MR MERCEDES yet, so I'll get to REVIVAL someday.  

post #5281 of 5292

After watching that Marvel special on Election Day, I borrowed Marvel: The Untold Story by Sean Howe from the library and tore through that this week. I'm not a non-fiction reader (last non-fiction book I read was Bernard Goldberg's Bias) and a lot of it read like perusing the daily sports transaction column in the newspaper but I really was blissfully unaware about how dysfunctional that place was in what I consider the heyday of Marvel. I was disappointed that it took 3/4ths of the book to go from the beginning through about 1990, then they just crammed in the last ~23 years into a couple of chapters. I assume it was close to being done before all the Marvel Studio movie success hit - at least that's how it reads.

 

I have a lot of respect for anyone working under those conditions and being able to turn out multiple works each month (or sometimes twice a month) and it fascinates me how many people worked/quit/worked/quit/worked/quit during their careers for that place.

post #5282 of 5292
Finished Leckies second book (busy at work, so sleeping on the commute a lot!). Recommendation still stands. Well realised universe, short bursts of frenetic action.

At the bus stop now pondering what to go for next on the kindle. Think I'll try the latest King, given the good words here.
post #5283 of 5292
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevin Macken View Post
 

Just finished King's latest, "Revival".  As someone who was less than impressed with his recent work, even the more well-received novels, I have to admit that I'm a little shocked, both by the quality and the overall bleakness of the story.  The book has a level of nastiness that I think only Pet Semetery comes close to.  Really unexpectedly dark and vicious in a way that I didn't think King was capable of anymore.  It actually reminded me in many ways of Peter Straub's 'A Dark Matter", except that it wasn't awful.  

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by bendrix View Post

It was said before unthread, but NOS4A2 really is the best Stephen King novel--really a culmination of the man's work, yet an entity all its own. I even forgave Hill for the atrocious title midway through.

 

 

To me, one has to do with the other.  My reaction to Joe Hill's writing is the polar opposite of y'alls.  It feels to me like a very well done generic version of Stephen King, but without his storytelling spark and great affection for his characters.  I think Stephen King has gone darker as a direct reaction to his kid's work.  The stories they've collaborated on have all had those "edgy" endings that I loathe (that King seems to love, i.e. Darabont's The Mist), and I did not enjoy reading Full Dark, No Stars, which felt like his version of same.

 

Revival, however, I didn't find particularly dark. Back in his early days of publishing in skin mags, King experimented with a number of different storytelling styles, including in the weird fiction oeuvre, and this felt like those, albeit a lot more polished.  I loved reading it, but this and his last book both felt very much like filler novels.  I'm waiting for another big, world-building, consciousness-submerging volume a la It or Under the Dome.  Interestingly, I saw in his recent bio that 11/23/63 has gotten a lot of acclaim, even a couple of awards.  Good for King.  He's one of the greatest living writers, I believe, and his continued marginalization by the literati is shameful. 

post #5284 of 5292

That's just like hardcore cinefiles dismissing Steven Spielberg or James Cameron. He's beyond their petty concerns. He's quite possibly the most successful writer that's ever lived on this planet.

post #5285 of 5292
I'm 40% through Use of Weapons and it's had more typos than any other published book I've ever read. Often more than one per chapter. Is this normal for this book or have I got some kind of rushed early copy? Or did I just leave my kindle too close to a large magnet?

As for the story, I'm not blown away by it (yet) but it's definitely grabbed me enough that I'm charging on with it and resisting the urge to pick up another of the recommendations you guys threw at me.
post #5286 of 5292

Typos? That's weird.

post #5287 of 5292
I see that with kindles quite a bit. Especially with older books. I just assume the book was basically scanned in and proof read once. Quickly.
post #5288 of 5292
Quote:
Originally Posted by Arjen Rudd View Post

That's just like hardcore cinefiles dismissing Steven Spielberg or James Cameron. He's beyond their petty concerns. He's quite possibly the most successful writer that's ever lived on this planet.

post #5289 of 5292
Quote:
Originally Posted by flint View Post

I see that with kindles quite a bit. Especially with older books. I just assume the book was basically scanned in and proof read once. Quickly.

Ah, bummer. I haven't had the kindle for long so this is only the fourth e-book I've read. It doesn't ruin it or anything, it's just a mild distraction every quarter hour or so, but it is an odd one.
post #5290 of 5292
Willful Child is one of the strangest books I've ever read.

Its insanely broad in its Star Trek lampooning but has some genuinely great sci-fi ideas (the version of the transporter for exsmple) that are throw aways. Its genuinely funny and really hops about the place (one of the characters consistently refers to each new happening as "we're having another episode". But its such a broadly written piece it always feels like a spoof. I kept thinking the whole thing was going to end up being a teenagers idea of what space would be like while hes' s on a holodeck or something. Hitchikers Guide was absurd but real to the characters. This never felt really "real" to its universe.

A reason for this is I'm not sure what he's trying to achieve with the main character. He's a lot more like Zapp Branigan than Kirk in his outrageous sexism, but there is a method to his madness and he can have the most profound thoughts and achieve incredible outcomes. I think. Its hard to get a handle on.

And it's insanely critical of modern culture and even goes down the Idiocracy route at one point. But it's so pulpily written it just passes by without depth or comment.

I cant decide whether its tripe or genius. I'm veering towards the latter but the style is so throw away it feels like it took a weekend to write and that I might be reading too much into it. Confusing!

Anyway, onto Rivers of London.
Edited by Andy Bain - 11/21/14 at 11:15am
post #5291 of 5292
post #5292 of 5292
One chapter in and I'm loving Rivers of London. Its like Rankin, Mieville and Gaiman sat down and hashed out a police procedural set in London.

Bit of googling found there are 6 books in the series (yay!) and that the writer, Ben Aaronovitch used to write for Dr Who. Id be tempted to dig out some of those eps (Mccoy era) as hes got a really good style.
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