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What books are you currently reading?


Books

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Andoran

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Tales Subscriber

I just read the novelization of Rise of the Runelords by China Miéville...

...wait a minute; wrong thread...and...uh...wishful thinking...

Paizo Employee Publisher, Chief Creative Officer

Last week I finished Edmond Hamilton's "Outside the Universe" (1929 space opera!) and Gardner F. Fox's "Kothar-Barbarian Swordsman" (Conan pastiche from the soul of the DC Comics universe).

I'm currently tag-teaming Leigh Brackett's "The Sword of Rhiannon" and Fox's "Kothar of the Magic Sword!"

On deck: Not sure.

--Erik

Paizo Employee Lead Designer

Just finished China Mieville's "UnLunDon"... good read, fun and quick.

Right now I am working myself through Fritz Leiber's "Three of Swords" set, with the second have of the Fafhrd and Gray Mouser stories on deck..

I had the urge for a "back to the classics" month.

Jason


I guess China Mieville is a trend here as I just finally had the opportunity to start reading Perdido Street Station.

Hmm, I can't remember where I first heard about this book. ;)


Michael A Stackpole's "When Dragons Rage". Not as good as "Fortress Draconis" but still has some great fantasy elements to it.


Read another Murakami novel, Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World. Very good read; very noirish, with unicorns (used in a really intersting way, almost like Blade Runner) and subterranean monsters called INKlings.

Now I'm going back to Moorcock's Elric stories to bone up on my swords and sorcery until The Etched City arrives from Amazon. I also want to look into some books on global warming for a project I'm planning, but I haven't been able to get out and find a good one.


A lot of Clive Cussler these days. Dirk Pitt in Shockwave and Flood Tide and Kurt Austin in Serpent and Fire Ice. I have a hankering for square-jawed all-American heroes who don't pull their punches and who always get the girl. Cussler gives you that plus a lot of fast boats, vintage cars and over-the-top maniacal villains.


Today, I finally got around to reading the first Dresden Files book, "Storm Front".

And, then to cleanse the pallet I re-read the first part of "Armour" (by Steakley.) It caught my eye as I was walking out of the bookstore. So, I spent about five hours loitering in the bookstore today.

Tomorrow, I am going to read Dresden Files book 2.


Just Finished

"Depths of Madness" by Eric Scott De Bi (sp?)

Just couldn't get into this book for some reason.

Going to be starting "Unclean" (can't remember author) or "Chapter War" by ben counter next


Just finished "Collapse", by Jared Diamond. An excellent non-fiction read and a must read for any species wanting a future.

Currently reading "Purity of Blood", by Arturo Perez-Reverte. Good historical swashbuckling stuff. Also Reading "Art of the Duel" for the L5R RPG, "Prime Time Adventures" RPG, in prep for monday's session.

Looking forwards to getting a copy of "Music of Razors", buy Cameron Rogers, and getting my copy signed when I next see him when in Melbourne. Apparently he is all the go in modern Horror. I can say he is a nice chap too.

Thinking of re-reading "Shantaram", by Gregory David Roberts, and maybe having another read of "Jonathand Strange & Mr. Norrell" by Susanna Clarke. Also wanting to re-read "Snow-Crash" & "The Baroque Cycle" by Neal Stevenson.

DD


Guess what guess what guess what:

I'm reading the Dying Earth series by Jack Vance. I'm so geeky.


Too many books, too little time.
Visual Quickstart Guide to Dreamweaver 8- working on my own website.

At the Mountains of Madness by H.P. Lovecraft- with introduction from China Mieville which discusses Lovecraft's lifelong racism and classism biases and how they inform his horror.

Sputnik Sweetheart by Haruki Murakami- My favorite author, period.

The Etched City by K.J. Bishop- Looked good on amazon and sounded pretty gritty, dark and urban so I went for it.


At the Mountains of Madness by H.P. Lovecraft and The Magician's Guild by Trudi Canavan.


I just finished Brad Meltzer's Book of Fate and am currently reading Song of Kali by Dan Simmons. I am also currently making my way through the Mammoth Book of Fantasy, an anthology of classic fantasy tales.

-M

Osirion

I'm reading two books concurrently: R.A. Salvatore's "Promise of the Witch-King," and Thomas M. Reids "The Gossamer Plain." I'm about a third the way through both and am finding them enjoyable.

Thoth-Amon


James Keegan wrote:


At the Mountains of Madness by H.P. Lovecraft- with introduction from China Mieville which discusses Lovecraft's lifelong racism and classism biases and how they inform his horror.

Please explain. I need to know more.

Osirion

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

The Reagan Diaries


Brick wrote:
James Keegan wrote:


At the Mountains of Madness by H.P. Lovecraft- with introduction from China Mieville which discusses Lovecraft's lifelong racism and classism biases and how they inform his horror.
Please explain. I need to know more.

Well, I'm kind of paraphrasing/going from memory so don't expect it to be completely accurate to Mieville's essay, but Lovecraft was a known racist and patrician. When Hitler was first coming to power as Chancellor in Germany, Lovecraft remarked that even though he (L) thought Hitler's dream was idealistic and naive, he still liked him. So, Jews, African Americans and Bolsheviks were not his favorite people (despite the fact that his wife was Jewish). His fear of racial inter-breeding provides a lot of the horror in some of his stories, the biggest example being Shadow Over Innsmouth.

Spoiler:
In At the Mountains of Madness, the expedition finds the ruins of an Old One civilization that looks to have been destroyed by their slaves, the Shoggoth. Lovecraft evokes empathy and pity for the Old Ones and their sophistication. Mieville makes the arguement that the Shoggoth, which are formless masses of colored globes, are actually metaphors for the revolting Proletariat in Russia.

The major idea behind the essay, however, is that Lovecraft made such masterpieces of the horror genre that his own flaws can't possibly invalidate them. It's a good thing to remember when learning about artists and authors, I think. Look at Caravaggio (Michelangelo Merisisi): probably one of the greatest Baroque painters, invented Tenebrism that was also (according to police records at the time) a pimp, a thug and possibly a pederast. He was a terrible person, no doubt, but he made some amazing paintings. The same holds true with Lovecraft: his politics were disgusting, but his ideas on the subject of horror are incredible and still relevant.


City of Towers by Keith Baker....

Paizo Employee Publisher, Chief Creative Officer

That Mieville essay sounds incredible. Which edition is it in?

--Erik


I just finished Wicked by Gregory Maquire.

It's a revision of the characters and story of The Wizard of Oz, focussing on the rise of the Wicked Witch of the West, who is actually a sensitive, mutant munchkinlander.

This followed a couple of Dean Koontz novels, Iain Banks, and my Nth time re-reading Paradise Lost and Romeo and Juliet to prepare for my British Lit class. If anyone has missed Iain Banks, have a gander, it's good strange stuff.

Waiting for the next shipment, now. Have some China Mieville coming, never read his stuff--first heard about it in Dragon. Thanks guys.

Andoran

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Tales Subscriber
Erik Mona wrote:

That Mieville essay sounds incredible. Which edition is it in?

--Erik

The Modern Library Definitive Edition (June 14, 2005)

Mieville's intro is worth the $11 (PB). Far better than Joshi's intro to the AH edition.

Have I ever mentioned Mieville should write the Pathfinder novel...? ;)


Andrew Turner wrote:
Erik Mona wrote:

That Mieville essay sounds incredible. Which edition is it in?

--Erik

The Modern Library Definitive Edition (June 14, 2005)

Mieville's intro is worth the $11 (PB). Far better than Joshi's intro to the AH edition.

Have I ever mentioned Mieville should write the Pathfinder novel...? ;)

Beat me to it.


James Keegan wrote:
The major idea behind the essay, however, is that Lovecraft made such masterpieces of the horror genre that his own flaws can't possibly invalidate them. It's a good thing to remember when learning about artists and authors, I think. Look at Caravaggio (Michelangelo Merisisi): probably one of the greatest Baroque painters, invented Tenebrism that was also (according to police records at the time) a pimp, a thug and possibly a pederast. He was a terrible person, no doubt, but he made some amazing paintings. The same holds true with Lovecraft: his politics were disgusting, but his ideas on the subject of horror are incredible and still relevant.

I agree with this. I sometimes think the less people know about the private lives of great creative people the better. Often a side-effect of genius is a severe case of oddity.

I don't know if it's fair to overly criticize someone of that era for racism and classism though. Those flaws were the exception rather than the rule at Lovecraft's time, and you'd be much harder pressed to find a white male who wasn't like that than one who was. I sometimes wonder which attitudes that we take for granted will cause future generations to look back on us with disgust.

Plus, people are complex. Robert Heinlein, while a fascist sympathizer (just read Starship Troopers), was also a vocal anti-racist. He would sometimes short-circuit his audience by writing a typical sci-fi hero and then towards the end of the book (after the reader thoroughly admired the character) have another character casually mention that the hero was "black as the ace of spades".

Usually his books with black heroes were sold with cover illustrations where the hero was Aryan.


kahoolin wrote:


Plus, people are complex. Robert Heinlein, while a fascist sympathizer (just read Starship Troopers), was also a vocal anti-racist. He would sometimes short-circuit his audience by writing a typical sci-fi hero and then towards the end of the book (after the reader thoroughly admired the character) have another character casually mention that the hero was "black as the ace of spades".

Usually his books with black heroes were sold with cover illustrations where the hero was Aryan.

Wow, the stuff I learn in here....


True. Sometimes it's hard to remember that the people we hold in such high esteem are human beings, often deeply flawed. Picasso was a real a*#$!$@, Van Gogh was insane, C.S. Lewis was an anti-semite, Heinrich Kley was definitely a racist, Dave Sim is a misogynist religious nut, etc. The Metropolitan Museum in New York has maybe a handful of women artists and maybe one nude male portrait for every thirty nude female. One can find fault with the artist and still love the art.

Paizo Employee Publisher, Chief Creative Officer

I'd go so far as to say that happened more often than not in the 50s, 60s, and even 70s. I've spent the whole year buried in paperbacks of this type, and the number of times this comes up is staggering. In fact, I just noticed it over lunch today while reading through a copy of Sam Merwin's "Chauvanisto" from 1970. The woman on the cover is described in chapter 1 (on the first page, actually) as black, but she's white as snow on the cover.

--Erik


I recently finished a few nonfiction books:

First, The Corner: A Year In The Life Of An Inner-City Neighborhood by David Simon and Ed Burns. David Simon was a reporter for the Baltimore Sun papers and wrote Homicide: A Year On The Killing Streets, where he met detective Ed Burns. Burns later became a public school teacher.

The Corner sees them follow drug addicts Gary McCullough and Fran Boyd and their "corner boy" son DeAndre McCullough for a full year, and tells the story of not only their lives but the lives of everyone in their neighborhood, whether they be addicts, dealers, or "citizens". It's a fantastic work of journalism which looks at the forgotten underclass of Baltimore and, by extension, all American cities. Gary's daily "dope fiend moves" to get enough money for his daily blast, Fran's repeated attempts to clean up, DeAndre's flirtation with dealing and gangster violence . . . it's a compelling story.

(HBO turned The Corner into a miniseries, and Simon and Burns later created The Wire for HBO - the best show on television.)

Second, Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain. It's a behind-the-scenes look at the world of professional cooks and chefs through an autobiographical lens; Bourdain's own experiences starting out from the bottom with a summer job in Provincetown, Massachusetts through dozens of restaurants in New York City are the backdrop for his recollections and expostulations on the restaurant business and the life of a professional cook, as well as the personal joy he finds in food.

The revised edition, which is the one my wife bought, dates from after Kitchen Confidential's success pushed Bourdain into the life of a world-trotting TV chef - she's a big fan of his travel/food show Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations - so there are some interesting reflections to be found in the foreword and afterword. I especially liked the bit where he revealed the real names of some people he wrote about and shared their reactions to the stories he told about them in his book.

I'm still quite anxiously waiting for my latest order from Amazon, which is nearly a week late - I'm getting three books by Richard Dawkins for my master's degree which I'm starting up next year. I'm looking at his theory of memetics and the "virus of religion", so I've ordered The Selfish Gene, A Devil's Chaplain and The God Delusion.

Of course, I'm also getting a few Eberron novels: Bound By Iron by Edward Bolme and Forge of the Mind Slayers by Tim Waggoner.

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

I badly need a break from the stuff I'm researching for school papers (three last titles: Death squads in global perspective, Political murder in Central America and The flight: Confessions of an Argentine Dirty Warrior) - more of this stuff, and I'll probably die of acute depression... So I'm reading Paul Shirley's basketball memoir Can I keep my jersey? - good fun if you like b-ball, as Shirley is an amusing guy with lots of good stories and anecdotes. After that, I thought I'd start on Chinua Achebe's Anthills on the savannah or Leo Tolstoy's Hadji Murad.


Labarynth by Kate Mosse. Historical fiction/ romance/ mystery/ greatest book in the universe. Think I have enough slashes?


The Skystone by Jack Whyte. Finished reading Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I am rereading the old "Skylark of Valeron" stuff by Doc E.E. Smith. Cheezy tongue in cheek, sexist, pulpy sci fi from 50's. I'm gonna try that China M. guy again, and then back to Phillip K. Dick, Schools permitting.


Just finished "the Exeption " by Christian Jungersen, a thriller taking place in an institute for genocide research(!)And "Guns, germs and Steel", a great book for worldbuilders :)


In the last few weeks I have finished:

"Brimstone" by Preston & Childs (book I)

"Dance of Death" by Preston & Childs (book II)

and I understand book III in the series is out, but I am waiting for the paperback. These are the same guys who wrote "The Relic".


One of the major points levied (let's face it, often rightly levied) against fantasy/sci-fi/horror novels is the fact that the genre doesn't really care much for plot or character development and things like that. That's one of the observations from the China Mieville essay on Lovecraft that I agree with. He argues that Lovecraft wasn't after either: just his own perfected brand of weirdness. I was reading K.J. Bishop's The Etched City, which I bought used on Amazon after reading the review that stated it was like Perdido Street Station meets The Dark Tower, and I thought about that point.

The Etched City is a grim urban fantasy novel, set in an era contemporaneous with the Civil War in the United States (1860s or so). There isn't really much of a plot in the novel, much like the early portions of Perdido Street Station. Instead, it's really about developing three characters: Gwynn, of the gunslinger/super kill guy stereotype; Raule, a doctor working in the gutter in the hopes of reawakening her phantom conscience and the city of Ashamoil that they inhabit. Ashamoil is located in the tropics, full of slums and slave traders, and Bishop does a good job of making the place seem miserable.

I've grown really sick of super kill guy characters in novels, comics and movies: the static characters that just exist to kill their enemies in really gruesome ways and are too cool to touch. But Bishop manages to make Gwynn both dynamic, sympathetic and utterly monstrous at the same time, so he's more tolerable than his over worthy contemporaries. I'm disappointed that Bishop didn't spend more time developing Raule, though, since Gwynn takes the lion's share of the page count. Especially since there is this hint of another plot, involving Raule looking for the reasons behind all these deformed births (see why I like this novel?) in the slums, but it hasn't been picked up seriously thus far in the novel.

There are a lot of stories within stories, many of them mysterious, dreamlike and compelling, which is another reason that I enjoy the novel.


The Real Story: the Gap Into Conflict by Stephan R Donaldson, Bantaam Books, 1991. To graphic for a younger audience, but I am enjoying the twists. SF

Qadira

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules Subscriber

Read a few book while on holiday - air travel and all. Read the secon instalment of Peter F Hamilton's epic (and I mean epic - a total of about 3500 pages in all, I think) Night's Dawn Trilogy, the Neutronium Alchemist. I'm enjoying his stuff a lot at the moment - very hard SF. It is possibly a little long-winded given the length, but I have lapped up most of it pretty happily. I recently read the Pandora's Star/Judas Unchained series, and liked them, and went back to the earlier Night's Dawn. Lot's of spaceships, space naval battles and really nasty baddies. (One thing I never get in SF, though - how come people get so much sex in the future? Roll on the next century, I say!)

I also read a lot of the Last Mythal series by Richard Baker (or parts 1 and 2) which, for FR fiction, is pretty well done. It is deeply rooted in the setting and rather well written.

Cheliax

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Tales Subscriber

Better late than never...I'm FINALLY reading George R.R. Martin's Game of Thrones series (almost done with volume 2: A Clash of Kings). Phenomenal stuff! Makes me sad it took me so long to find it. I generally read horror fiction (Bentley Little, Richard Laymon, Simon Clark, Douglas Clegg, Graham Masterton), but I wanted a break so I returned to fantasy fiction...And what a great choice it was!

I also highly recommend anything by Robin Hobb. One of the best fantasy writers in recent memory.

BTW, anyone know whatever happened to J.V. Jones? I really enjoyed her first books, but haven't seen anything from her recently.


Can anyone recommend any good science fiction books for me? Perhaps something that’s quite, quite dark/bleak and with a hint of horror, cyber punk and/or body shock/horror? I'm after reading something like that. :)

Getting a little tired of fantasy lately (having recently overdosed on FR novels) and need something entirely different.


R-type wrote:
Can anyone recommend any good science fiction books for me?

For some classic pulp sci-fi, I recommend the Lensmen series by EE Doc Smith.

Not sci-fi, but a good read, is "The Alienist" by Caleb Carr.

Andoran

I just started "Kothar - Barbarian Swordsman" by Gardner F. Fox.


What you need is space opera!
Walter Jon Williams "Dread Empire's Fall"


R-type wrote:

Can anyone recommend any good science fiction books for me? Perhaps something that’s quite, quite dark/bleak and with a hint of horror, cyber punk and/or body shock/horror? I'm after reading something like that. :)

Why not go with Cormac McCarthy's "The Road". It won a Pullitzer Prize for Best Fiction. A review here:

http://books.guardian.co.uk/review/story/0,,1938709,00.html

Qadira

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules Subscriber
R-type wrote:

Can anyone recommend any good science fiction books for me? Perhaps something that’s quite, quite dark/bleak and with a hint of horror, cyber punk and/or body shock/horror? I'm after reading something like that. :)

Getting a little tired of fantasy lately (having recently overdosed on FR novels) and need something entirely different.

You might think about the Night's Dawn trilogy I mention above - it has some mild horror trappings and a fairly sadistic baddie, though it is mainly a space opera. If you have the time - 3,000+ pages.


R-type wrote:

Can anyone recommend any good science fiction books for me? Perhaps something that’s quite, quite dark/bleak and with a hint of horror, cyber punk and/or body shock/horror? I'm after reading something like that. :)

Getting a little tired of fantasy lately (having recently overdosed on FR novels) and need something entirely different.

A couple of suggestions:

The Stars My Destination, Alfred Bester
I only got around to reading this a couple of years ago. The classic Golden Age of Science Fiction dark skiffy.

Kaleidoscope Century, John Barnes
Moving up to modern SF. It may not be my favorite of Barnes' novels, but it's probably the one that's stuck with me most. A fine book to make you just want to kill yourself for humanity's sake by the end of it.

For my own part, I'm catching up to the rest of the reading public and finally getting around to reading the copy of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell that I bought back when it was the buzz book of the year. Anything I can say about it is redundant at this point, but damn, it makes me even more resentful of the D&D magic system than I already was. =)


Rather than answer (again, I think) I'll mention what I'm not reading as I gaze longingly at the Shelf on the UnreadTM:


  • The Scar & Iron Council - China Mieville
  • The Steampunk Trilogy - Paul DiFilippo
  • 1984 - George Orwell (this is a reread, saw some students in my shop reading it and I was enticed me to pull the book out of storage)
  • The Difference Engine - William Gibson & Bruce Sterling (got about halfway before switching to the 1st Conan book...which I also have yet to finish)
  • Bloodwalk - James P Davis (bought this when I was running a monk/sorcerer who I was grooming for the Blood Magus PrC)
  • Eberron: Thieves of Blood 1 - Tim Waggoner
  • The Last Quarter - Steven L Kent (also a reread, going to the Classic Gaming Expo this July so I thought it'd be a good primer/refresher)

...okay, to stay on topic, I'm nearly done with Taran Wanderer (The Chronicles of Prydain) by Lloyd Alexander

- Chris Shadowens

Taldor

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Cards, Companion, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber

Turning the pages and jiggling through "Skinny Legs and All" by Tom Robbins... marvellous stuff. Always finds new ways to make me laugh just with his language...


Byzantium by Stephen Lawhead. First six chapters are a bore with all the religious ceremony and "praise god" hulabaloo. After that, when the Vikings attack monks carrying the Book of Kell on it's way to the holy capital, it gets unstoppable. Good stuff.

Taldor PaizoCon Founder, Wayfinder Editor-in-Chief

I just blazed through Jim Butcher's "Cursor's Fury", book 3 in the "Codex Alera" series. Between the Dresden Files and this series, this man can do no wrong.

Interestingly, I attended a Jim Butcher appearance at the University Bookstore in Seattle, and found Jim to be a delight to listen to. Turns out that the "Codex Alera" series was actually based on a dare. Someone dared Jim to write a book using the following two elements: the lost Roman legion AND...Pokemon. Amazingly, he makes it WORK (although I actually think about The Last Avatar when I read it).

I also gritted my teeth and started the Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter series that my wife adores. I vowed to give it a try up until the series turns to soft porn. I've made it as far as "Blue Moon", but my wife grins when I talk about starting the next book...I think I'm in trouble.

Qadira RPG Superstar 2008 Top 6, Contributor

Just read the Dresden Files through the latest book. Whee :)

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