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What books are you currently reading?


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The Exchange

Treppa wrote:
One thing to realize stylistically in Nine Princes in Amber is that Corwin is effectively immortal, barring violent death. So he's doing things that he's done time and time before through the centuries. They're routine, in a way. If you wrote about your life, you might describe the first trip to the grocery store in detail, but not all of them after that. I think some of the brevity effectively underscores the difference between how he sees events and how we would. It also gives us a taste of the ennui of immortality.

I would have maybe gone with that, except for how this style of writing seems to be recurring from other authors in the previous century (namely Glen Cook and Jack Vance), and for characters that aren't immortal at all.

Quote:
About Nine Princes in Amber, while Lord Snow asks "Why skip over the good parts?" I, like thejeff, would ask "Why fill up space with the boring parts?" That first book gave enough information such that by the time I finished it, I knew all the princes and princesses by name... and I am usually TERRIBLE with names!

To each their own, of course, but I don't find any of the things that are skipped in this book to be boering - I am in much higher danger of being bored if I feel like I'm watching a movie on fast forward than if I have to go through more than a line and a half about a naval battle. It's much harder for me to get an emotional connection when every three pages the characters are in a radically different situation, and whole giant chunks of the story are constantly skipped. There was this one time, years ago when DVD was still a thing, that my younger brother watched an entire season of Lost while accidentally skipping every other disk since he didn't know they were two sided. The way I feel reading these old-style books is what I imagine it must have been like for him.


Kirth Gersen wrote:

Bear in mind that Corwin narrates the whole first 5 books, and that he is quickly established as an unreliable narrator. It seems likely that his truthfulness is not directly proportional to the book number, but rather remains a bit questionable throughout.

The only modern fantasy with a better use of narrator unreliability I can think of is Peter Straub's Shadowland, ** spoiler omitted **

Hmmm. I never really saw Corwin as that much of an unreliable narrator, despite the framing device. He's unaware of a lot of what's going on, especially at first. He's not an omniscient narrator.

It's of course possible that he's outright lying about any number of things, but there's very little evidence given in the story for it. In the second series, with Merlin as narrator, there are no great revelations about how everything he learned from Corwin was a lie. Though there were more revelations about things Corwin didn't know.

I may be a little oversensitive on this due to some Amber games with GMs who relied overly much on the Corwin was an unreliable narrator thing.


Pathfinder Campaign Setting Subscriber

So over the last week I finished the second volume of the complete works of Clark Ashton Smith.

The stories are presented, as mentioned before, in order of original production. Given how prolific an author he was across science fiction, horror, and fantasy, there are a lot of variety. BUT...also I find that some of the genres he pulls off much worse than others. for instance all his science fiction space adventures seem kind of repetitive, and mostly rely on standard formulaic pulp tropes that are now incredibly out of date. It means I inevitably lose attention. He also goes back again and again to a specific formula: Characters via time travel/magic/technobabble ends up in a different land/time/planet where he careens from one monster attack/crisis to another using only his dering do and manly wits. While that may seem fun and exciting, after reading 4 or 5 short stories in a single volume, it comes off as narrative mad libs.

I will say this, when Smith sticks to Fantasy and Horror his writing greatly improves. If you feel like checking out his fiction I suspect a collection like Return of the Sorcerer would probably be far far more enjoyable. Also it's nice to read some pulpy cosmic horror from an author who doesn't seem to have hang ups about sex. Smith narrators come across as being much more "normal" than some some of Lovecraft's narrators, and more relatable.

Speaking of hang-ups about sex, I just started the Penguin classic compilation of Arthur Machen, one of Lovecraft's main influences. It's kind of interesting seeing the origin of many common horror tropes, and Arthur Machen is probably the author most responsible for the idea of creatures from antediluvian times surviving to the present in remote areas, something horror authors have returned to again and again. Some of the stories probably haven't aged as well...there is some clunky as hell narrative techniques, and a bit too much reliance on random coincidence, but still readable. Also, if xenophobia was a major inspiration for Lovecraft in his writing, than Victorian hang-ups on sex, morality, and rising secularism were definitely a feature of Machen's work. One wonders how much of modern horror owes it's existence to weird psychological hang ups from a century ago.

Contributor

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Currently reading: The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater. But slowly, because it's the last book in the series and I don't want it to end.

She does incredible things with words. It's inspiring to my own writing.


MMCJawa wrote:

So over the last week I finished the second volume of the complete works of Clark Ashton Smith.

I will say this, when Smith sticks to Fantasy and Horror his writing greatly improves. If you feel like checking out his fiction I suspect a collection like Return of the Sorcerer would probably be far far more enjoyable. Also it's nice to read some pulpy cosmic horror from an author who doesn't seem to have hang ups about sex. Smith narrators come across as being much more "normal" than some some of Lovecraft's narrators, and more relatable.

I've only really read his fantasy/horror stuff, but I'd agree with that. CAS does have a bit of an obsession with mouldering corpses of one sort or another, though...


50 Books Every Woman Should Read Before She Turns 40

I think I've only read ten, but I've still got some months.

[Jean-Paul Sartre, Intrnet Troll]

My gal pal made the list!

[Beams with pride]

[/Jean-Paul, etc.]


Junot Diaz on playing D&D


Kirth Gersen wrote:

Bear in mind that Corwin narrates the whole first 5 books, and that he is quickly established as an unreliable narrator. It seems likely that his truthfulness is not directly proportional to the book number, but rather remains a bit questionable throughout.

The only modern fantasy with a better use of narrator unreliability I can think of is Peter Straub's Shadowland, ** spoiler omitted **

Isn't Shadowland the one that completely ripped off D&D's magic system, assigning levels to spells and such? It's been decades (cripes, I'm getting old) since I read it, but that's what stood out to me the most.


TarSpartan wrote:
Kirth Gersen wrote:

Bear in mind that Corwin narrates the whole first 5 books, and that he is quickly established as an unreliable narrator. It seems likely that his truthfulness is not directly proportional to the book number, but rather remains a bit questionable throughout.

The only modern fantasy with a better use of narrator unreliability I can think of is Peter Straub's Shadowland, ** spoiler omitted **

Isn't Shadowland the one that completely ripped off D&D's magic system, assigning levels to spells and such? It's been decades (cripes, I'm getting old) since I read it, but that's what stood out to me the most.

I think you might be talking about Jack of Shadows by Zelazny (again!), but that was a novel collected and edited together from short stories, the earliest which predates D&D.

Or maybe you're talking about a different book altogether; no harm, no foul. :)


Just got a new shipment in. Starting The Irregular at Magic High School, volume 1.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Hitdice wrote:
TarSpartan wrote:
Kirth Gersen wrote:

Bear in mind that Corwin narrates the whole first 5 books, and that he is quickly established as an unreliable narrator. It seems likely that his truthfulness is not directly proportional to the book number, but rather remains a bit questionable throughout.

The only modern fantasy with a better use of narrator unreliability I can think of is Peter Straub's Shadowland, ** spoiler omitted **

Isn't Shadowland the one that completely ripped off D&D's magic system, assigning levels to spells and such? It's been decades (cripes, I'm getting old) since I read it, but that's what stood out to me the most.

I think you might be talking about Jack of Shadows by Zelazny (again!), but that was a novel collected and edited together from short stories, the earliest which predates D&D.

Or maybe you're talking about a different book altogether; no harm, no foul. :)

I'm pretty sure 'Tales of the Dying Earth' had spells that were described as being of a particular level...


1 person marked this as a favorite.
TarSpartan wrote:
Isn't Shadowland the one that completely ripped off D&D's magic system, assigning levels to spells and such?

Not the one I read. Maybe another novel with a similar/identical title?


Kirth Gersen wrote:
TarSpartan wrote:
Isn't Shadowland the one that completely ripped off D&D's magic system, assigning levels to spells and such?
Not the one I read. Maybe another novel with a similar/identical title?

No insult but you missed a bracket there. :)

Edit: Redundantated!!

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Finished Visitor by CJ Cherryh.

Spoiler:
There is a major development! Wow! I didn't see it coming, but I probably should have.

Now I need to finish Zero World by Jason Hough.

And then 2 more library books before I order Tracker by CJ Cherryh.


Pathfinder Campaign Setting Subscriber

Still chugging away on the Machen anthology.

Actually skipped over a good chunk of "A Fragment of Life" I get the point (although it's flat out stated someways into the story by the author), but holy #$@@, there have to be less tedious ways of showing the err...tedium of life. A good chunk of the beginning of the first half of the story covers such gripping drama as a victorian couple debating on if they can or should remodel a bedroom, shopping for a new oven, and gossiping about their servant's (not that interesting) love life. I know the story gets more fantastical but I just couldn't bear reading it further.

Thankfully the next few stories were shorter and two the point, although I still have more to finish


Have been aimlessly jumping back and forth between books. Finished Kautsky and Lefebvre, started The Conjure Stories by Charles W. Chesnutt and a re-read of The Twelve Caesars by Suetonius, put them down and decided to re-start The Parable of the Talents which I stalled out with at about the page 60 mark.


Reading Lansdale motivated me to search the attic for all my old Andrew Vachss hardcovers. Very happily re-reading Blossom, with Down in the Zero next up.


Most recently, 'Knight's Wyrd' by Debra Doyle and James D. Macdonald, which I rather enjoyed. I'm also reading 'Journey To The Centre Of The Earth'.

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