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Raven 3: The Frozen God, by Richard Kirk

Expected it to be schlockier than it was, seeing as the cover featured a woman with her bum out crawling around in front of a hideous monster; kind of disappointed that it wasn't, and pleased at the same time that it was actually pretty decent.

And Auguste Blanqui and the art of insurrection by Samuel Bernstein, which I think The Goblin has read too, at some point in the past.

The Exchange

Finished "The Blade Itself" by Abercrombie last night - an action packed fantasy novel where surprisingly little actually happens. Now back to reading Otherland - this time it's Mountain of Black Glass, the 3rd in the series of epic science fiction where a lot happens, but it takes so...many...words... Still it's a hack of a story.


I finished The Last Policeman today and would definitely recommend it. It's not a feel-good book, but the concept (murder mystery set in a contemporary Earth in which a planet-killer asteroid is six months out) is excellent, and is carried out well throughout the book.

I started Deaver's XO today, as I managed to snag his most recent two books from the library as well, and my obsessive need to read books in order requires that I read XO first. This may or may not work out, as I enjoy Deaver's stuff, but reading them in quick succession can make them feel a bit repetitive.


Back in the 1990s, I listened to an unabridged audio book of "Conquerors' Pride", the first volume of the "Conquerors" trilogy by Timothy Zahn. It became, and still remains, my favorite Zahn novel. It takes place in the 24th Century, with faster-than-light spacecraft, after the human race, expanding to settle other star systems, contacts many other intelligent alien races. The book begins with a fleet of military spacecraft making the first human contact with a newly discovered race, the Zhirrzh. The humans send a peaceful message to the Zhirrzh. The Zhirrzh instantly annihilate the humans' fleet, destroying even the harmless lifepods. Clearly, this means war. As this war begins, the humans try to study the Zhirrzh's strange technology, behavior, and culture, as some of their mysteries might prove the keys to winning - or at least surviving - the war.

I went on to buy and read the three "Conquerors" books in paperback. I don't want to give the impression that the other two books were BAD, exactly. The second book has the interesting twist of being told entirely from the Zhirrzh point of view, and lets the reader understand them. And book 3 brings the series to a satisfactory conclusion.

However, book 2 is too stretched out with only marginally interesting subplots. If Zahn had to go on for a whole book, and therefore cover a certain amount of time, I had the feeling that some scenes from the human (or some other race) point of view might have been better, but were rejected because that wouldn't fit the format, the strict rule that book 2 must be entirely Zhirrzh. Book 3 explodes into so many subplots that I soon lost track of which characters were involved in which subplots, which characters had met which other characters, and which characters knew which secrets. I no longer remember WHAT some of those characters were trying to accomplish in that book. I can't help but think that with a different structure, Zahn could have distilled this somewhat good trilogy into one excellent novel.

Still, I was glad I read the trilogy to the end. In 2000, I read book 1 for the second time (or the third time, if you count listening to the audio book as reading it). This time around, I knew the secrets that made such mysteries of the Zhirrzh, so I could read book 1 with new understanding and appreciation. However, when I started to read book 2 for the second time, I didn't get very far.

(On the other hand, I thought that Zahn's "Thrawn" trilogy was too stretched out also. That series was very popular, so maybe you shouldn't take my criticism too seriously.)

Flash forward to the present time. In the mood for a space opera, I read "Conquerors' Pride" for the third (or fourth) time. Last week, I decided to take another stab at "Conquerors' Heritage" (the second book). I'm most of the way through it, and I STILL think it's too stretched out. Not only that, but this time around, I'm having a hard time accepting some of the premises.

Conquerors' Heritage:
Is there ever any mention that the "elderdeath weapons" actually kill? It sounds like they only HURT the elders, and considering what crybabies the elders could be sometimes, I wonder why the authorities - who aren't elders - take such offense at them. And even accounting for the alien mindset and culture, the Zhirrzh seem a little dim for never thinking the obvious - that "elderdeath weapons" aren't weapons - all these years, after so many such contacts. And this business of elders seems very implausible. The first time I read the trilogy, I managed to accept it by thinking of Clarke's Law (that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic). But the resemblance of the elders to our legends about ghosts seems too big a coincidence for me to accept now.


I'm reading Console Wars. It's about the Sega/Nintendo development/ competition in the 16-bit and 8-bit realm. Overall it's interesting as I grew up playing on their consoles. I've learned quite a bit about liscensing fees that developers have to pay to develop for dedicated gaming rigs. It also has perspective on each of the company's management.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

Aaron Bitman wrote:
However, book 2 is too stretched out with only marginally interesting subplots. If Zahn had to go on for a whole book, and therefore cover a certain amount of time, I had the feeling that some scenes from the human (or some other race) point of view might have been better, but were rejected because that wouldn't fit the format, the strict rule that book 2 must be entirely Zhirrzh. Book 3 explodes into so many subplots that I soon lost track of which characters were involved in which subplots, which characters had met which other characters, and which characters knew which secrets. I no longer remember WHAT some of those characters were trying to accomplish in that book. I can't help but think that with a different structure, Zahn could have distilled this somewhat good trilogy into one excellent novel.

It's also unfortunate that more wasn't done with subplots in Book 2. It might have reduced some of the pressure on Book 3.

Also, I have finished The Scarlet Pimpernel and have moved on to First Power Play by John Miller.

Fortunately, I own all three books of the "Inner Planets Trilogy."


Lord Fyre wrote:
It's also unfortunate that more wasn't done with subplots in Book 2. It might have reduced some of the pressure on Book 3.

All these years, I never thought of it that way.

As for "The Scarlet Pimpernel", I loved the first chapter. The rest of the book was... OK. It might not be such a bad idea to read just the first chapter and pretend that it's a standalone short story.


Finished up with the filibusters last week, finally, and read volume two of Young Avengers before deciding to order up Skin Game. Great histories, but I desperately need to read more fiction.

With regard to the comics, I get the strong impression that Marvel likes the characters and wants them in use but also feels very protective of the original author's story. Which he very clearly isn't that interested in continuing. This second volume felt like a Loki story into which the Young Avengers were shoehorned on the grounds that they are also kids. All the characters felt flat for most of the run.

It was also missing half the cast, most of whom were replaced by less interesting characters. The volume concluded with a sense that the author was bored now and wanted out. At least he didn't end, as the previous two books did, with the team disbanding.

Scarab Sages

Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Just started David Weber's Honor series.
Started reading "On Basalisk Station" for a couple of hours on Saturday, couldn't put it down on Sunday.
Finished it at 1:30 AM Monday morning.
Totally wasted today.
Totally worth it.


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Despite my better judgment, I very much enjoyed The Scarlet Pimpernel, but he better not try that shiznit here in Galt!

Speaking of which, Auguste Blanqui was a true hero of the working class, brave and true, and I cherish his memory, but, alas, I have not read that book, Comrade Longears. Is it awesome?

Shadow Lodge

Blitzed through Skin Game. Starting on Hero of Ages tomorrow.


Finished Harris' The Moral Landscape and decided for some mindless fiction: read Moorcock's Count Brass and started Champion of Garathorm. I have to say that the original Hawkmoon series is one of my favorites, but the second trilogy just flat-out blows chucks -- it's a hamfisted attempt to shoehorn Hawkmoon more solidly into the Eternal Champion cycle, and doesn't really have anything else that Moorcock hadn't done a hundred times before.

Silver Crusade

It is apparent that I might be reading The Grapes of Wrath for a while. Just send me a care package from time to time.

Really love the prose, but it's not quick.


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Fouquier-Tinville wrote:

Despite my better judgment, I very much enjoyed The Scarlet Pimpernel, but he better not try that shiznit here in Galt!

Speaking of which, Auguste Blanqui was a true hero of the working class, brave and true, and I cherish his memory, but, alas, I have not read that book, Comrade Longears. Is it awesome?

Not too bad - I've been reading it in spurts for 3-4 days solid and not got bored of it yet, but it's not going into my top 10 straight away. Poor chap seems to have spent most of his time in jail (and got mildew at one point, he was in there so long).

Am also having a go at the second volume of Orlando Furioso, as a sort of aperitif for playing around with polearms tomorrow.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

Fouquier-Tinville wrote:
Despite my better judgment, I very much enjoyed The Scarlet Pimpernel, but he better not try that shiznit here in Galt!

If the public outcry for a Galt centered Adventure Path come to fruition, that is exactly what he will do.


Pathfinder Adventure Subscriber
Celestial Healer wrote:

It is apparent that I might be reading The Grapes of Wrath for a while. Just send me a care package from time to time.

Really love the prose, but it's not quick.

I recall it as starting out at a decent clip, and then, somewhere in the second third it started to slow down quite drastically.

But yes, the prose is great. (Imitating it during an essay did a lot for my English grade.)


1)

Limeylongears wrote:
Fouquier-Tinville wrote:

Despite my better judgment, I very much enjoyed The Scarlet Pimpernel, but he better not try that shiznit here in Galt!

Speaking of which, Auguste Blanqui was a true hero of the working class, brave and true, and I cherish his memory, but, alas, I have not read that book, Comrade Longears. Is it awesome?

Not too bad - I've been reading it in spurts for 3-4 days solid and not got bored of it yet, but it's not going into my top 10 straight away. Poor chap seems to have spent most of his time in jail (and got mildew at one point, he was in there so long).

Link to last time I talked about Blanqui on these boards

Apologies to those who've already seen it.

2)

If the Lord and/or Lady Blakeney set foot anywhere near Azurestone, they're going to meet Razor Jenny.

3)

Vive Tom Joad! I have never been able to breeze through TGoW.

Silver Crusade

Kajehase wrote:
Celestial Healer wrote:

It is apparent that I might be reading The Grapes of Wrath for a while. Just send me a care package from time to time.

Really love the prose, but it's not quick.

I recall it as starting out at a decent clip, and then, somewhere in the second third it started to slow down quite drastically.

But yes, the prose is great. (Imitating it during an essay did a lot for my English grade.)

As long as you imitated the narrative voice and not the dialogue.


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"Ain't nothin' like a camp meetin' for tippin' 'em over!"

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Gonna finish Rothfuss's A Wise Man's Fear tonight and start BJ Novak's Stories and other stories.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber

Finishing some non-fiction:The Little Ice Age by Brian Fagan, and starting some fiction: CL Moore's Northwest of Earth. The latter - and I know it sounds like a shameless plug - was brought to my attention right here on the Paizo site.


I've enjoyed the CL Moore I've read, including the Northwest Smith stories.

I had intended to read a chapter of Tanith Lee's "Personal Darkness" before I went to bed last night. Eight chapters later I forced myself to put it down.


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Just tore through The Rook by Daniel O'Malley. Only just found out that he's a local author, so thinking I might try and see if I can organise an interview with him after I review the book. Probably going to read it again soon as well just to make sure I took it all in properly.

The tagline for the book is Welcome to "MI5... for wizards", which is inaccurate enough to actually annoy me. I can see why they used it, but the powered individuals are not magic users (though some of them have abilities that would look like it). They're more like an intelligence agency comprised of X-Men style mutants, because each character has their own abilities (complete with gradings of their power level) and they're born with them (though the manifestation can be delayed). There are a bunch of fleshwarping alchemists, but they're more like a cross between mad scientists and bio-engineers than magic users), and vampires and dragons exist, but it still comes across as more about genetics than magic.

Really enjoyed it, excellent sense of humour and some really well written action scenes. I like the variety of powers as well, with people that are able to grow tentacles; a man who can "sweat" smoke that he can use as a deadly neurotoxin, a non-lethal tear gas, or just a smoke screen; a woman who can control the nervous system of others; and a small child whose powers aren't explained entirely, but it's said that he's capable of reducing a fairly sizable area to a smoking crater.

Sequel is apparently in the process of being written.


Comrade Anklebiter wrote:

Meanwhile, last chapter and afterward to go through on Draper. Man, that book has more Greek-style tragedy than a history of a leftist party should, you know?

Short (well, kinda) example:

** spoiler omitted **...

I, alas, erroneously anticipated ahead and spoke too soon. Pretty much everything's the same, but Foster didn't get the leadership of the party for another decade and a half until after WWII when Earl Browder got expelled.


I'm off to the biannual library sale! Have been practicing pushing aside obese nerds and frail grandmothers all week! All your books are belong to us!


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Not too much in the sf/f category, alas, but, thankfully, there's always "literature":

Spoiler:

Ludovico Ariosto--Orlando Furioso in two Penguin volumes--no way Limey's gonna outread me!
Raymond Chandler--Collected Stories*
Philip K. Dick--Valis
Philip Jose Farmer--Gods of Riverworld*
Ursula K. Le Guin--The Dispossessed* (which I already have but can always give away to a fellow nerd comrade)
--Four Ways to Forgiveness
Doris Lessing--The Golden Notebook
George R.R. Martin--A Dance with Dragons*
Miguel Melendez--We Took the Streets: Fighting for Latino Rights with The Young Lords
Kate Novak and Jeff Grubb--The Wyvern's Spur
Muriel Sparks--The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie/The Girl of Slender Means/The Driver's Seat, The Only Problem*
Laurnce Sterne--Tristram Shandy*
Chretien de Troyes--Arthurian Romances
Walt Whitman--Leaves of Grass
Anonymous--The Quest for the Holy Grail
Alberto Manguel and Gianni Guadalupi--The Dictionary of Imaginary Places*

For $13, yo!

*In hardcover, yo!

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

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Doodlebug Anklebiter wrote:

Not too much in the sf/f category, alas, but, thankfully, there's always "literature":

** spoiler omitted **

Hasn't all that reading driven you (a goblin) insane?


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Lord Fyre wrote:
Doodlebug Anklebiter wrote:

Not too much in the sf/f category, alas, but, thankfully, there's always "literature":

** spoiler omitted **

Hasn't all that reading driven you (a goblin) insane?

Well, duh. What did you think had done it?


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Doodlebug Anklebiter wrote:

Not too much in the sf/f category, alas, but, thankfully, there's always "literature":

Ludovico Ariosto--Orlando Furioso in two Penguin volumes--no way Limey's gonna outread me

And if you can keep track of what side Barbozo, Randipanti and Supermarte are on, who's a girl, who's not, who's got the magic sword, who's got the magic donkey (etc), you're a better man than I am, gobbo din.


I finished Deaver's XO, The Kill Room, and Skin Collector over the last week or so. Now I'm digging into Countdown City by Ben H. Winters.


thejeff wrote:
Lord Fyre wrote:
Doodlebug Anklebiter wrote:

Not too much in the sf/f category, alas, but, thankfully, there's always "literature":

** spoiler omitted **

Hasn't all that reading driven you (a goblin) insane?
Well, duh. What did you think had done it?

Just for that, I'm gonna list all the books I bought at the other library sale I attended yesterday.

After the first library sale, I drove up to The Black Goblin's house to get ready for last night's D&D game (killed a character, huzzah!) and discovered his town peddling books as well.

Spoiler:

J.M. Barrie--Peter Pan
Simone de Beauvoir--The Second Sex
Andre Breton--Nadja
Stuart Hampshire--Spinoza
Glyn Daniel--The Idea of Prehistory
Thomas Paine--The Age of Reason
Laurence Sterne--A Sentimental Journey
Sheila Rowbotham--A Century of Women: The History of Women in Britain and the United States

And two that I already had but couldn't help getting anyway: The Autobiography of Malcolm X and Elric of Melnibone.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber
Limeylongears wrote:
Doodlebug Anklebiter wrote:

Not too much in the sf/f category, alas, but, thankfully, there's always "literature":

Ludovico Ariosto--Orlando Furioso in two Penguin volumes--no way Limey's gonna outread me

And if you can keep track of what side Barbozo, Randipanti and Supermarte are on, who's a girl, who's not, who's got the magic sword, who's got the magic donkey (etc), you're a better man than I am, gobbo din.

For more fun, try reading Theodore Sturgeon's "To Here and the Easel" - which mixes Orlando with modern day analogs and guessing who is who.


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DeCamp and Pratt's send-up of Harold Shea into the Orlando Furioso in "The Castle of Iron" is a must-read as well.


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Wait, did we just go from SF to literature, only to sink back into works of a bastardized, pastiche nature? I love this thread. /sniffle


Kirth Gersen wrote:
DeCamp and Pratt's send-up of Harold Shea into the Orlando Furioso in "The Castle of Iron" is a must-read as well.
Alex Martin wrote:
For more fun, try reading Theodore Sturgeon's "To Here and the Easel" - which mixes Orlando with modern day analogs and guessing who is who.

Seconding these recommendations.


Rereading The Rook already since I'm still waiting for my copy of The Fuller Memorandum to arrive (book store called me, told me it was in... turned out they'd ordered a copy of The Atrocity Archive instead, which I already had). Loving it even more the second time around. Sequel cannot come fast enough.


Tinkergoth wrote:
Rereading The Rook already since I'm still waiting for my copy of The Fuller Memorandum to arrive (book store called me, told me it was in... turned out they'd ordered a copy of The Atrocity Archive instead, which I already had). Loving it even more the second time around. Sequel cannot come fast enough.

I recently picked up the first three books and am currently reading The Atrocity Archive. I picked them up based on several recommendations, but so far I'm a bit less than impressed. The book isn't terrible, but it just seems to be lacking something.


Doodlebug Anklebiter wrote:

And two that I already had but couldn't help getting anyway: The Autobiography of Malcolm X and Elric of Melnibone.

You realize you're allowed to read the copies you already have a second time, don't you?

:P


I thought you were supposed to burn a book after you had read it, that way the info was always yours?

Anyway, I just finished burning In Red and Black:, etc. and decided to collect some articles on various essay subjects for you all (that way you won't have to burn any books):

Ulrich Bonnell Phillips

William Styron and The Confessions of Nat Turner

Staughton Lynd

Antonio Gramsci

Also, I have to re-read, or, more accurately, finish reading this essay now that I have a bit more Genovese under my belt:

Slave Capitalism by Gabriel Winant

Dark Archive

I'm re-reading the first six Iron Druid novels in anticipation for the seventh book that comes out later this month. Really good modern fantasy with a greta sense of humor if you've never read them.


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Comrade Anklebiter wrote:

I thought you were supposed to burn a book after you had read it, that way the info was always yours?

I applaud your efforts to prop up capitalism.

I've read nothing lately because the battery on my book died. :(


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Burn it!


Speaking of library book sales, my local library had "Paths of Darkness" and "Cleric's Quintet" for a steal, so I picked them up. I've read them already, but it's nice to have copies of my own. I still need to pick up a copy of the original Icewind Dale trilogy, but that will come in time.


Treppa wrote:

You realize you're allowed to read the copies you already have a second time, don't you?

:P

Heh. I remember back in the 1990s, when my interest in L. Frank Baum's "Oz" books revived. After buying a few here and there, I decided to collect the Del Rey edition of entire 14-book series. I even got book 5, although I already had that one by another publisher, just so I could have a copy matching the rest of my Del Rey set. I even bought one of which I already had the Del Rey printing, because my existing one wasn't in such good condition. Then in the 2000s, I went and collected the Books of Wonder hardback editions of all 14 books - which weren't cheap, believe me - just so that I could show my kids ALL of the art, in a bigger size, as I told them the story. And this was long after I downloaded all the Oz books for free from Project Gutenberg. There are ways to tell the addicts from the casual users.

Anyway, I had lots of time to read during the recent Jewish holiday. Among other things, I went back to Jeeves. You'll remember that last year, intrigued by descriptions of P.G. Wodehouse's characters Bertie Wooster and his valet Jeeves, I started on that series. It was a tad awkward, at the time. For the early stories, I had to take out the Overlook hardcover "Collector's Wodehouse" edition of those books, which were strangely edited. The stories were slightly out of order, and many of the stories were split into two chapters each, for some reason. I couldn't even find the very first Wooster story "Extricating Young Gussie" in the library, and had to download that one from Project Gutenberg.

But the stories were fun. I went on to read the first 33 (of the 35) Jeeves and Wooster stories, and the first 9 (of the 11) Jeeves novels. I found the last couple of the novels I read to be disappointing, so instead of plowing further, I went back to the beginning. In my local public library, I found "Enter Jeeves", a book I hadn't seen the first time I started the series. That volume prints the first 8 stories IN ORDER OF PUBLICATION, and yes, that includes "Extricating Young Gussie". The book also prints all 7 stories about Reggie Pepper, an earlier version of the Bertie Wooster character. I read the first 3 of those, which brought me to the conclusion that in those early years, Wodehouse still had a bit to learn about how to write. Anyway, I couldn't possibly stop after the first 8 stories. The book stopped just short of the best Jeeves short story of all! So I just took out "The Inimitable Jeeves".

Also, I went back to "Conquerors' Heritage" by Timothy Zahn, which I just finished. Maybe my earlier assessment of it (which I posted on this thread a week ago) was a little too harsh.

Conquerers' Heritage:
It turns out that the "Elderdeath weapons" don't only affect Elders. They hurt living Zhirrzh as well. Maybe other races that the Zhirrzh had previously contacted used stronger signals that really DID kill.

You know, what with my taking up so much of Paizo's server space, maybe I should write a post about some Paizo products...


Aaron, are you an Alan Moore fan? At one point (Black Dossier, I think) he wrote short story as a back up feature called "What Ho, Beasts of the Apocalypse!" What happens is, Jeeves and Wooster are at a garden party where the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen show up to interrupt a Cthulhu cult's ritual sacrifice. I thought it was fricken hilarious, but I've got that sort of funny bone.


I used to be an Alan Moore fan. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen was one of the reasons I lost interest in his writing. Volume 1 was OK (although I couldn't get through the prose portion) but Volume 2 seemed to fizzle out, partly because the heroes didn't really DO anything. Is Black Dossier any better? I heard that the Jeeves part was a prose story, and I didn't like the prose in Volume 1, plus I never liked Cthulhu-type stuff, so I never looked into Black Dossier.


The Black Dossier is decent. The Century books are questionable, I think. I really liked Nemo: Heart of Ice, though Nemo: Roses of Berlin is clearly weaker.


Simon Legrande wrote:
Tinkergoth wrote:
Rereading The Rook already since I'm still waiting for my copy of The Fuller Memorandum to arrive (book store called me, told me it was in... turned out they'd ordered a copy of The Atrocity Archive instead, which I already had). Loving it even more the second time around. Sequel cannot come fast enough.
I recently picked up the first three books and am currently reading The Atrocity Archive. I picked them up based on several recommendations, but so far I'm a bit less than impressed. The book isn't terrible, but it just seems to be lacking something.

I've really enjoyed what I've read of all of them so far (I've been listening to The Fuller Memorandum audio book, I just want the physical copy because I find it easier to take it in), but The Atrocity Archive is probably the one I've found least enjoyable so far (though still good). There's a couple of reasons for that I think. Big thing for me is the technology... I was 12 when it was published, so the technology seems very dated to me. Not a big issue, but it throws me off a little bit.

The other thing is that the first 4 novels are homages to or pastiches of other author's work, with The Atrocity Archives being written in a style similar to Len Deighton's novels about out-of-their-depth bureaucrats. I like Deighton's novels, but I enjoyed The Jennifer Morgue (pastiche of Ian Fleming's Bond novels) more, and am really liking what I've heard of The Fuller Memorandum (inspired by Anthony Price's David Audley/Jack Butler series). Pretty keen to see how The Apocalypse Codex reads, since it's apparently written like a Modesty Blaise novel). Given how much the style shifts between each book, I'd recommend at least pushing through to read the second one. After book 4, Stross mentioned that the series has now picked up it's own style and won't be continuing with the pastiche/homage idea.

Some of the short stories are pretty good too. I'm particularly fond of Concrete Jungle (when there are too many concrete cows in Milton Keynes, something is horribly wrong), which was included in The Atrocity Archives; Pimpf (Computational Demonology meets video games), included in The Jennifer Morgue; and Overtime (What's really coming down the chimney on Christmas Eve?), which is available online.


I was going to read Four Ways to Forgiveness but the word "Hainish" showed up in the first ten pages, and I haven't read any of the Hainish Cycle, so back on the shelf with you.

Now I am torn between The Age of Reason and Peter Pan.

Hmmmmm.

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