What books are you currently reading?


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Now on Book 4 of the Banned and Banished series by James Clemens. The first in the series is Witch' Fire. It's a good series. Anyone else read it?

Liberty's Edge

Actually, one book that came to mind for hard(ish) alternate reality is Walter John Williams' Implied Spaces.


SmiloDan wrote:

Finished Visitor by CJ Cherryh.

** spoiler omitted **

Now I need to finish Zero World by Jason Hough.

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

I just finished Visitor and, dude, you ain't kidding! I was all, "A spoiler who doesn't recognize spoiler or spoiler? Oh spoiler."


Another multiple-dimension one I really liked:
Jack Chalker, And The Devil Will Drag You Under.

Dark Archive

Reread StarShip Troopers, and started to reread Sender's Game.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Hitdice wrote:
SmiloDan wrote:

Finished Visitor by CJ Cherryh.

** spoiler omitted **

Now I need to finish Zero World by Jason Hough.

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

I just finished Visitor and, dude, you ain't kidding! I was all, "A spoiler who doesn't recognize spoiler or spoiler? Oh spoiler."

Yeah, I was like, "WOW!"

The Exchange

Reading book 4 of Marie Brennan's Lady Trent series: In the Labyrinth of Drakes.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
NenkotaMoon wrote:
started to reread Sender's Game.

The sequel, Receiver's Game, is even better.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

'Derriere', by Julius Culdrose. It's an existential classic, dealing with the narrator's journey into the yawning abyss of his own disgust at the emptiness of his own existence.

Spoiler:

No, it isn't. It's a book about bums.


Kajehase wrote:
Doodlebug Anklebiter wrote:
Web comic about the Bronte sisters
From Kate Beaton's delightful Hark, a vagrant

While the Cloak and Dagger jokes are funny, I am wondering if I am missing Bronte sister jokes on another page?

Paizo Employee Senior Editor

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Doodlebug Anklebiter wrote:
While the Cloak and Dagger jokes are funny, I am wondering if I am missing Bronte sister jokes on another page?

See also this and this (middle comic).

Racing through A Deeper Love Inside by Sister Souljah.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I'm currently reading through Maplecroft, Cherie Priest's series after The Clockwork Century. It's essentially Lizzie Borden meets Dagon. Lizzie did in fact kill her parents (and was acquitted), but what she killed wasn't exactly her parents anymore, if you know what I mean. Good stuff.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Readerbreeder wrote:
I'm currently reading through Maplecroft, Cherie Priest's series after The Clockwork Century. It's essentially Lizzie Borden meets Dagon. Lizzie did in fact kill her parents (and was acquitted), but what she killed wasn't exactly her parents anymore, if you know what I mean. Good stuff.

Ooh! Interesting!

It's like the prequel to every Disney movie ever!

(Possibly not the ones I haven't seen....)


Coming to the end of Zionism in the Age of the Dictators, was looking at all the books I started and didn't finish, opted to re-read Value, Price and Profit.

Well, I didn't simply opt for it. Couple weeks back we met this guy who used to be a comrade down in Alabama but then moved to Massachusetts to pursue his goal of being an academic Marxist economist. Tried to get him involved with stuff, he wasn't interested. Took him down to Boston for the Boston Socialist Unity Project conference and he bailed on us when we left. (Didn't even offer gas money.) Later, we recruit two kids who say they've been trying to read Das Kapital. Light bulb goes off, I rope the wannabe academic into starting a Capital reader's circle. First meeting Wednesday to go over V,P&P.

Figure we'll get out gas money back and then some. College courses go for, what, a couple grand these days?

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 32, RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16, RPG Superstar 2013 Top 16

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Comrade Anklebiter wrote:

Couple weeks back we met this guy who used to be a comrade down in Alabama but then moved to Massachusetts to pursue his goal of being an academic Marxist economist.

...
(Didn't even offer gas money.)

Are you trying to break my irony meter?


Hee hee!

Don't know how it goes outside of Marxist circles, but I chalk it up to a generational thing.

The over thirty comrades are always fighting over who's gonna buy the gas ("It doesn't take $20 of gas to get to Boston and back!" "But you paid last time," etc., etc.); the under 30 crowd seems to think that everybody is their mommy and free rides are part of their birthright.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

M'lord Dice says free rides are a gift given to goblins who prove themselves well behaved enough to ride in his carriage without causing any trouble. I mean, free rides are a birthright, just his and not goblinkind's. Toil, pain and hunger, that's a goblin's birthright.


Dicey the House Goblin wrote:
Toil, pain and hunger, that's a goblin's birthright.

Ain't that the truth?


Comrade Anklebiter wrote:
I chalk it up to a generational thing. The over thirty comrades are always fighting over who's gonna buy the gas ("It doesn't take $20 of gas to get to Boston and back!" "But you paid last time," etc., etc.); the under 30 crowd seems to think that everybody is their mommy and free rides are part of their birthright.

So, there was a language issue last time a bunch of us went to lunch, and I ended up with the entire check. I said, "Look, I'll just pay it so we can get out of here -- you guys can owe me lunch."

The 50-year-old guy had bought me lunch the week before, so I owed him anyway. The guy in his 20s invited me to lunch (and paid for it) the very next day. The three 30- to 40-year-olds just assumed that I was an ATM machine or something, I guess -- no chance they'll ever return the favor.

So, yeah, I'd think it was a "young people" thing, except the guy in his 20s broke the hell out of that generalization.


Most recently:

'Swords and Scoundrels' by Julia Knight, which I liked very much.

'Socialism of To-Day' by Emile de Laveleye. 'To-Day' = Somewhen in the late 1800s.

'Citadel Of Chaos' by Steve Jackson, which I first read when I was 10 or so. It was alright (the art was nice). I died a lot.

Next, I am going to read the "Malleus Maleficarum".


For clarity, I don't think millennials are necessarily cheapskates; I just think they expect free rides all over God's green earth.

For example, the Nigerian Princess was on her way back from New York City where she was presenting her master's thesis at some psychology conference. I get a text from her while I'm in the parking lot at work asking what I'm doing. I tell her and then ask her what she's doing. "Coming into Worcester and wondering if I should take the train to Boston or wait for [Mr. Comrade] to come pick me up." At this point, Mr. Comrade wouldn't have gotten out of work for another five hours. I think she was working up to asking if I'd come get her, but I had to go to work. Later, she informed me that she had gotten some other dude to come get her. "Your chariot awaits, milady," I texted back.

But, I admit, this might be more of a class thing (although she's not actually a princess; she's a chieftain's daughter) than a generational thing. I've taken to calling her "Aunt Agatha" and she calls me "Jeeves."

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Just finished The Rising by Ian Tregillis. It's the sequel to The Mechanical and it's about an emancipated clockwork servitor trying to free his people from the geasa of the Brasswork Throne of the Netherlands in New France, North America. It also features an exiled ex-spymistress and the captain of the guard of Marseilles-in-the-West.

About to start the novella The Dire Earth by Jason Hough before returning to three moments of an explosion by China Mieville.

The Exchange

Finished reading "God's War" (Bel Dame apoghrodpo #1, by Cameron Hurley) and, shifting gears dramatically into more comfortable territory, am hopping back to the Repairman Jack series with the eighth part of the tale, "Crisscross".

My thoughts on the book are spoiler free today, as I did not find the plot or characters all that interesting and instead focused on other elements of the book.

God's War thoughts:
Among the many unfortunate realities of human existence, there are a few I came to dislike more intimately than others over the years - among those, three prominent ones are a hot desert climate, religious fundamentalism and bugs.

Thus, I considered this book as somewhat of a challenge - can I read a book that uses these exact three elements as it's main aesthetic and still enjoy it?

It turns out that I shouldn't have worried at all because all of these elements were supposed to feel uncomfortable - the entire book is built to provoke mostly negative reactions in the reader, I think. Almost everything that happens is terrible to one degree or another, there is no point at which the characters have any joy at anything, and the setting is just the fitting cesspool for these people. It's a miserable story of miserable people in a miserable situation happening in a miserable place. I'm sure this is intentional, and the book actually does a pretty good job of conveying this atmosphere without making the reading experience itself miserable.

Two things I enjoy greatly in my SFF reading were missing here - good world building and a satisfying story. The world is extremely different and the first few dozens of pages are delightful in how they just throw you in and let you figure everything out like a big boy, but as it slowly turns out, the setting is not very deep. We learn some about the different gender politics in each nation and how these relate to the ongoing war and to the various interpretation of the Abrahamic religion in these nations (each culture seems to be a twisted derivative of Islam, Christianity or Judaism as they currently exist in places such as the Middle East, India and Africa), and we get hints that there's a bigger universe out there, but not much more. The SF elements are never developed much beyond "there are people who can manipulate bugs to heal or attack" which is a shame because much could have been done with some of these concepts. And the story - well, there is certainly a rather focused and fast paced one, but it feels like a very personal one even though it is supposed to have global ramifications, and I never felt too strongly involved because to be quite honest, I didn't find it within myself to care about the fates of these people.

The writing is competent but nothing more. Descriptions are minimalist, action is written somewhat dryly, and there were very few passages that jumped out to me as very well written.

Overall, "God's War" is not a must-read, but it is very much not a total loss either. If the themes of the book appeal to you, you can give it a read. I remain neutral on it. I would read the next one at some point because I see potential for more here and this is after all a debut novel written under difficult circumstances (the Author was dying at the time, as I discovered after finishing the read), but the story failed to truly captivate me or my imagination.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Have you read Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel trilogies? They deal with an alternate historical version of some of the Abrahamic religions. And book 9 has a surprising insect situation too!


Capital, Volume 1: A Critique of Political Economy.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

There are jokes in the 'Malleus Maleficarum'. Pretty poor jokes, even by 15th century standards, but jokes nonetheless.

Hee hee hee:

Socrates had two wives, whom he endured with much patience, but could not be rid of their contumelies and clamorous vituperations. So one day when they were complaining against him, he went out of the house to escape their plaguing, and sat down outside the house, and the women then threw filthy water over him. But the philosopher was not disturbed by this, saying, 'I knew that a rain would come after the thunder'

Ho ho ho:

There is also a story of a man whose wife was drowned in a river, who, when he was searching for the body to take it out of the water, walked up the stream. And when he was asked why, since heavy bodies do not rise but fall, he answered: 'When that woman was alive, she always, both in word and deed, went contrary to my commands: therefore I am searching in the contrary direction in case even now she is dead she may preserve her contrary disposition'

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Just finished "The Dire Earth" novella by Jason Hough.

Going back to three moments of an explosion by China Mieville.

Also looking through my old 2nd Edition Planescape Monstrous Manuals for ideas for 5th Edition monster conversions.

The Exchange

Finished listening to "Trigger Warnings: Short fiction and disturbances" (A Neil Gaiman collection), and am now eagerly starting on "The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August", which I've heard many good things about and like the concept of.

The following thoughts are spoiler free.

Trigger Warning thoughts:
First time I'm talking about a short story collection (also the second or third time in my life I read one of these cover to cover), so I think my approach will be to seperate the stories into three camps - the great, the enjoyable yet skippable, and the ones I didn't like.
The greats are the highlights of the collection, the main attractions. The enjoyables yet skippables were fine to read, but felt a little bit like a waste of time which I could spend reading a novel and sinking my teeth into something with more substance. Those I didn't like - well, that's self explanatory.

The Great:
1) The Truth is a Cave at the Side of a Mountain - this is just about the definition of a solid short story. It is long enough for me to care about the characters and their situation, and yet short enough to not have any filler material at all. It is, I would say, exactly the right length. I enjoyed the setting (Highlanders in Scotland with just a bit of magic), and the story itself was just fine.

2) A calender of Tales - this is a mini short story collection within the book. I don't really get how most of these stories are related to the months they happen in, but I'm not complaining. Some of these are really fun and inventive, and none are completely dull and besides, they are all like 1-3 pages long so no biggy if you disliked some of them.Overall this was very enjoyable.

3) The Case of Death and Honey - this is, essentially, a Sherlock Holmes fan fiction piece. However, Gaiman nails down the tone perfectly, and this story mixes in humor and precise character development. It might have been the piece I liked the most in the collection.

The Enjoyable, yet Skippable
1) Click Clack the Rattlebag - a very classic and simple horror story, to the point where it is utterly predictable. However, it is very well written and works well enough.

2) An Invocation of Incuriosity - a tale of the Dying Earth. Amusing.

3) And weep, like Alexander - sweet and short and very silly.

4) Nothing O'clock - Doctor who official fiction! This feels exactly like an episode of Who, except the characters are less obnoxious because Mofet wasn't directing it (I strongly dislike the 11th Doctor). It actually nails down the feeling with remarkable precision, from character through story beats, all the way down to low production values. Impressive feat of writing given the goals, but the end result is, ultimately, and episode of Doctor Who and nothing more than that.

5) The sleeper and the Spindle - a subversion of the classic tales of Snow White and The Sleeping Beauty. Nothing awe-inspiring, but atmospheric and has a few unpredictable twists and turns. Probably the best story in this category.

Those I didn't like
The rest of the stories in this collection, I really didn't like. There are various reasons - some were just uninteresting, some could only be described as Stream of Consciousness, some were weird but not in a way I could enjoy.
The last category came up in another discussion here , about China Mieville's Three Moments of An Explosion. There were stories I just couldn't fully understand, and I keep going back and forth on who's fault that is. Maybe Gaiman was just being vague, but then maybe I just got spoiled by reading too many books by Brandon Sanderson and his like. Do I now need detailed, rational well structured magic system to connect with the story? Have I lost my ability to relate to the wild and unexplainable sort of magic, the one that goes straight from the subconscious to the page without pausing along the way to be rationalized?
I hope not. Certainly I read a lot of books that do not over explain things (just recently, the Nine Princes in Amber) and understand them. But this is a more raw form of that, and I couldn't keep track. Maybe I need to stretch this muscle more...

other
I didn't read the last story in the collection to avoid spoilers to American Gods.


Nobody Likes a Goblin, a comic/kids' book by Ben Hatke. It is completely adorable. In general, I can't recommend his works highly enough. He has published Zita the spacegirl, Legend of Zita the Spacegirl, Return of Zita the Spacegirl, Little Robot, and Julia's House for Lost Creatures. Having read all but the last one, I feel I have to share this with you. Maybe it should be in the comics section, though. They are perfect for bedtime reading, too.


"Nobody Likes a Goblin"?!?

Sounds like racist crap.


It is a treatise on the injustice put on the backs of the poor goblins, and what to do about it. You would love it. :-)


In that case, it sounds awesome!


I didn't believe you, but you're right, it looks awesome.

NOBODY LIKES A GOBLIN


1 person marked this as a favorite.

"'ACK!' shrieked the farmer. 'A FILTHY GOBLIN!'"

I'll read the rest of the book, but that one sentence tells the story of my entire life.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

I gave up on three moments of an explosion by China Mieville. I skimmed some of the shorter works in the last 2/3 of it, but it was mostly just too weird and the characters weren't very relatable.

I got 3 new books from the library today:

Fortress of Eagles by CJ Cherryh.
Maplecroft by Cherie Priest.
Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger.

I really love CJ Cherryh's SF, but her fantasy has been pretty hit & miss in my opinion. I DID really like The Paladin, Shadow in Faery, and [/I]the Goblin Queen's Mirror[/I], so hopefully I'll like this. I have her The Dreaming Tree but so much of the action is so vague, I never finished it and just use it as a reference for Celtic, Gaelic, and Welsh root words.


Fortress of Eagles isn't the first in that series, Fortress in the Eye of Time is.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Dammit! I keep doing that!

At least I have 2 spares....


'The Idols Walk' by John Jakes

I like Conan ripoffs.

And

'Wereblood'

and

'Werenight' (again) by Erik Iverson.


SmiloDan wrote:

Fortress of Eagles by CJ Cherryh.

Maplecroft by Cherie Priest.

I really love CJ Cherryh's SF, but her fantasy has been pretty hit & miss in my opinion.

SmiloDan, I just finished Maplecroft, and I think it rocks! I think I mentioned upthread, it's Lizzie Borden meets Dagon, and no one escapes with their sanity 100% intact (as it should be in such tales). I highly recommend it.

I read Fortress in the Eye of Time several years ago, and I just couldn't get into it; I recall thinking it was too much buildup for not enough payoff. YMMV, of course; I'm not a huge Cherryh fan to begin with.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

I'm reading Maplecroft and really liking it.


Just finished Twain and Stanley Enter Paradise, Oscar Hijuelos' last book, published posthumously. I started it because I'm a big fan of Mark Twain and my wife loves Hijuelos. Interest levels and pacing were uneven. It felt like a penultimate draft to me. Or that a long short story or novella could have accomplished the story. I do want to find out more about Stanley now. Can anyone recommend a good biography?

Dark Archive

SmiloDan wrote:
I'm reading Maplecroft and really liking it.

It was super-cool. A whacky premise and the author totally ran with it.


Harry Dresden fans! Can anyone explain the origin of Micheal's relationship with Harry?

I've started the Dresden files books -- mostly reading them while traveling on business, so I've taken them a little out of order based on bookstore availablility. I am a little perplexed by Michael. He seems to show up as a full-blown associate of Harry's without any backstory except vague references to past cases. Did I miss something or do those vague references constitute Michael's back story?


Set! Good to see you're still around!


SmiloDan wrote:

...

I really love CJ Cherryh's SF, but her fantasy has been pretty hit & miss in my opinion. I DID really like The Paladin, Shadow in Faery, and [/I]the Goblin Queen's Mirror[/I], so hopefully I'll like this. I have her The Dreaming Tree but so much of the action is so vague, I never finished it and just use it as a reference for Celtic, Gaelic, and Welsh root words.

I really like Cherryh, and agree her fantasy is a little uneven in quality.

I did like The Dreaming Tree although I read it in two pieces as The Dreamstone and The Tree of Swords and Stones. I can see where it wouldn't be everyone's cup of tea, because the pace can be slow at times, and the language difficult.

Hmm. Odd thought. I like Patrick O'Brian although he suffers the same two flaws. Have you read any of his books (The Aubrey-Maturin series) and what did you think?


I hear that about Cherryh a lot, but I think it has more to do with the development of her voice as a writer than a difference between her SF and fantasy. That is, the Morgaine cycle (well, not Exile's Gate) and the Ealdwood book(s) are from very early in her career, when her science fiction (Hunter of Worlds, etc) wasn't all that different. Downbelow Station is much more similar in tone to her early fantasy than Finity's End, and FE is the sequel to DBS.

I think her series can appear uneven because she has a habit of writing a stand alone book years later. Chanur's Legacy, Exile's Gate, Fortress of Ice and Regenisis were all published years after the trilogies they continue, so reading them one after the other can be a bit jarring. I had the same experience with the Fafhrd and Grey Mouser series, which are always collected in chronological order; there are 3 or 4 stories about their early adventures, so when I get to "The Jewels in the Forest," the first story Leiber actually wrote, I always feel like he had stroke or something.

I'm really curious as to Dan's opinion of the fortress books, because Fortress in the Eye of Time was written right around the same time as Foreigner. Of course, that was about 20 years ago, so her voice has developed as she's been writing that series.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Yeah, I have re-order Fortress in the Eye of Time from the library. And actually order the right book this time!!!! I think I just clicked on the wrong Fortress in/of the E book.

Well, that's my excuse and I'm sticking with it!

I wasn't a big fan of Exile's Gate, either. Again, due to "vagueness."


Hitdice wrote:

I hear that about Cherryh a lot, but I think it has more to do with the development of her voice as a writer than a difference between her SF and fantasy. That is, the Morgaine cycle (well, not Exile's Gate) and the Ealdwood book(s) are from very early in her career, when her science fiction (Hunter of Worlds, etc) wasn't all that different. Downbelow Station is much more similar in tone to her early fantasy than Finity's End, and FE is the sequel to DBS.

I think her series can appear uneven because she has a habit of writing a stand alone book years later. Chanur's Legacy, Exile's Gate, Fortress of Ice and Regenisis were all published years after the trilogies they continue, so reading them one after the other can be a bit jarring. I had the same experience with the Fafhrd and Grey Mouser series, which are always collected in chronological order; there are 3 or 4 stories about their early adventures, so when I get to "The Jewels in the Forest," the first story Leiber actually wrote, I always feel like he had stroke or something.

I'm really curious as to Dan's opinion of the fortress books, because Fortress in the Eye of Time was written right around the same time as Foreigner. Of course, that was about 20 years ago, so her voice has developed as she's been writing that series.

I tend to like her earlier stuff better than her more recent series. Started with Downbelow Station, but my favorites are Chanur & Morgaine. I liked a lot of her other stuff in the alliance/union setting, including the fairly recent Cyteen book. Really liked the Rusalka series. Liked Faded Suns. Probably some other things I'm forgetting.

Read the first few books in both Foreigner and Fortress and couldn't get into either series.


Doodlebug Anklebiter wrote:

I didn't believe you, but you're right, it looks awesome.

NOBODY LIKES A GOBLIN

What do you think of Goblin Quest by Jim C. Hines?

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

I really liked CJ Cherryh's Chanur, Foreigner, and Finisterre series, as well as The Paladin, Faery in Shadow, and The Goblin Mirror in particular (I based a whole campaign on it). I also really liked Cyteen, Regenesis, Down Below Station, Cuckoo's Egg, Wave Without a Shore (it's very The City & ytiC ehT-esque, but at least 20 years older), Serpent's Reach, and Forty Thousand in Gehenna.

I wasn't a big fan of Ealdwood/Sword of Jeweled Trees or whatever. I couldn't finish Rusalka. Faded Sun was OK, but seemed kind of clichéd. The Gene Wars series seemed more like an extended introduction to something that never became realized. I'm not a big fan of Morgaine's stuff, either.

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