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The Exchange

SmiloDan wrote:

Any ideas? I've been reading a lot of YA steampunk and urban fantasy lately, and should probably try to expand my horizons a bit, but still stay within the SF and fantasy genres.

Top of my head, 5 great SF that is very different from YA steampunk:

1) Hyperion by Dan Simmons - the omnibus edition of Hyperion + Fall Of Hyperion is still probably my favorite SF book of all times. Amazing space opera that captures the vastness of the genre while remaining up close and personal with a small number of people, and involves some very weird and innovative ideas
2) The Expanse - A very solid and rather long series of action-packed near future space opera. Amidst the exciting boom-booms, serious themes of the growing pain of human civilization as it transitions to a space-faring species are explored in a thoroughly convincing way.
3) The Martian - The nerdier you are, the more you'll enjoy this one - as the hero attempts to survive on Mars, he keeps coming up with absolutely brilliant engineering solutions to seemingly insurmountable problems. This is delivered in a fast paced style brimming with humor. The Martian is a must read for anyone even remotely interested in science.
4) The First Fifteen Lives Of Harry August - Harry August keeps being reborn to the same exact moment in time, and following his many lives and his immortal struggle with his nemesis is one of the best reading experiences I've had in a very long time
5) Otherland - a 4 book series that is very slow moving, but also intriguing and wildly imaginative and wraps up so well that you would definitely feel the better for having read it.

If you haven't read any book out of that list, well then I'd recommend you give it a try :)

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Thanks.

1. I think I read some or most of Hyperion. Didn't grab me. But his Kurtz (sp?) series of detective fiction is very good, and very very detailed about Buffalo, NY. :-D

2. Read it, I think all of them. Also their Han Solo novel, which is excellent.

3. Saw the movie.

4. I might check that out. Seems intriguing.

5. Otherland seems like quite the investment. Maybe when I'm not in the mood for fast paced excitement. :-D


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Finished up Many Thousands Gone. This is how it works: Berlin has three generations of enslaved people. These aren't literal generations, but they are consecutive in time. The Charter generation are the very first slaves in mainland North America. The Plantation generation are the ones who follow and experience the plantation revolution. The Revolutionary generation are the ones around for the American Revolution. Each of these has a part of the book devoted to it.

Then you have four regions: the Chesapeake, the Lower South, the North, and Louisiana, basically. Each region has a chapter in each part which attempts to cover all the things about slavery in that region.

Then you have major events and agricultural trends that play out radically differently in each section. Then you have distinctions between old school Atlantic Creoles, locally born slaves, and recent imports. In Louisiana, add an established class of free people of color AND a selection of Haitian diaspora free people of color AND their slaves. In the Lower South, Louisiana, and just a little bit in the Chesapeake, add maroon communities. In the Lower South and Louisiana, add Spanish and French colonial policy. Everywhere add the slave's personal economy. In the North add in distinctions between well-off free blacks and poor free blacks and between those who see respectability in white society and those who reject it. Then throw in distinctions between created African (not African polities, general African invented over here) and African-American identities. Layer multiple racial theories on top.

It's really complicated. Each chapter could have easily made for a long book and some of them feel like they are one. There's so much going on that it's ridiculously good and gets almost impossible to follow just from having so many moving parts. And it stops at about 1800. And I did not have near the grounding in colonial-era slavery to follow it all, but that's ok because almost nobody did at the time. Most American slavery studies focus on the nineteenth century and the colonial people were usually not interested in looking because, hey, that's nineteenth century content. Particularly for a certain type of revolutionary-era historian, it's also historiographically inconvenient.

Fried my noodle enough on that for just now, so I picked up Elizabeth Pryor Brown's Reading the Man, which claims it's not a biography but is sort of a biography of Robert Lee. It's just organized as a series of chronological letters by him and his intimates, many of which Brown used for the first time, which she quotes in full (usually) and then analyzes. My benchmark this summer for reading has been one chapter a day. I did about six or seven yesterday, including a lengthy prologue, and another three today.

That prologue was worth reading, but a certain point it turns into a historian gushing about sources and that's enchanting reading for maybe a page or two. She uses rather more than a page or two.

However, highlights:
Lee had an older half-brother, Harry IV. His old man was Harry III, the Revolutionary War general/historian/broke-ass dude that left the country to escape his creditors. (He also had hot wax poured in his eyes.) Harry IV was a married man, lived in a plantation house with really steep, high front steps. (Lee was born there.) One of his kids took a tumble down them and died. His wife took up laudanum. Harry IV found this oh-so-boring. He had a young ward, a girl in her teens. By what a letter calls "some dark art" he seduced her.

She got pregnant. She gave birth. The newborn was found dead in an outbuilding. They don't say he killed the baby, but everybody thought so. Harry IV's ward was also a relation of his, though the Lees are super-into marrying cousins, to the point where they crack jokes about it, so that's not totally unusual. Massive scandal. Dude eventually decamps from Virginia, goes west, and becomes a speechwriter for Jackson. When he comes back he defends his past conduct by quibbling over just what the technical definition of incest is. (He was functionally and legally her father when he did this, though he wasn't so genetically.) He's such a ridiculous bastard that he's instantly my favorite Lee and I think they should do a TV series based on his exploits to bring back trashy 80s soap operas.

RE Lee writes in one of his letters that it's important that his daughter stop stripping naked her dolls. Another one details things he's doing out in Missouri to try to redirect the Mississippi. The project failed in part because people from Illinois set up cannons and started shooting at the works. It's the wrong part of Illinois and probably not close to the kind of thing he would do, but I want a fanfic where Lincoln was manning one of the guns.

Lee was partnered on that mission with Montgomery Meigs. Meigs is the guy who requisitioned Arlington (the Custis estate that Lee partially grew up on and had inherited, slaves and all) and turned it into a cemetery. Mary Lee, in residence before the building's capture early in the war, bailed in advance of the soldiers and buried her father's massive collection of Washington's papers. After the war she found out her trunks were not waterproof.

Dark Archive

Been burning through Jim Butcher novels this last few weeks.

Read all of the Codex Alera books, and I really liked them. The magic system was unique, and there were even different systems in play (the Canim, for instance, used a completely different sort of blood/ritual magic).

I've just started the Dresden Files books (read Storm Front, Fool's Moon and Grave Peril, IIRC), and am less thrilled, as the protagonist seems to be his own worst enemy. Everyone he meets, even those offering aid or alliance, he antagonizes needlessly, and by the end of the book, pretty much everyone wants him dead. Many of the characters also have the annoying tendency to not say what they mean, but argue about irrelevant side-stuff, and then things go to pot when the thing they should have said blows up in everyone's face. (Is it too much to say, 'Duck! He's behind you!' instead of, 'No, you have to listen to / trust me, right now! Oh, too late... It's totally your fault I didn't say anything about the guy behind you, instead of picking up on an old argument about trust issues.') I'm perhaps spoiled by seeing the TV show first, in which Dresden was terribly unlucky, but not generally the author of his own misfortune. The book character, at least three books in, seems almost like a classical depiction of clinical depression, in that he *regularly* mentions being aware of problems looming that he absolutely has to deal with, and then does nothing about them (and sometimes forgets about them entirely), and lets things build up and spiral out of control, so that, instead of addressing any one situation, he wallows and flails until a half-dozen separate challenges all sort of gang up on him at once.

Dresden's not quite Elric-of-Melnibone levels of his own worst enemy, but gosh, it's hard to feel sympathy for the protagonist when he's passively sabotaging himself like this.

I'm hoping he gets his crap together, since I've already bought the next three books. :)

The Exchange

Set- I recently finished reading Proven Guilty, which is the 8th book in the series. What I wrote in my review of the book back then, and which seems like it may be relevent to you, is that I am amazed at how much the character has grown along the series. From the almost adolescent, lone-wolf you meet in the first few books, he's changed and become something quite different and much better. He's still very much himself, you can't mistake him for anyone else (well, except maybe for other urban fantasy antagonists... but within his world he is pretty much unique) but his relationships with other characters become so much more substantial and nuanced.

That's an emergent aspect of the series that I suspect I'm only now beginning to discover. Harry's life takes him through a path of serious change, despite his best efforts to remain the same exasperating person he used to be.

You're about to start on the fourth book, which many consider to be where the series really gets good, but which I consider the worst of the bunch (I essentially gave the series one more chance with the fifth book, which was the one that hooked me for the long ride). Curious to hear your thoughts on that one.

Dark Archive

Lord Snow wrote:
You're about to start on the fourth book, which many consider to be where the series really gets good, but which I consider the worst of the bunch (I essentially gave the series one more chance with the fifth book, which was the one that hooked me for the long ride). Curious to hear your thoughts on that one.

Encouraging to hear. I've got the next three books already, so I'm pretty much going to read them this week unless one of them terribly blows (I'm pretty stubborn about finishing books I start, and eating food I've paid for, so I'll probably slog through them even if one of them doesn't do it for me, since it's only about two hours a book).

I have been hoping that he'd grow up a bit. I feel like protagonists overcoming challenges is more 'heroic' or dramatic if the challenges are external, and not just 'See Bob screw up again. See Bob try to fix his own mistakes. See some innocent NPCs get killed in the process.' (My least favorite part of this sort of concept, where Elric, or whoever, makes a bone-headed decision, and someone else dies because of it.)

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

The Dresden Files become amazing! They're really fun, and a lot of the side characters really grow too. There's lots of "status-quo" changes too, which really mixes things up in the later books.

The Exchange

Quote:
I have been hoping that he'd grow up a bit. I feel like protagonists overcoming challenges is more 'heroic' or dramatic if the challenges are external, and not just 'See Bob screw up again. See Bob try to fix his own mistakes. See some innocent NPCs get killed in the process.' (My least favorite part of this sort of concept, where Elric, or whoever, makes a bone-headed decision, and someone else dies because of it.)

I agree with the general sentiment, but I have to say that to me it feels like Harry is handling external threats from the very start - evil wizards and monsters and so on. He sometimes gets something horribly wrong while fighting them, but what puts the plot in motion is certainly external.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

There's always external forces threatening Harry and his friends and family.


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'Swords Against Darkness II', ed. Andrew Offutt.

I love those Swords Against Darkness anthologies.

I've also just finished two biographies, one of the Marquis de Sade and one of Simone de Beauvoir, for contrast.


Many years ago, I read the Dragonlance Chronicles trilogy (Dragons of Autumn Twilight, Dragons of Winter Night, and Dragons of Spring Dawning) 3 times. I read the Dragonlance Legends trilogy (Time of the Twins, War of the Twins, and Test of the Twins) 3 times. I liked those so much, I went on to read dozens more Dragonlance novels, even though many of them were pretty shoddy.

Back in 2014, I related on this thread my fourth reading of the Chronicles. Now I'm on my fourth reading of Legends. I finished Time of the Twins and started on War of the Twins.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Aaron Bitman: No matter what you do, DO NOT read Dragons of the Dwarven Depths.

It will ruin Dragonlance for you.

Raistlin actually says "You can bet your biscuits!" :-O

I read the first couple Dragonlance trilogies a bunch of times, and really enjoyed them at the time.


Um... actually, the last two times I read the Chronicles, I inserted Dragons of the Dwarven Depths between books 1 and 2. I mentioned it the last time. I liked it. I felt it did a pretty good job filling in a missing chapter that was sorely needed. Even when I gave an example of something that didn't jive with the original trilogy, I later retracted the statement.

Well... granted, at the end of Dwarven Depths, there was the problem that...

Dwarven Depths:
...Arman Kharas dies, and he's alive in Winter Night.
But these are minor details.

I'll confess that I don't remember the line about the biscuits.


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I'd forgive Raistlin saying that line if he was talking with gully dwarves at the time. Raistlin got gully dwarves, which always kind of neat to me.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

I think he was talking to Tanis, Sturm, or Caramon. I'm REALLY trying to not remember a lot about that book. I was SOOOOOOOOOOOOO disappointed. It was all bickering and filler and contradictions.

I really wish I never read it. It tainted a lot of fond memories I had for the earlier Dragonlance novels.

I got fed up with them when I read the Theros Ironfeld and they didn't tell how he got his magic arm!!!!!!


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Finished Chomsky; am up to schedule on Marx and Trotsky; spent last night aimlessly flipping around between Edmund Wilson's To the Finland Station and Perry Anderson's Lineages of the Absolutist State before settling on Flashing Swords! *4: Barbarians and Black Magicians mostly because, having already read the Jack Vance and Michael Moorcock stories, I'm half done before I even began.

I love books like that.


Samnell wrote:
It's really complicated. Each chapter could have easily made for a long book and some of them feel like they are one. There's so much going on that it's ridiculously good and gets almost impossible to follow just from having so many moving parts.

It must be great to have such an embarrassment of riches when it comes to data on New World slavery. Government statistics, slave narratives, contemporary accounts...

On that topic, I recently read an article on New World slavery, The Demographic Cost of Sugar: Debates on Slave Societies and Natural Increase in the Americas. Not too recent an article (2000) but it got referenced in antiquity scholarship as comparative evidence that Roman slavery (which had nothing to do with sugar) would likely also have been at least demographically stable. The article itself is a comparison of population and slave import data for some of the few U.S. sugar regions (in Louisiana), and found a sharp decrease in demographic outcomes for sugar parishes as compared to neighboring cotton parishes - the suggestion is that a uniquely demanding sugar labor regime was primarily responsible for the trend of demographic decrease seen in non-U.S. New World slavery.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

I just finished Killing Pretty by Richard Kadrey. More Sandman Slim shenanigans.

I'm gonna start Cold Fire by Kate Elliot.


I hesitated to write this, but... really, SmiloDan, don't let anything "taint" stories you like. Any series - whether it's a series of novels, of comics, of movies, of TV... anything - is bound to come up with stuff you don't like sooner or later. I could name dozens of examples. But I don't let that stop me from enjoying the good stories. I just pretend that whatever sequels I don't like don't exist.

In the case of Dragonlance, I hated Dragons of Summer Flame. That's the book that got me "unhooked" from buying DL novels. It made me decide not to pursue the Chaos War, the Fifth Age, and anything that takes place after that. But clearly, it didn't stop me from re-reading and enjoying my old favorites like Chronicles and Legends. It didn't even stop me from reading and enjoying Dwarven Depths, The Soulforge, et al. If you don't like Dwarven Depths, just pretend it doesn't exist, and your memories won't be tainted anymore.


You know, posting that last message got me thinking.

Back in 2013-2014, I related on this thread that I was reading the "Jeeves" series by P.G. Wodehouse. I read the first 33 (of the 35) "Jeeves" short stories and the first 9 (of the 11) "Jeeves" novels.

In 2014, I related that the last couple of "Jeeves" novels I had read weren't very good, so I started a second reading, this time pretending that only the first 33 stories and a certain 6 of the earlier novels existed.

With that pretense in mind, in 2015, I finished my second reading and started my third. Again, I talked about all this upthread.

Now that I've finished my third reading and started my fourth, I'd be ready to name the "Jeeves" saga as one of my top 10 favorite prose series' of all time... again, if only I could pretend that those later books didn't exist.

And after posting my last message, I started to think... well, why not?

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

I try not to. I DID read Dragons of Summer Flame, and was kind of impressed in how ballsy they were in totally wiping out their continuity. But I honestly don't remember anything beyond the first few pages. I "leant" it to a friend and never got it back, and I don't even mind. :-P

I doubt I'll read any Dragonlance ever again. It was good for me back during high school and college and grad school, but I don't think any of the new stuff would really appeal to me.

* * *

I'm going to wait on Cold Fire and start The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North.


Coriat wrote:
Samnell wrote:
It's really complicated. Each chapter could have easily made for a long book and some of them feel like they are one. There's so much going on that it's ridiculously good and gets almost impossible to follow just from having so many moving parts.
It must be great to have such an embarrassment of riches when it comes to data on New World slavery. Government statistics, slave narratives, contemporary accounts...

It is. I hang out in a chatroom where one of the regulars studies Imperial China. Whenever one of us starts to gripe about lacking sources, especially the several classicists present, he whips out his five thousand years of documentation and our libraries are rendered unmanly and effeminate. So we start talking about sex and make him uncomfortable. :)

Coriat wrote:
On that topic, I recently read an article on New World slavery, The Demographic Cost of Sugar: Debates on Slave Societies and Natural Increase in the Americas. Not too recent an article (2000) but it got referenced in antiquity scholarship as comparative evidence that Roman slavery (which had nothing to do with sugar) would likely also have been at least demographically stable. The article itself is a comparison of population and slave import data for some of the few U.S. sugar regions (in Louisiana), and found a sharp decrease in demographic outcomes for sugar parishes as compared to neighboring cotton parishes - the suggestion is that a uniquely demanding sugar labor regime was primarily responsible for the trend of demographic decrease seen in non-U.S. New World slavery.

I'll have to look into that. My slavery study is more oriented on the political end (though I'm working on spreading) but I know a slavery scholar who really strongly disagrees with the idea that sugar was uniquely lethal. He always cites the similarity between Jamaica and US cotton mortalities. (Jamaica because it's where British Caribbean data is most abundant.) Sounds plausible when he makes the argument, but if there's a difference within Louisiana then that's something. My guy is into more British slavery (he is British) than American so he might not have seen it.


I'm reading "Ben-Hur" on my Kindle, after seeing the remake (hey, I got a free pre-screening with biscuits) and deciding I wanted to know what was in the original. So far it's pretty good, but I didn't realize that the title character doesn't show up until page 155 of the Kindle version.


Right then, on the topic. Really liked Reading the Man but I had an offer from a scholar of postwar white supremacy to read Foner's Reconstruction with him so we could compare notes. (It's new to both of us.) And also he wants to run a Hunter: The Vigil game. His girlfriend jokes about how we're on the edge of forming a harem, but he wants to set me up with a ginger Aussie genocide scholar. Just in case, we discussed how the blood tanistry would work. I get to rule until their kids murder me and am expected to loot the realm thoroughly.

Anyway, set aside Brown for Foner. I could probably do both but Foner writes really long chapters and we're doing a chapter a day. Did the preface and the intro to the 2014 edition last night, which were a bit content light but I did get him to academic trash talk Steve Hahn a little: "He argues that political injustice was more important in driving black mobilization than violence, but the examples he uses are all full of violence."


Speaking of sugar-producing slavery:

A guy I know "found" (I didn't inquire too closely) a box of books on the streets of Lowell that, as rumor raced about our circle, included not one, but TWO copies of C.L.R. James's The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L'Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution.

Mr. Comrade somehow remembered that I had never read nor owned a copy of that book, so he tried to make arrangements to procure one for me. A couple of weeks went by, Mr. Comrade was supposed to meet him at the farmer's market, but the night before we ran into the book peddler/urban farmer/hardcore punk rock singer at a Lowell hipster bar. Mr. Comrade ascertained that he had the book on him and I approached him surreptitiously. "I hear you have an item for me," I said, pretending to do a black market deal, but he didn't play along.

Anyway, I've got it out in the car, I think. Can't wait to read it.

In other commie books/up-and-coming musical performers news, I discovered that the kid who's been leading the Capital reading circle (been at it since May and we're up to Chapters 7-10) is leading a double life as a singer-songwriter. Haven't spent too much time listening to him, but he kinda reminds me of Jeff Buckley.


Comrade Anklebiter wrote:

Speaking of sugar-producing slavery:

A guy I know "found" (I didn't inquire too closely) a box of books on the streets of Lowell that, as rumor raced about our circle, included not one, but TWO copies of C.L.R. James's The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L'Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution.

My new white supremacy buddy has been after me to read that...and a growing pile of books. But that's fine because I'm trying to seduce him into antebellum politics.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

huh...I actually liked Dragons of Summer Flame and thought it made a suitable "end" to the Dragonlance series of books, even if later books mostly undid everything.

I also recall it as being the only Dragonlance book to have a high enough anticipation to show up in book stands at Target and such.


Samnell wrote:
I'll have to look into that. My slavery study is more oriented on the political end (though I'm working on spreading) but I know a slavery scholar who really strongly disagrees with the idea that sugar was uniquely lethal. He always cites the similarity between Jamaica and US cotton mortalities. (Jamaica because it's where British Caribbean data is most abundant.) Sounds plausible when he makes the argument, but if there's a difference within Louisiana then that's something. My guy is into more British slavery (he is British) than American so he might not have seen it.

I have a PDF if you want it. It's about thirty pages plus half again in appendices, not exactly a mighty tome. The license agreement (JSTOR's) allows sharing for purposes of scholarly exchange of ideas.

The author does discuss some contrary arguments on Jamaican mortality compared to U.S., and considers them a bit wanting (I'm afraid I haven't read any of them myself). Birth rates are a big part of the argument too, though, not just mortality, with sugar plantations producing many fewer children than cotton plantations. So you end up burning the demographic candle from both ends, or so the argument goes.


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Poul Anderson story in FS4 had me googling Inuit monsters:

Tupilaq


Coriat wrote:

I have a PDF if you want it. It's about thirty pages plus half again in appendices, not exactly a mighty tome. The license agreement (JSTOR's) allows sharing for purposes of scholarly exchange of ideas.

The author does discuss some contrary arguments on Jamaican mortality compared to U.S., and considers them a bit wanting (I'm afraid I haven't read any of them myself). Birth rates are a big part of the argument too, though, not just mortality, with sugar plantations producing many fewer children than cotton plantations. So you end up burning the demographic candle from both ends, or so the argument goes.

Thanks, but I've got a copy. Haven't had a chance to look through it yet. The Foner reading has had me doing actual notes, which is a huge timesink.


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Started A Clash of Kings.


SmiloDan wrote:
There's always external forces threatening Harry and his friends and family.

I wouldn't say external, they're pretty much all drawn up from the wizard society he's a part of.


Drahliana Moonrunner wrote:
SmiloDan wrote:
There's always external forces threatening Harry and his friends and family.
I wouldn't say external, they're pretty much all drawn up from the wizard society he's a part of.

In context of " if the challenges are external, and not just 'See Bob screw up again. See Bob try to fix his own mistakes."

Sure, from his society, but not caused by his mistakes.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

I just finished The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North (Catherine Webb).

It was really good, but ended a bit ambiguously. The looping timelines thing was a bit odd--they kept trying to preserve the time line, but they also kept changing the time line, so which time line were they trying to preserve? Time travel is confusing enough, but this book has 15 slightly different time lines to keep track of.

Gonna start Cold Fire by Kate Elliott next.


Pathfinder Adventure Subscriber

Just began City of Stairs* by Robert J Bennett, and am reading Starspawn by Wendy Wagner in bath.

*Not in any way related to the story, but the spine on the paperback edition of it I bought is amazing!


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Doodlebug Anklebiter wrote:

Poul Anderson story in FS4 had me googling Inuit monsters:

Tupilaq

Tupilaks (as they spelled it) appeared in several places in Kobold Press's Northlands book, which our group acquired and which I think has an excellent gazetteer, although the crunch seemed of a bit more uneven quality. If I recall correctly they were statted as golems.


Cool. Did they include "engag[ing] in sexual contact with the bones used to make a tupilaq" part of the construction requirements?


Finished up Reconstruction. Surprised how small a role violence plays in Foner's argument, though I guess it makes sense for his generation, training, and the historiography he's pushing against. Holy s!&* did it get dense and dry at points. Still good, but damn. Back to finish up Reading the Man now.


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Took a break from Martin to read a short pamphlet by one of my South African comrades.

INTRODUCTION TO DIALECTICAL MATERIALISM – THE FOUNDATION OF REVOLUTIONARY THEORY by Shaun Arendse

Dark Archive

The next three Dresden Files books were indeed better. Harry's actually making allies, if not exactly friends.

This week's book was Perdido Street Station, by China Mieville. I usually read a book a night, but this book took longer than normal. I loved the 'cantina' setting with khepri and garuda and vodyanoi (and cactus-peeps!). In addition to the presence of such interesting 'fantasy' races, I kind of love how the names evoke Egyptian, Indian and Russian entities, sort of poaching from all over in a way that sort of out-of-character hints to the cosmopolitan / eclectic / thrown-together nature of the city and it's clashing cultures and peoples.

The writing was fairly dense, 'though, with just about everything having at least six descriptive synonyms for 'decaying' or 'smelly' or 'foul.' The city's a polluted crapshow of excrement, rot and despair. I get it. Smoke another clove and move on!

As might have been apparent from the grimy state of, well, everything, I probably should not have been holding out for a happy ending. :)

My current slate of book are all out of sequence (I have the eight and ninth Dresden Files books, but the seventh hasn't arrived yet), so I'll probably read The Aeronaut's Windlass next. It's a pretty big book, so I should be able to stretch it over two days (which I hope to, as otherwise I'll have nothing to read for four out of five weekdays!).


Pathfinder Adventure Subscriber

Perdido Street Station is a really good book, but yeah, unlike Mièville's later ones it suffers a bit from "look at my great big vocabulary" syndrome.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

And....the library just emailed me to tell me Perdido Street Station is waiting for me so I can re-read it.

In late October or early November I will finally start running my "steampunk city on top of a giant beanstalk over a post-apocalyptic Stone Age/Bronze Age Cthuluesque jungle-and-glacier, pyramids-and-volcanos pulp sword & sorcery" campaign, so I'm going to use PSS as inspiration. At least for the city bits.

The Exchange

I'm reading Jasper Fforde's Chronicles of Kazam series. I just finished The Last Dragonslayer. It's a fun orphan-becomes-the-Chosen-One story and full of Ffordesque jabs at modern life. Yet it's not quite as good as other juvenile comedy-fantasy series I've read, such as Pratchett's "Tiffany Aching" sub-series of "Discworld" and Rowling's "Harry Potter." I'll probably read the rest of them since they're easy to read and I wanted some new talking-dragon comedy after rereading Kenneth Grahame's The Reluctant Dragon.


Don Juan de Doodlebug wrote:
Cool. Did they include "engag[ing] in sexual contact with the bones used to make a tupilaq" part of the construction requirements?

I'm shocked - shocked! - to discover that they left that particular detail out.

Dark Archive

SmiloDan wrote:
In late October or early November I will finally start running my "steampunk city on top of a giant beanstalk over a post-apocalyptic Stone Age/Bronze Age Cthuluesque jungle-and-glacier, pyramids-and-volcanos pulp sword & sorcery" campaign, so I'm going to use PSS as inspiration. At least for the city bits.

That sounds insanely cool! Gah, you had me at 'steampunk,' then went on to 'Cthuluesque jungle-and-glacier pyramids-and-volcanos pulp sword & sorcery!' I may swoon!

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Aaron Bitman wrote:

I hesitated to write this, but... really, SmiloDan, don't let anything "taint" stories you like. Any series - whether it's a series of novels, of comics, of movies, of TV... anything - is bound to come up with stuff you don't like sooner or later. I could name dozens of examples. But I don't let that stop me from enjoying the good stories. I just pretend that whatever sequels I don't like don't exist.

In the case of Dragonlance, I hated Dragons of Summer Flame. That's the book that got me "unhooked" from buying DL novels. It made me decide not to pursue the Chaos War, the Fifth Age, and anything that takes place after that. But clearly, it didn't stop me from re-reading and enjoying my old favorites like Chronicles and Legends. It didn't even stop me from reading and enjoying Dwarven Depths, The Soulforge, et al. If you don't like Dwarven Depths, just pretend it doesn't exist, and your memories won't be tainted anymore.

When that's happened to me, it's been because of something like contact sensitization. Let's say that Author X has written several books that have some minor quirks, but nothing that really gets in the way of enjoying the story. Then the next book comes out, and the quirks are dialed up to 11. So you throw it against the wall with a satisfying thud and vow to forget its existence. But when you try to read the earlier books again, the minor quirks are much more noticeable because you've seen what they grow up into, and they make the story much less palatable. (Or, in one particularly egregious case, you've realized what those "minor quirks" say about the author, and it makes everything else they've written feel kind of slimy.)


You know, now that you mention it, I guess that's what happened to me when I read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

I mean... I had always been aware of the weaknesses of the Harry Potter books, but seeing those weaknesses expanded so hugely in book 7 did ruin the fun for me, to the point where I didn't want to re-read the other Harry Potter books anymore.

So OK, I think I see your point.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Set wrote:
SmiloDan wrote:
In late October or early November I will finally start running my "steampunk city on top of a giant beanstalk over a post-apocalyptic Stone Age/Bronze Age Cthuluesque jungle-and-glacier, pyramids-and-volcanos pulp sword & sorcery" campaign, so I'm going to use PSS as inspiration. At least for the city bits.

That sounds insanely cool! Gah, you had me at 'steampunk,' then went on to 'Cthuluesque jungle-and-glacier pyramids-and-volcanos pulp sword & sorcery!' I may swoon!

Yeah, I think it's going to be a fun campaign. Very episodic, so one session might be in the steampunk city dealing with construct emancipation, the next deep in the jungle exploring a ruined temple dedicated to an insanely horrific deity, the next solving the mysterious disappearance of the Clockmakers Guildmaster, followed by big game hunting dinosaurs and other megafauna in the shadow of an encroaching glacier. Lots of secret societies and mad cultists.


Kajehase wrote:
Perdido Street Station is a really good book, but yeah, unlike Mièville's later ones it suffers a bit from "look at my great big vocabulary" syndrome.

Have you ever read any of Stephen Donaldson's Thomas Covenant books? Very much the same thing. Which makes me curious about reading Perdido Street Station...

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Readerbreeder wrote:
Kajehase wrote:
Perdido Street Station is a really good book, but yeah, unlike Mièville's later ones it suffers a bit from "look at my great big vocabulary" syndrome.
Have you ever read any of Stephen Donaldson's Thomas Covenant books? Very much the same thing. Which makes me curious about reading Perdido Street Station...

Gene Wolfe's Book of the New Sun is like that too. It's like he vomited SAT vocab prep all over the place. At least it was supposed to sound archaic and even a bit anachronistic.

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