What books are you currently reading?


Books

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I'm currently re-reading "Starship Troopers." I had forgotten that the first chapter makes a great stand-alone short story.

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While flu-infested this weekend, I read Shadows by Robin McKinley (similarities to Sunshine, but YA), and then The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón—which was excellent and relevant, but it's set in Franco-era Spain, so... violent.


'The Castle of Otranto' by Horace Walpole.


Limeylongears wrote:
'The Castle of Otranto' by Horace Walpole.

Limeylongears, is The Castle of Otranto worth reading? It's been on my radar for a while, it being (allegedly) one of the first gothic novels, but books from that era can be kind of hit-or-miss for me.


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Readerbreeder wrote:
Limeylongears wrote:
'The Castle of Otranto' by Horace Walpole.
Limeylongears, is The Castle of Otranto worth reading? It's been on my radar for a while, it being (allegedly) one of the first gothic novels, but books from that era can be kind of hit-or-miss for me.

Well:

It's very 'of its time', so to speak; the language is extremely overwrought, the female characters are all incredibly delicate Ladies who spend all their time crying or fainting or resigning themselves to horrible fates with saintly patience, the male characters are either lustful monsters or sturdy honourable peasants (but not really) with Mysterious Birthmarks; there are lots of mouldering crypts and windswept cliffs and dark forests, etc... It's very cheesy indeed, but good fun. Gothic novels tend to be pretty formulaic; my favourite's 'Vathek', just because it's so OTT and demented. I should probably re-read 'The Monk', too...

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I'm getting around to reading Verne's The Lighthouse at the end of the world. It's good so far, with lots of facts and speculation about the future of lighthouses in Tierra del Fuego. But I got the manuscript translation, the one that's not edited by Michel Verne, so there are some consistency errors. I wish I could get a good English translation of the Michel version but it ain't available for free from my local library and I'm too lazy and impecunious to try elsewhere.

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Also, of probable interest to the readers of this thread, the academic publisher of the manuscript Lighthouse also published Francis Stevens' The Nightmare and other short stories! And a bunch of Edgar Rice Burroughs, A. Merritt, and Clark Ashton Smith reprints! It's the Bison Frontiers of Imagination Series by University of Nebraska Press.

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Here's a link to the Frontiers of Imagination series! link


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To complement my medieval murder mystery, I started reading Engels' The Peasant War in Germany.

Silver Crusade

The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu.


Just finishing off the final appendix of "The Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage - the (mostly) true story of the first computer"

I really want to like this book, but it's very hard to. The subject matter and characters is fascinating, the art is good, the comedy is good, but the presentation is all over the place. Comic strips without much by the way of connection to what has gone before, endless end- and footnotes that are often in the awkward realm of giving too much and too little information to be interesting reading, and it's terribly disjointed, especially when they start on the Pocket Universe stuff. Lots of good ideas without much by the way of proper structure or form.
This is a sort of reverse Gestalt - the whole is less than the sum of its parts.


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I just started reading Andy Weir's The Martian. I'm interested to see how it compares to the movie, my standing recommendation being that the book is always better.

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Turns out being in flu-recovery mode for me means sitting around reading for hours. Read The Counterfeit Madam and The Fourth Crow by Pat McIntosh (1490s murder-mysteries set in Glasgow). Best read with internet access to decode the Scots dialect terms and investigate the fascinating details of material culture, like pattens and box-beds. I also started but abandoned The Midnight Palace by Carlos Ruiz Zafón. Now rolling on The Broken Kingdoms by N. K. Jemisin.


Doodlebug Anklebiter wrote:
Decided after APoK I was going to stick with writers named "Margaret" and make my first foray into Atwood and I made that decision before I saw an advert for a televised version of The Handmaid's Tale.

Saw an article about how the tv show had rocketed The Handmaid's Tale up the best seller's list and, motivated by the same snobbishness that made me turn up my nose at Pearl Jam and Red Hot Chili Peppers as a teenager, I put Atwood back on the shelf and started a book that Mr. Comrade had bought for his Ex-Hipster Girlfriend's birthday but then she dumped him before he could deliver it. He tried, over and over, after the dumping, to deliver the book, but eventually she rage-texted him to leave her alone and she didn't want his f*~!ing book, so he gave it to me.

A couple of weeks later, we were at the art gallery/hipster bar and she came in and, not seeing the two commie redbeards, sat next to us. I was already kinda messed up, we locked eyes, Mr. Comrade looked away, I smiled and, after exchanging meaningless pleasantries and then, wracking my brain for thirty seconds for something to say, blurted out, "I've got your book!"

She froze, so I added, "But I haven't started reading it yet."

"That's nice," she said, and fled.

Mr. Comrade cuffed me. "'I've got your book'?!? You're the worst wingman in history!"

"Why did I say that?"

"Yeah, now she knows that you know everything!"

"Huh," I said, pondering that, and then ordered another drink.

Next morning, she sent Mr. Comrade a text apologizing for being so awkward the night before, so I chalk it up as a victory.

Oh, the book is Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi.


After the Adventures of Babbage and Lovelace, what could be more natural than "The Difference Engine" by Bruce Sterling and William Gibson?

At about a third of the way through it's more interesting in world-building than characters or plot. Enjoyable on the whole, but we will see if it is worthy of membership in the "SF Masterworks" series it is part of.


The Devil in the white city

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Don Juan de Doodlebug wrote:
Oh, the book is Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi.

Hold placed! Also now waiting on The Kingdom of Gods, because I forgot the rule of ordering sequels when you get the book before, at the latest.

Btw, Comrade, there was a convo of "dubious historical merit" with a Communist taxi driver in The Shadow of the Wind about the state of Stalin's health, which made a pleasant comedic break from people being beaten in the street by Franco's police while neighbors look on in guilty fear from their doorways.

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I finished The Lighthouse at the End of the World, by Jules Verne. Lots of pirates, some derring-do, and loving descriptions of ships (lots and lots of this!). I'd recommend it to people who enjoy Patrick O'Brien and other age-of-sail type books. It isn't a very "sci-fi" Jules Verne here but in a realistic vein.


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'My Lord Barbarian', a masterful effort by Le Maitre Offutt, with more boobies and swordfights than you could possibly dream of.

And 'The schoole of the noble and worthy science of defence being the first of any english-mans inuention, which professed the said science: described, that any man may quickly come to the true knowledge of their weapons.' by Ioseph Svvetnam.

I also downloaded his 'Arraignment of Lewd Women', too, for completeness' sake, but it's a load of ranty old balls.

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I'm debating whether to start The Fifth Servant or just read Lumberjanes comics until my book club book come in.

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I got my littlest niece Lumberjanes for Xmas. She read the first book, finished it, and just picked up the 2nd book and kept on reading. Like finishing a book was like turning a page. I was so proud!

Of my gift giving skills. :-P


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

So most significantly I have just wrapped up the 5th and final volume of the complete short fiction of Clark Ashton Smith. So, with the exception of some posthumous "collaborations" and poetry, I can say I have pretty much read everything the author wrote.

Overall I would say I enjoyed the experience, and would probably credit him as a superior author to H.P. Lovecraft, amongst there circle of writers. Mostly because CAS just has way way more range in the style and types of character he can write, and just generally is better at creating realistic characters. IMHO, The Averoigne stories (set in a fictionalized medieval province of France) and the Martian stories are my favorite, followed by the contemporary horror stories and Hyperborean tales. The Zothique tales tend to sometimes a little purple in prose and a little meandering for my taste, and CAS's attempts at space opera style science fiction tend to be forgettable and completely unoriginal, and just not often written well (The Martian stories falling more in science fiction horror, and thus playing to CAS's strengths).

Next up is Frank Belknap Long, of Hounds of Tindalos fame. Sadly annotated anthologies compiling his fiction seem to be lacking, or at least anthologies I can get via kindle. So I had to settle for one of the "megapack" compilations, which are barebone and usually have only superficial editing. Slow going so far...this seems to be a multiple volume effort, perhaps arranged in chronological order, and unsurprisingly perhaps some of his earlier work wasn't exactly the best written.


Bjørn Røyrvik wrote:

"The Difference Engine" by Bruce Sterling and William Gibson?

Enjoyable on the whole, but we will see if it is worthy of membership in the "SF Masterworks" series it is part of.

I quite liked it, but then I quite liked all of Gibson's books.

Greys0n wrote:
The Devil in the white city

This Christmas, my mother read about that Icelandic custom of giving book gifts on Christmas Eve and then spending the night in bed with books and chocolate. For some reason I don't understand and kind of disturbs me a bit, she gave me that book.

I understand the psycho was from New Hampshire.


Doodlebug Anklebiter wrote:
Bjørn Røyrvik wrote:

"The Difference Engine" by Bruce Sterling and William Gibson?

Enjoyable on the whole, but we will see if it is worthy of membership in the "SF Masterworks" series it is part of.

I quite liked it, but then I quite liked all of Gibson's books.

I liked the world-building, which was very good. The characters were...serviceable (but unremarkable). The plot was OK, if a bit obscured by the grime and the jumping between characters.

Doodlebug Anklebiter wrote:


This Christmas, my mother read about that Icelandic custom of giving book gifts on Christmas Eve and then spending the night in bed with books and chocolate.

I don't know if it is specifically Icelandic to give books, but the Nordic countries celebrate Christmas on the the evening of the 24th, not the day 25th. I once heard this was because of the ancient custom of counting the beginning of the day at sundown rather than sunrise but I haven't verified this.


Bjørn Røyrvik wrote:
I liked the world-building, which was very good.

Yes, that's what I liked the most. Most Marxist world-building I've ever seen in sci fi books. Also, I liked the "League of Extraordinary Gentleman"-ness of it. For example, it was years after I read it that I realized Sylvia is from a Benjamin Disraeli novel.


Google results, "Iceland, chocolate, books"


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Doodlebug Anklebiter wrote:
This Christmas, my mother read about that Icelandic custom of giving book gifts on Christmas Eve and then spending the night in bed with books and chocolate.

OK, this is immdediately being incorporated into my Christmas regimen. How could you know about this and not mention it before, DA? :)


"Darth Plagueis" by James Luceno.
So far pretty decent, not too surprising considering Luceno is one of the better SW authors. One thing I really liked was how humans of note did not turn up for the first 150 odd pages of the book. All important roles were non-humans, which makes me happy. There are so many races in the SW galaxy, it seems like such a waste to have all the most powerful and important ones be humans all the time.

Scarab Sages

I recently finished reading Gaiman's new Norse Mythology book. Not bad.


Aberzombie wrote:
I recently finished reading Gaiman's new Norse Mythology book. Not bad.

Any Shadow stuff? No spoilers please.

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Just finished Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee, which was EXCELLENT. Dystopian space opera, with surreal future warfare shown from both the command level and the boots-on-the-ground level, that has great character development, humanization of the lives touched (whether friend or foe), multiple queer characters, queerness presented as no big deal, and actual gender balance (!!!). And special bonus dark humor.


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A biography of Pol Pot, by Philip Short, but I also bought 'Atlas Shrugged' today, for 50p. I intend to use the latter as the basis of my latest Olympia Press commission, 'Atlas Shagged', which will be exactly the same as the original except shorter and with much more betterer sexering in it.


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Hitdice wrote:
Aberzombie wrote:
I recently finished reading Gaiman's new Norse Mythology book. Not bad.
Any Shadow stuff? No spoilers please.

From what I understand, it's "the Norse myths with no modern additions as told by Neil Gaiman", so most likely not. (Fair bet that Mr Wednesday shows up, though.)

The Exchange

MMCJawa wrote:

So most significantly I have just wrapped up the 5th and final volume of the complete short fiction of Clark Ashton Smith. So, with the exception of some posthumous "collaborations" and poetry, I can say I have pretty much read everything the author wrote.

Overall I would say I enjoyed the experience, and would probably credit him as a superior author to H.P. Lovecraft, amongst there circle of writers. Mostly because CAS just has way way more range in the style and types of character he can write, and just generally is better at creating realistic characters. IMHO, The Averoigne stories (set in a fictionalized medieval province of France) and the Martian stories are my favorite, followed by the contemporary horror stories and Hyperborean tales. The Zothique tales tend to sometimes a little purple in prose and a little meandering for my taste, and CAS's attempts at space opera style science fiction tend to be forgettable and completely unoriginal, and just not often written well (The Martian stories falling more in science fiction horror, and thus playing to CAS's strengths).

Next up is Frank Belknap Long, of Hounds of Tindalos fame. Sadly annotated anthologies compiling his fiction seem to be lacking, or at least anthologies I can get via kindle. So I had to settle for one of the "megapack" compilations, which are barebone and usually have only superficial editing. Slow going so far...this seems to be a multiple volume effort, perhaps arranged in chronological order, and unsurprisingly perhaps some of his earlier work wasn't exactly the best written.

Does CAS write cosmological horror like Lovecraft did? Why are you drawing a comparison between the two of them? (I don't know much about him - this is a genuine question)

Finished Small Favor (Dresden Files #10, Jim Butcher) and started on The Cloud Roads (Books Of Raksura #1, Martha Wells). I'm over 60% into this one and find it so bad that I keep going back and forth on deciding if I even want to finish it or not. I generally dislike stopping halfway through a story, but seeing as how this is a 5 book series and I dislike the first one to this degree, there seems little chance of me ever finishing the story anyway. We'll see.

Small Favor thoughts:
The first Dresden book in a while that I thought was merely OK. To be completely honest, it felt a little bit like filler - a fun adventure with lots (and lots and lots) of action and some memorable moments, but there's not much in the way of character development and the status quo doesn't really change much. After the past three or four books did such an excellent job of deepening and rounding many of the various characters and advancing the overarching story, Small Favor feels like a step back.

Either way, I enjoyed the read and it went by quickly. I'm getting really curious to see where the story goes, as mysteries pile up and up constantly, and I assume that Butcher knows where he's going with this.

Major spoiler for the book:

Spoiler:

Oh, and had you told me, right after finishing book 4, that Harry would use his favor from the Summer Court to get a doughnut, I likely wouldn't have believed you. Well played on that one, Butcher. Well played.

I have a question, too - there's a short story collection called Side Jobs where many of the stories happen between Small Favor and Turn Coat. Should I read those stories before Turn Coat, or will they just spoil it?

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I'm pretty sure I read Side Jobs, but I think I read it way after Turn Coat. I think it was pretty much just background filler stuff, no major spoilers, but I might be mis-remembering. It's been a while, and I might be getting it mixed up with the novella featuring Thomas.


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Lord Snow wrote:
Does CAS write cosmological horror like Lovecraft did? Why are you drawing a comparison between the two of them? (I don't know much about him - this is a genuine question)

They were pen pals (along with Robert E. Howard) and collaborated on the shared world of the Cthulu Mythos.


Finished up that damned legal history rather soon after realizing that most of the technical details didn't actually matter unless you were a lawyer trying to navigate a slave state's courts. To be fair, the author tells you as much several times. It's just he forgets in mid-chapter and gets lost in very small distinctions that don't make much interpretative difference.

Needed a break after that, so I hopped over to William Lee Miller's Arguing About Slavery for no particular reason. I think it's the only modern treatment of the Gag Rule. After the first few chapters he also left Congress at a run and has only briefly been back. I suspect it's going to be less about the Gag and more about the general slavery controversy. But it's actually a good, quick read and that's a damned welcome development after a string of dry stuff.

Still probably going to read fiction after it. Maybe. There was a sale and I picked up Hounded by Kevin Hearne, which sounds like it might be awful in the best way.


In addition to Engels and Oyeyemi, I started reading a collection of Arthur Conan Doyle stories about a character I'm pretty unfamiliar with...Brigadier Etienne Gerard.

Not sure how the politics of a Victorian Brit writing about a Napoleonic soldier will turn out, but looking forward to it.

Vive le Galt!

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I quit The Fifth Servant. It's very well written, and the period details (16th century Prague) are excellent, but the plot is just too noir for me at the moment. I don't do well with even imaginary torture and I skimmed ahead and saw some of the Inquisition scenes coming up and decided I didn't need this in my life right now. I'll try to pick it up again when I'm in a better mood.

I've started reading Looking for Spinoza: Joy, Sorrow, and the Feeling Brain, by Antonio Damasio. I suspect the science is a bit out of date but I'm enjoying it so far. It's kind of a slow read for me since I haven't taken a biology course since my first year of college, but it meshes with some of the articles I read about how Pixar developed the movie "Inside Out", about the emotional building-blocks of personality.


Just finished Andy Weir's The Martian. It turns out, the movie was surprisingly faithful to the plot of the book.

Spoiler:
There were only a couple of scenes in the book that greatly differed from or were not included in the movie (like Watney's overturning the rover on the way to the MAV, or the movie people insisting on ratcheting up the tension in his final retrieval to the Hermes) by actually using the Iron Man idea. And they (or possibly Matt Damon) nailed the character of Watney on the film...

Next up is some non-fiction, Jerry Brotton's A History of the World in 12 Maps.


'Figures of Earth' by James Branch Cabell. Jimmy has a pop at me in it, the impudent swine, though not at the same length as he did in Jurgen.

Which is a very rude book indeed, if you read between the lines


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Doodlebug Anklebiter wrote:
Lord Snow wrote:
Does CAS write cosmological horror like Lovecraft did? Why are you drawing a comparison between the two of them? (I don't know much about him - this is a genuine question)
They were pen pals (along with Robert E. Howard) and collaborated on the shared world of the Cthulu Mythos.

Indeed. In fact some of his creations have showed up in the Bestiary sections of Strange Aeons.

A lot of his stuff draws upon similar themes as Lovecraft, but he does have a very different voice. For instance, he doesn't seem to have Lovecraft's hang ups about sex, and for the most part his writing often tackles themes different from Lovecraft and plays with different genres. The racism is a bit toned down to compared to some of his contemporaries The Averoigne stories for instance are more in the line of Gothic horror, while the Zothique cycle was undoubtedly a direct inspiration for Jack Vance's Dying Earth.

He's working checking out if your interested in the origins of modern fantasy.


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Indeed, and you can do so for free, with the blessing of his estate.

the Eldritch Dark


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About halfway through Arguing About Slavery, which is near the end of a multichapter biography of John Quincy Adams. Who is awesome. There's also some really interesting conversations he had with Calhoun when both were in the Cabinet. Non-spoiler: Calhoun was a slavery fanatic prepared to burn republican government to the ground to preserve owning people even as a relatively young man.


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Parable Of The Sower – Not 1984 – Is The Dystopia For Our Age – Nnedi Okorafor

By yet another female Nigerian (this one -American, rather than -Britishiznoid) writer.

Liberty's Edge

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Anthony Comstock wrote:

'Figures of Earth' by James Branch Cabell. Jimmy has a pop at me in it, the impudent swine, though not at the same length as he did in Jurgen.

Which is a very rude book indeed, if you read between the lines

It is available on Project Gutenberg. Look for the passage around "the avenging sword of Jurgen" for a sample of that rudeness.


Grad Student Discovers A Lost Novel Written By Walt Whitman


I am currently reading
The undoing project
The fellowship of the ring
The civilized guide to table top gaming


Has anyone here read

The Creation of Narrative in Tabletop Role-Playing Games

by Jennifer Grouling Cover

?

Liberty's Edge

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Doodlebug Anklebiter wrote:
Grad Student Discovers A Lost Novel Written By Walt Whitman

Over on Twitter, Saladin Ahmed had a great couple of comments about that--or, more precisely, about the picture of Whitman that was used to illustrate the Vulture story about it. He wrote:

"that picture reminds me I once wrote 20K words of an almost certainly never to be finished novel featuring Whitman as a cranky old wizard"

"the story also featured monster hunter Emma Goldman and evil mecha-Henry Ford. Maybe someday I'll pick it back up…"

That makes it sound like something DA would love.

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