What books are you currently reading?


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Scarab Sages

Aberzombie wrote:

Just started reading Lords of the Sith by Paul S. Kemp. I always liked his D&D novels.

Anyway, this appears to be sort of a Palpatine/Vader buddy cop type book, except with more....evil.

Finished it last night. It was an entertaining book, but should really have been called "A Bunch of Rebellious Twi'leks, some Imperials and (Occasional) Sith Lords".

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

The guys who wrote the Expanse series wrote a really funny Han Solo/Chewbacca buddy comedy.

I especially like Han's responses to Chewie's untranslated dialogue.


'Tis Cormac MacArt - Sword of the Gael that I've been reading, so I have, by Andrew J. Offutt, and a dairling dairling read it was, even if it was like this that everyone was speakin' and the red rays of the sun glintin' off Picts' guts strewn about the emerald swards o'Connaught all the while, so they did so they did.


Sure it wasn't James Joyce that wrote it, are ye?


Yes yes I am yes.


Christmas Books, Part Two

La Principessa got me a fancy edition of The Scarlet Letter and Charles W. Chesnutt's The Conjure Stories.

Despite all that, I'm currently close to finishing Lenin's The Proletarian Revolution and the Renegade Kautsky.

Paizo Employee Senior Editor

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Judy Bauer wrote:
I'm about halfway through Nnedi Okorafor's Lagoon, which is about first contact with aliens [...] I'm really enjoying it, but caveat: some of the dialogue is in Nigerian Pidgin English. It's not too hard to get the gist (mostly English vocabulary, but the pronouns and grammar are different), but could be off-putting for some.

Good news! There's a glossary in the back!

Bad news! As with Hild, I found it only after the fact. I always forget to check with ebooks, alas.


Doodlebug Anklebiter wrote:
Despite all that, I'm currently close to finishing Lenin's The Proletarian Revolution and the Renegade Kautsky.

Thanks for the link, I will have to check that out.


Judy Bauer wrote:
Judy Bauer wrote:
I'm about halfway through Nnedi Okorafor's Lagoon, which is about first contact with aliens [...] I'm really enjoying it, but caveat: some of the dialogue is in Nigerian Pidgin English. It's not too hard to get the gist (mostly English vocabulary, but the pronouns and grammar are different), but could be off-putting for some.

Good news! There's a glossary in the back!

Bad news! As with Hild, I found it only after the fact. I always forget to check with ebooks, alas.

I just read Hild actually, though I discovered the glossary early. Paper makes it easier.

Interesting and I enjoyed it, but it never quite hooked me.


Finally, thanks to many interruptions which were mostly holiday-related (Jonathan Hickman's Fantastic Four run is a holiday thing, right?), finished Robert Pierce Forbes' The Missouri Compromise and its Aftermath. Really enjoyed it, but there are some points that will definitely do for a reread. Forbes writes very long chapters with the main argument up front and rarely revisited until toward the end, so it's easy to lose the plot in all the maneuvering and inferred maneuvering.

Unsure that I'm persuaded that James Monroe was the political ninja that Forbes made him out to be, but that's a part that I found very difficult to follow so I'm quite willing to chalk it up to my not having a scorecard on hand whilst reading it. I know there's more going on than just "he was so good he didn't leave a trace, trust me!" but there are a few points where Forbes himself steps out of things and remarks on how difficult it is to follow everything.

Also took advantage of a post-Thanksgiving promotion and got three months of Audible. Blew the first on Nell Irvin Painter's A History of White People, which was solid. Now working through Tim Weiner's Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA. It could be titled Tim's Top Ten Ways the CIA was Moscow's Best Asset in the Cold War or Tim's Top Ten Ways to Kill Operatives by the Dozen. There are times I'd very much rather have the text to go back and check things, and it's chilling how often he writes something to the effect that "the truth remained buried until this document was declassified in 200X".

But traditional reading-wise I'm taking a little break from history to read some more Culture. Excession's up.


Excession got off to a bit of a slow start. I don't think the plot really started moving until about fifty pages in. Sure a ship blew up before that, but most of the page count was about introducing characters without much indication of why we should care. Took right off when some of the characters started explaining, though.

Also the book may contain one of the best, most endearing and relatable characters in all fiction. Guy lives by himself in what's essentially a collection of mothballed warships. There's an AI, but he only communicates with it via text. Spends his days painstakingly creating 1/28th scale model ships, from scratch. Even forges metal and such with tiny machine tools. Hasn't spoken to or seen another human being in 150 years. Came to the spaceship graveyard specifically to avoid social interactions. On learning that someone was actually coming to see him, the anxiety attack knocked him out cold and possibly I needed some personal time.

Every book should have a protagonist like this.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

I finished Wake of Vultures by Lila Bowen, and

it literally:
ends with a cliffhanger!!!! GRRRRR!!!!

At least it's really, really good.

I started The Aeronaut's Windlass by Jim Butcher. Just a couple chapters in, and it's cramming in a lot of world-building and magic-tech rules right from the get-go. Hopefully some good characterization starts happening soon too. But I've heard great things about it, so I probably just need to be patient.


I have Mythago Wood in my softcover collection for a very long time, finally stated reading it.


Almost done with all 21 Travis McGee books. Thankfully, for a change in pace, Mrs Gersen bought me some speculative nonfiction. Next up: Jared Diamond's Collapse.


Angel Tarragon wrote:
I have Mythago Wood in my softcover collection for a very long time, finally stated reading it.

ZOMG, how is that? I read the original short version like a million years ago in one of my mother's copies of Fantasy & Science Fiction, and still remember it to this day. Back in the same millennium I saw a review of the novel, but this was right around the same time as the "Ender's Game" vs Ender's Game debacle, and I was all like, "Never again !!!11!"


Hitdice wrote:
Angel Tarragon wrote:
I have Mythago Wood in my softcover collection for a very long time, finally stated reading it.
ZOMG, how is that? I read the original short version like a million years ago in one of my mother's copies of Fantasy & Science Fiction, and still remember it to this day. Back in the same millennium I saw a review of the novel, but this was right around the same time as the "Ender's Game" vs Ender's Game debacle, and I was all like, "Never again !!!11!"

I started it and finished Chapter 1 last night before going to bed. Thoroughly enjoying it so far.


Brimestone Angel: Lesser Evil

plan on getting the 5th book in the series tomorrow

The Exchange

I'm still reading Barbara Hambly's The Time of the Dark. It's taking waaaay too long because my suspension of disbelief keeps getting un-suspended. Some parallels to our own world I can stand and accept because they're all part of the portal-fantasy genre: Earth-like gravity, horses, similar weather, etc. This isn't sci-fi, it's fantasy. But she goes too far! Why are the signs of the zodiac the same ones we have in Western culture when they are so obviously specific to the late Greek & Roman cultures of Western Europe? Why is the main symbol of the faith a cross (with no alternate explanation or meaning because a cross in itself could signify lots of things, leaving me to assume Jesus somehow died for the sins of the people of this fantasy world, too?)
These little assumptions that jar me from the story! Right now I'm trying to adhere to the MST3K mantra, but it is frustrating to feel bogged down in a light read. I'm actually leaning towards returning to Modesitt's series since it seems like he put more thought into his world building, or at least those aspects of it that keep me from feeling like its a not-too-well-thought-out episode of "Sliders."

Other than that, Hambly is great at describing things, and the "dark" is a really cool concept. Still, not as creepy/scary as I'd anticipated.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

The Aeronaut's Windlass has really revved up!

To the point I almost want to skip going to the 90s Cover Band tonight and just stay in and read.

But I need to unhermit myself for once. :-P


Tried to go back to The City and realized I was lost in the convoluted plot so started over.

Thus far, she has been sold into slavery, trapped in a brothel, pursued by her former master, realizes that "The City" is the city where she started from however many books ago and is kidnapped by agents of her father, The High Priest, who wants her dead.

Meanwhile, her half-brother/lover has recently popped back up and I was promised an ape-man lover on the back cover.

Can't wait!

The Exchange

SmiloDan wrote:

The Aeronaut's Windlass has really revved up!

To the point I almost want to skip going to the 90s Cover Band tonight and just stay in and read.

But I need to unhermit myself for once. :-P

But being a hermit is fun... you know you want to just stay home and read... all those other humans would probably get along just fine without you...

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Lord Snow wrote:
SmiloDan wrote:

The Aeronaut's Windlass has really revved up!

To the point I almost want to skip going to the 90s Cover Band tonight and just stay in and read.

But I need to unhermit myself for once. :-P

But being a hermit is fun... you know you want to just stay home and read... all those other humans would probably get along just fine without you...

Ugh....I got bamboozled into being designated driver. I miss living downtown....

At least the show was pretty good. The back-up singer was 8 3/4 months pregnant, but did not give birth when they played Danzig's "Mother" as promised. :-P


I just finished the first volume of a annotated collected series of the complete works of Clark Ashton Smith.

It's arranged in chronology of publishing. Since it's arranged in the order he wrote them, some of the writing is rather weak, but there are a few good ones in there. Also, given that it was pulp written in the twenties, there are some um unfortunate problematic elements that have not aged well, which seems pretty prevalent in writers of the period.

I am surprised to see he is a bit more diverse a writer than H.P. Lovecraft in regards genres and style. I think I also tend to prefer his characters over his contemporaries such as Lovecraft or Robert Howard...he avoids the erudite antiquarian scholar narrators as well as the MANLY MEN of both authors, and produces characters that are somewhat between in tone.

I will almost certainly read volume two, but only after I finish up "Under the wide carnivorous sky" from John Langan, my current favorite short-fiction horror author.


Most recently, 'Chronicles of the Crusades', by Joinville and Villehardouin, 'Moorcock's Book of Martyrs' by Michael Moorcock and 'Mercenaries of Gor'


Angel Tarragon wrote:
Hitdice wrote:
Angel Tarragon wrote:
I have Mythago Wood in my softcover collection for a very long time, finally stated reading it.
ZOMG, how is that? I read the original short version like a million years ago in one of my mother's copies of Fantasy & Science Fiction, and still remember it to this day. Back in the same millennium I saw a review of the novel, but this was right around the same time as the "Ender's Game" vs Ender's Game debacle, and I was all like, "Never again !!!11!"
I started it and finished Chapter 1 last night before going to bed. Thoroughly enjoying it so far.

I finished chapters 2-4 this morning before going out to get the groceries....I am absolutely hooked. The first three chapters are a slow burn, but chapter 4 snared me in hook, line and sinker.


Finished Excession. Still don't know what the point of one of the plotlines was, unless it was just meant as a thematic counterpoint. Far too much time on the two human leads' relationship issues and not quite enough on the Machiavellian AIs.

Unsure what's next, except that it's history. Currently considering:

The Dread Scott Case or The Slaveholding Republic by Don Fehrenbacher
Slavery's Constitution by David Waldstreicher
The Myth of the Lost Cause and Civil War History by Gary Gallagher and Alan Nolan
The Political Economy of Slavery by Eugene Genovese
Slavery and Politics in the Early American Republic by Matthew Mason
Empire of Liberty by Gordon Wood

I've read two histories that annoyed the s$@# out of me in the past six months and Wood's "will all these race, class, and gender people GTFO my lawn!" a year ago did not endear him to me, but he's probably a better starting point for learning all the stuff that Sean Wilentz left out than the immediately available alternative, Stanley Elkins' and Eric McKitrick's The Age of Federalism.

Of course Elkins has his own odd moment. Back in the late Sixties he wrote an extremely hostile history of slavery, initially quite well-received. Compared slavery to concentration camps, etc. So far as that went, not much argument. But his argument that slavery "worked" intellectually on the slaves got him in understandable hot water. He thought the power of the enslavers was so absolute it reduced the enslaved to essentially incapacity. Not in the sense that they couldn't do things, but literally turned into dumb, childlike beings. And he named his model after a racial slur.

Even in the late Sixties, that was a bit much. But it does fit very comfortably into a kind of white establishment centrist recapitulation of white supremacists tropes which was in vogue at the time. Complicated stuff, really.


Angel Tarragon wrote:
I have Mythago Wood in my softcover collection for a very long time, finally stated reading it.

That is one very good book. The other books in the cycle are not quite as good but were all (to my mind) worth reading.

Read "Dark Lord of Derkholm" and its sequel "Year of the Griffon" by Diana Wynne-Jones yesterday and today.
The former is the better, making fun of soulless moneymakers, fantasy tropes and tourism.
The latter is misfits at magic school, and still a good read.

I have yet to read a Wynne-Jones book I haven't enjoyed.


Samnell wrote:

The Slaveholding Republic by Don Fehrenbacher

Ended up with that one. It's kind of funny. Fehrenbacher first came to my attention with this book, which I found by random searching about the time I started the blog. A historian of my extremely slight acquaintance recommended I read The Impending Crisis instead, which I did. David Potter died a fair bit of the way through writing it, so Fehrenbacher finished the thing.

Forgot about Fehrenbacher, except for occasional thoughts about reading his Dred Scott book, between then and a few months ago. Then I noticed quite a few footnotes pointing to his The South and Three Sectional Crises. I read that right before I dug into that dirty hack Wilentz. Emerged from that festooned with Andrew Jackson's dingleberries and Wilentz's saliva. Both in the same places.

Come back to it now and the first thing I read inside is how Fehrenbacher died during the writing and this other guy finished it up. Fairly interesting disclosure too. He lays out just how much was essentially finished but for style and probably some references and just where he took over from notes.

So far it's decent. The prose improves dramatically after the introduction written by the guy who finished it, which has me leery of the tail end, but I'm enjoying the book itself. I have the sense that it didn't make much of an impression, but I wonder how much of that is down to such a pure political history being out of fashion and the fact that anybody writing about Dred Scott is already tossing Fehrenbacher plenty of footnotes.

That said, the kindle version is awful. It lacks even basic things like hyperlinked footnotes and has hyphenation for words spanning multiple lines in consistently the wrong places. Wouldn't be surprised to learn that they just dumped whatever they originally sent to the printer into an Amazon file wrapper.

Other news: decided to try the first Malazan Book of the Fallen book book book for books did I mention it's a book because it was on Audible for sale. I tried to read it years ago and gave up but thought the format change might help. It did; I found it far easier to just ignore that mess and go about something else whilst notionally reading it. Got it as part of a two for one sale, so I figured I was just stuck but decided to try a return anyway. Amazon took it back and actually re-granted me the credit, this time to use on whatever. I've still got the other book from the two-for-one deal.

By my count, I've successfully swindled Amazon out of an audiobook. Paid for the history of the CIA, though. I needed it for a road trip and my credit hadn't refreshed. So I think I both came out ahead and broke even on the same count. Don't look at me like that; it's not your brain doing the accounting. I'm not crazy. My last therapist wrote a very nice note in his own blood to that effect immediately before the autodefenestration. ...that really takes me back. Toward the end he had these extremely realistic persecutory hallucinations about me. We ended up with sort of reversed roles, but I think I really helped him. Look on his face when he was writing that letter was downright beatific, like he'd just had some good private time. Possibly discussing Russian matters.

Suspect that even absent that, audiobook fiction probably isn't for me unless it's some kind of full cast performance or I'm a big fan of the reader. Almost gave Huck Finn as read by Elijah Wood a go, but the sample turned me off. His version of period diction was awful, even if it might be faithful to the intended reading. This leaves me wondering if I want to listen to Postwar by Tony Judt or Bloodlands by Timothy Snyder next. Cheery reads, you know.

Unsure that I'll continue the audible sub when my three month deal is up, but it is a handy way to "read" outside the field.


Pathfinder Adventure Subscriber

Even Dogs in the Wild by Ian Rankin is up next on my list.


My Lowell-area coalition meets in the common room of a luxury loft complex. That common room has a bookshelf where tenants apparently leave the books they don't want anymore. Mostly crap, but every now and then something cool turns up, but it's usually something I already have. Last night, however, I scored a copy of Johan Huizinga's The Waning of the Middle Ages. Read the first chapter. Looks like it's going to be a lot of fun even if they refuse to translate poetry passages from French into English.

Dark Archive

Any books that would be good for learning of the early Roman Empire or the fall of it?


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NenkotaMoon wrote:
Any books that would be good for learning of the early Roman Empire or the fall of it?

This list is compiled and maintained by actual classicists.

The Exchange

Finished reading Towers of Midnight (Wheel of Time #13) and returned to check up on Captain Frey with The Iron Jackal (Tales of The Ketty Jay #3).

Towers Of Midnight thoughts:
Overall this book was enjoyable to read, and despite it's massive side and sprawling nature actually managed to feel action packed and fast paced. I have, at this point, made my peace with all the characters feeling somewhat off, with Sanderson either unable or unwilling to make them be the exact same people who Jordan wrote. For most of them this is not so bad, as the likes of Nynaeve and Mat become actually tolerable, but for others it's a real shame (Cadsuane has been pushed completely out of the story, and she was one of the only good things volumes 5-11 had to offer).
People have called the character development in this one abrupt and unsatisfying, but honestly? The series needs to draw to a close in a timely fashion and there is an outright insane amount of threads to tie back together. This book does exactly that, and leaves off with the characters expecting the Last Battle to start in the next few hours or days at most. In fact, one could argue that it actually already started in the concluding pages of this novel, with the charge Lan leads against an army of Trollocs.

However, as solid as the book was, it failed to provide any sort of emotional punch, except perhaps for some joy near the end when Moiraine came back. The stakes are stupid high, yet somehow I found myself barely caring. Perhaps my emotional connections have been corroded over 6000 pages of drek, or perhaps the really big events have been held for the concluding book, but somehow even the peaks of Towers Of Midnight felt like not much more than good action scenes.

At this point, I feel very much assured that Memory Of Light will be a good book that manages to draw the series into some kind of acceptable conlusion that will let my questing soul rest on the matter. It's pretty good to be confident in that, but I wish I could find more excitement within myself about the prospect. Ah, well. Maybe my enthusiasm will gather in the coming weeks.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

How is that Ketty Jay series?

Is it really "steampunk Firefly?" Or am I thinking of a different series?

I'm currently reading The Aeronaut's Windlass by Jim Butcher, but I keep thinking it's by Steven Brust for some reason, who HAS written a Firefly novella, so I keep trying to shoehorn the book's characters into the (totally unrelated) TV show.


Back in 2014, in this thread, I mentioned re-reading the first two books of the Conquerors trilogy by Timothy Zahn. I had a few harsh things to say about that trilogy at the time, such as...

Aaron Bitman wrote:
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.

Now, for the first time since the 1990s, I'm reading the third book, Conquerors' Legacy, this time taking it more slowly, following the major characters and subplots more carefully (although the minor characters seem more trouble than they're worth.) I'm more than 400 pages into the book now, and although I'm still a little annoyed with the book's flaws, I am enjoying it. If you're looking for a military sci-fi novel series, or one with FTL travel and a variety of intelligent, space-faring races - in other words, a Star Wars-like book series - I can't think of anything I'd recommend more highly than the Conquerors trilogy.

The Exchange

SmiloDan wrote:

How is that Ketty Jay series?

Is it really "steampunk Firefly?" Or am I thinking of a different series?

I'm currently reading The Aeronaut's Windlass by Jim Butcher, but I keep thinking it's by Steven Brust for some reason, who HAS written a Firefly novella, so I keep trying to shoehorn the book's characters into the (totally unrelated) TV show.

"Steampunk Firefly" is an adequate description of the baseline concept of the series. It is actually to the point that there are easy parallels to do between many members of the crew of the dirigible The Ketty Jat and the spaceship Serenity.

The first book was an enjoyable and imaginative romp that suffered because of some overused tropes and cliches. The second book I liked much better as it actually did a pretty impressive job of building and expanding upon the first novel, doing some great character and world development, all while holding the fun dials squarely at 11. The third book I'm only now starting, but so far it is promising, with the usual mix of witty banter, incredibly fun gun fights and cool Steampunk stuff . What stands out to me is that the writing is either way better than I remembered or a serious improvement on the what the series had so far.

All in all, since you are obviously into Steampunk, I'd say you pretty much have to read this. It's really fun and, after some growing fits in the first novel, actually does an unreasonably good job of being a good character driven story as well as an action adventure tale with zepplins and gunfights. Also, decent magic system.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

I'm definitely going to check those out. I just have a couple more library books to read first....

The Exchange

Finished book 1 in Barbara Hambly's Darwath trilogy. Now MST3King my way through book 2. None of the characters are annoying me so far, although the world-building still yanks my suspension-of-disbelief chain.


I'm currently burning through the Malazan series. My neighbor handed me an old copy of Kender, Gullydwarves & Gnomes.

The Exchange

SmiloDan wrote:

I'm definitely going to check those out. I just have a couple more library books to read first....

Another thing I feel obliged to mention. There is a way in which The Ketty Jay significantly differs from Firefly.

In Firefly, while the characters are theoretically outlaws, they never really feel like lowlifes. More... free spirits, shall we say?
However, in the Ketty Jay, the ship and it's crew are most defenitly criminals, and the author lets you feel that. You could apply words like cruel, stupid, self centered, greedy, untrustworthy, and others like them to various members of the cast. The jobs they take often have a stringer immoral edge than just stealing, and people get hurt and killed in their wake.

It was a bit jarring to me when I set to read it, because it takes away from the lightness of the tone. Does help make things feel more real, though.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Well, maybe Jayne....

;-)

Maybe a little "Star Wars Rebels" thrown in for zest? It's about a light-hearted crew of scoundrels that only occasionally kills a bunch of Stormtroopers.

:-P


Just finished 'The Trumpet Major' by Thomas Hardy.

Spoiler:

She should have married John!

And am also reading 'City of Hawks' by Gary Gygax.

The Exchange

I had to take a break from Hambly and read some Jorge Luis Borges because the cliches and inconsistencies were getting to me. Any other Borges fans on here?

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

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I just finished the Aeronaut's Windlass by Jim Butcher.

I just started The Girl with Ghost Eyes by MH Boroson.

Shadow Lodge

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Zeugma wrote:
I had to take a break from Hambly and read some Jorge Luis Borges because the cliches and inconsistencies were getting to me. Any other Borges fans on here?

Huge Borges fan here. I have a copy of Ficciones that is nearly falling apart.


Page 175 of The City features the first love-making scene between two t-rexes I've ever read.

Meanwhile, over in Huizinga, a couple of chapters on courtly love in 14th century Burgundy.


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Don Juan de Doodlebug wrote:
Page 175 of The City features the first love-making scene between two t-rexes I've ever read.

Raptor Red by Robert T. Bakker tells the adventures of a dinosaur main character, including her love life.


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Don Juan de Doodlebug wrote:

Page 175 of The City features the first love-making scene between two t-rexes I've ever read.

I thought Hannah Wilde might be able to lend a hand, should you be hungry for more, but it turns out that the best she can do is something to do with raptors in the Amazonian jungle

Come on, Hannah. Sort it out.


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Finished The City last night. Books have no come complete circle, with Cija back with her mother in the town from which it all started, with Zerd (who didn't appear in this book at all) coming back to reclaim his lost bride.

Anyway, book's all kindsa messed up. For example, when she finally comes face to face with her High Priest father, who wants to kill her because he's supposed to be celibate and not have children, it turns out that there's a loophole in the High Priest's code of celibacy.

Turns out he's allowed to have an alligator paramour.

Like I said, these books be all kindsa messed up.


'Imperial Spain, 1469-1716' by JH Elliott

'The Observances' by Kate Miller, which won some sort of a poetry prize last year, I think

and 'Keepers of the Secrets' by Philip Jose Farmer, which was very, very pulpy indeed and seemed to end far too abruptly.

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