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Coriat wrote:
Coriat wrote:
Babies in the Well: Archaeological Evidence for Newborn Disposal in Hellenistic Greece.

Further reading along these lines:

Child Exposure in the Roman Empire in the Journal of Roman Studies.

As I was drifting off to sleep last night, I read a couple of pages on this "excellent practice" in Kautsky. What's modern scholarship got to say on the matter?


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Lost HP Lovecraft manuscript rediscovered


Limeylongears wrote:
Lost HP Lovecraft manuscript rediscovered

Ia! Ia!

The Exchange

Kirth Gersen wrote:


4. As a general practice, I eschew any continuation of book series by other authors. That includes James Bond, Dune, Amber, Spenser, Bourne, and I don't know how many others. I tend to feel that if an author is good enough, he/she can publish their own stuff, and not have to ride on someone else's legacy.

Gonna hijack this to talk about the ending of the Wheel Of Time, as it is a prime example of both why another author continuing a series could be a great idea, but also the inevitable issues with it.

First, a quick catchup. I finished A Memory of Light and, after I was done sighing with relief and content, hopped right in to one of the most hyped books of the century, Lies Of Locke Lamora (Scott Lynch), which I am currently reading.
In the audio department, I decided just yesterday to give up on Grim Company (Luke Scul) and move on to Trigger Warning (Neil Gaiman).

A Memory Of Light thoughts:
These are not my thought on the Wheel of Time series, nor even of this book as the conclusion to the series - that is going to be a separate, way too long post in another thread. For now, my brief thoughts of A Memory Of Light as it stands on it's own.
I thoroughly enjoyed it. Brandon Sanderson impressively guided the gigantic storyline to converge with his past two Wheel Of Time Books, and in this one he proves just how well he can handle an immensely complex story. The opening segment, of the nations of the world signing the Dragon's Treaty and forming a plan for the last battle, was gorgeous. It was dense and complex and delicate, but he made it seem easy. I could feel the weight of history on the characters as every choice they made bore huge potential implications of the future. I loved this part.
From start to finish, A Memory of Light is about a war. A *huge* war. It involved dozens of factions, hundreds of characters, thousands of channelers and millions of fighters, several all important magic items, and fighting along multiple fronts across an entire continent. I think I've never read any book that had so much fighting in it, and at times this got somewhat tiring, but never tiresome, due to the highly dynamic nature of it all, and a general sense of forward momentum, even if it took a grueling amount of work for everyone involved - I assume this sense of fatigue is actually exactly what Sanderson was aiming for. The involvement of side stories such as the upsets within the Black Tower really helped liven things up as a departure from the constant battlefields.

Even so, the story was still a bit too unwieldy to fit well in a single book, even one as big as this. The result is some jarring moments, when multiple long standing characters die off screen, some ideas get lost in the mix and very little actual resolution is given for most characters. Worse, Sanderson is not an all-star with conveying complicated emotional states even when in his prime (though he is usually on the scale from satisfactory to good), and having to work with so many characters that are ultimately not really his own pushes this achievement out of his reach here. Characters barely seem to react to momentous events - the return of Moiraine, the death of loved ones, victories and defeats. Given that this should be the payoff book, with the biggest moments, that's a serious problem.

The bottom line is that A Memory Of Light is a good book. Not Sanderson's best, and far from the full potential of what it could have been (if it was maybe split in two). What it is, is a satisfactory ending to The Wheel Of Time, that makes good stuff from the complete and utter pile of nonfunctional riffraff that Jordan left of the series. It was exactly good enough for me to put the series to rest in my mind and move on.

Grim Company thought:
Gah. This book is *bad*. I mean, *awful*. It really has been a long while since I've encountered anything like it. Utterly derivative, overly reliant on the clunkiest kind of exposition, completely immature and badly written. I really did give it a chance to become better as it went on, but after listening to over 10 hours of audio, I have had enough.
Grim Company belongs to the subgenre of Grimdark, which I have previously only experienced with Joe Abercrombie. When reading Abercrombie though, I couldn't see where the derogatory term came from - yes, his books are violent and the characters usually end up succumbing to their flaws, but the exaggerated nature suggested by the name was never present. However, Luke Scull shows me exactly where the term "Grimdark" applies.
He's obsessive with penises. No gentler way of saying this. Male private parts make frequent appearances, usually being tortured in some ways. Look, just mentioning a penis every few pages does not an adult story make. It just feels childish. This is accompanied by characters who are just inferior versions of the POVs from The Furst Law trilogy, cursing without end or purpose, and a very predictable plot. This is trying so hard to be Dark and Cool and Mature that I can practically see the sweat oozing between the words. It fails on all those fronts.

I would have never got to this book if it was not featured as a daily audible deal. I would have actually prefered not to have spent what hours I did on this story. It is subpar, and I would recommend others to stay away from it.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

1 person marked this as a favorite.

I just finished Half a War by Joe Abercrombie.

About to start The Mechanical by Ian Tregillis.

Lord Snow (I almost called you Jon Snow!):

I really liked The Lies of Locke Lamora!!! I hope you do too. I gotta read more new-ish Neil Gaiman too.


Just began reading The Searchers, dealing with the real-life story the movie was based on, and how both influenced the overall legend. Looking forward to it...

Scarab Sages

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Finally started reading The Martian while on my Disney trip. Great book! Lots of science and engineering!


1 person marked this as a favorite.

'The Curious Case of the Clockwork Man', by Mark Hodder. Thanks to SmiloDan for bringing this series to my attention - I like it a lot, and so, apparently, does Michael Moorcock.

I read Vagabonds of Gor on Saturday, too. Good job I was drinking Lady Grey tea at the same time, otherwise I might have exploded due to an excess of testosterone.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I finished The Constant Gardener last night. I didn't like it.

Kirth, re the Millenium trilogy, I preferred book 3 to book 2. Different tastes! I tend not to continuation series of books by other writers either, except for The Wheel of Time.


Just started "Darker than you think" by Jack Williamson. After one chapter with some clunky introduction to people (none of whom seemed particularly interesting) it seems obvious where this is headed. However, my edition is from the Fantasy Masterworks series, and I have generally been pleased with the books from it (with some exceptions) so we shall see how it turns out.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Just finished Le Carre's "Our Kind of Traitor". Much more likeable than The Constant Gardener, except that it has a lot of loose ends at the end.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Comrade Anklebiter wrote:
Coriat wrote:
Coriat wrote:
Babies in the Well: Archaeological Evidence for Newborn Disposal in Hellenistic Greece.

Further reading along these lines:

Child Exposure in the Roman Empire in the Journal of Roman Studies.

As I was drifting off to sleep last night, I read a couple of pages on this "excellent practice" in Kautsky. What's modern scholarship got to say on the matter?

Babies in the Well was in large part archaeological reporting and not particularly polemical. If you wanted a broad overview, skip to the next article. This one is pretty much what it sounds like, investigation of the bones found in a well in Athens that people used to throw dead babies into.

The author discussed infants not being accepted into the ancient family for a while after birth (the ancients were not in the 'life begins at conception' camp ;) ). This means that if you died very young you kind of never had been a person, and didn't necessarily get the kind of nice funeral and commemoration that a person would. The author discusses birth defects as an influence upon a family's decision to expose or kill an infant, both options that were legally available before acceptance into the family (after acceptance, typically probably about a week after birth, you're much more of a person and exposing or killing you would be looked down upon).

From the article I understand that while neonatal infants have long been known to be underrepresented in formal graves, there were some arguing that this did not mean they were not cared for or commemorated at death. This author comes down largely on the side of 'nope, they just threw them into this handy disused well.' Other finds do not match the scale of this well, as the study identified a minimum of 449 infants, but there is some discussion of newborn skeletons that have been located other than in this well, with a preponderance of informal and noncommemorated arrangements, e.g., stuck under floorboards, rather than in tombs.

There were a large number of dog remains mixed in with the infant remains, and the author discussed animal sacrifice as a ritual to purify oneself of taints associated with corpses, or possibly to guard against the dead spiritually. This part is pretty standard fare.

The rest of the article was devoted to analysis of the skeletons for epidemiological insights and the like. The upshot was: very high rates of skeletal pathology, suggesting a lot of deaths from disease or birth defects that might have killed the infant or prompted the family to do so.

So many of the infants were the same age - premature or right around birth - that the author had difficulty establishing specific causes of death for specific skeletons. The epidemiological analysis was done by examining specific bones for evidence of disease and deformation, but without the ability to say what diseased bone goes with what skeleton, the meat of the article was mostly percentages and estimates - this many bones show this, this many bones show that - but not so much numbers of infants that died from X, Y, Z.

There were a couple exceptions, older infants with bones that could be separated from the jumble, and the author spent some time discussing one of these, a six month old infant, as one of the earliest established child abuse cases due to trauma lesions on the bones and a sharp object injury to the skull.

As far as the more statistical and epidemiological discussion went, after the road warrior apocalypse, make sure to boil your knives before you cut that umbilical cord. Bacterial meningitis, which the author attributed to likely nonsterile implements used to cut the umbilical cord, was much in evidence.

-------------------------

Child Exposure in the Roman Empire is more macro and indulges in somewhat more polemics, particularly against articles presenting Roman child exposure as a fluffy bunny opportunity for down-on-their-luck infants to be rescued by benevolent white knights. He argues that most exposed infants died and the survivors got picked up mostly by slavers.

You can probably guess that I think this theory is more credible than the version in which nothing bad happened and all the babies lived happily ever after.

In any case, it's a bird's eye overview of the practice, and an analysis that relies more heavily on literary sources and on (vague and fuzzy) demographic pronouncements than on the likes of archaeology. Hansen considers five exposure-related topics and gives his arguments on them

1) the frequency of child exposure and how frequently it ended in death (Hansen thinks it was common and ended in death more often than not)

2) the reasons that parents exposed children (Hansen cites chiefly a) unhealthiness, b) illegitimacy, c) poverty or d) superstition/bad omens).

3) social attitudes towards the practice, whether it was disreputable, how parents felt, etc. (this part is necessarily somewhat speculative and moreover evidence Hansen reviews points in several different directions. I think that when it comes to describing attitudes, it's difficult to come up with one argument appropriate to all regions and eras of a three-continent empire over a period of a thousand years).

4) large scale demographics and the demographic influence of exposure on the slave trade. Hansen argues that a stable population can coexist with a high rate of child exposure and that anyone who says there could not have been widespread exposure for demographic reasons (i.e., without decreasing the population) is double secret super wrong.

("spectacular misuse of comparative history...")

5). Influence on the slave trade. Hansen is inclined to give exposure a leading role in the supply of the slave trade. His dismissal of other sources is unencumbered by evidence, and his arguments are brief and broad stroked. Being well read enough on this topic to criticize, I thought that he significantly outran what evidence exists and failed to deal with some obvious objections. Also the shortest section.

The article wraps up with a discussion of the decline of the practice. Hansen considers exposure to have been common throughout early and middle imperial history, but to have faced increasing disapproval in pagan philosophical circles (he cites Stoics in particular). He believes that such disapproval was ultimately fairly toothless in the face of the more pressing factors, particularly povertly, that led to exposure, and he dates the decline of exposure instead to the Christianization of the empire under Constantine, at which time the laws that had once forbidden selling your own children into slavery were overturned. At that point exposure began to decline as if one had an unwanted child there was a legal market for it and money to be made.


Also,

Maritime Loans and the Structure of Credit in Fourth-Century Athens.

(trivia: in contrast to modern practice, in antiquity if a maritime loan was made and then the ship sank or met another disaster, the debtor's debt was cleared and the creditor ate the loss).


Completely off the top of my head and not something I've really read up on, but I'd expect child slavery and killing or exposure of infants to be largely unrelated. Wouldn't most child slavers want older children - certainly past the infant and probably past the toddler stage. Way too much work getting the youngest kids to a useful age.

Was there really a slavery market for newborns? I guess as part of a larger slave breeding operation it would make sense?


thejeff wrote:

Completely off the top of my head and not something I've really read up on, but I'd expect child slavery and killing or exposure of infants to be largely unrelated. Wouldn't most child slavers want older children - certainly past the infant and probably past the toddler stage. Way too much work getting the youngest kids to a useful age.

Was there really a slavery market for newborns? I guess as part of a larger slave breeding operation it would make sense?

Legal protections, customs, and social rules accrued to older children that made it difficult to enslave them.

Not to say that it was completely impossible, but to enslave an older child one would have to scrape off a number of layers of accrued social capital - they have a family and a social/civil identity - and quite often (pre-Constantine) you'd also have to outright break laws. For a slaver, the attraction of a foundling is that they come free of that baggage. If the process of enslavement involves killing off the slave's social and civil identity, well, foundlings basically come with the work already done.

Now, on the cost side, it's not like you're springing for college tuition anyway. If it paid off to raise an infant born to slave parents to make a future slave (and we know from Roman slavery and other slave systems that it generally did) then the same holds for a foundling.


Coriat wrote:
thejeff wrote:

Completely off the top of my head and not something I've really read up on, but I'd expect child slavery and killing or exposure of infants to be largely unrelated. Wouldn't most child slavers want older children - certainly past the infant and probably past the toddler stage. Way too much work getting the youngest kids to a useful age.

Was there really a slavery market for newborns? I guess as part of a larger slave breeding operation it would make sense?

Legal protections, customs, and social rules accrued to older children that made it difficult to enslave them.

Not to say that it was completely impossible, but to enslave an older child one would have to scrape off a number of layers of accrued social capital - they have a family and a social/civil identity - and quite often (pre-Constantine) you'd also have to outright break laws. For a slaver, the attraction of a foundling is that they come free of that baggage. If the process of enslavement involves killing off the slave's social and civil identity, well, foundlings basically come with the work already done.

Now, on the cost side, it's not like you're springing for college tuition anyway. Costs don't necessarily outweight returns. If it's economical to raise an infant born to slave parents to make a future slave (and we know from Roman slavery and other slave systems that it generally was) then the same holds for a foundling.

Well, I was thinking more "sold into slavery by the family", which was a thing. Or gathering up street urchins and the like.

For actual babies, there's a significant expense and at least 4-5 years before you get any return on investment. And an awful lot of those foundlings are going to die anyway.
At least raising infants born to slave parents, you have that parental involvement, which usually gets better outcomes. OTOH, as I said, if you've got the breeding operation set up, it probably makes sense to add children where you can get them.


Is it bad that I keep wanting to appropriate aspects of Roman society for Thrune controlled Cheliax?


thejeff wrote:
For actual babies, there's a significant expense and at least 4-5 years before you get any return on investment. And an awful lot of those foundlings are going to die anyway.

That's true, but note that the mortality is very strongly clustered towards the front end of that 4 - 5 years - which is before you've sunk much money into it. This point can go back to the other article, Babies in the Well.

Coriat wrote:

So many of the infants were the same age - premature or right around birth - that the author had difficulty establishing specific causes of death for specific skeletons. The epidemiological analysis was done by examining specific bones for evidence of disease and deformation, but without the ability to say what diseased bone goes with what skeleton, the meat of the article was mostly percentages and estimates - this many bones show this, this many bones show that - but not so much numbers of infants that died from X, Y, Z.

There were a couple exceptions, older infants with bones that could be separated from the jumble, and the author spent some time discussing one of these, a six month old infant, as one of the earliest established child abuse cases due to trauma lesions on the bones and a sharp object injury to the skull.

(Where I said a couple, I did mean actually two; i.e., the study reported identifying 447 infants who died around birth or earlier, and two that were older, of which they established that one had died of violence and not normal infant mortality. If your foundling makes it through the first few weeks, you've dodged the vast majority of the infant mortality bullets).

Quote:
At least raising infants born to slave parents, you have that parental involvement, which usually gets better outcomes. OTOH, as I said, if you've got the breeding operation set up, it probably makes sense to add children where you can get them.

At least one author I have read - translated from Dutch, so presumably Dutch, but I'm afraid I can't remember the name - suggested that Roman slave children may have been wet nursed in any case, so that one nurse could take care of a number of children and leave the rest of the parents available. I'd hesitate to describe such a thing as a universal practice - I'd hesitate to describe anything in Rome as a universal practice, and this one clearly would only even work for larger slave communities - but at the very least it's probably one model that was available for slave rearing, and a model that could readily accomodate adding or subtracting children as circumstances dictate.


Zhangar wrote:
Is it bad that I keep wanting to appropriate aspects of Roman society for Thrune controlled Cheliax?

Ancient Rome and Greece are great sources for societies integrated with LE philosophies in a functional way, as opposed to just for the evulz.


Thank you for the responses, Citizen Coriat. I so do love a cheerful topic.

The Exchange

Finished two books since I last posted - The Lies of Locke Lamora (by Scott Lynch) and Proven Guilty (Dresden Files #9, by Jim Butcher). Next up I'll probably read Judas Unchaned, the second part of the Commonwealth Saga by Peter Hamilton. I might decided to finish N.K. Jemisin's Dreamblood first, though. We'll see.

Lies Of Locke Lamora thoughts:
The best lies are the simple ones - a simple abbreviation of truth that changes as few details as possible to convince the victim of the falsity. Complex lies are often unnecessary if a simple one will do, and they have a much higher risk of tangling you with contradictions. This is common knowledge.
Of course, Locke Lamora operates under his own set of rules.

The Lies Of Locke Lamora is a book that kept surprising me over and over as I read it. I knew it was a heist novel from the get-go, and I expected a sort of a fantasy Ocean 11 - a bunch of smug and crafty people planning and pulling off an incredible act of thievery.
The book does have elements of that - the Gentleman Bastards are exactly what you expect them to be given the name - but it is also so much more.

In the Scott Lynch's sophomore effort I found a writing style that was unique and entertaining, and one of the coolest epic fantasy settings I've seen in a long while. The city of Camorr reminded me somewhat of the style of city one might read 64 pages about in a Paizo campaign setting guide - with plenty of different districts, notorious people, and unique features. The vaguely renaissance Italian city brims with life and character. Everything, from the monster infested canals, to the gangsters ruling the streets, to the merchants of the rising middle class to the old nobility in their tall alien towers - everything came together to create a whole that was completely believable yet not quite like anything I've ever read before.

Other elements in the book I am more split about. The plot and structure are interesting. The book takes a long time (roughly 40% of it's length, according to my trusty Kindle) to get to the main plot, that of the Grey King. Before that point, it really is quite impossible to predict that The Lies of Locke Lamora is mostly a revenge story. This is also where the structure comes in - the main story here combines two threads - the Salvara job, which is where the heist aspects come in, and the Grey King's war. Each of these pulls the story in quite different directions, and the interspersing of "interludes" throughout - most of which are scenes from the early days of the Gentleman Bastards as kids being mentored by Chains, but many others being anecdotal tales about the world and it's history and folklore - make the tone seem even less even. Deadly serious scenes transform into comedy that borders on slapstick, only to be replaced by fun moments of Locke spreading his lies.
It's not that I exactly disliked any of that - I thoroughly enjoyed the interludes and each plot thread is good on it's own - but somehow I felt like the structure of the book was a bit disjointed. It worked out well enough, but it was precariously close to failing several times.

The downright grimdark aspects of the novel took me by complete surprise. Plagues, slavery, child prostitution and extreme violence are parts of the story from the very start, and these elements only escalate with time. That was also a large part of how the book subverted my expectation - the decimation of the Gentleman Bastards was shocking and brutal. This is another element I am split on - I liked the grimdark aspects, and they certainly made the book more unique, but parts of it also rattled me a bit.

Finally, there is also a truly vital flaw in this one. At no point in the book are we ever, as the readers, exposed to any inner dialog of any character. We get only external descriptions of emotion - we read about Lockes' face wearing an angry expression, but we never feel that anger from his viewpoint. I can't recall when I last read a book that was so emotionally detached - even when the story reached very strong emotional peaks, I just didn't feel those moments, because I wasn't allowed into the head and minds of the characters involved. This certainly lowered my enjoyment of the novel and I hope Lynch gets better with this as the series progresses.

But on the bottom line, reading of the elaborate scams and tricks of the gentleman bastards was greatly enjoyable, and the city of Camorr tickled my imagination something fierce, and the writing was very satisfying, so all in all Lies was a great read. I don't know if it lives up to the stupendous amount of hype, but it is likely going to be one of the best reads I have this year and I'm already recommending it to friends.

Proven Guilty thoughts:
Over the years and the first few novels in the Dresden Files, Butcher has both assembled a veritable tool box of characters and plot elements he can pull from and established long running arcs for the overall plot and Harry's character development. Proven Guilty draws mostly on the Carpenters and Murphy to deliver a fun adventure that continues building the momentum of both the visible war between he Red Court and the White Council and the invisible shadow wars between the good guys and whoever the heck is behind this all. At the same time, it also adds extra subtle layers to Harry as a person, deepens significantly his relationships with multiple other characters, and brings him to a new phase in life as the mentor of another wizard.
Of course, there's a ton going on in Proven Guilty. The Dresden Files books are always surprisingly packed for their size, and it always feels like there are dozens of story threads being advanced or started in small ways. But to me the heart of the novel is in the way it gives stronger foundations for the relationships in Harry's life. His web of friends/family - starting from a loyal super dog and a talking skull, through various allies both mundane and supernatural, to the staunchest of friends such as Murphy and Thomas and Micheal, and now to his new apprentice Molly.

Nothing huge happened story wise in Proven Guilty, and that wasn't the point. This was a book that made me care about Dresden and the people around him as more than awesome fighters against evil, but also as humans (mostly) who care about each other and love each other. It made me more eager than ever to find out what happens next. The sense that Butcher also really does have a very good idea of what's going on behind the scenes helps too - an intriguing mystery unfolding over thousands of action packed, funny and touching pages of story is exactly what I'd reading for.

As an aside, the point in the story where opportunistic bad guys caught Dresden and started an actual Ebay auction between his numerous enemies was pretty funny. A bit of self consciousness by the author, I assume, as Harry really has been accumulating a preposterous amount of high profile villains wanting him dead.

The Exchange

I have a question about the Dresden Files series, for those who are at least as far along as I am (which is book 8):

Spoiler:
Throughout "Proven Guilty" there were many references to past events that I can swear I've never read - for example, a wedding between two of the werewolves from Billy's gang where some sort of winter fae caused some trouble and Harry had to stop. This event was not part of any of the previous books, I'm pretty sure I would have remembered it if it was.

While reading Proven Guilty I assumed these references were to short stories between the books I've read already, but looking at the list in Jim Butcher's site, I couldn't find anything that fits the timeline.

Anyone has an idea what's going on?

Liberty's Edge

Lord Snow wrote:

Finished two books since I last posted - The Lies of Locke Lamora (by Scott Lynch) and Proven Guilty (Dresden Files #9, by Jim Butcher). Next up I'll probably read Judas Unchaned, the second part of the Commonwealth Saga by Peter Hamilton. I might decided to finish N.K. Jemisin's Dreamblood first, though. We'll see.

** spoiler omitted **...

I liked Judas Unchained better than Pandora's Star, but be aware there's a lot more gunplay in it, especially

Spoiler:
the last bit with a squad of Commonwealth Commandos and Justice Directorate officers chasing the villian.
. There's also a knockdown drag out fight between two massively enhanced people and a good bit of combat between the Primes and Commonwealth Ground forces.

Plus, you know, The Cat.


Most recently:

'The Third Policeman' by Flann O'Brien

'Savages of Gor', a Wonder Norm production. I have now run out of Gor books to read, having got up to vol. 24. However, don't worry, as I have 25 and 26 as audiobooks

And 'Galactic Patrol' by E.E. 'Doc' Smith, which is very silly indeed, so far.


Lord Snow wrote:

I have a question about the Dresden Files series, for those who are at least as far along as I am (which is book 8):

** spoiler omitted **

Yep, it's referencing the short stories.

Most of which were now collected in Side Jobs. "Something Borrowed" is the story about the wedding.

Jim Butcher puts out a few short stories a year, and I think the comic books are all canon too (though I don't recall him referencing the comics yet.)

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Lord Snow wrote:

I have a question about the Dresden Files series, for those who are at least as far along as I am (which is book 8):

** spoiler omitted **

I don't know. I've seen writers do that before in series.

Patricia Cornwell:
killed off the main character's love interest between novels. The titles of her books are all kind of generic sounding (Murdered to Death, Dead Stuff, Murdering Stuff, blah blah blah), so I thought I'd missed a novel, but apparently I didn't. And it was a pretty dramatic death. But it happened off page, and between novels, so it was very jarring and awkward and I think I stopped reading that series soon after.

But I think there are also Dresden Files comics, short stories, possibly even web stuff.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I said it before on these boards, and I'll say it again: Don't judge a book by its movie.

I hated the historical / romantic film Gone with the Wind the one time I saw it. Among my reasons was that the main character, Scarlett, was an unlikeable brat. More generally, I found the characters unsympathetic and uninteresting. And I didn't expect the book to be any better.

Roughly twenty years later, I actually read the novel by Margaret Mitchell and loved it. Years after that, I started reading it a second time, and now I'm 99% through it.

One cool part of it was Scarlett's secret thoughts, which no movie could have conveyed as well as the book. For instance, Scarlett felt all along that the Civil War was a foolish and tragic waste of time, lives, and resources. But her society insisted that secession was a glorious and holy cause, worth fighting for. Having no practical reason to speak her mind on the subject, Scarlett kept her thoughts - on this and on other matters as well, such as flirting with men - bottled up inside. She had to pretend to think and feel the way society decreed she should think and feel.

And Rhett Butler could read her mind like a book. He knew exactly what she was thinking... and he loved her for it!

To me, that's amazing, even in fiction!

Some of the other characters were fascinating too. The novel delved into the history of Scarlett's parents, again in a way that no movie could. Mammy had the most profound wisdom. And Ashley was a nerd in shining armor.

I've long regarded The Count of Monte Cristo as my all-time favorite novel outside of fantasy and science fiction. I still do. But I'm starting to think that Gone with the Wind may come kind of close.

The Exchange

Krensky wrote:
Lord Snow wrote:

Finished two books since I last posted - The Lies of Locke Lamora (by Scott Lynch) and Proven Guilty (Dresden Files #9, by Jim Butcher). Next up I'll probably read Judas Unchaned, the second part of the Commonwealth Saga by Peter Hamilton. I might decided to finish N.K. Jemisin's Dreamblood first, though. We'll see.

** spoiler omitted **...

I liked Judas Unchained better than Pandora's Star, but be aware there's a lot more gunplay in it, especially ** spoiler omitted **. There's also a knockdown drag out fight between two massively enhanced people and a good bit of combat between the Primes and Commonwealth Ground forces.

Plus, you know, The Cat.

Dude, why the spoilers?

Either way, despite having prefered not to hear those news quite yet, I regard them as good. Hamilton actually writes great combat scenes, with a good mix of tensions and awesome SF ideas, but I'd prefer more of them than I get in his books that I've read (Pandora's Star and Fallen Dragon). It seems like he is way more interested in steamy sex scenes rather than adrenalin pumping action for the most part, which is less for my taste.


Limeylongears wrote:

Most recently:

'The Third Policeman' by Flann O'Brien

Does it live up to all the hype?


Doodlebug Anklebiter wrote:
Limeylongears wrote:

Most recently:

'The Third Policeman' by Flann O'Brien

Does it live up to all the hype?

I think it does, to be honest - nicely surreal and very funny, though I think appreciating all the jokes takes a pretty deep knowledge of Irish literature which I certainly don't have. Great twist at the end, too, though it's pretty easy to guess earlier on. Well worth 99p, anyway.


I come back to the thread and find out I missed a great post on child exposure. Well I've read it now.

Coriat wrote:
Now, on the cost side, it's not like you're springing for college tuition anyway. If it paid off to raise an infant born to slave parents to make a future slave (and we know from Roman slavery and other slave systems that it generally did) then the same holds for a foundling.

Or someone you just kidnap, which was a serious fear in the Antebellum South. Less so in free states, but I've seen quite a lot of references to it among free black parents below the Mason-Dixon. An adult might stand a chance of defending themselves (and might luck into getting killed in doing so) or raising a fuss that drew too many eyes, but kids were much more vulnerable. I don't know quite how realistic the fear was, but from the POV of the victim it doesn't really matter of the kidnapping took place in the context of a legal property transfer or some slaver just nabbing you off the side of the road. Kid's stolen either way and pretty near nobody will care enough to either look into it or set things right on the far end of the transfer.

Unless you're Solomon Northrup, but it took him twelve years to get loose. Had the incidental help of one of my favorite somewhat obscure Southerners too: Pierre Soule. Remarkably weird dude with what looks like a recent biography in French, but that's no help to me this long after high school.


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Samnell wrote:

I come back to the thread and find out I missed a great post on child exposure. Well I've read it now.

Coriat wrote:
Now, on the cost side, it's not like you're springing for college tuition anyway. If it paid off to raise an infant born to slave parents to make a future slave (and we know from Roman slavery and other slave systems that it generally did) then the same holds for a foundling.
Or someone you just kidnap, which was a serious fear in the Antebellum South. Less so in free states, but I've seen quite a lot of references to it among free black parents below the Mason-Dixon. An adult might stand a chance of defending themselves (and might luck into getting killed in doing so) or raising a fuss that drew too many eyes, but kids were much more vulnerable. I don't know quite how realistic the fear was, but from the POV of the victim it doesn't really matter of the kidnapping took place in the context of a legal property transfer or some slaver just nabbing you off the side of the road.

Plus ça change...

Harper, "Slavery in the Late Roman World, AD 275-425" wrote:
The literary documents of late antiquity were deeply anxious about the danger posed by "kidnappers," a word semantically equivalent in Greek to slave-trader [74]. Chrysostom knew that slave-catchers would "often hold out candies or cakes or dice or other things to little children to bait them." [75] Others reported very similar tricks. [76] Athanasius said that they would wait until the parents were gone and then snatch the child away. [77] Fathers had to worry constantly about slave-catchers. Augustine was aware of the danger that a child, angrily running away from a parent, would fall into the hands of slave-catchers. [79] Chrysostom imagined a pedagogue disciplined to keep a constant eye on the child going to school. [80] These writers had the city in mind. If slave-catchers worked the streets of Antioch, the problem must have been rife in the more vulnerable, rural parts of the empire. These warnings are proverbial, but in not every society does parental paranoia focus on the slave trade.

(I'm not actually sold that the problem must necessarily have been worse in rural areas, at least inland ones. Harder to melt away anonymously when you're the only slave trader that passed through town this year...)

The Exchange

What am I reading now, you ask?

Daughters of the Samurai: a journey from east to west and back, by Janice P. Nimura.

It's about five young daughters of disgraced Meiji-era samurai who were deputized to spend 10 years being educated in the United States of America, in order to acquire Western ways and introduce them to Japan. I'm enjoying it so far!


Went to the Nashua Public Library sale to pick up books for the Lowell Leftie Lending Library. Found two copies of Lefebvre's The Coming of the French Revolution which I took as a sign and started reading.

Speaking of, the Lowell Leftie Lending Library has loaned out two books*! Woo hoo! Let's see if they bring them back.

(I also fished out my copy of The Third Policeman to further the copying-Limey trend.)

*
James M. McPherson--The Negro's Civil War: How American Blacks Felt and Acted During the War for the Union

and

Malcolm X--The End of White World Supremacy


Finally found enough fortitude to stay awake late enough to read a few pages a night, and finished Jared Diamond's Collapse, which overall struck me as a very limited gloss over a few bizarrely-chosen examples.

Still, it was depressing enough that I'm now reading Dave Barry's Only Travel Guide You'll Ever Need, which includes a brief description of each of the 50 U.S. states and their cities and attractions ("Akron: Meeting Yesterday's Challenges Tomorrow"). After that there's a section with a few selected foreign countries, which includes helpful phrases in the local tongue that it might be useful to memorize (e.g., "Tuo fratello Raoul dormi con los pesces").


Comrade Anklebiter wrote:
James M. McPherson--The Negro's Civil War: How American Blacks Felt and Acted During the War for the Union

I've got a copy of that about four feet from me right now. You're book-stalking me! :)

Liberty's Edge

Lord Snow wrote:
Krensky wrote:
Lord Snow wrote:

Finished two books since I last posted - The Lies of Locke Lamora (by Scott Lynch) and Proven Guilty (Dresden Files #9, by Jim Butcher). Next up I'll probably read Judas Unchaned, the second part of the Commonwealth Saga by Peter Hamilton. I might decided to finish N.K. Jemisin's Dreamblood first, though. We'll see.

** spoiler omitted **...

I liked Judas Unchained better than Pandora's Star, but be aware there's a lot more gunplay in it, especially ** spoiler omitted **. There's also a knockdown drag out fight between two massively enhanced people and a good bit of combat between the Primes and Commonwealth Ground forces.

Plus, you know, The Cat.

Dude, why the spoilers?

Either way, despite having prefered not to hear those news quite yet, I regard them as good. Hamilton actually writes great combat scenes, with a good mix of tensions and awesome SF ideas, but I'd prefer more of them than I get in his books that I've read (Pandora's Star and Fallen Dragon). It seems like he is way more interested in steamy sex scenes rather than adrenalin pumping action for the most part, which is less for my taste.

Sorry, I didn't think I was really spoiling anything other than what was in the spoiler bracket, and even that isn't much. The military stuff was pretty much promised in Pandora's Star and on the Blurb. I'd also argue he's not interested in sex scenes per say, he's more interested in human interaction and sex is an important part of that. It is one of the hallmarks of the space opera genre. The scenes in Pandora's Star are really rather tame.

One of these day's I'll manage to read the rest of the series, but I keep bouncing off the next book.


Kirth Gersen wrote:
Still, it was depressing enough that I'm now reading Dave Barry's Only Travel Guide You'll Ever Need, which includes a brief description of each of the 50 U.S. states and their cities and attractions ("Akron: Meeting Yesterday's Challenges Tomorrow"). After that there's a section with a few selected foreign countries, which includes helpful phrases in the local tongue that it might be useful to memorize (e.g., "Tuo fratello Raoul dormi con los pesces").

Love Dave Barry; most humor books are more topical and set in the time period they're written in, but Barry has more staying power than most. Does that last sentence say "your brother Raoul sleeps with the fishes"? I assume that was for Italy...

Currently reading David McCullough's The Path Between the Seas, about what went into the Panama Canal. I'm about 75 pages in; it's good so far.

The Exchange

Krensky wrote:
Lord Snow wrote:
Krensky wrote:
Lord Snow wrote:

Finished two books since I last posted - The Lies of Locke Lamora (by Scott Lynch) and Proven Guilty (Dresden Files #9, by Jim Butcher). Next up I'll probably read Judas Unchaned, the second part of the Commonwealth Saga by Peter Hamilton. I might decided to finish N.K. Jemisin's Dreamblood first, though. We'll see.

** spoiler omitted **...

I liked Judas Unchained better than Pandora's Star, but be aware there's a lot more gunplay in it, especially ** spoiler omitted **. There's also a knockdown drag out fight between two massively enhanced people and a good bit of combat between the Primes and Commonwealth Ground forces.

Plus, you know, The Cat.

Dude, why the spoilers?

Either way, despite having prefered not to hear those news quite yet, I regard them as good. Hamilton actually writes great combat scenes, with a good mix of tensions and awesome SF ideas, but I'd prefer more of them than I get in his books that I've read (Pandora's Star and Fallen Dragon). It seems like he is way more interested in steamy sex scenes rather than adrenalin pumping action for the most part, which is less for my taste.

Sorry, I didn't think I was really spoiling anything other than what was in the spoiler bracket, and even that isn't much. The military stuff was pretty much promised in Pandora's Star and on the Blurb. I'd also argue he's not interested in sex scenes per say, he's more interested in human interaction and sex is an important part of that. It is one of the hallmarks of the space opera genre. The scenes in Pandora's Star are really rather tame.

One of these day's I'll manage to read the rest of the series, but I keep bouncing off the next book.

Sex is obviously a big part of human interaction, and in a society where older, more mature people get to have young bodies again it makes sense that there will be a lot of it going around... but even so, I feel like the books revolve around the subject a bit much for my taste. Not out of prudishness, but simply because space sex is less interesting to me than the other aspects of the book - politics, science, action, investigation and so forth. And, I feel, Hamilton's book are rather unusual in just how central sex is in them. At least in SFF terms.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Just finished The Mechanical by Ian Tregillis.

Very Minor Spoilers:

It ends on a total cliffhanger. Well, 2 1/2 cliffhangers. At least none are literal cliffhangers. I'm looking at you, Wake of Vultures by Lila Bowen.

Also, it had 3 POV characters, and sometimes they got their own chapters, and sometimes they just had breaks within chapters that feature 2 or 3 POVs or even alternated between POVs a bunch of times. It was a little jarring sometimes.

But other than that, really good. I really need to read the sequels!

About to start The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury.

Liberty's Edge

Lord Snow wrote:
Krensky wrote:
Lord Snow wrote:
Krensky wrote:
Lord Snow wrote:

Finished two books since I last posted - The Lies of Locke Lamora (by Scott Lynch) and Proven Guilty (Dresden Files #9, by Jim Butcher). Next up I'll probably read Judas Unchaned, the second part of the Commonwealth Saga by Peter Hamilton. I might decided to finish N.K. Jemisin's Dreamblood first, though. We'll see.

** spoiler omitted **...

I liked Judas Unchained better than Pandora's Star, but be aware there's a lot more gunplay in it, especially ** spoiler omitted **. There's also a knockdown drag out fight between two massively enhanced people and a good bit of combat between the Primes and Commonwealth Ground forces.

Plus, you know, The Cat.

Dude, why the spoilers?

Either way, despite having prefered not to hear those news quite yet, I regard them as good. Hamilton actually writes great combat scenes, with a good mix of tensions and awesome SF ideas, but I'd prefer more of them than I get in his books that I've read (Pandora's Star and Fallen Dragon). It seems like he is way more interested in steamy sex scenes rather than adrenalin pumping action for the most part, which is less for my taste.

Sorry, I didn't think I was really spoiling anything other than what was in the spoiler bracket, and even that isn't much. The military stuff was pretty much promised in Pandora's Star and on the Blurb. I'd also argue he's not interested in sex scenes per say, he's more interested in human interaction and sex is an important part of that. It is one of the hallmarks of the space opera genre. The scenes in Pandora's Star are really rather tame.

One of these day's I'll manage to read the rest of the series, but I keep bouncing off the next book.

Sex is obviously a big part of human interaction, and in a society where older, more mature people get to have young bodies again it makes sense that there will be a lot of it going around... but even so, I feel like the books revolve around...

You have very different definitions of revolve around and central.

The Exchange

Quote:
You have very different definitions of revolve around and central.

Well if it's mentioned every three pages or so, and appears in almost every single one of the dozens of subplots that compose the book, and is one of the most important parts of many characters and/or relationships between characters... to me, that's a central theme of the book. There are others - a book that is nearly a thousand pages long has a lot of room in it - but it is certainly a central one.

Liberty's Edge

Um... I just reread Pandora's Star and it's nothing like you describe.

Dark Archive

Set wrote:
Just re-read Bridge of Birds, by Barry Hughart, and it was as fun the second time as it was the first. Fun stuff set in an over the top 'mythic China.'

Turns out he has two sequels, The Story of the Stone (which I had to buy twice, since 'bunko' apparently means 'written in Kanji,' which I did not know...) and Eight Skilled Gentlemen.

Neither was as good as his first outing, IMO.

I kind of feel like I did with Neal Stephenson, whose Snow Crash was life-changingly hilarious, and whose later books have been meh.

The Exchange

Set wrote:
Set wrote:
Just re-read Bridge of Birds, by Barry Hughart, and it was as fun the second time as it was the first. Fun stuff set in an over the top 'mythic China.'

Turns out he has two sequels, The Story of the Stone (which I had to buy twice, since 'bunko' apparently means 'written in Kanji,' which I did not know...) and Eight Skilled Gentlemen.

Neither was as good as his first outing, IMO.

I kind of feel like I did with Neal Stephenson, whose Snow Crash was life-changingly hilarious, and whose later books have been meh.

I dunno. The Story of the Stone has

Spoiler:
the most hilarious and shocking encounter with a demon in Hell I've ever read.
However, SotS is the book I read first out of the trilogy (I didn't know they had a reading order), so I didn't read Bridge of Birds with the same set of expectations of it being better, which skews my perspective on the series.

I do agree with you about Eight Skilled Gentlemen. I liked the conclusion with the dragon-boat race, but it has a lot of plot problems. Even if you pay close attention it can be impossible to tell what is going on.


Finally done with Mason's Slavery & Politics in the Early American Republic. It's about three hundred pages of stuff I already knew, which eventually got a bit arduous. The poor quality of the Kindle version (missing images, no hyperlinks on footnotes) definitely contributed, but he really lost steam in the prose too. The last chapter is an especially tedious exercise in recapping every sectional crisis between 1820 and 1860-1 in a frustratingly oblique way too. He could have done the same in a paragraph and managed much better.

Bigger problem is likely that he's tilting at some historiography that I already don't take that seriously and does so in favor of an interpretation that isn't that far from it. Want to skip the reading, here's Mason's argument:

While slavery politics have generally been treated as latent or not that important in the era between the close of the Atlantic slave trade and the Missouri crisis (sometimes even later) they were actually a major feature of national debate and popular attention, if one often that also had a strong element of ordinary partisanship. As such, the sudden eruption of the Missouri controversy ought not be understood as a sudden eruption at all but rather one a long time coming and greatly abetted by the collapse of the Federalist party into a New England sectional operation. All that antislavery argument wouldn't have gotten them anywhere, let alone been significant enough for some northern Republicans to get on board with them, were it not genuinely popular with the voters. And by the way, most of the major antislavery leaders of the later antebellum have Federalist connections.

But the entirety of this is contained in the standard account of how the Second Party system relied on partisanship as an alternative to slavery politics, built around marginalizing and impeding antislavery.


Just finished Black Wings 2 and 3, Mythos horror anthologies edited by S.T. Joshi. Kind of wish I hadn't then followed that up with another S.T. Joshi anthology, And the Mountain Walked.

First...didn't realize he was the editor of the latter book; secondly, I find that his anthologies tend reuse the same stories. Which means I ended up flipping past a few stories that I had just read and wasn't quite ready to read again.

Also I sometimes find his selection of tales a bit odd. He often rails against pastiches and claims to focus on stories that capture certain essential aspects and themes of H.P. Lovecraft's work. But often he ends up including stories that really don't at all fit those themes, but happen to include some reference to the H.P. Lovecraft himself, or humorously (and sometimes badly) throw Mythos references into a comical story. It's especially annoying that he often skips over authors whose work he considers lesser or he feels "are overprinted", only to include things like Neil Gaiman's Werewolf vs Deep One story, which I have probably run across in 5 or so different anthologies without really trying. Like seriously I would much rather reach some good Bloch that as a mid thirties reader I haven't really come across yet, than skim past a recent story that I have already seen 3 or 4 times.


URSULA K. LE GUIN ON RACISM, ANARCHY, AND HEARING HER CHARACTERS SPEAK


Started Parable of the Talents.

Did a little looking on the internet and was instantly crestfallen to discover that there was supposed to be a third book in the series but she died before writing it. :(


Finished 'Galactic Patrol' by EE 'Doc' Smith, which I didn't like, and 'A Sampler of British Folktales', compiled by Katherine Briggs, which I did.

Now reading 'Assassin's Apprentice' by Robin Hobb and 'The Pike: Gabriele D'Annunzio: Poet, Seducer and Preacher of War' by Lucy Hughes-Hallett.

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