November 2011 Reading
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Halloween is gone and November has arrived. Whatcha reading?
I'm still working on Migration: Species Imperative #2 by Julie Czerneda. Waiting for it to heat up a bit...
Also picking out one of my next set of short stories to read. Probably going to just tackle another Year's Best collection, since I have a ton of unread ones.
I finished Reamde on Sunday. I started on Thursday and had read about 60 pages at the RPG club before people turned up. Didn't read any when I got back. I just breezed through. But I'm not NaNo'ing which must take quite a bit of your time.
Elizabeth Bear's Grail brings to an end her Jacob's Ladder trilogy, about a generation starship which uses continual 'evolutionary' struggle though out its voyage. The twist here is that it has lagged in technological development and the star system it is going to has already been settled. Just started Red Plenty which seems like a cross between a novel and a thesis....
#8 - I am! And having a blast with it. Although i didn't suspect it was going to be quite so funny as its turning out.
I am reading Christopher Priest's new novel, The Islanders, and it just keeps getting better. A highly unusual book, like shards of a broken mirror that are slowly pieced together, disguised as a gazetteer of a fictitious world (it's set in his Dream Archipelago). It's gorgeous. Lots of unreliable narrators and overlapping stories. It takes a while to understand how all these stories tie together.
>14: I really, really want to read that, so I'm glad to hear good things about it.
Currently reading Terminal World, my first non-Rev Space book by Reynolds. Definitely not in the same class, yet not so horrible as I'd feared given the reviews. But in spite of there being a lot going on, the book is just not terribly compelling.
#14 anglemark, I have enjoyed any of Christopher Priest's books that I've read and have been tempted to buy The Islanders. Your comments have increased the level of temptation.
I'm on the fourth book of The Dresden Files and am loving it so far. Some of the best stuff I've read, incredibly entertaining!
I'm currently slogging through Hell's Gate, but it's terribly hard going. The blurb sold me on a war between magic and technology, but at about 1000 pages in, it's been 90% politicking and screwed up attempts at 'diplomacy'.
Olympos by Dan Simmons. Just finished reading Ilium and it was faaaaaaaaaaaantastic!
Finished The Ethos Effect several days ago. I found it quite exceptional (4/5), and I'm sorry its over. If anyone has read it **SPOILER ALERT** and happened to wonder whether I would use the device; my answer is YES and I consider myself to be a fairly decent person. Would you use it?
Now reading the last two (those I haven't read) stories in The Engineer Reconditioned. Looking forward to his latest.
Almost forgot! Listening to Neal Gaiman's Fragile things again. I listened to it a couple of years ago and in my opinion this (the audio product) is one of the most finely crafted things there is on the planet (4.5/5). I'm incapable of giving a 5/5. This really irritated my students back when I was an TA.
I'm particularly found of "Other People" (found in "Fragile Things") and try to get guys in the program I volunteer at to listen to it because I feel its very relevant to D&A recovery.
#21 - I've started it several times and just can't make it even halfway and I really like Weber's work.
Reading Reamde. Incredible pacing. The first 200 pages have flown by. Of course, good pacing does not always mean a great story, but the other elements are good, too. Some of the characters are a bit cartoonish, but in an entertaining way (Devin "skeletor", Ivanov, etc.)
#27 psybre I bought a copy of Reamde when it was released, but I my son has it to give me as a Christmas present, so I won't be starting it until after Christmas. All the good comments about it are very reassuring.
>29 I had the same issue with Cyteen. I really enjoy a lot of her other books but had to put down this one about 1/3rd of the way through and have never gotten back to it.
> 13 I was a big big fan of D G Compton. Pretty much everything he wrote was worth the reading. I didn't realize till just looking around that he had some books after Ascendancies.
>29 & 30
Me too! I love much of Cherryh's stuff, but I found Cyteen draggy, wooden & lifeless. I did manage to finish it, barely. Also I found the main protagonist (I forget her name; the powerful woman who seems to be controlling much of the action) to be very distasteful, though I'm not sure the author meant me to.
It's kept me from reading 40,000 in Gehenna, which I own. I'll try it eventually, since Cherryh is so good -- maybe she finds her way back to life, there.
I've had the slab that is Cyteen sitting on my shelf for a few years now, and just haven't been able to bring myself to read it.
Cherryh is one of those authors that I stockpile though, mostly you will get something interesting from her work, and it's worth the time.
I did buy Regenesis and add it to my stockpile, so that probably reaffirmed my intent to get round to reading Cyteen eventually. Still, I have 50+ other Cherry books I will likely read first.
>35 - loved Cryptonomicon but had a hard time with the first book of the Baroque Cycle, Quicksilver - I'm still not sure if I'm going to finish the trilogy.
(36) "I have 50+ other Cherry books I will likely read first"
Wow...I've a measly 20 or so...
> 29 et seq.: I've had similar false start problems with Cherryh; struggled with Downbelow Station and The pride of Chanur (the latter probably because the premise sounded interesting, but when I read it I thought 'wish fulfillment cat fantasy - with politics'). However, Rimrunners and Hellburner I found quite gripping, and I was then able to attack Downbelow Station again, successfully.
I didn't think Pushing Ice was one of Al's strongest books. I felt the relationship between the two central characters was pushed too far to be implausible. And the ending reminded me a little of something by Sean Williams and Shane Dix.
If you want something to do with space travel and can wait until next April, that's when Rocket Science, the anthology I'm editing, will be published...
Re-reading my review, Pushing Ice had a great first third and last third but the middle was boring. You need to read it quickly, otherwise you may just find that you put it down in the middle and have difficulty picking it up again.
>46 Thanks for the tip on the anthology. Do you have a decent reader lined up for an audiobook rendition yet?
>49 Let me know what you think of Probability Moon. I tried the audiobook version but the reader was poor and so bailed out. That doesn't mean it isn't a good book. I may decide to read that series.
I've not even considered an audiobook version. I shall have to speak to my publisher...
Wow Reamde surprised the devil out of me last night. Talk about not being able to predict where a book is going. I love it!
Finished Terminal World on Saturday. I can't put my finger on why I found it so unengaging. It had plenty of the stuff I like in it, yet it never stopped being a chore to read. Back to the charity shop it goes.
#58 AHS-Wolfy No, it certainly did not. Same fast pace as The Gone-Away World, good humour, plenty of plot twists, entertaining characters, and a lot of fun. Very pertinent to life today.
I just started The infernals by John connolly. This is the YA sequal to The Gates of Hell are Open, Want to Take a Peek. I read the first one just because I like John Connoly, and I thought it may be similar to The Book of Lost Things. It wasn't, but it was hilarious and wierd in it's own way. Thus the sequal.
#62 Both. The print book will be published first, tho I'm intending to send out PDF ARCs beforehand. Afterwards, we'll put it up on Kindle and Smashwords.
#46 The book will be available for purchase online, but distribution to shops in the UK and US is bit beyond the publisher's capabilities.
63> Stanislaw Lem's Memoirs Found in a Bathtub is laying around here somewhere on my "to read" list. I've been put off by it being a translation, but I've heard nothing but good stuff about his work.
Stephen Baxter is one of my top five authors. I like his Xeelee sequence and Destiny's Children series books especially. Very much Hard SF.
So your copy of Memoirs Found in a Bathtub is actually lost, then? Have you tried looking in the bathtub?
Lol. No its qued on audio. It would go under "trying something new" so inertia has caused me to put it off. Is it something like Philip K Dick or Vonnegut?
Just about to read Eternity And Other Stories which has been clogging up my to read shelves for a while.
Despite, or maybe because of. Johan's glowing praise, in msg #14, of The Islanders, I am going to leave that until I have a long lazy weekend where I can give it the attention it deserves. I always find the Dream Archipelago stuff to be slower reads and when someone describes this current book it as "highly unusual" it doesn't sound as though I will find this one any different.
Entertained myself with reading a 1954 issue of Galaxy; a Fred Pohl story that read like something written twenty years earlier, some Sprague de Camp that I found quite objectionable, some decent Sheckley, a factual rocketry article by Willy Ley which shows he knew nothing about aerodynamics, and a serialised novel about a future where the insurance companies run the world which seemed (and mainly was) ridiculous but was strangely prescient over anti-capitalist protestors.
About to start Gibson's All tomorrow's parties.
Finished Probability Moon.
> 50 It's aggressively old-fashioned SF -- by which I mean the 1970's -- from data infodumps ("Automatically her mind reviewed the planetary data. Point six nine AUs from its primary, a G8 emitting .48 of Sol's energy per unit area....") to sketchy characters to a puzzle-driven plot involving an apparently primitive humanoid race to a bit of space opera involving a variant of crashing moons. It's dedicated to Charles, her husband Charles Sheffield I assume, and I took it as an OK attempt at an affectionate recreation, a la Borges' "Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote." It was slow going until page 186 in the hardcover, then went pretty quickly until the end. I put it on a par with Stableford's Daedalus series. OK enough for me to put the next one in the queue, not good enough to call it a hidden treasure.
75: Thanks. I actually like "info dumps" me being a geek and a dork with a science background.
Info dumps are just non-fiction. As such, it's all in the author's ability to make non-fiction interesting. (And, of course, the information having at least some ability to be interesting. There are probably some topics that would be very difficult to make readable info dumps out of.)
>76 & 78
My thing with info dumps is that a big part of what I read speculative fiction for is that sense of being thrown in medias res, that sort of pleasant sense of vertigo that results from being "thrown" into a situation/setting where you really don't know what the hell's going on (It's pleasant in fiction, anyway. In real life... not so much.) A great storyteller gives you just enough information so that you don't feel COMPLETELY lost & give up on the work; a not-so-great one does info dumps.
Reading Devils Planet by Manley Wade Wellman. One of those British pulp reprints from 1951 of a 1942 story from Startling Stories. Will have to scan the cover in. Typical excuse for a murder mystery thriller set on Mars. Silly but just as the thirsty Martians do in the story, we must return to our roots every once in a while.
Just finished Bitter Angels by C.L. Anderson, who turns out to be Sarah Zettel using another name (didn't realize that when I got it). I'm not sure why she did that, since it doesn't seem that different to me from her other stuff -- but that's fine with me, since I like her books. This was a compelling tale of oppression & intrigue, definitely cybertech-y and dark. Kept me wondering for a long time exactly what was happening and what was going to happen.
Now I've finally started North Wind by Gwyneth Jones. Not sure why it took me so long; I read White Queen ages ago & liked it, and loved Divine Endurance. So far it seems to live up to its predecessor. She does a great job on the misunderstandings of the two races, and their attempts to coexist better (or not).
Finished Outward Bound by James P. Hogan, one of the TOR Jupiter series of Juvenile SF Novels, and my 100th book of the year. :-)
I was very impressed by Red plenty. It is not science fiction as such but fiction about science. Just started How to live safely in a science fictional universe and am struggling to maintain interest in it.
I am about halfway through Phobos the third in the Steve Alten Domain trilogy. I liked the first two, and don't hate this one. I do find it somewhat convoluted though. Alot of jumping around in time, not only the stories perspective, but also characters.
#90 I enjoyed it. I like the Commonwealth universe even if P F Hamilton writes books you could bludgeon a cow with.
Anyone have any feedback for me on The Physiognomy The Well-Built City Trilogy, Book 1 by Jeffrey Ford? Is it at all Hard SF?
No. I wouldn't call it hard SF or even moderately hard SF. Pretty good book though.
Just finished Reality 36 (A), which I thought was a first-rate cyberpunk thriller.
I love those books by Ford, but think some sort of "weird magical metaphysical realism" instead. More "Flann O'Brien meets Bulgakov".
Yeah, LoP is scarce in the US. Mainly because it wasn't ever published here. According to Asher, publishers said it was "too long."
Because it was "too long"? Well I always have thought marketing is inscrutable at best and completely out of touch at worst.
#98 by randalhoctor> Yeah. I can only guess the publishers had never heard of Peter Hamilton or Tad Williams.
Asher must have learned his lesson, as he told me "To my mind, Polity Agent and Line War are more like one book". I wonder if the reason they became two had anything to do with the LoP experience.
Gave up on How to live safely in a science fictional universe as it is written mostly in 'Hitchhikerese'. Egans' Zendegi is hitting the spot...
Finished Reamde. I liked it a lot. Great pacing, and I like Stephenson's writing style. Although this is my first Stephenson novel, I can see why his hard-core fans would be disappointed - more of an action adventure than a deep exploration of some esoteric concept. Many of the characters (not all of them) were a bit cartoonish as well.
I'm definitely going to read more of his work.
104-Yeah, not looking forward to that one, but still have other Stephenson novels to tackle.
Read Fool Moon and on to Grave Peril. I don't love these, but I'm giving them a chance due to strong recommendations. I'm probably giving them longer chance than I normally would because the library in my new town has a terrible audiobook selection, but has all of the Dresden Files on hand.
105:Fool Moon is often cited as being the weakest by fans . From my own experience it does get better.
@ #69: Thanks for the correction. I should have checked the English title but I didn't have the books at hand and was too lazy...
Anyway, I think I should read more English originals anyway. I'm on my way through the Space Odyssey series in English and I enjoy the books a lot. I allready finished 2001: A Space Odyssey and 2010 Odyssey Two and I'm really close to the end of 2061: Odyssey Three. Need to buy the last book of the seris as well as the books Arthur C. Clarke wrote with Stephen Baxter. I enjoyed Baxter's books but even more the stuff Clarke wrote. Imho among the best sci-fi ever, I really need to get more of his stuff. Amazone used books here I come...
Just started 11/22/63 on 11/22/11. It has time travel in it so I guess it can be considered science fiction of a sort.
106: Yes, Fool Moon was messy, and I prefer simplicity. I will continue to give it a chance because I know Butcher wrote a longer arch that the stories fit into. Kind of like the tv shows I like, that started average and then picked up steam.
108: Loved the beginning and end of the series, the two middle books were readable though.
Sf umm The H-Bomb Girl did not realise it was a YA when I picked it up an ok read but oh so PC.
I also started King's 11/22/63 and certainly consider it SF with the time travel. Really enjoying it so far. The writing is very good.
#114 The first ever episode of Dr.Who was broadcast on Saturday, 23rd November, 2011, the day after JFK was killed. I mentioned that fact at work today and my colleagues asked me if I were suggesting a connection between the two events. Now that I hear King's 11/22/63 features time travel, then perhaps there is.
My memories of those two days...
OT, but thought some of you might wish to know:
Iain Banks interview on BBC Radio 6 on Sunday (27th November) at 12:00noon (GMT) - Talking about music and stories of student life and squatting.
I'm listening to WWW:Wake right now. I'm ashamed to admit, as a Canadian, that I haven't read any of Sawyer's books. The audiobook is quite well done. Sawyer did an introduction and apparently pops up somewhere as a character. The characters' voices are done by different narrators which makes it more like a radio play than an audiobook. (Yes, I am old enough to remember radio plays!)
A friend passed me Lord of Light which I'm loving so far (only a few pages in). I remember reading a couple of Zelazny's Amber books in high school, I feel I should search around to see what else he's written.
A Night in a Lonesome October is another of Zelaznys to look out for. Hard to find, and a very different book to Lord of Light. But some of Zelaznys best work.
Just finished Gridlinked. I really enjoyed it a great deal. long (pp.423) but very good (4/5).
I have a question regarding the "broken" golem 25 Mr. Crane: In Gridlinked Mr. Crane was bested by two ECS golem thirties and his brain removed and destroyed. How is it then that in Brass Man his bits were found, assembled (mostly), and Mr. Crane resurrected, if his brain was destroyed?
I'm sure it was explained. I just can't remember. Perhaps my brain has been partially destroyed by a golem 30 or maybe just all that proper living.
Finally got through all 5 books of A song of ice and fire and I'm very relieved that it's over. I kept reading it thinking/hoping that it was going to go somewhere but it never did. Oh well, can say I've read them now. Have moved on to hull zero three and am enjoying that so much more. I read embedded inbetween books 4 and 5 of ASOIAF and I really enjoyed that which I think made a dance with dragons drag so much more.
Angado (Dumarest of Terra #29) by E. C. Tubb , my 28th and last Dumarest book of the year. The remaining 4 books had smaller print runs and are now stupidly expensive.
It's not over. Well, I guess it might be over for you if you're tired of it. But the series isn't.
123> Re: Mr Crane (Agent Cormac series spoilers)
Skellor uses his Jain technology to reassemble the fragments of the AI crystal. It's a technology that in many ways is far beyond the top-of-the-line Polity technology.
I read the rather excellent Peter Watts short story The Things. It was the story of the movie The Thing, only told from the standpoint of the "thing". It added a wonderful new dimension on the whole story. You can read it online:
Other random freely available short stories I loaded onto my phone and read over the holidays:
Bad Medicine by Robert Sheckley (http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/9055)
Scales by Alastair Reynolds (http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/scales/)
Time Considered as a Series of Thermite Burns in No Particular Order by Damien Broderick (http://www.tor.com/stories/2011/05/time-considered-as-a-series-of-thermite-burns...)
Just finished Regeneration by Julie Czerneda. A good finish to the series, though once again a bit slow at the start. I wonder if anyone else can comment on how common that is in her other works?
What next? So many books to choose from, but I keep putting off The Princess Bride. May have to take a scifi sabbatical.
129> Yeah. That's it. I forgot to mark the post as a spoiler.
Also, thanks for the short story links.
Just starting The Fifth Head of Cerberus, which I've meant to read for years now.
Reading Dune after more than 20 years away. I knew it would be good, but I am amazed at how engrossing it is.
Myself, I'm reading The Freedom Maze, which is also the first e-book I read (I miscalculated how long my previous book would last and in panic had to buy some e-books). I had no idea what it would be about, but I enjoy it so far.
Good to hear!
For anyone interested, I've found there's tons of scifi stories freely (and legally) available. Of course, I'm sure there's some who will claim that me copying the webpage over to my phone and stripping out the surrounding site isn't legal. To them I blow a hearty raspberry.
Reading Bioshock: Rapture by John Shirley; never played the video game but the book's premise drew me in. Great in the first half, now tipping over into the horror genre which I've never been a fan of, but at least I saw it coming ...
Halfway through Against a dark background. It's a good read so far.
Learned from this site that JEM won the National Book Award for Science Fiction, which I thought was fascinating because previous to learning that I was unaware that there WAS a National Book Award for Science Fiction! :D
I'm currently reading three or four books at once right now, I keep getting distracted with the new shiny!
Always reassuring to see I'm not the only one with this problem. Having figured out how to download books to my cell phone has not helped matters much. :/
I finally got Reamde from the library just before going to see a doctor so I started reading it while I was waiting. I got interested in it immediately, which is great. Yesterday I started reading
The Pride of Chanur by CJ Cherryh and, just like the first 2 times I read it, I don't want to do anything else but read it and never finish.
#148 I think 1980 was the only year the NBA was awarded for Science Fiction. It was also awarded for Mystery and Westerns in that year.
Far Traveller Edited by J. Andrew Keith
Far Traveller (Issue #2, Fasa 1302) Edited by J. Andrew Keith (Sorry Touchstone is fried)
#153 I started reading Cosmonaut Keep when visiting my daughter in Edinburgh. I enjoyed reading about places I knew but in the future.
While I enjoyed the three books in the trilogy I found that onced I'd finished the last book the total was much more than the sum of the parts. A great trilogy. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
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