Busifer's 2012 in books
This topic was continued by Busifer's 2013 in books.
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I have approximately 100 pages left of The Dervish House, and much as I enjoy it is doesn't live up to the heights of River of Gods. IMHO. Perhaps the ending will change that - the near future will know!
This spring I look forward to reading the new Bren book, Intruder, which is due in March, and Outcast Blade, part 2 of the Assassini trilogy, likewise due in March. And last year I missed the release of #2 in Charles Stross' Halting State suite - Rule 34. I'm waiting for it to arrive at the post office, sometime soon :)
I'm also hopeful of finding new books and new to me authors but if I do have some specific intention with 2012 as a reading year it is to read more non-fiction, and to shave my unread CJ Cherryh books off the TBR stack. That they've been sitting there the way they have is a shame, considering how much I've enjoyed her other books.
Good luck with your good intentions for the new year! Your reading is always interesting to me so your thread is starred, again!
I'll star all reading threads as they emerge, even if I, like others, only say something occasionally :)
Me too Busifer! I have often followed your lead. I'm also thinking about joing Cherryh's site - I say "thinking" about it because we have to sell our house and move to town so I am thinking about a million things and don't sit down to the computer very often ):-}
I plan on reading Cherryh this year. Foreigner is right here waiting beside me. I'll be following your thread.
I have River of Gods on my bookshelf, based -- I think -- on your recommendation. I haven't got any really good science fiction on the shelf except for that, but I admit the size of the volume is intimidating!
I may need to go poke around and see if I can find some Cherryh that isn't 700+ pages in mass market paperback. The bindings on those don't stand up to hard use; by the time you've hit page 487, the spine is cracked and you're worried about the pages falling out. (grumble, grumble, grumble)
(6) Foreigner is great, GD! I've read the first three in that series, but got busy and put them aside, and now I've got a lot of catching up to do.
Cherryh will not 'baby' you, but puts you in the environment and situation, and you get the feel for the politics, etc, as you read.
I enjoy her stuff very much.
Thanks, all. I've yet some pages of The Dervish House left - the pace is picking up but so is life in general and I need concentrate on work for a while. But later today I'll get back to finishing it.
*enters stage left*
The Dervish House, finished. As expected I was rewarded for keeping up with it. It's a near-future SF, and I'm certain he uses a story-telling mode from some English-language classic as template but I'm not familiar enough with those to properly know - style sometimes obstructed story and that is the main basis for my guess.
We get to meet a lot of different people, only loosely connected by location, and we meet them for a short span of days. Monday to Friday, in which time everything changes. Will Adnan pull off his heist? Will Ayse find the Mellified Man? Will Georgios ever call Ariana?
I liked it well enough but still thinks River of Gods a superior book.
Next up is Deepness in the sky, which a colleague has force-lent me.
I was the other way around to you - prefered The dervish house to River of gods! Both were excellent reads, but I felt that McDonald didn't give equal weight to all his viewpoint characters in River, so they were just there to fill in plot details rather than as personalities in their own right, if that makes sense. Maybe because he had fewer viewpoints in Dervish house, I didn't have this problem with it. I'm really looking forward to Cyberabad days though, because his vision of the future India is fascinating.
Eight days later and A Deepness in the Sky is not going well. Part of that is real life issues like trying to combine care for son and time away from work due to that with lots of pressure from... work to get things done. Not much energy left :(
Received a new acquisition in the mail yesterday, though - Rule 34. I almost feel like stepping ahead and read that one instead but I will persevere. It is a loan and I will honour the lender by finishing.
Also waiting for me, at work, is Schools of thought: the development of linguistics from Bopp to Saussure. I had a discussion about it with a colleague about a year or two ago and couldn't find it anywhere for under US$220, so gave up - my colleague's copy was lost somewhere. Then he found his copy in the attic of his FIL upon which he lent it to me.
Lots of interesting reading ahead!
>14 Not to put too fine a point on it, but I thought River of Gods was a work of near-genius, and I liked The Dervish House better.
I know many people feel this way but I just... don't. It's a very good book, no dispute on on that. It just didn't engage on the level I had expected it to. Normally I would had expected it to be the reverse, I think the fantastical bits in River of Gods are over the top while Dervish House is more grounded, so to speak.
>17, 18: It would be boring if we all agreed and thought the same. I hope to have time to get into Reamde soon, I wonder which camp I will fall into on that one?
I've now read A Deepness in the Sky forever, not being able to read for several days in a row. 300 pages in it still feels like we're in the build-up phase, and there's +400 more pages to go before the conclusion.
It's a disturbing book, in some ways, and totally lacking the poetry of a Ian McDonald or Iain M Banks (yes, I think there's a poetic quality to the Culture novels) while being quite heavy on the ideological side, what with overt juxtaposition of two different ways of looking at life and the the value of life and humans.
Today I went to the the bookshop to fetch son's Reader's Badge (it's a programme the chain runs to get kids to read) and at the doorstep was a shelf with books that had been marked down. I shot a glance and IMMEDIATELY knew that 129 SEK (US$19) for a cookbook/reference on cheeses of the world was too good to pass by.
Accordingly I'm now the owner of a large, richly illustrated, work on cheeses.
Yes, what could I do? It just lay there, ambushing me!
Sadly the book totally misses to list The cheese from around here - I've mentioned it before; Västerbotten. Makes a laugh of the Italian parmigiana, imho. Still, a book listing (and showing images of) 450 cheeses from around the world?! With recipes?
I am not familiar with that one.
I love Havarti. It's not always easy to find here, however. :(
Port Salut! On a portabello mushroom with spinach. Yummm. I think that will have to be dinner tomorrow night.
Västerbotten cheese is only made by a small dairy in the county of Västerbotten, off the beaten track, out in the woods, in the village of Burträsk.
I did some research just now and Västerbotten is available in the UK, through the Waitrose shops, and in the US through some on-line sellers, like this - http://www.igourmet.com/shoppe/prodview.aspx?cat=1&subcat=Sweden&prod=84...
I don't know anyone who use it like they say in the text, though ;-)
Traditional is pies, grated on pasta, in sauces; with shellfish or roe.
Husband loves it on hard bread (knäckebröd).
Current favourite pastime of our son - reading in the bath tub.
I think he's related to me ;-)
I've got to get some of that Vasterbotten, because I love parmigiana!
Västerbotten is not as hard/dry as a mature parmigiana but it is definitely in the same taste spectrum.
When I lived close to a good cheese vendor I always had a special pecorino handy at home (Renero - not as salty as many pecorino cheeses can be but with a distinct nut flavour...). Then the shop changed ownership and the new owner didn't even understand what I was asking for so I had to resign to using parmigiana.
Then I realised Västerbotten did the trick and since then there's always some Västerbotten in the fridge.
There's so many cheeses out there it's impossible to say which is "best". To me it feels good to be able to support a small local dairy.
Here's some recipes using Västerbotten. The sheet is in English so I guess it was made with the UK market in mind -
I'm going to have to go to Waitrose on my lunch break and look for Vasterbotten now . . .
And your son is clearly a true Green Dragon in the making!
Oh! I hope no one is going to get too disappointed!
Here's a link to a Chanterelle & Västerbotten cheese (and spinach) pie I make sometimes which is a deli :)
(I hope it'll work...)
Quick question: Santathing very kindly gave me ares express fro Christmas. I've just noticed it's the 2nd in a series. I know you're a dedicated Ian fan, so I thought I'd ask: Do I need to track down desolation road first? or does it work well enough as a standalone to read it out of order. Some series' do, and some don't.
Actually, I haven't read either of them (yet).
I think our common acquaintance Surtac, over at Shejidan, is a better bet for that question - I seem to remember he's read them all!
That cheese and spinach pie sounds wonderful. I'm making a copy of the recipe! Thank you so much for sharing it, Busifer!
OK, now for something completely different!
How odd is this? Yesterday while browsing my FB feed I realised that Person A had Liked a photo posted by Person B, and I had no idea they knew each other!!! I made a comment, and Person C, who is a long- time friend of A, said "well, I'm the link between them". Well, makes sense, but still a coincidence.
Then, later, Person D peeks by and says hi on the thread - he recognised me from LT.
Apparently he too knows Person A (and one more of my friends).
The world certainly is becoming small.
>45: Similarly, last night just for curiosity's sake I browsed LinkedIn's list of suggested contacts for me, those with whom I have connections in common. I started looking at those with two or more connections and discovered to my surprise that many of them--more than a dozen right at the top--have common connections I never would have suspected. For instance, one is linked to me by two former coworkers at different companies, many years apart. Another is linked by a former boss and a current member of my writing club. And another is linked by a long-ago colleague of mine and a former employee of my husband. I never would have guessed that those people knew each other.
The Västerbotten is delicious -- nutty, with a long pleasing aftertaste. I understand the comparison to parmigiano. They are both quite good. Thanks for the introduction, Busifer.
Thank you, and pleased to be of service.
I was a bit worried there for a while, imported cheeses made in small quantities can be very expensive and there's always point where price is too steep to motivate purchase, however good the product is :)
This is true. The shipping was more than the cheese, as they overnight it to prevent damage due to temperature, etc. But now I know Västerbotten, so it was worth it, and on another occasion when I encounter it, I could buy some for less, or place a larger order for more items reducing the shipping expense.
OK, so this isn't really about me, but my nephew has had problems with reading - he's dyslectic. Some years ago, before he got diagnosed, I gave him The Hobbit, hoping it would wake his interest.
Now he has managed to read it, and he liked it a lot, so my sister called and asked me for what to present him with next (actually, he went on to LoTR - he's reading TTT now, in school).
I suggested The Earthsea trilogy, and it turned out to be a hit. And I'm kind of proud.
He's a bright kid but he has so much problems very few manages a) to see that and b) treat him with respect.
And it's always fun to be able to inspire others.
How wonderful to be able to inspire and encourage your nephew. Is he reading in his own language or coping with a second language while mastering the texts? Earthsea was a great suggestion. What's next?
I've just finished River of Gods, partly as a result of this thread. I'd been impressed but not amazed by The Dervish House. Now I'm amazed. Sure, ROG has some flaws and, I believe, several unnecessary characters (and too many typos--but that is so common in the current mess of publlishing!), so it lags in a few spots, but I do think it's brilliant.
Finished A Deepness in the Sky last night. I had to force myself to sit down and just finish it.
I'm very glad that I read it but it was a big thing to chew on, and that's why it took me over four weeks to finish - I just didn't feel compelled to pick it up so went days in a row without reading, then read some, and then put it down again.
I think this is the first truly epic SF work that I've read - every other epic SF that I've read pales in comparison, and I can't say that any of the 780 pages was unnecessary but what were there was highly ideological, thesis-driven, lacking in poetry and character development. What saved the day, character-wise, was the aliens, which were very good, IMHO.
I'm rambling, I know, but I'm going to gather my thoughts and then write up a proper review, later... :)
Edited to add: Finished my review, and here it is -
Finished Rule 34 just now, and it was a much easier read than A Deepness in the Sky; if not for the contents then at least for its writing and pacing - so fast and fun that I never did start to get annoyed at the police/crime novel paraphernalia it is stuffed with.
The topics are serious enough. Are we set up to recognise a machine trying to trick us? What about personal integrity in the networked society?
In its analysis of the world and where we are headed - this is the future, remember? - is harshly political.
But it is lined with throwaway catchphrases inserted in the text, like the "keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road" line, and with local colour and quirky people.
And in the end, the twist, which had been brewing for some time, so not entirely unexpected but well pulled.
So - political and fun police procedural in a future where not all criminals might be human... even if they're not from outer space.
Perhaps not the most brilliant book ever written, but I liked it. A lot.
#56 "And in the end, the twist ... well pulled"
I like the way you put this just because it reminds me so much of taffy (or toffee) pulling where you pull the pieces of warm taffy out long, then fold and twist it together, then pull again and twist again...
Anyway, the way you put the words together gave me an unexpected "twist" :)
Well, I haven't read anything by Charles Stross yet. Perhaps Rule 34 will do well for my current mood.
Finished The windup girl yesterday. Very "William Gibson meets Ian McDonald" (and in the same general vein as Jon Courtenay Grimwood, before he started on his latest vampire spree). Accordingly I enjoyed it immensely despite a slight... I don't know. It felt like a first book, even if I know it isn't.
Very good, though, and highly recommended :)
Now on to Inside Apple, before I dive into the new Bren book, due soon!
Glad to hear that you enjoyed The wind-up girl. It is on my tbr pile, but I've heard mixed reviews since I bought it. I'll try to read it myself this year.
There is a category challenge group read of The Windup Girl scheduled for next month. I hope to get to it then.
Wolfy - What does category challenge group read mean? Where would I find the group read?
It's just one of the reading challenge groups that are available on LT. This particular one is where you select a number of categories based on the current year and read x number of books within each of those categories. For example this time around there are 12 categories and for a full challenge there will be 12 books in each of those totalling 144 for the year or there are variants avaialable. The categories themselves can be as specific or broad as you want them to be, the choice is entirely yours. Here's the group page if you want to take a look.
#64 and 66:
I joined but there is no way in hell I can read 144 books. I plan to just read as many in each of my twelve categories as possible and let it go at that.
majkia, there's no chance for me either. I did the stepped variant of the challenge last year and again for this time around. 1 book for cat.1, 2 for cat.2 etc. Still totals in at 78 books and the way things have been going for me this year I'm not sure I'll make it especially if there's a few books that pop up outside of my chosen categories that must be read immediately.
Finished Inside Apple yesterday. Lots of things that I already knew, I read a lot of books about the rise of the personal computer age back in the 90's (Hackers, Insanely Great, Where Wizards Stay Up Late, Accidental Empires). And the author himself says he has not been able to interview anyone presently high up in the Apple hierarchy.
What this book tries to add is some kind of analysis as regards the general viability of Apple's (or Steve Jobs') methods for doing business and running organisations. In this he succeeds so and so and part of that is the unwillingness of the author to come down on either side of the fence - he's obviously impressed with the products and the mentality that led to them, wanting Apple to have staying power, while at the same time doubting that the people presently at Apple will be able to uphold the cohesiveness a single dictatorial leader can.
I'll muse more on this in my review, I think, (I'll post a link when I've written it) but for now I have promised son to build a racecourse with him (vintage Märklin Sprint - we finally deemed him old enough to use it, if under supervision)!
Nice job, Bus. Pardon the pun.
I think you've told me what I need to know, and while the book might be interesting to me, I really just needed to read your review.
Finished History of Science, 1700-1900, from the Teaching Company, today. It wasn't that bad but I feel it could had been so much better. Too much scientific detail and too little historical context, in my opinion.
Finished Intruder. What can I say - it's a Bren book ;-)
Clearly and not unexpectedly it sets the stage for this new story arch and we get yet more insights in the horrors of power manoeuvring inside the most secret of Guilds...
Unfortunately the bad proofing acts as stopper. I don't remember if this was the book that got in the hands of the unqualified editor - the one that changed everything making CJ having to go back to some earlier edition, fast-editing to get it right - but it would seem so to me. I do hope this gets fixed to the paperback edition because it sheds a bad light on Cherryh's otherwise excellent writing skills.
Now I'm going to pick up Ture Sventon Privatdetektiv : en samlingsvolym again - I had only 70 pages left in that one when Intruder arrived but as always a new Cherryh takes precedence ;-)
(74) That's #13 in the series? Oh, have I ever gotten behind...I've only read the first three in the Foreigner series.
I wish her publisher would "allow" Ms. Cherryh to publish the long desired third book in the Nighthorse series (Rider at the Gate and Cloud's Rider).
And a sequel to Hellburner would be nice: I sort of felt the end wasn't quite completed...
The rumour mill says she has a new Alliance/Union book up her sleeve, but first she need to get done with the Foreigner books she is contracted to write - I think that would be up until Foreigner #15, but I'm not entirely sure... and I do think she's writing #15 just now...
And I need to write a review for Intruder. It's just that I'm writing reports 24/7 at the moment and it kinds of comes in the way ;-)
(I've never read the Nighthorse books, or Morgaine... so many books, so little time!)
I hope that rumor is true, Busifer, and that she gives us another A/U book soon.
And I would not mind another trip to Meetpoint and visit with Pyanfar... :)
Yeah. What if the mysterious place the Mazianni had found was in Compact space?!?!
Well, I really don't think it's probable but it would be... satisfying!
It's all devoutly to be wished, but one wouldn't advise holding one's breath...
I'm guilty. Yes, I have reread Intruder, immediately. The editing misses still jumps out somewhat but wasn't as prominent as on the first read ;-) and I must emphasise that this instalment is a good read, a good continuation of the series - and what seems to be a domestic problem in the aiji's family turns out to be much much more than that. But at the end stability is established and the scene is set for what is to come, one year from now when #14 hits the shelf.
Had to go back to the Foreigner universe. Just HAD to. So I reread Deceiver and Betrayer these past days.
As usual when a new Cherryh arrives I read it and love it but feel a bit unsure about how much of my liking it is because it's good and how much is down to, erm, being a fan. But reading those two AFTER having read Intruder showed them to be real real good. In fact they were better now, when read as "history", than they were on my rereads of them prior to the release of the present book.
My being a fan is thus justified ;-)
In high anticipation I today went to the SF/F bookshop to pick my copy of Outcast Blade. Of course the bookshop had mixed it all up - no apology offered, grumblegrumble - but I released Hull Zero Three from its imprisonment and it now lives on one of my shelves, waiting to get read.
I also tried to find a copy of Jo Walton's Among Others to set free but no luck. Or perhaps I didn't manage to navigate the obscure shelving system they have...?
I think I might try to get my hands on it through the innarnets instead where I don't risk having to confront snotty clerks (more grumbles).
In other "news" circumstances has conspired to make me want to read old friends so I'm off in Foreigner universe still. Soon ready to resurface but not just yet ;-)
I can understand the comfort of settling in with old friends. I used to do it all the time, not so much anymore. My 11yo is the same; he enjoys reading Rick Riordan's Olympian books over and over again, giggling over old jokes and catching onto tidbits he'd missed or forgotten from previous readings. I've been getting frustrated because there are sooo many great books I'm looking forward to him enjoying and he has several half finished books on the go. But I shouldn't complain. It's not like he never finishes other books and he's a great reader. Quick, someone give me a thump on the head to straighten out my thinking!
What about a *thwack*? ;-)
I can't go on reading only known books forever but there's too much emotional stress, paired with too much physical pain, and I need a comfy pillow to settle on for a while yet.
All my TBR's looks to be grim stories and while I'm sure they're good books grimness is not what I need, right now.
"A thwack's as good as a thump."
Thanks, Ladies :o)
Definitely, I agree grim stories would not be good right now. I hope the pain and stress begin to lessen soon. I'd wrap you up in a cozy blanket as well if I could, but I'm glad your comfort reads are helping.
Well, I FINALLY got through hiding in the atevi universe but reading was then stopped by a vicious workload. But. But but but. Now I'm on the road again and it feels marvellous!
First off is The Outcast Blade. There's about 150 pages left of it and I remember why I had to pre-order this as soon as I had finished the previous book (The Fallen Blade) - I have long enjoyed the writing of Jon Courtenay Grimwood but here he has matured to something of his full capacity as an author. And that DESPITE him now writing in a genre I normally avoid like it was pestilence. Or maybe BECAUSE. I'm starting to think that he has written these books to show the amateur vampire teenage angst-writers how a proper book should be done; as exercise and show, as a test of himself, perhaps.
Anyway, I do like this book as much as I liked the previous, and I'm looking forward to the concluding volume sometime this time next year.
Nothing is like waiting!
I really want to read Fallen blade; the alternate Venice setting sounds great, and I like books that set the record straight when it comes to vampires! Glad to hear that the sequel is of the same quality.
Well, I do have some pages to go before I can tell for real but this far I think it is a story both well conceived and well executed. Some turns are a bit too unrealistic but it IS a story filled with the undead, with magic, and werewolves. In Venice. So unrealistic is to be expected, is it not? ;-)
The more I read Outcast I feel a Fionavar vibe resonating off it, though - the academic exercise vibe. This could be because it is so different, in some ways, from his previous works (of which my fave is the Arabesque suite (which starts with Pashazade) - I don't know. Because these books are also kindred - young men who don't know what they are, suddenly finding themselves in circumstances that they don't understand; scheming and politicking; alternate versions of existing places; and a run-down grittiness.
Oh well. Sometimes analysing don't make things better, heh? ;-)
This is a good book, though :)
Finished The Outcast Blade last evening and it was great all the way. Not a 5-star, though, because as mentioned before some things were just too fantastic.
The book ended with a mention of some Carpathian estates... ;-)
Proper review will come but I haven't had time to write it up yet.
My review of Outcast Blade, finally -
And I just now decided my next read will be Joe Haldeman's The Forever War, which I had planned to read for a group read last fall only other things voided that plan.
Finished The Forever War last night. By modern standards it's a slim volume but still took time to get through, mainly because while well written and all that it didn't manage to capture me. As most of my critique against the book sits firmly in the political spectrum, not to mention it will clash rather violently against the beliefs of several of my fellow GD denizens, I'll not comment it here. Review soon up on my blog, though, and as usual I'll post the link here.
Now I'm off to do some spring cleaning (yes, it seems like spring FINALLY have decided to stay for now)!
I know Haldeman's an award winning writer, but I confess that I've never read any of his work. Once I saw it tagged as military sf (in terms of general sub-genre), I knew I wouldn't find it terribly attractive.
Perhaps a healthy dose of fairy-tale fantasy would be easier to get through right now?
Lol, I often read and enjoy military SF but this was just not my thing. I'm still working on the review and will stay away from the specifics when here in the Dragon, but I think he is naive as regards why war comes to be.
So, my The Forever War review - http://reconsidering.wordpress.com/2012/04/29/review-the-forever-war-by-joe-hald...
At your own risk ;-)
I decided I would read Serpent's Reach - I have a stack of unread C. J. Cherryh that wants read. But I don't know what it is but I've been carrying around since I finished The Forever War without making any significant advances.
I will prevail, of course - many of her books can be a bit hard to get into (and some can be hard start to finish, like Forty Thousand in Gehenna which was VERY good but a struggle nonetheless) but at the moment it is irritating.
Finished Serpent's Reach last night. The first 50 pages took forever, then it just said swoosh!
Signature Cherryh, definitely, even if it is an early one. Good aliens, and even the humans are scarily alien.
In our galaxy, in a future far far away humans have happened upon a strange race, a hive mind. Only one Family is accepted but once accepted the human Alliance puts the whole area under quarantine. Thus isolated humanity develops in a carefully balanced symbiosis with their hosts. When we enter the story 700 years later the social and economic inter-species contracts are just about to crack...
Review will be up later :)
ETA: It is somewhat similar to Forty Thousand in Gehenna but not as... grim.
Here's my review of Serpent's Reach, finally - http://reconsidering.wordpress.com/2012/05/10/review-serpents-reach-by-c-j-cherr...
I think Greg Bear's Hull Zero Three will be next.
#104 "ETA: It is somewhat similar to Forty Thousand in Gehenna but not as... grim."
Yes that seems about how I found it. For their time when a lot of the more classical authors were writing trivial SF some of these early Cherryh stories are amazingly complex.
Not read that one from Bear. He can be a bit hit and miss. Interested to see what you make of it.
It's my first Bear so have no idea what to expect. So far so good but I'm still early on in the story so it can turn out either way.
I fully agree on the complexity of her early stories and the comparison with her peers. Even the more difficult 70's and 80's works are often light compared to the issues she tackles, and the tone in her works are often quite dark too.
Finished Hull Zero Three.
The lead character - who goes unnamed for most of the book - suddenly finds himself in a situation totally unexpected. He's on a generation ship and ought not to have been brought about until landing but finds himself naked, clueless, and assaulted by weird killer-monsters. He needs to find out what went wrong but first he need to survive. Not the easiest of tasks...
Definitely not an important book.
But when all's said and done it felt like so much air.
ETA - my review is here; http://reconsidering.wordpress.com/2012/05/14/review-hull-zero-three-by-greg-bea...
I often add here when I have finished a read but I feel the urge to comment on my present one already. Some years ago I received Darwin's Sacred Cause: Race, Slavery and the quest for Human Origins - my father had gotten two copies and asked me if I wanted one. It's quite the brick and I haven't been in the mood to read it but once I picked it up I must say it was unnecessary to keep it off - it is a real good read!
Most biographies are dead boring. My interest in knowing who said what to whom, or who slept with whom, or in what drugs they used, or how horrible it is to do whatever they did is absolutely nil. This is nothing of that. Instead it is a history of the 19th century British Empire, slavery and abolition, and over political discourse, economic change, and history of science.
Very interesting, and well written.
Even if even I would need a flowchart to map all people featured, and their political leanings and personal interpretations of science and christian belief.
Finished Darwin's Sacred Cause earlier today. Perhaps not brilliant but very very good, from start to finish. Places science not outside and unaffected by what is going on in the world but at its very centre, tugged this way and that by reality.
Highly recommended. Haven't written a review yet - started it but can't get my cards right, it seems.
New try tomorrow ;-)
Review, or rather - musings based on the book - is now up :)
My brain is still busy with the Darwin bio so it is a bit difficult to come up with an idea about next read. Finally my choice landed on Persepolis, though. I have meant to read it for some time and while I don't expect it to be very light I'm sure it will be less scholarly ;-)
I felt like reading Europas idéhistoria 1492-1918 Världens ordning ("System of the World") and Europas idéhistoria 1492-1918 Mörkret i människan ("The Dark Side of Humanity") but each is a +700 page brick of scholarly analysis of how ideas and ideology have evolved in Europe and to be frank the... capaciousness of the volumes is a bit intimidating.
Less scholarly has much to recommend it! And Persepolis is less than 700 pages -- even if you look at all four volumes.
I almost breezed through Persepolis (1-4, its an omnibus) last night, had to stop myself with less than a third left to ensure I got some sleep :)
Finished Persepolis yesterday. Great book, highly recommended to those who haven't read it yet. I was a bit disappointed at the ending, it felt a bit abrupt, but other than that not only very good but also consistently drawn. Not to mention brave. And important, in that it shows us that humans are humans, everywhere - no hidden devils among the antagonists.
As mentioned somewhere else I decided to reread Unseen Academicals, what with the Euro 2012 Finals and everything.
It feels kind of weird, my first "read" of it wasn't a proper read but a listen - I got it on audio when it first was released. Didn't like it much back then - a bit better now as I actually READ it instead of having it READ TO me but still not his best. I often enjoy it when different plotlines are interwoven and seldom have any troubles with lots and lots of seemingly unconnected characters. The approach calls for tight telling, though, and Unseen Academicals is way too sprawly for easy reading, in my opinion.
Still, a decent read, and after not having read any Discworld in some years (actually - not since I listened to this, which must be about three years or so ago) I felt an urge to revisit old friends, particularly one of the books with lots of Vetinari in it - he's by far my favourite character.
Who knows, I might even pick Monstrous Regiment up again for a new try - that was the one book that started to put me off Discworld. That's still in the future, though - if I pick another now it will be something a bit more entertaining.
Night Watch on the other hand is a definite favourite so it's not the overtly political as such that gets to me - it's only when it's paired with less than stellar writing that I feel let down.
I totally agree that he's better than most, even when he's not at his best. Personally I remember liking Interesting Times but I also like Moving Pictures A LOT, not to mention Small Gods.
It is definitely time for reviving the acquaintance, I need diversion among serious reading I have to do for work :)
Oh yes, I think Small gods is my favourite of the series, if I had to pick just one!
Small Gods - Is that the one with the God of Missing Socks and God of Broken Pencils (or something like that)? I'm not a huge Pratchett fan, but that book was kind of fun.
It's been such a long time since I last read it so I don't remember. Mainly I remember the basic premise of gods needing believers to exist (perhaps time for a reread).
I think you're thinking about Good Omens, which he and Gaiman co-wrote?
Extremely funny, I've reread it many times - it even had me thinking I would like Gaiman's writing (which I don't).
You're right. That was the one I meant. *sigh* Middle age and all that.
I think Gaiman and Pratchett complimented each other very well in Good Omens. Gaiman became less dark/edgy and Pratchett less overtly silly. This is my favourite book by each author.
I decided to reread Going Postal. The decision was made by going up to the shelves with Discworld books on them and just taking one out.
Quit fun, in the twisted way of classic Pratchett, but also a bit quaint - the clacks is the internet and the clacks workers are internet nerds, and while there's a side story about conmen and confidence tricksters and greed the main plot is about the traditional snail-mail (or as we call it at work - the Adidas network) versus the new superfast email.
By now, this many years later, we know the postal services now mainly shifts packaged goods, mail order stuff, which has made them competitors to DHL and their ilk. And the talk about the clacks workers being such idealists that they'd work even if they wouldn't get paid are history too.
Still, a fun read.
I loved Going Postal for the descriptions of the postal workers (my husband is one), and I will never forget the way he humanized words on paper and gave them a power. I have two or three more Discworld books to read, then I can begin rereading them! :)
I went on to reread Night Watch, and then Snuff; Night Watch was just as I remembered it, and Snuff was better than expected - fun, well paced and with a message.
That said I'm not entirely certain that I approve of how the characters have evolved over time. Initially most of them were as cut from a comic book but by now they are starting to acquire depth and a human touch and I'm not sure it benefits the format. Somewhere along the way they cease to work as illustrations of human behaviour and starts to engage in their own right, because we want to know what happens to them. In most books that is good but I sense in this case there's a risk - allegory failing, turning into sitcom, albeit a written one.
Somehow I think this has happened to CJ Cherryh's Foreigner series as well, even if it's in a kind of a West Wing meets James Bond way, if you get my drift. Perhaps this is a risk of long series, that the characters stop standing for something and instead starts independent lives?
In a one-off book or a shorter series, I think these qualities are good but as I said I'm especially uncertain when it comes to Discworld.
>127- isn't the clacks more of a semaphore version of the telegram rather than the internet?
Going Postal is the only TP that has been made into any excellent TV show/ film though.
I've always felt it to act as a symbol for everything internet - the way it has changed information flow and speed, how that changes society, etc. Of course, supposedly it was the same with the telegraph but I see Discworld as a mirror to our own and then internet makes more sense than telegraph.
BTW, I'm now reading In the plex, about Google. In many ways very interesting. I have engineer friends and colleagues who think Apple super-evil and Google the the epithome of good. This far into the book I think them very much alike.
Still on vacation, pecking away at my phone keyboard, so deeper thoughts will have to wait...
I sympathize with your opinion of Google and Apple. I heard a new acronym recently -- GAFA. I couldn't fathom what Internet Giants were being referred to until a friend explained that it was the acronym for Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple. It was only a few years ago that the acronym was GYM (Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft). *sigh*
Enjoy your vacation! Getting away is a key mechanism for staying sane.
Today I liberated an outdoors stairway from its vegetational cover. Almost 1,5 metres high, in places! The scythe is my friend... And I made some rhubarb/mint ice tea, despite it not being ice tea-hot out - I figure it works well as a refresher in any weather, and besides no one except me wants one more rhubarb pastry.
But tonight I'll continue reading about Google. Ever since I read Hackers I have liked Steven Levy's books and this far it is living up to my expectations :)
I love rhubarb...not had it in ages. My mother used to stew it, yummy!
Rhubarb compote is a deli but absolutely vicious - too much sugar!
The rhubarb/mint ice tea is good too.
Presently I'm looking for rhubarb in food recipes, we can't stuff any more sweets...
Aha! Got it, can't use the left pointing arrow or the post will be marked 'deleted'!
Sorry for the derailment of the thread....
All I wanted to say was this:
I will accept donations of rhubarb...
Busifer, I had some success awhile back with rhubarb and chili and pork, but I don't remember what I did now. It must have had something a bit sweet too, either a fruit or some agave nectar or brown sugar? Raisins?
Hmn, sounds like worth experimenting with - I'll give it a try. Thanks!
I just finished In the Plex, the book about Google that I have been reading for most of my vacation.
I also just now returned home and am a bit weary from travelling for two days, most of which I have been looking at 960 kilometres of same-same roadscape; makes the brain go soft, if anything, which is why I have yet to pen a review. However, what stands out is the similarities between Google and Apple. Being a megalomaniac control freak perpetually questioning the sanity of others seems like a winning concept in Silicon Valley... ;-)
Finally managed to write up my review/thoughts about In the Plex!!!
Tomorrow morning I'm off to Denmark for a handful of days and I think I'll bring Player of Games with me. Not that I expect much reading time to happen while at Legoland, but who knows?!?!
I really enjoy reading The Player of Games. In some ways it is very different from the other Culture novels that I've read, perhaps with the exception of Inversions. Twice now the author has told the reader to expect some sudden revelation and still I feel drawn into the story.
It feels so good not have to struggle with a book!
I thought Player of games was excellent. Glad you are enjoying it!
Just finished The Player of Games; absolutely loved it.
I thought the ending a bit... hollywoodesque, but the rest is just brilliant.
Brilliant pacing, brilliant storytelling, brilliant world-building. Even the characters, who admittedly don't get much of the author's attention, is very nicely done.
As horrible, in it's way, as any of the other Culture novels, but in a manner more restrained.
That he manages this when the objective seems to be to put our own society up there for scrutiny - for what else is the Azad Empire, I ask, than the capitalist society? - cannot be anything else than sleight; we see it in the clear yet our brains don't register it, not consciously.
Now I need to write up a review.
Redshirts should be in the mail, due to arrive tomorrow, so I'll hold off starting a new read until then.
If it doesn't arrive I might start Keeping it real, which has been lying around for some time.
If possible I'll detour to the SF bookshop tomorrow, to get one or two more Culture novels (I've still three books to read to get a full set - State of the Art, Excession and Matter.)
So, here's my review -
Doing some research for it I found another Culture novel is to be published soon - Hydrogen Sonata. Of course I pre-ordered it ;-)
October can't come fast enough!
Which is a good thing, given the lousy summer we had, predominantly cold.
One minute ago I finished Redshirts and you know? It was an awesome read! Thanks everyone who pointed me in its direction :)
I expected it to be a fun romp but instead it was somewhere in-between a romp and a profound and clever piece of SF in its most meta form; discussing SF itself.
Didn't see that coming.
Don't know if I'll manage to write up a review tonight.
Oh, that's good to hear about Redshirts, Pella! It's in my near future, and sounds even better than I was hoping.
#152 - YAY!!!! I thought you'd appreciate the twists it took. (Wasn't sure, though.) :oD
I LOVED Redshirts! I will try to get my review up tonight. (It will be more of the same that everyone else has already said)
ooh another one to add to the wishlist. I've heard lots of people comment on it.
I knew the audiobook is narrated by Wil Wheaton but I didn't know Scalzi also dedicated the book to (among others, but anyway!) him, and that he was a alfa reader.
I mean, in this context it's so cool (and very meta, lol)!
I started on Walter Isaacson's Jobs-biography some time ago but had to put it aside. I'm not sure I'll pick it up again. Meanwhile life became too stressful and I needed a comfort read so I put up Lions of Al-Rassan. Again ;-)
I am amazed at how many times I can read this book and still feel it sucking me in.
It's on my Kindle for future consumption in a kind of a TBR queue. I just need to get past this wretched Coursera experience (when I will be allowed once again to read at whim!)
BTW, so sorry to hear that you feel you and your family absolutely must move to a new neighborhood. But you said something that I wasn't quite clear on -- that you needed to find some family willing to swap apartments with you. (At the risk of sounding like a very spoiled, insular American, is there a housing shortage there? I feel like there's a nuance to moving there in Sweden that I haven't encountered before. (And I do apologize if I'm making you repeat something you've explained before or elsewhere on LT.)
Re housing: yes, it's a shortage, especially in the big city regions such as the Stockholm area, which is where we live. If we lived in a flat that were tenant-owned, ie the house is owned by the tenants through an association, we could sell our share in the association and then buy an new share, somewhere else. But we live in a rented flat. This was once very common but during the past decade the municipal landlords have sold many houses to tenants' associations - still a lot of rentals but not as many as there used to be.
Those tenant-owned flats are often quite expensive (US$600.000 and upwards for a flat the size we need, here in Stockholm) so you can't just take a loan and buy a share - you need to start with a small flat and then move when you can sell at a good price... We just can't afford it with less than to shoehorn our three-bedroom flat into a single room. And that's not an alternative.
So, when you have a contract for a rented flat you have the right to swap this with someone else - for all practical reasons what you do is swap flats. The landlords have to accept the new tenant/contract holder, ie a landlord can deny a swap but most often they don't. This is the journey upon which we now have embarked...
So, Busifer--I'm wondering about this too. You literally exchange flats with someone else--you move into theirs and they move into yours? That sounds like a logistical nightmare to me, after what already sounds like a huge challenge, to find someone who wants your old place as much as you want theirs. I would think that system would do a lot to discourage anyone from moving. Good luck with the project.
Not as bad as it sounds, and all know how to manage it in the best way possible... but no, it's not an experience I look forward to repeating.
But there just aren't any redundant flats here, not if you don't want to move out into the periphery, which we don't want as that makes going to and from work a daily logistics nightmare.
From another point of view this flat-swapping is practical, even if it is systematically very different from how it work in other countries. If all flats were tenant-ownership the cities would be even more segregated than they are today as prices are very high, and everyone else would have to live in the suburbs - the farther out, the poorer. This system isn't totally fair either but at least it now has more to do with luck than with money. Even if the inner city IS being gentrified, as we speak - higher rent/square metre see to that.
Finished my reread of Downbelow Station last night.
This is a great book on so many levels - the multiple viewpoints, which illustrates how different people end up taking different positions based on role/background, motivations and random chance; the suspense; the action; the many-layered personalities... not least of which is that of Signy Mallory, the Fleet Captain known for her ruthlessness who (spoiler?) end up on the "good" side mainly because she dislike being ordered around.
I think I need to reread some more of those Company Wars books now ;-)
ETA my "review": http://reconsidering.wordpress.com/2012/09/02/reread-downbelow-station-by-c-j-ch...
Nice review...but you did post a spoiler!
Mallory is someone I both hate and love.
I do say somewhere that the blog is not spoiler-free ;-)
Even if I do try to keep at least formal reviews somewhat clean.
I share your feelings about Mallory. But in my opinion that only makes her more realistic. At some level we all are both good and bad, both idealistic and self-interested. Or so I think.
So, made good on the intention to reread some Company Wars - first Rimrunners and now Tripoint.
Rimrunners surprised me, I had only read it once before and didn't remember liking it that much. This second time around I did, though, even if the ending is uncharacteristically weak.
Tripoint... I remembered most of it correctly, and I still wonder where to they went - a planet? Who did they meet when they arrived? And then?
I'm undecided on what to read next, I need to write some reviews first :)
I really liked Rimrunners, and Tripoint, although I didn't like the latter as much as the former.
Have you read Merchanter's Luck yet? That's a really good one, as is Finity's End. Give that second one a little more time, as I seem to recall it's a bit slow at the beginning. Some of CJ Cherryh's book are like that, but oh so worth the effort!
Oh, I have read all of the Company Wars books, all of them multiple times (with the exception of Rimrunners; this was only my second read of it)! The first time I read them in order of publication.
I think she is very good at portraying people who are caught up in the consequences of broad political strokes, and in economic and political change.
I'm rereading Finity's End right now, this time more for the macro-perspective than for the actual story. It has always bothered me that the upper level of the plot is so similar to Tripoint, even I always have enjoyed reading both of them.
Slowly slowly I'm making my way reading but mainly lurking on all the personal reading threads... after almost a week and a half offline the backlog is huge.
Also, I'm so behind on my reviewing that I still have to catch up and I have told myself no more reading until the last two reviews are published. How hard can it be?
Well, when you get a headache only thinking about watching a computer screen it is VERY hard...
Finity's End was, when I read it this time, not as similar to Tripoint as I've previously felt it to be. The descriptions of how the "war" kids can't find peace comfortable is touching, just as the political aspect is, as always with C.J. Cherryh, well thought out.
I finished off my Company War reread bout with Merchanter's Luck, one of her more claustrophobic books. Reading it with a fever and a headache didn't help - I had to put it down every so often just to get some distance between myself and the rampant paranoia.
Reading the second book in the suite after reading the last of them made me realise there's some border-creep in there - space stations listed as Alliance in Finity are Union in Merchanter's... but possibly political and economic control has shifted over time, what with Union concentrating on the further Beyond.
I can't force people to read seven or eight books but I think the Company War books + Cyteen should be compulsory reading in school, to discuss history, politics and economy. Not necessarily as of the books themselves but as a way to discuss the world we presently live in.
Meanwhile I just got noticed that The Fractal Prince is awaiting me in the SF bookshop. Now if I only could start to feel a bit better, with a little less fever and cold, so I could go fetch it...
Busifer, I wish for you complete good health, as soon as NOW! Really, you are very patient with not being able to read and write as much as you wish to do. I hope this all goes away soon, soon, soon!
Thank you. I'm practically recovered but will stay low one more day, to escape falling down in the pit again.
Nothing bad has been about, just flu. And before that a bit too much to do at work, combined with a lot of energy spent on trying to find somewhere else to live.
Feel better soon, Busifer!
I wish we'd had CJ Cherry books to read in school...but, alas! They were not published until I'd graduated...
Oops! Her first books came out while I was still in high school...
For some reason I never found her books back when, even scouring the shelves of all libraries I could access... and when I found her I was amazed at how long she had been around. May I whisper the phrase "male hegemony"?
Not in any malevolent way, for sure, but back then most of what I could come across was translated material - not that many English language books either at libraries or in shops back in the 70's and 80's over here - and SF was viewed as something of a genre for juvenile boys only. So I saw mainly Asimov, Simak, Heinlein and their ilk on the spines.
And - some of the stories where actually slightly altered/edited in translation, to better fit with what was perceived as "proper" for the target audience.
Original English language SF books, to me that was mainly 50's and early 60's pulp paperbacks that my dad had bought on mail order, before my parents got married.
Not to forget the Galaxy magazines he had subscribed to get and then conveniently had boxed and put in the cellar when they had to make shelf space for other stuff - I still have them around.
Not many female writers in those either. Can't even remember a Tiptree story ever being published in those domains, but I might be wrong.
(I could see myself change careers to teach political/social sciences to college/high school level students using the Company War books as course material... ;-) )
I'm tempted - just got notice that the Swedish operations of my global Canadian-based employer will kick 350-400 people. I think we're about 4500 today.
I just finished Excession. Definitely not the best Culture novel. A chore to read, it took off somewhat only +250 pages into the story.
The only reason that I kept at it was there's usually some reward at the end. But it wasn't.
Now on to Hydrogen Sonata. I have heard good things about it so I have some hopes for the Culture yet.
Redshirts were great fun, even if I'll have to admit it mostly was just that - fun. Had loved to hear Wil Wheaton read it but when I intended to make that happen something crashed my device (which was my phone - now replaced). Haven't dared try it again :(
Finished The Hydrogen Sonata some days ago. It was never a struggle to read, and at times made me smile, but was in the end only so and so.
Then I read the Foreigner short story Deliberations (no valid touchstone), which I had saved for reading after the Sonata. I can appreciate how the author of a longrunning series that first saw the light a decade and a half ago need to retcon some things. And in a way the series is set up to handle different versions of the internal reality - the main character, Bren, obviously doesn't know everything, especially when it comes to history predating his personal knowledge - but some things are just hard to accept that he don't know the truth about.
I need to reread at a later point.
I think what I am going through is affecting my judgement, there's a high probability that both these stories are better than I think right now.
I am thinking I maybe should read something workrelated now, so not to spoil what could had been a great experience...
Busifer, I think you are right about the timing. I couldn't give Janny Wurt's novel the attention it deserved during my father's ordeal. It would have been better to wait and not force it. I found that the murder mysteries were a perfect fit for me. I didn't expect much of them, and they delivered a good distraction when I needed it. I'm still having a hard time concentrating.
I think you are right, and perhaps I should try to find something light and entertaining. Normally I would do a reread, right now. But I have already done my "natural" rereads not that long ago so don't feel inclined to.
I'll see what I end up with.
This reminded me I just finished listening to Myths, Lies and Half-Truths about Language Usage, a lecture series taught by John McWorther. Very funny, just what I had needed just now.
Instead I'm listening to Origins of Great Ancient Civilisations, taught by Kenneth W Harl. Also kind of fun, in its own understated way.
Finished Origins of Great Ancient Civilisations last week. Fun, but like it is said in the first lecture - really only the starting point to a lot of more in-depth study of the diverse cultures he only brushes over. But he has a wry sense of humour, which makes it entertaining to listen to the series.
I am also reading for real, again. The Fractal Prince, which is a whole another cuppa, so to speak. Far in the future, slightly reminiscent to the Culture (the author IS a Finn transplanted to Scotland - coincidence?) but in a way that makes me think of Justina Robson's Natural History. And perhaps a piece of Neal Asher as well (though not halfway as gory).
It is a short read but I'm out of energy still so it's slow going. Expect to finish it sometime this upcoming week.
I can't decide if it is derivative or original or just plain... weird. Have you read the first one, The Quantum Thief? This is the continuation of that story, and I think I would had been (even more) lost had I not read that one first.
But. Definitely worth a try, especially if one doesn't have to pay for it ;-)
Oh, I got the titles mixed up! I was thinking of trying The quantum thief, as I do try and read series in order. I have to change library books this week, so will take a look and see if it is still on the SF shelf.
Quantum Thief was a good enough first novel that I got the sequel on publication but it came out at roughly the same time as Hydrogen Sonata and I prioritised the Culture novel.
It is planned as a trilogy, IIRC, and I think Thief is more like Robson and Prince is more like the Culture (even though the Minds are some kind of Gods that makes me think of Childhood's End, perhaps).
Busifer, I also enjoyed the Great Ancient Civilizations course. I have shared the flood story with a lot of friends :)
How much humor is there in The Quantum Thief and its sequel? The descriptions on Amazon make it seem slightly akin to heist movies (Ocean's Eleven, The Italian Job, etc.). Or is it darker than I am understanding?
#192 - Humour - not that much, in any sense. As the story winds on and piece after piece is added to the picture I'd say perhaps the theme is one of independence, slavery, and sense of duty. And the body vs mind "conflict".
The first book was a bit fun, and light/er, but this second one adds complexity and a darker streak; the gods/minds behave much like the dice-playing goods in Discworld but the setting is more dangerous and deadly.
Interesting discussion on Cherryh back in sept - yes I'm only catching up now, sorry - don't forget she studied political science/history as well so it's only natural these things creap into her books. I find them fascinating. What I find oddest about the Company Wars is that there is no overview, even the timescale between books is a bit difficult to extract - so there's no real sense of when/why some territories changed hands. I'd love another story about the Fleet. Redshorts is now in my To Read folder thanks -again- for all the GD love it's got.
Re: Cherryh I think the political science/history aspect of whatever she writes is part of what makes her stories so compelling to me. And I'd LOVE another story about the Fleet, just as I'd love another Compact space story :)
That political intensity and thorough grasp of the internecine maneuverings among players is among her masterful strengths as a writer.
Just now finished The Fractal Prince and have a hard time deciding on my verdict. Entertaining, intriguing. Clever. But - perhaps too clever?
Think human society on Earth existing in some steam/cyber punk-ish Arabian nights limbo, and a dose of Finish myth, touching on issues of dependence and self-determination and death but ultimately a heist in space.
Or on Earth.
The review will have to wait a bit, I need to think about it; even if it might not add to anything, in the end ;-)
In the meantime I think I will join in the Hobbit reading, while I decide what next read will be.
It's true that sometimes one needs to digest a book mentally before you can really explain why you think it works or not!
(Oh, and welcome to the Hobbit reading orgy.)
Yes. When I was halfway through I thought I had an idea but now...? Perhaps that's due to this being a bridge book, it is the middle book of a trilogy, and a lot of things have been added to the stew without things getting that much clearer.
Liked it and will read the concluding book when it gets published, but verdict? Weeeell...
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