March 2017 reading
This topic was continued by April 2017 reading.
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Another month,another pile of books. Tell us your reading plans for March.
Dusty's TBR for March
Neal Stevenson - Snow Crash ✔
Andre Norton - Cat's Eye ✔
Andre Norton - Witch World ✔
Dan Simmons - Endymion ✔
Naomi Novik - Uprooted ✔
Alan Dean Foster - The Howling Stones ✔
Darynda Jones - Eleventh Grave in Moonlight ✔
Simon R Green - Very Important Corpses ✔
from other genres
Carol O'Connell - Blind Sight ✔
Jacqueline Winspear - A Lesson in Secrets✔
Gary Alexander- Blood Sacrifice ✔
Erica Spindler - Killer Takes All ✔
Lucy M Boston - The Children of Green Knowe ✔
Managed to read the first half of Green Mars in February, so I guess it's March for the second half.
Still reading Abendau's Heir by Jo Zebedee, and just started to read C.J. Cherryh's Hunter of Worlds. I bicycle commute to work, and a recent tumble (nothing injured by my pride) convinced me that carrying a Kindle Fire around via bicycle on Tucson's atrocious streets (pot holes 'r us). So I have a book I carry to read in spare time, and ebooks that are read at home. Also reading The Hidden Reality by Brian Greene, which isn't technically science fictions, though some would argue otherwise. ;-)
>6 ThomasWatson: I used to commute by bike years ago, still have nightmare visions of taxis and blue haired people pulling out directly in front of me!
Still working on The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, January-February 2017 and Four Roads Cross.
>7 DugsBooks: I have a safe, quiet route - very little motor traffic - that unfortunately is very much in need of repairs.
I was leafing through a book by Carol O'Connell,a crime author,and was struck by her rather oblique and subtle bitterness at the state of bookshops.
''Support your local bookshop....please
The reborn samizdat of the Internet is not enough to keep ideas alive and burning bright,not in a future with only one store on a scorched landscape that used to be a marketplace.''
Ouch,now I wonder just who exactly is that one store left? lol.And who did the scorching? I'm afraid my area is already pretty scorched already.-,there is only one bookshop left in the whole area. Dire
Finished Alan Dean Foster's The Howling Stones. Though set in the Pip and Flinx universe,this is a standalone novel.Nice setting,interesting aliens,as ever with ADF,but there are some pacing issues,and the flawed hero could be very annoying. Sent as a highly rated xenologist troubleshooter to persuade local aliens to allow humans to mine precious metals,he seemed pretty useless at his job to me,and his flawed and mostly unlikable character almost ruined the book for me.Still,an interesting read.
Well on my way through Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash,then it will be on to his The Diamond Age
Meanwhile,for light relief I am reading the third in Simon R Green's Ishmael Jones series,Very Important Corpses: a country house mystery with a supernatural twist.Quite pleasant,but a tad repetitious being the third book set in a country house,with people getting bumped off in weird ways,but very much in Agatha Christe territory. Lots of wandering around the building,with Ishmael intimidating others with his superior strength and speed. I may become bored with the series if it doesnt ring a few changes,but still an enjoyable read for the most part,and an antidote to Stephenson's brutal dystopan future,which I take in small doses! :0)
I loved Snow Crash, when I read it many years ago. I should give it a reread!
Finished Snow Crash. My first attempt back in 2012 was not a happy one,but this time,witha much greater knowledge of the development of SF I found it much more understandable,though still bonkers! lol Still think its one for the boys,but I quite enjoyed the very dark humour and the offbeat characters,even reading about the ancient Sumerian myths,though I was irritated by the rather ridiculous linguistic/computer theory,very unbelievable,and the info dumps were rather clunky and awkward.The book took a very long time to take off,and the ending was a bit abrupt,but it was an OK read,considering I dislike dytopian set books as a rule.
After several weeks reading non-fiction I'm back on SF with Kameron Hurley's The Stars Are Legion. I quite enjoyed the first 2 of her Bel Dame Apocrypha series - though not enough to pick up the 3rd one yet - but couldn't get into The Mirror Empire and gave up after 40 pages. So far this one is more my style.
>15 SChant: I had the same reaction, although I did finish the third Bel Dame book (I thought it was a bit of a mess). I tried readf The Mirror Empire but gave up halfway in. Probably won't bother with The Stars Are Legion - mil sf ios still mil sf, even if it has organic technology and an entirely female cast.
>16 SFF1928-1973: Lol,SFF, In Snow Crash the young seem to be enjoying life whilst inured to violence and danger,or are avoiding life by living in the Metaverse as much as possible,but life seems pretty nightmarish for an awful lot of people!:0)
I identified with YTs mother, stifled controlled and confined by her government job,and all those poor people scraping by on the Raft.I found the whole world to be claustrophobic and nightmarish.A cautionary tale indeed. Several of the books I am reading from the early 90s show governments to be weak or even nonexistant,and the glories of technology dont seem to have produced much joy in the world.
Over the weekend I finished Cyteen. A long, dense, rewarding read that is very strong on characterization and dialog while suffering a bit from excessive politics and angst-ridden internal monologues, (I admit that those monologues do explore some very deep psychological territory). At the end of the day, a very good book that I will think about for quite some time.
Diving directly into Regenesis to finish out this particular Union-side trilogy.
>19 DugsBooks: Lol! Yep you certainly will,as Reason is a field gun which shoots uranium flechettes. No messing in Neal's world
I also liked the Rat Thing,and the other ''nice doggies'' whose speed can break the sound barrier when they chase ''bad men''! :0)
I imagine young SF readers adored this book back in 1992,especially the Metaverse.
>17 iansales: I'm about a third of the way in - the story is a bit of a mess but I'm enjoying the organic tech so will probably persevere.
My current book for lunchtimes at work is a scruffy old paperback copy of Northshore by Sheri S. Tepper. I'm only 15 pages in, but liking it so far. For some reason (which I am expecting will turn out to be religious) the inhabitants are only allowed to travel from East to West around the world, in the same direction as the river flows.
>13 dustydigger: I enjoyed Snow Crash for a number of reasons, but the main reason I was hooked from the get-go was the jibes at Management Science (pizza franchise optimizing its processes; setting up a pizza making & delivery university) and the coincidence of my reading it just when McDonalds announced its setting up a university for training its employees and studying its processes.
I agree about the ending; I thought Stephenson was having a great time with the story but did not know how to end it, or else his submission deadline was suddenly upon him. This was my second Stephenson novel, the first being Cryptonomicon. The others I have read are Anathem, REAMDE, Seveneves and The Cobweb. "REAMDE" is the only one written solely by Stephenson that I think had a satisfactory ending. "The Cobweb" was co-written with another person, someone said it was his uncle. I continue to read his books because I think the contain great ideas, but I read them knowing the ending is probably not going to be great.
I was very disappointed in Seveneves. I won't go into detail here but you can look at my review if you want any more information; it is spoiler free.
>23 SFF1928-1973: I love Whipping Star! I've read it 3 times and still dont understand half of it! lol. Herbert really shows that communicating with an alien can be extremely difficult,and coping with the laws of aliens is hair raising to say the least :0).
The Dosadi Experiment is also good.McKie is a great character and I love the thought of a government department specially tasked with sabotaging said government! lol.
>23 SFF1928-1973: >26 dustydigger: I too read Whipping Star a couple of months ago and really enjoyed it. I still have an old paperback copy of The Dosadi Experiment from when I read it as a kid. I don't remember anything about it today but plan to read it again this year as a follow-up to Whipping Star.
>25 pgmcc: Certainly the social satire was a major part of the book.I have Cryptonomicon pencilled in for later in the year,and have begun The Diamond Age. Struggling badly with it as I did with the first 100 pages of Snow Crash.I find the writing style rather stodgy and clunky,and I am left a bit cold with all the nanotech,all in all not my sort of stuff. Hoping it improves,but I dont think I will ever be a big fan of this sort of book.Also I am very sensitive to the type used in books,and unfortunately I dislike the font all Stephenson's books seem to use here in UK,sort of dark and heavy and close packed. I just dislike it. Just another of Dusty's oddities I'm afraid.
I am doing much much better with Dan Simmons' Endymion and David Brin's Infinity's Shore,the second book in Brin's follow up trilogy in the Uplift universe.Much more my cup of tea,with plenty of action,interesting characters and fast pacing,all delivered with smooth clear prose, so you speed through at at least triple the speed of The Diamond Age which makes me feel I am wading through glue.I also get irritated at his change of POV and characters every other page. Sorry fans of Stephenson ! :0)
.......one man's meat,I suppose
> 26 The idea of a Bureau of Sabotage such as in Whipping Star was apparently taken up by America. They decided to call their version the Republican Party.
>28 dustydigger: said, "... I dislike the font all Stephenson's books seem to use here in UK..."
Just be glad you are not reading his books in the original format...
Yes, he wrote the entire Baroque Cycle longhand - using a fountain pen, bottles of ink, and blotting paper. The linked photo, (not taken by me), is from the display at the Museum of Science Fiction here in Seattle. I could not believe it when I first walked past that display and realized what I was looking at.
Haven't made a lot of time for proper SF this year, although I did get in a few pieces of classic SF short fiction ("The Country of the Blind" (H.G. Wells), "A Rose for Ecclesiastes" (Roger Zelazny), and Houston, Houston, Do You Read? (James Tiptree, Jr. (aka Alice Sheldon), all in Science Fiction: The Science Fiction Research Association Anthology), all of which were pretty great.
Currently working my way through William L. Shirer's The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany, which is, for better or worse, reminding me quite a bit of our dystopian present. Next up is probably Behind the Mask: A Superhero Anthology, which I just won through Early Reviewers.
Currently reading The Corporation Wars: Dissidence, although I think I prefer Ken's near-future sf novels.
>34 dustydigger:, except that the Baroque Cycle is three books, each as long or longer than Anathem. So it wouldn't be nearly so bad (but yeah, his poor wrist must need ice).
I've just read The Power by Naomi Alderman. Surprisingly brisk and entertaining despite the bleakness of the world it builds, and the central message that all power corrupts.
Finished The Stars Are Legion, which I enjoyed more than expected. It took a long while to get a coherent story going, and even then it wasn't particularly gripping, but there was a rather good section in the middle of a journey through the organic planet's underworld which I liked. Sort of a cross between Neal Asher's splatterpunk Polity and the dream-like world of Jeff VanderMeer's Veniss Underground. The ending was uninspired, though. Anyway, now on to China Mieville's The Last Days of New Paris.
Down with a sinus infection and bad laryngitis. In such harrowing times I turn to large scale, dark space operas. So getting stuck into Hilldiggers seems the best strategy.
>35 Cecrow: The funny thing is; in an interview I stumbled across while finding that photo, Stephenson mentioned that he decided to write the Baroque Cycle in long-hand as a conscious attempt to limit his verbosity. It's ironic that his attempt at self-editing produced the single longest work he has put out to date. I own all three volumes in the same hardcovers shown in the photo and each one absolutely dwarfs my paperback copy of Anathem. All of his books seem to be the same size on my kindle though... ;)
>37 pgmcc: The Hyperion Cantos was a real highlight read for me but, like you, I thought it really tailed off after the first two books. I appreciated how Simmons wrapped everything up at the end of The Rise of Endymion though; In my opinion, it is one of the better endings to an epic series in all of science fiction. All the weirdness and disparate storylines that came before were nicely explained by the time the final page was turned. However, I could have done without all the mountain-climbing details in the last book. Also, re-writing the end of Terminator 2: Judgment Day for inclusion as a scene in your novel borders on plagiarism. Nevertheless, I found the first two books to be absolutely gripping and the scope of the entire series was staggering. I thought it was quite an achievement for Simmons to pull it all together so well.
>20 ScoLgo: I read Cyteen the year it was published, then did the same with Regenesis - after rereading Cyteen. It was that long between books.
Trilogy? Are you counting Forty Thousand in Gehenna as part of this?
>30 ScoLgo: Un-dirtyword-believable!
I can't remember the last time I wrote a word of fiction in longhand.
>42 ThomasWatson: right! It's painful to think about. Writing is too slow, and I get distracted by trying to make it legible. I think better when typing.
>43 Darth-Heather: Literally painful, with the arthritis getting worse for me every year. (I may have to learn to work through dictation, someday!)
>45 ScoLgo: But Cherryh says that the novels (with the possible exception of Heavy time and Hellburner can be read in any order, "just like real history"...
>46 RobertDay: >47 ThomasWatson:
Exactly. "Real History" is the key in that phrase. If you are reading history of France in the 20th century, it may mention the French Revolution when discussing some topics. You still can read this part of the history without reading the book on the French Revolution first.
Same idea applies here. If you had not read Forty Thousand In Gehenna before the other 2, you will miss some references but the parts that are needed are there.
Finished re-reading Whipping Star, which I won't attempt to sum up in a few words. Let's just say it's one of the best interstellar police procedurals. A few people have mentioned a sequel called The Dosadi Experiment, so I hope to catch up with that someday.
Meanwhile my next re-read is Count Brass by Michael Moorcock, first volume in the Chronicles of Castle Brass trilogy, which was the follow-up to the High History of the Runestaff tetralogy.
A little while ago I picked up a 1966 copy of Kyril Bonfigioli's 1960s sf magazine Impulse in an otherwise unremarkable second-hand bookshop (or was it a charity shop?). It was almost completely mint and was on its own. Anyway, I'm part-way through the first story, Keith Roberts' 'The Lady Anne', later collected into his fix-up novel Pavane. I hadn't read this in ages and I'd forgotten how good a writer Roberts was.
>54 iansales: I go back to Dosadi when I feel my brain needs a good workout. I have the hardback version with the froglike Gowachin lawyer on the cover. Not an easy read by any standard,but I like to reread it occasionally.I STILL dont fully grasp the Gowachin legal system,but must admire McKie for daring to join them! lol
I have finished (as of February) Fountains of Paradise though it's only now, this first free weekend since I finished it, that I've felt moved to review it. It's such a complex book, so full of the ideas ahead of his time that were Clark's contribution to the sci-fi field, as well as bringing in a moment of history of his beloved Sri Lanka. The description of sunrise on the holy mountain, Sri Kanda, is just breathtaking, and I for one hope that the real space elevator does not have as its Earth base this magnificent mountain.
I also finished a relatively new book that is more speculative historical fiction than true sci-fi, but since there is often crossover in these genres I thought I'd mention it here. Maplecroft by Cherie Priest takes her knowledge of the Victorian era via steam punk and combines it with the infamous Lizzie Borden, her consumptive sister Emma, and the Doctor who helped exonerate her during her trial in an Epistolery volume that has overtones of H.P. Lovecraft. I had not made the Lovecraftian connection until I posted my review and read the others, but it fits. So if any of you are looking for more adventures in this realm, I recommend this book.
Still reading through 2113, edited by Kevin J. Anderson. Most of the stories are speculative fiction or true science fiction. It includes the original short story that led to Rush's song "Red Barchetta" as well as a short story by Theodore Sturgeon that led to "Roll the Bones." A whole bunch of new sci-fi authors have written here and I must eventually add their works to my wish-list.
Otherwise, it's off to some existing book challenges, including my Gi-Normous TBR pile's follow up book Destiny of the Republic. Well-written history with elements that resonate with 21st century stuff (no, really).
>49 AnnieMod: I've read most of her Alliance-Union books that way, as a matter of fact. It does work. I just lucked out with this trio.
Read Claire North's The Serpent, the first novella in the "Gameshouse" series, which features a group of puppetmaster types who find people to manipulate political events. This one is set in historical Venice (back when it was a center of commerce). Very readable.
Shifted gears back to military SF - downloaded the latest "Frontlines" story by Marko Kloos, Fields of Fire. (Not to be confused with James Webb's novel set in the Vietnam War - which is also very good).
I'm reading Jane Gaskell's The Serpent right now: antediluvian fantasy, but so far with no supernatural elements. Just, you know, battle ostriches and military "vacuum barriers." It's been something of a slow go, but I'm enjoying it.
>60 paradoxosalpha:. Ah,dear old Cija,she was a feisty heroine when that sort of heroine was none too common. I gulped down the Atlan saga as a teenager in the 60s.Gaskell then had a gap,published one book in 1977,another big gap and Sun Bubble came out in 1990,then nothing else.
I have always meant to read her very first book Strange Evil,somewhat of a cult novel in the weird fiction area. It was written when she was only 14,published when she was 16!.It is £20 on Amazon unfortunately,so it may be a while! lol.
I'm working on Armada by Ernest Cline for a book club, and I am struggling. The protagonist is basically the same dude as the protagonist in Ready Player One.
I've just seen the "hugely referential to classic sci-fi/geek culture" schtick done better before (Among Others, for example), and am thus far unimpressed.
Just finished Star Trek 11 by James Blish so it was a trip down memory lane. This book includes the episodes "The Squire of Gothos" and "Plato's Stepchildren." This latter was the famous episode that showed the first inter-racial kiss on American television.
Currently reading Changeless by Gail Carriger. It's more steampunk/vampires/werewolves and quickly becoming not a favorite novel. But I'm going to read at least to the 50pp limit (there is some LT discussion about giving a book 150 pages in your 30's, 100 pages in your 40's, etc.) before releasing it into the wild.
>62 lorannen: I read and enjoyed Ready Player One, but hesitated after reading the first chapter of Armada (helpfully provided by Mr.Cline at the end of Ready Player One. I was already getting tired of the "look at all the references I can make" plot by the end of RPO, and the reviews for Armada were almost universally disappointing - for this very reason. Pass!
Finished Vinland the dream and reminded why I rate KSR so highly - not to say that he can't be a bit hard going at times. A few hours on trains yesterday saw me open up a William Hope Hodgson omnibus of his novels, The House on the Borderland and other novels, and I'm about three-quarters of the way through 'The Boats of the Glen Carrig'. China Miéville's introduction warned me that Hodgson indulged in nautical techno-babble (and provided a hilarious example of such from Jonathan Swift), but despite that and the relative simplicity of the plot, the imagery is remarkable. I shall probably rest the Hodgson once I get to the end of 'Boats', but on the strength of what I've seen so far, this is a keeper.
In >53 RobertDay: above, I commented that I was also reading a 1966 issue of 'Impulse'. I've now tackled three out of the four stories in that issue. The third one was a substantial 'Traveller in Black' tale from John Brunner. By the end of the first five pages, I'd labelled it as 'portentious twaddle' as it was full of things like "the battle between Time and Chaos" with lots of Capital Letters. It read a bit like Jack Vance, though if I wanted to read something that was a bit like Jack Vance, I'd read Jack Vance. But then things settled down a bit and we actually got into some sort of plot, with the afore-mentioned Traveller arranging for lots of people in the mythical city of Ys to get payback for their snobbery, self-importance and lack of moral scruple. Which reminded me that I might have read this story back in the 1968-69 timeframe in an anthology. I have a vague memory of having an anthology out of the library which I could never find again, and reading this long story that was certainly not science fiction about the city of Ys. I only remember that the city was destroyed at the end of the story; only later did I find out about the French legend of the sunken city and the ghostly bells of its sunken cathedral being heard still tolling beneath the Bay of Biscay. I'd assumed that the city was inundated at the end of the story, but seemingly not. I've probably spent years conflating the story with the legend - unless anyone else knows of a fantastical story about the city of Ys dating from the mid- to late 1960s written by someone else...
>69 drmamm: and >70 AnnieMod: Glad to know I'm not alone. I'm just a little over 100 pages in, which is usually my "I can drop it now if I don't like it" threshold. I'm debating powering through, just so I can tear it apart and demonstrate to my book club why we shouldn't read books like this in the future? If it weren't for book club, there would be no question of this being relegated to the DNF pile.
The references are out of control, but many of them also feel just a bit off, which is a weird combination. For example, shortening Jar Jar Binks's name to just "Jar." I've never seen that before. Or, in establishing gamer credentials via listing old consoles, writing out the entirety of "Nintendo 64" in stead of "N64." It's so awkward.
It almost feels like he wanted to "include" more people - for a non-gamer, N64 means nothing; Nintendo 64 they had probably heard of. But he lost the balance somewhere - and it probably works better for some readers (I am not a gamer so some of the gaming stuff is getting over my head even in "Ready Player One". "Armada" just never found the balance he was looking for - it was not exact enough for the genre and gaming people; it was too "genre-y" for the rest. Don't know - may be wrong - but that's how it striked me at the time.
Off topic I've been reading a couple of Michael Moorcock's sword and sorcery fantasies, and although I know he was my favourite writer for a while back in the 1970s that stuff seems to have lost it's lustre for me somewhat. If I was to get enthusiastic about re-reading any of his work now it would probably be his Dancers at the End of Time trilogy, beginning with An Alien Heat.
>76 SFF1928-1973: Dancers at the End of Time is a largely unrecognized classic that happens to be on my reread hit list. I've found the original Elric saga rereadable, but the rest of the Eternal Champion stuff was a one and done - though I enjoyed them when I read them in the '70s.
Those "one and done" Hawkmoon and Corum books were largely the same for the author, apparently. I gathered from Michael Moorcock: Fiction, Fantasy, and the World's Pain that he wrote each of those books in two days or less!
I really like the von Bek stuff, including The War Hound and the World's Pain, The City in the Autumn Stars, and The Brothel in Rosenstrasse.
Finished up What Makes this Book so Great (B+) this evening, a nifty collection of short commentaries that impresses one with Walton's breath of reading in the genre. Apart from her downright ferocious capacity for reading I'm impressed with her ability to access her younger selves.
>79 Shrike58: I am waiting for delivery of that very book right now. I too am amazed at how much Jo has read,and I love her unpretentious but acute takes on books.In her book Among Others it seems rather unlikely that a 15 year old Morwenna had read so much,but she is obviously modelled on Jo herself :0). I have to be a fan of someone who has similar taste for C J Cherryh,Lois McMaster Bujold,Roger Zelazny,(and outside the genre,a passion for Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer.Excellent!)
By the way Shrike,I am right up close to your namesake. Raul Endymion is trembling like a leaf getting so close to the iconic nightmare on their way to where the equally nightmarish Nemes lies in wait.Awesome!
I've started reading The Battle of Forever by A.E. van Vogt. A few pages in and so far, so weird.
>78 paradoxosalpha: Michael Moorcock: Fiction, Fantasy etc. sounds like a book I should seek out!
Finished Andre Norton's engaging and exciting juvenile,Catseye. The young hero is a displaced person,living precariouslyas a casual labourer in a refugee camp on another planet after his whole planet's population were removed in a war.So he cant believe his luck when he finds work looking after exotic animals from earth. A dangerous conspiracy is underway and our hero finds he can link his mind with two foxes,two cats and a honeybear whichh,under mind control act as spies for the conspirators. Things spiral and the boy has to go on the run with the animals. He has all sorts of adventures including hair raising danger in spooky caves where aliens has once lived. Full of spills and thrills,with plenty of hard knocks for our young hero.Norton never fails to put her heroes under desperate phisical mental and moral pressure. I really enjoyed it,very entertaining. Nice attitude to the animals which prove to be more than just pets!
>81 SFF1928-1973: Weird is normal with Van Vogt! lol.As a teenager I read his Null A books,and was duly as stunned as if I had downed a Pan Galctic Gargleblaster!I have never truly recovered. I read Weapon Shops of Issher a couple of years ago and it was very odd too,but fairly easy to grasp. Null A was something different :0).
>80 dustydigger: Not that unlikely if you live in a small town with nothing else to do. :)
>Finished both Cyteen and Regenesis. At nearly 1,400 pages combined, it took a while. A great pair of books that I collectively rate at 4 stars. Seems there could easily be more to this story. I wonder if Cherryh might intend to write more Unionside novels? (I will buy it if you write it, Caroline.)
Currently really enjoying Pandemonium. Daryl Gregory is quickly becoming a favorite author for me. This, his first published novel, is a social satire set in an alternate reality with demonic possession as the core conceit. Yes, it's nutty - but very well-written and highly entertaining to boot.
(edited to fix touchstone)
>81 SFF1928-1973: Not one of this best. And that's in an oeuvre that has only a handful of decent books in it...
I am back to SciFi again after finishing a great Crime and mystery novel.... right now I am reading Harry Harrison's Jupiter Plague. I am almost 50 pages in and love it. He has such an easy writing style.
I'm by no means the first to say that Gene Wolfe's The Fifth Head of Cerberus, which I've just finished, is a tour de force. The first part is so vivid and original, the second is such a surprise, so different, almost hallucinatory and the last section, once again a wrenching shift to a Count of Monte Cristo scenario with allusions and hints here and there throughout the book and no resolution that would make a satisfactory puzzle. I'm so impressed, but I'm not sure how I feel about the final result of of all the brilliance.
Would anyone else care to comment?
>90 lansingsexton: From my review:
The first story is called "The Fifth Head of Cerberus," and it seems like Wolfe may have let that stand as the general title out of refusal to come up with a further name that would imply a greater unity to the multi-headed whole. The Cerberus in the book (a statue in the first story) is of the conventional three-headed sort, and the beyond-extra fifth head is a role that fits various characters based on their apparitional and fluctuating functions in the narratives. Indeed, for all of the various links between the stories, they serve to raise questions about each other as much as to provide answers. One of the recurring questions is: Who--if anyone--is human in this story? Of course, that calls forth the necessary corollary: What is a human? To answer the second would require a crude didacticism far beneath this author.
Also, Jo Walton, like me, was born in the 1960s. Those of us who were born before the 1980s have, I think, an advantage over the Millennials et seq. We grew up without the Internet, without smartphones, without DVD players and MP3 players and (possibly) without satellite or cable TV. We didn't have as many distractions in those days, and it was much easier to form the reading habit as children. Kinda makes me feel sorry for those later generations, actually.
I was born in the early 80s but in a non-central town in Eastern Europe. Which was very close to 60s elsewhere if you ask me - 2 TV channels until the early 1990s when a third was added locally (2 movies per week + local news); my town had a single cinema which had 1 movie per week (if that), I did not see my first computer until I was 15 or so, places renting VHS showed up about the same time, I got my first phone when I started my first job at 19. What she was describing did sound familiar - some titles might have been different (due to translation issues) but other from that - it felt as if it was written about me. Which is why I loved it. :)
>88 iansales: Yes, but 70 pages in I'm beginning to think it's an unfunny satire, rather than a failed attempt at a serious novel. It would definitely help if the author occasionally held up a sign saying "laugh now".
>90 lansingsexton: I've gone off Wolfe's fiction in the last decade or so, but I still count that as a bona fide classic of the genre.
Hi, I'm a Millennial who's been on the "Internet" (sort of) since Prodigy (hence the "sort of") and I read 180 books last year. I really enjoyed being able to use Prodigy to discuss The Baby Sitters Club with other fans when I was a kid in the early '90s. I'd mention the bookish things I do online now but honestly, since you're on LibraryThing, you probably know something about those.
Just wrapped up The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack (B); I think I liked it well enough to read more in the series but I'm having a hard time putting my finger on why I don't like it somewhat more. The positive spin is that Hodder is taking some time to build up his gonzo take on a Victorian Britain that is careening off the historical rails. The negative take is that maybe Hodden doesn't quite have control of all the plates he's trying to keep spinning.
>97 Unreachableshelf: No fair. Why have the last two generations been labelled with quite cool names,Generation X and Millennials,(even slightly science fictional ?),and my poor generation has the slightly risible Baby Boomers as our tag? I tend to picture toddlers in diapers tossing grenades! :0)
OK I am being a bit facetious. Anything to raise my spirits after the horrendous events in London this afternoon.Grim.
To cheer myself up,for my bedtime reading I am going to turn to an old fave comfort read. Lois McMaster Bujold fans will recognise the dinner party scene from A Civil Campaign as a hilarious classic. If you havent read LMBs Vorkosigan saga - why not?
>90 lansingsexton: >91 paradoxosalpha:
Fifth Head of Cerberus is one of my favorites of his, for the reasons you've mentioned. It epitomizes Wolfe's skill at smoke & mirrors, at masks beneath masks beneath masks (e.g. Book of the New Sun). It helps to have a high tolerance for ambiguity. "Who -- if anyone -- is human in this story?" Yup.
Finished The Battle of Forever. Despite struggling at some points I'm glad I decided to embrace the absurdities and keep going, because it all comes to a quite exciting and satisfying climax.
I have a couple volumes of sword and sorcery fantasy to read, then back to SF.
I finished Dan Simmon's Endymion,the third book in the Hyperion Cantos.I enjoyed all the adventure bits as the protagonists slogged their way through a variety of planets,but it was also muted by the sections concerning the machinations of the Catholic church,as I never like books about church's conspiracies.The earlier books were much more wide ranging,this felt a bit confined somehow.However it was still a fair read,and I got through the 560 pages at a good clip this week.Good to see more of the Shrike too. :0)
Not doing so well with Neal Stephenson's The Diamond Age,once again I find him a stodgy verbose writer,and its taken a fortnight to get through 320 pages,still 180 to go.Not at all my cup of tea.
I am presently reading Robert j Sawyer's Nebula winning The Terminal Experiment and expect to finish it plus Naomi Novik's Uprooted and Andre Norton's Witch World by the end of the month.
Recently finished Pandemonium and Joyland. Both excellent in their own way. Daryl Gregory plays with social satire in some interesting ways and I loved the way he wrote PKD (as Valis) into his narrative. Highly imaginative.
I once heard someone say that Stephen King writes worlds that the reader can step into and live in for a while. Joyland is one of those worlds and may just be a new favorite book for me. I'm not a big fan of your typical ghost story but, despite the supernatural elements that so often show up in King novels, this is really less a ghost story and more a coming-of-age tale. A short book with a lot going on, it's a real page-turner that flew by too quickly.
Now diving into:
- The Book of the Dead by Tanith Lee
- The Eye of the Heron by Ursula K. Le Guin
New here so jumping in.
Starting Ada Palmer's Seven Surrenders, sequel to Too Like the Lightning, with a third volume in the Terra ignota series likely. I'm a great fan of hers. Have Dan Simmons' Olympos on tap, too, but not sure about this one. I liked Hyperion, however. Third on the list so this one will stretch into April is Gavin Smith's The Beauty of Destruction, the third in a series with characters from prehistoric (probably early iron age) and modern Britain to sometime in the far distant future, some of whom manage to show up in all three ages.
Grr. Had a hard time finding a reasonably priced copy of Andre Norton's Witch World,and was happy to find a three book omnibus of the first Witch World books. But I am rather disappointed as it seems to be standard fantasy,wicked enemies invading,using magic,heroes fighting desperate battles etc etc etc. Standard fantasy just bores me,I'm afraid. The book is also ''bitty'',only 50 pages following the hero who,as ever dropped in from our world,and now we are going to follow another character,then a third. Oh well,the characters seem pleasant enough,and its certainly not a bad read,but I had hoped for more.
Just reminds me why I dont read much fantasy.
Oh and pet peeve for ''Dusty's Rant of the Day'' the hero has been in the new world for a very short while. We saw him learning a few basic words of the language and a few days later he is understanding highly complicated conversations of war strategy and is talking extremely fluently.Wish I knew his secret. I spent 6 years learning French at school,and could still barely string a sentence together without serious cogitation ;0).I am always in awe of our scandinavian neighbours who speak English so beautifully and almost accentless :0)
>109 aegbeyrd:, you mention Hyperion but you've not mentioned Ilium. You must read Ilium before reading Olympos, or you'll scarcely appreciate what's happening.
>111 dustydigger:, it wouldn't be fair to hold a fantasy work from several decades ago as representative of the genre today. It has evolved a lot in the interim. A Game of Thrones really is very well done, and some of the other currently popular works.
Finished the crime novel I was reading as my bedtime read and decided to add The Alien Years by Robert Silverberg into it's place. I was tempted to put the new Scalzi book in the rotation, but I decided I'd rather have it as a daytime read so I'll pick it up as soon as I finish The Summer Dragon, which I am enjoying so much more than I thought I would.
>73 RobertDay: And now I've moved on to 'The House on the Borderland' itself. Hodgson appears minimal on explanation but his scene-setting and imagery is powerful.
>112 Cecrow: Oh dear,Cecrow. Last year I decided to try to raise my enthusiasm for fantasy,and didnt do too well with the classics of the genre. Gave up Game of Thrones after 50 pages. Gave up The Name of the Wind 200 pages in,it just didnt grab my attention.Tried the first two books of the Belgariad,felt like YA,didnt bother with the third. Read Hobb's Assassin's Apprentice,OK but again it felt like YA,just wasnt enamoured enough to follow on with the series. Hard to know why really,I suppose all of us tend to enjoy certain genres more than others. In the spec fic area I love SF and UF,like some weird fiction,but dont care much for fantasy,and am too much of a wimp for horror And,possibly,LOTR satisfied me so well,I just dont want to follow more battles,aspiring heroes,magic swords,quests etc etc etc? :0)
>115 dustydigger: I also am typically low enthusiasm for modern fantasy, sticking mainly to SF. I've not read any of the items you listed as giving up on. If I do read a fantasy, it's because I liked something more SFnal from the same author. I quite liked Gregory Keyes so I tried his tetralogy that begins with The Briar King and very much enjoyed that series, as well as his very alternative history series that begins with Newton's Cannon. I quite enjoyed Sean Stewart so I tried his fantasy standalone Nobody's Son and quite enjoyed that.
Yes, I found it so, too. A tad difficult to follow at times, some of the minor characters seemed to blend one into the other as I read along. Palmer created a highly interesting world to play in, combining corporate and traditional national polities into a handful of Hives steered by an emperor. The tech is credible as it's mostly what we have with extended capabilities. Most everyone in the book seems gender ambiguous making for another layer of complexity to her world. I'd started her second volume last night but today brought home three detective thrillers from the library which I've decided to finish before getting back to Palmer.
Are the Warhammer 40000 books really worth the read or are they kids' books? I like military scifi (Starship Troopers style) and space operas (think the Culture series).
>121 aegbeyrd: Not particularly kids' books though they tend to be clean on the swearing or sex side.
Also there are a lot of them and many may suffer to some extent from the tendency for third-party worlds books to lack in originality, or from your own fatigue after X books unless you really love the universe, but picking one or two of the best-loved trilogies or series with themes that tickle your fancy should be enjoyable enough.
I found the Eisenhorn trilogy quite readable.
>121 aegbeyrd:, >122 Jarandel: A number of the books in the 'Warhammer' and 'Warhammer 40,000' series are by well-known names, such as Dan Abnett, Barrington J. Bayley, George Mann, Kim Newman (writing as Jack Yeovil), Brian Stableford (sometimes writing under the name Brian Craig) and Ian Watson.
>115 dustydigger: What turned me off fantasy (apart from the preposterous length of the books) was the lack of anything to hold my interest. It's all blah blah hobbits, blah blah orcs, blah blah magic, ad nauseam. Where George R.R. Martin succeeded with ASOIAF was in using characters and situations from history to drive the story.
For my sins, I'm currently reprising Robert E. Howard's Conan stories, at least they are short and snappy.
There are plenty of fantasies which are probably more suited to you. No hobbits and orcs, not magic etc.
Try reading most of Guy Gavriel Kay's stuff or KJ Parker. Some of Parker's stuff features some magic although he doesn't write the typical high fantasy you seem to hate.
>116 Cecrow: >127 andyl: I'm not much of a fantasy reader either but... Under Heaven was a rather magnificent novel. While it is definitely fantasy, I would also call it mythic/historical fiction. Maybe that was one reason I liked it? Not much in the way of magic, wizards, orcs, or hobbity-type creatures, that's for sure.
Just finished The Jupiter Plague by Harry Harrison. A quick easy read but what grabbed my attention is that this book was written in 1982 and Bird flu with bird to human transfer of disease did not happen until 1997. The issues he discussed then were eerily similar in many respects to what happened 15 years later.
>129 ScoLgo: I dont mind orcs and hobbits so much,its the books with endless battles,hidden heirs,endless road trips,cnospiracies etc that get me down. I do make exceptions e.g. Roger Zelazny,Mercedes Lackey,Laini Taylor,Charles De Lint - and Terry Pratchett! lol. I can enjoy books that are quirky,unusual,a bit different(like Robert Holdstock's Mythago Wood,Gene Wolfe's Severian books,Carol Berg's Transformation,Frances Billingsly's The Folk Keeper and Maggie Stiefvater's The Scorpio Races in the YA arena,or even Guy Gavriel Kay's Tigana to a lesser extent),but the everyday tropes of fantasy dont do much for me.
I see I have 472 books books read tagged as SF,374 books as urban fantasy,but only 105 as fantasy,of a wide ranging kind.75 of them have been read in the last 4 years in an effort to embrace fantasy,and I didnt do too well. Enuff said! lol.I'll stick mainly to SF,except for SF/Nebula winners of the last 20 years as I read through the award winners,but obviously fantasy is not the genre for me!
>131 dustydigger: said, "I dont mind orcs and hobbits so much,its the books with endless battles,hidden heirs,endless road trips,cnospiracies etc that get me down. I do make exceptions e.g. Roger Zelazny,Mercedes Lackey,Laini Taylor,Charles De Lint - and Terry Pratchett!"
I agree with that. Haven't read Lackey or Taylor but Zelazny is a favorite author and I really enjoyed the little bit of De Lint I've experienced. Pratchett... not really my thing I don't think <shrug>.
>131 dustydigger: There's an argument that Gene Wolfe's Book of the New Sun cycle is indeed SF, although it reads like heroic fantasy. That's one that I need to re-read one day.
>134 SFF1928-1973: I know,and I have it tagged as both SF and Fantasy.True,its a Dying Earth book,and we saw a robot and spaceship for fleeting moments but I have spent many hours yearning for more SF glimpses and frustratingly I waited in vain!Par for the course with Wolfe.I will be reading the last book in the tetralogyCitadel of the Autarch in a few months. The farther Severian travels,the odder his story gets,but he's a fascinating character!
>136 justifiedsinner: I have friends who have read/are reading that series. They keep telling me I should check it out but it just does not pique my interest - not even a little bit...
And Trollocs - that sounds silly even to these non-British ears. What are they, ballsy trolls? ;)
I had read Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett and gave it a *enh. Then I checked the audio book out of the library for a Thanksgiving road trip and loved it! Somehow, hearing the strong Scottish dialects coupled with our young heroine's musings and actions made all the difference to my take on the book.
Myself, I adore Guy Gavriel Kay and Patricia A. McKillip for their writing styles and savor their books as much as possible. Prefer well-written fantasy to the "hero takes a sword, magic happens, journey, etc., etc." genre of fantasy.
And I've gotten a lot of ideas for science fiction from this group so will post when I start my next sci-fi book (and still a brief blurb on fantasy reading so everyone knows I'm still alive!).
Have consigned Changeless to the "Read but Unowned" list. Horror mixed with steampunk mixed with gadgets in a clunky way is just not my style. If I were more into steampunk cosplaying I would have some great ideas for gowns and gadgets, but this book failed to please halfway through. So off it goes.
Next on the list is still probably fantasy: Throne of Jade. I like the bit of sticking with historical reality even whilst riding on dragons. Not a bad method of transport in my book. And Napoleon. So many facets to his time and command of the continent.
>135 dustydigger: As I remember, it's in the last book that it really comes out of the closet as SF, rather than science fantasy. He manages the shifts beautifully.
Just finished A Natural History of Dragons (B). I should probably rate it a little higher but having just read another alternate history take on Britain (albeit a very different take) I probably wasn't quite in the mood for this sort of thing. Having been a little underwhelmed by Karen Memory it might simply be the case that fake 19th-century memoirs just aren't my thing.
I put in an interlibrary request for The Star Fraction, so that will likely be early April reading for me.
I'm now first in line on the hold list for the book at Arlington (Va.) Co. Library; good for me!
I finally gave up on Armada, after all. I just couldn't do it anymore. However, I did read enough of it such that I feel confident in my ability to rip it to shreds come book club this evening.
I've rewarded my good behavior by going back to more fun reading—Babylon's Ashes, the latest installment in The Expanse series. It's interesting, going back to the series after eight months without. I binged through the first five books in about two months last summer, so I've not experienced a gap like this between them before.
I really enjoyed Nebula winning Uprooted by Naomi Novik. I may not like traditional fantasy with its vast armies in battle,hidden heirs,magic swords etc but I am always a sucker for anything with magic forests,especially sinister woods harbouring wicked creatures and an evil Wood Queen!The book started off like a straight retelling of a traditional tale(bringing back memories of Robin McKinley's wonderful straight telling of the Beauty and the Beast story),but it also had strong urban fantasy tropes (strong feisty heroine,first person narrative,a big baddy to defeat,and some romance,rather subservient to the plot),and a YA coming of age heroine finding her place in life. Yes there were a few battles,which are not my cup of tea,but here the heroine saw the troops as individual people with precious personal lives, to be pitied when they are ruthlessly used by the leaders.Loved it that the typical hero prince was seen as totally flawed here! Brilliant book for the most part but it dragged in places,was perhaps a little too long,but all in all a good exciting,vivid tale with emotional warmth'
Wish I could say the same about Stephenson's The Diamond Age.Dragging through it 20 pages at a time.Dont like anything about it,Hugo winner or not. Still 100 boring pages left with a silly plot, and far too much of Princess Nell in her Primer!I've read 6 other books,some of them longer than Diamond Age's 500 pages,while struggling through 400 pages of this. I may prove not to be a Stephenson fan....ya think?
I should finish Andre Norton's Witch Wood before month's end.
Then a new month,a new TBR!!!!
>146 lorannen: I made it to the end of Armada through sheer bloody mindedness. You made the right decision.
>114 RobertDay: Now finished 'The House on the Borderland'. Impressive scene-setting, but plot? Denouement? Answers? Questions, even? (The protagonist is horrified by the attacks he suffers and the things he sees, but never seeks an explanation for the events.)
Giving the Hodgson a rest for a while.
Just finished reading C.J. Cherryh's Hunter of Worlds. Rather dense reading for such a slim volume. The heavy use of invented alien words to underscore how alien these nonhuman cultures really were, then seeing it all (for the most part) through nonhuman POVs - whew! Well worth reading, but not her most accessible novel. If you're unfamiliar with this author, this might not be the best place to start.
I've started The Third Millennium; a history of the world, AD 2000-3000 by Brian Stableford & Dave Langford; billed as 'speculative non-fiction' at the time of publication, it's as sfnal a work as you could ask for; Stableford wrote a sequence of novels based on this history later on. Of course, it was written in 1985 to cash in on the likely splurge of millennial titles, and within four years came spectacularly off the rails as the Soviet Union failed to take any notice of its future history and folded before the turn of the old millennium...
Currently reading Darkchild, which I'll be reviewing on SF Mistressworks... Speaking of which, I've not posted anything there for a couple of weeks - March seems to have been a lost month for me, but I'm also running low on reviews for the site, so more volunteers are welcome.
>152 ThomasWatson: I just got an omnibus of early Cherryh,Cuckoo's Egg and Serpent's Reach which I suspect with have similar style and difficulty level ...looking forward to them! :0)
One of the things I like about Cherryh's works about aliens is that she doesnt stand for any nonsense about the superiority of humans. They are usually prisoners,slaves etc often dependent on alien maganimity even to survive(eg Tully in the Chanur books. Even our dear old paidhi Bren in the Foreigner books,who is usually clueless about his manipulation by the Atevi!) :0)
Finished Andre Norton's Witch World Once I got over my disappointment at reading standard heroic fantasy the book was a fair enough read. Killing off huge numbers of soldiers as usual of course. Plus one of my pet peeves in such books,when the hero escapes from his cell in a bustling busy castle and somehow avoids bumping in to anyone while he wanders around,and then of course happens upon the communications centre and the chief baddie whom he of course overcomes. Sorry,but this particular trope just annoys me.:0)
finished The Mote In God's Eye by Larry Niven. It is great to get back to the SF classics sometimes.
>147 dustydigger: Have you read any works by Robin McKinley? She's more straight-up fantasy, but based on what you've written about Uprooted she might hold your interest. I'm thinking especially of her book The Hero and the Crown about a young woman/girl who goes off to make her own destiny, while still being a female in a royal family. It definitely held my interest. And her follow-up, The Blue Sword was also a female hero taking extreme chances. Can't remember how many in the armies were pulverized, but there you have it.
I finished reading an anthology entitled 2113: Stories Inspired by the Music of Rush edited by Kevin J. Anderson. Most of the stories are futuristic, many of them pull in the humanity of science fiction/futuristic, and several are post-apocalyptic "the aliens are coming" types. But definitely well worth it as a lifetime fan of Rush and their music.
>162 threadnsong: I very much enjoyed Robin McKinley's Beauty,a straightforward telling of the Beauty and the Beast story which fully respected the original tale. I loved the Beast's castle and gardens - and his library,which contained the whole opus of authors - even those which hadnt yet be written in the time of the story! lol.
I also read and very much liked Sunshine,an urban fantasy about a heroine saving the life of a vampire. So disappointed that she didnt do any more in that genre. Perhaps an experiment,since UF was coming into full flow around that time. Perhaps her fans felt she had moved too far from her usual field?worthy winner of the Mythopoeic Award.
I may explore more of her books next year,not this as I have already planned on reading,and have pencilled in, a mere 160 books,so dont tempt me with more! :0)
>157 dustydigger: Humans as secondary/inferior characters was such a novelty when she did it. I can't think of many authors back then who did so, or did it as well.
As for Bren Camerson, I think it's safe to say he's learned a thing or two. ;-)
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