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Author Topic: Return of the Book Thread  (Read 432122 times)
Johny Cee
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on: July 06, 2006, 08:44:30 PM

Alright,  the nostalgia over Dragonlance and the Warhammer thread have kicked loose the need to write about what I've read since last Book thread.  We do have some things to look forward to this summer, as well.  Off we go:

Dead Beat and Proven Guilty,  by Jim Butcher --

Two new hardcover entries in the "Harry Dresden" series of books.  Set in modern Chicago,  but a modern world where magic and the supernatural coexist with technology.  The supernatural world is just under the surface,  and only a few "normal" people ever get more than a small taste of how odd the world can be.

Harry Dresden is a wizard and PI,  the only one listed in the phone book.  The style is noir,  with a tip of the hat to De Lint (Newford books) and Glen Cook (Garret series).  Harry is perpetually poor,  and always getting himself in over his head.  The White Council of wizards and their allies are at war with the vampires (Red Court),  mostly due to Harry, and this goes on in the background.  And the war is not going well.

Overall, another two solid entries in the series.  Harry is dealing with relationship issues, mostly a growing attraction to sometimes partner Murphy, and dealing with the temptation provided by his connection to a demon.  Michael Carpenter and his family make a reappearance,  as well as politics in the supernatural world.

I'll note that the Dresden books have been picked up for adaption by the Scifi network for a new series,  scheduled for the Fall/Winter '07.

"Nightside Books", by Simon R. Green --

Serial novellas, six in all, by the guy that brought you the Deathstalker books.  More PI/noir fantasy take.  The Nightside is the underbelly of London, where heaven and hell mix.  You can find anything here for a price,  and John Taylor can find anything with his Gift. 

The supernatural rubs shoulders with sci fi (time travellers thrown back through...  uh, time...).  You can see a gray alien panhandling next to a down-on-her-luck succubus.  In otherwords,  lots and lots of material for amusing set pieces.

The style is very, very, very pulpy.  Repitition of key phrases and lines.  Read it like you would a collection of Lovecraft or Howard stories.  I actually really enjoyed these.  Fun.

"The rest of his fucking books" Simon R. Green --

Blah.  Read 3 or 4 of his other works (Hawk & Fisher collected novels, Blue Moon, Midnight Wine) and was less then impressed.  Didn't try the Deathstalker books, if only because the only ones I saw were late in the series.

Don't bother.

(By the way,  who was that plays a MMO with this guy?  Tell him more John Taylor.  Now.)

Widdershins by Charles de Lint --

Another book set in Newford,  following up on The Onion Girl.  Catches up with Jilly and Geordie a few years after events in Girl.  Ties up loose ends,  but not alot of original ground covered.

Jilly's abusive family and how she dealt with it is covered at length again.  Feels very much like a retread of what happened in the previous book.

If you are a de Lint fan,  or have read the rest of the Newford books, might be interesting.  Otherwise,  stick to the author's collections of short stories.  Most of his best work is there, and it is worth reading if you're unfamilar with him.

Already Dead by Charlie Huston --

Noir PI vampire, modern NYC.  Interesting and very well written.  Politics and intrigue, punk and hippies.  Vampires don't have fangs,  more often mugging and using works to extract a few quarts of blood.  Or cozy up to one of the big factions.

Nice take on vampire myths.  Very interesting style,  good story.

The Immortals by James Gun --

Collection of short stories, set between now and the distant future.

Basically,  a man is born with a genetic mutation:  he's immortal.  This is discovered accidentally by a billionaire and his physician when the aging billionaire is rejuvenated by a blood transfusion.  The billionaire funds an effort to capture and study the immortal.

The stories are mediocre,  but the redeeming feature is how the spiraling cost of medical care leads to a future dystopia of a crumbling world completely focused around hospitals and the medical class.

For Dagon's sake, DO NOT LOOK FOR THIS BOOK ON AMAZON BY TITLE.  While trying to find the author my eyeballs were raped by a couple hundred wish-fullfillment vampire romance novels.

On it's own merits,  I probably wouldn't give this book a nod.  But....  if you're concerned about the way medicine is practiced in the US,  and the downfalls of the current system or a government-provided system,  it may be good for a laugh.

Pashazade by Jon Courtenay Grimwood --

This was my big pleasant surprise from the stacks of the local Borders.

Near future,  alternate history:  the Ottoman Empire never fell.  Some cyberpunk qualities,  some noirish qualities.  Set in North Africa,  in the midst of a Middle East united behind the Turks.

Less bloodthirsty,  and a bit smarter, then Richard K. Morgan's "Takeshi Kovacs" novels.

There's two books following this one,  which I haven't motivated enough to track down online yet.

Vellum by Hal Duncan --

Post-modern, stream of consciousness narration.  There are never less then three independant threads going on at the same time:  retelling of Sumerian or Greek myth, main action (near future with some cyberpunk overtones),  alternate timeline/viewpoint. 

Essentially setting up a "real" world and a backstage (the Vellum) that's more metaphoric.  Two opposing forces of unkin (something like angels,  people that have changed or become more than human) are set for a showdown.  Both sides are killing or recruiting the random unaligned.  Deals in multiple realities,  and the clash of myth/reality.

Yes, it's confusing as hell, and a bit frustrating.  If you're into it, it's very good.  If you like Simmons or Mieville,  you'd probably enjoy this.


The Light Ages by Ken MacLeod --

Alternate history,  where magic replaces technology, but set in England during it's Industrial Revolution.  Treats on class issues and identity.  Bout 3/4s through it.

If your a Mieville fan, pick it up.


Various books by L.E. Modesitt --

Fun reading.  Read the "Columbine" books,  alternate history where ghosts are real.  Basically,  since ghosts hang around after their death to disturb the living (sort of like echoes, or bad CGI), birth rates are slower and less serious warfare.

The US never formed,  and instead you have a Dutch based republic.  The lead is a professor at an Upstate NY college,  formerly a secret agent and government minister.  Follows he and his French-emmigre wife.

Standard spy-type stuff with the odd premise.

Read a selection of Modesitt's other works,  all decent reading but not really standing out to me after some time.

Valentine's Exile by E.E. Knight --

Another book (and hardcover now!!1!) in Knight's "Vampire Earth" series.  Post-apoctylptic earth,  and aliens have invaded.  Aliens that are vampires as Lovecraft might have reimagined them.  Most of earth is subjagated,  and pockets of resistance have formed and are trying to push back the invaders with the help of other aliens and what is aptly described as "technomagic".  Technology so bizarre/advanced it comes off as pseudo-occult.

If you liked Thundarr the Barbarian when you were young,  it's interesting.  The series may appeal to you Warhammer 40k folks.

"The Novels of Tiger and Del" by Jennifer Roberson --

Tradepaperback collections of Roberson's series.  Fairly straight-forward fantasy stuff.  Not bad,  but didn't interest me enough to go beyond the first two novel collection.

_________________________________________

Alright, enough for now.  Still have a pile I've gone through that really don't need another mention (most of Pratchett's stuff, which is excellent but well known).

Books on my radar:

BRUST, bitches!  New Vlad novel due in August.

A Cruel Wind by Glen Cook.  Compilation of the "Dread Empire" Trilogy.  If you like Erikson (Malazan books) or GRR Martin,  you should order this.  This was Cook's first take on gritty, realist, and morally ambiguous fantasy;  and both Martin and Erikson owe alot to Cook.  Out July 15.

Amazon is also listing Lord of the Silent Kingdom by Cook as due in Feb 2007.  Will have to research this to find out if this is a reprint or collection of past works,  or a new entry.  Fingers crossed for next book in "The Instrumentalities of the Night".

Gaiman has "Absolute Sandman" and a new graphic novel set to be released Soon (TM).

Night of Knives by Cameron Esselmont.  The co-creator of all things Malazan with Steven Erikson.  Esselmont is writing background books for the Malazan world.  In this case,  dealing with the night the Emperor and Dancer are killed and Surly takes over.  Out in trade paperback now,  and was discussed on the Other Site.

 
« Last Edit: July 06, 2006, 08:48:35 PM by Johny Cee »
Johny Cee
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Reply #1 on: July 06, 2006, 08:54:01 PM

Of what I've so far listed,  I'd give the Grimwood book a big nod.  It's smart.  A good blend of mystery, alternate history, and cyberpunk elements.  If you like Richard K. Morgan, you'll like this.

Especially since you don't need to be exposed to some of Morgan's economic preconceptions.

Non-fiction,  I'm going to pimp Zakaria's The Future of Freedom.  Again.  He's a bright, bright man.

If the Grammar Snake feels like editing my blather, I'd be appreciative.
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Reply #2 on: July 06, 2006, 09:19:47 PM


I haven't listed all my books on it but here is a good sampling on LibraryThing.

I read some of the Deathstalker books and for the most part they are cotton candy.

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Reply #3 on: July 07, 2006, 07:47:52 AM

Thanks for the heads-up on the Cook compilation, haven't read Dread Empire stuff yet but the Black Company is one of my favorites. Just finished off Shadows Linger for the gazillionth time last night. I nabbed the original trilogy and the first four Guardians of the Flame by Joel Rosenberg from storage a couple weeks ago and I'm alternating between the two series. Currently reading The Warrior Lives by Rosenberg. It's pretty cool reading the new stuff, because I've read the seven books I've had for years, dozens of times each (they went on the road with me, too).

I second the Martin stuff if you like Cook, I enjoyed his stuff. Haven't gotten around to the Erikson stuff, we have a few on the shelf here. I really enjoyed Modesitt's Order/Chaos stuff, too.

For non-fic, I'm reading a few great books I listed in the Guitar Thread (music theory, fretboard theory and notation reading) and 100 Questions Every First-Time Home Buyer Should Ask by Ilyce Glink, it's a pretty nice book. I've read several like it and it's the best thus far.

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Reply #4 on: July 07, 2006, 07:55:40 AM


I haven't listed all my books on it but here is a good sampling on LibraryThing.

I read some of the Deathstalker books and for the most part they are cotton candy.
That is really scary. I've read a lot of those books. It's like walking back through my childhood. Even slightly obscure ones like card's treason.

I noticed I don't see a lot of the galactic mileu world (diamond mask, jack the bodiless) and the acompanying series (the golden torc),and something else, I guess you'd call it the uplift saga by Julian May.. I found most of those books to be entertaining reads.
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Reply #5 on: July 07, 2006, 08:03:10 AM

You guys sure read a lot of books.

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Reply #6 on: July 07, 2006, 08:14:08 AM

Well, think of it this way.. I read pretty fast, and I'm guessing most people who read a lot also read fairly fast. I can get through a midsize novel in around 4-5 hours. A lot of people watch TV, on average to the tune of 2-3 hours a night. If you put those hours towards reading, the books stack up pretty fast.

I don't read much in paper anymore, since I don't have a lot of time, so now I get my fix with audiobooks. They are much, much slower, but I still get a chance to do a little "reading" on the way to work and on my lunch breaks.
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Reply #7 on: July 07, 2006, 09:55:08 AM

I'm due for another batch of reviews on the blog -- youc an find all of the reviews here: http://www.raphkoster.com/category/reading/

But I have to point out two books that came out recently that are very enjoyable:  The Carpet Makers, a German SF novel that reads like the Majipoor books bySIlverberg, from long ago, with a really cool worldbuilding touch; and Fly By Night, a juvenile fantasy novel that scratches the Lemony SNicket/Harry Potter itch with a light dash of the sort of book humor that the Eye Affair had (and that the later books overdid).

I enjoyed Carpet Makers more than most of this year's Hugo nominees...
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Reply #8 on: July 07, 2006, 11:29:48 AM

Thanks for the heads-up on the Cook compilation, haven't read Dread Empire stuff yet but the Black Company is one of my favorites...

I second the Martin stuff if you like Cook, I enjoyed his stuff. Haven't gotten around to the Erikson stuff, we have a few on the shelf here. I really enjoyed Modesitt's Order/Chaos stuff, too.


I came to Cook by way of recommended reading to fill the time between aSoIaF (Martin) releases.  I have loved the Black Company series as well and my only complaint would really be that they aren't longer and there isn't more of them.  Thanks to the thread for the heads-up on the compilation of some of Cook's earlier work.

Erikson's "Malazan" series has failed to grab me in the same way.  I really want to like it but I just can't begin to digest it and get sucked in.  Twice I've tried now and it just makes me want to pick up Martin's books for the umpteenth re-read.

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Johny Cee
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Reply #9 on: July 07, 2006, 12:15:48 PM

Thanks for the heads-up on the Cook compilation, haven't read Dread Empire stuff yet but the Black Company is one of my favorites...

I second the Martin stuff if you like Cook, I enjoyed his stuff. Haven't gotten around to the Erikson stuff, we have a few on the shelf here. I really enjoyed Modesitt's Order/Chaos stuff, too.


I came to Cook by way of recommended reading to fill the time between aSoIaF (Martin) releases.  I have loved the Black Company series as well and my only complaint would really be that they aren't longer and there isn't more of them.  Thanks to the thread for the heads-up on the compilation of some of Cook's earlier work.

Erikson's "Malazan" series has failed to grab me in the same way.  I really want to like it but I just can't begin to digest it and get sucked in.  Twice I've tried now and it just makes me want to pick up Martin's books for the umpteenth re-read.

Which Erikson have you tried?  Stalled out on Gardens of the Moon multiple times?

I've seen it suggested that people new to the series should really start with Deadhouse Gates, the second book,  and then read the first.  Deadhouse is, for my money, the best book in the series hands down.  It's set in a concurrent timeline with book 1,  and completely different characters,  so you don't really miss anything by skipping book one other than background.

It's not a happy book, though.

The first "Dread Empire" trilogy is pretty good.  The first 20 or 30 pages of book one is heartwrenching.

Unlike the "Black Company",  generally we get viewpoints from the various sides in any squabble.  And generally every character is fairly likeable/sympathetic in a Cook way.  What's more,  at various points the antagonists express admiration or affection for the other side.

So it can really get to you when characters you like start offing other characters you like.  The death toll in the books makes Martin look like an optimist....

Edit:

Poking around for what the new Cook book is about,  found an older interview.

Quote
QM: What current authors do you like?

Glen Cook: I don't really read much fantasy or science fiction these days. I do like Steve Erickson. I like his style, but he's brutal to his characters.

from: http://www.quantummuse.com/glen_cook_interview.html
« Last Edit: July 07, 2006, 12:20:52 PM by Johny Cee »
Johny Cee
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Reply #10 on: July 07, 2006, 12:27:15 PM

Lord of the Silent Kingdom will be the next "Instrumentalities of the Night" book.

Quote
How long have you been planning the series and what made you choose to write it over all the other stories you have simmering in the cook pot?
No particular planning. Went to work on it because my editor at Tor like the idea. It's contracted to be three books, next up, LORD OF THE SILENT KINGDOM, The Connecten Crusade (dropped subtitle for TYRANNY was The Calziran Crusade), then SURRENDER TO THE WILL OF THE NIGHT. I now see the possibility of a fourth book. But the whole thing is going incredibly slow and I have two more Black Company novels I want to write, PORT OF SHADOWS and A PITILESS RAIN. As for a historical basis for things in TYRANNY, only in the vaguest sense. Geography is a much bigger influence than history.
reference: http://www.malazanempire.com/forums/showthread.php?t=3133

Cook is also claiming he wants to do two more Black Company books. 
Sky
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Reply #11 on: July 07, 2006, 01:13:01 PM

You guys sure read a lot of books.
You have no idea. I work at a library and date a librarian.

I had read a decent amount my entire life, but now I can't casually mention a topic or author without her putting a few books into my mailbox. It's great.

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Reply #12 on: July 07, 2006, 01:21:38 PM

I'm always hesitant to try to read new books. Partially because I don't want to waste money if I don't like the book (if I can't get it from a library), and also because there just so many choices, I don't wanna try pick something I don't like.

Such as Robert Jordan, or Dune to a lesser extent. I'm only on book 2 of the WoT series, but I think I've come to the conclusion that, while I am sure Jordan put a good story somewhere in these books, his style is just so painstakingly detailed that I feel exhausted trying to work through his prose - I shouldn't feel like it's work to read something that's for recreation. Maybe if his books were not basically a second-to-second play-by-play transcript of the events. it seems like the only time there's a break in the story is when the subject characters are sleeping. And Dune? I want to like it, I really do...but at least for now, I'm stalled about halfway through. I might try to pick it up again this weekend, but I think I'm already more interested in The Cleric's Quintet than Herbert.

It's a shame, because I read a shitton as a kid....then I got hooked on playing Hockey and EQ...and then pretty much all the reading I did in college was academic.

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Reply #13 on: July 07, 2006, 01:26:04 PM

Hit up the library and find a librarian familiar with the sci-fi/fantasy section (or wherever). They can do stuff like we've been doing, cross-referencing authors by style. Probably be a couple bibliographies if the library is decently staffed. And it's freeeee!

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Reply #14 on: July 07, 2006, 01:47:36 PM

Well, I just took out a ton more Salvatore, so I think I'm good for awhile. My friend also suggested two other authors, whose names I cannot recall offhand.

Also, what "style" would you attribute to Salvatore or Crichton (who I haven't read in years, but remembered enjoying)?

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Reply #15 on: July 07, 2006, 01:58:43 PM

Also, what "style" would you attribute to Salvatore or Crichton (who I haven't read in years, but remembered enjoying)?

Bland hacks?

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Reply #16 on: July 07, 2006, 02:03:06 PM

I knew someone was going to say it.

I don't get it. I've read stuff by Nobel prize winners, such as Gabriel García Márquez, and I'm not blown away by the work. I'm not saying either of the two authors are anything besides enjoyable, at least for me.

/shrug

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Reply #17 on: July 07, 2006, 02:07:06 PM

I haven't read Salvatore, but I have read Crichton. I never said he wasn't enjoyable, but I can usually tear through one of his books in about a day. His writing not only does not strain the mind, it doesn't even give the mind a sweat. It is terse pablum-flavored popcorn full of empty. And he apparently can shit one out about every 2 or 3 months. Had he written in Howard's time, he wouldn't even have the staying power of Doc Savage's writer. But because he has easy to translate to movies books, he's sold a bazillion books.

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Reply #18 on: July 07, 2006, 02:33:15 PM

Yeah, they're definately not "tough" books. I sprinted through Timeline in a single day. I guess I just don't normally read fiction for the challenge - I have plenty of books I used in history classes to hurt ym mind with.

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Reply #19 on: July 07, 2006, 02:39:55 PM

I'm always hesitant to try to read new books. Partially because I don't want to waste money if I don't like the book (if I can't get it from a library), and also because there just so many choices, I don't wanna try pick something I don't like.

Such as Robert Jordan, or Dune to a lesser extent. I'm only on book 2 of the WoT series, but I think I've come to the conclusion that, while I am sure Jordan put a good story somewhere in these books, his style is just so painstakingly detailed that I feel exhausted trying to work through his prose - I shouldn't feel like it's work to read something that's for recreation. Maybe if his books were not basically a second-to-second play-by-play transcript of the events. it seems like the only time there's a break in the story is when the subject characters are sleeping. And Dune? I want to like it, I really do...but at least for now, I'm stalled about halfway through. I might try to pick it up again this weekend, but I think I'm already more interested in The Cleric's Quintet than Herbert.

It's a shame, because I read a shitton as a kid....then I got hooked on playing Hockey and EQ...and then pretty much all the reading I did in college was academic.

Give me a general idea of what you like,  or other books you like,  and I can get you a reasonable amount of similar offerings.  I go through a couple hundred new books a year,  and a huge amount of rereads,  so most likely I've hit at least a couple books by most Fantasy authors.  There are people here as or more widely read.

Raph seems to be filling his newfound free time well.

Been working through the Scifi folks in the last year.  Went through most of Heinlein, bunch of Asimov, Kim Stanley Robinson, Simmons, bit of Clarke.  Got a couple comps of short story authors now (Varley, Dick, Ellison).

Generally, I prefer the humor and interesting posting style of the folks here to more dedicated lit/fiction discussion boards.  Too often you have to wade through Vault quality crap about who would win in a fight, Gandalf or Elminster.

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Reply #20 on: July 07, 2006, 02:54:49 PM

It's not like I'm looking only for fantasy, though that's mainly what I've been picking up lately as far as fiction goes...I'll admit though, as far as fiction goes, I'm nto widely read...at all. Heck, when I was looking stuff up in the county library, I couldn't even understand where the call numbers were pointing me to at first - I haven't touched a non-fiction book in a library since high school probably.

I dunno, some of the stuff I have read in the last few years that I've liked besides Salvatore are :

Follet's Pillars of the Earth. Apparently he's doing a sequel, though I have no idea how that would possibly work. All the main characters still alive are old at the end of the book. Maybe the sequel will focus on their kids, I don't know. I don't thinkt he book even needs a sequel, but I'm not the author...

Son of the Revolution. Loved it, but it's not fiction.

erm...Looking through my book collection, it seems to be pretty much entirely made up of history books from college. I read some old Greek such, such as the Illiad and Odyssey, and some other history-oriented books....but very little fiction.

So I guess I can't even tell you what I like, because I myself don't know....kinda sucks, but oh well. My buddy suggested George R.R. Martin, who I only remembered by just now going to BarnesandNoble.com and looking for the cover that I remember him pointing out in the store. I have no idea if he is any good.

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Reply #21 on: July 07, 2006, 03:29:43 PM

Even slightly obscure ones like card's treason.

Found that one in an antique store on Kauai, HI.

Quote from: bhodi
I noticed I don't see a lot of the galactic mileu world (diamond mask, jack the bodiless) and the acompanying series (the golden torc),and something else, I guess you'd call it the uplift saga by Julian May.. I found most of those books to be entertaining reads.

I'll have to check those out as I haven't heard of them before (though Diamond Mask sounds familiar for some reason). I usually buy based on cover art (ohh shallow) plus back description or known authors.

---

I liked The Cleric's Quintet and if you like that you'll probably like the Icewind Dale series as well. I don't care for Dune all that much and prefer scifi books more in the vein of Hyperion.

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Reply #22 on: July 07, 2006, 03:34:00 PM

I guess I'll have to remember to check out Hyperion next time I make a library run. At least they have that.

Anyway, I currently have checked out Jordan's "The Great Hunt" (which I probably will not finish...I hate not finishing a book), and Salvatore's Cleric Quintet, Icewind Dale series, and the series that comes after it.

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Reply #23 on: July 07, 2006, 03:53:26 PM

I really don't read too much fiction anymore, but The Masters of Rome series has been absolutely phenomenal.  It was recommended off of another forum I frequent, and after reading the first one I went to Amazon and ordered all of them.

It's historical fiction focused around the Roman Revolution.  Starts with Marius and Sulla, and goes all the way up to Augustus.  Friggin' great series.  It's just too bad that McCullough's eyesight is failing her, and she's working on the last book in the anthology right now.
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Reply #24 on: July 07, 2006, 03:56:46 PM

Sweet I love a good book thread.  Is this all fantasy stuff?  Speaking of fantasy, did anyone ever read the book the Legend of Nightfall? I foget who it was by, but I'm still surprised by it.  Mainly because I picked it up from a used bookstore once when I was super bored like 5 years ago, and it turned out to be really effing sweet and I had never heard of the author before.  The protagonist had a pretty cool ability that I don't remember ever seeing before: he could change his weight at will.  So falling from great heights he just became light as a feather and so on.  The guy thought of really neat ways to implement the ability in the novel, as the guy was a thief/rogue type person.

I can't wait for three angry cockgoblins to tell me how stupid I am for liking something they don't.
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Reply #25 on: July 07, 2006, 04:24:03 PM

Based on recommendations I picked up some Gaiman stuff.  Neverwhere and American Gods  were fantastic. Some of the best stuff I've ever read.   Smoke and Mirrors  was touch and go, but that's what you get with a collection of short stories.  I'll definitely be picking up more of his work. Stardust and Anansi Boys worth reading?

I'm finishing off Cook's Black Company books so I'll take a look at that anthology of his earlier work.

I don't know who recommended Michelle West's Sunsword books.. but I had a really hard time with the first and stalled about 200 pages in.  It was just really feminine and really slow.  I think Feast for Crows or something came out while I was reading it, so that might have had something to do with it.  Does the pace pickup in the series somewhat? The setting was definitely interesting.

Read King's The Stand while I was on vacation. Some of his best work, IMO.  Can't believe it took me this long to pick it up.  Any other books of his you'd recommend if I also enjoyed Eyes of the Dragon and the entire Dark Tower series?


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Reply #26 on: July 07, 2006, 06:52:26 PM

For King, I really like Bag of Bones.  There's some actual good writing in there, unlike some of his other novels like, say, Desperation.   And I reaaaaally didn't like Eyes of the Dragon, but to each his own.  smiley
Neverwhere and American Gods were good, but I thought the writing was sometimes clunky and the cliches were heavy (In American Gods, the main character's name is fucking SHADOW!).  You can very much tell Gaiman's written a lot of comics.  Unless I'm thinking of someone else and he hasn't written any comics at all.     

Tim O'Brien is an author I can't recommend enough.  He doesn't do fantasy, but instead focuses on the Vietnam war with some of the best prose I've ever read about the subject.  Not a political book though, so don't avoid it for those reasons.  Sit down in a Barnes and Noble and read the first chapter of The Things They Carried (some of you have probably read it in high school/college), and odds are you'll go buy it, drive home, and read the rest of it.  If you're looking for something lighter, read Tomcat in Love (romantic comedy but he does manage to work in Vietnam, of course), one of my favorite books.  If you get through those and you like them, In the Lake of the Woods is much darker but also good. 

If you like short stories, The Best American Non-Required Reading series is great.  If you want something fucking hilarious, pick up Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris (do the 'read the first chapter/story in B&N' thing).  I've never met a person who's read it and said they didn't thing it was great.  (Maybe one of this cynical lot?  smiley )

Oooh yeah.  I have to recommend House of Leaves to anyone who likes their books a bit post-modern and/or a great ghost story.  Awesome writing, love the interwoven narrative between the storyteller and the story itself.  The text is a bit, um, visually complicated in parts, but I liked that.  If post-modernism isn't your thing, you'll probably want to skip this though.

Seriously.  Check these books out.  They all rock. 

Does anyone have any good Post-Apocalypse books to read?  Or even any decent zombie books (already reading Walking Dead)?  I always liked those when I was younger but haven't read anything that didn't turn to trash halfway through.  The 'Dread Empire' books mentioned sound interesting, I'll check those out on amazon.
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Reply #27 on: July 07, 2006, 08:31:24 PM

Editted out my quote of Strazos.  Hit my post button too soon.
« Last Edit: July 07, 2006, 10:35:28 PM by Johny Cee »
Viin
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Reply #28 on: July 07, 2006, 08:52:47 PM

I really don't read too much fiction anymore, but The Masters of Rome series has been absolutely phenomenal.  It was recommended off of another forum I frequent, and after reading the first one I went to Amazon and ordered all of them.

I like historical fiction, so I just ordered the first two of that series.. so it damn well better be good!  cool

Just finished Old Mans War which is very good scifi - mature writing not the fluffy crap. Waiting for his second novel to come out in paperback. Currently reading The Hostile Takeover trilogy, which is another scifi series (all in one book). The first book was great, the second one I'm having a harder time getting into. So.. I just bought Survivor by Chuck Palahniuk for casual reading this weekend.

- Viin
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Reply #29 on: July 07, 2006, 08:55:45 PM

Read King's The Stand while I was on vacation. Some of his best work, IMO.  Can't believe it took me this long to pick it up.  Any other books of his you'd recommend if I also enjoyed Eyes of the Dragon and the entire Dark Tower series?
Read different seasons and salem's lot. Shawshank redemption in particular is one of my favorites.
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Reply #30 on: July 07, 2006, 10:57:16 PM

Based on recommendations I picked up some Gaiman stuff.  Neverwhere and American Gods  were fantastic. Some of the best stuff I've ever read.   Smoke and Mirrors  was touch and go, but that's what you get with a collection of short stories.  I'll definitely be picking up more of his work. Stardust and Anansi Boys worth reading?

I'm finishing off Cook's Black Company books so I'll take a look at that anthology of his earlier work.

I don't know who recommended Michelle West's Sunsword books.. but I had a really hard time with the first and stalled about 200 pages in.  It was just really feminine and really slow.  I think Feast for Crows or something came out while I was reading it, so that might have had something to do with it.  Does the pace pickup in the series somewhat? The setting was definitely interesting.

Read King's The Stand while I was on vacation. Some of his best work, IMO.  Can't believe it took me this long to pick it up.  Any other books of his you'd recommend if I also enjoyed Eyes of the Dragon and the entire Dark Tower series?

Gaiman:  Stardust is very good.  Reads like a bittersweet fable.  Anansi Boys is good,  but not up to the level of American Gods.  Gaiman has done alot of work in comics,  and most of it very, very good.  Coraline,  which was aimed at young adults,  is also supposed to be very good.

King:  The Dark Tower.  Really, you should read it if you haven't already.  Gives you a different perspective on the rest of his work.  Gunslinger, especially, is a favorite of mine.  I wasn't as fond of the last four books,  still pretty good though.  Surprisingly,  I've never read The Stand.  Have to add it to my list.

Pick up King's early collections of short stories.  That stuff is gold.  "Mrs. Todd's Shortcut" (can't remember which collection it's from, but one of the first two) might be my favorite short story.

Michelle West:  I read the first book in the "Sun Sword".  It didn't really do that much for me,  but I know one of the folks here is a big fan (Merusk maybe?),  so it might just be a taste thing.

I'm sorry if my original post was fantasy heavy,  but I literally just pulled up a stack of books I'd finished lately and went down the line.  I do have a pile of Vonnegut and Hunter S. Thompson to go through.

Non-fiction....

I have a couple books on the French and Indian War I've been reading lately.  Alot of casual reading on Roman history,  skimming or reading a chapter or two and putting it down.  Books on Hamilton, Gengis Khan, and Tamarlane.

The Road to the Dark Tower by Bev Vincent --  Short analysis of the Dark Tower books examing the themes and character development.  Pretty interesting footnote to the King books.  Moves along at a good pace, informing without really stalling out on any subject.
Johny Cee
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Reply #31 on: July 07, 2006, 11:17:42 PM

Does anyone have any good Post-Apocalypse books to read?  Or even any decent zombie books (already reading Walking Dead)?  I always liked those when I was younger but haven't read anything that didn't turn to trash halfway through.  The 'Dread Empire' books mentioned sound interesting, I'll check those out on amazon.

Dinner at Deviant's Palace by Tim Powers maybe?  Powers is a speculative fiction guy,  if you haven't ever read anything by him.  Post-apoctalyptic California, where the protagonist gets involved with a bizarre cult.  Powers is good, but kind of an interesting writing/narative style that might be a little off-putting.  I had a little trouble getting into the first book or two I read by him.

"The Vampire Earth" series by E.E. Knight is kind of fluffy post-Apoc stuff.  There are pseudo-vampires (genetically engineered killing machines) and pseudo-zombies (victims of a mysterious "ravies" virus) running around.

Really can't think of much else with zombies, per se.  I don't think they make the transition from film to paper too well.

Post-apoc sci fi has generally been in heavy decline for the last few decades,  and regular sci fi outside of Star Wars/Trek type stuff for the last decade.  Bujold cranking out Miles Vorkisigan books up until 2002 or 2003 notwithstanding.
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Reply #32 on: July 10, 2006, 03:32:57 AM

I see a few people interested in historical fiction, so I thought I'd mention Alfred Duggan. He wrote several books based on actual events, places and people in various different time periods. I've only read Winter Quarters and Count Bohemond myself but I enjoyed both and hopefully I'll get around to reading the rest eventually.

If you like fictionalised accounts of real events they're worth a read, he did his research well and visited almost all of the places referenced in his works.
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Reply #33 on: July 10, 2006, 11:11:15 AM

Re: Crichton and Salvatore-

I see a large difference. Crichton's books (especially his earlier work) at least have some sort of interesting spin or plot device to make them moderately interesting. The are certainly fluffy mind candy- no substance at all. My opinion on Salvatore is probably well known by now, but let me just reiterate: he is teh uber sux.

Finished William Gibson's Pattern Recognition Friday on the plane. Broke out Ender's Game (which I have steadfastly refused to read for decades due to being scarred by some shitty Card series someone foisted on me in my teens), and read nearly the entire book at the airport and on the flight home (will finish it today at work as soon as I quit trying to look busy). Next up is Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?- I have STILL never seen Blade Runner, so I thought I would check the book out first. After that, I also bought the omnibus of the first 10 Amber Chronicles, then All Tomorrow's Parties, and then I will probably read Dune (tried years ago and couldn't get into it, but I am willing to give it another go).

After a few years of mostly non-fiction, I am in the midst of a self-indulgent fiction orgy. Good times!

When speaking of the MMOG industry, the glass may be half full, but it's full of urine. HaemishM

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Reply #34 on: July 10, 2006, 12:35:06 PM

Quote
After a few years of mostly non-fiction, I am in the midst of a self-indulgent fiction orgy. Good times!
Yeah, I'm happily amidst that phase now. Started with LE Modesitt's Recluse stuff, moved into GRR Martin's Fire and Ice stuff and now back through the Cook and Rosenberg I mentioned earlier. I'm really enjoying them all, but the Cook and Rosenberg is especially fun because it a) held up over the years (I first read them when I was in my teens) and 2) have several new books in the series I haven't read.

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