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Author Topic: Return of the Book Thread  (Read 491755 times)
lamaros
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Reply #6265 on: April 17, 2017, 12:52:17 AM

No no Unhewn Throne was yours, which I mostly enjoyed... Given I read the series in about 5 days.

Expect poison from the standing water.
Khaldun
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Reply #6266 on: April 18, 2017, 11:53:06 AM

Yeah, it's decent. Last book kind of drags, but I appreciate that it didn't turn into the awesome adventures of a team of three super-siblings who kill gods all by themselves without taking a scratch and so on. I had a bad feeling after the first book that it might go there.
Endie
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Reply #6267 on: April 18, 2017, 04:58:10 PM

I re-read one of my mindless relaxation go-tos last week: the Nantucket trilogy by ol' S.M. "S&M" Stirling.  While I enjoy the (ridiculous) premise, like his willingness to portray strong female characters, and am able to ignore his insertion of opinions into characters' mouths, I had forgotten the extent to which he ignores the practicalities of what he portrays: bronze age civilisations barely leaving the secondary products revolution behind them converting to industrial-revolution powerhouses within 8 years, every major character being able to learn two or three additional (and highly inflected) languages to fluency in months each and so on.  I still kinda enjoyed it, though, much as I did with his contributions to the Co-dominium stuff in The Prince.

That said, I made the mistake of ordering the first of his Draka books and holy crap it is awful. Just awful.  How on earth did it sell well enough for him to go on and write a bunch more?  At least with his Change series of novels I got three or so books in, albeit with increasingly-gritted teeth.  This was just unreadable.  I've no problem with books starting in media res but I had to go and check that I'd not started on book two or something: disjointed, dull and a bit distasteful in some of the authorial voice stuff.

My blog: http://endie.net

Twitter - Endieposts

"What else would one expect of Scottish sociopaths sipping their single malt Glenlivit [sic]?" Jack Thompson
MahrinSkel
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When she crossed over, she was just a ship. But when she came back... she was bullshit!


Reply #6268 on: April 18, 2017, 05:34:12 PM

S.M. Stirling apparently tells other authors about that as a cautionary tale. Apparently there is a subset of people out there that are really into the idea of hedonistic eugenicist fascists. And once they grab hold of a story they like, the financial incentives to keep giving them what they want lead publishers to not only want more, but not be interested in anything you write that isn't in the same setting.

I suspect that Charles Stross taking that tale to heart is why the Eschaton Singularity series came to a crashing halt with Iron Sunrise.

--Dave

--Jello Biafra: "If evolution is outlawed, only outlaws will evolve."
Endie
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Reply #6269 on: April 19, 2017, 04:23:27 AM

brb just writing book about aryan nation group going back to 1933 and helping david irving's version of hitler win ww2

But that does make some sense.  I imagine that the temptation for the author just to keep churning them out for the paychecks must be pretty strong, too.

My blog: http://endie.net

Twitter - Endieposts

"What else would one expect of Scottish sociopaths sipping their single malt Glenlivit [sic]?" Jack Thompson
Reg
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Reply #6270 on: April 19, 2017, 04:58:08 AM

I read the first three Draka books as they came out and didn't much care for them but then just a few years ago I discovered he'd written a fourth book back five years after his third. It was actually kind of fun. The story was a about a single Draka from a parallel universe coming to our Earth and how she almost conquered us singlehandedly. I think it actually works pretty well as a stand alone novel so you don't need to bother with the first 3 books.
kaid
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Reply #6271 on: April 19, 2017, 08:20:39 AM

I read the first three Draka books as they came out and didn't much care for them but then just a few years ago I discovered he'd written a fourth book back five years after his third. It was actually kind of fun. The story was a about a single Draka from a parallel universe coming to our Earth and how she almost conquered us singlehandedly. I think it actually works pretty well as a stand alone novel so you don't need to bother with the first 3 books.

The last book was actually interesting. Basically one female Draka and one high tech cyber solider who was sent back to stop her.
Reg
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Reply #6272 on: April 19, 2017, 09:57:40 AM

He left it open for a sequel but after twenty years I doubt it's going to happen. All he does these days is churn out those horrible "Change" books.
Khaldun
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Reply #6273 on: April 20, 2017, 06:13:57 AM

Just re-reading Julian May's Pliocene Exile series. Still holds up pretty well, I think--vivid characters, clever underlying idea.
HaemishM
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Reply #6274 on: April 20, 2017, 09:21:47 AM

I finished China Mieville's Perdido Street Station. It had gotten a lot of praise so I grabbed it when I saw the Kindle version on sale. It was... grueling. On the whole, I liked it but it felt like 1) he really overwrote the thing, like he spent way too much time trying to make the city of New Crobuzon a character and it never really came off as anything more than showing off and 2) he went the long way around to get to the 1-2 pages of explanation about the crime Yagharek had committed. It almost felt like that was the story he wanted to tell but didn't really have enough meat on it so he spent most of the book with the adventure stuff about the slake moths. Either story might have been interesting but instead it was just a slog getting through all the overwriting for the payoff. Not bad but could have been about 200-300 pages shorter and not lost much impact.

And then, because my wife was watching some documentary on England while I was trying to sleep, I got the urge to try reading Thomas Hardy's Far From the Madding Crowd. Holy shit, talk about overwriting.

BobtheSomething
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Reply #6275 on: April 20, 2017, 11:59:08 AM

Is Thomas Hardy the guy who wrote Return of the Native?   That was a torturous book, the one that finally made me break down and buy the Cliff's Notes.

I'm tempted to reread Stephen King's It, but I'm afraid it won't hold up now that I'm older.  The first Dark Tower book lost some of its magic for me on the second time through.


What do you guys recommend for High Sci Fi that has a bit of action?  I'm always interested in space battles and scale porn.  I would really like a mix of high technology, epic plots, and neckbeardy world building, like The Commonwealth, the Culture, the Uplift series, or even the Hyperionverse.  I could go for some nanowank or post-singularity cheese, too, if the prose flows well.
satael
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Reply #6276 on: April 20, 2017, 12:17:47 PM

Neil Asher's Polity might be worth looking into if you liked Culture.
HaemishM
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Reply #6277 on: April 20, 2017, 12:27:53 PM

Is Thomas Hardy the guy who wrote Return of the Native?   That was a torturous book, the one that finally made me break down and buy the Cliff's Notes.

Yes, that's him. Tortured is probably a good way to describe his writing.

NowhereMan
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Reply #6278 on: April 20, 2017, 07:01:06 PM

Don't forget the Mayor of Casterbridge! The moral of the story I got as a 15 year old reading it for school was that men can be successful by themselves but a wife and daughter will wreck your shit. Admittedly the opening chapter where the 'hero' gets drunk and sells said wife and daughter to a random sailor is a pretty strong opener.

Also I actually really enjoyed Perdido street, the city as a character did get a bit overblown at times though. I didn't have a problem with the resolution of Yagharek, it was very abrupt but also kind of worked in affecting a degree of shock. His story wasn't one of redemption because that somehow implies an ability to make things right, the narrative that a person can be bad, do bad things and then become good by doing good things. Yaghrek's story in Perdido Street is one that later good actions don't magically erase bad ones. The damage inflicted still exists. It was sudden and a bit of a slap in the face but I don't think it would have worked as well with a more drawn out resolution.

"Look at my car. Do you think that was bought with the earnest love of geeks?" - HaemishM
Khaldun
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Reply #6279 on: April 20, 2017, 09:01:57 PM

I loved Perdido Street Station.

Hardy is a product of his times; you have to read him in that context.

About to tackle Amy Goldstein's new book about Janesville, Wisconsin and the closure of the GM plant there in 2008. Looks like it might be an especially useful example of the "what went wrong underneath the surface in the last two decades that got us into this situation" books.
HaemishM
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Reply #6280 on: April 20, 2017, 09:13:41 PM

My problem with the Yagharek storyline was that it felt really out of place - like not just anachronistic but forced. Almost like you're reading Victorian fiction and the main villain is suddenly killed by feminist time travelers.

BobtheSomething
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Reply #6281 on: April 23, 2017, 12:06:14 PM

Neil Asher's Polity might be worth looking into if you liked Culture.

Is Gridlinked a good place to start?  I want to start with a high point and don't need it to be the first book in the series, just not impenetrable.
Khaldun
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Reply #6282 on: April 23, 2017, 03:34:08 PM

Working on Jo Walton's The Just City. Slow going. I loved Among Others, but this isn't grabbing me the same way.
satael
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Reply #6283 on: April 24, 2017, 12:40:13 AM

Neil Asher's Polity might be worth looking into if you liked Culture.

Is Gridlinked a good place to start?  I want to start with a high point and don't need it to be the first book in the series, just not impenetrable.

It's been quite a while since I read it so my recollection might be a bit off:
It's a good place to start as it is his debut novel and the Agent Cormac series follows the titular character more or less.
Then again it's a debut novel so some of the writing isn't as polished as later on (which isn't always a bad thing).

link to SFRevu review
lamaros
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Reply #6284 on: April 24, 2017, 12:57:19 AM

China Mieville ... it felt like 1) he really overwrote the thing

Welcome to Mieville. He is interesting and clever, but he really really wants you to know that.

I like his ideas, but I find that he takes good ideas and then belabours them to the point I almost hate him. In the end I'm left with a sense of the world as smug and patronising, when they could have been simpler and brilliant. I get about 1/3 to 1/2 of the way through and then the rest is him just playing out the obvious.

I've not read Perdido Street Station though. I say the above more in reference to Embassytown and The City & The City.
« Last Edit: April 24, 2017, 12:58:52 AM by lamaros »

Expect poison from the standing water.
NowhereMan
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Reply #6285 on: April 24, 2017, 07:31:43 AM

Embassytown was a real slog for me mostly because it felt like a whole other level of In Media Res and the unreliable narrator type trope, where I just felt like I had no idea what the fuck was up with the world or what was actually going on (because you're seeing it through the experience of a narrator who equally doesn't really have a fucking clue what's happening). The result of that was not really feeling like I knew what the plot of the book was until I was over half way through. Once I had it I enjoyed the whole thing a lot more and I can see why so many people who like Mieville say it's one of their favourites. If I hadn't heard such glowing reviews there's no way I would have finished it and as it was I took a break half way through for a few weeks.

He's not an easy writer, which is partly intentional and partly him being overly clever and the writing itself being, like lamaros said, unlikeablely smug.

"Look at my car. Do you think that was bought with the earnest love of geeks?" - HaemishM
HaemishM
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Reply #6286 on: April 24, 2017, 11:09:30 AM

Smug is a very good description for it. He kind of beats you about the head and neck with "LOOK, I'M SUCH A DELIGHTFULLY ENGLISH LITTLE CLEVER CLOGS." And then in the end, it's just not.

For those of you still interested in my Cthulhu Mythos series, I just released the 4th episode in the series, Memory Void. If you don't have a Kindle, you can get every other type of file format at the Smashwords Link. It should be available at B&N in the next few days.

Johny Cee
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Reply #6287 on: May 18, 2017, 08:04:59 PM

China Mieville ... it felt like 1) he really overwrote the thing

Welcome to Mieville. He is interesting and clever, but he really really wants you to know that.

I like his ideas, but I find that he takes good ideas and then belabours them to the point I almost hate him. In the end I'm left with a sense of the world as smug and patronising, when they could have been simpler and brilliant. I get about 1/3 to 1/2 of the way through and then the rest is him just playing out the obvious.

I've not read Perdido Street Station though. I say the above more in reference to Embassytown and The City & The City.

Have you tried any Jeff Vandermeer?  Also part of the "New Weird", personally I like him quite a bit.  His Ambergris novels (City of Saints and Madmen is kind of a collection of novellas, Shriek and Finch are more typical novels) and his latest Southern Reach trilogy are quite good...  although I remember not liking City that much, then being compelled to re-read it six months later and really enjoying it.

Caitlin Kiernen's Red Tree is great.  Kind of goes down a bit of the rabbit-hole of "middle-aged trans lesbian author is writing about a middle-aged lesbian author moving to Lovecraft Country while trying to write her latest book, discovers a weird manuscript that she then re-writes and comments on...." and on down.  The main character references Lovecraft while Lovecraft tropes happen to her.
Viin
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Reply #6288 on: May 18, 2017, 08:27:31 PM

For those of you still interested in my Cthulhu Mythos series, I just released the 4th episode in the series, Memory Void.

Missed this when you originally posted it, but wanted to say congrats!

- Viin
lamaros
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Reply #6289 on: June 03, 2017, 08:40:01 AM

Finally finished Station Eleven.

Thought it was excellent.

Expect poison from the standing water.
MahrinSkel
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When she crossed over, she was just a ship. But when she came back... she was bullshit!


Reply #6290 on: June 26, 2017, 06:42:55 PM

Anyone have an opinion about the Bobiverse? Got a recommendation from I don't remember where (doesn't appear to have been here), the premise seems like it has potential.

--Dave

--Jello Biafra: "If evolution is outlawed, only outlaws will evolve."
Viin
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Reply #6291 on: June 26, 2017, 08:41:03 PM

Finally started reading Sanderson's Stormlight series, the first book (The Way of Kings) has been on my Kindle forever. Tons of world building in the first book, but the 2nd book (Words of Radiance) picks up nicely. Good stuff if you like Sanderson's style.

- Viin
NowhereMan
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Reply #6292 on: June 27, 2017, 05:17:14 AM

It's fun reading, although I found Kaladin's depression a fairly frustrating character trait. It isn't unrealistic, people with depression do make bad decisions and dwell on unimportant things, but it isn't particularly fun to read. It's also not specifically described as depression in the book, just him being dour and bitter but I'm pretty convinced it is a written version of someone with clinical depression.

It's also his series that features the most Cosmere stuff. There's a few bits of them that, while you don't need to know about the Cosmere, don't make all that much sense by themselves. Also if you've got a little bit of time and like Sanderson or just fantasy in general read The Emperor's Soul. It's definitely his best piece of writing (although if you like that don't assume you'll like all his other stuff. It is head and shoulders above his earlier works)

"Look at my car. Do you think that was bought with the earnest love of geeks?" - HaemishM
Viin
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Reply #6293 on: June 27, 2017, 11:46:07 AM

I've also read the some of the Mistborn books as well, with Alloy of Law being my favorite. Is there an overview of Cosmere somewhere that talks about how they show up in the various books? I've never tried to put it together but rather considered each series to be its own universe (I guess that's not true?). Thanks for the recommendation on Emperor's Soul, I'll check it out.

- Viin
Reg
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Reply #6294 on: June 27, 2017, 01:03:25 PM

Sanderson released a book of short stories last year called Arcanum Unbounded. Each story takes place in a different world of the cosmere. It's great background information and the stories are good too.
NowhereMan
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Reply #6295 on: June 27, 2017, 05:07:45 PM

Yeah, I'm not sure if there's any other account of the Cosmere outside of fan discussion and reddit AMA things. Basically some (not all) of his novels take place in a single universe Spoilered in case anyone doesn't want to know stuff outside the books but no plot spoilers  The latest Mistborn novella (centred around Kelsier) also delves into some of this. Best to save it until after Alloy of Law as it does mention some of the later stuff.

"Look at my car. Do you think that was bought with the earnest love of geeks?" - HaemishM
Reg
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Reply #6296 on: June 28, 2017, 05:39:38 PM

I just finished Neal Stephenson's latest book The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. It's a fun read with an interesting premise but Jesus, Stephenson still can't end a story to save his life.
MahrinSkel
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When she crossed over, she was just a ship. But when she came back... she was bullshit!


Reply #6297 on: June 28, 2017, 07:17:44 PM

So no takers on the Bobiverse? Guess I will take one for the team and spend $4 on the first volume.

--Dave

--Jello Biafra: "If evolution is outlawed, only outlaws will evolve."
Khaldun
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Reply #6298 on: June 29, 2017, 06:37:13 AM

Finished Becky Chambers The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet. I liked it on the whole. The plot is a bit weak, the characters are good but almost trip over into being a bit too sweet/sentimental here and there.
Polysorbate80
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Reply #6299 on: June 30, 2017, 10:31:20 AM

Anyone have an opinion about the Bobiverse? Got a recommendation from I don't remember where (doesn't appear to have been here), the premise seems like it has potential.

--Dave

Just picked it up - for $4 it's good light reading, and I will probably pick up book 2.  I do think there's a lot of missed opportunity in it.  There's options for interesting storytelling that get largely hand-waved away, such as his adaptation to life as a machine and escape from his mechanical/programming constraints.   Instead we get stuff like the whole bob-as-bad-anthropologist sections on Delta, and how awesome their life in VR is.  Also, pop culture dialed to 11.
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