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Author Topic: Return of the Book Thread  (Read 535516 times)
BobtheSomething
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Reply #6370 on: April 18, 2018, 11:02:00 AM

I've been trying to read Vernor Vinge's Rainbows End. I've never read Vinge before but he's I guess somewhat critically acclaimed and I think I bought the paperback at a garage sale somewhere. For anyone who has read his work before, is this a special snowflake novel or or all his works boring as watching grass grow in slow motion? I'm about 2/3rds of the way through and am struggling to give one solitary fuck about the story or all but one of the characters. It's only saving grace is a somewhat prescient take on the proliferation of networked Internet and wearable potential, but as a story instead of a "this world could happen" it's just so bland. The main antagonist has a motivation so flimsy and unbelievable, I keep expecting him to twirl a mustache. What seems like the main character is just a fucking unlikable douche, and no one else is remotely developed or interesting character save the 10-year old girl Miri. I hate to give up on a book that isn't objectively bad, but I'm reaching the point of "life's too short to be reading books that aren't good." Any one else know if I'm going to be rewarded for sticking with it?

Vinge's A Fire Upon The Deep  (the one with the slow zones) is pretty great.  I haven't been able to finish any of his other books.  Is Rainbow's End the one with the google glasses and the white rabbit?  Just put it down and read AFUTD.  Skip the sequel/prequel, though, if you don't like boring.
Soulflame
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Reply #6371 on: April 18, 2018, 02:31:55 PM

I am putting The Black Company books through a read. Has anyone read them?  why so serious?

The Black Company books are good, but brutal.  They cast an utterly unsympathetic gaze on humanity.

I prefer the Garrett P.I. novels myself when it comes to his work.  They strike me as being inspired by the Rex Stout series of detective novels, which I read when I was younger, and also enjoyed a good deal.
Shannow
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Reply #6372 on: April 18, 2018, 02:47:48 PM

John Scalzi has a new book out 'Head On'

Always found him worth a read.

Someone liked something? Who the fuzzy fuck was this heretic? You don't come to this website and enjoy something. Fuck that. ~ The Walrus
lamaros
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Reply #6373 on: April 18, 2018, 10:09:25 PM

I am putting The Black Company books through a read. Has anyone read them?  why so serious?

The Black Company books are good, but brutal.  They cast an utterly unsympathetic gaze on humanity.

I prefer the Garrett P.I. novels myself when it comes to his work.  They strike me as being inspired by the Rex Stout series of detective novels, which I read when I was younger, and also enjoyed a good deal.

One of them is literally the big sleep paraphrased. I enjoy them also, but the quality is very uneven. The best Black Company books do more interesting things, but Garrett is decent plup.

Expect poison from the standing water.
Ironwood
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Reply #6374 on: April 19, 2018, 04:45:47 AM

I read Vinges Deep Books and I thought they were slow garbage.  My old man just still raves and raves about what good sci-fi they were, but the guy switches me off totally with his writing.  I too find him boring.

"Mr Soft Owl has Seen Some Shit." - Sun Tzu
Mandella
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Reply #6375 on: April 19, 2018, 12:49:20 PM

I've been trying to read Vernor Vinge's Rainbows End. I've never read Vinge before but he's I guess somewhat critically acclaimed and I think I bought the paperback at a garage sale somewhere. For anyone who has read his work before, is this a special snowflake novel or or all his works boring as watching grass grow in slow motion? I'm about 2/3rds of the way through and am struggling to give one solitary fuck about the story or all but one of the characters. It's only saving grace is a somewhat prescient take on the proliferation of networked Internet and wearable potential, but as a story instead of a "this world could happen" it's just so bland. The main antagonist has a motivation so flimsy and unbelievable, I keep expecting him to twirl a mustache. What seems like the main character is just a fucking unlikable douche, and no one else is remotely developed or interesting character save the 10-year old girl Miri. I hate to give up on a book that isn't objectively bad, but I'm reaching the point of "life's too short to be reading books that aren't good." Any one else know if I'm going to be rewarded for sticking with it?

Vernor Vinge is one of those authors that just about "everybody likes" but me, kind of like Kim Stanley Robinson and George R.R. Martin, so I'm with you on that.
BobtheSomething
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Reply #6376 on: April 19, 2018, 01:12:38 PM

I didn't find A Fire Upon the Deep to be any slower than an Ian Banks novel.  A Deepness in the Sky, on the other hand...

The dog aliens were fun and the Blight is up there with some of the best sci fi viallains.  If it helps, you can pretty much skip the humans and read for the aliens.
« Last Edit: April 19, 2018, 01:14:24 PM by BobtheSomething »
Soulflame
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Reply #6377 on: April 19, 2018, 05:30:57 PM

Locked In (and the accompanying short story) are very good.

I have Head On at home, just need to sit down and read it
Khaldun
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Reply #6378 on: April 20, 2018, 06:31:08 PM

I liked Fire Upon the Deep--it was conceptually elaborate space opera. The sequel was slow and not that engaging. Rainbow's End fell in the middle for me--not my favorite ever, but some things that I found moderately interesting.

I think Vinge's fame hinges as much on the story "True Names" as anything else--it has some of the same prescience as Neuromancer.
BobtheSomething
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Reply #6379 on: April 20, 2018, 10:21:13 PM

Wait.  Is Kim Stanley Robinson actually well liked?
Reg
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Reply #6380 on: April 21, 2018, 07:40:24 AM

He won a lot of awards including a Hugo for his Mars books so I think he must be. Those are the only books of his that I've read though.
HaemishM
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Reply #6381 on: April 21, 2018, 12:51:05 PM

I think I read the first Mars book and thought it was decent, though I can't really remember a lot about it.

Khaldun
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Reply #6382 on: April 21, 2018, 02:03:25 PM

I like Robinson well enough, though I grant he's not a page-turner. The Mars books were good; I also liked his Three Californias trilogy. His most recent works have crossed over into being boring for me.
Teleku
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Reply #6383 on: April 21, 2018, 02:20:30 PM

I really enjoyed The Years of Rice and Salt, though Iím sure its not for everybody.  Havenít read any of his other works, but have always meant to get around to the mars trilogy.

"My great-grandfather did not travel across four thousand miles of the Atlantic Ocean to see this nation overrun by immigrants.  He did it because he killed a man back in Ireland. That's the rumor."
-Stephen Colbert
Khaldun
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Reply #6384 on: April 21, 2018, 06:10:50 PM

I love to teach The Years of Rice and Salt in my class on counterfactual history, because there's nothing else like it, but it's also an odd book, and to some extent KSM's orthodox Marxist take on history makes it less imaginative or complicated in the last part than it might be otherwise.
pants
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Reply #6385 on: April 27, 2018, 03:35:53 PM

I enjoyed the Mars books, and while I love the idea of Rice and Salt, I've had 3-4 tries at it and just can't finish it. 
Samwise
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Reply #6386 on: April 27, 2018, 04:04:29 PM

I really liked Rainbow's End, but mostly because the tech/world was interesting and IMO well thought out (much better than most cyberpunk-ish novels are).  I also kinda like the cranky asshole protagonist because I identified with him. 

"Nice attempted blast about my "drinking".  I do enjoy a nice cuppa, but that is because I am a bon vivant of gregarious nature and cheery disposition." - Ab
HaemishM
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Reply #6387 on: April 27, 2018, 04:20:29 PM

I finished Rainbow's End and it did not get any better. The ideas behind it, the concepts were solid, but the execution was just not. I was horribly bored by the whole thing, none of the characters were likable except the little Gu girl, and the antagonist's main motivation was just mustache twirling-ly ridiculous. The twist of Rabbit's probably identity was pretty heavily telegraphed. Like most of the things in it, it wasn't nearly as clever as the writer thought it was. And the writing was just drab as dishwater.

Teleku
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Reply #6388 on: April 28, 2018, 07:46:10 AM

I love to teach The Years of Rice and Salt in my class on counterfactual history, because there's nothing else like it, but it's also an odd book, and to some extent KSM's orthodox Marxist take on history makes it less imaginative or complicated in the last part than it might be otherwise.
Yeah, the ending was the weakest part of it.  Just sort of went way bland and used cheap copouts to make everything suddenly hunky dory instead of coming up with a unique future.

"My great-grandfather did not travel across four thousand miles of the Atlantic Ocean to see this nation overrun by immigrants.  He did it because he killed a man back in Ireland. That's the rumor."
-Stephen Colbert
Khaldun
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Reply #6389 on: April 28, 2018, 07:47:51 PM

To be fair, that's really really hard to imagine.
lamaros
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Reply #6390 on: April 28, 2018, 09:38:07 PM

To be fair, that's really really hard to imagine.


Almost never pulled off in conclusions. It's why I don't mind unfinished ends. Readers' imaginations will generally do better work than the author if they're not clear on what they're working at.

I don't mind a Deus Ex Machina sometimes, better to give up than try and pull the wool over readers heads. The ends of the Nights Dawn Trilogy is entertainingly bad ballsy in this regard. "Written myself in to a corner, fuck it, space deity is it, and I'll move on to the next book series!"

Expect poison from the standing water.
Khaldun
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Reply #6391 on: April 29, 2018, 04:57:13 PM

Yeah, but this isn't a "how am I going to get all the plot threads tied up in a neat knot?", this is "what would China, India and the Islamic Middle East have become without Western Europe as a factor"? which is about the most mind-bogglingly difficult counterfactual history question ever. This is not a matter of trying to decide what Lee would have done if he'd won Gettysburg, it's a matter of inventing a completely alternative modernity (or something so alternative that we wouldn't call it modernity at all). So KSR just kind of said, "And the end, Marxist teleology is right and it would have been industrial capitalism with different names". Which is not a terrible strategy for answering, but also kind of meh.
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