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Methuen
Metalhead

Joined: Tue May 19, 2015 4:55 pm
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Location: United Kingdom
PostPosted: Mon Jun 01, 2020 8:41 am 
 

I've been catching up on a pile of books bought for me over the last couple of years, thought I'd join the thread.

In order of my personal enjoyment !

William Gibson - Neuromancer (1984)

Now, I've played Shadowrun (Gibson hated it), both pen & paper and computer games, many times. From the Matrix to Ready Player One - there are three decades of debt to this book in popular media. I'd never read it, mainly because I could never find a copy in a bookstore. I found one on the last day of my holiday this year, in a mall in Florida. I then read Neuromancer in two afternoons, and finally feel complete as a fan of the cyberpunk genre. The setting is that distillation of Blade Runner, Kowloon Walled City, and Asimov's grand concepts into a horrible world, one that you don't want to live in, but can't help turning the page over to explore further. Do you want hacking, a 1980s vision of corporations, neon-lights-in-the-rain, and characters that you really do start to care about ? You want a little shooting and some international travel between ruined cities too ? This book has all of that, and still feels fresh even if you've spent half your life consuming media inspired by it.


Becky Chambers - The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet (2014)

Great worldbuilding in this one (I understand to be the first in series) - the settings and context / background environments are well fleshed out, and the world has that 'lived in' feel that good Sci-Fi generally manages to bring to the table. The story is like an old fashioned movie - lots of sitting around talking, with brief spurts of action - refreshing actually, more like old-school SciFi than something very kinetic like the Expanse series. The characters are generally good, well rounded and relatable - if prone to stopping the narrative / scene dead with exposition. The author has her personal politics, fine, but the story does suffer here and there with almost narrator-like interjections - much like Ann Leckie, or later Pratchett did. A better editor could have smoothed that out without losing the message, but then it's a first novel, and crowdfunded at that. One character I found a bit much - I won't mention due to spoilers even for a six-year-old book, but this character is an obvious lift from a famous TV series - and not done in a homage way, more in a Kai Hansen-steals-the-riffs way. Minor gripes aside, I'll definitely be picking up the sequels !


John Le Carre - Agent Running in the Field (2019)

I own everything Le Carre has written, and must have read the Smiley stuff three times over. He's a very good writer. He's also the definitive master of middle-aged-men-in-raincoats doing the spy game stuff. All chalk marks, sneaky Russians, and disillusioned Brits trying to do their bit via gin and tonic. Problem is, by 2019, and writing in the immediate present, his 1960s idioms and characterisations are well past their sell-by-date. Shoehorning in random admonishments to the reader about Trump and Brexit jarrs with the half-White Russian main character playing badminton and chatting up posh girls from the pony club. The characters could be inserted into any of his novels and they'd work - they'd work best in one of his 1980s-set novels, they'd just about seem realistic. Set in the present, they seem like time-travellers. The story isn't wound up particularly well - infact the whole thing feels like he wanted to get out a 'Brexit' novel (he's said as much in interviews as this being that kind of work), and just had some stock characters hanging around left over from the Tailor of Panama or something.
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Azmodes
Ultranaut

Joined: Fri Nov 02, 2007 10:44 am
Posts: 10432
Location: Gradec, Austria
PostPosted: Mon Jun 01, 2020 8:49 am 
 

Methuen wrote:
Becky Chambers - The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet (2014)

Great worldbuilding in this one (I understand to be the first in series) - the settings and context / background environments are well fleshed out, and the world has that 'lived in' feel that good Sci-Fi generally manages to bring to the table. The story is like an old fashioned movie - lots of sitting around talking, with brief spurts of action - refreshing actually, more like old-school SciFi than something very kinetic like the Expanse series. The characters are generally good, well rounded and relatable - if prone to stopping the narrative / scene dead with exposition. The author has her personal politics, fine, but the story does suffer here and there with almost narrator-like interjections - much like Ann Leckie, or later Pratchett did. A better editor could have smoothed that out without losing the message, but then it's a first novel, and crowdfunded at that. One character I found a bit much - I won't mention due to spoilers even for a six-year-old book, but this character is an obvious lift from a famous TV series - and not done in a homage way, more in a Kai Hansen-steals-the-riffs way. Minor gripes aside, I'll definitely be picking up the sequels !

I really loved this one, something very warm and human about it and the worldbuilding is indeed on point. Definitely check out her other stuff, especially the one directly after this one is worth reading. And yeah, I totally get which character/inspiration you mean, haha. But I didn't mind it.
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Dudeguy Jones
Metal newbie

Joined: Wed May 06, 2020 6:15 pm
Posts: 139
PostPosted: Mon Jun 01, 2020 10:07 am 
 

Wow. I really have to read Necromancer again. Just seeing the name brought back such visual memory accompaniment.

Ive been re-reading Malazan Book of the Fallen for the second time. Read all the books from the series before. Second read is so amazing.
What a book of compassion and what a damning of the human condition.

Im on book 8, Reapers Gale and Ive hit a slow spot and am wondering if I should pick up something else. Something light, like the Hitchhikers Guide.

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Empyreal
The Final Frontier

Joined: Thu Nov 30, 2006 6:58 pm
Posts: 28069
Location: Where the dead rule the night
PostPosted: Mon Jun 01, 2020 10:12 am 
 

I always thought I should read Neuromancer but never got around to it. Might have to finally do it.

Reading Dune right now, about 200 pages left to go. I like it - really nice imagery and a lot of big ideas. Not my favorite ever; not always into the whole 'dynasty/chosen one/prophet' stuff, or stories about kings and princes and whatnot. But I can see the appeal and the world-building has been interesting enough as escapism during this pandemic, with just enough social commentary to chew on.

And reading Yellow Bird, a true-life account of the Bakken North Dakota oil boom that I was there in 2013 for, tied into tribal drama, a murder, etc. It's really good. I can never get enough of the Western/plains vibes. Great, sobering writing.
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Dudeguy Jones
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Joined: Wed May 06, 2020 6:15 pm
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 01, 2020 10:23 am 
 

Yellow Bird sounds very interesting! Thanks for the tip off!

Neuromancer is a weird book. The imagery that came into my head upon thinking about it is very unique. And thats how I recall the book. Definitely need to go back to that one and you should give it a whirl too.

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CoconutBackwards
Metalhead

Joined: Thu Dec 01, 2016 2:02 pm
Posts: 721
PostPosted: Mon Jun 01, 2020 10:30 am 
 

Everybody Loves Our Town - Mark Yarm

Book about Seattle before and after becoming the hotbed of music in the 90s. It's written as quotes from everyone you can think of from that era. I honestly don't love it so far. It's interesting to hear, but I'm wondering how much more I would've liked this when I was younger and far more obsessed with Soundgarden/Alice in Chains. There's a whole lot of people and bands that took up a lot of pages that I don't give a shit about, also (U-Men, Cat Butt). I'm about halfway through and haven't really read anything that's blew my mind yet.

It's Garry Shandling's Book - Judd Apatow

This is a book filled with pictures and personal thoughts throughout the life of Garry Shandling. I never watched The Larry Sanders show and to be honest, never knew a whole lot about him. The adulation he received when he died has made me want to understand what was so loved about him and then I heard someone call the Larry Sanders Show a precursor to 30 Rock which is about the highest praise I can think of.
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Dudeguy Jones
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Joined: Wed May 06, 2020 6:15 pm
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 01, 2020 10:42 am 
 

@CoconutBackwards.

Ever heard of the book Please Kill Me? By Legs McNeil. Its about the punk movement in NYC and England at the end of the 70s.
Its presented as quotes from everyone around that time. Dee Dee Ramones parts are so fucking memorable. The whole book is. I recommend everyone read it once.
You'll be telling the stories about it to anyone who will listen for months.

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CoconutBackwards
Metalhead

Joined: Thu Dec 01, 2016 2:02 pm
Posts: 721
PostPosted: Tue Jun 02, 2020 9:23 am 
 

Dudeguy Jones wrote:
@CoconutBackwards.

Ever heard of the book Please Kill Me? By Legs McNeil. Its about the punk movement in NYC and England at the end of the 70s.
Its presented as quotes from everyone around that time. Dee Dee Ramones parts are so fucking memorable. The whole book is. I recommend everyone read it once.
You'll be telling the stories about it to anyone who will listen for months.


I'll look into this. I've never been a big 70's punk guy, but if the stories are good that's all I care about.
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Southern Freeze
Metalhead

Joined: Sat Sep 15, 2012 11:10 pm
Posts: 656
Location: New Zealand
PostPosted: Mon Jul 06, 2020 6:15 pm 
 

Black Metal: Into the Abyss by Dayal Patterson

interviews with

• FURIA
• MASSEMORD
• 1349
• FORGOTTEN WOODS
• TSJUDER
• NOCTURNAL DEPRESSION
• VEMOD
• ONE TAIL, ONE HEAD
• MYSTIFIER
• BLACK ALTAR
• BESATT
• MORD 'A' STIGMATA
• TRIST
• HELHEIM
• HYPOTHERMIA
• LOITS
• DEINONYCHUS
• PSYCHONAUT 4
• KOLDBRANN
• URGEHAL
• SACRILEGIUM
• BLAZE OF PERDITION

So the first half of this book seems to be interviews with the revival second wave bands like 1349 and so on, apart from Vemod. It reminds me of the book i read just before this about the straightedge scene where their was a retaliation against where the music was going (militant hardline), in this case the big names becoming more goth with synths and appealing to the more mainstream (kind of funny when you think about it in retrospect).

I listened to all the bands as I hadn't heard of some while reading this book and just like old hardcore, they're good but get old real fast. Its almost disturbing that some of these guys are like 40 with kids now still praising Satan and claiming their shows are "rituals". It baffles me that there is clearly a hidden nazi thing going on with a lot of these second/second wave bands aswell. Its never openly said but lyrics images show this and though its never admitted its never denied either. Its only a few bands in this book, but they talk about other bands and so on, I just think its bizarre that its even in a thing in bm , especially for a genre that's suppose to be non political.

The real reason I brought this book though is for the interviews with Nocturnal Depression Trist Hypothermia, Forgotten Woods and Psychonaut 4. Funny thing is I think these were the most honest, interesting and real interviews out of them all.....well apart from the Hypothermia one, that was a bit of a let down.

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Earthcubed
The Great Fearmonger

Joined: Sun Nov 07, 2004 3:44 am
Posts: 3918
Location: Ubique
PostPosted: Mon Jul 06, 2020 8:27 pm 
 

Earthcubed wrote:
Looks like Interlibrary Loan, the last Gene Wolfe novel, will come out June 2020. It's the sequel to A Borrowed Man.


https://www.amazon.com/Interlibrary-Loa ... oks&sr=1-1


And it's out. Can't decide if I should wait for an omnibus or just buy both books. I feel like an omnibus isn't very likely. Of course, I don't really need to get new books, but that's not exactly been stopping me lately.
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Earthcubed
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 07, 2020 5:34 pm 
 

I thought some of the resident lupines might enjoy this: an analysis of how time is measured in The Book of the New Sun. The article isn't new but I only discovered it today. The primary focus is how long the Autarchy lasted---i.e, how much time passed between the ages of Typhon and Severian.

https://ultan.org.uk/posthistory-201/
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iamntbatman wrote:
On Friday I passed an important milestone in my teaching career: a student shat himself

FloristOfVampyrism wrote:
That wasn't meant as a k.o. though, he specifically targeted an area of the cerebellum which, if ruptured, renders you a Jehovah's witness indefinitely

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Methuen
Metalhead

Joined: Tue May 19, 2015 4:55 pm
Posts: 726
Location: United Kingdom
PostPosted: Sat Jul 11, 2020 3:59 am 
 

Earthcubed wrote:
I thought some of the resident lupines might enjoy this: an analysis of how time is measured in The Book of the New Sun. The article isn't new but I only discovered it today. The primary focus is how long the Autarchy lasted---i.e, how much time passed between the ages of Typhon and Severian.

https://ultan.org.uk/posthistory-201/


Vague memories of reading New Sun mean this is irritatingly interesting, if you get me ? :lol: I'll have to re-read the novels I suppose ! Thanks :D
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Methuen
Metalhead

Joined: Tue May 19, 2015 4:55 pm
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Location: United Kingdom
PostPosted: Mon Aug 03, 2020 10:54 am 
 

Latest out of the pile

Kate Mosse - The Burning Chambers (2018) - She writes gothic novels from the perspective of a romantic historian. This one was very enjoyable, and shifted away from her usual medieval / Victorian setting to the start of the Wars of Religion in France (mid 16th Century AD) - a nice change, and it introduced a slew of new and well-grounded social and personal dynamics. She's obviously done the reading, as everything from the basic precepts of the Reformed Church down to the details of the surviving Roman architecture of Toulouse is spot on. Given the time and setting, she manages (in the main) to avoid coming down as a dogmatist for any point of view, modern or in-setting, which is always nice. The characters are engaging, the villain is a great one (no spoilers), and the whole thing clips along in the best tradition of the style. Swords do sword fighting, Inquisitors inquisit, and mercenaries aren't very nice people. It's the first of three books, and it does seem like I'll be getting the others in ! If you're not familiar with her, get 'Labyrinth' and enjoy a trilogy set around the Cathar Crusade as a central theme.

Carlos Ruiz Zafón - The Labyrinth of Spirits (2017) - This is the next instalment in his 'cemetery of forgotten books' series; not your usual 'chronicles of x', it's a series of stand-alone novels that intersect at various points (or not at all) between some of the same characters, plot lines via the Spanish Civil War. I read the first three in a non-chronological order (I bought the third first, first second), and loved them. There's a whiff of the supernatural, but not much - they're gothic-noir novels, but much less focused on the history and grand-scheme compared to Kate Mosse. There's a good bit of third-person narration thrown in to move things along. This one is more of the same - about the micro-level lives of ordinary people touched by the Civil War, and the various bad actors involved in that. The translations into English are good, and retain some of the segues into dialect or slang, which is always appreciated. It's a world of fog, secret policemen, horrible psychological and physical scars, and above all about the power of the written word. Highley, highly recommended for a sunny day in the garden with a glass of (Spanish) wine.

Andrzej Sapkowski - The Last Wish (2007) - I thoroughly enjoyed the Witcher games, and roundly disliked the (horribly, horribly wooden) TV series. I was given the first book as a present, but never got around to it until now (thanks, lockdown). Didn't realise that it's a book of short stories, or I'd have dipped in earlier. I recognise a lot of the plots from the games, so if you've played those, you can just enjoy the storytelling even where you know what will happen. They're very good, the translation is good, and carries over the style well into English I understand - sharp, sarcastic, irreverent adventure stories. The world he's fleshing out here is fresh feeling, rather like a late-era version of Tolkien's world, without the Deus Ex Machina of all-powerful wizards. The drinking is there, the monsters, the bath is there, the women are there, the fighting & evil priests - the whole thing is rather like reading a Powerwolf album. Very enjoyable.
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