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Earthcubed
The Great Fearmonger

Joined: Sun Nov 07, 2004 3:44 am
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Location: eccaira nare epë Anar
PostPosted: Sun Aug 25, 2019 5:55 pm 
 

Guess I haven't posted in this thread in a while.


I recently read Perihelion Summer by Greg Egan, which just came out this year. A small primordial black hole makes a fly-by with the sun, Oumuamua-style, leaving the solar system afterwards. The gravitational interactions throw Earth into a more eccentric orbit, with the point of closest approach to the sun now being 10% closer than the original orbit, with the other end about 7% farther. In other words, Egan looked for a way of making multidecadal global warming happen in a few months so he can show us what the future holds for humanity, and fucking with Earth's orbit seemed a good way to do it. Well, it beats The Day After Tomorrow anyway.

This is my second Egan, the other being Dichronauts (shut up; I have Permutation City on the shelf). As with the latter, Perihelion is hard sf but it doesn't revel in equations and technical details. The characters are smart, but they're not astrophysicists; the main character is a former Greater Sunrise worker who (along with his friends) designed a self-sufficient aquaculture rig as a backup for regular old human-caused global warming, and it comes in handy for black hole-caused global warming. The story is mostly concerned with the logistics of operating the aquaculture rig, trying to convince his doubting Thomas of a family to join him, and trying to figure out the best parts of the ocean to sit out the 60C (140F) summers and -20C winters. Nations are swamped with refugees, you see, and some of them shoot refugee boats on sight.

As I said, this isn't an overly technical story. Dichronauts wasn't either, but unlike that book---which takes place in a universe with 2 spacial dimensions and 2 time dimensions, where characters can't turn around without distending and are utterly blind to their left and right---Perihelion Summer takes place in our near-future and is therefore easy to visualize. So, it's got that going for it. I'm not sure which book I prefer...the characters in this book are flatter than the other, but it's also half as long. Even so, the characterization seems like a missed opportunity to me, because setting the story in our world largely negates the need for world building and thus he could have spent more time with character building.

Basically, this is a good novella that I think could have made an even better novel if Egan had opted to fill the space with more character building.
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Earthcubed
The Great Fearmonger

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 27, 2019 8:28 pm 
 

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
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Earthcubed
The Great Fearmonger

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 01, 2019 2:19 pm 
 

to wound the autumnal city.
So howled out for the world to give him a name.
The in-dark answered with wind.


Started reading Dhalgren. I'm one chapter in and this is already strange as shit. Weird people, weird setting, weird sex, weird weapons, weird prose. God damn.
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On Friday I passed an important milestone in my teaching career: a student shat himself

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failsafeman
Digital Dictator

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 01, 2019 7:26 pm 
 

Oh man, that's a favorite of mine. Read it when I was 20 and it blew my mind. Personally I enjoy earlier Delany a bit more, with a (slightly) more coherent narrative and more fun sci-fi zaniness, but Dhalgren is clearly the pinnacle of his postmodern leanings. I tend to either love or hate those giant postmodern tomes, and Dhalgren I loved (The Infinite Jest and House of Leaves, not so much). In Dhalgren, the disjointed narrative without a clear thrust made perfect sense, given that it's a story about mentally ill outcasts living in a glorified post-apocalyptic art commune. The city and culture of Bellona itself has stuck with me more than anything else, I think, with its strange customs, mutable landscape, and, well, phenomena. You'll see what I mean. The first sentence is a clue that the novel has no set beginning; it was written so that you could start reading in a variety of places. I've never tried, but I'd be very curious to see how starting somewhere else would change the experience for a first-time reader. Maybe in another few years I'll go back to it and try it out myself.

Triton, written afterwards, is also extremely good. It's a sort of synthesis between his earlier, overtly sci-fi stories and his more introspective mainstream fiction that came later.
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Grave_Wyrm
Metal Sloth

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 01, 2019 8:22 pm 
 

Delany is among my favorites, despite having read a comparatively small part of his body of work. He's probably the most unique writer I know of. The texture of his language and the freedom of his vision is a potent combination.

I recently bought one of his non-fiction collections, Shorter Views: Queer Thoughts & The Politics of the Paraliterary. I recommend looking into his non-fiction work. For instance, follow the link to this essay of his: Racism and Science Fiction.

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BeholdtheNicktopus
Metalhead

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 29, 2019 1:22 am 
 

I've been reading some Stephen King for the first time. Favorites have been "It" and "The Shining" so far. "The Stand" and "Carrie" were pretty mediocre. "Pet Sematary" and "Salem's Lot" were quite good. Just starting The Dark Tower series. Man, I really hope it is good, given the insane length of it all. It's had some influence on metal... anyone read it and have thoughts?
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Empyreal
The Final Frontier

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 29, 2019 9:45 am 
 

I'm reading King's newest, The Institute, right now and am close to done. He's got a machine-like output, but this one is one of his better ones in recent years. I think it's the best alongside 11/22/63 from almost a decade ago now. He seemed to have a lot more inspiration here, and the story is insane and yet compelling, the action just a page-turning frenzy. Loving it.

Also making my way through Michelle McNamara's "I'll Be Gone In The Dark," which is a harrowing, disturbing true crime novel with a serious literary flourish. So damned good.
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Trashy_Rambo
Metalhead

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 29, 2019 10:35 am 
 

BeholdtheNicktopus wrote:
I've been reading some Stephen King for the first time. Favorites have been "It" and "The Shining" so far. "The Stand" and "Carrie" were pretty mediocre. "Pet Sematary" and "Salem's Lot" were quite good. Just starting The Dark Tower series. Man, I really hope it is good, given the insane length of it all. It's had some influence on metal... anyone read it and have thoughts?


I absolutely adore that series. A whole lot of people seem to struggle with the first book, but I promise it's all worth it.

I've been reading Robert E Howard recently, and while the levels of racism and sexism are nearly unbearable at times, he really does weave some incredibly engrossing stories.
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aloof
avant-gardener

Joined: Sun Dec 14, 2008 1:18 pm
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Location: never neverland, palm trees by the sea
PostPosted: Sun Sep 29, 2019 10:37 am 
 

I've been through ~20 theosophy books this summer, for a solicited research paper/article. also proofread two friends' novels. my head hurts. I ordered the new Tibor Fischer for some me time :)
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Nahsil
Clerical Sturmgeschütz

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 29, 2019 2:51 pm 
 

Asking again: any good recs for top notch modern fantasy? As in written recently. Finished the 2 Kingkiller books by Rothfuss and loved em. I like a little bit of flair in the prose (wasn't a big fan of ASOIAF) and solid characterization.

I've started Robin Hobb's The Farseer Trilogy and I'm digging it.
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Razakel
Nekroprince

Joined: Wed Dec 06, 2006 8:36 pm
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 29, 2019 3:05 pm 
 

I don't really know what to say since I basically couldn't stand The Name of the Wind. Strong characterization? Where? Almost literally the most one dimensional characters I've ever read.

Anyway, I'm probably starting to sound like a broken record, but the Vorrh trilogy by Brian Catling is definitely my favourite modern fantasy.

Empyreal wrote:
I'm reading King's newest, The Institute, right now and am close to done. He's got a machine-like output, but this one is one of his better ones in recent years. I think it's the best alongside 11/22/63 from almost a decade ago now. He seemed to have a lot more inspiration here, and the story is insane and yet compelling, the action just a page-turning frenzy. Loving it.


That sounds cool. I've read some pretty good reviews of the book. It's kind of funny that the premise sounds similar to Stranger Things, since Stranger Things is obviously hugely inspired by old school Stephen King. Anyway, I'm sure I'll check it out eventually.

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Nahsil
Clerical Sturmgeschütz

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 29, 2019 3:22 pm 
 

eh, I mean, it wasn't an indepth character study or anything, but I thought Kvoth was fairly well fleshed out. It's good to remember that it's him telling a story about himself, and he admits throughout that he has a penchant for mythologizing. I think you still see stubbornness and really dumb actions and stuff, despite that. He may be one-dimensional in how he's constantly "winning," but even that is a bit more complicated. He's broken in his current self, or at least dormant. He fucks up and can be impulsive and gets himself into hot water several times because of that. He has no idea how to interact with Denna. You can see cracks in the armor, both reported and just kind of between-the-lines. It's not Gene Wolfe levels of unreliable puzzlebox narration but it's fun. I understand the criticism but I think it's a bit better than some people say.

but I basically just mean focusing in on a few characters, trying to explore their psyche. Versus some fantasy books with a cast of 50 people who are all just sort of "doing things" with a big emphasis on action. I tried to read some Brandon Sanderson and I hated it.
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Empyreal
The Final Frontier

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 29, 2019 4:07 pm 
 

Razakel wrote:

Empyreal wrote:
I'm reading King's newest, The Institute, right now and am close to done. He's got a machine-like output, but this one is one of his better ones in recent years. I think it's the best alongside 11/22/63 from almost a decade ago now. He seemed to have a lot more inspiration here, and the story is insane and yet compelling, the action just a page-turning frenzy. Loving it.


That sounds cool. I've read some pretty good reviews of the book. It's kind of funny that the premise sounds similar to Stranger Things, since Stranger Things is obviously hugely inspired by old school Stephen King. Anyway, I'm sure I'll check it out eventually.


It isn't much like Stranger Things aside from the idea of kids having powers. I believe he was very inspired by all the stuff going on at the US border, with the concentration camps for migrant kids. It's your usual Stephen King story but you can tell he was really on the ball on this one.
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BeholdtheNicktopus
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 29, 2019 7:24 pm 
 

Trashy_Rambo wrote:
BeholdtheNicktopus wrote:
I've been reading some Stephen King for the first time. Favorites have been "It" and "The Shining" so far. "The Stand" and "Carrie" were pretty mediocre. "Pet Sematary" and "Salem's Lot" were quite good. Just starting The Dark Tower series. Man, I really hope it is good, given the insane length of it all. It's had some influence on metal... anyone read it and have thoughts?


I absolutely adore that series. A whole lot of people seem to struggle with the first book, but I promise it's all worth it.

I've been reading Robert E Howard recently, and while the levels of racism and sexism are nearly unbearable at times, he really does weave some incredibly engrossing stories.


Okay good, that is exactly what I wanted to hear. So far The Gunslinger is pretty lame. But King himself wrote in the foreward/introduction that many people thought that, and it seems a bit inevitable if the whole series was written over a period of like 30 years or whatever. He was young for this one.

As for Robert E Howard, I read all the Conan stuff last year, amazing shit. Need to get around to Kull and Bran Mak Morn one of these days. If I ever get through this Dark Tower stint, I'll probably read those next, unless I get drawn into some other stupidly long series in the meantime. Always possible.


As for the Rothfuss talk, yeah I couldn't fucking stand The Name of the Wind. I tried reading it but had to just put it down. I'm afraid our tastes would be too different for recommendations. To each their own but man, it was everything I hate about fantasy. I'd need to go back to it to pin down why, it was several years ago that I tried to read it after many recommendations.
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Nahsil
Clerical Sturmgeschütz

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 29, 2019 8:41 pm 
 

I cried multiple times throughout the book, so yeah I guess different strokes.
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Earthcubed
The Great Fearmonger

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 29, 2019 9:09 pm 
 

It's been almost 10 years since I've read them but the best books in the DT series by far are The Gunslinger and Wizard & Glass. I'd say if you think the first book is lame you should just stop there, but the first book also reads like it was written by a different author than the other 6, so neither liking nor disliking it are really useful bellwethers.
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failsafeman
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 29, 2019 10:55 pm 
 

The Gunslinger is actually the only DT book I could stand, and I like it a lot in fact. How anyone makes it past the goddamned lobstrosities in the second book is beyond me.
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iamntbatman
Chaos Breed

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 29, 2019 11:20 pm 
 

+1 on the Name of the Wind hate. That book was pretty much garbage. Really dull Mary Sue protagonist (not at all shielded by being some sort of unreliable narrator if you ask me), extremely dull setting that's basically Generic Medieval World, lots of drama surrounding currency, coinage, tuition and fees, fantasy with nearly all of the fantastic sucked right out of it (talk about making goddamn dragons as lame and boring as possible) and needlessly long.

Read a few things lately. Finally got around to reading Moby Dick...yeah, it's got overlong parts about differences between whale species and stuff, and the exciting bits with actual whaling are kind of sparse, but the prose itself was pretty great throughout and the fact that it's probably the single gayest book I've ever read kept me engaged the whole time. Then I read John Dies In the End....another stinker. I hated the edgelord lolrandom similes, all the pointless pop culture references, how everyone called everything "retarded" all the time...just bad stuff all around. Basically like Stranger Things if it was written by 4chan. Finally, I read Donna Tartt's "The Secret History" on the recommendation of a friend. I really liked the first act and the sort of hazy, cryptic nature of how the story was unfolding, then there was a bit of a bump in the second act as the most mysterious and compelling character kind of broke character to deliver a bunch of exposition for a while, but then it returned to form for the rest of the book, which wound up being quite depressing stuff. I normally wouldn't really go for this sort of realistic contemporary fiction, but I was pretty pleased with this one.
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Razakel
Nekroprince

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 29, 2019 11:38 pm 
 

iamntbatman wrote:
Finally, I read Donna Tartt's "The Secret History" on the recommendation of a friend. I really liked the first act and the sort of hazy, cryptic nature of how the story was unfolding, then there was a bit of a bump in the second act as the most mysterious and compelling character kind of broke character to deliver a bunch of exposition for a while, but then it returned to form for the rest of the book, which wound up being quite depressing stuff. I normally wouldn't really go for this sort of realistic contemporary fiction, but I was pretty pleased with this one.


Aw man, I've read all three Donna Tartt books this year and that one's my favourite. I guess I liked it even more than you because there wasn't a single thing I didn't like about it, and I think it's probably the best novel I've read all year. I presume you're talking about Henry? Yeah, I dunno, I was so captivated by him the whole time. Amazing to think she wrote that book when she was so young. Her other two are great also, but if you didn't completely adore that one, I could see them kinda going either way for you.

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iamntbatman
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 29, 2019 11:45 pm 
 

Oh, I liked it quite a bit, it was just that part
Spoiler: show
where he and Francis sit down with Richard in Richard's apartment to basically explain everything that had been going on with the bacchanal and killing the guy
that just sort of pulled me out of it. Henry was just such an enigmatic person (he reminded me a lot of The Judge in Blood Meridian, actually) that it was jarring to have him babble exposition in such a, well, normal person way. I just think a more mature writer would've found a more elegant way to deliver this exposition. That said, I really like how the back half the book surprised me but not in a "wow, shocking twist!" way but rather just this pervasive dreary mood that dripped all over everything. I'd give her other books a shot for sure.
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Razakel
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 29, 2019 11:59 pm 
 

Right, I can see how that part might have been a bit clunky, but I was devouring the book so quickly that I think I just plowed straight through it because I was so engrossed in the story so that kind of heavy-handed exposition didn't bother me so much.

iamntbatman wrote:
Henry was just such an enigmatic person (he reminded me a lot of The Judge in Blood Meridian, actually)


Man, you're speaking my fucking language. I thought the exact same thing while reading the book. Henry isn't as insane and gnostic and borderline supernatural as the Judge is, but there definitely is something about him that's unnerving in a weird way, like he somehow seems more than he really seems.

Spoiler: show
There's also a bit of Gatsby in him, especially considering the ending, which, I agree, got very heavy and tragic. Which I liked. I feel like by the end you really see how this one action has finally come down to pervade all of these people's lives, and basically ruin them. I absolutely adore those final few pages.

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iamntbatman
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 30, 2019 12:43 am 
 

Really with you on everything in your spoiler tag.

A weird feeling I had the whole time I was reading it was how great a movie it could be in the right hands, and with the right cast. That's not usually something I think about as I read a novel (usually quite the opposite).
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Razakel
Nekroprince

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 30, 2019 1:29 am 
 

Funny you should mention that since the film adaptation of The Goldfinch, her most recent and most famous novel, is current tanking something fierce at the box office. I decided to just sit that one out because I really liked the book. But I hear you, there was a sort of cinematic quality to The Secret History, and I don't doubt that it could be done justice by the right filmmaker.

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BeholdtheNicktopus
Metalhead

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 06, 2019 2:45 am 
 

failsafeman wrote:
The Gunslinger is actually the only DT book I could stand, and I like it a lot in fact. How anyone makes it past the goddamned lobstrosities in the second book is beyond me.


Well I kept going, getting into the 3rd volume now. You are quite right that there are some awkward elements (spoilers ahead I guess? Maybe not?) Like the doors/the way supernatural stuff seemed to work in the 2nd book. I keep asking myself... wouldn't there be a less awkward or more compelling way to do what King wants to do? I'm thinking of bringing items back to Roland's world through the doors, seeing through people's eyes through the doors, turning around and seeing the door, all that.. just weird. Bizarre mechanics of it. Roland's body just laying there while mentally in NYC, so much time spent on avoiding the lobstrosities and worrying about them attacking his limp body. Like why??? What's the point of the weird mechanics of it and the weird emphasis on weird problems?

I like the characters and the writing, but it has that Stephen King oddness to it. Like... pointless or awkward. Not sure I am getting this feeling across too well. Maybe someone knows what I mean. It feels off. But I like it regardless. Enough to keep going, for now at least.
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Face_your_fear_79
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 17, 2019 5:04 am 
 

After the thinly-veiled-political-stance-marketed-as-a-novella that was Elevation, Stephen King returns to form with his most thought-provoking book since Revival. You're going to see loads of people, Trumpkins and anti-Trumpers alike, complaining or cheering over FIVE. FUCKING. SENTENCES. in a 560 page book. It truly is as ridiculous as it sounds, and that's coming from a guy (*waves* talking about me) who lost his fucking mind when the Orange One took office. I admittedly went a bit crazy but I dug myself out and here we are. The aforementioned five sentences don't follow each other. Some are even hundreds of pages apart. There's even a GOOD GUY with a picture of Trump on his wall, but you won't hear anyone talking about that. The Trump stuff isn't any more invasive than all the times King has ragged on Nixon, Clinton, and Bush over the years, so calm yo chest meat, Bartholomew, and stop flinching at shadows.

If you're a horror fan who thinks King lost his way once he stopped writing about undead pets and vampires, you should probably skip this one. King has matured once again, and while the book is scary in an intelligent way, it is NOT. A. HORROR. NOVEL. Hard stop. It's not like It, so don't listen to the marketing. It is, however, a novel about kids, human monsters, and the lengths some people will go to to ensure the survival of the human race based solely on what MIGHT happen and not what WILL happen.

You do not need to have read any of King's previous books to get this one, but it would behoove you to have read any of his stuff that focuses on psychic powers. The Shop, from Firestarter and other works, makes no appearance here. Not in name, anyway. Can it be assumed that's who's behind the titular Institute? Mayhap it can. But I repeat, you need no knowledge of any previously-published King books. However, if you are in possession of this knowledge, you're going to have a much deeper experience.

Still with me? Cool. All of the above are responses to questions I've been asked since The Institute came out. Now we can get into my personal feelings about this book.

I had a motherfucking blast. I took my time and whittled away at this one over the course of a week, about 75 pages a day, and I highly recommend you do the same. You will be tempted to speed through because this does feel like a thriller but I assure you that's just the paint job. This thing is built on a literary chassis, and has a monster of a theme under its hood. In other words, she fires on all cylinders, sports fans, so buckle up and enjoy the ride. If you do choose to race rather than take a leisurely drive, I can dig it. I almost had the same problem. These are just suggestions. You do you, Becky. Moving on.

This is, hands down, legs spread, tits to the sky, one of King's best endings. I was clapping during the final showdown and vibrating with excitement. I'm still ruminating on this next statement but... I might just call it King's BEST ending. If there are plot holes, I'll leave those for others to find because I didn't notice any. What I'm saying is:

This is disbelief...

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Empyreal
The Final Frontier

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 17, 2019 7:47 am 
 

Do people really care about the brief Trump mentions in that book? Jesus.

Reading Nick Cutter's works for the Halloween season. "The Troop" was an ultra-gory, tight coil of a book with something on practically every page that's disturbing as fuck. I couldn't turn away though.

"Little Heaven" is so far this very stylized, almost Western like thing. Apparently it gets crazy later. I've got a long way to go.
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