Currently Reading?

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Re: Currently Reading?

Post by Liesmith » Wed Jan 22, 2014 11:57 pm

I just started "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?", and I'm about to finish the audio book of Endymion. I think the Hyperion novels have become my favorite sci-fi series. The first novel has a very steep "learning curve", as you're just thrown into this extremely intricate universe, and so much seems "weird for the sake of weird", but it all makes sense by the end of the second novel. Dan Simmons is like the a hunter using all parts of the story carcass, and letting nothing go to waste.
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Re: Currently Reading?

Post by Krulle » Mon Jan 27, 2014 6:16 am

Hyperion is rather cool, yes.
But don't think about logic too much when reading it.

"Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep"? Gotta google that.
[...]
Nope, it's not the same as "The Android's Dream" by John Scalzi. Liked that one. Likely the title is a reference to Dick's book. Especially the cover art is. I always thought it must be a reference. Now I'm pretty sure where it's pointing to and will soon read that too..
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Re: Currently Reading?

Post by WastesTime » Mon Jan 27, 2014 8:00 am

I've jsut read Marion Bradley Zimmer's "Mists of Avalon" - a really good retelling of the Arthurian legend from an unsuspected point of view. Currently, I'm reading "God is not great" by Hitchens.
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Re: Currently Reading?

Post by Unlucky-for-Some » Sat Feb 08, 2014 1:41 pm

I've long wanted to read that - are you enjoying it?
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Re: Currently Reading?

Post by WastesTime » Sun Feb 09, 2014 6:43 am

Unlucky-for-Some wrote:I've long wanted to read that - are you enjoying it?
If you're referring to Mists of Avalon, then definitely yes because it's a great re-telling of the Arthurian legend from a completely different and surprising perspective. Even more fun to read if you've read any of the other works on this topic.

As for Hitchens, he's made some good arguments in his book and overall it's a nice piece of anti-religious essay but he did make some mistakes or rather unclear points. As an atheist, I'm quite satisfied although I would argue with him on some issues :D
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Re: Currently Reading?

Post by thinkslogically » Sun Feb 09, 2014 6:57 am

The Hyperion books were awesome (and kind of terrifying).

At the moment I'm on a bit of a modern classics kick and am in the process of making my slow way through Catch 22. I must admit I struggled with the first quarter, but it's getting better. Not really my kind of humour, but I'll certainly finish it (eventually!).

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Re: Currently Reading?

Post by willpell » Sun Feb 09, 2014 8:45 pm

Thanks to Liesmith, I read Brightness Reef, then Startide Rising, then Infinity's Shore, and am now chomping at the bit to read Sundiver and then Heaven's Reach. (I already read The Uplift War sometime ago, though I might just read it again now that I've got the rest of the context.) While there are definite stylistic problems, particularly with Infinity's Shore (about half of the important plot developments happen offscreen, and are roundaboutly alluded to at least three times before they're actually revealed), the bottom line is that Uplift is an incredibly rich setting and I can't get enough of it. It shares this trait with three of my other favorite sci-fi series - Jack Chalker's "Well World", Larry Niven's "Ringworld" and Iain M. Banks's "The Culture" - all of which I want to KNOW EVERYTHING about, and probably play a roleplaying game of. (In some cases one exists, in others one doesn't - The Culture isn't great RPG material in terms of plotting, since it basically just consists of a lot of Scenery Porn, but personally I can live with that more easily than I can deal with RPG settings like Shadowrun or Warhammer, where there's plenty to do but everything is completely horrible. Wellworld had an RPG but it wasn't especially good, and I don't know about the other two.)
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Re: Currently Reading?

Post by Unlucky-for-Some » Wed Feb 12, 2014 12:47 am

Just started "The Return of the Shadow" by Christopher Tolkien ... and interesting look into the process that his father went through in writing The Lord of the Rings
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Re: Currently Reading?

Post by Gryphonic » Thu Feb 13, 2014 8:47 pm

I just reread The Wind Through the Keyhole by Stephen King last night. I forgot just how much I enjoyed this book the first time through. As he said in the foreword, think of it as the Dark Tower novel 4.5 (between Wizard and Glass and Wolves of the Calla).

HOWEVER, reading any of those enormous books is not necessary to have fun with this (and it's not nearly so large, to my regret and probably others' relief). All the context new readers would need is given in three brief paragraphs in the foreword. It's not part of the main plot; it's the four main characters holing up somewhere during a storm and Roland being in a rare nostalgic mood, and tells a (short) story taking place just after his coming-of-age adventure, and within that a much longer and amazing story equivalent to a fairy tale in Mid-World.
It's less... harsh, and grim, I suppose I could call it, than the rest of the series, or King's work in general. Easy to immerse myself in, and wish it went on a lot longer.

I hope some of you check it out! :thumbsup:
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Re: Currently Reading?

Post by Liesmith » Sat Feb 15, 2014 1:53 am

willpell wrote:Thanks to Liesmith, I read Brightness Reef, then Startide Rising, then Infinity's Shore, and am now chomping at the bit to read Sundiver and then Heaven's Reach. (I already read The Uplift War sometime ago, though I might just read it again now that I've got the rest of the context.) While there are definite stylistic problems, particularly with Infinity's Shore (about half of the important plot developments happen offscreen, and are roundaboutly alluded to at least three times before they're actually revealed), the bottom line is that Uplift is an incredibly rich setting and I can't get enough of it. It shares this trait with three of my other favorite sci-fi series - Jack Chalker's "Well World", Larry Niven's "Ringworld" and Iain M. Banks's "The Culture" - all of which I want to KNOW EVERYTHING about, and probably play a roleplaying game of. (In some cases one exists, in others one doesn't - The Culture isn't great RPG material in terms of plotting, since it basically just consists of a lot of Scenery Porn, but personally I can live with that more easily than I can deal with RPG settings like Shadowrun or Warhammer, where there's plenty to do but everything is completely horrible. Wellworld had an RPG but it wasn't especially good, and I don't know about the other two.)
I'm glad I was able to introduce someone else to the series. I completely agree that the setting is magnificent, and I would love to play a open-universe RPG in that setting.

I think you'll enjoy Sundiver more than the others: it takes place 200 years prior to the other books, and it follows one human, so there is a much stronger narrative voice.


I just started The Reality Dysfunction and it's giving me a little bit of an Uplift vibe at the moment. I'm not very far into it, but every chapter has just introduced tons of new characters, and only one chapter so far has revisited a character that was previously introduced. I have so much trouble following stories that do that, because I never know whose name, occupation, physical traits, and personality I need to memorize to comprehend the plot. Conversely, a book like Hyperion has a relatively large cast, but the core characters are introduced relatively early; they sit at a table, announce themselves as protagonists, then each one gets a chapter devoted to exploring their backstory. It work beautifully compared to the "I hope you liked the characters I mentioned in the last chapter, because you aren't going to see them again for a few days, since you only read during your lunch break".
"All it takes is one bad day to reduce the sanest man alive to lunacy. That's how far the world is from where I am. Just one bad day. You had a bad day once. Am I right? I know I am. I can tell. You had a bad day and everything changed."
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Re: Currently Reading?

Post by Krulle » Sat Feb 15, 2014 4:42 am

Liesmith wrote:I just started The Reality Dysfunction and it's giving me a little bit of an Uplift vibe at the moment. I'm not very far into it, but every chapter has just introduced tons of new characters, and only one chapter so far has revisited a character that was previously introduced. I have so much trouble following stories that do that, because I never know whose name, occupation, physical traits, and personality I need to memorize to comprehend the plot. Conversely, a book like Hyperion has a relatively large cast, but the core characters are introduced relatively early; they sit at a table, announce themselves as protagonists, then each one gets a chapter devoted to exploring their backstory. It work beautifully compared to the "I hope you liked the characters I mentioned in the last chapter, because you aren't going to see them again for a few days, since you only read during your lunch break".
That seems to be Peter F. Hamilton's thing. And it will get worse....
But the whole universe setting is fantastic....

Have you ever read any of Hamilton's series?

If not, I'm curious to see how you find the ending of the series... But it'll be a while before you get there....
Do you already know what the Reality Dysfunction is?
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Re: Currently Reading?

Post by Liesmith » Sat Feb 15, 2014 9:05 pm

This is the first of his novels that I've read, and I don't yet have any idea what the Dysfunction is. I didn't even know it was part of a series until you mentioned it...this is like Uplift War all over again!
"All it takes is one bad day to reduce the sanest man alive to lunacy. That's how far the world is from where I am. Just one bad day. You had a bad day once. Am I right? I know I am. I can tell. You had a bad day and everything changed."
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Re: Currently Reading?

Post by willpell » Sat Feb 15, 2014 11:35 pm

Liesmith wrote:I'm glad I was able to introduce someone else to the series. I completely agree that the setting is magnificent, and I would love to play a open-universe RPG in that setting.
There is a nonzero possibility I will make this happen at some point. Probably on another forum though.
I think you'll enjoy Sundiver more than the others: it takes place 200 years prior to the other books, and it follows one human, so there is a much stronger narrative voice.
Actually you are the opposite of correct on that. Sundiver certainly has its charms, but its relative stylistic primitiveness is very obvious (I'm not sure whether he knew he was creating a series when he wrote this book; some of the continuity seems to have been refined substantially), and a lot of the action is just incredibly murky and incomprehensible, with a denoument that goes on way too long. It had the same grab-me-by-the-collar-halfway-through-and-drag-me-to-the-end quality of the last three books in the series I read (excepting Heaven's Reach, which I'm only a little distance into - though according to Wikipedia I can forget about getting complete closure from it, he apparently has to write a whole other short story to finish wrapping it up - and the Uplift War, which I read some time ago and am now struggling to remember clearly). But I was a lot less satisfied at the conclusion of that binge than I was for its three predecessors, and while I don't regret reading the book, I do believe I was correct in my earlier assessment that I didn't strictly need to read it, as I did all of the others. The hero is distinctly Gary Stu-ish, less relatably "human" than the alien protagonists in later books (and I do really like the tons of characters in the Streaker-Jijo arc, I just wish he would have smoother transitions and less retrocognition); the story reads as if it was inspired by a philosophical conundrum more than a plot, and the best parts of the story, I felt, were the ones that dwell on the Skins vs. Shirts controversy and how that's affecting society, rather than the whole crazy mission to the Sun.

I really wish he'd go back and write the story of Mankind's first contact with the Tymbrimi, though I wouldn't blame him a bit if he firmly intends to leave that forever to the reader's imagination, certain that he can't do it proper justice. Beyond that, I just want MORE DAMMIT. There are few book series which seem more deserving of a Visual Companion series of encyclopedic length accompanying them.
I just started The Reality Dysfunction and it's giving me a little bit of an Uplift vibe at the moment. I'm not very far into it, but every chapter has just introduced tons of new characters, and only one chapter so far has revisited a character that was previously introduced. I have so much trouble following stories that do that, because I never know whose name, occupation, physical traits, and personality I need to memorize to comprehend the plot.
I love comic books because they create these kinds of insanely huge and complex settings and casts and plots, but they keep reminding you of the stuff you need to know at the start of each issue. Well, some of that stuff at any rate.
It work beautifully compared to the "I hope you liked the characters I mentioned in the last chapter, because you aren't going to see them again for a few days, since you only read during your lunch break".
Yeah, I can definitely see how that would get old. There needs to be more of a science devoted to the different types of literary structure, and how best to appreciate them. Some books are better for reading on the bus to and from work than others; I regard the Jijo trilogy as almost a "three-dimensional" book, where I could imagine reading only one character's chapters and trying to comprehend the overall narrative from just that one perspective. The book isn't quite written to function that way, but it takes interesting steps in that direction; I think such sophistication has a lot of potential to enrich the currently-waning art of literature, creating books that engage the reader enough that he might choose to read them even if he normally prefers movies or comics or video games, all of which are inherently more likely to captivate today's audiences right out of the gate. The written format will never die, I'm quite certain - but it is getting pretty old and feeble these days, and it can always use anything that might put a little spring back into its step.
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Re: Currently Reading?

Post by Liesmith » Sat Feb 15, 2014 11:55 pm

Put in that light, I think I agree with you about Sundiver. Full disclosure: I listened to half of the series as audio books during my daily commute, and I read the other half. Sundiver was one of the audio books, and I think part of my enjoyment of it was due to the voice actor's performance. When you have a voice actor reading a book that focuses on a single person's story, it serves to strengthen the narrative even further. But, taken purely from a plot perspective, I agree with you about the weaknesses in its structure.

For the past year or so, I've felt like everything I read is just triage to tide me over until The Doors of Stone is released.
"All it takes is one bad day to reduce the sanest man alive to lunacy. That's how far the world is from where I am. Just one bad day. You had a bad day once. Am I right? I know I am. I can tell. You had a bad day and everything changed."
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Re: Currently Reading?

Post by WastesTime » Mon Mar 10, 2014 11:42 am

I've just finished reading the Hunger Games today. Wow. The books are actually way better than the movies, worth a try. Quite deep even, when compared to what was shown by Hollywood.
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Re: Currently Reading?

Post by Wolfie » Mon Mar 10, 2014 11:46 am

WastesTime wrote:I've just finished reading the Hunger Games today. Wow. The books are actually way better than the movies, worth a try. Quite deep even, when compared to what was shown by Hollywood.
You just figured out why I won't watch the movies any more. I saw the first one after having read the books and threw my hands up. I already have issues with the books; I don't need them compounded by Hollywood's monkey editing team.
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Re: Currently Reading?

Post by RedwoodElf » Mon Mar 10, 2014 12:08 pm

Wolfie wrote:
WastesTime wrote:I've just finished reading the Hunger Games today. Wow. The books are actually way better than the movies, worth a try. Quite deep even, when compared to what was shown by Hollywood.
You just figured out why I won't watch the movies any more. I saw the first one after having read the books and threw my hands up. I already have issues with the books; I don't need them compounded by Hollywood's monkey editing team.
I think a team of Monkeys would do a better job in most cases. Look what they did to "Eragon" - could have been a good movie, but they took decent source material (Hey, it was the kid's first novel after all) and dunked it in dingo poop.
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Re: Currently Reading?

Post by Wolfie » Mon Mar 10, 2014 12:13 pm

RedwoodElf wrote:
Wolfie wrote:You just figured out why I won't watch the movies any more. I saw the first one after having read the books and threw my hands up. I already have issues with the books; I don't need them compounded by Hollywood's monkey editing team.
I think a team of Monkeys would do a better job in most cases. Look what they did to "Eragon" - could have been a good movie, but they took decent source material (Hey, it was the kid's first novel after all) and dunked it in dingo poop.
Then rolled it in moldy ostrich feathers and left it to rot in the Sahara for 3 years.

I loved the Inheritance Cycle. It got a whole lot better as it went on. The movie? Not so much.
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Re: Currently Reading?

Post by Bashka » Tue Mar 11, 2014 12:26 pm

The things they do to movies... The worst offenders I've seen are anything from Stephen King or Michael Crichton. The things they did to most of those stories... *shudders*

Currently reading The Good Thief by Hannah Tinti. So far, so good. :)
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Re: Currently Reading?

Post by Crayling » Tue Mar 18, 2014 2:44 am

Chiming in for the hyperion cantos as well. Currently rereading Way of kings before I start on Words of Radiance.

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Re: Currently Reading?

Post by Lurks Silently » Tue Mar 25, 2014 8:59 am

I'm currently about 3/4 of the way through American Gods by Neil Gaiman, and loving it. I also am reading The Dilbert Principle by Scott Adams.

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Re: Currently Reading?

Post by WastesTime » Tue Mar 25, 2014 2:01 pm

American Gods is just amazing. I'm currently reading another one of Pratchett's page-turners, Men at Arms
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Re: Currently Reading?

Post by Lurks Silently » Thu Apr 03, 2014 8:27 am

Well, I finished American Gods, and it was pretty spectacular. I also breezed through the Hunger Games trilogy on audiobook (it helped on two 10-hour drives last weekend), and am wrapping up The Dilbert Principle.

Now I'm trying to decide what to read next. I am trying to slog my way through Debt of Honor by Tom Clancy (started it a long time ago, only about 300 pages in), but I need something else to occupy myself with. I was thinking of starting Good Omens, since I like both Pratchett and Gaiman. Or I could finally get around to reading The Dark Tower and finish that series. Or I could read any of the other dozens of books sitting on my "to read" shelf. Any thoughts? :P

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Re: Currently Reading?

Post by willpell » Thu Apr 03, 2014 7:24 pm

I just finished John Varley's "Titan" and am now starting on the sequel "Wizard", having read both (along with the trilogy-capper "Demon") some time ago. "Titan" was not as good as I thought I remembered it being, but "Wizard" is so far looking better; I certainly didn't remember how much divergence there was between them.
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Re: Currently Reading?

Post by WastesTime » Fri Apr 04, 2014 6:46 am

Just finished Pratchett's "Feet of Clay" and I'm starting "The Alloy of Law" by Sanderson while I wait for the rest of the Night Watch series to arrive :D

Quote from the end of the book pretty much sums the greatness and humor of this book :D
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