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WHAT ARE YOU READING? DECEMBER EDITION

Prospero

Member
Peru said:
Sorry, I did miss it. What separates Wolfe from others?

Wolfe is one of the best prose stylists in SF/F--when he's at the top of his game, he's leagues better than most other genre writers, sentence for sentence. (The only stylists in SF/F that I'd rank with him are William Gibson and Samuel Delany).

That said, with respect to elements other than style, I find his work to be hit or miss sometimes. The Book of the New Sun is just about perfect from beginning to end, though.
 

Peru

Member
QVT said:
He writes almost as well as Nabokov in terms of prose, and his characterization is fucking fantastic. His ideas are comparable to Borges if we're just talking about inventiveness and creativity. And plot, my god. It's difficult to talk about the best of something because there is nothing to compare it to, but you are doing yourself a disservice if you don't give him a chance. It's also a fucking miracle of narration as the narrator is a person who remembers everything, but remains an unreliable narrator.

So fantastic.
Thanks man, you convinced me. A Nabokov comparison is enough for me. I'll try to find it and pick it up before my train ride home for Christmas.

edit: Prospero, too. Book of the New sun it is.
 

QVT

Fair-weather, with pride!
Prospero said:
Wolfe is one of the best prose stylists in SF/F--when he's at the top of his game, he's leagues better than most other genre writers, sentence for sentence. (The only stylists in SF/F that I'd rank with him are William Gibson and Samuel Delany).

That said, with respect to elements other than style, I find his work to be hit or miss sometimes. The Book of the New Sun is just about perfect from beginning to end, though.

I think with the exception of Wizard Knight and the newer short stories, all his stuff is great When he finished Short Sun he broke the mold, really.

I've never bothered with Gibson or Delany, I'll look into those two.


Peru, of all the writers that I've read Wolfe is the closest to Nabokov(who is my favourite). Other authors try to emulate Vlad, like John Banville or Martin Amis but no one is as close as Wolfe.
 

FnordChan

Member
npm0925 said:
What's a great standalone (i.e., not part of a series) fantasy or science fiction novel? Massive bonus points if it's funny.

I've got a few suggestions for you, all of which spawned sequels of some sort that you're welcome to ignore if you like. First off, an oft recommended book:

The Curse of Chalion by Lois Bujold - I pimp this lots but for good reason. In a fantasy world where the five gods take an active role, our long-suffering hero wants to quietly retire and instead finds himself being used as a vehicle for divine intent while getting up to his neck in politics of the bloody kind. Wonderful high fantasy with excellent characterization and a loose sequel (Paladin of Souls) that's even better.

And then, on the lighter side of things:

Another Fine Myth by Robert Asprin - When I think humorous fantasy, this is what comes to mind. Our hero is the hapless apprentice to a wizard who is being trained in the mystic arts a bit too slowly for his tastes. His master decides to impress upon his student the power of the mystic arts, summons a demon, and then all hell breaks loose...not least because the demon isn't quite what he appears (and he appears to be pretty friggin' mean). Cue a crash course in what magic really is, an evil wizard (naturally), and the occasional *****ing. Lots of fun, with many, many sequels; they're actually perfectly enjoyable up until the tenth volume or so, but after that Asprin takes an extended sabbatical for tax reasons and when he returns to the series it just ain't the same. There's a bargin anthology of the first six volumes available, which suffers from dodgy editing but is still a good deal. Else, check your local library.

The Stainless Steel Rat by Harry Harrison - In a future where human civilization has peacefully settled throughout the galaxy, it's tough to be a crook. However, our hero, "Slippery Jim" DeGriz has managed somehow, happily robbing banks, fleecing suckers, and generally living high on the hog...until he's caught and sent off to capture another societal outcast who's different from him in two very different ways: she's a beautiful woman and a psychotic killer. Tremendously entertaining, generally light adventure with many sequels; your best bet is the omnibus volume Adventures of the Stainless Steel Rat which collects the first three books in the series, all of which are quite entertaining and light, breezy reads. If you like those and want more humor from Harrison, be sure to read Bill the Galactic Hero, which takes the piss out of Starship Troopers with a lot more laughs than Haldeman's (admittedly excellent) The Forever War.

FnordChan
 


Just finished this (the Forever War) and it was fucking incredible, loved every second of reading it.


I will now get started on Gibson's Neuromancer and Reynolds' Revelation Space.
 

Prospero

Member
Fallout-NL said:


Just finished this (the Forever War) and it was fucking incredible, loved every second of reading it.

That's a UK edition, right? Does it have all three books in the series? Haldeman's printing history is spotty in the US, and it'd be worth importing it to have an omnibus volume.

(By the way, for US readers who want to import things now and again from the UK, The Book Depository has competitive prices and free shipping to the States via Royal Air Mail, dispatched within 24 hours.)
 

Eric P

Member
more funny fantasy not in series format

Tom Holt

Barking said:
Monsters are roaming the streets of London. Of course, some monsters are scarier than others. Unicorns? No bother. Vampires? Big deal. Werewolves? Ho hum.

Lawyers? Aaargh!

Duncan's boss doesn't think he's cut out to be a lawyer. He isn't a pack animal. He lacks the killer instinct. But when his best friend from school barges his way back into Duncan's life, with a full supporting cast of lawyers, ex-wives, zombies and snow-white unicorns, it's not long before things become distinctly unsettling. Hairy, even.

Valhalla said:
As everyone knows, when great warriors die their reward is eternal life in Odin's great hall - otherwise known as Valhalla.

But Valhalla has changed. It's grown. It's diversified. Just like any corporation, the Valhalla Group has had to adapt to survive.

Unfortunately, nothing could have prepared it for the arrival of Carol Kortright, one-time cocktail waitress, currently dead, and not at all happy.

Who's Afraid of Beowulf? said:
Well, not Hrolf Earthstar, for a start. The last Norse king of Caithness, Hrolf and his twelve champions are woken from a centuries-long sleep when archaeologist Hildy Frederiksen finds their grave mound. And despite the time-delay, Hrolf decides to carry on his ancient war against the Sorceror King...

Ye Gods said:
Being a Hero bothers Jason Derry. It's easy to get maladjusted when your mum's a suburban housewife and your dad's the Supreme Being. It can be a real drag slaying fabulous monsters and retrieving golden fleeces from fire-spitting dragons, and then having to tidy your room before your mum'll let you watch Star Trek. But it's not the relentless tedium of imperishable glory that finally brings Jason to the end of his rope; it's something so funny that it's got to be taken seriously. Deadly seriously...

i've read so many of his books but they've only recently been finding print in america, or at least in Brick and Mortar stores where they can be easily found by browsing
 

Eric P

Member
FnordChan said:
FnordChan

fnord, please check out tom holt and or robert rankin, i think you'll really enjoy holt. they're very breezy and very light, but still really funny and enjoyable.
 

FnordChan

Member
Eric P said:
fnord, please check out tom holt and or robert rankin, i think you'll really enjoy holt. they're very breezy and very light, but still really funny and enjoyable.

Consider them added to my to-read list. I'm always up for more humorous novels!

FnordChan
 

madara

Member
If it ever stops raining ice around here I was thinking of grabbing Tunnels. It quietly came out on 10th I guess and I believe this is one that guy that found harry potter says is next big thing. We shall see.
 
Prospero said:
That's a UK edition, right? Does it have all three books in the series? Haldeman's printing history is spotty in the US, and it'd be worth importing it to have an omnibus volume.

(By the way, for US readers who want to import things now and again from the UK, The Book Depository has competitive prices and free shipping to the States via Royal Air Mail, dispatched within 24 hours.)



That's right, it has all three books. I bought it at the American Bookstore in Amsterdam, published by Gollancz in Britain (2006).
 

Prospero

Member
Fallout-NL said:
That's right, it has all three books. I bought it at the American Bookstore in Amsterdam, published by Gollancz in Britain (2006).

Excellent--thanks.

EDIT: ordered, for something like $14 US. That's a bargain.
 

ManaByte

Member
Just finished this:


Made me want to go re-watch Lawrence of Arabia since T.E. Lawrence is referenced so much; especially towards the end of his journey during the time he is in the Negev and before going to Petra.
 

ManaByte

Member
Eric P said:
that sounds really interesting

i'm going to finish forever war tonight then move on to something else

He followed that up with two more books where he does the same thing; one focused on Abraham and another one where he walks the footsteps of Joshua through David and Solomon.
 

Alucard

Banned

I just finished this today and really enjoyed it. Lije Baley is very enjoyable to peek in on, and to see how he slowly develops from an ignorant man, to one of open hope and possibility. I really should have started reading Asimov years ago. The robot crime books are entertaining, while at the same time being entirely philosophical and socially relevant.

Today, I began and have read the first 25 pages of...


I expect nothing but more great philosophy, action, and mental games. Considering that this book is twice as thick as the first two, I am ready for a sweeping epic.
 

FnordChan

Member
Cyan said:
I wrote this title down from one of the previous recommendation threads, and just got around to getting it from the library this weekend. Just finished reading it last night. Man, deep characters (a must for me), quality writing, impressive world-building from the gods to the history, all bound together with a clever and swift-moving plot. All around great book, thanks for the recommendation!

Glad you liked it! Be sure to read the second book in the sequence, Paladin of Souls, where after the events of Chalion a peripheral character takes center stage as she sets of on a pilgrimage and discovers a lot more than she expected. It's just as good as, if not better than, Chalion and has a Hugo award to prove it. You'll love it. Note that the third book in the sequence, The Hallowed Hunt, is a perfectly decent read but simply not up to the high standard set by the first two. If you finish Paladin and find yourself craving more Bujold, I suggest you try her science fiction Vorkosigan series, starting with the omnibus Cordelia's Honor.

FnordChan, Bujold pimp extrordinaire
 

MIMIC

Banned


Fiction Thriller/Suspense (all I ever read, really).

The ratings for this novel are through the roof, so I was really interested. So far, it's pretty good.
 

Eric P

Member


granted i'm only 30 pages in, but it's a good read so far

i loved the wasp factory so i wanted to check out the author's sci-fi to see if it was enjoyable as well, esp after just reading the forever war

speaking of forever wars, i picked up this as well



edit: I also got my copy of Seven Peaches which Fnord suggested in another thread. so far it's pretty excellent, but i've only read two of the seven stories.
 

Prospero

Member
Just finished this book by Edward Belbruno--Fly Me to the Moon: An Insider's Guide to the New Science of Space Travel



A nice, short book, accessible by non-scientists, written by a guy who recently discovered a way to send objects to destinations in outer space with a much smaller fuel cost compared to traditional methods. You can read it in a few hours and you'll learn something--if anything, it's written perhaps a little too simply for some.
 
So I've been reading that Philip K. Dick collection...just finished The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch. I thought The Man in the High Castle was great. I'm a big history guy who loves WWII (who doesn't?), so that whole alternate reality part of it was really cool and interesting. Palmer Eldritch just blew me the fuck away though. Holy crap. My mind is still reeling.
 

lostzenfound

Junior Member
I thought for sure I was only going to have to quote someone and say, "Me too..." but I didn't notice it anywhere.

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War



From Booklist:

"The Crisis" nearly wiped out humanity. Brooks (son of Mel Brooks and author of The Zombie Survival Guide, 2003) has taken it upon himself to document the "first hand" experiences and testimonies of those lucky to survive 10 years after the fictitious zombie war. Like a horror fan's version of Studs Terkel's The Good War (1984), the "historical account" format gives Brooks room to explore the zombie plague from numerous different views and characters. In a deadpan voice, Brooks exhaustively details zombie incidents from isolated attacks to full-scale military combat: "what if the enemy can't be shocked and awed? Not just won't, but biologically can't!" With the exception of a weak BAT-21 story in the second act, the "interviews" and personal accounts capture the universal fear of the collapse of society--a living nightmare in which anyone can become a mindless, insatiable predator at a moment's notice. Alas, Brad Pitt's production company has purchased the film rights to the book--while it does have a chronological element, it's more similar to a collection of short stories: it would make for an excellent 24-style TV series or an animated serial. Regardless, horror fans won't be disappointed: like George Romero's Dead trilogy, World War Z is another milestone in the zombie mythos.
 

Dan

No longer boycotting the Wolfenstein franchise
I checked out a collection of Kafka and Moby Dick to tackle during my holiday vacation. I'll end up with about 30 hours of travel, so there should be plenty of reading time.
 

Keen

Aliens ate my babysitter


Finished this a week ago and wwnt right out and bought



Because it was so awesome. AC is great as well.
 

thomaser

Member
Finished Vineland by Pynchon, which wasn't at all the disappointment it was supposed to be in light of his other books.

Reading now:


Life: A User's Manual by Georges Perec

A big, experimental novel that basically takes an apartment complex in Paris, and then describes every apartment and inhabitant in it in painstaking detail. Sounds boring, but is very compelling since most of the inhabitants have led very interesting lives, and most of them are connected to the others in strange ways. Great read for people who like to follow leads and solve puzzles. The way the book was written is also unusual, but I won't go into that.


Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem

A very well-written story about a slightly crooked guy with Tourette's who has to find out who killed his boss. Utterly convincing portrayal of the illness... it could easily be just silly, but it's written with style and compassion.
 

Prospero

Member
Harry Collins: Gravity's Shadow--The Search for Gravitational Waves



It's an 800+-page university press book about the history of the attempt to detect evidence of gravitational radiation--the description sounds dreary, but I can't put it down. It's more compelling that most of the novels I've read this year.

Collins is a sociologist, not a physicist, but the book is more about the sociology of science rather than science itself--how scientists choose who and what data to trust; how the larger scientific community decides whether to confirm or deny the validity of experiments made by specialists; how scientists decide what to believe is true; the cultural politics that influence big, government-funded science projects; etc. Collins is a great writer, too--accessible to the interested non-scientist. (If you've read Tracy Kidder's The Soul of a New Machine, this book feels a lot like that, though the material here is a bit more difficult.)

If you're in some kind of science or engineering field, or even if you're just interested in science and engineering, this is highly recommended. There's a review here, and a Google Books preview here--you can read a healthy chunk of it online.
 

Relix

he's Virgin Tight™
Bah,, I am not reading... I am writing, but still, I've got a few things:

I am America (Pure LOL)
Song of Ice and Fire: Game of Thrones, never got to read this before and its OMGQTFBBQ awesome.
 

Yasser

Member

"At the age of ten, when Martin Amis spent a year in Princeton, New Jersey, he was excited and frightened by America. As an adult he has approached that confusing country from many arresting angles, and interviewed its literati, filmmakers, thinkers, opinion makers, leaders and crackpots with characteristic discernment and wit. Included in a gallery of Great American Novelists are Norman Mailer, Gore Vidal, Truman Capote, Joseph Heller, William Burroughs, Kurt Vonnegut, John Updike, Paul Theroux, Philip Roth and Saul Bellow. Amis also takes us to Dallas, where presidential candidate Ronald Reagan is attempting to liaise with born-again Christians. We glimpse the beau monde of Palm Beach, where each couple tries to out-Gatsby the other, and examine the case of Claus von Bulow. Steven Spielberg gets a visit, as does Brian de Palma, whom Amis asks why his films make no sense, and Hugh Hefner's sybaritic fortress and sanitised image are penetrated. There can be little that escapes the eye of Martin Amis when his curiosity leads him to a subject, and America has found in him a superlative chronicler."



"Glen Duncan’s I, Lucifer begins one steamy summer as some heavy negotiations are taking place in Heaven. God has decided to give Lucifer, the furthest-fallen of all fallen angels, a second chance. The Prince of Darkness can return to the fold, provided he manages to last one month on earth without sin. The human form chosen for this celestial experiment? A depressed novelist of little renown, currently contemplating suicide in his Clerkenwell garret.

Lucifer eagerly grasps the opportunity for a holiday on earth, and uses his host’s identity to re-write the story of Creation in a format that has Hollywood moguls kissing his feet. It’s not popular with Him Upstairs, of course, what with the Devil being portrayed as a maverick free-thinker and God as a humourless autocrat. But Lucifer’s having too much fun to care. He’s experiencing the pleasures of the flesh for the first time and everything – the odour of sweaty tube trains, cocaine, ice-cream, dirty sex--delights him. By the time the archangels are dispatched to bring him back, the Lord of all that’s inhumane can’t think of anything he’d rather be than human.

Lucifer befogs his audience, alternately spitting fury at them like some sulphur-charged Dennis Leary and then insisting that he’s a nice guy, just misunderstood. What’s clear, however, is that Glen Duncan is not merely one of those writers who can come up with amusing concepts. He’s a sharp, sometimes savage observer of the human condition, whose talents are as many as the legions of Hell"
 

Alucard

Banned

Alright, so I'm over midway through this one now, and uhh...I'm a little disturbed at the content of the book right now. Robot/human sex, father/daughter incest...Asimov, what are you doing?! I feel like I'm reading a raunchy Oedipal novel, although the mystery parts are still prevalent. Sadly, this is my least favourite of the 3 robot books I've read so far, but that could change depending on what happens in the last 190 pages.
 

Dagon

Member
Prospero said:
Harry Collins: Gravity's Shadow--The Search for Gravitational Waves

It's an 800+-page university press book about the history of the attempt to detect evidence of gravitational radiation--the description sounds dreary, but I can't put it down. It's more compelling that most of the novels I've read this year.

Collins is a sociologist, not a physicist, but the book is more about the sociology of science rather than science itself--how scientists choose who and what data to trust; how the larger scientific community decides whether to confirm or deny the validity of experiments made by specialists; how scientists decide what to believe is true; the cultural politics that influence big, government-funded science projects; etc. Collins is a great writer, too--accessible to the interested non-scientist. (If you've read Tracy Kidder's The Soul of a New Machine, this book feels a lot like that, though the material here is a bit more difficult.)

If you're in some kind of science or engineering field, or even if you're just interested in science and engineering, this is highly recommended. There's a review here, and a Google Books preview here--you can read a healthy chunk of it online.

This sounds really good but, sadly, ~900 pages is more than I can handle right now.
 

FnordChan

Member
yacobod said:
i just got mine from amazon on monday, planning to read it for the first time this weekend

While the Absolute editions are a stiff investment for something you've never read, I gotta admit I'm jealous that your first reading of Watchmen will be with such a gorgeous copy. Enjoy!

FnordChan, glad to see folks reading A Fire Upon The Deep
 

Kastro

Banned
so GAF is the reason Amazon is now sold out of the Absolute Edition of Watchmen. Damn!

I saw it available like a week ago, went to order it the next day and it was gone. It's still gone ATM. :(
 

YakiSOBA

Member
A Song Of Ice And Fire Book Four

I quickly scanned a bunch of random chapters out of curiosity, and it seems this book is gonna be a bit different than the last 3... all the titles are weird lol :(

as long as i get to read about tyrion i'm happy.
 

John Dunbar

correct about everything
I just finished reading Yukio Mishima's The Sailor Who Fell From Grace with the Sea. I thought it was all kinds of awesome, but it was pretty annoying how some douchebag had decided to spoil the ending in the back cover. Why would someone do that? But now I want to read more of his books.
 

durden

"Books made me do it"
YakiSOBA said:
A Song Of Ice And Fire Book Four

I quickly scanned a bunch of random chapters out of curiosity, and it seems this book is gonna be a bit different than the last 3... all the titles are weird lol :(

as long as i get to read about tyrion i'm happy.

Prepare for disappointment...
 

Xater

Member
Ok guys I need some book recommendations. I am prett much on a Blade Runner trip because of the Final Cut rlease. Can you guys recommend some books that do science-fiction the way Blade Runner does? (I am not sure if that is cyberpunk or is that genre even more extreme?)
 

Zyzyxxz

Member


Yeah seems kinda nerdy to read, even I am surprised but I needed something for the wait at the airport and on the airplane but I am also a huge Starcraft fan and this book ties in with the storyline for Starcraft II. So far halfway thru and it has not yet expanded into an epic storyline but it is getting there.
 
Xater said:
Ok guys I need some book recommendations. I am prett much on a Blade Runner trip because of the Final Cut rlease. Can you guys recommend some books that do science-fiction the way Blade Runner does? (I am not sure if that is cyberpunk or is that genre even more extreme?)

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? - Phillip K. Dick (the inspiration for the movie Blade Runner)
Neuromancer - William Gibson
Ender's Game - Orson Scott Card
Altered Carbon - Richard Morgan

you can't go wrong with these
 

FnordChan

Member
Xater said:
Ok guys I need some book recommendations. I am prett much on a Blade Runner trip because of the Final Cut rlease. Can you guys recommend some books that do science-fiction the way Blade Runner does? (I am not sure if that is cyberpunk or is that genre even more extreme?)

Cyberpunk is as good a term as any, sure. Start with the seminal cyberpunk novel: William Gibson's Neuromancer.



When you're reading Neuromancer, you may feel that you've seen all this before - street smart hackers doing their dirty work in cyberspace, lots of cybernetic prosthetics and enhancements, a somewhat dystopic urban setting, you know the drill. Keep in mind that many of the cyberpunk tropes originated with Neuromancer, and while Gibson didn't coin the term cyberpunk his influence on the genre cannot be overstated. Part of what makes Neuromancer so influential is Gibson's evocative writing, which is top notch and drips with style. If you want cyberpunk, start here, then follow it up with two other books Gibson wrote in the same sequence - Count Zero and Mona Lisa Overdrive - as well as his book of early short stories, Burning Chrome.



Of course, after reading all that you may find yourself a bit worn out by the grey (if not entirely dark) future laid out in Gibson's Sprawl sequence and wondering if every cyberpunk author took the genre so seriously. At that point, you want to read Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash, which cheerfully takes the piss out of the whole thing. The plot, such as it is: Hiro Protagonist, ronin master of the Metaverse, teams up with the future equivalent of a Valley Girl to try to stop Raven, the baddest motherfucker in the world, who earned his title in part by carrying a nuke around on the back of his motorcycle. While endings aren't Stephenson's strong point and the middle does get a bit caught up in assorted bits of esoteric knowledge, Snow Crash is a tremendously entertaining novel. Sit down in your local big box bookstore, read the opening chapter (it's about pizza delivery; no, really), and I guarantee you'll be sold.



If you'd like to backtrack a bit and read a pre-cyberpunk novel, John Brunner's The Shockwave Rider has proven to be quietly influential. In part, it's because of the way Brunner's themes predict the cyberpunk movement - it's the story of a young man with unusual power over the global network of a world ruled by corporate interests - and in part because, like Gibson, he's just one helluva writer. It's a terrific piece of 70's SF, that has the feel of pre-Star Wars science fiction films while also being remarkably prescient.



Finally, if you enjoyed the movie, why not go to the source material and read Philip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, the inspiration for Blade Runner. The film diverges drastically from the novel, so you can go into it with a basic understanding of what the plot might be and be completely surprised by how different it is from what wound up on the big screen. It's readily available in both a standalone edition and an excellent omnibus of four novels, if you decide you'd like to jump in and read more by PKD.

FnordChan
 
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