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Author Topic: Whats everyone reading?  (Read 521315 times)

The Adventurer

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Re: Whats everyone reading?
« Reply #6420 on: 08 November, 2018, 07:11:33 am »
Almost finished The Road by Cormac McCarthy.

Bleak, disturbing and very readable.

A lot of people dislike McCarthy's prose style and the way he does dialogue without quotations in this book. I disagree, I thought it incredible.

Notable Comics dropping the Week of 01-02-13


CalHab

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Re: Whats everyone reading?
« Reply #6421 on: 08 November, 2018, 09:15:34 am »
McCarthy's sparse style makes that book, in my opinion.

As an aside, I saw a talk by the filmmaker Alex Cox a few years ago and he mentioned that he can no longer enjoy fiction because he sees everything as a script and how he would film it. He specifically mentioned The Road as a book he should have enjoyed, but was too irritated by continuity errors. The example I remember him mentioned was an appearing, disappearing, reappearing shopping cart.

Professor Bear

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Re: Whats everyone reading?
« Reply #6422 on: 08 November, 2018, 11:51:15 am »
Starship Troopers was a bust but I thought I'd give Bob Heinlein another go, which is a way of saying that the genre picks in my local cancer shop - AKA The Only Book Shop In The Town Anymore - are a bit slim and I'm stuck with whatever's been dumped there, and it was a toss-up between one of the fifty Len Deightons on display, or a the wrinkly old copy of Podkayne Of Mars with a sexy lady on the cover that is in no way made troubling by the blurb on the back telling you her age.
A sci-fi travelogue in the vein of old school romps and based on Heinlein's own nautical travels in the Pacific, it clips along well enough and I enjoyed the retro sci-fi version of space travel like the radiation panic rooms ("BRACE FOR SOLAR STORMS!"), and the endurance of class and racial divisions just seemed quaint (at the time of reading, though in retrospect...), but I thought there was a twist coming in the story in which the (primary) narrator would be revealed to have created her journal to stitch up her brother as a high functioning sociopath in order to obfuscate her role in crimes that might have hindered her ambitions, but it really is a remarkably linear effort for such a highly-regarded science fiction author, to the extent the ending prompted demands for a rewrite from the original editor - both endings are presented: one in which the main character dies due to a moment of forgetfulness on the part of a character at odds with pretty much everything we've heard about them up until that point, and another in which the main character lives and we get a lecture on how their misfortune came about because their mother had pursued a career instead of staying at home to raise her children by hand and so their female kids were too independent.
Uhhhhh... okay.  Obviously, at this point I had some questions and concerns, so decided I would check out if this conservative tract was put in as a gag by Heinlein in response to his editor's demands for a rewrite to something less challenging to the audience's sensibilities, but I never got that far as the threads discussing it seemed to have more thoughts on Heinlein's defence of the MaCarthy Hearings and I'm like WHAT THE ACTUAL F butyeah I totally thought Starship Troopers was meant to be satire but it was, apparantly, just meant to be a juvenile fiction book.
Anyway, POM was okay until the ending(s) and beyond.  The last stretch takes a leftfield turn for the worse with its voodoo-tinged depiction of a rural Venusian swamp dweller and inferred threats of sexual violence, none of which apparently seemed problematic enough to be included in that rewrite.  I'm not quite sure why Heinlein has such a good rep if the two books I've read are any indicator of the general quality.  I did enjoy the more traditional and borderline goofy stuff in the first 4/5ths of the novel, but he just didn't bring it home.  I've been finding my intermittent visits to Bradbury's works far more rewarding, tbh.

Pyroxian

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Re: Whats everyone reading?
« Reply #6423 on: 08 November, 2018, 11:55:08 am »
Starship Troopers was a bust but I thought I'd give Bob Heinlein another go, which is a way of saying that the genre picks in my local cancer shop - AKA The Only Book Shop In The Town Anymore - are a bit slim and I'm stuck with whatever's been dumped there, and it was a toss-up between one of the fifty Len Deightons on display, or a the wrinkly old copy of Podkayne Of Mars with a sexy lady on the cover that is in no way made troubling by the blurb on the back telling you her age.
A sci-fi travelogue in the vein of old school romps and based on Heinlein's own nautical travels in the Pacific, it clips along well enough and I enjoyed the retro sci-fi version of space travel like the radiation panic rooms ("BRACE FOR SOLAR STORMS!"), and the endurance of class and racial divisions just seemed quaint (at the time of reading, though in retrospect...), but I thought there was a twist coming in the story in which the (primary) narrator would be revealed to have created her journal to stitch up her brother as a high functioning sociopath in order to obfuscate her role in crimes that might have hindered her ambitions, but it really is a remarkably linear effort for such a highly-regarded science fiction author, to the extent the ending prompted demands for a rewrite from the original editor - both endings are presented: one in which the main character dies due to a moment of forgetfulness on the part of a character at odds with pretty much everything we've heard about them up until that point, and another in which the main character lives and we get a lecture on how their misfortune came about because their mother had pursued a career instead of staying at home to raise her children by hand and so their female kids were too independent.
Uhhhhh... okay.  Obviously, at this point I had some questions and concerns, so decided I would check out if this conservative tract was put in as a gag by Heinlein in response to his editor's demands for a rewrite to something less challenging to the audience's sensibilities, but I never got that far as the threads discussing it seemed to have more thoughts on Heinlein's defence of the MaCarthy Hearings and I'm like WHAT THE ACTUAL F butyeah I totally thought Starship Troopers was meant to be satire but it was, apparantly, just meant to be a juvenile fiction book.
Anyway, POM was okay until the ending(s) and beyond.  The last stretch takes a leftfield turn for the worse with its voodoo-tinged depiction of a rural Venusian swamp dweller and inferred threats of sexual violence, none of which apparently seemed problematic enough to be included in that rewrite.  I'm not quite sure why Heinlein has such a good rep if the two books I've read are any indicator of the general quality.  I did enjoy the more traditional and borderline goofy stuff in the first 4/5ths of the novel, but he just didn't bring it home.  I've been finding my intermittent visits to Bradbury's works far more rewarding, tbh.

Read "The Moon is a Hard Mistress".

Podkayne's not great - it's one of his Juvenile novels, so aimed at younger readers.

TordelBack

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Re: Whats everyone reading?
« Reply #6424 on: 08 November, 2018, 12:40:28 pm »
The Moon is a Harsh Mistress is a good example of Heinlein at his best, but there is just so much terrible or just plain bland stuff by him that I find it very hard to appreciate his legacy the way others seem to: and I really have tried.

There's no denying his technological vision,  or his early use of strong female characters, but for every Stranger in a Strange Land there seem to be half a dozen Time Enough for Loves or Number of the Beasts. I know his later work is often excluded from the adulation (true of many of the great SF writers, but shift from liberal to libertine and then libertarian really doesn't help), but there seems to be a huge amount of drivel throughout his career.  I've never really understood what people got out of Starship Troopers either, other than the all-powerful trope of power-armoured space marines: give me Haldeman's Forever War any day,  dodgy sexual politics notwithstanding.

I've had to accept that he was a huge and innovative influence on the SF  genre,  but I just don't get along with his work the way I do with fellow founding fathers like Asimov and Clarke.
« Last Edit: 08 November, 2018, 12:44:28 pm by TordelBack »

Mardroid

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Re: Whats everyone reading?
« Reply #6425 on: 08 November, 2018, 03:20:09 pm »
Currently reading Stephen King's latest book, Elevation*. I haven't finished it yet, but so far it's quite a sweet endearing story with a curious premise. (The main character is losing weight at a phenomenal rate, yet he looks and feels the same. i.e this is not Thinner where the guy actually does get thin and weak.) The scales also show the same weight regardless of what he is carrying or wearing. There is also an interesting thread concerning a married lesbian couple who are the main protagonist's neighbours, and how they deal with prejudism, etc. I'm enjoying it a lot so far. It's not really a horror story (although there's a horror component considering the main guy losing weight fast) but then again, a lot of Stephen King stories aren't, or at least aren't completely.

Previous to that, I read King's other novel The Outsider. It took me a little while to get into it, but it really took off. This one was as much a police mystery thriller as a horror novel (with supernatural horror included, but it's played pretty straight, considering. Not to dis the supernatural horror, as I love that stuff), and it was nice to see another good character from previous novels return as a major character.


* I was going to download it to my Kindle**. Curiously the hardback turned out to be £2 - £3 cheaper so I went that route. It's quite a thin but nice volume with thick paper. I'll find a place for it somewhere.

** I do like physical books, but I like the convenience of a quick download as well. And I've pretty much run out of space on my bookshelves.

wedgeski

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Re: Whats everyone reading?
« Reply #6426 on: 08 November, 2018, 03:45:49 pm »
I just finished Ancillary Justice by Anne Leckie. An intriguing premise, where a single mind, organic or machine, is split into hundreds or thousands of instances which might not always agree with each-other, but it took me a while to get through and I doubt I'll pursue the other entries in the series. As a far future setting, the world-building didn't really push my buttons.

I've just started Lethal White, the latest Cormoran Strike novel. I didn't much like the first one when I tried it, but I *loved* the TV adaptation, so I'm hoping to have more buy-in this time around.

Theblazeuk

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Re: Whats everyone reading?
« Reply #6427 on: 08 November, 2018, 04:03:57 pm »
Red Planet and Have Spacesuit, Will Travel were great books as a kid. Probably wouldn't stand up now.

Otherwise I think the best Heinleins are Puppet Masters, The Door into Summer and of course, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.

Pyroxian

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Re: Whats everyone reading?
« Reply #6428 on: 08 November, 2018, 05:29:15 pm »
I've had to accept that he was a huge and innovative influence on the SF  genre,  but I just don't get along with his work the way I do with fellow founding fathers like Asimov and Clarke.

Bizarrely I find Heinlein easier to read than Asimov and Clarke. Possibly because I read Heinlein at an early age, and didn't get on to the others until my late teens.

Mattofthespurs

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Re: Whats everyone reading?
« Reply #6429 on: 08 November, 2018, 06:13:57 pm »
Currently reading Stephen King's latest book, Elevation*.

 I loved this. Short but oh so sweet. A beautiful story.

TordelBack

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Re: Whats everyone reading?
« Reply #6430 on: 08 November, 2018, 06:16:24 pm »
Bizarrely I find Heinlein easier to read than Asimov and Clarke. Possibly because I read Heinlein at an early age, and didn't get on to the others until my late teens.

Now there may be somthing to that, as I was the opposite - devoured a significant chunk of Asimov as at about 11 or 12, Clarke a bit later care of the school library, but other than Moon is a Harsh Mistress I didn't come to Heinlein until I stumbled across a hoard of paperbacks in my later teens, at which point expectations were very high - Chris Claremont never stopped pimping him in New Mutants, Starship Troopers was supposedly the Greatest SF Book I'd Never Read, Number of the Beast had that Omen vibe, and The Cat Who Walks Through Walls sounded like it might be just the sort of Jerry Cornelius type affair I was looking for.  Alas, no and many times no.

Tjm86

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Re: Whats everyone reading?
« Reply #6431 on: 08 November, 2018, 06:47:18 pm »
Heinlein and Clarke do tend to be a bit more cerebral and dry.  I think some of that is down to their characterisation, particularly Clarke until he started co-writing books.  Heinlein is far more scatological, his characters far more liberal / morally ambivalent (occasionally even bordering on perverted!), and his pacing is often tighter.  I often marvel at some of the ideas he throws about consider the age he was writing in.

For me though they are always an interesting pleasure to return to every once in a while.  It is interesting to compare them with current authors.  They also often have the added benefit of being quite short which makes for a rather pleasant sense of achievement polishing them off in less than the six months it can often take for the latest tome that appears to be the only option these days.

Dandontdare

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Re: Whats everyone reading?
« Reply #6432 on: 08 November, 2018, 07:46:01 pm »
Can anyone identity this book - a long shot 'cos I remember virtually nothing about it - may have been Heinlein or Clarke (or maybe another). All I can remember is that it featured a family spaceship crew - a man, his son and daughter in law. I gave up after a multi page discussion about who should be the next captain and the chain of command and ship protocol.

Have Spacesuit Will Travel blew me away at Primary school!

Mike Carroll

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Re: Whats everyone reading?
« Reply #6433 on: 09 November, 2018, 12:31:36 am »
Can anyone identity this book - a long shot 'cos I remember virtually nothing about it - may have been Heinlein or Clarke (or maybe another). All I can remember is that it featured a family spaceship crew - a man, his son and daughter in law. I gave up after a multi page discussion about who should be the next captain and the chain of command and ship protocol.

That sounds like it might be The Number of the Beast by Heinlein, though as I recall, the main characters are a man, his girlfriend and her father (and his girlfriend), all of whom are deliberate allusions to characters in Edgar Rice Burroughs' Mars books. It's been almost forty years since I read it, but I'd been a huge Heinlein fan and then this one came along and it was just ponderous, incomprehensible, self-indulgent waffle. One of those books where you go, "Yeah... he's lost it."
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Paul faplad Finch

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Re: Whats everyone reading?
« Reply #6434 on: 09 November, 2018, 12:57:36 am »

Hey Paul,  welcome back! 

Thanks! I debated doing a big announcement but then I realised that A) that would make me a knob, and B) the place is probably full of newbies who wouldn't know who the hell I was. So I settled on just quietly bumping this thread, still my greatest contribution to these here boards.  :)

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