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  • Satanic JesusSatanic Jesus Hi, I'm Liam! Registered User regular
    I have a problem, which is a nice problem to have, where I can't pick which book to read first. The Library of the Unwritten or The Starless Sea. Any suggestion?

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  • webguy20webguy20 I spend too much time on the Internet Registered User regular
    Echo wrote: »
    I'm on the second book (The Dark Forest) of the Three-Body Problem trilogy.

    On the one hand, I think the plot beats are pretty great and some rock-solid hard scifi.

    On the other hand, I think the actual writing is kind of... bland? Occasionally strangely amateurish?

    It is a translation, I can believe something got lost in the process.

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  • BrodyBrody The Watch The First ShoreRegistered User regular
    Echo wrote: »
    I'm on the second book (The Dark Forest) of the Three-Body Problem trilogy.

    On the one hand, I think the plot beats are pretty great and some rock-solid hard scifi.

    On the other hand, I think the actual writing is kind of... bland? Occasionally strangely amateurish?

    Unless it changes dramatically from book one to two I don't think I'd ever call Three-Body Problem hard sci-fi. Usually 'hard' implies it's grounded in real-life physics with maybe a speculative hand-wave here and there, or assumes some currently-theoretical physics is really how the universe works. Three-Body Problem was pure technobabble with an at best "I read a wikipedia article and skipped the complicated parts" understanding of whole swaths of scientific fact.

    Its hard sci-fi for what I understand is an underserved sci-fi populace.

    Spoilers hard-sci vs soft
    As far as hard sci-fi vs soft, its always a bit of an open ended conversation, since in either case we are pretending some sort of scientific breakthrough has occurred. I always considered it hard sci-fi, as the main stretch of imagination was bouncing radio signals off the sun, and the sophons. The sun thing wasn't even that large of a stretch, and felt even more hard science to me because it acknowledges the fact that a normal radio signal will have faded to practically nothing by the time it gets anywhere. The sophons were weird, and definitely a stretch, but IMO, fit hard sci-fi because it set out what exactly they were, and then stuck to it. Soft sci-fi doesn't concern itself with what is possible or not, hard goes "this works because of x, and we are going to stay consistent with that". It gets into a mushy grey area when the author breaks science with multiple different things, but ultimately its about how strongly they adhere to defined rules.

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  • Solomaxwell6Solomaxwell6 Registered User regular
    Septus wrote: »
    Echo wrote: »
    I'm on the second book (The Dark Forest) of the Three-Body Problem trilogy.

    On the one hand, I think the plot beats are pretty great and some rock-solid hard scifi.

    On the other hand, I think the actual writing is kind of... bland? Occasionally strangely amateurish?

    I really dug the key plot beats, but yeah the writing never felt great, and it was hugely padded to my taste. I really don't need to see a huge mini story about a guy looking for love that seems really tangential to the plot.

    Agreed as well. I think Liu Cixin has some really cool ideas but execution fails. I love the whole Wallflower concept. Part of it might be lost in translation, but there's enough wrong with the basic story that I can't blame the translator (whose Dandelion Dynasty series is way better). Overall the first two books were worth a read.

    I thought the third book was awful, it has the issues of the first two books with none of the cool ideas. Kind of bog standard scifi and weird nonsense science written by a mediocre author.

    There's also a fourth book, which was a fanfic until Liu Cixin said "yeah, that's cool, that's officially part of the series now". I have no plans to read it.

  • CptHamiltonCptHamilton Registered User regular
    edited October 6
    Brody wrote: »
    Echo wrote: »
    I'm on the second book (The Dark Forest) of the Three-Body Problem trilogy.

    On the one hand, I think the plot beats are pretty great and some rock-solid hard scifi.

    On the other hand, I think the actual writing is kind of... bland? Occasionally strangely amateurish?

    Unless it changes dramatically from book one to two I don't think I'd ever call Three-Body Problem hard sci-fi. Usually 'hard' implies it's grounded in real-life physics with maybe a speculative hand-wave here and there, or assumes some currently-theoretical physics is really how the universe works. Three-Body Problem was pure technobabble with an at best "I read a wikipedia article and skipped the complicated parts" understanding of whole swaths of scientific fact.

    Its hard sci-fi for what I understand is an underserved sci-fi populace.

    Spoilers hard-sci vs soft
    As far as hard sci-fi vs soft, its always a bit of an open ended conversation, since in either case we are pretending some sort of scientific breakthrough has occurred. I always considered it hard sci-fi, as the main stretch of imagination was bouncing radio signals off the sun, and the sophons. The sun thing wasn't even that large of a stretch, and felt even more hard science to me because it acknowledges the fact that a normal radio signal will have faded to practically nothing by the time it gets anywhere. The sophons were weird, and definitely a stretch, but IMO, fit hard sci-fi because it set out what exactly they were, and then stuck to it. Soft sci-fi doesn't concern itself with what is possible or not, hard goes "this works because of x, and we are going to stay consistent with that". It gets into a mushy grey area when the author breaks science with multiple different things, but ultimately its about how strongly they adhere to defined rules.
    The sun thing is a massive stretch. It's not 'bouncing radio signals off the sun', it's 'somehow shooting radio signals through the sun violates conservation of momentum'. Saying "here is a limitation imposed by real physics which we are ignoring because space-magic" isn't hard-sci-fi to me. It's technobabble. It's the Heisenberg Compensator from Star Trek which allows transporters to break the uncertainty principle because it's convenient.

    The three-body solar system did not conform to any realistic model of orbital mechanics. Star systems containing multiple stars and planets exist and have been studied. The result is nothing like described in the novel. The orbits required to get a planet which undergoes the sort of climate swings described purely due to distance from multiple stars would rapidly end with the stars falling into one another and/or ejecting the planet from the system. In real life multi-star systems orbit their center of mass at sufficient distance that the stars can, themselves, comfortable have planets in stable orbits around them. You could have a planet also orbiting the center of mass but then it would be not orbiting any one of the stars, much less getting shuttled between them. To say nothing of the entirely a-physical diffusion field around the stars that made them occasionally invisible.

    The aliens biology was a cartoon-physics level of understanding biology. I don't even know where to begin with how much was unrealistic there.

    The aliens' social development didn't evince any effort whatsoever at actually applying the effects of their unique biochemistry and lifecycle to the development of a culture. Maybe some of the apparent "Earth history but copy-pasted onto another planet with periodic apocalypses" was due to the 'simulation' story-line but none of the simulation made any sense as a game or a historical narrative so I have no idea what he was even going for there.

    The sophons was furious-jazz-hands level handwaving about speculative quantum mechanics combined with absolutely no understanding of what physicists mean when they talk about hidden dimensions embedded in the observable 3+1-dimensional universe. Putting that aside, their capabilities didn't adhere to any rules beyond "They can do whatever I want". They traveled faster than light, had instantaneous remote sensing capabilities of apparently unlimited range, and completely ignored every available conservation law. All of this was handwaved by saying "quantum" a lot.

    As a point of comparison: Greg Egan's novel Schild's Ladder is utter fantasy but I'd still call it hard sci-fi. He takes what's currently known about quantum mechanics and information theory and extends it in a simple, believable way: "there is an underlying set of simple, geometric rules underlying all of observable physics" and adds a completely hand-waved but reasonable technology allowing for direct manipulation of the geometric structure on which those rules operate. Neither of those are in any way real physics but everything which follows - which is completely wild and nutso - follows logically from those basic extensions of real science or else follows accepted laws of physics.

    And as long as I'm complaining about novels... I finished Ninth House and I liked it but one thing about the plot really bugged me:
    (Ninth House ending spoilers)
    The Dean had access to (apparently, at least) the 'starpower' dust from Manuscript and one or more coins of compulsion from the Lethe armory. Why bother with the whole elaborate rube-goldberg plot to get rid of Darlington and Alex? At the start only Darlington was even an issue and he had no real reason to expect Alex to become one. Why not just compel Darlington to forget about the line of research regarding the creation of the nexuses? Or, if the compulsion wouldn't have held long-term, just compel him to kill himself? Even if his suicide looked suspicious there wouldn't be any long chain of connections and circumstantial evidence to reveal why he'd done it.

    Edit: I suppose if he'd just compelled Darlington to suicide someone could theoretically have questioned his ghost. All of the ghost-bothering Alex did was against either the rules or her orders, though, so just compelling Darlington to murder Alex and then kill himself would have left Lethe with a clean slate outside of Dawes. He could've just installed a new Dante who had no motivation to investigate the former members' untimely end.

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  • nexuscrawlernexuscrawler Registered User regular
    OremLK wrote: »
    Mojo_Jojo wrote: »
    A few chapters into the second Fitz trilogy and Robin Hobb has decided she needs to confirm to the fantasy food stereotype.

    We know how the characters feel, Robin, but how do those fuckers like their fish cooked?

    That one feels a little bit like fanfiction of her own books, but still enjoyable. I still think Liveship is the crown jewel of her bibliography. Though to be fair, I'm always much more partial to third person limited than I am to first person.

    I was curious about theRain Wilds and Dragon Keeers or whatever ones

  • BrodyBrody The Watch The First ShoreRegistered User regular
    I mean, it's fine if you disagree on what qualifies as hard sci-fi. Also, I expect what each person considers an acceptable "new scientific breakthrough" or whatever we are using as what defines hard vs soft depends greatly on personal knowledge of science.

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  • StraygatsbyStraygatsby Registered User regular
    Fucccckkkk....finished Harrow, and now I need to reread Gideon and Harrow all over again.

    Think I'll take a break and let my brain recover with some popcorny new Dresden before trying to dive into the river again.

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  • webguy20webguy20 I spend too much time on the Internet Registered User regular
    Fucccckkkk....finished Harrow, and now I need to reread Gideon and Harrow all over again.

    Think I'll take a break and let my brain recover with some popcorny new Dresden before trying to dive into the river again.

    I just started "A Memory of Empire" and it is very good. I'd recommend that as a pallet cleanser as well.

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  • KaputaKaputa Registered User regular
    edited October 13
    I read the first Malazan book (Gardens of the Moon) on the strong recommendations of a friend and internet fantasy fans generally. I've had it sitting around for like ten years but until recently I haven't had the urge to read any fantasy since A Song of Ice and Fire, so it sat neglected for a long time.

    I liked it. The characters are solid, and the world seems deep. What I was most impressed by, and what seems to be part of what the series is known for, is the number of moving parts in his machine and the way various semi-related plotlines are woven together into a satisfying conclusion. The story is complicated without being too convoluted, and varied without any aspect of it feeling extraneous. It reminds me of the way GRRM's stories jumped from character to character with each chapter, which I always enjoyed, but with more characters and shorter intervals.
    I almost wonder if he wrote the story backwards from Lady Simtal's fete. He managed to make pretty much everything that was happening in the book converge on that event without it seeming absurd.

    I also liked the lack of a clear villain.
    Shadowthrone and the Jaghut Tyrant sorta qualify, but neither antagonist is the central point of the adventure, and overall the book avoided being a predictable clash of Good vs. Evil or what have you.

    The prose was mostly serviceable, but man, what is with all the grunting? It felt like every conversation featured a series of grunts, which were used to express feelings as varied as affirmation, exertion, annoyance, recognition... even demon hounds and other non-human entities were grunting. It got to the point where I would laugh when someone grunted, which unfortunately took me out of the immersion a bit. He also loves to write that characters "hiss through their teeth", which is an odd phrase to overuse IMO. Minor quibbles, though. Looking forward to the next book, which arrived in the mail this past weekend, though I think I'll read some non-fiction in between so as to not get burnt out on it.

    I read up on the author, and discovered that he and his friend Ian C. Esslemont created the world together, and that his friend has also written novels in the setting. Looking at the Amazon reviews for Esslemont's books makes me feel kinda sorry for the dude. The worst reviews go something like "This is crap, read Erickson instead" while the best say "This isn't as bad as everyone says, even though it doesn't come close to Erickson's series." I'm sure he gets enough royalties to not care too deeply, but it still must be kinda rough to be totally overshadowed by his friend's contributions to the world they created, and to have all his writing judged negatively in comparison.

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  • EchoEcho Moderator mod
    Done grinding my way through the Three-Body Problem books, and eeeh. Very interesting general concepts, but the writing got way worse in the third book.

    Echo wrote: »
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  • nexuscrawlernexuscrawler Registered User regular
    Gardens is generally thought of as necessary reading but not up to the standards of the other books. If you liked it the next couple in the series are going to knock your socks off.

    Esslemonts books aren't bad...they just felt unnecessary. Like he wasn't allowed to touch things that mattered

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  • BrodyBrody The Watch The First ShoreRegistered User regular
    Gardens is generally thought of as necessary reading but not up to the standards of the other books. If you liked it the next couple in the series are going to knock your socks off.

    Esslemonts books aren't bad...they just felt unnecessary. Like he wasn't allowed to touch things that mattered

    Idk, they still touched on things I really wanted to know, but I feel like he just wasn't as strong a writer. Like, for the life of me I can never figure out what the hell is happening in the Jacuraku book.

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  • CptHamiltonCptHamilton Registered User regular
    I've yet to make it all the way through an Esselmont book. I don't know what it is but his writing just doesn't give me any sense of urgency. Like, I enjoy what I'm reading well enough and I don't not want to keep reading it but if I put the book down I'm never itching to pick it back up. So... I end up putting it down and getting distracted by other books I'm more excited about.

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  • BogartBogart Streetwise Hercules Fighting The Rising Odds Registered User, Moderator mod
  • SolarSolar Registered User regular
    Mary Shelley would have wanted it this way

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  • The Zombie PenguinThe Zombie Penguin Eternal Hungry Corpse Registered User regular
    I have a problem, which is a nice problem to have, where I can't pick which book to read first. The Library of the Unwritten or The Starless Sea. Any suggestion?

    I cant speak to the Starless Sea, but i'd call the Library of the Unwritten a solid 3.5/5. It's by no means bad, but it also didnt super grip me either - i read it once and have felt no desire to go back it, and i'm normally a compulsive rereader.

    It's fun for what it is, but that's about it.

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  • Solomaxwell6Solomaxwell6 Registered User regular
    edited October 14
    Kaputa wrote: »
    I read up on the author, and discovered that he and his friend Ian C. Esslemont created the world together, and that his friend has also written novels in the setting. Looking at the Amazon reviews for Esslemont's books makes me feel kinda sorry for the dude. The worst reviews go something like "This is crap, read Erickson instead" while the best say "This isn't as bad as everyone says, even though it doesn't come close to Erickson's series." I'm sure he gets enough royalties to not care too deeply, but it still must be kinda rough to be totally overshadowed by his friend's contributions to the world they created, and to have all his writing judged negatively in comparison.

    The setting's background as a RPG they played has a huge impact. It's not just a setting they created together, most of the plot was actually gamed out. You'll notice a lot of character pairs--Shadowthrone and Cotillion often appear and work together, for example. One of the authors would be a player with their one PC, and the other would be a GM, with an NPC effectively treated as a second player character (Shadowthrone was played by Esslemont, Cotillion by Erikson). Occasionally they'd switch GM responsibilities back and forth. Other characters would be present, of course, but the focus would be on two. Erikson is definitely a better prose author, and more successfully turns the game stories into novels, but Esslemont still has huge contributions to Book of the Fallen (and Erikson does to Esslemont's novels).

    Gardens of the Moon is a bit different from later books in the series, because it was originally written as a screenplay. The next book is my favorite in the setting. Not to spoil anything, but I think the whole Chain of Dogs subplot would make for an amazing standalone war movie.

    Solomaxwell6 on
  • Jealous DevaJealous Deva Registered User regular
    edited October 14
    I definitely enjoyed book 2 a lot more than 1. IIRC you can actually read book 2 before book 1 and not really mess up much, but you want to read both before book 3, so usually if someone hasn’t read the series I usually tell them to do that.

    I tried to read Night of Knives by Esselmont but couldn’t get into it really. Are the rest of his books all standalone or a series? I was always interested in finding out more about what was going on in Jacuraku and Assail.

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  • OremLKOremLK Registered User regular
    OremLK wrote: »
    Mojo_Jojo wrote: »
    A few chapters into the second Fitz trilogy and Robin Hobb has decided she needs to confirm to the fantasy food stereotype.

    We know how the characters feel, Robin, but how do those fuckers like their fish cooked?

    That one feels a little bit like fanfiction of her own books, but still enjoyable. I still think Liveship is the crown jewel of her bibliography. Though to be fair, I'm always much more partial to third person limited than I am to first person.

    I was curious about theRain Wilds and Dragon Keeers or whatever ones

    I've only read them once, and it wasn't long after they came out, so my memory isn't as good as for the Fitz books or Liveship, but I remember feeling like they were fine. Not my favorites, but yeah, fine, and worth reading if you like her other work.

  • Jealous DevaJealous Deva Registered User regular
    edited October 15
    Septus wrote: »
    Echo wrote: »
    I'm on the second book (The Dark Forest) of the Three-Body Problem trilogy.

    On the one hand, I think the plot beats are pretty great and some rock-solid hard scifi.

    On the other hand, I think the actual writing is kind of... bland? Occasionally strangely amateurish?

    I really dug the key plot beats, but yeah the writing never felt great, and it was hugely padded to my taste. I really don't need to see a huge mini story about a guy looking for love that seems really tangential to the plot.

    Agreed as well. I think Liu Cixin has some really cool ideas but execution fails. I love the whole Wallflower concept. Part of it might be lost in translation, but there's enough wrong with the basic story that I can't blame the translator (whose Dandelion Dynasty series is way better). Overall the first two books were worth a read.

    I thought the third book was awful, it has the issues of the first two books with none of the cool ideas. Kind of bog standard scifi and weird nonsense science written by a mediocre author.

    There's also a fourth book, which was a fanfic until Liu Cixin said "yeah, that's cool, that's officially part of the series now". I have no plans to read it.


    I feel like focusing on the sci-fi aspects of the Three Body Problem books is missing the point a bit, I honestly felt like the author really wanted to write an allegorical book on the dangers of cold war “realpolitik” political thinking and the modern political tendency towards apathetic selfishness and the sci-fi elements were a framing device and way to sneak past censors.
    Like the wallfacer concept, the dark forest concept, the concept of alien species that intentionally shit up the universe so they will be better able to compete against other more “advanced” aliens, the concept of the wealthy and technologically advanced alien species creating pocket universes to live in at the direct detriment to the survival of the overall universe, all of that seems pretty much just like thinly veiled direct political commentary on the cold war to modern world.

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  • Solomaxwell6Solomaxwell6 Registered User regular
    I definitely enjoyed book 2 a lot more than 1. IIRC you can actually read book 2 before book 1 and not really mess up much, but you want to read both before book 3, so usually if someone hasn’t read the series I usually tell them to do that.

    I tried to read Night of Knives by Esselmont but couldn’t get into it really. Are the rest of his books all standalone or a series? I was always interested in finding out more about what was going on in Jacuraku and Assail.

    So there are a set of books called the "Novels of the Malazan Empire". Those were the first ones ICE wrote. They're standalone-ish in that they have a lot of overlapping characters and it's better to read them in order, but you don't have to. When I read them, I was getting one or two out from the library here or there, with large gaps in between, and I don't think my reading suffered for it. They kind of gradually get better in quality as he learned how to write. ICE at his best still isn't as good as Erikson, but he's done much better than Night of Knives.

    He also wrote the prequel "Path to Ascendancy" trilogy about the founding of the Malazan Empire. I thought it was pretty good, and you get background info on things like how the T'lan Imaas entered the picture. Even that trilogy kind of tells three different stories, though, with only the third being directly about the founding of the empire.
    Septus wrote: »
    Echo wrote: »
    I'm on the second book (The Dark Forest) of the Three-Body Problem trilogy.

    On the one hand, I think the plot beats are pretty great and some rock-solid hard scifi.

    On the other hand, I think the actual writing is kind of... bland? Occasionally strangely amateurish?

    I really dug the key plot beats, but yeah the writing never felt great, and it was hugely padded to my taste. I really don't need to see a huge mini story about a guy looking for love that seems really tangential to the plot.

    Agreed as well. I think Liu Cixin has some really cool ideas but execution fails. I love the whole Wallflower concept. Part of it might be lost in translation, but there's enough wrong with the basic story that I can't blame the translator (whose Dandelion Dynasty series is way better). Overall the first two books were worth a read.

    I thought the third book was awful, it has the issues of the first two books with none of the cool ideas. Kind of bog standard scifi and weird nonsense science written by a mediocre author.

    There's also a fourth book, which was a fanfic until Liu Cixin said "yeah, that's cool, that's officially part of the series now". I have no plans to read it.


    I feel like focusing on the sci-fi aspects of the Three Body Problem books is missing the point a bit, I honestly felt like the author really wanted to write an allegorical book on the dangers of cold war “realpolitik” political thinking and the modern political tendency towards apathetic selfishness and the sci-fi elements were a framing device and way to sneak past censors.
    Like the wallfacer concept, the dark forest concept, the concept of alien species that intentionally shit up the universe so they will be better able to compete against other more “advanced” aliens, the concept of the wealthy and technologically advanced alien species creating pocket universes to live in at the direct detriment to the survival of the overall universe, all of that seems pretty much just like thinly veiled direct political commentary on the cold war to modern world.

    That's wrapped up in what I said about it being "bog standard scifi" and "a mediocre author." That's not just a critique of the science itself. Using scifi as a metaphor for real life issues isn't exactly new, and he didn't do it well.

  • MahnmutMahnmut Registered User regular
    OremLK wrote: »
    OremLK wrote: »
    Mojo_Jojo wrote: »
    A few chapters into the second Fitz trilogy and Robin Hobb has decided she needs to confirm to the fantasy food stereotype.

    We know how the characters feel, Robin, but how do those fuckers like their fish cooked?

    That one feels a little bit like fanfiction of her own books, but still enjoyable. I still think Liveship is the crown jewel of her bibliography. Though to be fair, I'm always much more partial to third person limited than I am to first person.

    I was curious about theRain Wilds and Dragon Keeers or whatever ones

    I've only read them once, and it wasn't long after they came out, so my memory isn't as good as for the Fitz books or Liveship, but I remember feeling like they were fine. Not my favorites, but yeah, fine, and worth reading if you like her other work.

    Me too -- I think generally, with the Fitz series, things start to deflate as we dig into the margins and appendices. The Rain Wilds were fascinating as a mysterious margin in the Liveship Traders, but maybe not quite as cool when you're going to spend three books toiling up the !Amazon and so forth.

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  • AstharielAsthariel The Book Eater Registered User regular
    I read it one month ago, in a week when it was released, but I did not discuss Trouble with Peace by Joe Abercrombie, so, well, here are my thoughts:

    Good book, but I liked A Little Hatred slightly more. I was kinda disappointed with a relatively low scope of the main plot here, but then I learnt that this is not meant to be an ending to the story being told by the author about this world, so I am more forgiving now.

    Individual plot lines:
    Orso: the nicest character in the book, so I am rightfully concerned that he may be killed in a third book by a coming revolution, considering how he dislikes executions. On the other hand, while Abercrombie is very cynical, he is rarely mean spirited towards his protagonists, so I want to belive that he will somehow survive, if only for a fact that he allowed Leo to live, so karma should be on his side there. Speaking of which:

    Leo: my most hated character in the book. Well written idiot, but still an idiot, which made reading about him sometimes difficult. He was well intentioned, but so, so easy to manipulate, that I was very often facepalming. At some point stupidity needs to stop being forgiven, and Leo had all the opportunities in the world to stop repeating his mistakes, and yet he was always commiting them again and again, despire often thinking on how his mother / Glaward are always right. I would not cry if the died at the end, but oh well, I can only hope that his survival will mean something anyway.

    Savine: okay, she is pretty much irreedemable now, throwing all she had away just to help the idiotic rebellion of her dumb husband, even though winning it would mean death of the love of her life, and also her brother, not to mention she betrayed Rikke without a second thought. She is Cersei of this series, scheming character that is definitely not as smart as she think she is. Fuck you, Savine.

    Rikke: she had nice arc, although I wonder if her successes did not come too easily.

    Clover: his sudden, but inevitable betrayal towards Stour came sooner that I expected, which makes me wonder what awaits him in books 3. We still do not know his full backstory, so I wonder if it will become in any way relevant or not.

    Vick: she did not have much screen time in a middle of a book, but she still was more itneresting in the first book - she is pretty much Glokta of this trilogy when it comes to the role she plays in the plot, so I wonder how much will she contrast him in the third book.

    Broad: forgettable, he is definitely the weakest of all new protagonists.

    Other: as some predicted, Pike is behind The Breakers, but I would bet that he is still working with Glokta, who is behind The Burners, and together they oppose Bayaz by the means of revolution. Glokta went out of picture too easily, and I find it hard to belive that he worked with Pike for a last 30 years and that he would not notice his betrayal, which makes me think they are both together in this.

    Also, Tolomei escaped House of Maker and is Savine's young rival.

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  • MayabirdMayabird Pecking at the keyboardRegistered User regular
    I feel like focusing on the sci-fi aspects of the Three Body Problem books is missing the point a bit, I honestly felt like the author really wanted to write an allegorical book on the dangers of cold war “realpolitik” political thinking and the modern political tendency towards apathetic selfishness and the sci-fi elements were a framing device and way to sneak past censors.
    Like the wallfacer concept, the dark forest concept, the concept of alien species that intentionally shit up the universe so they will be better able to compete against other more “advanced” aliens, the concept of the wealthy and technologically advanced alien species creating pocket universes to live in at the direct detriment to the survival of the overall universe, all of that seems pretty much just like thinly veiled direct political commentary on the cold war to modern world.

    Liu even lays out his own plans to sell out to the government, repeatedly, by constantly having major characters talk about how basically fighting back is hopeless, everyone and everything is doomed, and the only thing left is mindless hedonistic pleasures to distract yourself while you have the chance.

    And that's exactly what he did. He gets to be Xi's little SF pet and enjoy fame and fortune so long as he just keeps claiming that no, it's not an allegory, it's all about aliens. Definitely just aliens.

    The books are bleak as fuck, is what I'm saying. "I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream" levels of bleak, just less gross and more existential.

  • Fuzzy Cumulonimbus CloudFuzzy Cumulonimbus Cloud Registered User regular
    Mayabird wrote: »
    I feel like focusing on the sci-fi aspects of the Three Body Problem books is missing the point a bit, I honestly felt like the author really wanted to write an allegorical book on the dangers of cold war “realpolitik” political thinking and the modern political tendency towards apathetic selfishness and the sci-fi elements were a framing device and way to sneak past censors.
    Like the wallfacer concept, the dark forest concept, the concept of alien species that intentionally shit up the universe so they will be better able to compete against other more “advanced” aliens, the concept of the wealthy and technologically advanced alien species creating pocket universes to live in at the direct detriment to the survival of the overall universe, all of that seems pretty much just like thinly veiled direct political commentary on the cold war to modern world.

    Liu even lays out his own plans to sell out to the government, repeatedly, by constantly having major characters talk about how basically fighting back is hopeless, everyone and everything is doomed, and the only thing left is mindless hedonistic pleasures to distract yourself while you have the chance.

    And that's exactly what he did. He gets to be Xi's little SF pet and enjoy fame and fortune so long as he just keeps claiming that no, it's not an allegory, it's all about aliens. Definitely just aliens.

    The books are bleak as fuck, is what I'm saying. "I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream" levels of bleak, just less gross and more existential.
    I think its a wonderful piece of science fiction that I and obviously many people around the world enjoyed for its novelty and masterful story-telling.

    no no no no noo no no no no no
    credeiki
  • MayabirdMayabird Pecking at the keyboardRegistered User regular
    I also think it is a wonderful piece of science fiction. SF is a very wide tent, and includes among it some incredibly bleak stories, many of which are considered classics.

    The book has layers. And it is also bleak.

    credeikiJealous Devawebguy20
  • BrodyBrody The Watch The First ShoreRegistered User regular
    Mayabird wrote: »
    I also think it is a wonderful piece of science fiction. SF is a very wide tent, and includes among it some incredibly bleak stories, many of which are considered classics.

    The book has layers. And it is also bleak.

    It left me really depressed for a bit. It didn't help that the book I followed it up with was also of the Dark Forest philosophy.

    "I will write your name in the ruin of them. I will paint you across history in the color of their blood."

    The Monster Baru Cormorant - Seth Dickinson

    Steam: Korvalain
  • nexuscrawlernexuscrawler Registered User regular
    I definitely enjoyed book 2 a lot more than 1. IIRC you can actually read book 2 before book 1 and not really mess up much, but you want to read both before book 3, so usually if someone hasn’t read the series I usually tell them to do that.

    I tried to read Night of Knives by Esselmont but couldn’t get into it really. Are the rest of his books all standalone or a series? I was always interested in finding out more about what was going on in Jacuraku and Assail.

    2-5 of the Malayan books where fantastic. I felt like they started getting a bit bloated after that

    Tofystedeth
  • initiatefailureinitiatefailure Registered User regular
    I just started the fifth season and all I can tell you so far is "OMG Jemisin's writing style is gorgeous"

    I Do Design | I PSN- Subtle_Ties | 3DS: 3840-5210-2008 (Subtle)
    webguy20DevoutlyApatheticDrovekcredeikiknitdanFuzzy Cumulonimbus CloudN1tSt4lkerTofystedethAutomautocrates
  • TenzytileTenzytile Registered User regular
    Finished a book! Quicksand, or Manji by Junichiro Tanizaki.

    It's a fast moving, twisty story about a housewife falling for a young, vain woman she meets at a college. They're both respectable women, and rumours and the presence of men provide complications. It might seem like a love story, but it's decidedly not, it's more about romantic obsession and jealousy. It's presented as being told in conversation to Tanizaki himself after the fact by the housewife. It occasionally shifts into his authorial point of view, but usually just to explain in detail how tacky the love letters the women have written to each other are.

    I can see why this was popular: its gossipy, scandalous, and presents some sort of reversal or new piece of information at the end of every chapter. It has a little trouble sustaining itself in the end, but its very readable. There's also a grim, ironic sense of humour that I appreciated. I like how basically all of the Japanese fiction I've read from pre/postwar authors has a real current of perversity or morbidity to its presentations of sex and attraction.

    I liked it and I'm looking forward to reading more Tanizaki sometime.

    Currently watching: 1959/unseen Criterions
    Kaputa
  • V1mV1m Registered User regular
    webguy20 wrote: »
    Fucccckkkk....finished Harrow, and now I need to reread Gideon and Harrow all over again.

    Think I'll take a break and let my brain recover with some popcorny new Dresden before trying to dive into the river again.

    I just started "A Memory of Empire" and it is very good. I'd recommend that as a pallet cleanser as well.

    It's a lovely, beautifully written and just very civilised book. Proof that truly good SF doesn't need gore or spacebattles or cringey sex scenes or relentless grimdarkery.

    DevoutlyApatheticKana
  • V1mV1m Registered User regular
    That's not to say that one shouldn't read Alastair Reynolds, of course.

    KanaEchowebguy20
  • Redcoat-13Redcoat-13 Registered User regular
    Asthariel wrote: »
    I read it one month ago, in a week when it was released, but I did not discuss Trouble with Peace by Joe Abercrombie, so, well, here are my thoughts:

    Good book, but I liked A Little Hatred slightly more. I was kinda disappointed with a relatively low scope of the main plot here, but then I learnt that this is not meant to be an ending to the story being told by the author about this world, so I am more forgiving now.

    Individual plot lines:
    Orso: the nicest character in the book, so I am rightfully concerned that he may be killed in a third book by a coming revolution, considering how he dislikes executions. On the other hand, while Abercrombie is very cynical, he is rarely mean spirited towards his protagonists, so I want to belive that he will somehow survive, if only for a fact that he allowed Leo to live, so karma should be on his side there. Speaking of which:

    Leo: my most hated character in the book. Well written idiot, but still an idiot, which made reading about him sometimes difficult. He was well intentioned, but so, so easy to manipulate, that I was very often facepalming. At some point stupidity needs to stop being forgiven, and Leo had all the opportunities in the world to stop repeating his mistakes, and yet he was always commiting them again and again, despire often thinking on how his mother / Glaward are always right. I would not cry if the died at the end, but oh well, I can only hope that his survival will mean something anyway.

    Savine: okay, she is pretty much irreedemable now, throwing all she had away just to help the idiotic rebellion of her dumb husband, even though winning it would mean death of the love of her life, and also her brother, not to mention she betrayed Rikke without a second thought. She is Cersei of this series, scheming character that is definitely not as smart as she think she is. Fuck you, Savine.

    Rikke: she had nice arc, although I wonder if her successes did not come too easily.

    Clover: his sudden, but inevitable betrayal towards Stour came sooner that I expected, which makes me wonder what awaits him in books 3. We still do not know his full backstory, so I wonder if it will become in any way relevant or not.

    Vick: she did not have much screen time in a middle of a book, but she still was more itneresting in the first book - she is pretty much Glokta of this trilogy when it comes to the role she plays in the plot, so I wonder how much will she contrast him in the third book.

    Broad: forgettable, he is definitely the weakest of all new protagonists.

    Other: as some predicted, Pike is behind The Breakers, but I would bet that he is still working with Glokta, who is behind The Burners, and together they oppose Bayaz by the means of revolution. Glokta went out of picture too easily, and I find it hard to belive that he worked with Pike for a last 30 years and that he would not notice his betrayal, which makes me think they are both together in this.

    Also, Tolomei escaped House of Maker and is Savine's young rival.

    Regarding some of the characters in the First Law series

    I suspect there is a whole bunch of background to be revealed when it comes to Broad.

    I'm slightly surprised that we've not seen or really heard that much regarding Ferro beyond a line or two. She was one of the major characters in the first trilogy.

    I'm with you on Glotka bowing out all too easily.

    Not really heard all that much from Carlot dan Eider, but there's been a few lines about the old Empire causing problems, so perhaps that's her and Zacharus.

    I was also at a book reading where Abercrombie said that he was aware that Shivers and Gorst hadn't quite had the showdown expected and he would think about giving them one. I'd rather they didn't meet again, but it would not surprise me if circumstances got them together for a fight.

    I'm not sure what is left for Leo. I'm surprised he was even a main character.

    The third book as got a lot to wrap up with all the threads it left at the end of A Little Hatred

    PSN Fleety2009
  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
    edited October 19
    I hadn't heard this - and it's because the obit only came out this week, because of COVID delays - but Susan Ellison, the wife of SF writer Harlan Ellison, died in August at age 60. (obit here)

    From J. Michael Straczinski, creator of Babylon 5:
    Ever since the passing of Susan Ellison there has been endless speculation about what will happen to Harlan's estate and his legacy. Every day, the voicemails, texts and emails pile up at my front door, passing on the latest rumor, growing to fever pitch.

    “Didja hear? The house is gonna be sold!”

    “Didja hear? The house is gonna be torn down!”

    “Didja hear? All of Harlan’s stories and IP have been sold to Paramount for next to nothing to pay off debts!”

    “Didja hear? The State of California has appointed an executor who’s gonna auction it all off!”

    “Didja hear? Didja hear?”

    When I told whoever was bearing the latest wild story that it WAS just a wild story, and nothing more, they would grow irate, claiming in each instance to have gotten the news directly from someone who knows the executor of the estate. A solid , for-sure, no-kidding-around source who was in a MUCH better position than me to know what was REALLY going on.

    “How do YOU know what the deal is, huh? My guy talked to the executor just yesterday, who told him this straight-up. How do YOU know better than HE does?”

    How do I know better? How do I know these are just rumors?

    Because I am the Executor of the Harlan and Susan Ellison Trust.

    I’ve kept a low profile since accepting this position in order to focus on of the million-and-one details that have to be addressed. I don’t know if anyone reading this has ever been appointed an executor, but it is a massive undertaking. To be an executor is to inherit nothing but be responsible for everything, and to implement the last wishes of those who entrusted you with the totality of their life’s work. Consequently, ever since Susan’s passing, 80% of my day, every day, has gone into establishing the Trust, dealing with tax issues, creditors, court documents, lawyers, accountants, affidavits, death certificates, corporate minutes…in simpler cases, the process only takes a few months, and usually ends by parceling out bequests or auctioning off the estate.
    But that is not the case here, because there is the legacy of Harlan’s work that must be preserved and enhanced. Looking after all this, and seeing to Harlan and Susan's wishes, is something I will likely be doing for the rest of my life.

    Everything that Harlan ever owned, did or wrote will be fiercely protected. Steps are being taken to certify Ellison Wonderland as a cultural landmark, ensuring that it will remain just as it is long after I have gone to dust.

    To revive interest in his prose, literary representation has been shifted to Janklow & Nesbit, one of the largest and most prestigious literary agencies in the world. Film and TV rights will be handled through A3, previously known as the Abrams Agency, also a leading and influential agency. I will be working hand in glove with them to get Harlan’s work back into print in a big way.
    There is more to say on future plans – much more – but all of that will come in time.

    For over thirty years, Harlan Ellison was my dearest friend on the planet. Those of you who know me, know how important he, and Susan, and his work, were to me. As a beginning writer, long before we ever met, I looked to him for inspiration and the courage to keep going. Once we became friends, I had a very simple philosophy: whatever he needed done, I would make sure it happened. I would’ve stepped in front of a bus for him, and he knew it, just as he knew that out of the thousands of people he’d met in his life, he could trust me to make sure that his and Susan's last wishes were attended to, and that his legacy would be protected.

    That’s all for the moment, but as they say in TV Land, stay tuned…for there is more to come.

    Jacobkosh on
    rRwz9.gif
    Bogart
  • ReznikReznik Registered User regular
    So based on recommendations from you fine folks I picked up When Gravity Fails, Hardwired, and Metrophage.

    When Gravity Fails was interesting in that the Arab setting was definitely a cool change from the usual Asian-amalgam cyberpunk settings, but on the whole the book didn't really land for me. I think given the first person narration it lacked the visual description that I enjoy from eg. Gibson, so I never really felt like I had a good grasp of the overall aesthetic. I know what a typical cyberpunk setting is supposed to look like but I really could have used more descriptions on this one. It also very much suffers from "this was progressive in the 80s but is full of Yikes now". The language used to talk about the otherwise sympathetic trans characters... oof. I would have preferred some more cyber in this cyberpunk too. The central mystery made good use of the new technology but it didn't really go much beyond that one thing, even in background details.

    I'm about halfway through Metrophage now and I'm enjoying it but it very much reads like Kadrey had a copy of Neuromancer open beside him while he was writing it. Which isn't a bad thing because I love Neuromancer, but I'm seeing phrases and scenes that seem almost directly lifted from it. It's definitely more in line with my preferred style of cyberpunk though and is a good, quick read so far.

    Really looking forward to starting Hardwired next. The cover is making some big promises.

    Do... Re.... Mi... Ti... La...
    Do... Re... Mi... So... Fa.... Do... Re.... Do...
    Forget it...
    Jacobkosh
  • V1mV1m Registered User regular
    edited October 19
    Reznik wrote: »
    So based on recommendations from you fine folks I picked up When Gravity Fails, Hardwired, and Metrophage.

    When Gravity Fails was interesting in that the Arab setting was definitely a cool change from the usual Asian-amalgam cyberpunk settings, but on the whole the book didn't really land for me. I think given the first person narration it lacked the visual description that I enjoy from eg. Gibson, so I never really felt like I had a good grasp of the overall aesthetic. I know what a typical cyberpunk setting is supposed to look like but I really could have used more descriptions on this one. It also very much suffers from "this was progressive in the 80s but is full of Yikes now". The language used to talk about the otherwise sympathetic trans characters... oof. I would have preferred some more cyber in this cyberpunk too. The central mystery made good use of the new technology but it didn't really go much beyond that one thing, even in background details.

    I'm about halfway through Metrophage now and I'm enjoying it but it very much reads like Kadrey had a copy of Neuromancer open beside him while he was writing it. Which isn't a bad thing because I love Neuromancer, but I'm seeing phrases and scenes that seem almost directly lifted from it. It's definitely more in line with my preferred style of cyberpunk though and is a good, quick read so far.

    Really looking forward to starting Hardwired next. The cover is making some big promises.

    Hardwired is the absolute epitome of the late 80s cyberpunk aesthetic with a good dusting of early Tom Clancy or maybe Frederick Forsyth. I don't know if it quite reaches the laser-illuminated broken-glass brilliance of more original works like Schizmatrix Plus - but that's a very very high bar to set and I can absolutely fucking guarantee you that it delivers everything that cover promises and more.

    Do not neglect Voice of The Whirlwind also.

    V1m on
  • AstharielAsthariel The Book Eater Registered User regular
    Redcoat-13 wrote: »
    Asthariel wrote: »
    I read it one month ago, in a week when it was released, but I did not discuss Trouble with Peace by Joe Abercrombie, so, well, here are my thoughts:

    Good book, but I liked A Little Hatred slightly more. I was kinda disappointed with a relatively low scope of the main plot here, but then I learnt that this is not meant to be an ending to the story being told by the author about this world, so I am more forgiving now.

    Individual plot lines:
    Orso: the nicest character in the book, so I am rightfully concerned that he may be killed in a third book by a coming revolution, considering how he dislikes executions. On the other hand, while Abercrombie is very cynical, he is rarely mean spirited towards his protagonists, so I want to belive that he will somehow survive, if only for a fact that he allowed Leo to live, so karma should be on his side there. Speaking of which:

    Leo: my most hated character in the book. Well written idiot, but still an idiot, which made reading about him sometimes difficult. He was well intentioned, but so, so easy to manipulate, that I was very often facepalming. At some point stupidity needs to stop being forgiven, and Leo had all the opportunities in the world to stop repeating his mistakes, and yet he was always commiting them again and again, despire often thinking on how his mother / Glaward are always right. I would not cry if the died at the end, but oh well, I can only hope that his survival will mean something anyway.

    Savine: okay, she is pretty much irreedemable now, throwing all she had away just to help the idiotic rebellion of her dumb husband, even though winning it would mean death of the love of her life, and also her brother, not to mention she betrayed Rikke without a second thought. She is Cersei of this series, scheming character that is definitely not as smart as she think she is. Fuck you, Savine.

    Rikke: she had nice arc, although I wonder if her successes did not come too easily.

    Clover: his sudden, but inevitable betrayal towards Stour came sooner that I expected, which makes me wonder what awaits him in books 3. We still do not know his full backstory, so I wonder if it will become in any way relevant or not.

    Vick: she did not have much screen time in a middle of a book, but she still was more itneresting in the first book - she is pretty much Glokta of this trilogy when it comes to the role she plays in the plot, so I wonder how much will she contrast him in the third book.

    Broad: forgettable, he is definitely the weakest of all new protagonists.

    Other: as some predicted, Pike is behind The Breakers, but I would bet that he is still working with Glokta, who is behind The Burners, and together they oppose Bayaz by the means of revolution. Glokta went out of picture too easily, and I find it hard to belive that he worked with Pike for a last 30 years and that he would not notice his betrayal, which makes me think they are both together in this.

    Also, Tolomei escaped House of Maker and is Savine's young rival.

    Regarding some of the characters in the First Law series

    I suspect there is a whole bunch of background to be revealed when it comes to Broad.

    I'm slightly surprised that we've not seen or really heard that much regarding Ferro beyond a line or two. She was one of the major characters in the first trilogy.

    I'm with you on Glotka bowing out all too easily.

    Not really heard all that much from Carlot dan Eider, but there's been a few lines about the old Empire causing problems, so perhaps that's her and Zacharus.

    I was also at a book reading where Abercrombie said that he was aware that Shivers and Gorst hadn't quite had the showdown expected and he would think about giving them one. I'd rather they didn't meet again, but it would not surprise me if circumstances got them together for a fight.

    I'm not sure what is left for Leo. I'm surprised he was even a main character.

    The third book as got a lot to wrap up with all the threads it left at the end of A Little Hatred
    Leo will almost surely be saved from prison by the revolution and used as a puppet, as he was considered "one of the good ones" when it comes to aristocracy, and Savine already started some work on propaganda concerning herself and her husband in this book.

    "So in the Second Season of Prison Break, They're Already Broken Out of Prison, But the Name Works Once You Realize That Society Is a Prison."

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  • V1mV1m Registered User regular
    I haven't read those new Abercrombies yet. Red Country was so amazing that it felt like anything after in that setting would be kind of a let down.

  • BogartBogart Streetwise Hercules Fighting The Rising Odds Registered User, Moderator mod
    edited October 27


    Fascinating thread on the evolution of the Lord of the Rings as Tolkien was writing it. I've never wanted to wade through the dozen or so books of early drafts that have been published but it's interesting to see an intelligent summary of them.

    More evidence, if proof were needed, that his amazing facility for coming up with the right name was a hard-won victory every time.

    Bogart on
    OremLKJacobkoshSolarV1m
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