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[Book]: Rhymes With

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  • MahnmutMahnmut Registered User regular
    edited January 18
    I'm about 40% into The Bone Ships by RJ Barker (also very nautical! you can only assume he's taken notes) and I have to make this call:
    563f08pglvqh.jpg

    Mahnmut on
    Steam/LoL: Jericho89
  • BogartBogart Streetwise Hercules Fighting The Rising Odds Registered User, Moderator mod
    John Le Carre's final part of the Karla trilogy, Smiley's People. I've seen the mini-series, so I know the outlines of the plot, but it's the tense and multi-layered conversations in rooms that make Le Carre's stuff so good.

    knitdanhtm
  • Mojo_JojoMojo_Jojo We are only now beginning to understand the full power and ramifications of sexual intercourse Registered User regular
    Mahnmut wrote: »
    I'm about 40% into The Bone Ships by RJ Parker (also very nautical! you can only assume he's taken notes) and I have to make this call:
    563f08pglvqh.jpg

    Ooh. I didn't realise they had written more stuff. The Engineer books were flawed but a nice combo of revenge fantasy and manufacturing process descriptions

    Homogeneous distribution of your varieties of amuse-gueule
  • MahnmutMahnmut Registered User regular
    Mojo_Jojo wrote: »
    Mahnmut wrote: »
    I'm about 40% into The Bone Ships by RJ Parker (also very nautical! you can only assume he's taken notes) and I have to make this call:
    563f08pglvqh.jpg

    Ooh. I didn't realise they had written more stuff. The Engineer books were flawed but a nice combo of revenge fantasy and manufacturing process descriptions

    I meant to write RJ B arker — looks like his other trilogy is The Wounded Kingdom D:

    Steam/LoL: Jericho89
  • Mojo_JojoMojo_Jojo We are only now beginning to understand the full power and ramifications of sexual intercourse Registered User regular
    You have broken my heart.

    (I'll probably check it anyway now)

    Homogeneous distribution of your varieties of amuse-gueule
    Mahnmut
  • BogartBogart Streetwise Hercules Fighting The Rising Odds Registered User, Moderator mod
  • M-VickersM-Vickers Registered User regular
    If anyone here has read the Bobverse book, there’s a new one out today !

    Heaven’s River by Dennis E. Taylor.

  • webguy20webguy20 I spend too much time on the Internet Registered User regular
    I read the first two Bobverse books and liked them, are the rest pretty good at wrapping things up?

    Steam ID: Webguy20
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    Pailryder
  • IlpalaIlpala Just this guy, y'know Texas booniesRegistered User regular
    webguy20 wrote: »
    I read the first two Bobverse books and liked them, are the rest pretty good at wrapping things up?

    The third one is enough of a conclusion that I was surprised there was a fourth.

    FF XIV - Qih'to Furishu (on Siren), Battle.Net - Ilpala#1975
    Switch - SW-7373-3669-3011
    Fuck Joe Manchin
    PailryderCptHamiltonMoridin889
  • OneAngryPossumOneAngryPossum Registered User regular
    edited January 24
    I’ve been in the mood for something kind of far-flung and unrecognizably deep in the future, and based off general sci-fi osmosis, thought the Culture books would be worth giving a shot.

    Consider Phlebas was not what I was expecting (essentially something very meditative and serene and utopian). There is so much horror and death and gruesome mutilation in this book. And wild imagination and cultural self-awareness, which is great, along with overextended set-pieces that take really cool ideas and drive me to thinking, “Ok, yes, I get it, it’s all very big, please move on.”

    It’s a lot more space opera than its reputation, which I didn’t mind in the least - there’s just enough character and more than enough thoughtfulness to be engaged by people shooting lasers at each other over and over again. And it’s surprisingly touching in a few small moments.

    That said, how representative of the series is the first book? This is the only Banks novel I’ve read, so I’m not really sure where his interests go after this. Honestly I’ve got a distaste for long series at this point in my life, but even with the overly explained action bits, the creativity of the ideas made for pretty gripping reading.

    OneAngryPossum on
  • pezgenpezgen Registered User regular
    Banks’s Culture novels aren’t a “series” as such. They’re all set in the same universe and there are *some* connections, but they’re mostly standalone.

    And personally, I think Consider Phlebas is among the weakest. The next few (in publishing order) are far far better. I think the brutality is toned down slightly from here on in, too, but it’s certainly still there.

    webguy20OneAngryPossumDizzy DredxMayabirdEchoQuid
  • webguy20webguy20 I spend too much time on the Internet Registered User regular
    I’ve been in the mood for something kind of far-flung and unrecognizably deep in the future, and based off general sci-fi osmosis, thought the Culture books would be worth giving a shot.

    Consider Phlebas was not what I was expecting (essentially something very meditative and serene and utopian). There is so much horror and death and gruesome mutilation in this book. And wild imagination and cultural self-awareness, which is great, along with overextended set-pieces that take really cool ideas and drive me to thinking, “Ok, yes, I get it, it’s all very big, please move on.”

    It’s a lot more space opera than its reputation, which I didn’t mind in the least - there’s just enough character and more than enough thoughtfulness to be engaged by people shooting lasers at each other over and over again. And it’s surprisingly touching in a few small moments.

    That said, how representative of the series is the first book? This is the only Banks novel I’ve read, so I’m not really sure where his interests go after this. Honestly I’ve got a distaste for long series at this point in my life, but even with the overly explained action bits, the creativity of the ideas made for pretty gripping reading.

    Read Player of Games and come back to us. I had the same thing happen to me when I started. Consider Phlebas is not where I would start the exploration of the Culture series.

    Steam ID: Webguy20
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    OneAngryPossumN1tSt4lker
  • PhillisherePhillishere Registered User regular
    edited January 24
    Consider Phlebas is an outlier - since it both sets up the Culture through the eyes of a an enemy and shows how bad the setting can get outside the main setting.

    Look to Windward is a great follow-up. It is set within the Culture centuries after the war - showing the cool and fun parts of the setting - while also dealing about the long-term psychological damage waging the war in Consider Phlebas had on its utopian society.

    Phillishere on
    OneAngryPossumDevoutlyApatheticBrodycredeikiMahnmutredxQuid
  • nexuscrawlernexuscrawler Registered User regular
    Use of Weapons is harrowing and its nonlinear narrative isn't easy but it remains my favorite.

    webguy20Dizzy DBrody
  • OneAngryPossumOneAngryPossum Registered User regular
    edited January 24
    That’s all great to hear, thanks.

    It’s been a weird experience telling my wife about the book as I read it, and her asking if she should read it or not - on one hand, yes, there’s already crazy shit in here I want to talk about, but on the other hand, I spent a lot of my youth navigating sci-fi tropes, and the uninitiated shouldn’t have to endure pages of fiction dedicated to several (ultimately meaninglessly distinguishable) types of future laser beam weapons.

    I’ll give The Player of Games a shot and see how it goes, but I do want to say that Consider Phlebas, even with its flaws, was fascinating. As Phillishere said, setting up the Culture through the eyes of an enemy was a great hook, and there’s a lot of humanity in the desperation for meaning that drives the main characters forward.

    Edit: For the record, the unexpected gore was a mostly pleasant surprise. I expect most of it was meant to drive home the brutality of what’s going on, but weird interludes like the main character getting stranded on an island with a
    cannibalistic cult leader and his followers that only eat refuse
    played like straight-up gleeful horror.

    OneAngryPossum on
  • knitdanknitdan Registered User regular
    Mojo_Jojo wrote: »
    Mahnmut wrote: »
    I'm about 40% into The Bone Ships by RJ Parker (also very nautical! you can only assume he's taken notes) and I have to make this call:
    563f08pglvqh.jpg

    Ooh. I didn't realise they had written more stuff. The Engineer books were flawed but a nice combo of revenge fantasy and manufacturing process descriptions

    This is days late but you are thinking of KJ Parker

    “I was quick when I came in here, I’m twice as quick now”
    -Indiana Solo, runner of blades
    Mojo_Jojo
  • DevoutlyApatheticDevoutlyApathetic Registered User regular
    Consider Phlebas is a pretty big outlier as far as the Culture books go. Player of Games is a little more like most of them. It is a little unfair to act like there is a normal there though, all of them are their own books, with their own stories to tell and ideas to explore. Most folks find some will resonate with them more than others but it is rarely the same ones for different people.

    credeikiOneAngryPossum
  • BrodyBrody The Watch The First ShoreRegistered User regular
    Excession is my favorite Culture novel. I love how much of the Minds' perspectives you get.

    "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
    DevoutlyApatheticadytumFeloniousmozredx
  • credeikicredeiki Registered User regular
    I’ve been in the mood for something kind of far-flung and unrecognizably deep in the future, and based off general sci-fi osmosis, thought the Culture books would be worth giving a shot.

    Consider Phlebas was not what I was expecting (essentially something very meditative and serene and utopian). There is so much horror and death and gruesome mutilation in this book. And wild imagination and cultural self-awareness, which is great, along with overextended set-pieces that take really cool ideas and drive me to thinking, “Ok, yes, I get it, it’s all very big, please move on.”

    It’s a lot more space opera than its reputation, which I didn’t mind in the least - there’s just enough character and more than enough thoughtfulness to be engaged by people shooting lasers at each other over and over again. And it’s surprisingly touching in a few small moments.

    That said, how representative of the series is the first book? This is the only Banks novel I’ve read, so I’m not really sure where his interests go after this. Honestly I’ve got a distaste for long series at this point in my life, but even with the overly explained action bits, the creativity of the ideas made for pretty gripping reading.

    The books are never serene and meditative. Banks is intense!

    But as others have said, Look to Windward and Player of Games are, in my opinion, better entry points to the universe of the Culture. They are a bit less offputting while still being quite vibrant.

    Steam, LoL: credeiki
    MahnmutOneAngryPossum
  • nexuscrawlernexuscrawler Registered User regular
    There’s only one book I think that takes place entirely in the culture

    Where they interact with other places is where the stories happen

  • BrodyBrody The Watch The First ShoreRegistered User regular
    Just finished The Bone Ships. It wasn't bad. I'll look at checking out the sequels once I finish A Memory Called Empire, which I finally got from the library.

    "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
    Mahnmut
  • webguy20webguy20 I spend too much time on the Internet Registered User regular
    Started Uprooted by Naomi Novik tonight. Just dug in but I really enjoy it so far.

    Steam ID: Webguy20
    Origin ID: Discgolfer27
    Untappd ID: Discgolfer1981
  • M-VickersM-Vickers Registered User regular
    credeiki wrote: »
    I’ve been in the mood for something kind of far-flung and unrecognizably deep in the future, and based off general sci-fi osmosis, thought the Culture books would be worth giving a shot.

    Consider Phlebas was not what I was expecting (essentially something very meditative and serene and utopian). There is so much horror and death and gruesome mutilation in this book. And wild imagination and cultural self-awareness, which is great, along with overextended set-pieces that take really cool ideas and drive me to thinking, “Ok, yes, I get it, it’s all very big, please move on.”

    It’s a lot more space opera than its reputation, which I didn’t mind in the least - there’s just enough character and more than enough thoughtfulness to be engaged by people shooting lasers at each other over and over again. And it’s surprisingly touching in a few small moments.

    That said, how representative of the series is the first book? This is the only Banks novel I’ve read, so I’m not really sure where his interests go after this. Honestly I’ve got a distaste for long series at this point in my life, but even with the overly explained action bits, the creativity of the ideas made for pretty gripping reading.

    The books are never serene and meditative. Banks is intense!

    But as others have said, Look to Windward and Player of Games are, in my opinion, better entry points to the universe of the Culture. They are a bit less offputting while still being quite vibrant.

    Player of Games is so good.

    I'm due a reread of the Culture books, I might start that soon.

    credeikiOneAngryPossum
  • credeikicredeiki Registered User regular
    edited February 2
    I finished Nnedi Okorafor's Lagoon. Hmmmm yeah I don't know about this one. It's well-written and fairly interesting but it is not structured like a novel; it's a novel-length impressionistic vignette/series of vignettes about how people feel when aliens land outside of Lagos. There's also already some mystical stuff happening in Lagos unrelated to aliens. But...there isn't a plot or any character development, it's just a few central people having feelings/reactions, and then some additional scenes with other bystanders having feelings/reactions. It doesn't all build up to much of anything. But it is enjoyable to read and the scenes are pretty interesting, although by the end I was reading it with the intent of finding out, wait, does anything happen in this book or what...? rather than with the intent of watching more students film the aliens on their phones and post it to youtube.


    Anyway if you want to check her out--and you should--I'd instead recommend Who Fears Death or the Binti novellas, which are well-written and interesting but also have a distinct plot and compelling characters who change.

    credeiki on
    Steam, LoL: credeiki
  • OneAngryPossumOneAngryPossum Registered User regular
    edited February 2
    Ok, Player of Games was definitely closer to what I expected, but still full of surprises. Probably need to digest this one for a while, as it raises almost as many questions as it answers.

    I kind of want to rave about some of my favorite bits and thoughts, but I’ll just say how much I love that Banks is willing to introduce and wave away so many ideas that could support entire stories of their own. What I was most looking for was something to stretch my imagination, and the Culture books appear to have that in spades.

    Ok, just one superficial thing: the ‘biotech’ pieces of the game being described as ‘like a piece of carrot’ is one of the most specific and least informative descriptions I’ve ever encountered. Just the perfect amount of information to make your mind start stretching.

    That said, the motivations and working of the Minds are really drawing my attention after wrapping this book up. Will I lose much/anything if I hop over Use of Weapons and right into Excession? I understand that the stories aren’t particularly related, but I get a sense that Banks was working through his own ideas of what the Culture is all about and that’s been fascinating to see play out. Does getting the deep-dive on the Minds that Excession seems to offer deflate the stories written before it?

    OneAngryPossum on
  • CptHamiltonCptHamilton Registered User regular
    Ok, Player of Games was definitely closer to what I expected, but still full of surprises. Probably need to digest this one for a while, as it raises almost as many questions as it answers.

    I kind of want to rave about some of my favorite bits and thoughts, but I’ll just say how much I love that Banks is willing to introduce and wave away so many ideas that could support entire stories of their own. What I was most looking for was something to stretch my imagination, and the Culture books appear to have that in spades.

    Ok, just one superficial thing: the ‘biotech’ pieces of the game being described as ‘like a piece of carrot’ is one of the most specific and least informative descriptions I’ve ever encountered. Just the perfect amount of information to make your mind start stretching.

    That said, the motivations and working of the Minds are really drawing my attention after wrapping this book up. Will I lose much/anything if I hop over Use of Weapons and right into Excession? I understand that the stories aren’t particularly related, but I get a sense that Banks was working through his own ideas of what the Culture is all about and that’s been fascinating to see play out. Does getting the deep-dive on the Minds that Excession seems to offer deflate the stories written before it?

    I read Excession before Use of Weapons and don't feel like the order had any impact on my enjoyment.

    PSN,Steam,Live | CptHamiltonian
    Solomaxwell6OneAngryPossumDevoutlyApatheticDizzy D
  • Solomaxwell6Solomaxwell6 Registered User regular
    Order shouldn't matter all that much. I would default to publication order, because sometimes there are loose connections, but read away if a blurb strikes your fancy. I can think of one instance where there might be spoilers, with a major character in a later book who is also a major character in an earlier book. But it's not something you really need to worry that much about.

    OneAngryPossum
  • webguy20webguy20 I spend too much time on the Internet Registered User regular
    Finished Uprooted. Damn that was a fine story right there. I just tore through it. Definitely a lot of classic tropes, but also a modern feel to the writing. There seems to be a non-related sequel that I just checked out from the Library and I'm looking forward to digging into it as well.

    Steam ID: Webguy20
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  • credeikicredeiki Registered User regular
    webguy20 wrote: »
    Finished Uprooted. Damn that was a fine story right there. I just tore through it. Definitely a lot of classic tropes, but also a modern feel to the writing. There seems to be a non-related sequel that I just checked out from the Library and I'm looking forward to digging into it as well.

    Spinning Silver has *a lot more* to it and shouldn't be thought of as a sequel, although it also takes place in the fantasy Old Country.
    I did not much like Uprooted as it came off a bit simplistic and the main character didn't really do it for me. Spinning Silver was amazing, though, so I hope you'll like it too!

    Steam, LoL: credeiki
  • TofystedethTofystedeth veni, veneri, vamoosi Registered User regular
    I finished the first Baru book. When it transitioned from her doing economic things to outright war I started losing interest.
    Then at the end
    when she betrays the entire rebellion to the Empire, which, honestly I should have seen coming
    I was like, I'm out. I don't want to read about people doing bad things. But then I read the final chapter in the castle as it sucked me back in.

    steam_sig.png
  • Mojo_JojoMojo_Jojo We are only now beginning to understand the full power and ramifications of sexual intercourse Registered User regular
    Finished the second Fitz and the Fool book which is probably called Fool's Adventure or some nonsense rather than something attention grabbing like INBRED TIME WIZARDS

    It's good. There's much more of a sense of things going on outside of scope of the novel. Like the Buckkeep royals are busy people and don't have all that much time for Fitz and his personal problems, which is quite nice as it feels more dynamic.

    The characters all manage to keep growing and end up in different places to where they started.

    So straight onto the next one for me again, which is probably called Adventure of the Fool

    Homogeneous distribution of your varieties of amuse-gueule
  • redxredx I(x)=2(x)+1 whole numbersRegistered User regular
    Ok, Player of Games was definitely closer to what I expected, but still full of surprises. Probably need to digest this one for a while, as it raises almost as many questions as it answers.

    I kind of want to rave about some of my favorite bits and thoughts, but I’ll just say how much I love that Banks is willing to introduce and wave away so many ideas that could support entire stories of their own. What I was most looking for was something to stretch my imagination, and the Culture books appear to have that in spades.

    Ok, just one superficial thing: the ‘biotech’ pieces of the game being described as ‘like a piece of carrot’ is one of the most specific and least informative descriptions I’ve ever encountered. Just the perfect amount of information to make your mind start stretching.

    That said, the motivations and working of the Minds are really drawing my attention after wrapping this book up. Will I lose much/anything if I hop over Use of Weapons and right into Excession? I understand that the stories aren’t particularly related, but I get a sense that Banks was working through his own ideas of what the Culture is all about and that’s been fascinating to see play out. Does getting the deep-dive on the Minds that Excession seems to offer deflate the stories written before it?

    Use of Weapons is a little rough, and it's okay to put it off.

    Excession is a bit of a romp with good ship and drone stuff, Night City(which makes me sad Banks never got to Burning Man), The Culture facing an Outside Context Problem, and is differently squicky. Audible doesn't have the US rights to Excession and Look to Windward, and and it's one of my favorites.

    I also read Wasp Factory and Use of Weapons around the same time, and they're similar in structure and theme... sort of... -ish. But it put me somewhat off on Use of Weapons.

    This machine kills threads.
    OneAngryPossumBrodyDevoutlyApathetic
  • webguy20webguy20 I spend too much time on the Internet Registered User regular
    credeiki wrote: »
    webguy20 wrote: »
    Finished Uprooted. Damn that was a fine story right there. I just tore through it. Definitely a lot of classic tropes, but also a modern feel to the writing. There seems to be a non-related sequel that I just checked out from the Library and I'm looking forward to digging into it as well.

    Spinning Silver has *a lot more* to it and shouldn't be thought of as a sequel, although it also takes place in the fantasy Old Country.
    I did not much like Uprooted as it came off a bit simplistic and the main character didn't really do it for me. Spinning Silver was amazing, though, so I hope you'll like it too!

    Its interesting for sure so far!

    General setting spoilers:
    Uprooted felt like it was in its own fantasy world influenced by the stories of Eastern Europe. The names, places and “baba jaga” to name a few. Still a pure fantasy though.

    Spinning Silver feels much more like Earth with some Fantasy elements. I think mostly because one of the main Characters is Jewish and that Jews have been treated just as poorly in this world as in the real world.

    Im fascinated to see where it goes.

    Steam ID: Webguy20
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    credeiki
  • KaputaKaputa Registered User regular
    edited February 3
    I picked up Alan Moore's From Hell on a whim a couple of weeks ago. I read Watchmen and V for Vendetta long ago; V was great and Watchmen was monumental for me, but I had never read any of Moore's other work. I opened this up at the bookstore and enjoyed the black and white art, figured "a Moore graphic novel is probably good" and bought it, but aside from that wasn't sure what to expect. I didn't even know the subject matter going into it.

    Holy crap! What an amazing book. Eddie Campbell's sketchy lines give 1880s London a gritty, dirty, dark feeling that's perfect for the book. Things get grainier or clearer at the right times, his takes on Hawksmoor's architecture are suitably imposing, and his way of drawing human faces is amazing if sometimes disturbing. The way he frames things generally is aesthetically brilliant in my opinion.

    But Moore's writing is even better than the awesome art. I have no idea how that guy's brain works the way it does. Reading William Gull's dialogue - sometimes more like monologue - feels like taking acid at a slaughterhouse. My favorite part of the book is early on:
    Gull takes his coachman Netley on a journey through London, visiting various architectural marvels in the city (particularly Nicholas Hawksmoore's churches, but also some other places). With each locale they arrive at, Gull delivers an occult history of the place, then expounds on its symbolic meaning. The visits and rants aren't isolated, but each leads to the next, gradually constructing a twisted philosophy as the deeper meaning of his bloody mission - essentially an act of ritual murder to reinforce the symbolic spells that keep women under the chains of patriarchy and to continue the corresponding dominance of the solar (male) over the lunar (female) aspects - slowly dawns on the reader. The climactic end of the chapter leaves Netley vomiting in the street, overcome by horror at realizing the nature of reality as depicted by Gull, and I, reading it, was only a couple steps behind Netley's reaction. I really did feel like I just returned from some dark psychedelic trip; I had to take my little doggy for a walk (under a full moon, no less) to reorder my mind afterwards.

    The penultimate chapter was also amazing. Upon his death, Gull becomes a sort of patron god of serial killers, manifesting himself to them throughout the ages and helping to inspire and unleash the beasts within the men who commit these gruesome acts. He gradually understands, then enthusiastically embraces his new purpose, as he appears in different time periods and meets different monsters (all actual serial killers in the real world).

    The prose in these two chapters is just phenomenal in my opinion. So many lines had me grinning and shaking my head in appreciation and admiration.

    On the off chance that anyone else is late to the party on this one but nonetheless interested, I should warn that it's pretty a brutal and disturbing. Which is obvious given the subject matter, but even having been accustomed to that by the first 2/3rds of the book, the final murder scene, depicted in excruciating detail as Gull returns to and from the corpse while keeping the fireplace stoked, was an excruciating segment. I feel like Eddie Campbell must have needed a week off from work after drawing that chapter. The scene immediately afterwards, where Gull is spiritually transported to the 1980s and is struck by horror at the dead-eyed, soulless office workers he encounters, was another favorite part of mine.

    I think From Hell may be my favorite Alan Moore work, of the three I've read. Didn't expect to say that given my longstanding love of Watchmen, but it really was an incredible read. At the end of the book there are two appendices - the first, which goes page by page explaining which parts of the book were founded in fact, what the sources of information were, and which parts were inventions of Moore and Campbell, increased my appreciation of the book even further. The two really did great research to write From Hell, not only in the plot and writing, but even in Campbell's art, which depicts streets and buildings in as historically accurate a manner as can reasonably be expected, while losing nothing in terms of style and atmosphere. The second appendix describes the gradual evolution of "Ripperology", or the stories, theories, and collective knowledge about Jack the Ripper, and was interesting in its own right. I highly recommend the book to anyone who hasn't already read it, it's one of the coolest things I've read in recent years.

    Kaputa on
    JacobkoshShadowhope
  • BrodyBrody The Watch The First ShoreRegistered User regular
    It took me a minute to really get into the swing of A Memory Called Empire, but I'm really enjoying it so far. Its interesting, because I think the only example we have of a poetic epithet doesn't match the described syllable count, which just makes me more curious, if that makes any sense?

    "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
    Kanawebguy20
  • V1mV1m Registered User regular
    I’ve been in the mood for something kind of far-flung and unrecognizably deep in the future, and based off general sci-fi osmosis, thought the Culture books would be worth giving a shot.

    Consider Phlebas was not what I was expecting (essentially something very meditative and serene and utopian). There is so much horror and death and gruesome mutilation in this book. And wild imagination and cultural self-awareness, which is great, along with overextended set-pieces that take really cool ideas and drive me to thinking, “Ok, yes, I get it, it’s all very big, please move on.”

    It’s a lot more space opera than its reputation, which I didn’t mind in the least - there’s just enough character and more than enough thoughtfulness to be engaged by people shooting lasers at each other over and over again. And it’s surprisingly touching in a few small moments.

    That said, how representative of the series is the first book? This is the only Banks novel I’ve read, so I’m not really sure where his interests go after this. Honestly I’ve got a distaste for long series at this point in my life, but even with the overly explained action bits, the creativity of the ideas made for pretty gripping reading.

    Consider Phlebas is the 450-page prologue to the Culture series. It's still shorter than some of Brandon Sanderson's unironic prologues...

    The Culture Series are largely seperate novels in the same setting. Sometimes protagonists from one will have bit parts or cameos in others but that's about as far as it goes.

    Old man ramblings: I read it when it was the only Culture book, and it will always have a particular place in my affections. A friend lent it me, and I remember being extremely excited to learn that there would be a "sequel". There's a fair amount of 80s-flavoured social commentary (and pastiche of 80s era SF), and the idea of writing a galactic-scale space opera about communism was super fucking exciting because it hadn't really been done before.

    OneAngryPossum
  • V1mV1m Registered User regular
    Anyway I came to the thread to let you all know that I've had a dog's arse of a week. Lockdown sucks, I haven't seen anyone of my family for over half a year, I wasted no opportunity to make a twit of myself at work and achieve nothing thereby, and I rather suspect that as soon as lockdown ends I'm going to have a deeply discouraging conversation with the doctor re: my heart and just how long it's going to be of any use to me.

    So I'm starting the weekend early with a long soak in the bath, a large class of chilled French sauv. blanc. and a start to re-reading Masquerade because sometimes we need Terry Pratchett to remind us that this world isn't entirely shit.

    credeiki
  • KanaKana Registered User regular
    Brody wrote: »
    It took me a minute to really get into the swing of A Memory Called Empire, but I'm really enjoying it so far. Its interesting, because I think the only example we have of a poetic epithet doesn't match the described syllable count, which just makes me more curious, if that makes any sense?

    I think a lot of the poetry is purposefully "translated" imperfectly. Very much this constant attitude of like "nono, the poem is incredibly beautiful in its native language, all I can do provide a rough explanation of its literal meanings in my shitty uncool language. "

    A trap is for fish: when you've got the fish, you can forget the trap. A snare is for rabbits: when you've got the rabbit, you can forget the snare. Words are for meaning: when you've got the meaning, you can forget the words.
    CptHamiltoncredeikiBrodyredxMahnmutDrovekA Kobold's Kobold
  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
    edited February 4
    Kaputa wrote: »
    I picked up Alan Moore's From Hell on a whim a couple of weeks ago. I read Watchmen and V for Vendetta long ago; V was great and Watchmen was monumental for me, but I had never read any of Moore's other work. I opened this up at the bookstore and enjoyed the black and white art, figured "a Moore graphic novel is probably good" and bought it, but aside from that wasn't sure what to expect. I didn't even know the subject matter going into it.

    Holy crap! What an amazing book. Eddie Campbell's sketchy lines give 1880s London a gritty, dirty, dark feeling that's perfect for the book. Things get grainier or clearer at the right times, his takes on Hawksmoor's architecture are suitably imposing, and his way of drawing human faces is amazing if sometimes disturbing. The way he frames things generally is aesthetically brilliant in my opinion.

    But Moore's writing is even better than the awesome art. I have no idea how that guy's brain works the way it does. Reading William Gull's dialogue - sometimes more like monologue - feels like taking acid at a slaughterhouse. My favorite part of the book is early on:
    Gull takes his coachman Netley on a journey through London, visiting various architectural marvels in the city (particularly Nicholas Hawksmoore's churches, but also some other places). With each locale they arrive at, Gull delivers an occult history of the place, then expounds on its symbolic meaning. The visits and rants aren't isolated, but each leads to the next, gradually constructing a twisted philosophy as the deeper meaning of his bloody mission - essentially an act of ritual murder to reinforce the symbolic spells that keep women under the chains of patriarchy and to continue the corresponding dominance of the solar (male) over the lunar (female) aspects - slowly dawns on the reader. The climactic end of the chapter leaves Netley vomiting in the street, overcome by horror at realizing the nature of reality as depicted by Gull, and I, reading it, was only a couple steps behind Netley's reaction. I really did feel like I just returned from some dark psychedelic trip; I had to take my little doggy for a walk (under a full moon, no less) to reorder my mind afterwards.

    The penultimate chapter was also amazing. Upon his death, Gull becomes a sort of patron god of serial killers, manifesting himself to them throughout the ages and helping to inspire and unleash the beasts within the men who commit these gruesome acts. He gradually understands, then enthusiastically embraces his new purpose, as he appears in different time periods and meets different monsters (all actual serial killers in the real world).

    The prose in these two chapters is just phenomenal in my opinion. So many lines had me grinning and shaking my head in appreciation and admiration.

    On the off chance that anyone else is late to the party on this one but nonetheless interested, I should warn that it's pretty a brutal and disturbing. Which is obvious given the subject matter, but even having been accustomed to that by the first 2/3rds of the book, the final murder scene, depicted in excruciating detail as Gull returns to and from the corpse while keeping the fireplace stoked, was an excruciating segment. I feel like Eddie Campbell must have needed a week off from work after drawing that chapter. The scene immediately afterwards, where Gull is spiritually transported to the 1980s and is struck by horror at the dead-eyed, soulless office workers he encounters, was another favorite part of mine.

    I think From Hell may be my favorite Alan Moore work, of the three I've read. Didn't expect to say that given my longstanding love of Watchmen, but it really was an incredible read. At the end of the book there are two appendices - the first, which goes page by page explaining which parts of the book were founded in fact, what the sources of information were, and which parts were inventions of Moore and Campbell, increased my appreciation of the book even further. The two really did great research to write From Hell, not only in the plot and writing, but even in Campbell's art, which depicts streets and buildings in as historically accurate a manner as can reasonably be expected, while losing nothing in terms of style and atmosphere. The second appendix describes the gradual evolution of "Ripperology", or the stories, theories, and collective knowledge about Jack the Ripper, and was interesting in its own right. I highly recommend the book to anyone who hasn't already read it, it's one of the coolest things I've read in recent years.

    The book really is an experience. It's dense and disturbing but also completely transporting - not only with the fastidious recreation of Victorian London, but in the way it creates a kind of...complete, comprehensive alternate worldview and metaphysics that kind of swaddles you up and surrounds you, like a psychological diving bell, to let you descend into the harrowing subject matter and extract some meaning from it. Everyone I know who's read the book has spent the next couple of days kind of wandering around in a haze, blinking at the world through a new lens.

    It's a shame the movie just went like "lol Johnny Depp is a psychic opium addict and he has ker-razy dreams."

    If you'd like to read more Eddie Campbell stuff, I hugely recommend his magnum opus, the Alec books. They're a series of semi-autobiographical stories he's been publishing in various formats, from short comic strips and zines to longer novels and series, since the early 80s. Alec, like Eddie, is an artist with a scholarly bent, and the stories follow him as he progresses from menial laborer doing art in his spare and off hours, through the development of his career and starting his family and moving to Australia then back to England, as well as the various lives that kind of drift into and out of his bohemian and academic circles as he goes.

    Campbell is nearly as strong a writer as Moore, just very naturalistic and easygoing where Moore is a formalist architect. The storytelling in Alec is really gentle and observant, like you're a fly on the wall watching real people having real conversations from long ago, and it has the kind of melancholy pace of real life, where some friend of Alec's will be important in the story for a while but then gets married and moves away or whatever. The later volumes, of course, go into stuff like what it's like working with writers like Alan Moore and the mild brush with fame of having your books optioned into movies and so forth.

    There are like a dozen volumes of Alec (not counting the confusing web of reprints and omnibuses) but each one is more or less self-contained or focuses on a specific place or time. I recommend The King Canute Crowd, Graffiti Kitchen, and Three Piece Suit.

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    As for Moore, if you'd like something of his that's less heavy-duty and harrowing than From Hell or Watchmen but equally breathtaking, absolutely check out his legendary thirty-odd issue run on Saga of the Swamp Thing, which has been collected into three or four graphic novel volumes. It's the stuff that made him a big deal in US comics and paved the way for Watchmen and is a hugely revolutionary horror comic that remains powerful despite being imitated or wholesale ripped off a bunch of times since. And the art, by penciler Steve Bissette and inker John Totleben, is incredible, particularly if you can get it in black and white, where the primitive 80s colors aren't muddying up the fine-grained linework.

    Swampy.jpg

    Jacobkosh on
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    PailryderKaputa
  • EnigmedicEnigmedic Registered User regular
    V1m wrote: »
    Anyway I came to the thread to let you all know that I've had a dog's arse of a week. Lockdown sucks, I haven't seen anyone of my family for over half a year, I wasted no opportunity to make a twit of myself at work and achieve nothing thereby, and I rather suspect that as soon as lockdown ends I'm going to have a deeply discouraging conversation with the doctor re: my heart and just how long it's going to be of any use to me.

    So I'm starting the weekend early with a long soak in the bath, a large class of chilled French sauv. blanc. and a start to re-reading Masquerade because sometimes we need Terry Pratchett to remind us that this world isn't entirely shit.

    No no this world is still entirely shit. That's why we read; so we can be in another world for a bit.

    3ds FC: 0645 - 7166 - 9801
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