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[Book]: Rhymes With

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  • V1mV1m Registered User regular
    Echo wrote: »
    I got a bit curious about Stross' latest thing. I've read the first Laundry Files book, but it felt a bit too British for me to be able to fully enjoy it. Apparently these last three books are a spinoff from the Laundry Files? Do I need to read all of those or are these three somewhat standalone?

    The first 4 books are Stross explicitly emulating the style of 3 British spy fiction writers, so it's not completely surprising you'd feel that way. But the Laundry series as a whole are also a satire of modern Britain, so it's even less surprising.

    Just take it on its own terms and rub your face while chuckling at the absurdity of our political culture.

    Moridin889
  • DevoutlyApatheticDevoutlyApathetic Registered User regular
    I feel like Stross starting a pissing contest with how bad UK politics were and UK politics has decided it wasn't going to let him win.

    Nod. Get treat. PSN: Quippish
    V1mhtmMoridin889
  • V1mV1m Registered User regular
    dennis wrote: »
    Grudge wrote: »
    I've started reading The Night Land, A Story Retold, which is a rewritten version of the 1912 classic that kind of invented the dying earth genre. The original seems to be more or less unreadable (haven't really tried myself, but the samples I've seen are... difficult and tedious), but this remade version is... well interesting anyway. Still pretty archaic, but it gives off some Lovecraftian vibes, and here and there you can find things that definitely have inspired later sci-fi and fantasy writers.

    Let me know what you think when you finished it. I read the first section that was posted online (before he re-visited it and did the rest of it), and I thought it was such a massive improvement. I really dig the setting and the overall vibe. And I've really enjoyed Greg Bear's "The Way of All Ghosts".

    I haven't just grabbed it because it's obscure enough that no libraries around have it. I'd probably wind up buying it on Kindle. I am loathe to buy actual Kindle titles, but it's mostly an irrational irritation with how Amazon treats non-Amazon e-books.

    While looking this up again, I noticed John C. Wright has written four novellas in the setting, collected in Awake in the Night Land. Same issue with obscurity, but I should probably pick it up as well.

    John C Wright is not a good person.

    DevoutlyApathetichtm
  • ShadowhopeShadowhope Baa. Registered User regular
    V1m wrote: »
    dennis wrote: »
    Grudge wrote: »
    I've started reading The Night Land, A Story Retold, which is a rewritten version of the 1912 classic that kind of invented the dying earth genre. The original seems to be more or less unreadable (haven't really tried myself, but the samples I've seen are... difficult and tedious), but this remade version is... well interesting anyway. Still pretty archaic, but it gives off some Lovecraftian vibes, and here and there you can find things that definitely have inspired later sci-fi and fantasy writers.

    Let me know what you think when you finished it. I read the first section that was posted online (before he re-visited it and did the rest of it), and I thought it was such a massive improvement. I really dig the setting and the overall vibe. And I've really enjoyed Greg Bear's "The Way of All Ghosts".

    I haven't just grabbed it because it's obscure enough that no libraries around have it. I'd probably wind up buying it on Kindle. I am loathe to buy actual Kindle titles, but it's mostly an irrational irritation with how Amazon treats non-Amazon e-books.

    While looking this up again, I noticed John C. Wright has written four novellas in the setting, collected in Awake in the Night Land. Same issue with obscurity, but I should probably pick it up as well.

    John C Wright is not a good person.

    Also, he clearly missed his calling as an eye doctor.

    Remember, safety is everyone's concern. We have gone five days without a workplace death.
  • BogartBogart Turn Around, Bright Eyes Registered User, Moderator mod
    Piranesi, which so far is fantastic, strange stuff.

    htmHahnsoo1credeikiV1m
  • Fuzzy Cumulonimbus CloudFuzzy Cumulonimbus Cloud Registered User regular
    I used to be a "You start a book - you finish a book" person. It's only in recent years I've decided that life is too short for bad fiction.

    To that end, I've quit two books recently:
    The Enceladus Mission by Brandon Morris
    The Lesson by Cadwell Turnbull

    The former was just terrible writing. I didn't make it far. People didn't talk like humans and the non-dialog portions were just blunt, short sentences declaring points of action. I couldn't do it.

    The latter had competent writing but was just not interesting. Partway into the book (which is centered around alien first contact) there's a brief bit about a literature class studying post-first-contact fiction where it talks about a story about a couple which centers on their reactions to first contact without actually including aliens at all, outside of references to news stories. It feels like the story was trying to lampshade itself, where the presence of aliens is almost incidental. Which could be okay except the story outside the aliens was just utterly banal and boring.

    Now I'm on to The Gone World by Tom Sweterlitch, which is pretty good if a bit florid at times.
    I really enjoyed The Lesson but it fell off at the end. But Caldwell Turnbell is a very new author so I think he will get better and better.

    I LOVED The Gone World.

  • Fuzzy Cumulonimbus CloudFuzzy Cumulonimbus Cloud Registered User regular
    Shadowhope wrote: »
    V1m wrote: »
    dennis wrote: »
    Grudge wrote: »
    I've started reading The Night Land, A Story Retold, which is a rewritten version of the 1912 classic that kind of invented the dying earth genre. The original seems to be more or less unreadable (haven't really tried myself, but the samples I've seen are... difficult and tedious), but this remade version is... well interesting anyway. Still pretty archaic, but it gives off some Lovecraftian vibes, and here and there you can find things that definitely have inspired later sci-fi and fantasy writers.

    Let me know what you think when you finished it. I read the first section that was posted online (before he re-visited it and did the rest of it), and I thought it was such a massive improvement. I really dig the setting and the overall vibe. And I've really enjoyed Greg Bear's "The Way of All Ghosts".

    I haven't just grabbed it because it's obscure enough that no libraries around have it. I'd probably wind up buying it on Kindle. I am loathe to buy actual Kindle titles, but it's mostly an irrational irritation with how Amazon treats non-Amazon e-books.

    While looking this up again, I noticed John C. Wright has written four novellas in the setting, collected in Awake in the Night Land. Same issue with obscurity, but I should probably pick it up as well.

    John C Wright is not a good person.

    Also, he clearly missed his calling as an eye doctor.
    Super duper thought this was John C Reily and he somehow got into book writing and I was like wait what did he do wrong???

  • dennisdennis aka bingley Registered User regular
    V1m wrote: »
    dennis wrote: »
    Grudge wrote: »
    I've started reading The Night Land, A Story Retold, which is a rewritten version of the 1912 classic that kind of invented the dying earth genre. The original seems to be more or less unreadable (haven't really tried myself, but the samples I've seen are... difficult and tedious), but this remade version is... well interesting anyway. Still pretty archaic, but it gives off some Lovecraftian vibes, and here and there you can find things that definitely have inspired later sci-fi and fantasy writers.

    Let me know what you think when you finished it. I read the first section that was posted online (before he re-visited it and did the rest of it), and I thought it was such a massive improvement. I really dig the setting and the overall vibe. And I've really enjoyed Greg Bear's "The Way of All Ghosts".

    I haven't just grabbed it because it's obscure enough that no libraries around have it. I'd probably wind up buying it on Kindle. I am loathe to buy actual Kindle titles, but it's mostly an irrational irritation with how Amazon treats non-Amazon e-books.

    While looking this up again, I noticed John C. Wright has written four novellas in the setting, collected in Awake in the Night Land. Same issue with obscurity, but I should probably pick it up as well.

    John C Wright is not a good person.

    (after googling) Ugh, you're not kidding. I don't really follow the "scene" much, though I was aware of the whole puppies thing and Vox Day thing. But no other names stuck in my brain. Really sucks that one of the only writers who has written something good in the Night Land setting that I want to read is that odious troll. I definitely won't be giving him any money. I might still read the stories, if I could get my hands on them without somehow enriching him.

    Not sure if I'd be able to partition off the work from the author, though. I stopped being able to do that with Card a long time ago. Then again, his world view game through more and more in his writing. I still read Asher, but to some degree it's because his writing actually runs totally against the grain of his politics. I don't directly give him any money, though. Somehow indirectly by checking out his ebooks from the library, unfortunately.

  • BogartBogart Turn Around, Bright Eyes Registered User, Moderator mod
    Piranesi was terrific, well worth anyone’s time.

    I am now reading the Usborne book “All About Ghosts”, a children’s book from long ago about, well, ghosts, that was given to me recently by a friend after we both talked about the book and how much we loved it as kids. This reissue has a forward by Reece Sheersmith, for whom it was also formative.

    htmRiemannLivescredeikidurandal4532
  • BogartBogart Turn Around, Bright Eyes Registered User, Moderator mod
    edited January 23
    This double page spread is firmly lodged in my brain.

    h21w0oahl1qc.jpeg

    This was in a children’s book. I feel like a book these days would not be able to so enthusiastically encourage kids to believe that ghosts are both real and fucking terrifying.

    Bogart on
    Feloniousmozdennishtmchrono_travellerflamebroiledchickenA Dabble Of TheloniusShadowhopedurandal4532
  • nexuscrawlernexuscrawler Registered User regular
    I feel like Stross starting a pissing contest with how bad UK politics were and UK politics has decided it wasn't going to let him win.


    I mean in the e later books
    Nyarlathotep is literally the PM

  • Dizzy DDizzy D NetherlandsRegistered User regular
    I feel like Stross starting a pissing contest with how bad UK politics were and UK politics has decided it wasn't going to let him win.


    I mean in the e later books
    Nyarlathotep is literally the PM

    Instead we got
    Azatoth

    Steam/Origin: davydizzy
  • dennisdennis aka bingley Registered User regular
    Bogart wrote: »
    This double page spread is firmly lodged in my brain.

    This was in a children’s book. I feel like a book these days would not be able to so enthusiastically encourage kids to believe that ghosts are both real and fucking terrifying.

    Also, there's probably a skeleton inside the wall. Probably in your bedroom.

    chrono_travellerCptHamilton
  • RiemannLivesRiemannLives Registered User regular
    Bogart wrote: »
    Piranesi was terrific, well worth anyone’s time.

    I am now reading the Usborne book “All About Ghosts”, a children’s book from long ago about, well, ghosts, that was given to me recently by a friend after we both talked about the book and how much we loved it as kids. This reissue has a forward by Reece Sheersmith, for whom it was also formative.

    the Usborne programming books from the 80s are free online and so rad. the ones in the Adventure Games section are well worth flipping through for the art alone.

    https://usborne.com/us/books/computer-and-coding-books

    Attacked by tweeeeeeees!
  • V1mV1m Registered User regular
    edited January 24
    dennis wrote: »
    V1m wrote: »
    dennis wrote: »
    Grudge wrote: »
    I've started reading The Night Land, A Story Retold, which is a rewritten version of the 1912 classic that kind of invented the dying earth genre. The original seems to be more or less unreadable (haven't really tried myself, but the samples I've seen are... difficult and tedious), but this remade version is... well interesting anyway. Still pretty archaic, but it gives off some Lovecraftian vibes, and here and there you can find things that definitely have inspired later sci-fi and fantasy writers.

    Let me know what you think when you finished it. I read the first section that was posted online (before he re-visited it and did the rest of it), and I thought it was such a massive improvement. I really dig the setting and the overall vibe. And I've really enjoyed Greg Bear's "The Way of All Ghosts".

    I haven't just grabbed it because it's obscure enough that no libraries around have it. I'd probably wind up buying it on Kindle. I am loathe to buy actual Kindle titles, but it's mostly an irrational irritation with how Amazon treats non-Amazon e-books.

    While looking this up again, I noticed John C. Wright has written four novellas in the setting, collected in Awake in the Night Land. Same issue with obscurity, but I should probably pick it up as well.

    John C Wright is not a good person.

    (after googling) Ugh, you're not kidding. I don't really follow the "scene" much, though I was aware of the whole puppies thing and Vox Day thing. But no other names stuck in my brain. Really sucks that one of the only writers who has written something good in the Night Land setting that I want to read is that odious troll. I definitely won't be giving him any money. I might still read the stories, if I could get my hands on them without somehow enriching him.

    Not sure if I'd be able to partition off the work from the author, though. I stopped being able to do that with Card a long time ago. Then again, his world view game through more and more in his writing. I still read Asher, but to some degree it's because his writing actually runs totally against the grain of his politics. I don't directly give him any money, though. Somehow indirectly by checking out his ebooks from the library, unfortunately.

    As seems to often be the case, some of Wright's earlier stuff showed some decent promise as you have discovered. Not super amazeballs, a little over-written, and certainly not the 'literary SF' he later claimed he was writing, but not bad at all.

    Then mysteriously he wasn't acclaimed by the whole FSF community as the spritual heir of Jack Vance, Gene Wolfe and J G Ballard combined, which made him mad. Then some black LGBT female atheists started getting Hugo prizes and he got super fucking mad. Because obviously.

    And he started tooting his own horn, because the black LGBT atheist female conspiracy which runs modern science fiction sure wasn't tooting it for him to his liking, and his stuff started getting a lot more ovewritten, sorry I mean literary, and getting even less recognition. And he joined the Sad Puppies, and he called Terry Pratchett evil and stated that he wished he'd publicly beaten him as he deserved.

    So he can eat a big bag of dicks. A bag of black gay feminist atheist strapon dicks.

    Edit: Corrected 'gay' to LGBT because I bet you can easily guess who he was super maddest about getting a prize when he didn't.

    V1m on
  • BogartBogart Turn Around, Bright Eyes Registered User, Moderator mod
    Emily Wilson’s translation of The Odyssey. A big fat book to keep me warm in these winter months.

    V1mshryke
  • htmhtm Registered User regular
    V1m wrote: »
    [As seems to often be the case, some of Wright's earlier stuff showed some decent promise as you have discovered. Not super amazeballs, a little over-written, and certainly not the 'literary SF' he later claimed he was writing, but not bad at all.

    Then mysteriously he wasn't acclaimed by the whole FSF community as the spritual heir of Jack Vance, Gene Wolfe and J G Ballard combined, which made him mad. Then some black LGBT female atheists started getting Hugo prizes and he got super fucking mad. Because obviously.

    At his best, Wright was in the league of Endymion-era Dan Simmons*: a probably secular dude who was convinced of the cultural superiority of the Western Canon and baked classic lit allusions and allegories into all his works.

    This is all from memory from a long time ago, but what I think happened to him is that after publishing a few books, Wright experienced some kind of major life trauma (I want to say it was a nearly fatal auto accident, but I don't remember exactly) and in response, he converted to some flavor of orthodox/rad-trad Catholicism. That's the point at which he went straight off the deep end. He has a blog, and he used it to spout a whole of bunch of idiosyncratic right wing WTFery: he really hates anything LGBT, China Mieville, and Peter Watts. And of course, he went all in with Vox Day and the various puppy movements.


    *Endymion-era Simmons, was of course, vastly inferior to Hyperion-era Simmons.

    V1m
  • BogartBogart Turn Around, Bright Eyes Registered User, Moderator mod
    I think I looked at his website way back when the puppies were new and I was curious who he was and there was a picture of him wearing a fedora without irony and a section on his site called Fripperies or something and I thought hmmm yes this is about what I was expecting.

    And fucking hell picking Terry Pratchett as your bete noir, how tone deaf can someone be?

    ShadowhopeV1mhtm
  • ShadowhopeShadowhope Baa. Registered User regular
    edited January 25
    Bogart wrote: »
    This double page spread is firmly lodged in my brain.
    h21w0oahl1qc.jpeg

    This was in a children’s book. I feel like a book these days would not be able to so enthusiastically encourage kids to believe that ghosts are both real and fucking terrifying.

    I feel similarly I think about this, from a book called Ghosts and the Supernatural:

    Z6Qmw5e.jpg

    The author that is one Pam Beasant. I got the book at a school book fair when I was about seven, and read it to the point where it just about fell apart.

    Shadowhope on
    Remember, safety is everyone's concern. We have gone five days without a workplace death.
    dennischrono_traveller
  • credeikicredeiki Registered User regular
    edited February 1
    Operation: Please Read More in 2022, Me has been successful so far.

    This month I read

    Nevada, Imogen Binnie
    Strongly written short novel about angst over trans stuff, biking around Brooklyn, thinking about doing a lot of drugs. Very punk. I loved it.

    Jade City, Fonda Lee
    Mafia family with cool jade-powered martial arts in a fictional 1940s or 50s-ish setting. Very good character drama, matters of honor, action scenes. I enjoyed it but there are some grim bits.

    Howl's Moving Castle, Diana Wynne Jones
    Always fun to read, although the movie is better and a lot more serious. The book has fun strong fantasy imagery and a very nice theme about being who you want to be, and also a lot of secret identity shenanigans and silly business around going from fantasyland to Wales.

    This is How You Lose the Time War, Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone
    An overly ambitious novelette about two time travelers on opposing sides of a conflict. The attempts at strong imagery and romance are appreciated but the execution was lacking. I didn't like it because of the lack of characterization and specificity.

    The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, Philip K Dick
    This is a cool one that starts with a not-very-interesting scifi premise about global warming and colonization and goes to some real weird places that blur illusion and reality and evoke the divine and horrifying. All of the Palmer Eldritch imagery with his steel teeth and mechanical arm and horizontally-slitted eyes was just so chilling and so striking. I liked it a lot.

    gonna try to keep up the momentum! I think it's been good for my mental health and personal enjoyment.

    credeiki on
    Steam, LoL: credeiki
    KanaBogartShadowhopeSummaryJudgmentDizzy DfurlionLoserForHireXhtm
  • Jealous DevaJealous Deva Registered User regular
    Bogart wrote: »
    Piranesi, which so far is fantastic, strange stuff.

    I really enjoyed it. I typically enjoy alien worlds type stuff, and I liked the approach, and the gradual revelation as to what is really going on.

  • CptHamiltonCptHamilton Registered User regular
    The only thing I disliked about Piranesi was that it ended and there's no more.

    I think someone in here recommended The Light Brigade, by Kameron Hurley. It's really good! So, if so, thanks!

    PSN,Steam,Live | CptHamiltonian
    dennisdurandal4532Shadowhopehtm
  • dennisdennis aka bingley Registered User regular
    I think someone in here recommended The Light Brigade, by Kameron Hurley. It's really good! So, if so, thanks!

    Yay! I gave it a strong recommend the most recently. But others talked about it weeks/months before that though I don't remember as much what they said since I hadn't read it yet (or they were spoilered). Glad you're liking it.

    I can also recommend her The Stars Are Legion if you want weirdish scifi. Not weird like in Lovecraftian but more in "this is a future world very very strange and different."

  • durandal4532durandal4532 Registered User regular
    Bogart wrote: »
    Piranesi, which so far is fantastic, strange stuff.

    I really enjoyed it. I typically enjoy alien worlds type stuff, and I liked the approach, and the gradual revelation as to what is really going on.

    Yeah just adding to the praise. It managed to be cute, poignant, hopeful, and sad while also just having a very neat world to explore. For such a short book, it did a great job of having later chapters cause you to re-examine earlier ones.
    Poor guy could have had all the camping gear he wanted! Ketterly was just a prick! Argh! He got cold in the winter, Ketterly!

    Take a moment to donate what you can to Critical Resistance and Black Lives Matter.
    CptHamiltoncredeiki
  • Mojo_JojoMojo_Jojo We are only now beginning to understand the full power and ramifications of sexual intercourse Registered User regular
    I've finished The Poppy War by RF Kuang. It started as something I couldn't put down but became a slog that I should have probably just called time on.

    It's quite rare, at least for me, to come across Chinese* fantasy although I'm aware that they have their own popular subgenres (wuxia, working class type rises up to become a martial arts hero who rights wrongs, and xianxia, mystics seeking immortality) and this straddles or sits beside both. It seems to have kicked up a fair bit of fuss in the west when it was released but I suspect that that was marketing rather than any genuine critical affection.

    The first third is very good, despite the subject matter being a little weak (outsider prodigy ending up at a prestigious school that is absolutely not War College Hogwarts) but from there it freewheels downhill as the lack of clear plot arcs or goals becomes increasingly bothersome and you realise it's going to end mid sentence and there will be two sequels.

    But the main issue is that it feels like the editor got bored and just gave up at some point leaving a manuscript with eventually no attention paid to the latter half. Characterisation flakes away leaving wafer thin single traits paired to names bobbing around. Writing starts to feel more like notes pinned together with scenes.

    The characterisation of the evil empire is "they are turbo Nazis". It's deliberate as highlighting how wars work on dehumanising the enemy but very poorly executed.

    There's also a few pretty childish bits of extreme gore / atrocities dropped in that achieve nothing except for jarring with the established tone (it reads like sprinkling the harder to read sections from American Psycho into Mistborn). It's almost certain there's a plot point in one of the sequels that will explain why super evil fantasy-japan are a hive mind focused on mutilating baby corpses but the lack of nuance makes it come across as very silly and what a fifteen year old might write to try and shock other fifteen years olds on some better forgotten internet message board. There's plenty of examples in other fiction of how to do this so much better.

    All in all, I won't be reading the sequels and I'm annoyed that it fails to deliver after such a strong start.

    *It was published in English although the author is Chinese-American having moved over to the US when she was little. Together with a degree in Chinese studies and some research in linguistics she seems well placed for an interesting point of view.

    Homogeneous distribution of your varieties of amuse-gueule
    Shadowhope
  • The Zombie PenguinThe Zombie Penguin Eternal Hungry Corpse Registered User regular
    Yeah, I bounced hard on the poppy war too. The author had a blog somewhere talking about it and that it was drawing heavily on the rape of nanjing, but... It didn't work for me, at all.

    Though also as a pakeha in NZ I feel like the least equipped person to discuss that whole everything

    Ideas hate it when you anthropomorphize them
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  • Jealous DevaJealous Deva Registered User regular
    Mojo_Jojo wrote: »
    I've finished The Poppy War by RF Kuang. It started as something I couldn't put down but became a slog that I should have probably just called time on.

    It's quite rare, at least for me, to come across Chinese* fantasy although I'm aware that they have their own popular subgenres (wuxia, working class type rises up to become a martial arts hero who rights wrongs, and xianxia, mystics seeking immortality) and this straddles or sits beside both. It seems to have kicked up a fair bit of fuss in the west when it was released but I suspect that that was marketing rather than any genuine critical affection.

    The first third is very good, despite the subject matter being a little weak (outsider prodigy ending up at a prestigious school that is absolutely not War College Hogwarts) but from there it freewheels downhill as the lack of clear plot arcs or goals becomes increasingly bothersome and you realise it's going to end mid sentence and there will be two sequels.

    But the main issue is that it feels like the editor got bored and just gave up at some point leaving a manuscript with eventually no attention paid to the latter half. Characterisation flakes away leaving wafer thin single traits paired to names bobbing around. Writing starts to feel more like notes pinned together with scenes.

    The characterisation of the evil empire is "they are turbo Nazis". It's deliberate as highlighting how wars work on dehumanising the enemy but very poorly executed.

    There's also a few pretty childish bits of extreme gore / atrocities dropped in that achieve nothing except for jarring with the established tone (it reads like sprinkling the harder to read sections from American Psycho into Mistborn). It's almost certain there's a plot point in one of the sequels that will explain why super evil fantasy-japan are a hive mind focused on mutilating baby corpses but the lack of nuance makes it come across as very silly and what a fifteen year old might write to try and shock other fifteen years olds on some better forgotten internet message board. There's plenty of examples in other fiction of how to do this so much better.

    All in all, I won't be reading the sequels and I'm annoyed that it fails to deliver after such a strong start.

    *It was published in English although the author is Chinese-American having moved over to the US when she was little. Together with a degree in Chinese studies and some research in linguistics she seems well placed for an interesting point of view.

    IIRC the atrocity description sections are pulled pretty much straight out of firsthand accounts of the second Sinojapanese war/WW2.

  • BogartBogart Turn Around, Bright Eyes Registered User, Moderator mod
    The Emily Wilson translation of The Odyssey is very good indeed. The hundred page introduction is an object lesson in the difficulties of translation and the conscious or unconscious bias the translator beings with them to the text. The translated text of the poem itself is plain, easily understandable, avoids the cod-epic style (deliberately) that other translations have and is sometimes quite funny in the dryness of the dialogue.

    Menelaus remains a pompous dickhead.

    PailryderN1tSt4lkercredeikiV1m
  • Fuzzy Cumulonimbus CloudFuzzy Cumulonimbus Cloud Registered User regular
    I finished Joe Abercrombie's first trilogy -- The First Law series. I did not find it as grimdark as people have described it to be. I really enjoyed the characterization and the characters. The plot itself is extremely slow and not particularly enjoyable. He basically failed to write a single woman character that was compelling except Farah Dal Jin but she also has only the character trait of being -- very mad all the time. So I would say I hope that he learns to write better women in his future books. I suppose I will find out as I read the second trilogy or the standalone novels.

    I would not call it a complete deconstruction of the fantasy genre as also advertised but I did find it to be very clever and very much about being stuck between the immovable plans of nations or dictators or people of Great Power so that was kind of a really fun read.

    I give the first book 3/5 stars for being extremely slow but the second and third books 4/5 stars for being fairly unique and novel but not necessarily groundbreaking.

    credeiki
  • Jealous DevaJealous Deva Registered User regular
    edited February 7
    I finished Joe Abercrombie's first trilogy -- The First Law series. I did not find it as grimdark as people have described it to be. I really enjoyed the characterization and the characters. The plot itself is extremely slow and not particularly enjoyable. He basically failed to write a single woman character that was compelling except Farah Dal Jin but she also has only the character trait of being -- very mad all the time. So I would say I hope that he learns to write better women in his future books. I suppose I will find out as I read the second trilogy or the standalone novels.

    I would not call it a complete deconstruction of the fantasy genre as also advertised but I did find it to be very clever and very much about being stuck between the immovable plans of nations or dictators or people of Great Power so that was kind of a really fun read.

    I give the first book 3/5 stars for being extremely slow but the second and third books 4/5 stars for being fairly unique and novel but not necessarily groundbreaking.

    The ‘standalone’ middle trilogy of books are by far the best of his, and the first trilogy are the worst (I wouldn’t call the first or third trilogy bad per se but I didn’t enjoy them nearly as much).

    I feel like the biggest problem with the Abercrombie series is that he leans too much on trying to make his protagonists sympathetic villains. Its fine when it works but when he misses the mark it just ends up being bad people doing bad things with no real character growth and it kind of sucks to feel by the end of a story “well I hate everyone left alive and don’t really give a shit if a monster gets released that eats them all or whatever.”

    Jealous Deva on
    Fuzzy Cumulonimbus Cloud
  • Fuzzy Cumulonimbus CloudFuzzy Cumulonimbus Cloud Registered User regular
    I finished Joe Abercrombie's first trilogy -- The First Law series. I did not find it as grimdark as people have described it to be. I really enjoyed the characterization and the characters. The plot itself is extremely slow and not particularly enjoyable. He basically failed to write a single woman character that was compelling except Farah Dal Jin but she also has only the character trait of being -- very mad all the time. So I would say I hope that he learns to write better women in his future books. I suppose I will find out as I read the second trilogy or the standalone novels.

    I would not call it a complete deconstruction of the fantasy genre as also advertised but I did find it to be very clever and very much about being stuck between the immovable plans of nations or dictators or people of Great Power so that was kind of a really fun read.

    I give the first book 3/5 stars for being extremely slow but the second and third books 4/5 stars for being fairly unique and novel but not necessarily groundbreaking.

    The ‘standalone’ middle trilogy of books are by far the best of his, and the first trilogy are the worst (I wouldn’t call the first or third trilogy bad per se but I didn’t enjoy them nearly as much).

    I feel like the biggest problem with the Abercrombie series is that he leans too much on trying to make his protagonists sympathetic villains. Its fine when it works but when he misses the mark it just ends up being bad people doing bad things with no real character growth and it kind of sucks to feel by the end of a story “well I hate everyone left alive and don’t really give a shit if a monster gets released that eats them all or whatever.”
    Very much agreed. By the end of book three I was fine with everyone dying or being plunged into darkness. I really didn't care for any of them anymore. Except maybe Jezal which is kind of funny given that although he is the most unlikeable of all the characters -- at least he has some personal growth and does the least amount of awful things?

  • Jealous DevaJealous Deva Registered User regular
    edited February 7
    I finished Joe Abercrombie's first trilogy -- The First Law series. I did not find it as grimdark as people have described it to be. I really enjoyed the characterization and the characters. The plot itself is extremely slow and not particularly enjoyable. He basically failed to write a single woman character that was compelling except Farah Dal Jin but she also has only the character trait of being -- very mad all the time. So I would say I hope that he learns to write better women in his future books. I suppose I will find out as I read the second trilogy or the standalone novels.

    I would not call it a complete deconstruction of the fantasy genre as also advertised but I did find it to be very clever and very much about being stuck between the immovable plans of nations or dictators or people of Great Power so that was kind of a really fun read.

    I give the first book 3/5 stars for being extremely slow but the second and third books 4/5 stars for being fairly unique and novel but not necessarily groundbreaking.

    The ‘standalone’ middle trilogy of books are by far the best of his, and the first trilogy are the worst (I wouldn’t call the first or third trilogy bad per se but I didn’t enjoy them nearly as much).

    I feel like the biggest problem with the Abercrombie series is that he leans too much on trying to make his protagonists sympathetic villains. Its fine when it works but when he misses the mark it just ends up being bad people doing bad things with no real character growth and it kind of sucks to feel by the end of a story “well I hate everyone left alive and don’t really give a shit if a monster gets released that eats them all or whatever.”
    Very much agreed. By the end of book three I was fine with everyone dying or being plunged into darkness. I really didn't care for any of them anymore. Except maybe Jezal which is kind of funny given that although he is the most unlikeable of all the characters -- at least he has some personal growth and does the least amount of awful things?

    Yeah

    It was a bit odd the standalone books actually had characters that learned and grew and such. Even parts where characters that were sympathetic get jaded and the like made sense given the plot and felt like logical character progression (and one character in particular goes through a really good fall from grace and semi-redemption arc throughout the three books) . Then the age of madness books go right back to “characters that are sort of sympathic but really shitty people have bad things happen to them but never really learn anything from it or make any serious effort to make the world better or be better people, the end”

    Jealous Deva on
  • credeikicredeiki Registered User regular
    edited February 8
    Mojo_Jojo wrote: »
    I've finished The Poppy War by RF Kuang. It started as something I couldn't put down but became a slog that I should have probably just called time on.

    It's quite rare, at least for me, to come across Chinese* fantasy although I'm aware that they have their own popular subgenres (wuxia, working class type rises up to become a martial arts hero who rights wrongs, and xianxia, mystics seeking immortality) and this straddles or sits beside both. It seems to have kicked up a fair bit of fuss in the west when it was released but I suspect that that was marketing rather than any genuine critical affection.

    The first third is very good, despite the subject matter being a little weak (outsider prodigy ending up at a prestigious school that is absolutely not War College Hogwarts) but from there it freewheels downhill as the lack of clear plot arcs or goals becomes increasingly bothersome and you realise it's going to end mid sentence and there will be two sequels.

    But the main issue is that it feels like the editor got bored and just gave up at some point leaving a manuscript with eventually no attention paid to the latter half. Characterisation flakes away leaving wafer thin single traits paired to names bobbing around. Writing starts to feel more like notes pinned together with scenes.

    The characterisation of the evil empire is "they are turbo Nazis". It's deliberate as highlighting how wars work on dehumanising the enemy but very poorly executed.

    There's also a few pretty childish bits of extreme gore / atrocities dropped in that achieve nothing except for jarring with the established tone (it reads like sprinkling the harder to read sections from American Psycho into Mistborn). It's almost certain there's a plot point in one of the sequels that will explain why super evil fantasy-japan are a hive mind focused on mutilating baby corpses but the lack of nuance makes it come across as very silly and what a fifteen year old might write to try and shock other fifteen years olds on some better forgotten internet message board. There's plenty of examples in other fiction of how to do this so much better.

    All in all, I won't be reading the sequels and I'm annoyed that it fails to deliver after such a strong start.

    *It was published in English although the author is Chinese-American having moved over to the US when she was little. Together with a degree in Chinese studies and some research in linguistics she seems well placed for an interesting point of view.

    Yeah, I hated it. I thought the school story and shaman training were fun (although: WHERE were the drug scenes if we’re taking psychedelics?) but the characterization was weak throughout and weaker as the book went on. The weird sassy children shaman army organization was 0% compelling and also 0% related to the beginning of the book. The fact that all dialogue was delivered in the form of light banter was offputting.

    As for the rest of it—whether the author intended to or not, the way she set up the novel sent the message that she was ok with genocide, and uh, obviously that’s awful. I think the author and publisher showed very bad judgment and morals to let the book out into the world with that message in it. Certainly I do not intend to read the rest of the series.

    credeiki on
    Steam, LoL: credeiki
    Mojo_Jojo
  • DrovekDrovek Registered User regular
    Finished Children of Time last night. I liked that, for me, the ending made the rest of the book even better.
    Always rooting for the spiders, but in the end the whole "building threads that join everything is their nature" vs human nature was delivered in a great way.

    The whole world building and how they reach analogous technology with living computers and bio-chemistry... as well as building a fucking space elevator out of silk. It was greatly imaginative in an unexpected way, for me.

    Is Children of Ruin a good follow up?

    steam_sig.png
    ( < . . .
  • Fuzzy Cumulonimbus CloudFuzzy Cumulonimbus Cloud Registered User regular
    Drovek wrote: »
    Finished Children of Time last night. I liked that, for me, the ending made the rest of the book even better.
    Always rooting for the spiders, but in the end the whole "building threads that join everything is their nature" vs human nature was delivered in a great way.

    The whole world building and how they reach analogous technology with living computers and bio-chemistry... as well as building a fucking space elevator out of silk. It was greatly imaginative in an unexpected way, for me.

    Is Children of Ruin a good follow up?
    I personally feel there was no need to write a sequel. It isn't a bad sequel but it was unnecessary.

    swaylowDrovek
  • KasynKasyn Registered User regular
    I finished Joe Abercrombie's first trilogy -- The First Law series. I did not find it as grimdark as people have described it to be. I really enjoyed the characterization and the characters. The plot itself is extremely slow and not particularly enjoyable. He basically failed to write a single woman character that was compelling except Farah Dal Jin but she also has only the character trait of being -- very mad all the time. So I would say I hope that he learns to write better women in his future books. I suppose I will find out as I read the second trilogy or the standalone novels.

    I would not call it a complete deconstruction of the fantasy genre as also advertised but I did find it to be very clever and very much about being stuck between the immovable plans of nations or dictators or people of Great Power so that was kind of a really fun read.

    I give the first book 3/5 stars for being extremely slow but the second and third books 4/5 stars for being fairly unique and novel but not necessarily groundbreaking.

    The Age of Madness trilogy is a staggering improvement in the writing female characters department. Not that he was bad at it in the First Law, but you're right in that nobody was particularly compelling. AoM has two female POVs that are both excellent AND two or three significant side characters that are really quite good. Best Served Cold in the standalone books has a female main character who is also great.

    I think it's pretty textbook grimdark though, it's just not gratuitously so. Characters are definitely his strength as a writer, but the humor and action are very well done too. Plot in the first trilogy is nothing special, at times a little uneven, and has some sections I couldn't bring myself to care about. Almost all of this improves in the sequel trilogy.

    Big, big fan of Abercrombie overall, strongly recommend getting into the standalones or the follow-up trilogy, and all of the audiobooks continue to have the S tier Steven Pacey performances.

    Fuzzy Cumulonimbus CloudV1mPailryderAsthariel
  • V1mV1m Registered User regular
    Bogart wrote: »
    The Emily Wilson translation of The Odyssey is very good indeed. The hundred page introduction is an object lesson in the difficulties of translation and the conscious or unconscious bias the translator beings with them to the text. The translated text of the poem itself is plain, easily understandable, avoids the cod-epic style (deliberately) that other translations have and is sometimes quite funny in the dryness of the dialogue.

    Menelaus remains a pompous dickhead.

    Why did Helen book it at the first opportunity it sure is a mystery

  • Jealous DevaJealous Deva Registered User regular
    edited February 8
    credeiki wrote: »
    Mojo_Jojo wrote: »
    I've finished The Poppy War by RF Kuang. It started as something I couldn't put down but became a slog that I should have probably just called time on.

    It's quite rare, at least for me, to come across Chinese* fantasy although I'm aware that they have their own popular subgenres (wuxia, working class type rises up to become a martial arts hero who rights wrongs, and xianxia, mystics seeking immortality) and this straddles or sits beside both. It seems to have kicked up a fair bit of fuss in the west when it was released but I suspect that that was marketing rather than any genuine critical affection.

    The first third is very good, despite the subject matter being a little weak (outsider prodigy ending up at a prestigious school that is absolutely not War College Hogwarts) but from there it freewheels downhill as the lack of clear plot arcs or goals becomes increasingly bothersome and you realise it's going to end mid sentence and there will be two sequels.

    But the main issue is that it feels like the editor got bored and just gave up at some point leaving a manuscript with eventually no attention paid to the latter half. Characterisation flakes away leaving wafer thin single traits paired to names bobbing around. Writing starts to feel more like notes pinned together with scenes.

    The characterisation of the evil empire is "they are turbo Nazis". It's deliberate as highlighting how wars work on dehumanising the enemy but very poorly executed.

    There's also a few pretty childish bits of extreme gore / atrocities dropped in that achieve nothing except for jarring with the established tone (it reads like sprinkling the harder to read sections from American Psycho into Mistborn). It's almost certain there's a plot point in one of the sequels that will explain why super evil fantasy-japan are a hive mind focused on mutilating baby corpses but the lack of nuance makes it come across as very silly and what a fifteen year old might write to try and shock other fifteen years olds on some better forgotten internet message board. There's plenty of examples in other fiction of how to do this so much better.

    All in all, I won't be reading the sequels and I'm annoyed that it fails to deliver after such a strong start.

    *It was published in English although the author is Chinese-American having moved over to the US when she was little. Together with a degree in Chinese studies and some research in linguistics she seems well placed for an interesting point of view.

    Yeah, I hated it. I thought the school story and shaman training were fun (although: WHERE were the drug scenes if we’re taking psychedelics?) but the characterization was weak throughout and weaker as the book went on. The weird sassy children shaman army organization was 0% compelling and also 0% related to the beginning of the book. The fact that all dialogue was delivered in the form of light banter was offputting.

    As for the rest of it—whether the author intended to or not, the way she set up the novel sent the message that she was ok with genocide, and uh, obviously that’s awful. I think the author and publisher showed very bad judgment and morals to let the book out into the world with that message in it. Certainly I do not intend to read the rest of the series.

    Maybe it wasn’t really made clear enough, but the protagonist isn’t supposed to be a hero or person to be emulated, she’s literally Mao Zedong (pretty sure in the promotional material the author specifically called out Mao as her basis for the character) if he was also in the process of being slowly possessed by a demon.

    There’s no real point in the series where you are supposed to look at Rin and say “hey this person is awesome and what she is doing is awesome”, its the story of someone basically selling their soul to the devil.

    Jealous Deva on
    Hahnsoo1
  • swaylowswaylow Registered User regular
    Drovek wrote: »
    Finished Children of Time last night. I liked that, for me, the ending made the rest of the book even better.
    Always rooting for the spiders, but in the end the whole "building threads that join everything is their nature" vs human nature was delivered in a great way.

    The whole world building and how they reach analogous technology with living computers and bio-chemistry... as well as building a fucking space elevator out of silk. It was greatly imaginative in an unexpected way, for me.

    Is Children of Ruin a good follow up?
    I personally feel there was no need to write a sequel. It isn't a bad sequel but it was unnecessary.

    I think that is a fair assessment. I would probably suggest spacing them out to avoid a more direct comparison. They are simultaneously similar in general structure while also being very different. Of the 3-4 people in my friend group who've read them, everyone prefers Time but no one disliked Ruin.

    There are parts of Children of Ruin that still stick with me but it's just not as cohesive of a story as Time.

    Drovek
  • credeikicredeiki Registered User regular
    credeiki wrote: »
    Mojo_Jojo wrote: »
    I've finished The Poppy War by RF Kuang. It started as something I couldn't put down but became a slog that I should have probably just called time on.

    It's quite rare, at least for me, to come across Chinese* fantasy although I'm aware that they have their own popular subgenres (wuxia, working class type rises up to become a martial arts hero who rights wrongs, and xianxia, mystics seeking immortality) and this straddles or sits beside both. It seems to have kicked up a fair bit of fuss in the west when it was released but I suspect that that was marketing rather than any genuine critical affection.

    The first third is very good, despite the subject matter being a little weak (outsider prodigy ending up at a prestigious school that is absolutely not War College Hogwarts) but from there it freewheels downhill as the lack of clear plot arcs or goals becomes increasingly bothersome and you realise it's going to end mid sentence and there will be two sequels.

    But the main issue is that it feels like the editor got bored and just gave up at some point leaving a manuscript with eventually no attention paid to the latter half. Characterisation flakes away leaving wafer thin single traits paired to names bobbing around. Writing starts to feel more like notes pinned together with scenes.

    The characterisation of the evil empire is "they are turbo Nazis". It's deliberate as highlighting how wars work on dehumanising the enemy but very poorly executed.

    There's also a few pretty childish bits of extreme gore / atrocities dropped in that achieve nothing except for jarring with the established tone (it reads like sprinkling the harder to read sections from American Psycho into Mistborn). It's almost certain there's a plot point in one of the sequels that will explain why super evil fantasy-japan are a hive mind focused on mutilating baby corpses but the lack of nuance makes it come across as very silly and what a fifteen year old might write to try and shock other fifteen years olds on some better forgotten internet message board. There's plenty of examples in other fiction of how to do this so much better.

    All in all, I won't be reading the sequels and I'm annoyed that it fails to deliver after such a strong start.

    *It was published in English although the author is Chinese-American having moved over to the US when she was little. Together with a degree in Chinese studies and some research in linguistics she seems well placed for an interesting point of view.

    Yeah, I hated it. I thought the school story and shaman training were fun (although: WHERE were the drug scenes if we’re taking psychedelics?) but the characterization was weak throughout and weaker as the book went on. The weird sassy children shaman army organization was 0% compelling and also 0% related to the beginning of the book. The fact that all dialogue was delivered in the form of light banter was offputting.

    As for the rest of it—whether the author intended to or not, the way she set up the novel sent the message that she was ok with genocide, and uh, obviously that’s awful. I think the author and publisher showed very bad judgment and morals to let the book out into the world with that message in it. Certainly I do not intend to read the rest of the series.

    Maybe it wasn’t really made clear enough, but the protagonist isn’t supposed to be a hero or person to be emulated, she’s literally Mao Zedong (pretty sure in the promotional material the author specifically called out Mao as her basis for the character) if he was also in the process of being slowly possessed by a demon.

    There’s no real point in the series where you are supposed to look at Rin and say “hey this person is awesome and what she is doing is awesome”, its the story of someone basically selling their soul to the devil.

    It doesn’t work because the author uses the tropes and framework of a YA book where you *are* supposed to like the protagonist. That’s what I mean when I say ‘the way she set up the novel’.

    Steam, LoL: credeiki
    KanaPailryderMojo_Jojo
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