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[Book] Thread Soon Will Be Making Another Run

BogartBogart Streetwise Hercules Fighting The Rising OddsRegistered User, Moderator mod

TAKE A LOOK, IT'S IN A BOOK!

Books! Despite everything, they're still around. The right book can save a life, ignite a passion, or spark a revolution. The wrong book is Atlas Shrugged.

Here are some books that are good. Tell us of others.

The (Semi)Official D&D Recommended Reading List

nabokov.jpgGENERAL FICTION
The New York Trilogy by Paul Auster
The Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolano
Ficciones by Jorge Luis Borges
The Master and Margarita by Mikail Bulgakov
If on a winter's night a traveler by Italo Calvino
Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino
The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
Foucault’s Pendulum by Umberto Eco
As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Carter Beats the Devil by Glen David Gold
A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby
Dubliners by James Joyce
Ulysses by James Joyce
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry
Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
Black Swan Green by David Mitchell
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Harauki Murakami
Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Harauki Murakami
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov
The Quincunx by Charles Palliser
Youth in Revolt by C.D. Payne
The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon
Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger
Civilwarland in Bad Decline by George Saunders
A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut
Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh
The Intuitionist by Colson Whitehead
The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder
Life with Jeeves by PG Wodehouse

scifi.jpgSCIENCE FICTION
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
The Foundation Trilogy by Isaac Asimov
The Caves of Steel by Isaac Asimov
The Player of Games by Iain M. Banks
The Algebraist by Iain M. Banks
The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester
The Vorkosigan Saga by Lois McMaster Bujold
Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke
Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. Clarke
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick
The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick
When Gravity Fails by George Alec Effinger
Neuromancer by William Gibson
Pattern Recognition by William Gibson
The Forever War by Joe Haldeman
Dune by Frank Herbert
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
The Left Hand Of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin
A Canticle for Liebowitz by Walter M. Miller, Jr.
1984 by George Orwell
Chasm City by Alastair Reynolds
Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson
Hyperion by Dan Simmons
Ilium by Dan Simmons
Last and First Men by Olaf Stapledon
Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson
Anathem by Neal Stephenson
Stations of the Tide by Michael Swanwick
The Dying Earth by Jack Vance
A Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge
Dread Empire’s Fall by Walter Jon Williams
The Illuminatus! Trilogy by Robert Anton Wilson
The Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe
The Fifth Head of Cerberus by Gene Wolfe

elfparrot.jpgFANTASY
The First Law trilogy by Joe Abercrombie
The Prydain Chronicles by Lloyd Alexander
Three Hearts and Three Lions by Poul Anderson
Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
The Sharing Knife by Lois McMaster Bujold
The Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher
The Codex Alera series by Jim Butcher
The Man Who Was Thursday by G.K. Chesterton
Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke
Little, Big by John Crowley
The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant by Stephen R. Donaldson
The Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson
American Gods by Neil Gaiman
Ash by Mary Gentle
The Magicians by Lev Grossman
Bridge of Birds by Barry Hughart
The Dark Tower by Stephen King
The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin
Perdido Street Station by China Mieville
The Scar by China Mieville
The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers
The Discworld series by Terry Pratchett
His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman
The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien
The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien
The Once and Future King by TH White
Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn by Tad Williams
Latro in the Mist by Gene Wolfe
The Chronicles of Amber by Roger Zelazny

bogie.jpgMYSTERY/CRIME
The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler
The Myron Bolitar series by Harlan Coben
Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle
L.A. Confidential by James Ellroy
American Tabloid by James Ellroy
The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett
The Continental Op by Dashiell Hammett
The Ripley novels by Patricia Highsmith
Fletch by Gregory Macdonald
The Wallander novels by Henning Mankell
The Inspector Rebus novels by Ian Rankin
Keeper by Greg Rucka
The Lord Peter Wimsey novels by Dorothy L. Sayers
Hardcase by Dan Simmons
Gorky Park by Martin Cruz Smith

4589534743_516d360904_o.jpgESPIONAGE/THRILLERS
Complicity by Iain Banks
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy by John Le Carré
The Spy Who Came in From the Cold by John Le Carré
The Constant Gardener by John Le Carré
The Secret Agent by Joseph Conrad
The James Bond novels by Ian Fleming
Our Man in Havana by Graham Greene
The Quiet American by Graham Greene
Harlot's Ghost by Norman Mailer
Keeper by Greg Rucka
A Gentleman's Game by Greg Rucka
The Crook Factory by Dan Simmons

price.jpgHORROR
Weaveworld by Clive Barker
World War Z by Max Brooks
The King in Yellow by Robert W. Chambers
House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski
Heart Shaped Box by Joe Hill
It by Stephen King
The Talisman by Stephen King and Peter Straub
Demons by John Shirley
Song of Kali by Dan Simmons
Carrion Comfort by Dan Simmons
John Dies at the End by David Wong

hitler.jpgNONFICTION
Tokyo Vice by Jake Adelstein
The Wonder That Was India by AL Basham
D-Day by Anthony Beevor
Easy Riders, Raging Bulls by Peter Biskind
The Centennial History of the Civil War - Bruce Catton
The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins
Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond
The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon
Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin
Speed Tribes by Karl Taro Greenfield
All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot
The Iranian Labyrinth by Dilip Hiro
Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid by Douglas Hofstadter
The Great Game: The Struggle for Empire in Central Asia by Peter Hopkirk
Marvel Comics: The Untold Story by Sean Howe
In the Graveyard of Empires: America's War in Afghanistan by Seth Jones
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang by Pauline Kael
I Lost It at the Movies by Pauline Kael
On Writing by Stephen King
Battle Cry of Freedom by James MacPherson
Fear of Music: The 261 Greatest Albums Since Punk and Disco by Gary Mulholland
This is Uncool: The 500 Greatest Singles Since Punk and Disco by Gary Mulholland
The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli
My Turf: Horses, Boxers, Blood Money and the Sporting Life by William Nack
Zombie Spaceship Wasteland by Patton Oswalt
You'll Never Eat Lunch In This Town Again by Julia Phillips
Spike, Mike, Slackers & Dykes by John Pierson
The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat by Oliver Sacks
The Demon-Haunted World by Carl Sagan
The Dragons of Eden by Carl Sagan
Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets by David Simon
The Corner by David Simon and Edward Burns
The Elements of Style by Strunk and White
Reading Comics by Douglas Wolk

AbsalonVirgil_Leads_YouDrovek
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Posts

  • BogartBogart Streetwise Hercules Fighting The Rising Odds Registered User, Moderator mod
    Credit to jacob for the OP, taken wholesale and altered not one jot from the last thread.

    Books: a worthwhile endeavour or less good than binge watching a TV show while you play a videogame and check Instagram?

  • FrozenzenFrozenzen Registered User regular
    A worthwhile endavour! Not to disparage binging TV and such, that can also be a worthwhile endavour. But there is a unique charm to reading.

    I've been slacking on my reading lately though, since I've had to read a loooooot of dry stuff to finish up my teachers degree. Luckily audiobooks are pretty good and can be listened to while walking! Currently listening to Children of Ruin, and it's excellent. I kind of want to get both Children of Time and Ruin in regular book form now since they are both very good and I want to toss them at other people so they can read them. Children of ruin has a lot of the charm of the first book in giving different viewpoints on the nature of sapience and communication, but seems to have more of an actual plot. Looking forward to seeing how it ends up.

  • BrodyBrody The Watch The First ShoreRegistered User regular
    I finished up the first book in the Murderbot Diaries series yesterday. Fun book, although its really short. I read it in a day. I was looking up the other books to put on hold, and saw The Wizard Hunters, and it was available, so I started reading that. I hope its fairly light, because Black Leopard, Red Wolf just came up for me from the library, and I understand it is a very dark book.

    "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
  • MahnmutMahnmut Registered User regular
    Brody wrote: »
    I finished up the first book in the Murderbot Diaries series yesterday. Fun book, although its really short. I read it in a day. I was looking up the other books to put on hold, and saw The Wizard Hunters, and it was available, so I started reading that. I hope its fairly light, because Black Leopard, Red Wolf just came up for me from the library, and I understand it is a very dark book.

    I think you'll be okay. From memory, it's similar in tone to Murderbot -- very upsetting things do happen, and we're dealing with issues ranging from depression to worse, but overall the tone is light adventure and personal growth?

    Steam/LoL: Jericho89
  • JazzJazz irregular Un-UKRegistered User regular
    edited June 11
    That reminds me, I need to get back to Snow Crash and finally read Neuromancer.

    Behind the times? Naah...

    Jazz on
  • DrovekDrovek Registered User regular
    Finished Leviathan Wakes. Really enjoyed it after watching the series, specially because it lets you get in the head of the characters (but the series shows the pewpewpew, so that's great too.)

    Really want to continue into the next one, but i would rather not burn out on them. Maybe I'll start The Last Wish (The Witcher) to clean the palate a bit.

    steam_sig.png
    Dark Raven X
  • nexuscrawlernexuscrawler Registered User regular
    I just finished up my first runthrough fo the Black Company books. a blindspot ni my fantasy reading for a long time

    what a bizarre oddly enthralling series

    credeikiMahnmutJragghentapeslinger
  • credeikicredeiki Registered User regular
    Jazz wrote: »
    That reminds me, I need to get back to Snow Crash and finally read Neuromancer.

    Behind the times? Naah...

    It's still great! So uniquely stylish. And if you think it's a bit too stylized, don't give up on Gibson, and maybe check out Pattern Recognition, which is more of a human story (and still super super interesting).

    Steam, LoL: credeiki
    air-photos.tumblr.com
    Jazzjakobagger
  • MahnmutMahnmut Registered User regular
    I've been applying for a new job / stressed about my current job, so of course I've been re-reading Imperial Radch + Provenance. I don't know, folks, those books are just like a warm fuzzy blanky and I love them so much. <3 If I ever get a tattoo it's basically got to be some form of "My heart is a fish / hiding in the water-grass"

    Steam/LoL: Jericho89
    DrovekBrodycredeiki
  • MegaMan001MegaMan001 CRNA Rochester, MNRegistered User regular
    I am really trying to get through the second book of Baru Cormorant, but man, with everyone having two names it's getting difficult to keep track of everyone.

    I am in the business of saving lives.
  • credeikicredeiki Registered User regular
    I'm currently reading the Causal Angel, the third book in the Quantum Thief trilogy by Hannu Ranjaniemi. I'm so glad it spends time with the zoku! They're delightful. I really enjoy these books; I think they can a bit confusingly written in a way that can't be disentangled--most of the various multilayered schemes and reveals do not have evidence beforehand and just show up out of nowhere, and there's a lot of minds within minds within minds, again not necessarily foreshadowed until key moments--but I think that makes them pretty fun to read. Still, it means that I would not recommend them to everyone--plus, the characterization has equal or lesser weight to the Cool Future Combat Shit, so a reader has to be looking for some fun genre action in order to get the most from these. With those qualifiers: these books are great! So fun. Mieli becomes more and more interesting.

    Steam, LoL: credeiki
    air-photos.tumblr.com
    MahnmutSummaryJudgment
  • jakobaggerjakobagger LO THY DREAD EMPIRE CHAOS IS RESTORED Registered User regular
    credeiki wrote: »
    I'm currently reading the Causal Angel, the third book in the Quantum Thief trilogy by Hannu Ranjaniemi. I'm so glad it spends time with the zoku! They're delightful. I really enjoy these books; I think they can a bit confusingly written in a way that can't be disentangled--most of the various multilayered schemes and reveals do not have evidence beforehand and just show up out of nowhere, and there's a lot of minds within minds within minds, again not necessarily foreshadowed until key moments--but I think that makes them pretty fun to read. Still, it means that I would not recommend them to everyone--plus, the characterization has equal or lesser weight to the Cool Future Combat Shit, so a reader has to be looking for some fun genre action in order to get the most from these. With those qualifiers: these books are great! So fun. Mieli becomes more and more interesting.

    A fun and very niche reference in the Zoku part:
    I figured you wouldn't like the more mainstream games like jeepform or fastaval – they tend to be all grimdark anyway

    Fastaval is the the most prestigious Danish convention for tabletop roleplaying (a lot of it with a very artistic/auteur/hipster vibe) and Jeepform was (is?) a style and group within Nordic LARP. Like most really fancy arts in Scandinavia I think both scenes tended towards the dark and depressing, or at least serious.

    So that was just a pretty deep cut that I found pretty funny, as a member of the probably quite small minority of readers it was aimed at.

    bgg / steam / goodreads / Bnet: Bygasto#2537
    credeiki
  • Mojo_JojoMojo_Jojo But do you really believe him? Registered User regular
    The second section of The Fifth Head of Cerebus is very tedious. I'm pretty disappointed because the first was really quite good.

    Homogeneous distribution of your varieties of amuse-gueule
  • Jam WarriorJam Warrior Registered User regular
    Is new book thread time to float the idea of a PA book club? Kind of a ‘book of the month’ thing? I’ve joined a book club at work and it has done the job of getting me back in the habit of reading more, but the books chosen have never really stood out to me. Some goods but no greats other than one I had already read.

    Seems to me it would be a fairly low maintenance way to get some forumer top recommendations together and encourage people to be reading vaguely concurrently for a bit more discussion.

    MhCw7nZ.gif
    Drovek
  • Dark Raven XDark Raven X Laugh hard, run fast, be kindRegistered User regular
    Just started the first Malazan Book of the Fallen on the flight to Chicago. This is... pretty hard to follow! I like Sails so far tho.

    Oh brilliant
    BlackDragon480credeikiAbsalon
  • redxredx I(x)=2(x)+1 whole numbersRegistered User regular
    I think they're have been a few, which tended to peter out after a book or two. Maybe do a search, and see what's worked. I think they just sort of faded off the front page, and discussion was a little hard due to wildly different reading rates. If you talk a mod into doing a sticky, it might help.

    I expect you will find at least initial interest.

    This machine kills threads.
  • wazillawazilla Registered User regular
    Finally took the time to finish the Southern Reach trilogy.

    Hmmm hmm hm I don't know how I feel.

    Psn:wazukki
  • BrodyBrody The Watch The First ShoreRegistered User regular
    wazilla wrote: »
    Finally took the time to finish the Southern Reach trilogy.

    Hmmm hmm hm I don't know how I feel.

    I really need to get Acceptance.

    "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
  • BlackDragon480BlackDragon480 Bluster Kerfuffle Master of Windy ImportRegistered User regular
    Just started the first Malazan Book of the Fallen on the flight to Chicago. This is... pretty hard to follow! I like Sails so far tho.

    Yeah, the whole series isn't big on exposition/explanation dumps and does toss you into the deep end and it's sink or swim. That being said, Erickson is very good at giving plenty of surface threads that you can fill in via context and info gleaned from other POVs and typically doesn't pull stuff completely out of his ass, though some events may take 3-4 books to have the who/what/where/when/whys fully addressed.

    And yes, Tattersail is a great character, I've taken to naming female mages in games with some variant of her name for the last 10 years. And through Gardens of the Moon, pay lots of attention when it focuses on Ganoes Paran or Crokus Younghand, they are the closest to a reader insert there is and a lot of characters come as close as the setting gets to laying out hard ground rules for how things work when interacting with them.

    First they came for the Muslims and we said...NOT TODAY MOTHERFUCKERS!
    Dark Raven XJragghenMayabird
  • CptHamiltonCptHamilton Registered User regular
    edited June 14
    Just started the first Malazan Book of the Fallen on the flight to Chicago. This is... pretty hard to follow! I like Sails so far tho.

    Yeah, the whole series isn't big on exposition/explanation dumps and does toss you into the deep end and it's sink or swim. That being said, Erickson is very good at giving plenty of surface threads that you can fill in via context and info gleaned from other POVs and typically doesn't pull stuff completely out of his ass, though some events may take 3-4 books to have the who/what/where/when/whys fully addressed.

    And yes, Tattersail is a great character, I've taken to naming female mages in games with some variant of her name for the last 10 years. And through Gardens of the Moon, pay lots of attention when it focuses on Ganoes Paran or Crokus Younghand, they are the closest to a reader insert there is and a lot of characters come as close as the setting gets to laying out hard ground rules for how things work when interacting with them.

    Having listened to the entire series as audiobooks, the spellings of Ganoes Paran and Crokus took me a bit by surprise... how exactly does one spell... uh... I don't even know how to transliterate it. The creatures with whom the Imas (which may itself not be spelled correctly) warred.

    I'm really looking forward to the point where I get around to listening to the series again so that I can experience the first few books already knowing so much more of the backstory.


    Unrelated: I'm currently reading The Empty Ones by Robert Brockway, sequel to The Unnoticables. It's a hell of a ride and I'd recommend it highly to anyone who is a fan of Richard Kadrey. Amazon insists it's similar to John Dies at the End, which I guess I can understand in that it's bizarre and full of terrible people doing awful things with an author who is great at the same sort of caustic humor but despite all those similarities I have a hard time lumping them together. The books feel much more like Kill City Blues than John Dies.

    CptHamilton on
    PSN,Steam,Live | CptHamiltonian
  • BrodyBrody The Watch The First ShoreRegistered User regular
    Jaghut.

    Also, the Malazan series really rewards rereading.

    "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
    BlackDragon480JragghenMayabirdMoridin889
  • BogartBogart Streetwise Hercules Fighting The Rising Odds Registered User, Moderator mod


    From a thread about the incredible Usborne Book of Ghosts, getting a reprint forty years after it first appeared. I read this fantastic piece of spooky nonsense again and again as a kid. The new edition has an introduction by Reece Shearsmith of the League of Gentlemen, and I feel like it was an important building block in many a child's fascination with THE SPOOPY.

    Dark Raven XN1tSt4lkerwanderingBlackDragon480
  • BrodyBrody The Watch The First ShoreRegistered User regular
    Finished The Wizard Hunters last night, I realized about halfway through that I had started myself another series... Well, whats done is done. Otherwise, I thought it was pretty good. The twist was well foreshadowed, so that I felt like I had a pretty good idea what was happening, but it didn't feel super obvious to me. Also, the name of the starting city being Vienne had me expecting a much more Urban Fantasy alt history sort of deal, and although it has a lot of parallels, was much more of a true fantasy steam punk/post industrial era thing.

    Starting the Leopard/Wolf book now.

    "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
  • pyromaniac221pyromaniac221 this just might be an interestin YTRegistered User regular
    It’s been a while and I still have no idea how I actually feel about Black Leopard, Red Wolf. That book is so fucking bizarre structurally.

    psn tooaware, friend code SW-4760-0062-3248 it me
  • SummaryJudgmentSummaryJudgment Today we will paint a mountain that owes us nothing. Registered User regular
    I had first hold on Stephenson's newest, Fall, and I'm really really enjoying it so far

    It reads like a grown-up Cryptonomicon

    tERiPJd.jpg
    jimb213
  • BogartBogart Streetwise Hercules Fighting The Rising Odds Registered User, Moderator mod
    The Popes, by John Julius Norwich. Norwich appears to have led one of those fabulously privileged lives that certain poshos fall into, meeting a couple of popes via family connections or by hanging about with the right duke, but he’s also an extremely entertaining writer. This is a history of the papacy, but told with a good eye for scandal and deadpan understatement.

    Pope Joan is a myth, he thinks. John XII was a right goer, though.

  • CptHamiltonCptHamilton Registered User regular
    I had first hold on Stephenson's newest, Fall, and I'm really really enjoying it so far

    It reads like a grown-up Cryptonomicon

    I've heard several positive opinions about Fall and I just don't understand them.
    I loved Cryptonomicon. The Rise and Fall of DODO and Anathem were great, too, and Seveneves and Reamde were decent, but I thought Fall was just awful.

    The philosophy and science of mind stuff were "I read a wikipedia article" level facile and the IT stuff was all a mix of nonsensical and futurism-ideas-from-a-decade-ago. Stephenson has never known how to write characters or tell a character-driven story so his work pretty much lives and dies on the ideas and Fall just had nothing going on. Especially in the back half of the novel. There were like 3 really solid short stories in there - maybe a novella if they were competently woven together - but definitely not 880 pages worth.

    There's a fair chunk of the front part of the novel that's really pretty solid. And it seems to be what everyone mentions when they say how good the book is. But everything in that good part simply vanishes shortly after it appears and the rest is just an interminable slog with very little of interest to say.

    Fall spoilers through the whole length of the novel:
    The part about the fake nuclear bombing was great. That, leading into a half-cocked plan to replace the internet and then the flash-forward to a post-fact society could have been an excellent novel. I'd totally read a Cryptonomicon or a Reamde type cross-country adventure set in the weird, MAGA-influenced, post-Moab America.

    But after he spends all that time world-building this weird future he just drops it and never mentions it again. What happens with the Leviticans and the AI-generated nonsense-meme society spreading through rural America? How does that work out? Who knows! Apparently it doesn't matter!

    Why doesn't it matter? Because Stephenson apparently really wanted to spend a fistful of hundreds of pages telling a weird mash-up of pre- and post-Abrahamic religious myths and vaguely Tolkeinesque high fantasy about simulated people.

    And that story could even be interesting, if any of the characters were more than paper thin. Or if the fantasy novel in the back half of the book had been edited in half and entwined with an ongoing story in the outside world. Or if any of the fantasy stuff had any stakes at all. Or if the interaction between the fantasy- and real-world events made any fucking sense whatsoever.

    I mean... ALISS or SLUZA or whatever the company wound up being called running bitworld would have been sued into absolute oblivion when people's estates were vanishing into their bank accounts only for a family's dead loved one to end up as a malformed slave in service to AI overlords under a mad god billionaire's thumb. Stephenson goes to lengths to talk about how watching bitworld is basically all people do anymore and yet not a single word about the living world's reaction to watching a billionaire turn the place into a theocratic dystopia.

    Hell, you could even tell an at least interesting story about a simulated reality where the limits and technical details of the simulation have obvious impact on how the world itself works but Stephenson barely bothers beyond some hand-wavey stuff about access to computational resources. What does it mean for Dodge or El to use up a lot of computational power? What is it they're computing? How do any of the physical-layer factors he talks about actually manifest in the simulated world? What exactly is happening when things arise from or dissolve into chaos? How do the simulated minds interact with the simulated world? What is the aura stuff, from a computational/simulationist standpoint? What, computationally, does it mean for Edda to have the giantess properties she does?

    Or any of the mentioned-then-glossed-over-and-forgotten concepts. What does it mean when various characters later in the novel talk about having "passed on" several times? There was brief discussion in the living world about whether it was possible or ethical to reboot people's simulated minds but never any conclusion, and some of the people who are said to have passed on more than once - presumably meaning died repeatedly - are pure-AI entities. Some simulated human minds who die come back, apparently with their memories intact, while others don't, with no indication of why or how. Dodge somehow managed to have the one thing done to him which is described as irrevocably final - being terminated by Sophia's root access - yet he not only self-rebooted but managed to somehow do so repeatedly in such total stealth that not even the system administrators could tell he still existed. How?

    And yeah, it would be fair to say that a lot of these questions don't need answers or aren't really integral to the story... but having every question answered in obsessive detail is basically what Neil Stephenson does. And given that he's not actually very good at plotting and absolutely abymsal at character writing or dialog, if he's going to drop the ball on that then what's left?

    PSN,Steam,Live | CptHamiltonian
    SummaryJudgment
  • Mojo_JojoMojo_Jojo But do you really believe him? Registered User regular
    Mojo_Jojo wrote: »
    The second section of The Fifth Head of Cerebus is very tedious. I'm pretty disappointed because the first was really quite good.

    Section three is back on form.

    Homogeneous distribution of your varieties of amuse-gueule
  • SummaryJudgmentSummaryJudgment Today we will paint a mountain that owes us nothing. Registered User regular
    edited June 17
    I had first hold on Stephenson's newest, Fall, and I'm really really enjoying it so far

    It reads like a grown-up Cryptonomicon

    I've heard several positive opinions about Fall and I just don't understand them.
    I loved Cryptonomicon. The Rise and Fall of DODO and Anathem were great, too, and Seveneves and Reamde were decent, but I thought Fall was just awful.

    The philosophy and science of mind stuff were "I read a wikipedia article" level facile and the IT stuff was all a mix of nonsensical and futurism-ideas-from-a-decade-ago. Stephenson has never known how to write characters or tell a character-driven story so his work pretty much lives and dies on the ideas and Fall just had nothing going on. Especially in the back half of the novel. There were like 3 really solid short stories in there - maybe a novella if they were competently woven together - but definitely not 880 pages worth.

    There's a fair chunk of the front part of the novel that's really pretty solid. And it seems to be what everyone mentions when they say how good the book is. But everything in that good part simply vanishes shortly after it appears and the rest is just an interminable slog with very little of interest to say.

    Fall spoilers through the whole length of the novel:
    The part about the fake nuclear bombing was great. That, leading into a half-cocked plan to replace the internet and then the flash-forward to a post-fact society could have been an excellent novel. I'd totally read a Cryptonomicon or a Reamde type cross-country adventure set in the weird, MAGA-influenced, post-Moab America.

    But after he spends all that time world-building this weird future he just drops it and never mentions it again. What happens with the Leviticans and the AI-generated nonsense-meme society spreading through rural America? How does that work out? Who knows! Apparently it doesn't matter!

    Why doesn't it matter? Because Stephenson apparently really wanted to spend a fistful of hundreds of pages telling a weird mash-up of pre- and post-Abrahamic religious myths and vaguely Tolkeinesque high fantasy about simulated people.

    And that story could even be interesting, if any of the characters were more than paper thin. Or if the fantasy novel in the back half of the book had been edited in half and entwined with an ongoing story in the outside world. Or if any of the fantasy stuff had any stakes at all. Or if the interaction between the fantasy- and real-world events made any fucking sense whatsoever.

    I mean... ALISS or SLUZA or whatever the company wound up being called running bitworld would have been sued into absolute oblivion when people's estates were vanishing into their bank accounts only for a family's dead loved one to end up as a malformed slave in service to AI overlords under a mad god billionaire's thumb. Stephenson goes to lengths to talk about how watching bitworld is basically all people do anymore and yet not a single word about the living world's reaction to watching a billionaire turn the place into a theocratic dystopia.

    Hell, you could even tell an at least interesting story about a simulated reality where the limits and technical details of the simulation have obvious impact on how the world itself works but Stephenson barely bothers beyond some hand-wavey stuff about access to computational resources. What does it mean for Dodge or El to use up a lot of computational power? What is it they're computing? How do any of the physical-layer factors he talks about actually manifest in the simulated world? What exactly is happening when things arise from or dissolve into chaos? How do the simulated minds interact with the simulated world? What is the aura stuff, from a computational/simulationist standpoint? What, computationally, does it mean for Edda to have the giantess properties she does?

    Or any of the mentioned-then-glossed-over-and-forgotten concepts. What does it mean when various characters later in the novel talk about having "passed on" several times? There was brief discussion in the living world about whether it was possible or ethical to reboot people's simulated minds but never any conclusion, and some of the people who are said to have passed on more than once - presumably meaning died repeatedly - are pure-AI entities. Some simulated human minds who die come back, apparently with their memories intact, while others don't, with no indication of why or how. Dodge somehow managed to have the one thing done to him which is described as irrevocably final - being terminated by Sophia's root access - yet he not only self-rebooted but managed to somehow do so repeatedly in such total stealth that not even the system administrators could tell he still existed. How?

    And yeah, it would be fair to say that a lot of these questions don't need answers or aren't really integral to the story... but having every question answered in obsessive detail is basically what Neil Stephenson does. And given that he's not actually very good at plotting and absolutely abymsal at character writing or dialog, if he's going to drop the ball on that then what's left?
    Unfortunately, I had just finished that first portion you mentioned when I posted

    It felt a lot like bridging 2019 and pre-Jackpot America in The Peripheral, or Jesusland by way of Richard Morgan, and I thought/hoped that'd be the book

    The Dodge in Hell stuff was a giant snooze

    SummaryJudgment on
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  • BrodyBrody The Watch The First ShoreRegistered User regular
    I think I'm going to give up on Black Panther, Red Wolf. I haven't gotten very far, and I hate quitting on books, but I'm starting to wonder if I don't have the free mental cycles that I used to that made puzzling through this shit more plausible.

    "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
  • ThawmusThawmus Registered User regular
    Hi Book thread! I decided to stop in here and just say that after a long period of time (years) not making the time to read anything, I'm nearly done with the Broken Earth trilogy and I'm pretty damn pleased with it!

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    Dark Raven XBrodyMahnmutDrovekcredeikijakobaggerknitdanMorranMayabirdtapeslingerHonkA Kobold's Kobold
  • Mojo_JojoMojo_Jojo But do you really believe him? Registered User regular
    One thing I've taken to doing recently is, when I really enjoy a novel, sending the author a note somehow (email, via their website, twatting, whatever there only tends to be one channel per author). I started doing that because I heard an author on a podcast mention that she enjoyed the feedback-free personal thumbs up.

    It's harder to do with dead authors

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    ThawmusredxDrovekjakobaggerDark Raven XMayabirdwanderingtapeslingerA Kobold's Kobold
  • DrovekDrovek Registered User regular
    Last week i finished Go: A coming of age Story.. I picked that up because last year I read Pachinko and really liked the setting (Zainichi in post-WWII Japan). While it's also interesting, it's also a less mature story. It's still a fun read and not very long, though, but you're in for some teen drama. :p
    Thawmus wrote: »
    Hi Book thread! I decided to stop in here and just say that after a long period of time (years) not making the time to read anything, I'm nearly done with the Broken Earth trilogy and I'm pretty damn pleased with it!

    Now that's a way to come back to reading.

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    Thawmuschrono_traveller
  • ThawmusThawmus Registered User regular
    Thawmus wrote: »
    Hi Book thread! I decided to stop in here and just say that after a long period of time (years) not making the time to read anything, I'm nearly done with the Broken Earth trilogy and I'm pretty damn pleased with it!

    I finished this morning. Good stuff. I liked all the reveals, and that I never struggled with her descriptions, but never got bored with them, either.

    Now off to Leviathan Wakes.

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    chrono_travellerN1tSt4lker
  • Mojo_JojoMojo_Jojo But do you really believe him? Registered User regular
    I finished off The Fifth Head of Cerebus and it was two thirds really good, one third tedious. This doubtlessly means I missed something quite important and relevant in the middle section. The rest seemed pretty straight forward which was good, I was a bit worried I might end up just lost in a subtle and complicated game of clever double meanings that would end up needing some kind of reading guide to follow

    I think I'm going to check out more of this Gene Wolf character. Especially as having now googled for some information about him I've become aware that he might have been a walrus who was moderately successful at impersonating a man

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  • BogartBogart Streetwise Hercules Fighting The Rising Odds Registered User, Moderator mod
    Spoilers for Fifth Head.
    I can’t remember offhand but is the second section the bit where the shape changer replaces the protagonist?

  • Mojo_JojoMojo_Jojo But do you really believe him? Registered User regular
    Bogart wrote: »
    Spoilers for Fifth Head.
    I can’t remember offhand but is the second section the bit where the shape changer replaces the protagonist?

    No.
    it's the bit set in pre colonial times and it turns out the humans are shapshifters and the shadow children are humans who have been using their psychic powers to repel other humans

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  • BogartBogart Streetwise Hercules Fighting The Rising Odds Registered User, Moderator mod
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    The Popes continues to entertain. Paul II kept himself busy.

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  • MayabirdMayabird Pecking at the keyboardRegistered User regular
    I think I only said it in the SE++ thread, but the The Illuminatus! Trilogy did not age well at all. Humor is said to be the most perishable of writing, and yeah. It's a lot of bad stoner humor mixed with stuff that a sheltered white boy just going off to college and wanting to be an asshole would think is 'edgy' (white girl getting banged by a big black dude! Prison rape! Homophobia and transphobia!) Maybe it was all transgressive and wild when it was written in the 70s, but now it just comes off as gross (like...a lot of stuff from the 70s). If you haven't read it, I really don't recommend reading it. Just look up the things about 23, hailing Eris, and fnords so you get the references.

    Mojo_Jojotapeslinger
  • Mojo_JojoMojo_Jojo But do you really believe him? Registered User regular
    Mayabird wrote: »
    I think I only said it in the SE++ thread, but the The Illuminatus! Trilogy did not age well at all. Humor is said to be the most perishable of writing, and yeah. It's a lot of bad stoner humor mixed with stuff that a sheltered white boy just going off to college and wanting to be an asshole would think is 'edgy' (white girl getting banged by a big black dude! Prison rape! Homophobia and transphobia!) Maybe it was all transgressive and wild when it was written in the 70s, but now it just comes off as gross (like...a lot of stuff from the 70s). If you haven't read it, I really don't recommend reading it. Just look up the things about 23, hailing Eris, and fnords so you get the references.

    Yep this sums up my experience too. I had similar feelings about A Stranger in a Strange Land. No doubt it pushed the boundaries of the time but now it just oscillates around embarrassingly regressive

    Maybe they are academically interesting but you can't ever recommend them

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