[Book] Thread Soon Will Be Making Another Run

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  • BrodyBrody The Watch The First ShoreRegistered User regular
    I need to start making small book reports for every book I finish so that I can remember what happened in the book. I keep leaving too long between sequels and then trying to find a decent synopsis of the last book is like pulling teeth.

    "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
  • QuidQuid I don't... what... hnnng Registered User regular
    Spinning Silver is goooooooooood

    Novik's eastern European Grimm settings are excellent. I hope she's writing more.

    credeikiMaguanoknitdanjakobagger
  • MahnmutMahnmut Registered User regular
    @OremLK Yes! T.Kingfisher/Ursula Vernon is my author of the year. Clockwork Boys is very satisfactory and it's my least favorite by her. I think Summer in Orcus is my favorite? All her books have crisp, colorful prose and interesting, loveable characters.

    Steam/LoL: Jericho89
    OremLK
  • SummaryJudgmentSummaryJudgment Today we will paint a mountain that owes us nothing. Registered User regular
    edited January 26
    I finished Agency
    It was weird as a book, weird for Gibson, weird compared to The Peripheral. The conflict happens off-screen and there's no real sense that anyone is in danger. There's no real antagonist? The named purported antagonist is alleged to have made things worse by getting HRC elected due to butterfly effect items, and then we're informed of his offscreen death, and characters ruminate at one point or another how unthinkable Trump's election would be, with no real consequence.

    The scope is held so tight there's no substantive universe building from Peripheral. It reminds me of Spook Country, both as the. middle book of a trilogy and in terms of the relative lack of awareness for the POV characte, but Spook Country pulls it off in a way I don't think Agency does.

    It's probably the least Gibson-ish of his catalog in terms of nerding out on awesome tech or esoterics. I'm also kind of disappointed and scratching my head at the purported rewrites after Trump won - Gibson had remarked that "none of the characters' motivations made sense anymore", but there doesn't seem to be anything in what we're reading that would've corresponded to that.

    Bummer. I borrowed Pattern Recognition to my wife years ago, who was like "nothing happens?" In that case I was like "nooooooo" but in this case I think she might be right.
    [/quote]

    SummaryJudgment on
    tERiPJd.jpg
  • pyromaniac221pyromaniac221 this just might be an interestin YTRegistered User regular
    Anyone have any opinions on the best translation of Romance of the Three Kingdoms?

    psn tooaware, friend code SW-4760-0062-3248 it me
  • QuidQuid I don't... what... hnnng Registered User regular
    Ninth House is weird.

    Raiden333
  • KanaKana Registered User regular
    Anyone have any opinions on the best translation of Romance of the Three Kingdoms?

    I have the Moss Roberts translation, and afaik that version seems to be generally regarded as the best balance between accuracy and readability?

    I accidentally got the annotated version though and it cuts out waaay too much, don't get that, just skip past the boring bits in the full version.

    A trap is for fish: when you've got the fish, you can forget the trap. A snare is for rabbits: when you've got the rabbit, you can forget the snare. Words are for meaning: when you've got the meaning, you can forget the words.
  • BogartBogart Streetwise Hercules Fighting The Rising Odds Registered User, Moderator mod
    Finished Ghostwritten. An amusingly bleak ending, and a very good book, but I think he managed the trick of interconnected stories better later on in Cloud Atlas.

  • GrudgeGrudge Far Beyond DrivenRegistered User regular
    Grudge wrote: »
    And current reading - picked up The Traitor Baru Cormorant, on recommendation from the thread. Yay, another fantasy series featuring banking! (read Daniel Abraham's Dagger and Coin series a while ago, and enjoyed that one a lot). Traitor is good so far, nice take on colonialism and empire politics - however I have one niggling annoyance; the names! They make no sense - there is a random mix of your standard fantasy names together with very Earth-culture sounding ones - Chinese, French, Nordic, Eastern European, and sometimes it's very jarring. I get it - there are influences from many peoples mixed in the Masquerade and it's conquered provinces, but it feels very haphazard and not at all consistent. People who should have Nordic names (because they come from the north) instead have Chinese ones, and so on. Is this all intentional, or am I missing something? Is there a hidden reason that is explained at some point? Anyway, it's just a small thing - the book is good but this is kind of annoying.

    I believe it's intentional as a means of preventing you developing expectations based on the perceived cultural parallel. Neither The Empire of Masks nor the M'bo nor any of either nation's constituent states has (as far as I can tell) anything like a close analog in the real world in terms of culture, history, or language. By basically picking names out of a hat Dickinson is (I think, anyway) purposefully trying to keep you from mentally saying, "Okay, so this island is basically Fantasy China" or whatever. His world is weird and even things that look familiar at first glance tend to be rooted in some fairly alien cultural of philosophical tradition.

    Edit: Though I do wish he'd pick somewhat easier to pronounce names out of his hat. I still have no idea how to pronounce 'Xate'. Apparently the audiobook narrator went with "Ex-ate", which never even occurred to me as an option. I'd assumed it was somewhere between 'Jate', 'Shate', and 'Zate', but then something in one of the books (I forget what) made me think maybe it was supposed to be more like 'Kate'.

    Hmm, well yes I get what you are saying but this just keeps getting worse. "Sousward"? "Purity Cartone"? Really?

    I dunno. To me it kind of just feels lazy. Like it was too much effort to come up with a consistent scheme of his own, so he just said 'fuck it' and went random. Sure, everyone doesn't need to be a Tolkien and invent a bunch of whole languages, but you could at least try to apply a little creativity.

    Anyway, the book is good, but the names keep bugging me.

  • CptHamiltonCptHamilton Registered User regular
    Grudge wrote: »
    Grudge wrote: »
    And current reading - picked up The Traitor Baru Cormorant, on recommendation from the thread. Yay, another fantasy series featuring banking! (read Daniel Abraham's Dagger and Coin series a while ago, and enjoyed that one a lot). Traitor is good so far, nice take on colonialism and empire politics - however I have one niggling annoyance; the names! They make no sense - there is a random mix of your standard fantasy names together with very Earth-culture sounding ones - Chinese, French, Nordic, Eastern European, and sometimes it's very jarring. I get it - there are influences from many peoples mixed in the Masquerade and it's conquered provinces, but it feels very haphazard and not at all consistent. People who should have Nordic names (because they come from the north) instead have Chinese ones, and so on. Is this all intentional, or am I missing something? Is there a hidden reason that is explained at some point? Anyway, it's just a small thing - the book is good but this is kind of annoying.

    I believe it's intentional as a means of preventing you developing expectations based on the perceived cultural parallel. Neither The Empire of Masks nor the M'bo nor any of either nation's constituent states has (as far as I can tell) anything like a close analog in the real world in terms of culture, history, or language. By basically picking names out of a hat Dickinson is (I think, anyway) purposefully trying to keep you from mentally saying, "Okay, so this island is basically Fantasy China" or whatever. His world is weird and even things that look familiar at first glance tend to be rooted in some fairly alien cultural of philosophical tradition.

    Edit: Though I do wish he'd pick somewhat easier to pronounce names out of his hat. I still have no idea how to pronounce 'Xate'. Apparently the audiobook narrator went with "Ex-ate", which never even occurred to me as an option. I'd assumed it was somewhere between 'Jate', 'Shate', and 'Zate', but then something in one of the books (I forget what) made me think maybe it was supposed to be more like 'Kate'.

    Hmm, well yes I get what you are saying but this just keeps getting worse. "Sousward"? "Purity Cartone"? Really?

    I dunno. To me it kind of just feels lazy. Like it was too much effort to come up with a consistent scheme of his own, so he just said 'fuck it' and went random. Sure, everyone doesn't need to be a Tolkien and invent a bunch of whole languages, but you could at least try to apply a little creativity.

    Anyway, the book is good, but the names keep bugging me.

    Of the things of which I'd expect to see Dickinson accused, lack of creativity is not one of them...

    Wasn't Sousward the name given to an annexed former State, making it sound generic and unimportant, presumably as part of the efforts of the Empire to sublimate the local culture?
    And unless I'm forgetting who Purity is, wasn't that name given after their personality was removed?

    PSN,Steam,Live | CptHamiltonian
    N1tSt4lker
  • StraygatsbyStraygatsby Registered User regular
    Oh crap, Agency is finally out?

    I might have to reread the other one first.

    But yay!

  • BrodyBrody The Watch The First ShoreRegistered User regular
    Grudge wrote: »
    Grudge wrote: »
    And current reading - picked up The Traitor Baru Cormorant, on recommendation from the thread. Yay, another fantasy series featuring banking! (read Daniel Abraham's Dagger and Coin series a while ago, and enjoyed that one a lot). Traitor is good so far, nice take on colonialism and empire politics - however I have one niggling annoyance; the names! They make no sense - there is a random mix of your standard fantasy names together with very Earth-culture sounding ones - Chinese, French, Nordic, Eastern European, and sometimes it's very jarring. I get it - there are influences from many peoples mixed in the Masquerade and it's conquered provinces, but it feels very haphazard and not at all consistent. People who should have Nordic names (because they come from the north) instead have Chinese ones, and so on. Is this all intentional, or am I missing something? Is there a hidden reason that is explained at some point? Anyway, it's just a small thing - the book is good but this is kind of annoying.

    I believe it's intentional as a means of preventing you developing expectations based on the perceived cultural parallel. Neither The Empire of Masks nor the M'bo nor any of either nation's constituent states has (as far as I can tell) anything like a close analog in the real world in terms of culture, history, or language. By basically picking names out of a hat Dickinson is (I think, anyway) purposefully trying to keep you from mentally saying, "Okay, so this island is basically Fantasy China" or whatever. His world is weird and even things that look familiar at first glance tend to be rooted in some fairly alien cultural of philosophical tradition.

    Edit: Though I do wish he'd pick somewhat easier to pronounce names out of his hat. I still have no idea how to pronounce 'Xate'. Apparently the audiobook narrator went with "Ex-ate", which never even occurred to me as an option. I'd assumed it was somewhere between 'Jate', 'Shate', and 'Zate', but then something in one of the books (I forget what) made me think maybe it was supposed to be more like 'Kate'.

    Hmm, well yes I get what you are saying but this just keeps getting worse. "Sousward"? "Purity Cartone"? Really?

    I dunno. To me it kind of just feels lazy. Like it was too much effort to come up with a consistent scheme of his own, so he just said 'fuck it' and went random. Sure, everyone doesn't need to be a Tolkien and invent a bunch of whole languages, but you could at least try to apply a little creativity.

    Anyway, the book is good, but the names keep bugging me.

    I mean, all names are made up. Without a significantly larger cast you can't really make any sort of broad claims as to naming patterns. Also, I think most of the Masked Empire character/place names are intentionally out of place. Its a group that ostensibly draws most of its strength from the anonymity of its state actors, letting everyone know the ancestry of an individual really fucks with that.

    "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
  • GrudgeGrudge Far Beyond DrivenRegistered User regular
    Brody wrote: »
    Grudge wrote: »
    Grudge wrote: »
    And current reading - picked up The Traitor Baru Cormorant, on recommendation from the thread. Yay, another fantasy series featuring banking! (read Daniel Abraham's Dagger and Coin series a while ago, and enjoyed that one a lot). Traitor is good so far, nice take on colonialism and empire politics - however I have one niggling annoyance; the names! They make no sense - there is a random mix of your standard fantasy names together with very Earth-culture sounding ones - Chinese, French, Nordic, Eastern European, and sometimes it's very jarring. I get it - there are influences from many peoples mixed in the Masquerade and it's conquered provinces, but it feels very haphazard and not at all consistent. People who should have Nordic names (because they come from the north) instead have Chinese ones, and so on. Is this all intentional, or am I missing something? Is there a hidden reason that is explained at some point? Anyway, it's just a small thing - the book is good but this is kind of annoying.

    I believe it's intentional as a means of preventing you developing expectations based on the perceived cultural parallel. Neither The Empire of Masks nor the M'bo nor any of either nation's constituent states has (as far as I can tell) anything like a close analog in the real world in terms of culture, history, or language. By basically picking names out of a hat Dickinson is (I think, anyway) purposefully trying to keep you from mentally saying, "Okay, so this island is basically Fantasy China" or whatever. His world is weird and even things that look familiar at first glance tend to be rooted in some fairly alien cultural of philosophical tradition.

    Edit: Though I do wish he'd pick somewhat easier to pronounce names out of his hat. I still have no idea how to pronounce 'Xate'. Apparently the audiobook narrator went with "Ex-ate", which never even occurred to me as an option. I'd assumed it was somewhere between 'Jate', 'Shate', and 'Zate', but then something in one of the books (I forget what) made me think maybe it was supposed to be more like 'Kate'.

    Hmm, well yes I get what you are saying but this just keeps getting worse. "Sousward"? "Purity Cartone"? Really?

    I dunno. To me it kind of just feels lazy. Like it was too much effort to come up with a consistent scheme of his own, so he just said 'fuck it' and went random. Sure, everyone doesn't need to be a Tolkien and invent a bunch of whole languages, but you could at least try to apply a little creativity.

    Anyway, the book is good, but the names keep bugging me.

    I mean, all names are made up. Without a significantly larger cast you can't really make any sort of broad claims as to naming patterns. Also, I think most of the Masked Empire character/place names are intentionally out of place. Its a group that ostensibly draws most of its strength from the anonymity of its state actors, letting everyone know the ancestry of an individual really fucks with that.

    Yes, the anonymity of the mask thing makes sense, but then some people do have family names which are very much random - like all the noble families of Aurdwyn. But for the people of the Masquerade, sure, it make sense if they take their own names. So far it's not clear that this is the common practice though (although Farrier and his collegues seem to do, that is true). Maybe it will be more evident as the story develops.

  • GrudgeGrudge Far Beyond DrivenRegistered User regular
    Grudge wrote: »
    Grudge wrote: »
    And current reading - picked up The Traitor Baru Cormorant, on recommendation from the thread. Yay, another fantasy series featuring banking! (read Daniel Abraham's Dagger and Coin series a while ago, and enjoyed that one a lot). Traitor is good so far, nice take on colonialism and empire politics - however I have one niggling annoyance; the names! They make no sense - there is a random mix of your standard fantasy names together with very Earth-culture sounding ones - Chinese, French, Nordic, Eastern European, and sometimes it's very jarring. I get it - there are influences from many peoples mixed in the Masquerade and it's conquered provinces, but it feels very haphazard and not at all consistent. People who should have Nordic names (because they come from the north) instead have Chinese ones, and so on. Is this all intentional, or am I missing something? Is there a hidden reason that is explained at some point? Anyway, it's just a small thing - the book is good but this is kind of annoying.

    I believe it's intentional as a means of preventing you developing expectations based on the perceived cultural parallel. Neither The Empire of Masks nor the M'bo nor any of either nation's constituent states has (as far as I can tell) anything like a close analog in the real world in terms of culture, history, or language. By basically picking names out of a hat Dickinson is (I think, anyway) purposefully trying to keep you from mentally saying, "Okay, so this island is basically Fantasy China" or whatever. His world is weird and even things that look familiar at first glance tend to be rooted in some fairly alien cultural of philosophical tradition.

    Edit: Though I do wish he'd pick somewhat easier to pronounce names out of his hat. I still have no idea how to pronounce 'Xate'. Apparently the audiobook narrator went with "Ex-ate", which never even occurred to me as an option. I'd assumed it was somewhere between 'Jate', 'Shate', and 'Zate', but then something in one of the books (I forget what) made me think maybe it was supposed to be more like 'Kate'.

    Hmm, well yes I get what you are saying but this just keeps getting worse. "Sousward"? "Purity Cartone"? Really?

    I dunno. To me it kind of just feels lazy. Like it was too much effort to come up with a consistent scheme of his own, so he just said 'fuck it' and went random. Sure, everyone doesn't need to be a Tolkien and invent a bunch of whole languages, but you could at least try to apply a little creativity.

    Anyway, the book is good, but the names keep bugging me.

    Of the things of which I'd expect to see Dickinson accused, lack of creativity is not one of them...

    Wasn't Sousward the name given to an annexed former State, making it sound generic and unimportant, presumably as part of the efforts of the Empire to sublimate the local culture?
    And unless I'm forgetting who Purity is, wasn't that name given after their personality was removed?

    Heh, well maybe he just chose to focus his creativity elsewhere... :)

    True about Sousward, there is a pattern there - similar to "Treatymount". I hadn't spotted that, thanks!

    But Purity Cartone = blank piece of paper, more or less, right? I dunno, it just makes me groan a bit. Maybe it's meant like a joke? None of the other characters react like it is a joke though...

  • flamebroiledchickenflamebroiledchicken Registered User regular
    Vanguard wrote: »
    I finished Dead Astronauts by Jeff Vandermeer

    It took a moment to find my footing but once I did I blasted off to the end (read 160 pages yesterday).

    This is the kind of weird fiction I am here for: extremely strong concept exploded by weird postmodern textual eccentricities.

    Vandermeer’s writing always feels more poetic than the usual weird sci-fi and Dead Astronauts is maybe the book that leans in the most (and not just because there are actual poems sprinkled into the text). The use of repetition (with and without variation) is key to unlocking the book, especially in the later sections when you might be reading the same cluster of lines for 5 or so pages.

    I want to reread this again now that I know what I’m looking for but the book still does the Vandermeer thing where whatever normal looks like (even if it is decidedly NOT NORMAL) is established, subverted, and then things get prodigiously weird without that foreknowledge going into it.

    Just started this myself. It's giving me a bit of an Only Revolutions meets Strugatsky vibe so far. I haven't read anything else by Vandermeer, but I'm enjoying it.

    y59kydgzuja4.png
  • PailryderPailryder Registered User regular
    Finished The Bird King. A delightful read that made me rather upset with the ending.

  • BrodyBrody The Watch The First ShoreRegistered User regular
    Reading City of Blades, and I'm surprised these books aren't more widely discussed. City of Stairs was great, and so far this has been a great piece. I love the world Bennet has made, it feels very interesting.

    "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
    Powerpuppies
  • Atlas in ChainsAtlas in Chains Registered User regular
    Finally got around to The Unholy Consult and I'm pretty disappointed. I don't know how you make philosophy interesting and combat boring, but Bakker really knocked it out of the park. Wrap it all up in the most obtuse language possible and end your 4 book trilogy on a cliffhanger for bonus points.

    I still find the setting and the underlying themes fascinating. The glossary is more fun to read than the book proper.

  • credeikicredeiki Registered User regular
    crossposting from chat

    but I'm reading A Darker Shade of Magic and read another hundred pages of it on the plane and I'm mad! It's so bad!

    The writing is really bad! And the characters are awful. The world and magic have promise but the writing never gives you the sort of specific, colorful details that bring a setting to life. There was a time early on where Kell visits the night market and I thought ok author, now is your time to describe some entrancing and exotic oddities at each stall—and she didn’t! She just wrote some unartfully repetitive, generic stuff.
    The night market was in full swing.
    Vendors in colored tents sold wares by the light of river and lantern and moon, some food and others trinkets, the magic and mundane alike, to locals and to pilgrims. A young woman held a bushel of starflowers for visitors to set on the palace steps. An old man displayed dozens of necklaces on a raised arm, each adorned with a burnished pebble, tokens said to amplify control over an element.
    The subtle scent of flowers was lost beneath the aroma of cooking meat and freshly cut fruit, heavy spices and mulled wine. A man in dark robes offered candied plums beside a woman selling scrying stones. A vendor poured steaming tea into short glass goblets across from another vibrant stall displaying masks and a third offering tiny vials of water drawn from the Isle, the contents still glowing faintly with its light. [...]

    See my problem with this? It’s just awful! How do you write something so clunky and non-evocative! Let me write a whole sentence about smells and yet I can’t come up with anything more specific than spices? Name a fucking spice! Don’t just call the stand vibrant, take two seconds to tell me it’s iridescent blue silk or whatever. It’s lazy and bad writing, made worse by the constant attempts at a jaunty or punchy tone.
    And the characterization is really just abysmal; I cannot emphasize this enough. Why do people recommend this? Why was it reasonably successful? It has really cool cover art, but that can't be it...?

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  • BrodyBrody The Watch The First ShoreRegistered User regular
    Finally got around to The Unholy Consult and I'm pretty disappointed. I don't know how you make philosophy interesting and combat boring, but Bakker really knocked it out of the park. Wrap it all up in the most obtuse language possible and end your 4 book trilogy on a cliffhanger for bonus points.

    I still find the setting and the underlying themes fascinating. The glossary is more fun to read than the book proper.

    I really need to find the rest of these to read, as the first was was interesting.

    "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
  • PailryderPailryder Registered User regular
    credeiki wrote: »
    crossposting from chat

    but I'm reading A Darker Shade of Magic and read another hundred pages of it on the plane and I'm mad! It's so bad!

    The writing is really bad! And the characters are awful. The world and magic have promise but the writing never gives you the sort of specific, colorful details that bring a setting to life. There was a time early on where Kell visits the night market and I thought ok author, now is your time to describe some entrancing and exotic oddities at each stall—and she didn’t! She just wrote some unartfully repetitive, generic stuff.
    The night market was in full swing.
    Vendors in colored tents sold wares by the light of river and lantern and moon, some food and others trinkets, the magic and mundane alike, to locals and to pilgrims. A young woman held a bushel of starflowers for visitors to set on the palace steps. An old man displayed dozens of necklaces on a raised arm, each adorned with a burnished pebble, tokens said to amplify control over an element.
    The subtle scent of flowers was lost beneath the aroma of cooking meat and freshly cut fruit, heavy spices and mulled wine. A man in dark robes offered candied plums beside a woman selling scrying stones. A vendor poured steaming tea into short glass goblets across from another vibrant stall displaying masks and a third offering tiny vials of water drawn from the Isle, the contents still glowing faintly with its light. [...]

    See my problem with this? It’s just awful! How do you write something so clunky and non-evocative! Let me write a whole sentence about smells and yet I can’t come up with anything more specific than spices? Name a fucking spice! Don’t just call the stand vibrant, take two seconds to tell me it’s iridescent blue silk or whatever. It’s lazy and bad writing, made worse by the constant attempts at a jaunty or punchy tone.
    And the characterization is really just abysmal; I cannot emphasize this enough. Why do people recommend this? Why was it reasonably successful? It has really cool cover art, but that can't be it...?

    *Maybe* because it is easy reading? Many of my friends "like" reading but they don't like reading things that require thought and any sort of slow burn, or that might have a social commentary that differs from their own. For example, they will devour litrpg's (which is fine i enjoy them as well) but for example, they did not like The Bird King because it had too much talking and not enough explosions.

    CptHamilton
  • Jealous DevaJealous Deva Registered User regular
    edited January 29
    Finally got around to The Unholy Consult and I'm pretty disappointed. I don't know how you make philosophy interesting and combat boring, but Bakker really knocked it out of the park. Wrap it all up in the most obtuse language possible and end your 4 book trilogy on a cliffhanger for bonus points.

    I still find the setting and the underlying themes fascinating. The glossary is more fun to read than the book proper.

    I don’t know... The ending would be pretty appropriate for the tone of the series even if it doesn’t end up as a cliffhanger.
    There was plenty of lead up to Kelhus really being a bad guy with a bad motive, there was also plenty of lead up to the gods killing him (albiet indirectly), and as for the end... Well you didn’t really think everything was going to turn out ok? It does end up making the whole thing a bit of a shaggy dog story though.

    Jealous Deva on
  • CptHamiltonCptHamilton Registered User regular
    Pailryder wrote: »
    credeiki wrote: »
    crossposting from chat

    but I'm reading A Darker Shade of Magic and read another hundred pages of it on the plane and I'm mad! It's so bad!

    The writing is really bad! And the characters are awful. The world and magic have promise but the writing never gives you the sort of specific, colorful details that bring a setting to life. There was a time early on where Kell visits the night market and I thought ok author, now is your time to describe some entrancing and exotic oddities at each stall—and she didn’t! She just wrote some unartfully repetitive, generic stuff.
    The night market was in full swing.
    Vendors in colored tents sold wares by the light of river and lantern and moon, some food and others trinkets, the magic and mundane alike, to locals and to pilgrims. A young woman held a bushel of starflowers for visitors to set on the palace steps. An old man displayed dozens of necklaces on a raised arm, each adorned with a burnished pebble, tokens said to amplify control over an element.
    The subtle scent of flowers was lost beneath the aroma of cooking meat and freshly cut fruit, heavy spices and mulled wine. A man in dark robes offered candied plums beside a woman selling scrying stones. A vendor poured steaming tea into short glass goblets across from another vibrant stall displaying masks and a third offering tiny vials of water drawn from the Isle, the contents still glowing faintly with its light. [...]

    See my problem with this? It’s just awful! How do you write something so clunky and non-evocative! Let me write a whole sentence about smells and yet I can’t come up with anything more specific than spices? Name a fucking spice! Don’t just call the stand vibrant, take two seconds to tell me it’s iridescent blue silk or whatever. It’s lazy and bad writing, made worse by the constant attempts at a jaunty or punchy tone.
    And the characterization is really just abysmal; I cannot emphasize this enough. Why do people recommend this? Why was it reasonably successful? It has really cool cover art, but that can't be it...?

    *Maybe* because it is easy reading? Many of my friends "like" reading but they don't like reading things that require thought and any sort of slow burn, or that might have a social commentary that differs from their own. For example, they will devour litrpg's (which is fine i enjoy them as well) but for example, they did not like The Bird King because it had too much talking and not enough explosions.

    This is a difficult topic to talk about without coming off as being patronizing, dismissive, or critical but let me give it a go...

    There are a lot of people whose preferred prose intake is as undemanding as possible. The sorts of stories they generally seem to prefer rely on fairly flat characters, straight-forward plots that don't have too many different threads going on simultaneously, and a lot of dependence on cliche or unspecific text. It's text that's easy to just glide through without engaging too deeply. You don't have to spend much mental effort thinking about or imagining the world of the story because it's all just sketched in juuuust enough so that your mind's eye can kind of skim over any details or fill it in with something you've seen or experienced elsewhere. There aren't many characters to keep track of, motivations are all pretty obvious, and you can generally see the story beats coming from a mile away.

    I don't think there's anything wrong with that kind of fiction or enjoying it. It's the written-word equivalent of watching CW drama shows or reality TV. Mostly-mindless entertainment you don't have to think hard about.

    Unrelated: I had never heard of 'litrpg' and just looked it up. I'm fine with people liking stuff like A Darker Shade of Magic for its low-engagement-cost entertainment value, but litrpg as a genre sounds fucking awful.

    PSN,Steam,Live | CptHamiltonian
    tapeslinger
  • PailryderPailryder Registered User regular
    Pailryder wrote: »
    credeiki wrote: »
    crossposting from chat

    but I'm reading A Darker Shade of Magic and read another hundred pages of it on the plane and I'm mad! It's so bad!

    The writing is really bad! And the characters are awful. The world and magic have promise but the writing never gives you the sort of specific, colorful details that bring a setting to life. There was a time early on where Kell visits the night market and I thought ok author, now is your time to describe some entrancing and exotic oddities at each stall—and she didn’t! She just wrote some unartfully repetitive, generic stuff.
    The night market was in full swing.
    Vendors in colored tents sold wares by the light of river and lantern and moon, some food and others trinkets, the magic and mundane alike, to locals and to pilgrims. A young woman held a bushel of starflowers for visitors to set on the palace steps. An old man displayed dozens of necklaces on a raised arm, each adorned with a burnished pebble, tokens said to amplify control over an element.
    The subtle scent of flowers was lost beneath the aroma of cooking meat and freshly cut fruit, heavy spices and mulled wine. A man in dark robes offered candied plums beside a woman selling scrying stones. A vendor poured steaming tea into short glass goblets across from another vibrant stall displaying masks and a third offering tiny vials of water drawn from the Isle, the contents still glowing faintly with its light. [...]

    See my problem with this? It’s just awful! How do you write something so clunky and non-evocative! Let me write a whole sentence about smells and yet I can’t come up with anything more specific than spices? Name a fucking spice! Don’t just call the stand vibrant, take two seconds to tell me it’s iridescent blue silk or whatever. It’s lazy and bad writing, made worse by the constant attempts at a jaunty or punchy tone.
    And the characterization is really just abysmal; I cannot emphasize this enough. Why do people recommend this? Why was it reasonably successful? It has really cool cover art, but that can't be it...?

    *Maybe* because it is easy reading? Many of my friends "like" reading but they don't like reading things that require thought and any sort of slow burn, or that might have a social commentary that differs from their own. For example, they will devour litrpg's (which is fine i enjoy them as well) but for example, they did not like The Bird King because it had too much talking and not enough explosions.

    This is a difficult topic to talk about without coming off as being patronizing, dismissive, or critical but let me give it a go...

    There are a lot of people whose preferred prose intake is as undemanding as possible. The sorts of stories they generally seem to prefer rely on fairly flat characters, straight-forward plots that don't have too many different threads going on simultaneously, and a lot of dependence on cliche or unspecific text. It's text that's easy to just glide through without engaging too deeply. You don't have to spend much mental effort thinking about or imagining the world of the story because it's all just sketched in juuuust enough so that your mind's eye can kind of skim over any details or fill it in with something you've seen or experienced elsewhere. There aren't many characters to keep track of, motivations are all pretty obvious, and you can generally see the story beats coming from a mile away.

    I don't think there's anything wrong with that kind of fiction or enjoying it. It's the written-word equivalent of watching CW drama shows or reality TV. Mostly-mindless entertainment you don't have to think hard about.

    Unrelated: I had never heard of 'litrpg' and just looked it up. I'm fine with people liking stuff like A Darker Shade of Magic for its low-engagement-cost entertainment value, but litrpg as a genre sounds fucking awful.

    Listen, when you have Kindle Unlimited and you've re-read a few classics, sometimes you need that ultra pulp stanky-ass power fantasy ok? OK?!?

    I don't judge. I like reading all kinds of books and i know people can have various opinions on things. I did NOT like Ninefox Gambit while many others in this thread did. That's OK!

  • QuidQuid I don't... what... hnnng Registered User regular
    Brody wrote: »
    Reading City of Blades, and I'm surprised these books aren't more widely discussed. City of Stairs was great, and so far this has been a great piece. I love the world Bennet has made, it feels very interesting.

    It's a very good series! Early industrial setting with the protagonists investigating the remnants of literal gods their nation wiped out is a great setup.

  • credeikicredeiki Registered User regular
    Pailryder wrote: »
    credeiki wrote: »
    crossposting from chat

    but I'm reading A Darker Shade of Magic and read another hundred pages of it on the plane and I'm mad! It's so bad!

    The writing is really bad! And the characters are awful. The world and magic have promise but the writing never gives you the sort of specific, colorful details that bring a setting to life. There was a time early on where Kell visits the night market and I thought ok author, now is your time to describe some entrancing and exotic oddities at each stall—and she didn’t! She just wrote some unartfully repetitive, generic stuff.
    The night market was in full swing.
    Vendors in colored tents sold wares by the light of river and lantern and moon, some food and others trinkets, the magic and mundane alike, to locals and to pilgrims. A young woman held a bushel of starflowers for visitors to set on the palace steps. An old man displayed dozens of necklaces on a raised arm, each adorned with a burnished pebble, tokens said to amplify control over an element.
    The subtle scent of flowers was lost beneath the aroma of cooking meat and freshly cut fruit, heavy spices and mulled wine. A man in dark robes offered candied plums beside a woman selling scrying stones. A vendor poured steaming tea into short glass goblets across from another vibrant stall displaying masks and a third offering tiny vials of water drawn from the Isle, the contents still glowing faintly with its light. [...]

    See my problem with this? It’s just awful! How do you write something so clunky and non-evocative! Let me write a whole sentence about smells and yet I can’t come up with anything more specific than spices? Name a fucking spice! Don’t just call the stand vibrant, take two seconds to tell me it’s iridescent blue silk or whatever. It’s lazy and bad writing, made worse by the constant attempts at a jaunty or punchy tone.
    And the characterization is really just abysmal; I cannot emphasize this enough. Why do people recommend this? Why was it reasonably successful? It has really cool cover art, but that can't be it...?

    *Maybe* because it is easy reading? Many of my friends "like" reading but they don't like reading things that require thought and any sort of slow burn, or that might have a social commentary that differs from their own. For example, they will devour litrpg's (which is fine i enjoy them as well) but for example, they did not like The Bird King because it had too much talking and not enough explosions.

    I’m down for easy reading; easy doesn’t have to be bad! Good YA is a good example of how you can have pretty direct and digestible prose but still have interesting and nuanced characters, cool settings (if sf/f), powerful themes, and engaging plots.
    Ugh I’m back on the airplane and ready to take in the rest of this book ;_; I do like Kell’s jacket though.

    Steam, LoL: credeiki
    air-photos.tumblr.com
    MahnmutKanaQuid
  • MahnmutMahnmut Registered User regular
    credeiki wrote: »
    Pailryder wrote: »
    credeiki wrote: »
    crossposting from chat

    but I'm reading A Darker Shade of Magic and read another hundred pages of it on the plane and I'm mad! It's so bad!

    The writing is really bad! And the characters are awful. The world and magic have promise but the writing never gives you the sort of specific, colorful details that bring a setting to life. There was a time early on where Kell visits the night market and I thought ok author, now is your time to describe some entrancing and exotic oddities at each stall—and she didn’t! She just wrote some unartfully repetitive, generic stuff.
    The night market was in full swing.
    Vendors in colored tents sold wares by the light of river and lantern and moon, some food and others trinkets, the magic and mundane alike, to locals and to pilgrims. A young woman held a bushel of starflowers for visitors to set on the palace steps. An old man displayed dozens of necklaces on a raised arm, each adorned with a burnished pebble, tokens said to amplify control over an element.
    The subtle scent of flowers was lost beneath the aroma of cooking meat and freshly cut fruit, heavy spices and mulled wine. A man in dark robes offered candied plums beside a woman selling scrying stones. A vendor poured steaming tea into short glass goblets across from another vibrant stall displaying masks and a third offering tiny vials of water drawn from the Isle, the contents still glowing faintly with its light. [...]

    See my problem with this? It’s just awful! How do you write something so clunky and non-evocative! Let me write a whole sentence about smells and yet I can’t come up with anything more specific than spices? Name a fucking spice! Don’t just call the stand vibrant, take two seconds to tell me it’s iridescent blue silk or whatever. It’s lazy and bad writing, made worse by the constant attempts at a jaunty or punchy tone.
    And the characterization is really just abysmal; I cannot emphasize this enough. Why do people recommend this? Why was it reasonably successful? It has really cool cover art, but that can't be it...?

    *Maybe* because it is easy reading? Many of my friends "like" reading but they don't like reading things that require thought and any sort of slow burn, or that might have a social commentary that differs from their own. For example, they will devour litrpg's (which is fine i enjoy them as well) but for example, they did not like The Bird King because it had too much talking and not enough explosions.

    I’m down for easy reading; easy doesn’t have to be bad! Good YA is a good example of how you can have pretty direct and digestible prose but still have interesting and nuanced characters, cool settings (if sf/f), powerful themes, and engaging plots.
    Ugh I’m back on the airplane and ready to take in the rest of this book ;_; I do like Kell’s jacket though.

    It does have a lot of ardent fans, but I didn't like it much either. I think people who love it either identify with the main characters, or crush on 'em, or both. I see I rated it 3/5 ("this book is OK and does what it means to"), and then DNF'd the sequel -- I know I read most of it, but it doesn't have a rating in my database.

    Steam/LoL: Jericho89
  • CptHamiltonCptHamilton Registered User regular
    Mahnmut wrote: »
    credeiki wrote: »
    Pailryder wrote: »
    credeiki wrote: »
    crossposting from chat

    but I'm reading A Darker Shade of Magic and read another hundred pages of it on the plane and I'm mad! It's so bad!

    The writing is really bad! And the characters are awful. The world and magic have promise but the writing never gives you the sort of specific, colorful details that bring a setting to life. There was a time early on where Kell visits the night market and I thought ok author, now is your time to describe some entrancing and exotic oddities at each stall—and she didn’t! She just wrote some unartfully repetitive, generic stuff.
    The night market was in full swing.
    Vendors in colored tents sold wares by the light of river and lantern and moon, some food and others trinkets, the magic and mundane alike, to locals and to pilgrims. A young woman held a bushel of starflowers for visitors to set on the palace steps. An old man displayed dozens of necklaces on a raised arm, each adorned with a burnished pebble, tokens said to amplify control over an element.
    The subtle scent of flowers was lost beneath the aroma of cooking meat and freshly cut fruit, heavy spices and mulled wine. A man in dark robes offered candied plums beside a woman selling scrying stones. A vendor poured steaming tea into short glass goblets across from another vibrant stall displaying masks and a third offering tiny vials of water drawn from the Isle, the contents still glowing faintly with its light. [...]

    See my problem with this? It’s just awful! How do you write something so clunky and non-evocative! Let me write a whole sentence about smells and yet I can’t come up with anything more specific than spices? Name a fucking spice! Don’t just call the stand vibrant, take two seconds to tell me it’s iridescent blue silk or whatever. It’s lazy and bad writing, made worse by the constant attempts at a jaunty or punchy tone.
    And the characterization is really just abysmal; I cannot emphasize this enough. Why do people recommend this? Why was it reasonably successful? It has really cool cover art, but that can't be it...?

    *Maybe* because it is easy reading? Many of my friends "like" reading but they don't like reading things that require thought and any sort of slow burn, or that might have a social commentary that differs from their own. For example, they will devour litrpg's (which is fine i enjoy them as well) but for example, they did not like The Bird King because it had too much talking and not enough explosions.

    I’m down for easy reading; easy doesn’t have to be bad! Good YA is a good example of how you can have pretty direct and digestible prose but still have interesting and nuanced characters, cool settings (if sf/f), powerful themes, and engaging plots.
    Ugh I’m back on the airplane and ready to take in the rest of this book ;_; I do like Kell’s jacket though.

    It does have a lot of ardent fans, but I didn't like it much either. I think people who love it either identify with the main characters, or crush on 'em, or both. I see I rated it 3/5 ("this book is OK and does what it means to"), and then DNF'd the sequel -- I know I read most of it, but it doesn't have a rating in my database.

    I listened to both sequels as audiobooks. I have a much higher tolerance for middling-quality writing in audio form. You're not missing much. They didn't improve and, if anything, got more predictable and less seemingly-well-thought-out as they went.

    PSN,Steam,Live | CptHamiltonian
  • credeikicredeiki Registered User regular
    edited January 30
    Mahnmut wrote: »
    credeiki wrote: »
    Pailryder wrote: »
    credeiki wrote: »
    crossposting from chat

    but I'm reading A Darker Shade of Magic and read another hundred pages of it on the plane and I'm mad! It's so bad!

    The writing is really bad! And the characters are awful. The world and magic have promise but the writing never gives you the sort of specific, colorful details that bring a setting to life. There was a time early on where Kell visits the night market and I thought ok author, now is your time to describe some entrancing and exotic oddities at each stall—and she didn’t! She just wrote some unartfully repetitive, generic stuff.
    The night market was in full swing.
    Vendors in colored tents sold wares by the light of river and lantern and moon, some food and others trinkets, the magic and mundane alike, to locals and to pilgrims. A young woman held a bushel of starflowers for visitors to set on the palace steps. An old man displayed dozens of necklaces on a raised arm, each adorned with a burnished pebble, tokens said to amplify control over an element.
    The subtle scent of flowers was lost beneath the aroma of cooking meat and freshly cut fruit, heavy spices and mulled wine. A man in dark robes offered candied plums beside a woman selling scrying stones. A vendor poured steaming tea into short glass goblets across from another vibrant stall displaying masks and a third offering tiny vials of water drawn from the Isle, the contents still glowing faintly with its light. [...]

    See my problem with this? It’s just awful! How do you write something so clunky and non-evocative! Let me write a whole sentence about smells and yet I can’t come up with anything more specific than spices? Name a fucking spice! Don’t just call the stand vibrant, take two seconds to tell me it’s iridescent blue silk or whatever. It’s lazy and bad writing, made worse by the constant attempts at a jaunty or punchy tone.
    And the characterization is really just abysmal; I cannot emphasize this enough. Why do people recommend this? Why was it reasonably successful? It has really cool cover art, but that can't be it...?

    *Maybe* because it is easy reading? Many of my friends "like" reading but they don't like reading things that require thought and any sort of slow burn, or that might have a social commentary that differs from their own. For example, they will devour litrpg's (which is fine i enjoy them as well) but for example, they did not like The Bird King because it had too much talking and not enough explosions.

    I’m down for easy reading; easy doesn’t have to be bad! Good YA is a good example of how you can have pretty direct and digestible prose but still have interesting and nuanced characters, cool settings (if sf/f), powerful themes, and engaging plots.
    Ugh I’m back on the airplane and ready to take in the rest of this book ;_; I do like Kell’s jacket though.

    It does have a lot of ardent fans, but I didn't like it much either. I think people who love it either identify with the main characters, or crush on 'em, or both. I see I rated it 3/5 ("this book is OK and does what it means to"), and then DNF'd the sequel -- I know I read most of it, but it doesn't have a rating in my database.

    Ok I finished it and it never got better. Neither of the characters has enough substance to be hot or to be identified with, I felt. I’m very vulnerable to liking any story featuring any crossdressing woman (see: the tamora pierce books, close to my heart forever, great YA) and yet Lila appealed zero percent. There’s this vague notion that Lila is this hard street kid, scared and lonely but tough and with a secret heart of gold, and she cross-dresses out of a sense that it gives her freedom (this isn’t explored at all though), and she craves adventure—but somehow it’s executed in such a clumsy and inconsistent way. At the end there’s a paragraph where the narrator tells us she’s changed and past Lila would never have done anything selfless but current Lila has grown and is going out of her way for Kell—but actually the author has pushed the ‘heart of gold/protects the weak/only steals from the rich/pays her debts’ so hard, in clunky character moments, that you have no particular concept that she was ever selfish, and for the narrator to just tell you this is very awkward. It’s just...really bad. And the magic battles aren’t even cool, and the cruel people don’t do very interesting cruel things (and they have no reason to do it) so...there’s really just no reason to read this.

    I’m angry at books; what else is new hah. I apologize if anyone liked this and I’m just shitting on it, but also if you did please tell me the redeeming value. I’m going to get some nice literature at the library to cleanse my palate (I mean I hope it’s nice; I figure since I liked infinite jest a lot I’d enjoy dfw’s short stories too).

    credeiki on
    Steam, LoL: credeiki
    air-photos.tumblr.com
    Mahnmut
  • BrodyBrody The Watch The First ShoreRegistered User regular
    Finished City of Blades. It ends in such a bitter sweet place. So much awful happens, and you feel so low, and then the last chapter just feels like an ember of hope.

    "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
    Quid
  • Mojo_JojoMojo_Jojo Like a bad lobster in a dark cellar Registered User regular
    I'm amazed that A Darker Shade of Magic elicited such a strong reaction, Cred. I barely remember it but it seemed like absolutely adequate standard fantasy YA stuff that I wouldn't seek out but also didn't regret.

    I'm currently reading a book about some nuclear war survivors in a hotel in purgatory Switzerland. I can't remember the name of the author helpfully. It's written in the first person as a kind of memoire and I'm really hoping it's doing something clever with an unreliable narrator. Otherwise it's a reasonable, not especially insightful, look about small group dynamics without the framework of society. Also there's a murder mystery in the background. It seems like solid airport fiction but there's a small chance it's going to end up as something more. Reading continues

    Homogeneous distribution of your varieties of amuse-gueule
  • MahnmutMahnmut Registered User regular
    My recent throwing-the-acclaimed-book-at-the-wall moment was Starless Sea. It is an ode to books. Imagine a magical library and secret world where only the most deserving book-lovers from our world (and perhaps.... from other worlds??) come together to live and celebrate stories. Imagine every other chapter is a gee-whiz lyrical exposition of some quirky room in the magic library.

    The remaining chapters are about the apparent protagonist, a young man finding his way to the secret world. I absolutely quit when the book said, around page 60, something like, “He believed in books; at least that much, he could be sure of.”

    Steam/LoL: Jericho89
    PailryderDrovekBogartwebguy20Brody
  • PhaserlightPhaserlight Boca Raton, FLRegistered User regular
    Currently reading a whole bunch of stuff:

    "Agency" by William Gibson http://a.co/dv08dYg

    "The Purpose Driven Life" by Rick Warren http://a.co/gZNtiO1

    "The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind" by Julian Jaynes http://a.co/7K240Di

    "The Mortality in Lies: A Novel" by Scott Gibson http://a.co/6V8r0Uf

    "The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O.: A Novel" by Neal Stephenson, Nicole Galland http://a.co/66kuWgo

    "Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage" by Bette Howland http://a.co/gFmCvZS

    ...and in physical editions:

    Convergence by Peter Watson, compliments of the local library

    Information Theory and Evolution (2nd Ed) by John Avery: this one is really grabbing me.

    I am one of those who reads 8 books at once... been like that since age 12.

    Authored 139 missions in Vendetta Online
    Minecraft server: kyoto.apexmc.co
  • BogartBogart Streetwise Hercules Fighting The Rising Odds Registered User, Moderator mod
    Started the second Maxim Jakubowski fantasy short story collection, Beyond The Lands Of Never. The first one was very so-so but I bought both at the same time and I'm a sucker for that Unwin cover design of black border and jacket and the cover illustration in a frame. We'll see.

    Also going to read William Tenn's Of Men And Monsters, about aliens who've conquered us to the extent that we now live as annoying vermin in their walls.

    Phaserlight
  • CptHamiltonCptHamilton Registered User regular
    Mahnmut wrote: »
    My recent throwing-the-acclaimed-book-at-the-wall moment was Starless Sea. It is an ode to books. Imagine a magical library and secret world where only the most deserving book-lovers from our world (and perhaps.... from other worlds??) come together to live and celebrate stories. Imagine every other chapter is a gee-whiz lyrical exposition of some quirky room in the magic library.

    The remaining chapters are about the apparent protagonist, a young man finding his way to the secret world. I absolutely quit when the book said, around page 60, something like, “He believed in books; at least that much, he could be sure of.”

    Is it just poorly written or too far up its own ass or what? Because that sounds kind of awesome so I'm tempted to check it out if maybe my tastes are different from yours.

    After barely reading for a few weeks because I was just not enjoying what I was reading I've given up on... whatever the name is of the sequel to Fluency by Jennifer Wells. Started Circuit of Heaven by Dennis Danvers instead, on recommendation from my fiancee. I'm a bit dubious so far but we'll see how it goes. The writing is fine, the world just seems a little credibility-stretching. Maybe it'll turn around at some point.

    (Early novel spoilers about why I find myself somewhat incredulous)
    So it's a during-the-Singularity novel, basically. Some guy invented brain uploading technology and now there are 12 billion people living in a simulated world while a scant few people remain out in the crumbling real world.

    That part I'm fine with. My problems are two:
    1) The world is basically post-apocalyptic outside of 'the Bin' (the simulation system). Who exactly is doing the upkeep on the computers? One of the protagonists goes on a long trip by train. Who's maintaining the trains and keeping fallen trees and shit off the tracks? This is a world so empty that people just move into empty mansions and squat there but end up dying of exposure because there are no utilities and little food.
    2) There are 12 billion people in this simulated Earth but, aside from being post-physical-scarcity (food and such are simply instantiated out of sight), it's apparently as close to identical to the real world as possible. People go on vacations and such inside the simulated Earth. Almost doubling the population of Earth, even with nobody needing food, seems like you'd have massive population-density issues with access to what forms of scarcity exist. People still have jobs and incomes in this simulated life, but with that many people and none of them being dedicated to any form of raw materials collection or processing or any distribution and logistics infrastructure (because those things simply aren't necessary in a simulated reality) there wouldn't be that many jobs to go around. Which I guess is fine since nobody needs to eat or can die of exposure. But where are they all going all day? Doubling the overall population and dramatically increasing the percentage of unemployment while removing (most of) the negative aspects of being unemployed is going to leave vast mobs of idle poor wandering around the planet. So far none of that has been addressed.

    PSN,Steam,Live | CptHamiltonian
  • PhaserlightPhaserlight Boca Raton, FLRegistered 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?
    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

    I liked Fall. I liked it better than Seveneves. The second half reminded me of Terry Brooks. It's a weird book, but most of Stephenson's stuff is.

    Authored 139 missions in Vendetta Online
    Minecraft server: kyoto.apexmc.co
  • MahnmutMahnmut Registered User regular
    Mahnmut wrote: »
    My recent throwing-the-acclaimed-book-at-the-wall moment was Starless Sea. It is an ode to books. Imagine a magical library and secret world where only the most deserving book-lovers from our world (and perhaps.... from other worlds??) come together to live and celebrate stories. Imagine every other chapter is a gee-whiz lyrical exposition of some quirky room in the magic library.

    The remaining chapters are about the apparent protagonist, a young man finding his way to the secret world. I absolutely quit when the book said, around page 60, something like, “He believed in books; at least that much, he could be sure of.”

    Is it just poorly written or too far up its own ass or what? Because that sounds kind of awesome so I'm tempted to check it out if maybe my tastes are different from yours.

    The prose is fine, the imagery is nice, and maybe it comes together if you aren't allergic to the concept and stick around another hundred pages? My serious criticism is that it's ass-backwards establishing stakes; you won't get me invested by burying me in Neverwhere bric-a-brac. Like, here we are around where I left off (and this is barely spoilers, you could put it on the dust jacket):
    "But such reactions are rare.
    Most who find the space have sought it, even if they never knew that this place was what they had been seeking.
    And they will choose to stay a while.
    [....]
    They live and they work. They consume art and stories and create new art and new stories to add to the shelves and the walls. They find friends and lovers. They put on performances and play games and weave community out of cameraderie.
    [....]
    Time will pass unmeasured in dancing and delights and then those who choose to leave will begin to find their way to the egress, to be taken back to their respective doors.
    They will say their goodbyes to the ones who remain.
    The ones who have found their haven in this Harbor.
    They have sought and they have found and here they choose to remain, whether they choose a path of dedication or simply a permanent residency.
    They live and they work and they play and they love and if they ever miss the world above they rarely admit it.
    This is their world, starless and sacred.
    They think it impervious. Impenetrable and eternal.
    Yet all things change in time."

    And oh my god, why would I care? Literally NAME ONE OF "THE ONES" PLEASE.

    And then also, is the prose fine, actually? Typing this out I'm like "hehehe 'This Way To See The Egress,'" which... I mean, that was avoidable.

    Steam/LoL: Jericho89
    credeiki
  • AbsalonAbsalon Registered User regular
    Do read Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi. More fantasy in Africa expys/Africa-based settings is what I want.

    N1tSt4lker
  • Fuzzy Cumulonimbus CloudFuzzy Cumulonimbus Cloud my moons are good moons Registered User regular
    You might like Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor. Reviews were hit or miss but I really enjoyed it. It's billed as SciFi but it's definitely a mix of urban fantasy and SciFi.

  • Lord_AsmodeusLord_Asmodeus goeticSobriquet: Here is your magical cryptic riddle-tumour: I AM A TIME MACHINERegistered User regular
    So I've read all of the Dread Empire's Fall series that's out so far, and I like it and am eagerly awaiting the next book in the new trilogy.

    I'm still waiting for this shitty empire to fall though.

    Lord_Asmodeus.gifLord_Asmodeus2.gifz1i30sg.png
    Mahnmut
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