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Read a [book].

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  • 3cl1ps33cl1ps3 I will build a labyrinth to house the cheese Registered User regular
    @3cl1ps3 can you give me the deets on what your issues with Last Exit were? I love his work on the Craft Sequence, felt his work on This is How You Lose The Time War was also excellent (though he wasn't the only author) and felt very mixed in Empress of Forever

    I could honestly write a couple thousand words about how the book just isn't working on any of the levels he's trying on but I'll condense it to a few main bullet points:

    -The text is overwrought to the point of being unwitting self-parody; almost every paragraph contains a three sentence description of some innocuous thing. Not only is this just tedious to read, but it means the times that it would be effective to switch into this mode of speech to hammer a detail home or really evoke an important aspect of a scene, it's just yet more florid prose to add to the pile.

    -The book's main plot throughlines are a metaphor for the legacy of colonialism, imperialism, and capitalism, but it's so on the nose it's actively insulting. He can't go more than ten pages without going HEY HEY DO YOU GET IT HEY THIS IS SYMBOLISM DO YOU GET IT GUYS. It's a poster child of needing an editor to yell "show, don't tell" at the author.

    -The characters feel extremely flat, bar one who also gets the least amount of time as the POV character. The Native character feels extremely tokenized in ways that would take a few paragraphs to explain, since it's more about feel than any specific red flags, but I don't like it. One of the characters, a 17 year old girl, takes time during a very literal life or death situation to think about how hot one of the older women in the group is, which is just such a weird thing to include.

    -It is, without question, the most nihilistic book I've ever read. Maybe he'll pull it out at the end but I rather doubt it.

    ThroThe Zombie Penguin
  • KanaKana Registered User regular
    Kana, I just finished that last night. I just started The Last Dragonslayer, but afterwards, I might start the sequel, Marque and Reprisal.

    Book 2 isn't baaad, and I mean it was good enough for me to move on to book 3, but it definitely felt like a step down compared to book 1. Moon writes interesting characters but from what I've seen of her so far her plotting and bad guys mostly only exist enough to get her to the next character bit she wants to do. Which works sometimes, and sometimes just feels clunky as hell.

    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.
  • StraightziStraightzi Here we may reign secure, and in my choice, To reign is worth ambition though in HellRegistered User regular
    Just finished up Nghi Vo's The Chosen and the Beautiful, which is a sort of retelling of, not mythology this time, but classic American literature. Have you ever read The Great Gatsby and thought to yourself:
    - Man Nick is just a damp piece of cardboard, I wish this had a narrator who was a bit more interesting.
    - I'm sick of all of the maybe there subtext, this story needs some actually queer people.
    - What if Jay Gatsby sold his soul to the literal Devil?

    Because if so, this might be the book for you.

    Jedoc
  • JedocJedoc In the scuppers with the staggers and jagsRegistered User regular
    To Read'd so hard I nearly broke the button.

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  • initiatefailureinitiatefailure Registered User regular
    I just finished black leopard, red wolf and boy are my arms tired.

    I thought I mostly read long books but that was a Long Book. I did end up quite into it by the end but it made me work for it. It was like if Cormac McCarthy thought his dialog didn’t hate you enough sometimes.

    But I think I’m gonna use this as a chance to mix it up and knock a couple shorter reads off the shelf- in some order of Le Guin’s lathe of heaven, Calvino’s Invisible Cities, and LeCarre’s the spy who came in from the cold, and then we’ll see if I’m ready for another doorstopper

  • InquisitorInquisitor Registered User regular
    Bit of an atypical book recommend but I picked up “Stuck on the Platform” from a museum in Amsterdam and it’s a collection of basically academic essays by Geert Lovnik on “platform” capitalism, it’s effects, how to deal with it, etc. I really liked it but, not sure if it’s for everyone. Like, it’s very much written in an academic essay style, which I enjoy but is perhaps not for everyone. Here is the back of the book blurb:

    No matter how hard you try to delete apps from your phone, the power of seduction draws you back. Doom-scrolling is the new normal of a 24/7 online life. Our addiction to large-scale platforms makes us unable to return to the frivolous age of decentralised networks, despite our rising disaffection. Zoom fatigue, cancel culture, NFTs, and psychic regression comprise core elements of a general theory of platform culture. But we can reclaim the internet on our own terms. Authored by media theorist Geert Lovink and designed by Irene Stracuzzi, ‘Stuck on the Platform’ is a relapse-resistant story about the rise of platform alternatives, built on an understanding of the digital slump.

    tynic
  • Librarian's ghostLibrarian's ghost Librarian, Ghostbuster, and TimSpork Registered User regular
    edited May 4
    Okay. Finished Small Gods a second time. Caught all the references now. Also have finished all 41 books in eleven months.

    My overall favorites are the City Watch ones. I just love those dumb idiots a lot. Basically any books where Ankh-Morpork has a sizable role is at the top. I guess the city itself might be one of my favorite characters.

    Moist is up there. Wish there was more with him. Definitely could see a future where Vetinari passes on control of the city to Moist with Carrot becoming commander of the watch after Vimes retires, since no way would Carrot ever want to be king (though threatening Moist with doing so at any point if he felt things might go bad would fun.)

    Basically everything else it tied for second? Man I refuse to go into any more depth. They are all good. I love the witches, I love the wizards, everything.

    I also started re-reading Guards, Guards and realized that Carrot's home mine is in Lancre and close enough that the dwarfs can run over to Magrat's house to ask about spelling. Now I'm kinda sad that we never got a Carrot/Magrat scene where they recognized each other.

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  • JedocJedoc In the scuppers with the staggers and jagsRegistered User regular
    Yeah, the City Watch novels and the Moist cycle are my clear favorites too. Terry Pratchett's untimely death is intolerable for any number of reasons, but one of the things that haunts me is that we never got the book that starts with Vetinari dying of natural causes and ends with Moist being forced into the role of Patrician. It would have been so hateful for him and so good for the city and the in-between bits would have been just wonderful.

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    V1m
  • RanlinRanlin Oh gosh Registered User regular
    Jedoc wrote: »
    Yeah, the City Watch novels and the Moist cycle are my clear favorites too. Terry Pratchett's untimely death is intolerable for any number of reasons, but one of the things that haunts me is that we never got the book that starts with Vetinari dying of natural causes and ends with Moist being forced into the role of Patrician. It would have been so hateful for him and so good for the city and the in-between bits would have been just wonderful.

    Is this wishful thinking or something he said he was planning?

  • JedocJedoc In the scuppers with the staggers and jagsRegistered User regular
    Absolutely wishful thinking, but it makes sense narratively.

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    Librarian's ghost3cl1ps3Tynnanhtm
  • Librarian's ghostLibrarian's ghost Librarian, Ghostbuster, and TimSpork Registered User regular
    Jedoc wrote: »
    Absolutely wishful thinking, but it makes sense narratively.

    And then at the end of the book you have a disguised Vetinari in Klatch living happily ever after with a disguised Lady Margolotta. He’s reading a paper about Moist managing the city successfully and gets a small smile on his face as a retired Vimes sits down across from him.

    Vimes, “I knew it!”

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  • David_TDavid_T A fashion yes-man is no good to me. Copenhagen, DenmarkRegistered User regular
    I just realized why, of course, it would be Magrat who's the go-to witch when it comes to spelling.

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  • V1mV1m Registered User regular
    Jedoc wrote: »
    Absolutely wishful thinking, but it makes sense narratively.

    And then at the end of the book you have a disguised Vetinari in Klatch living happily ever after with a disguised Lady Margolotta. He’s reading a paper about Moist managing the city successfully and gets a small smile on his face as a retired Vimes sits down across from him.

    Vimes, “I knew it!”

    Why did you have to cut all those onions?

    Satanic Jesus
  • SporkAndrewSporkAndrew Registered User, ClubPA regular
    David_T wrote: »
    I just realized why, of course, it would be Magrat who's the go-to witch when it comes to spelling.

    I laughed really hard during Carpe Jugulum when the priest reads out Magrat's daughter's name, then had to explain to my 8 year old why it was so funny. Then had to explain why I said "and thus the frog is dissected" at the end. Then had to explain dissection. That bedtime stretched out a bit longer than usual.

    The one about the fucking space hairdresser and the cowboy. He's got a tinfoil pal and a pedal bin
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  • SnicketysnickSnicketysnick The Greatest Hype Man in WesterosRegistered User regular
    David_T wrote: »
    I just realized why, of course, it would be Magrat who's the go-to witch when it comes to spelling.

    I laughed really hard during Carpe Jugulum when the priest reads out Magrat's daughter's name, then had to explain to my 8 year old why it was so funny. Then had to explain why I said "and thus the frog is dissected" at the end. Then had to explain dissection. That bedtime stretched out a bit longer than usual.

    I have a warm space in my heart for King Gosh He's Heavy Isn't He? the first

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  • initiatefailureinitiatefailure Registered User regular
    Wait a second, worldcon is where I live! I can go to it and be a swanky Hugo voter and whatever else it is that happens there - panels I assume?

  • DevoutlyApatheticDevoutlyApathetic Registered User regular
    Wait a second, worldcon is where I live! I can go to it and be a swanky Hugo voter and whatever else it is that happens there - panels I assume?

    Yes, but you can Hugo vote for like 50 dollar for two years regardless of where you live.

    Worldcon would be kind of neat to see a bunch of awesome authors but I really don't know what happens after "Oh love your book. Okay, I'm leaving now because this is awkward."

    Nod. Get treat. PSN: Quippish
    QuidN1tSt4lker
  • JedocJedoc In the scuppers with the staggers and jagsRegistered User regular
    Dracula Daily is a Substack that emails you each chapter of the book on the date it was written within the chronology of the novel. The events of the novel take place between May 3 and November 20, so now is a great time to jump on board if you want a semi-daily dose of Bram Stoker for the next six months. Seems like a neat idea!

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    PeenTaminIolo
  • initiatefailureinitiatefailure Registered User regular
    I forgot that this book starts out with “I was surprised to discover paprika and I really must ask my new friend Dracula what’s the deal with all of this Catholicism”

    I am now prepared to receive letters from my friend Jonathan for the rest of the year

    JedocPeen
  • initiatefailureinitiatefailure Registered User regular
    I gotta say it’s only been a couple of days but this is delightful. I wonder what other books this structure would work for? I’m sure anything that was serialized like dickens could be sent out in daily “newspapers” but there’s something extra charming in the doing it by the dates of the letters/entries

    Jedoc
  • V1mV1m Registered User regular
    I gotta say it’s only been a couple of days but this is delightful. I wonder what other books this structure would work for? I’m sure anything that was serialized like dickens could be sent out in daily “newspapers” but there’s something extra charming in the doing it by the dates of the letters/entries

    I wonder if they'd do something similar was Les Liaisons Dangereuses

  • 3cl1ps33cl1ps3 I will build a labyrinth to house the cheese Registered User regular
    Wrapped up Last Exit. This is...woof. The nihilism I mentioned previously morphs into outright accelerationism at the end. Real bad. Longer thoughts to come later.

  • 3cl1ps33cl1ps3 I will build a labyrinth to house the cheese Registered User regular
    Longer thoughts on Last Exit:
    I feel bad about how low my opinion of this book is. You can immediately tell upon reading it that this must have been a very personal book for Max; he's really trying to express himself on the pages. And, he's clearly experimenting with style and trying to push his own boundaries after 7 previous published novels - can't fault an artist for being open and genuine and experimenting with their art. And, I really like all of Max's previous books. And, I broadly agree with a lot of what he's driving at here! Unfortunately, this book just doesn't really succeed on any level.

    To start, this book trades in a lot of metaphor and symbolism, but it is insultingly on the nose - at points it reads like he was afraid the reader wouldn't get what he was trying to say so he just started really trying to hammer it home. It ultimately makes the commentary significantly less effective because so much time and energy is just going into a giant neon sign that reads THIS IS A METAPHOR FOR COLONIALISM.

    In a related vein, there are two main structural issues with the way the book is written:

    1) it's structured as the conclusion of several story throughlines, the climax of the lives and stories of these characters, but there are also no previous books for it to draw on, so we just get a lot of scenes explaining to us what the backstory is. This doesn't really...work? It's all exposition vomit as Max rushes to explain why we should care about a given event or character without having laid any foundational work. It means nearly every story beat feels completed unearned. The worst offender here is the ending, where an idea is raised for the first time ever and then becomes the deciding factor of the ending all within the final twenty pages. This is the kind of writing that gets "show don't tell" written in huge red text by the editor on the front of the manuscript.

    2) Max seems to be going for the sort of tone poem, stream of consciousness, evocation-rather-than-description that you see a lot of in things like the Dark Tower series or Jeff VanderMeer's work. I don't hate that style on its face - it can be an effective method to immerse the reader and set the tone. Max completely overeggs the pudding here, though, and is unable to ever go more than a couple pages without launching into an unfocused simile or page long ramble about an unimportant detail. This both makes the experience of reading the book tedious, and means that this style loses all punch - so moments where it *would* be effective, it's just yet more of the same and any stylistic punch is lost.

    The prose is at its strongest during dialogue scenes, because the necessity of characters interacting curbs the ability of the text to veer from describing an environment to an anthropomorphic representation of a muscle car that talks like Sam Elliot monologuing in a character's mind. Unfortunately, the bulk of the book is the latter. I suspect if you cut 80% of those segments out you'd shave something like 50-60 pages off of the book. It's a bit much.

    Ultimately, though, this book's biggest flaws are its nihilism and its ending. I genuinely think it's the most nihilistic thing I've ever read. I can certainly understand feeling that way presently, but it is just so constant and everpresent throughout the book that it really detracts from the message Max eventually tries to land. It's a real sort of Catcher in the Rye, "everything and everyone sucks and is bullshit" attitude. As far as this book is concerned, the only good thing in the world is your friends and community, and absolutely nothing else has value. To be sort of rude about it, it's a pretty juvenile attitude, the sort of extremist take that you'd expect from an adolescent's livejournal, not an experienced author.

    And then there's the ending. Hoo boy. Aside from the most telegraphed "twist" in the history of literature, it is just wholly unearned, bordering on deus ex machina, and caps it off with an enthusiastic endorsement of accelerationism (specifically, the version which suggests we should purposefully hasten the downfall of capitalist structures and globalist society in order to begin rebuilding), with *zero* proposal of how to accomplish this aim or how the resulting society would actually look beyond a starry eyed idealist vision of everything Just Working Out. Accelerationism is, by its nature, racist and ableist, so it bums me out to see Max promoting it here.

    I dunno. I see what he was going for, and how, and why, but it just never came together. I think this could have worked as a duology or trilogy, but it's just too unfocused and all over the place for one book (granted, making it longer wouldn't have addressed the nihilism, but it would have given more time to set up the ending [as much as I dislike the ending's core thesis]).
    Oh, and the Native character is tokenized in ways that feel pretty bad coming from a white author, so that sucks.

  • The Zombie PenguinThe Zombie Penguin Eternal Hungry Corpse Registered User regular
    That is sad to hear, but thank you for putting so those thoughts down @3cl1ps3

    Hopefully he'll get back to the craft sequence which felt like it was generally a lot more nuanced on things? I'm still holding out for the King in Red/Temoc romance.

    Ideas hate it when you anthropomorphize them
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  • initiatefailureinitiatefailure Registered User regular
    edited May 10
    Well I read lathe of heaven in two sittings.

    I knew all the Hainish books were only very loosely “a universe” but this is the first one I’ve read where I don’t know how to square it to the others. I guess the setting being around our present means that
    events will Play out “the way they’re supposed to” from then on, getting us to that hainish future.

    It’s also perfectly fine and doesn’t need to be a direct connection to anything.

    It was however, very good.

    initiatefailure on
    V1mhtmThro
  • IoloIolo iolo Registered User regular
    That is sad to hear, but thank you for putting so those thoughts down @3cl1ps3

    Agreed! Plus "oveeggs the pudding" is a particularly marvelous turn of phrase. :)

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  • The Zombie PenguinThe Zombie Penguin Eternal Hungry Corpse Registered User regular
    Iolo wrote: »
    That is sad to hear, but thank you for putting so those thoughts down 3cl1ps3

    Agreed! Plus "oveeggs the pudding" is a particularly marvelous turn of phrase. :)

    Honestly, it makes me want to go back and re-read Empress of Forever and see if i can put my finger on why that didn't work for me. I really liked his This Is How You Loose THe Time War Novella, but that was a duo job he did with Amal El-Mohtar (Highly recommend by the by).

    The Craft Sequence has generally been good because while it's a very on the nose criticism of capitalism, it's also not shy about criticizing other systems - and it's also not shy about showing there are ways forward that arent just "Burn everything down". I mean, i'm partially joking about Temoc and the King in Red having a romance, but that could also legit happen and would work well, given both those are characters trapped heavily in sunk cost facilizes. (Also Caleb's face would catch fire and it'd be hilarious)

    Ideas hate it when you anthropomorphize them
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  • initiatefailureinitiatefailure Registered User regular
    https://locusmag.com/2022/05/2022-locus-awards-top-ten-finalists/

    I have barely touched hyped books this year apparently. Remote Control was amazing though, I don't think Nnedi Okorafor can do any wrong

    Kana
  • PeenPeen Registered User regular
    I'm looping back around to Mark Lawrence, I liked his early stuff but lost track of him, so I got Red Sister and I'm not very far in but the first line is one of the more compelling that I've read in a while.
    It is important, when killing a nun, to ensure that you bring an army of sufficient size.

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  • PeenPeen Registered User regular
    Actually I'm going to read this first tonight:

    cXCVKwll.jpg

    It's about three of the hardest military bros that ever bro'd a bro and two of the most beautiful women in the service who strike a deal with the Devil on a mission gone wrong and have to see if they can use their new powers to prevent Armageddon. Near as I can tell the whole thing is written in present passive voice (example below) so I might go completely insane by the end but I think I can probably read the whole thing tonight so review coming soon!
    "The C-5 Galaxy aircraft pitches and bumps over the jagged air currents above the vast, desolate surface of the Black Sea. The cabin smells of body odor and burning circuits as the leader of a small group of passengers braces himself against the jump seat, checking the luminous dial of his tactical chronograph. It's now pushing 10:00 pm, Moscow standard time."

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  • NaphtaliNaphtali Hazy + Flow SeaRegistered User regular
    Stan Lee's
    The Devil's Quintet
    The Armageddon Code
    The Beginning
    The Final Battle
    Part 1

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  • DevoutlyApatheticDevoutlyApathetic Registered User regular
    https://locusmag.com/2022/05/2022-locus-awards-top-ten-finalists/

    I have barely touched hyped books this year apparently. Remote Control was amazing though, I don't think Nnedi Okorafor can do any wrong

    The Echo Wife is deeply fucked up in a great way and is a bit surreal from the author of the "What if we had hippo-boys instead of cowboys?" novels.

    Nod. Get treat. PSN: Quippish
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  • MadicanMadican No face Registered User regular
    Peen wrote: »
    Actually I'm going to read this first tonight:

    It's about three of the hardest military bros that ever bro'd a bro and two of the most beautiful women in the service who strike a deal with the Devil on a mission gone wrong and have to see if they can use their new powers to prevent Armageddon. Near as I can tell the whole thing is written in present passive voice (example below) so I might go completely insane by the end but I think I can probably read the whole thing tonight so review coming soon!
    "The C-5 Galaxy aircraft pitches and bumps over the jagged air currents above the vast, desolate surface of the Black Sea. The cabin smells of body odor and burning circuits as the leader of a small group of passengers braces himself against the jump seat, checking the luminous dial of his tactical chronograph. It's now pushing 10:00 pm, Moscow standard time."

    This is one tiny step above 2nd Person Perspective when it comes to the level of skill required to pull it off and also how easy it is to fuck it up.

    3cl1ps3DepressperadoPeenOlivaw
  • 3cl1ps33cl1ps3 I will build a labyrinth to house the cheese Registered User regular
    I've liked 2nd person perspective in a book exactly one time, and it was Harrow the Ninth.

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  • ChicoBlueChicoBlue Registered User regular
    What about in Choose Your Own Adventure books?

    Thro
  • StraightziStraightzi Here we may reign secure, and in my choice, To reign is worth ambition though in HellRegistered User regular
    I highly recommend both The Diver's Clothes Lie Empty and Not For Nothing if you want to try some more good second person

    But I suspect I might be a sucker for the format

  • initiatefailureinitiatefailure Registered User regular
    I've never had an issue with the second person or actually anything based on its narrative perspective I guess. Is it like a deep guttural response or something from education that makes it feel wrong/misused/etc?

  • JedocJedoc In the scuppers with the staggers and jagsRegistered User regular
    ChicoBlue wrote: »
    What about in Choose Your Own Adventure books?

    Wait, those said "you" in my copies. You're saying that you didn't grow up reading endings like "A nitrogen bubble forms in one of Jedoc's carotid arteries, cutting off blood circulation to half of his brain. He goes into convulsions and dies.

    Beech and Macaulay find Jedoc's floating body ten minutes later. Kate too is lost. They have no idea where she is, and their searching is fruitless.
    The End"

    This is some horseshit. I wouldn't have borrowed all those books from my local library if I thought you nerds were wheezing the juice on my goddamn bespoke adventures, I'd have stuck to the huge collection of fabric spine 1950s Tom Swift Jr. books available to me.

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  • PeenPeen Registered User regular
    So far this author won't use one adjective when four will do and he's throwing sentence fragments around with reckless abandon, it's really pretty miserable but I'm pretty sure the devil's about to show up so we'll see.

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  • NaphtaliNaphtali Hazy + Flow SeaRegistered User regular
    Peen wrote: »
    So far this author won't use one adjective when four will do and he's throwing sentence fragments around with reckless abandon, it's really pretty miserable but I'm pretty sure the devil's about to show up so we'll see.

    Talk about false advertising, I thought it was supposed to be a quintet of adjectives!

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