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OTHER THINGS IN THE WORLD THAN MUSIC => Art and Literature, Movies and TV => Topic started by: mgriffin on December 07, 2007, 10:39:14 AM

Title: Now reading
Post by: mgriffin on December 07, 2007, 10:39:14 AM
In my teens and early twenties, I was a big sci-fi and fantasy reader.  I sort of got away from that stuff in college, and got into the "I'm a serious lit major and I don't read that stuff" mindset for a while... but now (triggered by the Lord of the Rings films, I think) I've been enjoying getting back into some of the books I loved when I was younger.

One set of books I bought in the late 70s but never got around to reading, is Ursula LeGuin's "Earthsea" series, starting with "A Wizard of Earthsea."  This last week I've been listening to an unabridged audiobook of "A Wizard of Earthsea" and aside from the annoying presence of Harlan Ellison as the "voice" of this audiobook, I really enjoyed the story and it made me want to explore the rest of the series.

These slim, simple books have more in common with the minimal and poetic fable-like quality of "The Little Prince" than with more epic fantasy series like "The Lord of the Rings." The story is basically about a young boy who discovers he has basic magical powers, and he is befriended by a sort of magical mentor who sees to it that he's enrolled in a school for magicians.  Apparently, J.K. Rowling had read this book... but there is no real similarity to the "Harry Potter" series.  This is more quiet and moody, somber and earthy.  In this book, words have great importance, in particular names.  Knowing the name of an object, its "true" name and not just the name that everyone calls it, has great significance.

This is the first time I've listened to an audiobook and been moved to immediately get out the printed book and actually read it.  Harlan Ellison so overdid it with the overdramatic and silly voices for various characters, that I found myself cringing at times.  Sometimes, an audiobook can be just as enjoyable as reading, but not this time.

Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: Brian Bieniowski on December 07, 2007, 11:53:56 AM
I'm a big sci-fi and fantasy reader myself (who'd have guessed).  I haven't picked up an Earthsea book since high school, but, back then, I don't recall them making much of an impact on me.  I'd like to try them again, though.  I've enjoyed Le Guin's science fiction novels.

I just finished reading The Golden Compass and I am halfway through the second book in the Philip Pullman series.  I would like to add my name to the list of Harry Potter Haters, and I confess I dismissed the Pullman books as of the same diluted ilk.  I couldn't have been more wrong—these are surprisingly adult and ambitious books, and I can't wait to see the movie now!
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: jblock on December 07, 2007, 12:04:52 PM
I've been reading Far Machines, which is a book by Nasa that covers the satellite missions of the 60s and 70s.

I've also been working my way through the collected Tintin by Herge. Not sure if these are comics or graphic novels, but they are a nice light read.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: mgriffin on December 07, 2007, 12:14:16 PM
I'd add, furthering the subject of "college lit majors who are too cool to read sci-fi," that I recall it was "cool" for lit majors to read stuff like Philip K. Dick, Stanislav Lem, J.G. Ballard, and Anthony Burgess, while turning up our noses at Heinlein, Asimov and the like.

Oh, and also... Ursula LeGuin lives right up on Thurman or Upshur in NW Portland, right by where Lena and I run & ride our bikes sometimes.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: Brian Bieniowski on December 07, 2007, 01:10:20 PM
I'd add, furthering the subject of "college lit majors who are too cool to read sci-fi," that I recall it was "cool" for lit majors to read stuff like Philip K. Dick, Stanislav Lem, J.G. Ballard, and Anthony Burgess, while turning up our noses at Heinlein, Asimov and the like.

SF has gotten more acceptable for lit majors in some colleges, where it's taught alongside the "real" literature.  Interestingly enough, the older masters like Asimov still get passed over for more "respectable" names like PK Dick and Lem.  It's preposterous of course, but I guess it fits the typical college curriculum.  I enjoy Ballard and Lem and Delany and all the rest, but I'd never have become interested in SF if it were not for Asimov and Blish and many of the other old timers.  I find that most of those books are still compulsively readable ... not something I can say about many of the more experimental works by "acceptably hip" SF writers.ß
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: jkn on December 07, 2007, 01:25:06 PM
In fantasy land - I just finished the 6 book series "War of the Spider Queen" written by six different authors and overseen by R.A. Salvatore.   I'd give it a solid "eh, it's ok" rating.  First four books were decent, five and six started dwindling.  I think the last book was the weakest - and trying not to spoil anything - I'd say that while the characters get what they deserve, it'd be nice if it had ended differently.    I got them on sale - don't think I wasted my money because I did enjoy it - but they won't be books I'll be anxious to read a 2nd time (and I almost always read my favorites 2-4 times each... :)   LOTR I've read about 11 or 12 times... )

My doctor prescribed a couple of books for me back in August that I read parts of and now think I'll start tackling again...
 
Asthma Survival: The Holistic Medical Treatment Program for Asthma by Robert S. Ivker 
 
and
 
Natural Highs: Supplements, Nutrition, and Mind-Body Techniques to Help You Feel Good All the Time by Hyla Cass and Patrick Holford 

 


Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: Bill Binkelman on December 07, 2007, 01:45:06 PM
I'm a big sci-fi and fantasy reader myself (who'd have guessed).  I haven't picked up an Earthsea book since high school, but, back then, I don't recall them making much of an impact on me.  I'd like to try them again, though.  I've enjoyed Le Guin's science fiction novels.

I just finished reading The Golden Compass and I am halfway through the second book in the Philip Pullman series.  I would like to add my name to the list of Harry Potter Haters, and I confess I dismissed the Pullman books as of the same diluted ilk.  I couldn't have been more wrong—these are surprisingly adult and ambitious books, and I can't wait to see the movie now!

Brian,

You're aware (and Mike, this goes for you too) that LeGuinn wrote two more Earthsea books after the original trilogy, right? The last one is a real gut-wrencher and had me in tears, sobbing, at the end. Very powerful conclusion to the entire Ged saga.

I just finished the His Dark Materials trilogy and I seem to be among the few that loved all three books. The Subtle Knife is much more out there than The Golden Compass and The Amber Spyglass makes The Subtle Knife look like child's play. The ultimate ending, though, I found a little anti-climactic.

From what I've read and the trailers/peeks I've seen of the Golden Compass film (which I'm seeing this weekend), they really altered the guts of the story and, of course, the biggest news is they omitted the HUGE shock ending, saying it would be the start of the next movie. However, IMO, I don't see any way they film the whole series. Period. The third book is absolutely unfilmable. No way it can be done and be visually coherent. It's just too metaphysical and...well....weird. Hell, if despite being optioned numerous times by studios, no one ever got around to filming Clarke's Rendezvous with Rama, they're sure as hell are not going to film The Amber Spyglass.

Plus, without spoiling anything, with what they have cut out of the movie of The Golden Compass, namely the entire religious subtext of the plot, the third book would be too confusing unless they rewrote about 5/6 of the plot.

By the way, Brian or Mike, did either of you watch the complete abortion of Earthsea that the SciFi Network put on. LeGuinn was just horrified by it and wrote at length about how betrayed she felt, due to the promises which were made when she sold the rights to them. Pity.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: mgriffin on December 07, 2007, 01:48:57 PM
My understanding is that LeGuin wrote the original Earthsea trilogy right around the same time, then much later wrote another novel in the series, and then another.  At some point there was a collection of short stories set in the Earthsea world, with less of a direct connection to the story of the novels.

And yes, I read her complaints about the Sci-Fi Channel adaptation of the first book.  Sounds like the producers weren't exactly acting in good faith.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: Bill Binkelman on December 07, 2007, 03:12:48 PM
My understanding is that LeGuin wrote the original Earthsea trilogy right around the same time, then much later wrote another novel in the series, and then another.  At some point there was a collection of short stories set in the Earthsea world, with less of a direct connection to the story of the novels.

Exactly. There was a large gap between book 3 and 4 and a shorter gap between 4 and 5.

And yes, I read her complaints about the Sci-Fi Channel adaptation of the first book.  Sounds like the producers weren't exactly acting in good faith.

I only lasted 15 minutes. They changed so much in just that time that I couldn't stomach it. Basically, they smashed together the plots of A Wizard of Earthsea and The Tombs of Atuan and inserted a stupid evil emperor subplot. Then they changed Ged from black (which is what he was) to white. They made him a "bubbly" teenage boy instead the shy withdrawn orphan given over to Ogion to be raised and the movie opened with Ged romping through the fields with his nubile girl-friend...who, of course, never even existed in the books. And, like I said, that's the first 15 minutes! ARGH!!!  >:(
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: mgriffin on December 07, 2007, 03:51:50 PM
I'd add, furthering the subject of "college lit majors who are too cool to read sci-fi," that I recall it was "cool" for lit majors to read stuff like Philip K. Dick, Stanislav Lem, J.G. Ballard, and Anthony Burgess, while turning up our noses at Heinlein, Asimov and the like.

SF has gotten more acceptable for lit majors in some colleges, where it's taught alongside the "real" literature.  Interestingly enough, the older masters like Asimov still get passed over for more "respectable" names like PK Dick and Lem.  It's preposterous of course, but I guess it fits the typical college curriculum.  I enjoy Ballard and Lem and Delany and all the rest, but I'd never have become interested in SF if it were not for Asimov and Blish and many of the other old timers.  I find that most of those books are still compulsively readable ... not something I can say about many of the more experimental works by "acceptably hip" SF writers.ß

I should make sure it's clear that I'm sort of making fun of my college-age pretensions, not saying that only those "literary sci-fi" authors are worth reading.

Like you say, I'd be more likely to read Gregory Benford or Greg Bear than Phil Dick or Stanislav Lem these days.  I don't know if those first two are taken seriously at all in sci-fi circles... for all I know, they're the Danielle Steele and the Jackie Collins of the sci-fi world... but I find their work compelling in a "page-turner" way.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: Dave Michuda on December 07, 2007, 05:46:19 PM
I just finished William Gibson's latest, "Spook Country".  I guess I enjoyed it, sort of.  I just never really got into it.  I just kept reading because I wanted to finish it, not because I couldn't put it down.  It wasn't bad, it just didn't pull me in.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: Bill Binkelman on December 08, 2007, 01:21:05 AM
Well, IMO, the movie adaptation of The Golden Compass was terrible, but understand that I am filtering it through how much I loved the book. It captures none of what made the book so cool, again IMO. Not a bad piece of fluff fantasy for those who didn't read the book, but man, did they gut the metaphysical and theological concepts which made the book so deep. They really dumbed it down!

I went to an 11pm showing tonight and man, was it crowded....lots of 20 somethings. Surprised to see that many younger folks there, frankly.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: 9dragons on December 08, 2007, 02:27:37 AM
It's nice to see a fantasy/sci-fi lit discussion coming up. I can echo your sentiments about the return to reading great sci-fi and fantasy at a later date, Mike. I've just got back into reading some old favorites that I had rejected long ago, after a long stint of only reading nonfiction and journalism. Somehow, in this warped time we live in, I feel allowed to return to the true and wonderful place of fantasy. I've jumped back into H.P. Lovecraft, Lord Dunsany, and Clark Ashton Smith, whose stars seem to shine brighter even from the distance of first read to now. Amazing and beautiful as ever, but offering something deeper to me this time, a commentary on the age we live in, a state of wonder long lost but found again...At this point, actually, it feels like fantasy/sci-fi, especially of an older cast, is the only thing worth reading among fiction.

Among newer writers, I am a fan of Gibson, but only enjoyed half of 'Spook Country', the rest feeling kind of limp and over-programmed (but the first half really was genius), and also enjoyed China Mieville's 'Perdido Street Station' and 'The Scar'. Anyone checked these out?
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: mgriffin on December 08, 2007, 11:06:07 AM
I have a real craving to read some Lovecraft and Poe again.  I've also been thinking of revisiting "The Castle of Otranto," this weird gothic novel I read in high school.

More than any return to a certain genre, I seem to be thinking a lot about revisiting some of the literature of a certain time period in my life, I guess age 14 to 24.  For example, I've actually been thinking about looking into Stephen King again, something I really loved for a few years in my mid-late teens, and then after Different Seasons or whatever it's called, I stopped reading him entirely.

I think I'm about to try reading Stand on Zanzibar, by John Brunner.

And I bought a copy of Perdido Street Station but haven't read it yet.
 

Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: Brian Bieniowski on December 08, 2007, 03:20:40 PM
Bill, that is a terrific icon you have.   ;D

9Dragons, have you ever tried out William Hope Hodgson?  Judging by your enjoyment of Dunsany and the rest, I'm sure you'd like him also.  I have been picking up the new volumes of Clark Ashton Smith's work, finally a complete edition of his fantasies.  I have always thought he was underrated so it's nice to see him get first class treatment.

Mike, I think writers like Greg Bear and Greg Benford are extremely important because there are fewer and fewer real "hard" SF authors who really get their hands dirty with the scientific aspects of their books.  These two are certainly titans from that perspective.  Unfortunately (especially for those of us in the business who edit science fiction and not fantasy) it would seem the more rigorous kinds of SF are somewhat out of fashion in favor of other things.  I would highly recommend the recent books of Robert Charles Wilson and Robert Sawyer to you, if you're looking for cool concepts and interesting science (not to mention deft storytelling).

I saw The Golden Compass last night and thought it was pretty good.  Not exactly like the book, but I thought they did a good job with such involved material.  I have to be honest—I never expect very much out of movies, so I wasn't disappointed, even if it did seem a little flat.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: mgriffin on December 08, 2007, 03:55:26 PM
Mike, I think writers like Greg Bear and Greg Benford are extremely important because there are fewer and fewer real "hard" SF authors who really get their hands dirty with the scientific aspects of their books.  These two are certainly titans from that perspective.  Unfortunately (especially for those of us in the business who edit science fiction and not fantasy) it would seem the more rigorous kinds of SF are somewhat out of fashion in favor of other things.  I would highly recommend the recent books of Robert Charles Wilson and Robert Sawyer to you, if you're looking for cool concepts and interesting science (not to mention deft storytelling).

Thanks for the recommendations, Brian.  A quick browse at Amazon leads me to believe that I'd enjoy Rollback, Spin, and Axis, at least.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: APK on December 11, 2007, 08:51:56 PM
Talking of sci-fi ... recently finished Alastair Reynolds "Revelation Space". Found it to have some great concepts and ideas, but in the end an unsatisfying plot. Little ponderous.

Now re-reading "The Sybil" by Par Lagerkvist.  Not sci-fi. Classic.

Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: Paul Vnuk (Ma Ja Le) on December 11, 2007, 09:38:35 PM
Ok...so to completely de-rail this discussion,

I have very rarely in my life been able to get into reading fiction...strange seeing as I was a complete sc-fi nut as a kid (starwars, star Trek, Dr who), but never got into the deep world of sc-fi fiction.

To this day I have never read the Lord of the Rings or Narnia trilogies or lovecraft ect.

What I am really into and cannot get enough of is non-fiction, especially biographies, usually musicians and famous artists.

I don't know why but I am insanely compelled to dig into their lives and find out the eternal "why" and "how" they did what they did.

Some great recient and favorite reads:

Chronicles Volume One by Bob Dylan
John, Paul, George, Ringo and Me by Tony Barrow
Wonderful Tonight by Pattie Boyde
Staying Up Much Too Late (Edward Hopper's Nighthawks and the Dark Side of the American Psyche) by Gordon Theisen
The Beatles by Bob Spitz
The Case for the Real Jesus by Lee Strobel

And the autobiography of Eric Clapton was one of the best reads I have read in a long time!

and I am just about to start Diane Arbus by Patricia Bosworth

Sooo any non-fiction readers in the crowd ???
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: ffcal on December 12, 2007, 12:52:44 AM
Hey Paul,

I'm a non-fiction reader, too!  Recently, I've been enjoying Nassim Nicholas Taleb's "The Black Swan," a really eye-opening book about uncertainty and dealing with high-impact but unpredictable events, both positive and negative.  Very entertaining--one of the more enjoyable reads I've had in a long time.  I became interested in this book because of Taleb's discussion of fractals.  I'm about midway through Oliver Sachs' "Musicophilia," which has some interesting things to say about perfect pitch and synesthesia, among other things, but is little bit fragmented for my taste.

Forrest
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: mgriffin on December 12, 2007, 03:39:10 PM
I've known "historical bio only" readers before.  Though I enjoy non-fiction from time to time, to me the inability to enjoy fiction is sort of like color-blindness -- when I hear about it, I feel like saying "You poor soul!" and yet the color-blind person always shrugs and says "That's just how things have always looked to me."  They don't know what the fuss is all about.

I'm nearly always reading something fiction and some thing non-fiction, but the difference between them is immense.  I've enjoyed plenty of non-fiction books but very rarely have I felt enraptured and overwhelmed by the beauty of something non-fiction.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: Paul Vnuk (Ma Ja Le) on December 12, 2007, 05:29:45 PM
I've enjoyed plenty of non-fiction books but very rarely have I felt enraptured and overwhelmed by the beauty of something non-fiction.

See, and I am almost completely the opposite, fiction almost always leave me flat and yet historical/bio non-fiction excites me, maybe it is a sort of artistic voyerism, looking into and studying peoples lives.

Although...I did forget about my favorite fiction writer, Nick Bantock, now his blend of illustration and fiction is near perfection for me.

Paul
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: Seren on December 13, 2007, 05:42:29 AM
Just finished a book called 'Inubus'. Fantasy dealing with the landscapes of Ephemera, where the deepest resonances of the human heart can change the geography or lead them inot the worlds they 'deserve'....

I was always an SF reader as a kid and young adult, might have five books on the go at once. Really enjoy the modern science stuff like 'The Whole Shebang' by Timothy ferris and others about string theory....I like seeing how much further I can get each time i read them before I know I really don't have a clue what they are talking about.

Anyone have favourite or unusual ways of reading?

As a kid I'd read a book forwards and then read it backwards prargraph by paragraph (sentences or words was too difficult) - had a similar effect to the film Memento.

I also  liked to read the last sentence and paragraph and work out as I read how the auther would get from a - z. caught me out once as I read a book completely awed by the huge (SF) historical and civilisational range it was going to be covering. Could not work out how the author was going to do it, especially as I got nearer and nearer the end....until I realised I'd read the last paragraph of an excerpt from another book. ;D
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: APK on December 14, 2007, 02:07:38 PM
I actually read more non-fiction than fiction.
I even enjoy reading manuals ... odd but true.

Now reading
- Warblers of the Great Lakes Region by Chris Earley (what can I say, I like birds)
- Derrida: Margins of Philosophy (a re-read in this case. I have a doctorate in philosophy, and just can't kick the habit)
- Designing Interactions by Bill Moggridge  (a book you dip into rather than read from beginning to end. Its a fine big book on contemporary technological design, especially digital, its history and its effect)

Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: spunknik on December 15, 2007, 02:15:56 PM
I'm reading:
Dr. Bob and the old-timers(nice history of early A.A.)
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: mgriffin on January 14, 2008, 05:30:29 PM
Not too long ago, finished a fun, odd little book called Geek Mafia, self-published by the author, Rick Dakan.  Dakan was one of the co-founders of the company that created City of Heroes (an MMORPG from a few years back) and the book seems to start out halfway retelling the story of how he started the company with his friend, got the business rolling, and then was fired by his former friends.  From there, the story goes off into fantasyland, with the protagonist taking revenge against his former partners, and falling in with a group of crazy hacker/geek underground con artists and taking part in all kinds of adventures.

If you're a geek, and you enjoy computer games, comic books, and messing around with computers, you'll love this.

I'd actually really recommend Geek Mafia and I believe the author has made the book available as a free, authorized PDF download..  There's this link to the book I'm talking about, and the recent sequel, here:

http://manybooks.net/series/144.html (http://manybooks.net/series/144.html)

I haven't read the sequel but probably will do so at some point.  I actually don't really love the idea of a PDF e-book, but I have a physical, paperback copy of the first book.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: sraymar on January 14, 2008, 06:48:04 PM
I'm reading "The Fourth Turning:What the Cycles of History Tell Us About America's Next Rendezvous with Destiny" by William Strauss and Neil Howe.

Explains why generations differ and act like they do as well as value what they do. There are four basic generation types - Prophet, Nomad, Hero, and Artist.

* A Prophet generation grows up as increasingly indulged post-Crisis children(the lastest being Boomers), comes of age as the narcissistic young crusaders of an Awakening, cultivates principle as moralistic midlifers, and emerges as wise elders guiding to the next Crisis.

* A Nomad generation grows up as underprotected children during an Awakening(Gen X), comes of age as the alienated young adults of a post-Awakening world, melows into pragmatic midlife leaders durring a Crisis, and ages into tough post-Crisis elders.

* A Hero generation grows up as increasingly protected post-Awakening children(Gen Y, remember Baby on Board signs?), comes of age as the heroic young teamworkers of a Crisis, demonstrates hubris as energetic midlifers, and emerges as powerful elders attacked by the next Awakening.

* An Artist generation grows up as overprotected children during a Crisis(Yet to be born), comes of age as the sensitive young adults of a post-Crisis world, breaks free as indecisive midlife leaders during an Awakening, and ages into empathic post-Awakening elders.

This cycle repeats over and over each millennia.

Steve


Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: jkn on January 15, 2008, 08:41:42 AM
Recently picked up Children of Hurin by Tolkien (collected and arranged by his son Christopher and I guess his grandson Adam was also involved.)    I've read most of Tolkien's stuff so I'm really looking forward to this.

Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: 9dragons on January 20, 2008, 12:58:44 AM

9Dragons, have you ever tried out William Hope Hodgson?  Judging by your enjoyment of Dunsany and the rest, I'm sure you'd like him also.  I have been picking up the new volumes of Clark Ashton Smith's work, finally a complete edition of his fantasies.  I have always thought he was underrated so it's nice to see him get first class treatment.


I've been wanting to pick up some William Hope Hodgson recently, as the urge to read weird fantasy continues apace. What do you recommend as a good starter? Also, have to compliment your good taste in picking up those new Smith volumes. I really want to pick up volume three: Vintage From Atlantis I think it's called, mainly in order to read Demon of the Flower and The Double Shadow in definitive form (as many of Smith's tales were cut down or dumbed down for publication in Weird Tales). I really like the fact that CAS is getting the fine editing treatment he deserves. Though I find his work uneven, when it is good it is sooooo mind blowingly weird and great (like Garden of Adompha, or Voyage to Sfanomoe).
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: Infraction on January 20, 2008, 11:35:05 AM


Staying Up Much Too Late (Edward Hopper's Nighthawks and the Dark Side of the American Psyche) by Gordon Theisen


This one caught my eye.  How is it Paul? 

I'm a big fan of Hopper's paintings.  I've been in school the last 3 years, so any casual reading has been shelved - literally, so now I find that I have the time to jump back into reading.  Fiction or non-fiction - doesn't matter to me.  I'm just happy to be able to read what I want instead of what I need.  :)



Jason
infractionrecords.com
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: Brian Bieniowski on January 21, 2008, 06:59:25 AM
I've been wanting to pick up some William Hope Hodgson recently, as the urge to read weird fantasy continues apace. What do you recommend as a good starter?

Night Shade Books (the guys doing the Smith collections) put out a five volume set of Hodgson's work a few years back, but I suspect many of the volumes might be out of print.  Frankly, I think a little Hodgson goes a long way, as with so much of the over-written, purple Weird Tales kind of fantasy.  I'd recommend his novels The Boats of the Glen Carrig and The House on the Borderlands, which you ought to be able to find as used paperbacks here and there.  He wrote beautifully creepy nautical horror short stories as well, which were recently collected in a paperback that is also worth looking out for, if you like tales of the sea as much as I do.

Currently reading: Nova by Samuel R. Delany
Terrific, showy space opera from the late sixties.  Reads like it was written yesterday.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: mgriffin on January 22, 2008, 10:51:05 AM
Anybody (especially Brian) know anything about Altered Carbon and the rest of that series by Richard Morgan?  It sounds interesting to me, and while it's filed in "science fiction" it sounds almost like a suspense/thriller story with sci-fi elements.

Right now I'm about halfway through another go at Lord of the Rings and enjoying it enormously, more than ever. This is my first time reading the books since seeing the movies.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: APK on January 22, 2008, 12:06:40 PM
Anybody (especially Brian) know anything about Altered Carbon and the rest of that series by Richard Morgan?  It sounds interesting to me, and while it's filed in "science fiction" it sounds almost like a suspense/thriller story with sci-fi elements.

Right now I'm about halfway through another go at Lord of the Rings and enjoying it enormously, more than ever. This is my first time reading the books since seeing the movies.


I read Altered Carbon ... quite a while ago. Seem to remember finishing it (which I don't do if I don't like a book enuf) and enjoying it. Struck me as very much a detective novel in sci-fi garb. If that's your thing, its worth a look.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: SiF on January 22, 2008, 01:16:00 PM
Just finished reading Stephen Kings "Dead Zone".

I'm a King Fanatic, and of course i enjoyed every Minute
while reading.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: jblock on January 22, 2008, 01:59:17 PM
I've been reading Moondust: In Search of The Men Who Fell To Earth (by Andrew Smith), which my daughter bought me for the holidays. An interesting read with interviews with many of the moon walkers on the direction their lives have taken since they came back. Some of them are extremely candid.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: Antdude on January 22, 2008, 02:09:19 PM
Dividing my reading time between R.A. Salvatore's 'War of the Spider Queen' series, and Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin seafaring novels. I need to find time to read Tolkien's 'The Children of Hurin'.

Someday i hope to read a single book that isn't a part of a vast series....
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: hdibrell on January 22, 2008, 02:25:05 PM
I've just finished re-reading T.R. Fehrenbach's  "Comanches: The Destruction of a People". I read it many years ago and decided to read it again recently. This is a great book for those that enjoy history. Fehrenbach keeps it very interesting and not dry as so many history books can be. This is the most balanced telling of the Native Americans story I have ever read. The author doesn't assign blame on the "whites" or the Comanche, just tells the story of how the clash between cultures and eventual destruction of the Comanche was inevitable. It explains how the Comanche were almost single handedly resposible for the halt of the Spanish and later Mexican expansion into Texas and other parts of the Southwest. A great read.   Harry
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: jkn on January 22, 2008, 02:25:17 PM
Dividing my reading time between R.A. Salvatore's 'War of the Spider Queen' series, and Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin seafaring novels. I need to find time to read Tolkien's 'The Children of Hurin'.

Someday i hope to read a single book that isn't a part of a vast series....

I read the Spider Queen series a couple months ago.   Good stuff through most of it.   Not great, but not bad, enjoyable...

I started Hurin, but haven't gotten in the mood for it yet so haven't gotten very far.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: 9dragons on January 23, 2008, 12:47:40 AM
Anybody (especially Brian) know anything about Altered Carbon and the rest of that series by Richard Morgan?  It sounds interesting to me, and while it's filed in "science fiction" it sounds almost like a suspense/thriller story with sci-fi elements.

Richard K. Morgan is a very enjoyable writer. I'm not usually of fan of hard sci-fi, but his writing, when dealing with the tech aspect, is wonderful. It strikes a balance between well researched believability and intriguing fantasy. His writing can be beautiful, psychedelic - the combat is well-described, seeming to be from someone with martial training, he indulges in way over the top and cheesy yet surprisingly well done sex scenes, something I think most other sci-fi writers can't manage. Altered Carbon has a cool noir edge, interesting locations like future San Francisco, and is a great read. The second in the series, Broken Angels, is more space ship and military oriented; I found it to be quite flat, poorly paced, anti-climactic, and barely finishable. The third in the series, Woken Furies, has to be the finest; it combines all the best elements of his writing with just an amazing flow with travelogue amounts of movement, lushly described. His most recent book Thirteen I couldn't even finish. Lame cop procedural, weak free-falling plot, no character flow. So check out Altered Carbon, and if you like that, skip over Woken Furies (I don't think there is anything significant in the way of story development that you will miss out on by not reading Broken Angels, though I'm not entirely sure.)
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: Gemini Ambience on January 29, 2008, 01:09:41 PM
I'll be finishing Interview with the Vampire and starting The Vampire Lestat during the next few evenings. I read the Vampire Chronicles 10-12 years ago, but am now re-reading the entire series.

When I'm not reading fiction, I'm also studying Spanish on my own out of the Playas series of textbooks, as well as reading my synth manuals.  :)
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: mgriffin on March 27, 2008, 11:37:55 AM
Mike, I think writers like Greg Bear and Greg Benford are extremely important because there are fewer and fewer real "hard" SF authors who really get their hands dirty with the scientific aspects of their books.  These two are certainly titans from that perspective.  Unfortunately (especially for those of us in the business who edit science fiction and not fantasy) it would seem the more rigorous kinds of SF are somewhat out of fashion in favor of other things.  I would highly recommend the recent books of Robert Charles Wilson and Robert Sawyer to you, if you're looking for cool concepts and interesting science (not to mention deft storytelling).

Brian, I just wanted to follow-up your recommendation by saying I'm halfway into my first Robert J. Sawyer (Frameshift) and enjoying it very much.  This is exactly the sort of thing I enjoy most -- a fun and easy read, that isn't too "lite" but instead gives you plenty of interesting ideas to chew on, while being carried along by the story.  And I'm a sucker for stories set in a university environment for some reason -- maybe I miss college. 

Anyway, thanks again Brian.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: Brian Bieniowski on March 27, 2008, 12:37:53 PM
Glad to be of help, Hero Member!  Sawyer's got his strengths and weaknesses (he's not the most elegant prose stylist, but he gets the job done).  I haven't read a new one of his since the Neanderthal trilogy (which was great fun), though I have his latest on my shelf, called Rollback, which was serialized in our sister publication a few months ago.  If you get the first Neanderthal book, Hominids, check out the acknowledgments page for a familiar Hypnos forum members' name.  It won the Hugo too, (nothing to do with me). ;)

For a small essay I'm writing, I'm reading an old Robert Heinlein juvenile called Have Space Suit – Will Travel.  I've never been the biggest Heinlein fan, though I enjoyed this one in seventh grade.  It holds up remarkably well.  Fun, light reading.

Just finished Jacques Cousteau's The Silent World, a concise recounting of his earliest years using the aqualung for scuba.  I'm in the middle of getting my scuba certification, so it's completely topical for me, but I think this book would appeal to anyone interested in the ocean and the things in it.  Great stuff.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: sraymar on March 29, 2008, 09:20:35 PM
I'm reading Pierre Dansereau's Inscape and Landscape. Its a short book on ecology that influenced A Produce's CD with the same title. It sort of mirrors a Robert Rich interivew I read where he's into identifying mushrooms that are edible apart from the lethal kinds and explained that we used to be able to that do instantly with all wild foods. Its really amazing how detached we've become from nature not too mention the outright assault on it we've allowed.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: mgriffin on April 02, 2008, 09:37:41 AM
Glad to be of help, Hero Member!  Sawyer's got his strengths and weaknesses (he's not the most elegant prose stylist, but he gets the job done).  I haven't read a new one of his since the Neanderthal trilogy (which was great fun), though I have his latest on my shelf, called Rollback, which was serialized in our sister publication a few months ago.  If you get the first Neanderthal book, Hominids, check out the acknowledgments page for a familiar Hypnos forum members' name.  It won the Hugo too, (nothing to do with me). ;)

Yeah, "Hero Member," WTF?  I didn't come up with that myself.  I'll have to think about these titles!

BTW, I finished Frameshift and found it ended in a way that didn't really live up to the beginning.  So many of these "wow, cool concept" books end up being about JUST the concept, not any kind of payoff or development of the concept.  Sometimes I think the author's enthusiasm petered out once he got past the "wouldn't it be cool if THIS happened?" stage and he only fleshed out the idea as far as he needed to in order to make a book out of it.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: Hypnagogue on April 02, 2008, 12:43:05 PM
While looking in the library for a copy of a book I saw at Borders, with all of Moorcock's early Elric stories crunched into one volume (I don't usually buy books because I rarely re-read), I decided to give a long-overdue read to Larry Niven's "Ringworld." Quite enjoying it. Loved Niven's Known Space short stories as a kid--rediscovering him as an old guy.

That's me being the old guy, not Larry. Who is even older.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: Brian Bieniowski on April 02, 2008, 12:59:36 PM
I myself only read Ringworld last year.  Hot damn, that was a good book.  I'd always wondered what the fuss was about regarding Larry Niven, but it's no surprise after reading that one.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: Seren on April 03, 2008, 05:19:16 AM
I myself only read Ringworld last year.  Hot damn, that was a good book.  I'd always wondered what the fuss was about regarding Larry Niven, but it's no surprise after reading that one.

I reread 'The Mote in God's Eye' a little while back, was as good as I remembered from when i was younger. Inventive and coherent, carried off the idea and twists well.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: SunDummy on April 08, 2008, 05:38:37 PM
Quote
I'd always wondered what the fuss was about regarding Larry Niven, but it's no surprise after reading that one.

One of the few SF books I've kept is Niven's "All the Myriad Ways", a collection of shorts; great stuff.  "Man of Steel, Women of Kleenex" is absolutely hilarious.   ;D

I rarely read fiction anymore, but after seeing the LOTR trilogy again last weekend, I'm having a hankerin' for "The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever", a six-book series I read as a teenager.  Anyone else familiar with this series?  I remember LOVING it; I'm curious to see if it's as good as I remember it to be.  It's about a guy in modern times who has leprosy; he keeps blacking out and waking up in this other fantasy world, where everyone thinks he's a hero.  He cuts back and forth between the two worlds, and thinks it's all a dream, but plays along anyway...  Great stuff.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: Hypnagogue on April 09, 2008, 07:30:53 AM
Ah, Tom Covenant. The series responsible for no fantasy writer being able to sell a single stand-alone novel, ever again. ;-)

I tried to revisit these a while back. I remember that the first three seemed fresh and intriguing back in the day. But I also recall that the second three were depressing and slow-moving. The real problem I had with the series, especially in trying to re-read it, was that it's just so hard (for me) to buy into that whole "I must not use this amazing power I have been given" concept. Give any normal guy the power of the white gold ring and point us toward our enemies, and we'll pretty much burn a swath through the bastards, howling with glee and holding a cold beer in our free hand. (Conan had it right..."To drive the enemy before you...to hear the lamentation of the women...") But all the heavy, angsty "Oh no what have I done" stuff that permeates this series (and so much fantasy fiction)....gah. If you can't handle the ring, Tom, give it to someone with some balls and let's get this Lord Foul thing cleared up! :-)

Have any of the fantasy geeks out here read any David Gemmel? (Legend, Heroes of Dark Renown)

[Oh my...I just Googled him. Seems he died two years ago...] :-(
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: SunDummy on April 09, 2008, 10:52:55 AM
Thanks, Hypnagogue; I had forgotten what an emo-wimp he was.  ;) ;D    I think I'll skip a re-read, and just leave my memories intact.

I googled the series; it appears Donaldson is working on a third trilogy right now, to be finished sometime in 2012. 
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: mgriffin on April 09, 2008, 10:55:43 AM
In my early college years, all my sci-fi / fantasy / d&d geek buddies were all gaga over Thomas Covenant.  I read the first book and thought it was pretty well done in some ways, but also pretty frustrating, and didn't really go anywhere.  I stopped after the first book.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: mgriffin on April 09, 2008, 01:11:44 PM
I just finished listening to the audiobook of "Blood Music" by Greg Bear, and thought it was fantastic.

The plot followed an unusual curve, and left me thinking more than once that the story was almost over (since it was an audiobook, I couldn't "eyeball" how any pages were left past the page I was on), only to take off in a new direction and develop and continue.  This was a very ambitious and imaginatively rich story, one of those science fiction stories that contains about the same number of fresh and interesting ideas as 20 normal sci fi novels.

For those who don't know much about it but might be interested, the story starts up from the concept of a biotech firm exploring the possibility of merging computer technology with a biological component, to create small organic components with an intelligence of their own, that can be inserted into the human body for therapeutic or medicinal purposes.  There is a breakthrough, but things don't go as planned and a new life form is created that ends up developing into something very significant for the human race, and the entire planet.

It's put me in a mood to read some more Greg Bear!
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: jkn on April 10, 2008, 10:32:51 AM
Thomas Covenant... have to agree.    I liked the first three - found the 2nd three excruciatingly painful to get through.   I also got tired of the poor me stuff.   First three had their moments - then again - I was a teen last time I read them.

I reread the 10 books from David Eddings (Belarion and Mallorian - probably got the spelling wrong there...) which stretched the trilogy concept in to quintologies (that a word?).   You know - I still found them enjoyable in my later 20's when I reread them.   A bit childish at points, but hey, not a big issue, so am I... :)   

I'm ready for the last Sword 'O Truth Goodkind book to come out in paperback to finally finish that one.   He was gunning for the series that never ends award which I think still belongs to Robert Jordan (there are many series that never end, but most of those are semi-stand alone books - not direct continuations from book to book to book to book to booooookkkk to boooookkkkkkkkk....)     Jordan always said he'll keep writing until he dies, and sadly - he's got some nasty disease now.   The final book in the Wheel 'O Time is the one he's working on currently - although I haven't checked up on progress in quite a while.   

Speaking of Sword 'O Truth...  the first book will be a tv miniseries coming soon.

Oddly - I really got a kick out of Terry Brooks first Magic Kingdom for Sale book - struck me as humorous.   I think I read another one that wasn't terrible.

currently reading... EDI and XML manuals.  Nothing exciting... 

Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: Brian Bieniowski on April 10, 2008, 11:34:40 AM
Jordan always said he'll keep writing until he dies, and sadly - he's got some nasty disease now.   The final book in the Wheel 'O Time is the one he's working on currently - although I haven't checked up on progress in quite a while.

You sure haven't, because he keeled over a few months ago.  :o

http://slashdot.org/articles/07/09/17/0243230.shtml

Another (though much younger) writer, named Brandon Sanderson is going to complete the final book of the series with Jordan's notes (and the staunch supervision of every editor Tor books has on staff, I'd reckon).  I've never really liked that kind of stuff (read the first book but was bored senseless, though I totally loved David Eddings), so I couldn't begin to speculate how it's all going to pan out.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: jkn on April 10, 2008, 11:47:20 AM
Eeeek... didn't realize.    The first three or four books in the series were very good (if you like this sort of thing of course) - but by books 7 and 8... it was slow painful reading.  I forget which book it is - but there's about 800 pages where you get from breakfast to lunch on the same day - but from so many different character's perspectives.   It would have been neat had something actually happened during that timeframe, but in general, everyone was travelling or running towards the final book.  The final one he put out was just starting to get going again.   

Kind of the same arc as Goodkind - really good out of the gate for a few books and then became a quagmire of slow reading.   In Jordan's case it was having 7 billion plotlines and nearly as many main characters (with many of them similar enough or just not fleshed out to be their own character that you have to stop and think who was who...) and Goodkind rolling into pages of philosophical speeches from a character that would have been fine if he didn't repeat the same thing over and over clubbing you on the head over and over... and then he toned it down and got back to telling a good story with the last couple of books.   My fear is the last book drops back into preachiness. 

All the Modesitt Recluce books are I think my favorite 'current' series.   Very recurring themes, but not clubbing over the head, rarely dull - and 'series' within the series are only 2 books long.    He also jumps his stories around the timeline of his world - so one book is 800 years before another one, etc...

Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: Altus on April 10, 2008, 04:31:32 PM
Goodkind rolling into pages of philosophical speeches from a character that would have been fine if he didn't repeat the same thing over and over clubbing you on the head over and over... and then he toned it down and got back to telling a good story with the last couple of books.   My fear is the last book drops back into preachiness.
I found that once the preachiness started, it never went away. ;) In saying that, I still enjoyed the characters and story as a whole and the last book in the Sword of Truth series is definitely worth reading.  I'm curious what his next endeavor will be.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: jkn on April 10, 2008, 04:57:03 PM
That's good to know - I really enjoyed the last couple of books before the final one.   
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: Seren on April 11, 2008, 12:50:57 AM
Was wndering if the Terry Pratchett 'dicsworld' books translate well across the pond?

Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: jkn on April 11, 2008, 04:10:10 AM
I've never read one - I've always planned on it and the sheer number of choices has kept me back a bit...  I have friends that love them.   There's always a decent sized section dedicated to the series - so they must sell well enough to keep the shelf space (at least here in Illinois...)

I've read 'good omens' by pratchett and gaiman which I thought was hilarious.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: hdibrell on April 13, 2008, 01:56:38 PM
Anyone read or have any thoughts on David Toop's "Haunted Weather".  I just started it today and find myself only able to read small portions at a sitting. I had the same trouble with his "Oceans of Sound". There is so much information and so many names I have to stop after a brief read just to try and absorb what I have read. If I don't, I find myself just reading words and not absorbing much. It took me almost 6 months to finish "Oceans of Sound" and I'm not sure I'm up for a long read like that right now. Don't get me wrong, I did enjoy Oceans... , it just wasn't easy. Not that I expect all of my reads to be easy, but I guess I'm trying to psych myself up to commit to it.  :-\
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: Hypnagogue on April 14, 2008, 06:30:55 AM

Speaking of Sword 'O Truth...  the first book will be a tv miniseries coming soon.


Hmm...wonder how they'll handle the S&M overtones... :-)

I met the author one day in Cambridge, MA. Briefly. He was doing a signing for "Wizard's First Rule" at a little sci-fi bookstore. Sitting there, quite, quite alone...

I rather imagine he'd be swamped now.

(I read the first three and got very tired of them at that point. But "First Rule" is a superb novel.)
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: jkn on April 14, 2008, 06:56:27 AM

A friend of mine sent this in an email earlier when we were discussing the same thing...

Quote
Of course in adapting the book to TV, they have to tone things down a bit.  In the TV version, the mord sith are women dressed in skin tight leather who walk by kittens without petting them….  (thereby showing their deranged and ruthless nature)

The first two are very good - the rest are good, but hit and miss - and sometimes to the point of annoying.   
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: mgriffin on April 24, 2008, 02:05:30 PM
Recently started Rainbow Six by Tom Clancy, one of my guilty pleasures I guess.  Sometimes Clancy can be a lot of fun to ready, and he does thrillers with high tech, military and special forces elements better than anyone.

I guess he's getting older and crankier, though, or else he just doesn't know who to make into a plausible villain since the fall of the USSR, because  Rainbow Six treats environmentalists as being the most evil and inhuman bad-guys possible.  The basic thrust of the book is that some environmentalists decide that human beings are just too tough on the planet, and almost every one deserves to be wiped-out.  Environmentalism is treated as the most deranged, anti-business, anti-social kind of sociopathic craziness possible.  I'm not exactly a Greenpeace or Sierra Club member, but this still kind of bugs me.   
 


Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: APK on April 24, 2008, 02:10:38 PM
I just re-read

Eric S. Nylund: A Signal Shattered

And its a mighty fine bit of sci-fi.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: lena on April 24, 2008, 02:32:29 PM
I like to play audiobooks while I'm working in the office, (no time to sit & read actual books). I'm just finishing up with the entire Dark Tower series by Stephen King, (I read all of them years ago, but listening to them again was a great adventure),  & I'm going to start on Lord of the Rings next, (yay, can't wait)! 
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: hdibrell on April 24, 2008, 09:15:05 PM
  Environmentalism is treated as the most deranged, anti-business, anti-social kind of sociopathic craziness possible.  I'm not exactly a Greenpeace or Sierra Club member, but this still kind of bugs me.
                                                                                                                       I couldn't agree more. I am a pretty politically conservative person, but I have always considered myself an environmentalist. I come from a family of ranchers/farmers who are very environmentally focused. After all, their living comes from the environment. I feel that the term environmentalist has been hijacked, so to speak, by some radicals which makes the rest of us a little uncomfortable with the label. We have to protect what we have and should do so passionately, but extremism seldom helps win people over. Just my $.02 .    Harry
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: Exuviae on April 27, 2008, 12:02:58 PM
I read a ton these days, though mostly it's horror or other "dark fiction". I've never been able to get into much non-fiction, I guess I read mostly for entertainment purposes, which is what dictates my lit choices. Sci-Fi and Fantasy aren't my thing, either. I've read some and enjoyed it, but these days I tend to want thrills and chills.

Recent books I enjoyed:

Bret Easton Ellis-Lunar Park. Great story and a bit of a different yard than he tends to write. Made me feel something at the end. Good.

Jack Ketchum-Hide and Seek. Not his best story by any means, but again-it made me feel something at the end. Glad this one's back in print.

Joe Hill -Heat Shaped Box. Great first novel by Stephen King's offspring. Hope he dodges the sophomore slump!
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: mgriffin on May 12, 2008, 02:53:28 PM
I've just started Spin by Robert Charles Wilson, based on Brian Bieniowski's recommendation of that author earlier in this thread (actually right at the time of that recommendation I went to Powell's Books and grabbed a few of his books but I'm just getting around to this one), and I can already tell it's something special.  I'm not one of those who think science fiction is just lightweight, but I think it's rare to read writing in this genre that is so sensitive and restrained when it comes to the human scale stuff.  At the same time, the broader conceptual aspects of the story are really fantastic as well, and I can't wait to read more.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: spunknik on May 13, 2008, 05:43:48 PM
I am reading a Book from National Geographics entitled Aztecs:Reign of Blood and Splendor.Man,were those guys superstitious.I don't believe in superstitions.I think it's bad luck.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: Seren on May 14, 2008, 01:28:40 AM
Recently started Rainbow Six by Tom Clancy, one of my guilty pleasures I guess.  Sometimes Clancy can be a lot of fun to ready, and he does thrillers with high tech, military and special forces elements better than anyone.

I guess he's getting older and crankier, though, or else he just doesn't know who to make into a plausible villain since the fall of the USSR, because  Rainbow Six treats environmentalists as being the most evil and inhuman bad-guys possible.  The basic thrust of the book is that some environmentalists decide that human beings are just too tough on the planet, and almost every one deserves to be wiped-out.  Environmentalism is treated as the most deranged, anti-business, anti-social kind of sociopathic craziness possible.  I'm not exactly a Greenpeace or Sierra Club member, but this still kind of bugs me.   
 




I was heavily involved in animal rights and other similar environmental based in the past - only just avoided a prison sentence so I can understand the direction that takes people to those sort of extreme feelings, was a little nihilistic myself for some time. The experiences of seeing people attacked by the more powerful vested interests and the police do nothing only helped. Also recently worked in child protection which was another side of the underbelly of human cruelty on defenceless children.

It's a delicate thing I think as it is often the caring side of someone that gets them invoilved in those sorts of activities and beliefs - and it is how that side of them gets affected by the experiences that seems to affect how cynical or dark they become. There was a time when i too thought the human race was a cancer on the Earth and sometimes I still wonder what the hell we are doing to each other and the planet - but I believe humanity has enormous, if not infinite potential for good and that there are more acts of love, nurturing and creativity than cruelty, hate and destruction.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: avec on May 14, 2008, 03:36:41 AM
Now reading

The Terror - Dan Simmons
I find this to be an incredible idea/storyline and a remarkable setting for the novel but I'm pretty much let down by it now and I'm mid way through it.  It's just kind of slow and very little seems to be happening.  And none of the more terrifying moments in the novel have registered with me psychologically at all.  It's funny, before I read this I picked up Song of Kali and loved it from start to finish.  That one has a much more urgent tone than this one. 

Winter World - Bernd Heinrich
Non Fiction.  About the changes in animal behavior when adapting to winter weather.  Just started it so I can't go into details.   
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: Hypnagogue on May 14, 2008, 11:40:56 AM
"The Lightning Thief" by Rick Riordan.

All right, this is a young adult novel. But it's the first book--and more to the point, the first fantasy novel--that has completely hooked me in ages. The young hero is the son of Greek God and he gets mixed up in a little rivalry between Zeus and Dad. To be safe he's sent to a camp where "half-bloods"--the spawn of mortals and gods--are basically hidden from the unpleasant attentions of all sorts of nasty beasties. Naturally our hero is sent on a major quest...

This one is the first of a (now) four-book series. The writing is crisp and smart, and even if the "camp for special kids" smacks a wee bit of Hogwart's, this is a truly original series. Riordan's got me hooked.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: Antdude on May 14, 2008, 04:40:30 PM
Book 5 of R.A. Salvatore's 6-part War of the Spider Queen series, Annihilation.

Then there is Lisa Smedman's 3-volume follow-up to that. Afterward, Salvatore's, The Orc King, which is the first of another trilogy. Ugh. I'm enjoying these books, but what is it about these multi-volume opuses, that keeps sucking me into a months-long reading commitment?

 Oh, yeah, then there's the Aubrey-Maturin novels by Patrick O'Brian to get back to. I left off at book 9 in that series; only 10 more to go...
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: APK on May 14, 2008, 06:10:19 PM
Ariana Franklin - Mistress of the Art of Death
Half way through and its an interesting historical novel set primarily in medieval Cambridge, England.
Its intelligent and informative about the time, and is a good murder mystery.

Brandon LaBelle - Background Noise: Perspectives on Sound Art
Just started this, its about sound art, sound spaces, architecture and sound installations. Fairly academic in style. Begins interestingly enough.


Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: Dave Michuda on May 14, 2008, 07:21:38 PM
I just started Spin as well based on the recommendations of Brian & Mike.  I am really looking forward to it.

I also just finished a book called "The Traveler" by John Twelve Hawks.  I bought with no thought or research.  I was leaving Border's, stuck my head in the sci fi section saw it & bought it.  It was just okay.

As I was approaching the end of the book I started to realize that there was no way it was going to resolve everything in time.  Sure enough I get to the end & its says "The End of Book One of the Fourth Realm".  Crap!  What a freakin' waste.  The book wasn't good enough to make me want to read the next ones.  And it sure doesn't work as a stand alone novel.  If I had known it was the first in a series I may not have bought it.  Nowhere on the book does it indicate that it's part of a series.  I wouldn't have minded so much if the story just had some sort of resolution.  I guess that's what I get for an impulse buy.

Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: g.@.b. on May 14, 2008, 07:28:57 PM
Leading Without Power- by Max De Pree

“…the most successful organizations of the Information Age operate not as controlled
collections of human resources but as dynamic communities of free people. And in order to
mobilize these communities, leaders must know how to lead without power, because free
people follow willingly – or not at all.”

http://www.amazon.com/Leading-Without-Power-Finding-Community/dp/0787910635

Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: Hypnagogue on May 15, 2008, 11:35:43 AM
Ariana Franklin - Mistress of the Art of Death


I know I'm exhausted from the move, but I swear to you, I looked at this fast and was sure it said "Aretha Franklin, Mistress of Death."
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: APK on May 15, 2008, 11:46:41 AM
 ;D
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: Exuviae on May 17, 2008, 09:45:51 AM
Trying to get through Simon Clark's "King Blood" - I love endtime fiction, but I can't seem to get drawn to this one like his others such as "Blood Crazy" or "Stranger".
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: mgriffin on May 30, 2008, 01:53:18 PM
I just started Spin as well based on the recommendations of Brian & Mike.  I am really looking forward to it.


I'd be curious to know what you thought of Spin, having finished it myself a week or so ago.

I thought it was great from start to finish, and I intend to check out other books by Robert Charles Wilson in the future.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: mgriffin on May 30, 2008, 02:01:32 PM
Also, I'm near the beginning of Stephen King's "Dark Tower" series, in audiobook form.

I've always found Stephen King gratifying in a simple, direct, natural-storyteller sort of way, and his best work can really get into your head.  This series seems to me to differ somewhat from most of his work, being a bit more abstract or "arty" I guess.  Quite enjoyable so far.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: Dave Michuda on May 31, 2008, 08:21:56 PM
Mike,

I loved Spin.  Like you said, great from start to finish.  I have Axis, the sequel, on order.

I also just finished another book by Robert Charles Wilson, Blind Lake.  Another excellent book.  Maybe not quite as good as Spin but I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: mgriffin on June 02, 2008, 11:11:52 AM
Right after I finished Spin, I picked up Darwinia by Robert Charles Wilson, but it started out so similar to Spin that it felt like it had been made from the same template -- not that I won't read Darwinia at some point, just that I didn't feel like reading another so-similar book right away.

Both books could be described as starting with a strange, globe-spanning anomalous event that immediately shift the way that every human being on earth views their world.  The events are observed by a young teen-aged boy who is the protagonist, and who goes on to be somewhat involved in the exploration of "the anomaly" -- as the boy grows up, we learn more about the events that changed the world.

I know the story is different in significant ways from Spin, so I'll get back to it.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: Dave Michuda on June 02, 2008, 08:45:59 PM
Blind Lake sort of follows that same format as well.  In this case it's a wildly fantastic technology that has already been developed when the book starts.  There is a young kid who is a central character.  Similar format, but I definitely enjoyed the book.  Axis will be here on Thursday. :)

Just started Line of Polity by Neal Asher, a sequel to the excellent sci fi novel, Gridlinked.
http://www.amazon.com/Line-Polity-Neal-Asher/dp/0330484354/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1212464791&sr=8-1 (http://www.amazon.com/Line-Polity-Neal-Asher/dp/0330484354/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1212464791&sr=8-1)
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: mgriffin on June 17, 2008, 02:42:42 PM
Has anybody here read The Dark Tower by Stephen King?

I had sort of given up on Stephen King some years ago, after being a big fan of his work through my teens, and maybe early twenties.  He started to go haywire a bit, in my opinion, around The Tommyknockers.

I've never bothered with The Dark Tower before, despite having been recommended the series many times, until recently my fabulous wife finished the series and assured me that it was very different from King's other work.  So, I'm part of the way into book 3, and I would have to agree.  There are times in these books when I'm aware of some of the weaknesses of Stephen King as a writer, but overall they're more serious, abstract and bizarre (in a dreamy, metaphysical way, not in a horror story way) than I'd have expected.

Now that I'm into this series I've done a little investigating about it and there seem to be a lot of extremely devoted fans of the series.  I've tried to avoid spoilers but I gather that generally people feel this is King's big "epic," with mythic elements and an over-arching set of themes that occasionally cross over into his previous works, and even touch upon events in the author's real life.

I wonder if anyone here on the Hypnos Forum has any thoughts on The Dark Tower, or has enjoyed reading it in the past.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: SiF on June 18, 2008, 07:10:46 AM
Has anybody here read The Dark Tower by Stephen King?

I had sort of given up on Stephen King some years ago, after being a big fan of his work through my teens, and maybe early twenties.  He started to go haywire a bit, in my opinion, around The Tommyknockers.

I've never bothered with The Dark Tower before, despite having been recommended the series many times, until recently my fabulous wife finished the series and assured me that it was very different from King's other work.  So, I'm part of the way into book 3, and I would have to agree.  There are times in these books when I'm aware of some of the weaknesses of Stephen King as a writer, but overall they're more serious, abstract and bizarre (in a dreamy, metaphysical way, not in a horror story way) than I'd have expected.

Now that I'm into this series I've done a little investigating about it and there seem to be a lot of extremely devoted fans of the series.  I've tried to avoid spoilers but I gather that generally people feel this is King's big "epic," with mythic elements and an over-arching set of themes that occasionally cross over into his previous works, and even touch upon events in the author's real life.

I wonder if anyone here on the Hypnos Forum has any thoughts on The Dark Tower, or has enjoyed reading it in the past.
I love The Dark Tower Saga. Almost done with the last book.
Wonderful story. But i have to say that i read it in german.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: Snee on June 18, 2008, 01:33:56 PM
Has anybody here read The Dark Tower by Stephen King?

I had sort of given up on Stephen King some years ago, after being a big fan of his work through my teens, and maybe early twenties.  He started to go haywire a bit, in my opinion, around The Tommyknockers.

I've never bothered with The Dark Tower before, despite having been recommended the series many times, until recently my fabulous wife finished the series and assured me that it was very different from King's other work.  So, I'm part of the way into book 3, and I would have to agree.  There are times in these books when I'm aware of some of the weaknesses of Stephen King as a writer, but overall they're more serious, abstract and bizarre (in a dreamy, metaphysical way, not in a horror story way) than I'd have expected.

Now that I'm into this series I've done a little investigating about it and there seem to be a lot of extremely devoted fans of the series.  I've tried to avoid spoilers but I gather that generally people feel this is King's big "epic," with mythic elements and an over-arching set of themes that occasionally cross over into his previous works, and even touch upon events in the author's real life.

I wonder if anyone here on the Hypnos Forum has any thoughts on The Dark Tower, or has enjoyed reading it in the past.

The series is my favorite of all of his work."The Drawing of the Three" is my favorite book of the series.
Currently reading;
Coffin County by Gary Braunbeck.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: mgriffin on July 07, 2008, 10:34:59 AM
I almost created a new topic for this, but I doubt most people would know who it was about, so seeing that there's been a lot of science fiction discussion in THIS topic, I'll mention that I just read about the passing of Thomas Disch.

He was the author of one of my all-time favorite science fiction novels, Camp Concentration, though my forays into his other work (334, On Wings of Song) were not quite as satisfactory.  Apparently he had been having personal problems, and his long-time partner had died a few years ago, and he just decided to take his own life.

Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: mgriffin on July 07, 2008, 10:36:05 AM
Oh, and...

I'm currently reading a history of Apple Computer (kind of boring actually), and also listening to the audiobook of Dark Tower book 4, Wizards and Glass, which seems pretty good so far.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: jkn on July 07, 2008, 11:33:16 AM
I picked up William Gibson's All Tomorrow's Parties right before surgery - didn't feel like starting it until recently.   It's good - very typically Gibson.   You either like him or you don't - I like him.   :)

Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: Antdude on July 07, 2008, 11:44:42 AM
Quicksilver - Neal Stephenson Volume 1 of the Baroque Saga. I wonder what I've gotten myself into....

And if you're interested in some good books on the computer industry, I'd recommend Accidental Empires by Robert X. Cringely or The Cuckoo's Egg by Clifford Stoll. Both are entertaining, accessible books that show the very human side of technology and how it's evolved over the last 20 years.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: deepspace on July 30, 2008, 05:37:18 AM
I LOVED The first Dark Tower "The Gunslinger"  It was so....empty, eeirie and quiet.  As if King captured the silence in an art movie, and transferred it perfectly onto the page.  I'm not into King's other material much, but this first little book stayed with me for a long time.  It was like a road movie through an empty landscape.  So cool.  For some reason I didn't keep reading the other books- but I think I'm going to go out and read it again, then keep going this time.  Thanks for the reminder.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: mgriffin on July 31, 2008, 01:09:50 PM
I'm still enjoying The Dark Tower very much, and I'm on book 4 now.  It's certainly a departure for Stephen King, and I would say it's more substantial by far than his other work.

Right now I'm reading the debut novel by King's son, Joe Hill (real name Joseph Hillstrom King), Heart Shaped Box.  This is a very well-written, atmospheric ghost story, and I really love the idea of Stephen King's son getting started as a horror writer without piggy-backing on his dad's identity, succeeding on his own merits.  Of course NOW we all know that Joe Hill is Stephen King's son, which makes us see him in a somewhat different light.  I don't know anything Stephen King has written in a very long time that's as good as Heart Shaped Box.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: Bebbo on August 02, 2008, 01:27:26 AM
I've just had a thing for horror and read Dead Sea by Brian Keene (in some ways the ultimate zombie story) and The Ruins by Scott Smith (good story but FAR too long). I'm also reading Endymion by Dan Simmons which is the third book in the Hyperion series, it's good but weird Sci-Fi. Have started but left lying around for a while This is Your Brain on Music by Daniel Levitin and Moby Dick.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: mgriffin on August 05, 2008, 03:01:26 PM
I've just had a thing for horror and read Dead Sea by Brian Keene (in some ways the ultimate zombie story) and The Ruins by Scott Smith (good story but FAR too long). I'm also reading Endymion by Dan Simmons which is the third book in the Hyperion series, it's good but weird Sci-Fi. Have started but left lying around for a while This is Your Brain on Music by Daniel Levitin and Moby Dick.

The movie of The Ruins was actually quite good -- and I think Scott Smith wrote the screenplay for the film as well.  Lena and I both found the film effectively creepy, and it's so great to see a horror film that avoids the usual stupid cliches... such a cliche-ridden genre usually, unfortunately.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: Dave Michuda on August 05, 2008, 09:10:49 PM
Recent reads...

Axis by Robert Charles Wilson - the sequel to Spin.  Good, but not as good as Spin(which I loved).
Reflex by Steven Gould - the sequel to Jumper.  Like Axis, this was good but not nearly as good as Jumper(which I loved).
Brass Man by Neal Asher - another quality book from Asher that takes place in his Polity universe.  There are now a ton of books that take place in that universe, looks like I've got a lot of reading to do.
Scardown by Elizabeth Bear - another sequel, the first was Hammered, the next is Worldwired.  I've read several books by Elizabeth Bear & these are fairly straight forward sci-fi, with good characters & a good story.  Undertow by Bear was nomintated for a few awards last year and is a worthwhile read.

I'm just starting Darwinia by Robert Charles Wilson and am finally getting around to reading Watchmen.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: mgriffin on August 06, 2008, 03:59:48 PM
I'm 10 issues through The Watchmen, planning to finish the rest this weekend.

I'm reading A is for Alibi by Sue Grafton, because Lena had just read it and said it was worth reading, and my mom always loved those books, and I'm so supremely confident in my masculinity that reading a "girl mystery" is no problem.  I could read a Nancy Drew book, no problem!

I'm at the very end of the audiobook version of the Joe Hill (son of Stephen King) novel, Heart Shaped Box, and I thought it was great.  Not a single bad thing I can say about it, other than if you don't like ghost stories, well... this is a ghost story!

Next up on the audiobook front, Haunted by Chuck Palahniuk.  I've heard this one recommended before, and Lena says I absolutely MUST read it, and I do whatever she says I should do.

Next "real, paper book" read will probably be Infinite in All Directions by Freeman Dyson.

Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: Wayne Higgins on August 07, 2008, 07:40:17 AM
rereading (I gave my copy away a few years ago and never got it back)
Jim Marrs  "Alien Agenda"
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: SunDummy on August 07, 2008, 01:00:25 PM
Just finished "Emergency Sex", a truly disturbing look at what it was like to work for the UN in the 90's, when Cambodia, Somalia, and Uganda all exploded in violence.  A great read, not for the faint of heart.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: Kaarinen on August 08, 2008, 06:00:14 PM
Spaces Speak, Are You Listening? Experiencing Aural Architecture (by Barry Blesser & Linda-Ruth Salter). This is a book that should be of interest to quite a few people here as well, since it's got a lot to do with reverbation and the way we experience space around us. Ambient is, after all, music that often takes place in a quite unique, virtual acoustic environment (e.g. a lush reverb a gazillion seconds long!). The book's been very good so far, although the sharpness of analysis seems far duller on the historical/cultural studies side of the equation (the opposite being that of acoustics) More about it here: http://mitpress.mit.edu/catalog/item/default.asp?ttype=2&tid=10947
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: mgriffin on August 13, 2008, 01:26:34 PM
Finished The Watchmen... just fantastic!  I read that a new edition of Absolute Watchmen is being printed later this year, to coincide with the release of the Watchmen film, and I'll pick up a copy.  Those DC/Vertigo Absolute Editions are fantastic.

Also finished Heart Shaped Box and really liked that as well.  I expect to read a lot more Joe Hill in the years to come.

Started the audiobook of Haunted by Chuck Palahniuk, and I'm a little jolted by it -- not the harsh/gross stuff everyone talks about, but by the relatively gimmicky narrative voice and structure, and the kind of silly character names.  This is definitely a distinctive and fresh piece of writing but I could probably let a few years pass between Palahniuk novels and consider that to be frequent enough to read his stuff.

On the more textbook-y side, I'm also reading Sam's Teach Yourself PHP in 24 Hours and Flash 8 Cookbook.  I started reading the first one more than 24 hours ago, so I don't know what the hell went wrong!
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: LNerell on August 13, 2008, 02:08:04 PM
I'm currently reading Stay Off the Skyline by Laura Homan Lacey. A oral history book about the U.S. 6th Marine Division's invasion of Okinawa during WWII. My father was a part of that invasion, he never talked about it much and after now reading some of the book I can understand why. If he experienced half the stuff the survivors talk about in that book I'd probably want to forget it too. Not for the faint of heart.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: mgriffin on August 14, 2008, 10:25:46 AM
Are there any Chuck Palahniuk experts or aficionados here?  I loved the film version of Fight Club but never read the novel, and I find myself unsure how I feel about Haunted

I do enjoy the energy and invention of it, and it's very "smart" and clever writing, but maybe to the point of being over-clever in a sometimes-irritating way.  Every detail is exaggerated and hyperreal, played up for "freak show" shock value.  There are no characters who are even remotely "normal" and so it's hard to relate to anybody, or anything that happens. 

I wonder if this book might not have greater impact for me if it seemed at least partly tethered in reality.  Fight Club had all these bizarre elements but, at least in the film, had a human element running through it, a connection to the "real" world.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: Hypnagogue on August 15, 2008, 06:20:27 AM
I haven't read much Pahlaniuk, but I did enjoy "Lullaby," about a man who's hunting down a specific children's book that appears to have the ability to kill children.  Dark as hell, but engaging.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: mgriffin on August 27, 2008, 10:52:45 AM
I finished Haunted and was sort of glad to be done with it.  It was full of energy and invention, but reading it felt like a too-long visit to a circus sideshow.

I'm now onto Tommyknockers by Stephen King, partly inspired by all the talk about Stephen King's bad movies elsewhere on this Forum.  I received this hardback as a gift way, way back when it was first released, and this is the point in Stephen King's career where I guess I gave up on him. I think I might have read the first few pages and given up, way back when I was in college.  Plus, I was deep into a stage of literary snobbery and I probably felt like I couldn't take a break from all the William Faulkner and and Virginia Woolf and William Carlos Williams and Doris Lessing, to give a week or two to my old buddy Stephen King.

Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: Antdude on August 27, 2008, 12:50:32 PM
Just starting Neal Stephenson's Quicksilver, the first volume in The Baroque Trilogy. Very, very dense stuff. I hope I can stick with it. Reminds me of when I read The Gulag Archipelago years ago. Made me wonder if I was biting off more than I could chew. Any other Stephenson fans here? I loved Snowcrash and The Diamond Age, but this is decidely different.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: mgriffin on August 27, 2008, 12:57:35 PM
I loved Snowcrash too but whenever I've investigated Stephenson's subsequent works, I've ended up thinking "hmm, maybe this one isn't for me." 

His newest, Anathem, sounds really interesting to me (I'm a sucker for dystopian future stories) but I'm not sure I want to bite off a 1,000 page chunk of Stephenson at this point.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: drone on on August 31, 2008, 01:18:36 AM
BUTTMAN magazine, volume 12 no. 7.  Some very interesting articles... ;-)
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: Hypnagogue on September 08, 2008, 07:18:30 AM
Just started Michael Dahlie's debut novel, "A Gentleman's Guide to Graceful Living." Dry humor, crisp writing, and the first book to immediately engage me in quite a while.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: mgriffin on September 19, 2008, 10:03:15 AM
I finished Tommyknockers last week, and enjoyed it a little, kind of, sort of.  I picture Stephen King writing through a haze of alcohol and cocaine, and I don't think I had this impression only because I've heard him say that it was around the time of this book that his family did their intervention.  Also alcohol is a big thing in the book, but more than that, the story is unfocused and goes off into boring digressions a few times.  It's less sharp than the best of Stephen King but fairly typical of King's weak mid-period.

But, I continued my Stephen King spree by starting Bag of Bones (audiobook version) this week.  This is a more recent book of King's, post-recovery, and it's much sharper.  So far the "horror" elements are very subdued, and the writing is pretty effective, straightforward and involving.

I'm also reading A Density of Souls by Christopher Rice, Anne Rice's son.  This is a book I bought when it came out and never got around to reading it.  The supernatural elements here are subdued compared to his mother's work, and it's a bit more of a high school drama, following four friends dealing with teen angst kind of stuff, but it's actually better than that description makes it sound.

I've also been reading a varied scattering of short fiction lately, such as Todd Chiang, Kelly Link, Nancy Kress, Benjamin Rosenbaum, and David Foster Wallace.  I started writing fiction again myself recently and so I've been inspired to sniff around a lot more short stories recently, different flavors from most of the short fiction I used to read (Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Carver, obvious literary snooty stuff) when I was writing before.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: APK on September 19, 2008, 10:05:14 AM

- Iain M. Banks: Matter  (not one of his best)
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: mgriffin on September 19, 2008, 10:08:33 AM

- Iain M. Banks: Matter  (not one of his best)

Have you read "The Wasp Factory?"
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: APK on September 19, 2008, 10:15:15 AM
Yep, I pretty much read everything Banks writes, sci-fi and non-sci-fi.
Wasp Factory was one of his first, and quite remarkable.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: mgriffin on September 19, 2008, 10:19:10 AM
I bought Wasp Factory years ago, started reading it and found it fascinating, but something happened and I stopped reading it.  You know, life intruded or something.  I've always meant to pick it back up, and just haven't yet.  I'll probably start again at the beginning, soon.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: Dave Michuda on September 19, 2008, 04:19:51 PM
I'm about half way through Greg Bear's latest "City at the End of Time".  A difficult book so far.  Too many central characters & a confusing plot are making this a tough read.  But some of the ideas will keep me going to the end.  I hope the pay off is worth the struggle.

Next up...Anathem by Neal Stephenson.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: mgriffin on September 19, 2008, 04:21:34 PM
Cool, let us know about Anathem.  I'm curious about it.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: Bebbo on September 20, 2008, 05:06:04 AM
I just finished Dan Simmons' Endymion which has spurred me on to get the last book of his Hyperion series. Now reading Stephen Fry's Making History, it's pretty good though full of Fry's observations and singular humour.

Planning to start on another travel book soon. Loved Michael Palin's Himalaya and River Dog by Neil Shand.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: soma611 on September 23, 2008, 08:23:07 AM
Up in the Old Hotel by Joseph Mitchell

Wondering if I've ever enjoyed a book more.  This is a compilation of all of the author's work, all of it published, going way back, in The New Yorker.  All of the pieces included are character studies of eccentric folks in New York City. I'm thinking the first line of one of the blurbs on the book's back cover grabs it best ... A poetry of the actual, a song of the streets that casts a wide net and fearlessly embraces everything human ... 
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: Hypnagogue on September 25, 2008, 09:21:16 AM
Completely taken with Roddy Doyle's "Oh, Play That Thing." So much so that when I'm finished I am going to HAVE TO read the one that came before it, "A Star Called Henry." I've always liked Doyle (The Commitments, Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha, The Woman Who Walked Into Doors), and this book just flows with his crisp, beautifully honed prose. Very much recommended.

Enjoyed Dahlie's book, as I noted above, but when I got through it I had the sense that nothing really happened. Follow a semi-loser around, darkly humorous things happen but never seem to have any real consequence, and the book ends with him basically saying, Okay, things might probably get better from here.   Very flat overall, though still nicely written. I like Dahlie's voice and will give him a second chance next book 'round.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: Seren on October 30, 2008, 05:41:34 AM
Iain M Banks - The Algebraist. Just picked it up on spec in the library.

Big book - in size and concept. Reminds in many wyays of the SF I read in my teenage years - galactic civilisations of 'Foundations' by Asimov and the Lensman series by E.E. Doc Smith.

I have to say I am very impressed, perhaps even humbled by the width and depth of imagination in the book - I assume he has built on the stuff written since my teenage years - but I have still found it an enjoyable and intriuging read - not sure where it's going to go next.....

what did you think of this one APK?
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: APK on October 30, 2008, 06:45:29 AM
Seren
The Algebraist is indeed a good one.
Banks is great at just jumping you into expansive worlds, and doesn't
usually waste time with offering quasi-scientific explanations for everything.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: mgriffin on October 30, 2008, 09:25:19 AM
I just finished Flashforward by Robert J Sawyer -- thanks again to Brian Bieniowski for the recommendation.  I've been going through Sawyer's work quickly and have moved on to Mindscan now.  Sawyer has already become one of my favorite sci-fi authors, and I will probably move on to Rollback and Calculating God and Terminal Experiment next.  The basic idea of Flashforward is that a particle collision experiment at CERN results in everyone worldwide experiencing a "flash forward" to 21 years in the future, so that for two minutes they see where they'll be and what they'll be experiencing in 21 years.  This brief glimpse forward results in all kinds of complications, especially after people share what they saw with others.

As for Mindscan, the one I'm reading now, it involves a future in which people who are dying can have their consciousness scanned and inserted into an advanced robotic body, so that their consciousness can continue to live without fear of the physical body dying.  Their dying body is carted off to a sort of paradise resort on the moon to live out its days, while the artificial body returns to the live the person was living before.  It's pretty intriguing, seeing how the robotic replacement body is treated by the friends and family (and pets) that the person left behind.

Right now I'm listening to the audiobook version of Dead Lines by Greg Bear, which is a weird sort of cross-genre story, part science fiction and part ghost story.  Actually, I don't in principle object to cross-genre fiction, but so far my opinion is that this isn't really science fiction enough to be good science fiction, nor really ghost story enough to be a good ghost story.  It's about a washed-up softcore pornographer who has moved on to be a personal assistant to a cranky old millionnaire, and he simultaneously starts seeing ghosts (after his best friend dies) and gets involved in some weird, futuristic technology that's kind of like cell phones but somehow better.  We'll see how this works out but I find the "ghost vision" stuff boring (in this case, I mean -- I usually like ghost stories) and the future tech angle lacks the "gosh, wow" factor at least so far.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: Seren on November 01, 2008, 12:21:59 PM
Seren
The Algebraist is indeed a good one.
Banks is great at just jumping you into expansive worlds, and doesn't
usually waste time with offering quasi-scientific explanations for everything.


Just finished the book and really enjoyed it. He was very, very good at the twists and turns - even using the expectation of them I think to keep the twists coming unexpectedly - just when I was looking in one direction, something would shear out of the sidefields and surprise me. The ending was not too bad either, always difficult to tie lots of ideas into a coherent ending, but the flow back to the last character was a greart idea.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: mgriffin on November 07, 2008, 02:29:35 PM
I just finished  Dead Lines by Greg Bear and was pretty disappointed in it.  I've really enjoyed some of this writer's more conventional science fiction stories, but this was an attempt at some kind of supernatural ghost story, and it fell completely flat.  Also, the quality of the writing was extremely uneven, as if he wrote parts of it in a hurry.  There were chunks of writing that could be excerpted as an example of laughably bad prose, and yet other sections were very good.  Kind of a puzzle, but enough of a disappointment to strike Greg Bear off my "willing to read anything by" list.  I'll still seek out some of his better-regarded books that I haven't read yet, but I'll be more careful to check reviews first.

I'm now listening to the audiobook of The Vampire Lestat by Anne Rice, which is the second Vampire Chronicles book.  So far, so good, though it's sort of an odd premise, in which a centuries-old vampire awakes from a long slumber and decides to become a rock star in the 1980s.  Rice is a very good writer, though, and the story is very interesting.  The first Vampire Chronicles book, Interview With The Vampire, was narrated by Louie but told a lot about Lestat, while this second book is narrated by Lestat, and the Lestat character seems different in the two books... though I think this is intentional.

I'm still reading Mindscan and think it's very good, though it's turned into a sort of sci-fi courtroom drama, an unexpected change of direction.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: mgriffin on November 07, 2008, 02:41:45 PM
I guess I should explain what I meant by taking Greg Bear off my "willing to read anything by" list.  I don't mean I now won't read anything by him, I meant that he's no longer someone for whom I'll read ANYTHING he's written.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: mgriffin on November 07, 2008, 02:53:48 PM
I'm about half way through Greg Bear's latest "City at the End of Time".  A difficult book so far.  Too many central characters & a confusing plot are making this a tough read.  But some of the ideas will keep me going to the end.  I hope the pay off is worth the struggle.

Next up...Anathem by Neal Stephenson.

Dave, I must have missed this at the time or overlookd the mention of Greg Bear's new book...

Anyway, now that you're done (assuming you're done, or at least have mostly finished) what would you say about it?  I'm a bit concerned with Greg Bear's more recent direction, after having finished Dead Lines, but what I've heard of the new one sounds interesting.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: Dave Michuda on November 07, 2008, 06:09:20 PM
Mike,

I guess I'd say "City at the End of Time" was just okay.  A bit too disjointed & some of the writing was irritating.  I enjoyed it a bit more by the end.  The first half was definitely a struggle.  The pay off wasn't worth the effort.  Some interesting ideas but I can't really recommend it.

I just started "Flashforward" based on your recommendation.  I am only a few chapters in but so far so good.  I am reading it on an Amazon Kindle, the electronic book reader thingy.  Even though it's a bit pricey, I love it!  There are some things I'd like to change, like the positioning of the page buttons, but in general I am very pleased.

I know some will say they would miss the feel of a real book in their hands, and I definitely know that feeling.  But this thing is just so convenient & cool.  It's tied directly to your Amazon account & it takes about 10 seconds to buy & download a book.  I also have a subscription to Atlantic monthly that the Kindle downloads automatically.  I carry it with me all the time & I pull it out & read while waiting for the kids at practice, in between computers render at work, in bed at night, etc.  Obviously you can do all that with a book too, although this holds like 200 books.  Sorry, I just had to rave about my Kindle.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: mgriffin on December 01, 2008, 03:37:16 PM
Most recently I'm on to Quarantine by Greg Egan, which is the first thing I've read by this author.  It's a really cool hard sci-fi detective story, and Egan really gets into wallowing around in the quantum mechanics stuff.  If you're not into pages of dialogue in which scientific and philosophical matters are debated at length between various characters, this one will make your head hurt. 

I'm enjoying it though, and most definitely look forward to reading more Greg Egan (though his books aren't too easy to find in the US).  It's been a great year for me for sci-fi author discoveries!
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: APK on December 01, 2008, 05:13:54 PM
I was reading Anathem by Neal Stephenson, but after 150 or so pages I gave it a thumbs down and stopped.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: mgriffin on December 01, 2008, 05:24:58 PM
Well, this topic has definitely saved me reading a couple of books that I almost picked up, but had some doubts about!
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: mgriffin on December 18, 2008, 03:56:47 PM
Sometimes I think there aren't very many readers visiting this place!

I'm almost done with the audiobook of The Vampire Lestat which is the second of Anne Rice's series, the Vampire Chronicles.  The first half of the book bored me to the point that I almost gave up several times but it has become much more interesting in the second half.  What started out as a lot of emo whining about inter-vampire relations has turned into an interesting study of the difficulties of immortality, as well as some interesting stuff about where the vampires came from in Anne Rice's vampire mythos.

I'm still reading Greg Egan's Quarantine, almost finished, after getting sidetracked away from it for a week or two.  I still really like this book, and am impressed with Egan's inventiveness and intellectual energy.  At times it's a bit exhausting, but I really look forward to reading more by this guy.

Next up I will probably read one of Ursula Leguin's story collections, or else Martin Amis's Heavy Water, or maybe both at once.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: SunDummy on December 18, 2008, 04:15:51 PM
I just finished "1491" by Charles Mann, an utterly fascinating history of North and South America prior to Europe's 'discovery'.  If you like history, and especially if you like Daniel Boorstein or Jared Diamond's books, you will LOVE this.  The author catches us up on the latest in archaeological discoveries and theories, most of which are very, very different from what we were taught in school. 

And if you have not read any of Jared Diamond's books, you should stop reading this and go get "Guns, Germs and Steel" and "Collapse", both of which will utterly change how you view human history.  Essential reading.

Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: mgriffin on December 18, 2008, 04:24:26 PM
Collapse is a fascinating book, and especially worthwhile reading for anyone who thinks great societies always remain great, and that once you're "smart" and on top of things, there's no way you can drop off, or lose domination.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: Antdude on December 18, 2008, 04:52:41 PM
I gave up on Neal Stephenson's Baroque Trilogy. Just too dense and impenetrable. I'm now reading a collection of Jack London stories, which is more appropriate for the season. I'm currently reading White Fang, and loving every word. Next up: Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: hdibrell on December 18, 2008, 10:10:19 PM
Quote
I'm almost done with the audiobook of The Vampire Lestat which is the second of Anne Rice's series, the Vampire Chronicles.  The first half of the book bored me to the point that I almost gave up several times but it has become much more interesting in the second half.  What started out as a lot of emo whining about inter-vampire relations has turned into an interesting study of the difficulties of immortality, as well as some interesting stuff about where the vampires came from in Anne Rice's vampire mythos.
  I for got about that book. I read it almost 20 years ago and felt the same way. Boring at first and then mesmerizing. Some of those early Anne Rice books were great reads.   Harry
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: mgriffin on December 30, 2008, 02:49:26 PM
I've finished reading Greg Egan's Quarantine and overall enjoyed it very much, and want to read more of his work.  I have a copy of Schild's Ladder on the shelf, but have generally had trouble finding Egan's books in stores.  I'll probably read that next, as soon as I finish a handful of short story collections I'm reading... Vonnegut, Leguin, M.Amis.

Also finished the audiobook of The Vampire Lestat and enjoyed it enough that that I'll move on to the next book in the series, at some point, but I wanted to try something different for a while. 

So I'm listening to Glory Season by David Brin during my commute.  I just started it so I don't have much opinion yet, other that it seems strange (not in a bad way) to have a male writer writing about a feminist/matriarchal society.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: Brian Bieniowski on December 30, 2008, 04:56:23 PM
Hey Mike, like many UK/Aussie SF authors, Egan doesn't get much publishing love here in the US.  Your best bet is Amazon UK where a ton of his books have recently been reissued by Gollancz—and they aren't all that expensive, even with the exchange rate.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: APK on December 30, 2008, 05:29:59 PM
- I'm re-reading Sartre's little autobiography "The Words".  Charming thing.

- And finally reading "Foucault's Pendulum" by Umberto Eco. Been sitting around here for many years. Good so far.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: hdibrell on December 30, 2008, 10:03:08 PM



- And finally reading "Foucault's Pendulum" by Umberto Eco. Been sitting around here for many years. Good so far.
That's funny you mention that, I, also have that and have been meaning to read it now for several years, but haven't. Now, might be a good time.     Harry
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: einstein36 on December 30, 2008, 10:34:24 PM
Okay...I will bite but I will probably be laughed out of here(I can hear the laughter starting now), but I just got finished reading Nora Roberts 3rd book in the trilogy, The Sign of Seven, Pagan Stone...it's about love, sex(yes I said it hehehe) and evil brewing in a small town every 7 years....3 men with imbued powers given to them as children along with the 3 women in their lives have to defeat this evil before well, you know, all goes to hell:)

I don't know if Lena likes these kinds of books, but I love her writing, strong characters and funny moments within her books between her characters that just make me laugh out loud....

I esp loved her The Three Sisters trilogy books....

P.S. for those that like Sci-Fi and Sex...check out her psudeo name, J. D. Robb, her Lt. Eve Dallas sci-fi detective novels..
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: mgriffin on December 31, 2008, 12:11:31 PM
I don't think you'll be laughed out of here, einstein36... in fact I'd guess that most of us will wish you well following your recent male-to-female gender reassignment.

 ;)
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: mgriffin on December 31, 2008, 12:47:29 PM
Hey Mike, like many UK/Aussie SF authors, Egan doesn't get much publishing love here in the US.  Your best bet is Amazon UK where a ton of his books have recently been reissued by Gollancz—and they aren't all that expensive, even with the exchange rate.

Thanks, Brian.  I found a copy of Teranesia at a reasonable price on amazon.com but I'll try amazon.uk too, for the other ones I'm interested in.  Do you know if those Gollzncz UK reissues are mass-market paperbacks or trade paperbacks?  Not that it matters too much...
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: einstein36 on December 31, 2008, 05:38:45 PM
LOL...now that is funny....so you wouldn't mind if me and your wife had a 'girls' nite out  ;D   
??


I don't think you'll be laughed out of here, einstein36... in fact I'd guess that most of us will wish you well following your recent male-to-female gender reassignment.

 ;)
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: Ein Sophistry on January 11, 2009, 02:17:12 AM
Paul Churchland - Matter and Consciousness
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: SiF on January 11, 2009, 05:02:39 AM
Stephen Kings "Duma Key". I love my monthly Dosis of King.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: Dave Michuda on January 11, 2009, 07:34:56 AM
I just started "Little Brother" by Cory Doctorow.  So far so good.  It's an actual book, not a Kindle book!  I'm so retro.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: Seren on January 12, 2009, 05:34:06 AM
I got a copy of 'The Bourne Identity' in a charity shop, thought I'd read it on holiday to see how it compares to the film.

Going to Egypt in 3 weeks for a fortnight
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: mgriffin on January 13, 2009, 09:34:54 AM
Stephen Kings "Duma Key". I love my monthly Dosis of King.

Lena is currently listening to the Duma Key audiobook and has encouraged me to listen to this one next. What do you think of it, SiF?
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: mgriffin on January 13, 2009, 09:42:31 AM
I'm continuing with the audiobook of Glory Season by David Brin, though my opinion of it is fairly mixed.  Brin has gone to great lengths to describe a world that's alien and yet familiar in some ways (it's an off-earth colony planet, dominated by "families" of clones of women, each family cloned from a single woman) and the anthropology/sociology of it is well-done, I guess.  I just wish it were a bit shorter.  More than once I've considered stopping in the middle, as the story has moved pretty slowly, but I feel there might be a chance of a worthwhile resolution to the story.

And I've started reading Schild's Ladder by Greg Egan, as I was tired of reading short story collections and fiction magazines, and felt like getting back into a novel.  I'm just at the very beginning of this one but it seems like an intriguing concept at least.  I only know Greg Egan from the one book I've read but he seems to be right up my alley.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: mgriffin on January 14, 2009, 09:56:17 AM
Following up my own post from yesterday, I realized that I was so anxious to be done with Glory Season that I was actually disappointed to realize, this morning, that I was less than 2/3 finished with it. So I did something I rarely do with either a book or an audiobook, and just gave up before the end.

Now I'm listening to Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles which is better in every possible way... better reading (this is an audiobook) and the writing itself is better than what I've been listening to by such a wide margin.  There's already been more to enjoy and more to think about in the first ten pages or so (I'm guessing, since audiobooks don't tell you how many pages have gone by) than in the 400-500 or so pages of Glory Season I'd finished.  I'm happier now, and I'm glad I decided to stop wasting time with a book that wasn't very interesting to me.

Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: ambient789 on January 14, 2009, 08:22:04 PM
I think Jack McDevitt's The Devil's Eye, is really a great Scifi book. A novelist discovers a very dangerous secret and has the secret removed from her mind and disappears. Before that happens, she sends money and a cryptic message to Alex Benedict, a futuristic "antiques" dealer. He then plays detective and tries reconstruct what happened.

I must admit I hadn't enjoyed McDevitt's previous Alex Benedict books, but this one got my literary sweet spot.

 
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: sraymar on January 16, 2009, 09:31:44 PM
I'm reading The Way of the Turtle by Curtis M. Faith and The Quickening by Art Bell. It makes you wonder.

Steve
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: mgriffin on January 21, 2009, 10:15:23 AM
Has anybody else here read The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury?  I'm curious what others think of it.  I know it's a classic of sorts, crossing the line somewhat from science fiction into the realm of "straight" literature. I think it's very well-written, at times a bit more folksy in style than I'd like.  Some of it is very dated, as is common with science fiction from a half century ago.

Some of this seems to me very adult and mature in its focus, and at other times it seems like "young adult" fiction.  I'm not sure if that's maybe just the fact that these stories are not really all written from the same place, and were sort of glued together into a pseudo-novel after the fact.

This is a book I hear mentioned so frequently as a favorite, I guessed others might have something to say about it.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: Brian Bieniowski on January 21, 2009, 12:03:55 PM
I read that Bradbury book as a boy, of course, and quite a few others of his.  I think my favorite was The Illustrated Man.  Anyway, you are right about it being cobbled together from a lot of different stories and they were published over a period of a few years.  I reread it recently and enjoyed it a whole lot; that story "There Will Come Soft Rains" is still amazing.  I guess there are a few clunky ones in there, but I still loved it.

I think the major difference is that those old stories were written for a variety of adult publications, like Maclean's, and more traditional sci-fi pulp magazines.  They were not written for children per se, though obviously children and young adults find a lot to like in them.  I suppose for many years science fiction was regarded as a genre for children, so that's partly the reason some of Bradbury's books are thought of as young adult.  It certainly wasn't a choice on his part to write purely for a younger audience. 

Certainly there is more cerebral sci-fi out there, and stuff that's better written, less nostalgic (though I personally love that about his books), but I doubt you'll find a better book to introduce the genre to somebody with.

Here's a Soviet cartoon for "There Will Come Soft Rains":

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tKJ77w6uQCg
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: mgriffin on January 21, 2009, 01:28:08 PM
Thanks for the feedback, Brian.  I'm reading the book for the first time, so I don't want to watch that Youtube yet because I haven't finished yet... I'm still 2-3 stories short of "There Will Come Soft Rains."  I just finished "The Off Season" which is about the guy excited to have built a hot dog stand in advance of the large number of people coming to Mars. 

I've wondered whether there was any resentment in the sci-fi community about Bradbury's repeated insistence that he is not, not, NOT a science fiction writer.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: hdibrell on January 21, 2009, 02:17:03 PM
Like Brian, I read the Martian Chronicles when I was much younger. Probably 35 years ago, so my recollections of it aren't real sharp. I do remember that I really enjoyed it and talked a couple of my friends into reading it, as well. I think I will head over to the used book store near here and see if I can find a copy. It's time for a reread.      Harry
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: Brian Bieniowski on January 21, 2009, 03:07:58 PM
I've wondered whether there was any resentment in the sci-fi community about Bradbury's repeated insistence that he is not, not, NOT a science fiction writer.

I dunno.  Science fiction writers swearing they were not science fiction writers was de rigueur in the genre for a while (and, to some extent, it still is).  For a while, all they seemed to do was invent new names for the science fiction they were clearly writing.  I can't be arsed to worry about those kinds of semantics.  I think it's all just science fiction and fantasy.

When you're done with "There Will Come Soft Rains," def. watch the video (there is a lot of cool Russian animation floating around on YouTube).  My paperback copy has the last line of this story mysteriously omitted!  It was not the first copy I read, though—but you'll see how important it is to the whole.  I can't imagine how many people must have been baffled by that edition due to a dumb printer error!   ???
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: 9dragons on January 21, 2009, 08:44:54 PM
Any fans of China Mieville out there? Perdido Street Station and The Scar are for me probably the best modern fantasy out there.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: Wanterkeelt on January 22, 2009, 07:02:13 AM
Any fans of China Mieville out there? Perdido Street Station and The Scar are for me probably the best modern fantasy out there.

I love China Mieville. Although I'm usually more into science fiction his Bas-Lag universe is really interesting. In fact I came to China Mieville through his - let's say - "marxist critique" of "classical" fantasy in a few articles and interviews. I like Iron Curtain most.
China's style is wonderful, though I have to say that for a person like me, for whom English is only the 4th language, it's a really complicated style with very elaborated and developed vocabulary which makes it a heavy reading ;)

Concerning "now reading", I'm reading Spin by Robert Charles Wilson, a book I would recommend to any science fiction loving reader.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: mgriffin on January 22, 2009, 03:09:28 PM
Perdido Street Station is near the top of my "read soon" list.

I read Spin last year and thought it was fantastic, one of my favorite science fiction novels ever.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: APK on January 22, 2009, 03:18:53 PM
I have his "Iron Council" ready to read. It will be my first of his.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: mgriffin on January 22, 2009, 05:21:41 PM
When you're done with "There Will Come Soft Rains," def. watch the video (there is a lot of cool Russian animation floating around on YouTube).  My paperback copy has the last line of this story mysteriously omitted!  It was not the first copy I read, though—but you'll see how important it is to the whole.  I can't imagine how many people must have been baffled by that edition due to a dumb printer error!   ???

That "There Will Come Soft Rains" video was really surprising, nicely done, very ambitious.  Thanks, Brian.

I finished the book this morning and really enjoyed it very much.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: mgriffin on February 05, 2009, 04:50:05 PM
I've been cranking through both audiobooks and "real" (printed) books lately.

I listened to Duma Key by Stephen King, his most recent novel, this past couple of weeks.  This is one of King's books in which the supernatural element emerges fairly late, or at least it's pretty understated until 2/3 of the way through the book.  I actually enjoyed the first part of the book the most -- it's basically about a guy trying to get some kind of life back after almost dying in a terrible accident.  He loses his wife, relocates to an island, and starts drawing and painting again.  This part is really compelling and mature, but it turns in a more "typical Stephen King" direction, with gruesome scary stuff.  Still, I'd recommend this book for anyone with any interest at all in Stephen King.

I've been reading Schild's Ladder by Greg Egan for a while now.  I actually stalled out on it, early on, set it aside and just didn't want to pick it back up.  This novel has what I'd call maybe the most off-putting first 20-30 pages of any book I can remember reading.  Yes, I'm OK with books that depend on difficult technical concepts (real or imagined), and I'm also OK with books that don't introduce a main character right away.  I do have a sort of hard time with a book that sticks the most difficult quantum physics theory stuff right up front, before giving you any kind of setup to care about, and that seems to have no actual characters at all.  It's literally like reading the account of an extremely advanced hypothetical physics experiment being conducted by an alien race (or so far-future as to seem alien), with little care given to the idea of getting a reader comfortable with what's going on.  So, I almost gave up, but decided to push on through to page 50-60 at least, since I was sure it would become a "real" novel at some point... and it did.  Still, jeez, does Greg Egan not have an editor?  WTF? It's OK now, still strange, and a bit hard to relate to, but more enjoyable and interesting now.

Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: Bebbo on February 09, 2009, 01:17:23 PM
Any fans of China Mieville out there? Perdido Street Station and The Scar are for me probably the best modern fantasy out there.

Those are the only books by China Mieville that I've read and I enjoyed both, although The Scar seemed a bit stretched out.

At the moment I'm reading a single volume of 3 Jules Verne stories - 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, The Mysterious Island, and Journey to the Centre of the Earth. I find Verne quite readable, but clearly the phrase "show not tell" hadn't been coined in his day!
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: Bill Binkelman on February 10, 2009, 08:31:52 AM
Just finished (for the second time) the last two books in Ursula LeGuinn's Earthsea series: Tehanu and The Other Wind. (There's also a short story collection, called (I think) Tales of Earthsea, and I read that a few months ago). For my money, LeGuinn is one of the best SF writers, period. I just wish the SciFi channel hadn't crucified her story when they made an Earthsea movie. Anyway, great stuff. The ending of the fifth book reduced me to sobbing.  :'(
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: 9dragons on February 11, 2009, 01:55:43 AM
Childhood's End by Arthur C. Clarke has been recommended to me recently. The way my friend described it makes me really want to check it out. These days I am limited as far as what I will read in fiction, but this one sounds fascinating.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: Bill Binkelman on February 11, 2009, 08:04:58 AM
Childhood's End by Arthur C. Clarke has been recommended to me recently. The way my friend described it makes me really want to check it out. These days I am limited as far as what I will read in fiction, but this one sounds fascinating.

A great read, IMO. One of my all-time faves in the genre. Sure wish a competent studio/director would turn it into a film, too.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: jkn on February 16, 2009, 09:09:34 AM
Just finished "Confessor" by Terry Goodkind.   It's the 11th (and final) book in his Sword of Truth series.  It wasn't a bad ending. Althoug frankly, with how bad the middle books had gotten, anything would have been better than those.  It did at least get me back to a "what's going to happen next?" Feeling which Goodkind had lost. 

In general - the first few books were very good - and the mediocre one following those was forgiveable... But then he ground to a halt preaching his Ayn Rand objectivism. - which in itself isn't bad - it's the huge sledgehammer he used and the 4 page monologues... The final trilogy of books to end the series left more of the preaching to the background and did a nice job finishing the story. 

My wife just bought me Wil Wheaton's "Just a Geek" book (yes - that's Wil "Wesley Crusher" Wheaton...) - I love his blogs - looking forward to the book. 
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: mgriffin on February 16, 2009, 12:08:46 PM
I used to read and enjoy Wil Wheaton's blog too... haven't checked it out in a while. 

I always felt sorry for the guy for the massive hatred he received from Star Trek TNG fans.  The annoying things about Wesley Crusher weren't Wheaton's fault.

As for my own reading, I'm getting through Schild's List pretty slowly. Keep setting it aside to read a Harlan Ellison story or something in one of the short fiction anthologies I received recently.

For audiobooks, I'm listening to Eye in the Sky, and old Philip K. Dick novel, and not one of his best.  It seems to have been hurriedly-written and I'm kinda ready for it to be over with, though it's interesting and entertaining in places.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: hdibrell on February 16, 2009, 10:06:49 PM

As for my own reading, I'm getting through Schild's List pretty slowly. Keep setting it aside to read a Harlan Ellison story or something in one of the short fiction anthologies I received recently.
Ah, Harlan Ellison. That was one of my favorite authors from my college years. " The Beast That Shouted Love At The Heart Of The World" and, of course, "A Boy And His Dog". Classic stuff. 8)      Harry
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: Seren on February 18, 2009, 05:07:41 AM
In between listening to music whilst relaxing in the sun I read Bill Bryson's, 'notes from a small Island' - which was not as funny as i remembered from reading it years ago, but got a few laughs none the less.

I also read Timothy Ferris's 'The Whole Shebang' yet again and the latest edition of Sound on Sound.

And 'The Bourne Identity' by Robert Ludlum. Fascinating read to compare to the films....many similarities and some interesting differences. In the book he has amnesia but was an undercover agent for a very specific purpose rather than just killing people when told to by treadstone....There are four books in the series and I am tempted to get the others to see how the story develops. Got this copy for 99p in a charity shop.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: hdibrell on March 22, 2009, 03:53:07 PM
I am about halfway through Graham Greene's The Quiet American. Written in 1955 and set in Saigon circa 1952 it tells the story  of a middle-aged British reporter who is quite cynical, a young idealistic American working for the CIA and a Vietnamese woman they both love. The reporter in some ways represents the old world European view of the world as their empires decline. The young, innocent, idealistic American represents just that, meddling in things he doesn't really understand , convinced he can save the world. The Vietnamese woman is Vietnam, somewhat clueless about what is going on in the world, just trying to get by day to day. So far , a very interesting read with great descriptions of the country and life there around that time. Interesting characters as well.       Harry
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: Seren on April 19, 2009, 11:33:05 AM
Just learnt JG Ballard died this morning after a long illness. RIP.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: hdibrell on April 19, 2009, 03:05:05 PM
Just finished Foucalt's Pendulum by Umberto Eco. Really an interesting book! If you have any interest in the Templars, the Rosicruceans, Middle Ages history, the occult, philosophy, or just love a good story, you will enjoy this book. Eco touches on so many subjects and theories that it is a bit overwhelming at times. I learned early on in the book not to look up every reference, definition or translation as that was too time consuming plus it interrupts the authors rhythm. I was able to follow the story easily. I would sometimes go back and look things up later, but it really wasn't necessary. Anyway, very enjoyable.    Harry
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: cromag on April 19, 2009, 03:38:09 PM
I recently rediscovered an old used book store that I used to visit when I was a pre-teen.  They moved to a new location due to urban renewal, and I had just assumed that they had closed.

My daughter is about the same age now as I was then, and she loves visiting the store.  That's fun to watch!


Lately I've been stocking up on Keith Laumer titles (from before his unfortunate stroke) and Jack Vance titles.  Either to find books that I missed when they first came out, or re-read classics.  Right now I'm starting Throy, the third volume in Vance's Cadwal trilogy.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: Brian Bieniowski on April 20, 2009, 05:23:19 AM
Right now I'm starting Throy, the third volume in Vance's Cadwal trilogy.

I just read that one a few months ago.  I thought the first two books in the series were great, but it seems to me that he ran out of steam for the last.  I've read that he grows tired of the various milieus he invents, and it would appear that something like this occurred here as well.  Still, even mediocre Vance is miles away better than most other science fiction around.

Right now I am reading an old fantasy novel by James Blaylock called The Elfin Ship.  Blaylock is a wonderful writer and this one is like The Wind and the Willows meets The Lord of the Rings (minus the epic battles and melodrama of the latter)—very funny and charming.  For whatever reason, Blaylock is still a cult author, so his books can be difficult to find.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: mgriffin on April 22, 2009, 09:46:14 AM
Just learnt JG Ballard died this morning after a long illness. RIP.

I didn't mean to let this pass without a comment...

I've always considered Ballard one of the few self-consciously transgressive writers (read Crash if you're not sure what I mean by that) who actually had the ideas and the skill to allow him to work in a more straightforward style.  I've always intended to fill in the gaps in my Ballard reading, but just about everything of his I've read has been rewarding, even back to the early SF stuff from 1960 or so. 

He lived to about 80 and kept writing up to the end, which I think is really cool!  I'll have to pick up a copy of his autobiography.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: mgriffin on April 22, 2009, 01:03:42 PM
I'm now reading Soul of a New Machine, a classic nonfiction story behind the scenes at Data General (a computer company, now vanished) that was prominent in the business computer world in the 70s and 80s) as they work on building a new computer.  It goes into great detail looking at the process and experience, though advanced technical knowledge really isn't required to enjoy this book.

I've enjoyed this quite a lot, and can see how it won a Pulitzer Prize.  Even if you're not interested in Data General workstations specifically, there's a lot of interesting insight into how people chase after goals, how businesses assemble and manage teams of talented people, and how difficult it is to balance obsessive hard work with a healthy life.  Definitely recommended (even though I still have 80 pages or so left).

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51HE0AG1V8L.jpg)
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: cromag on April 23, 2009, 10:46:29 AM
I read Soul of a New Machine in '83 -- shortly after it came out.  At the time AT&T had recently gone through divestiture and wanted to get into computers.  I was one of the few employees (outside the labs) who actually owned one, so I was drafted.

One thing I pointed out to our District Manager was that, by the end of the book how few team members remained.

It went that way for AT&T as well.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: mgriffin on April 23, 2009, 12:42:13 PM
I read Soul of a New Machine in '83 -- shortly after it came out.  At the time AT&T had recently gone through divestiture and wanted to get into computers.  I was one of the few employees (outside the labs) who actually owned one, so I was drafted.

One thing I pointed out to our District Manager was that, by the end of the book how few team members remained.

My favorite part of the book so far was the overworked, overstressed engineer who suddenly disappeared and left a note saying he was going to a hippie commune in Vermont.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: Hypnagogue on April 28, 2009, 10:02:21 AM
Childhood's End by Arthur C. Clarke has been recommended to me recently. The way my friend described it makes me really want to check it out. These days I am limited as far as what I will read in fiction, but this one sounds fascinating.

A great read, IMO. One of my all-time faves in the genre. Sure wish a competent studio/director would turn it into a film, too.

The story's a year-plus old, Bill, but:

http://www.obsessedwithfilm.com/movie-news/pierce-to-pitch-70-million-childhoods-end-epic-to-universal.php
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: ambient789 on May 01, 2009, 10:31:19 PM
I had just finished a scifi classic, "Ralph 124C41+" by Hugo Gernsback (very charming), and I started "Sunborn" by Jeffery A. Carver. Loved his earlier work.

Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: Seren on May 08, 2009, 04:37:48 AM
Just finished reading 'The Illustrated Man' by Ray bradbury. a collection of short stories that left me asking "What happens next?" or "What just Happened?", each story is more the forming of a question than giving an answer....Did not remember reading it when i was younger until the last but one story - and then some of my undefined feelings when reading earlier stories made sense.

Just Started 'Macroscope' by Piers Anthony - also read when I was much younger - waiting to see if I enjoy it as much as I remember enjoying it then.

Recently completed the Bourne Trilogy, interesting to compare them to the films in that different aspects of them appear but the films are nowhere near a straight telling....Have to admit i found the conclusion of the third book - Bourne Ultimatum - a bit of a let down - would have preferred it to fit in more with the developed story lines. (But then I think Matrix reloaded would have been better if Neo had actually accomplished both choices given to him by the architect - no need for third movie  ;D ......)
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: Seren on May 09, 2009, 10:07:40 AM
Anyone else read 'Macroscope' ??

Just a few pages in and really enjoying it. Can remember some of the story arcs. Although dated in some ways by when it was writen I remember it being a book which required me to think.

Basic premise is the discovery of a form of radiation called Macrons and the invention of a 'telescope'. Macrons are not affected by matter or distance so images can be focussed down to reading a closed book in an underground room - lots of political potential in the story there. But observations of alien civilisations shows that the most common experience is to pollute your own environment until extinct, lots of things for thought there too - given the global warming issue.

However there is a macron broadcast being sent out in a spherical pattern (ie sent to everyone who can recieve it) that includes information of how to avoid this end. The process of working through it is systematic - unfortunately if you are not able to follow the complicated information you dont understand it and can't use it - if you are able to follow the information then at some point the new concepts fry the brain, leaving people unable to even feed themselves. This seems to be an inbuilt safety procedure in the broadcast.

Other civilisations have not got past this and ended leaving the macroscops become derelict or destroyed them.

In the recent past earth scientists undertook a small breeding programme to enhance IQ and some of the characters are from theis programme. One was so 'bright' that the general experience of life was so ujnsavoury that he created a sub personality that lives in the same body and he has gone to sleep. They need to reawaken him to try and decode the broadcast - but this is a dangerous thing to do as the main personality is not bound by the general conventions of anything........
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: mgriffin on May 14, 2009, 01:09:00 PM
Lena and I just went out of town for a long weekend, and I took along Axis by Robert Charles Wilson, the sequel to his fantastic novel Spin.

It's a sequel in the sense that it follows up on some of the world-changing events and the non-human entities revealed in the first novel, but Axis is by no means a direct follow-up to where Spin left off, in terms of time, location, or characters.  One of the major characters of Spin is a fairly minor character here, and much older, but for the most part this is a whole new group of people in new circumstances, several decades after the end of the last book.

(http://www.coverbrowser.com/image/bestselling-sci-fi-fantasy-2007/1126-1.jpg)

I don't think I'd recommend this book to people who had not read Spin, so I won't bother explaining about the Hypotheticals, or the planet connected to earth via the arch in the ocean -- if you read Spin you'll know what that's about, and if you haven't read Spin then you shouldn't read Axis yet!  But basically, this is a story about human beings finding their horizons expanded by a non-human race (or non-living collective entity, maybe) and spreading out to explore a second, connected (but not nearby) planet.

Overall I enjoyed this and I'd rate it as maybe a B- or B grade, which would be fine if it weren't for the high expectations I had following Spin, which was certainly A or A+ material.  I'll certainly be in line for the next sequel which I believe is coming in 2010 or 2011.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: jkn on June 22, 2009, 06:42:50 AM
I've been sort of randomly reading a few things - picking them up and reading a bit here and there...

Wil Wheaton - Just a Geek   

Excellent - highly recommended - an autobiography of sorts from the guy you might remember as Wesley Crusher on Star Trek Next Gen or as one of the kids in Stand By Me... he's found his true calling in life, writing.  I've followed his blog for a long time - finally decided to get a book a while back.  It's the kind of book you can read a chapter and then come back to later on.   I plan to get his other books.

Reference Guide for Essential Oils - Connie and Alan Higley
Natural Home Health Care Using Essential Oils - Daniel Penoel


Those last two are due to us 'getting into' and understanding essential oils a bit more.   My massage therapist recommended using wintergreen for my wrist problem - which has helped quite a bit and can replace the need for tylenol or 'biofreeze' sometimes...  combined with the massages every other week I've been finally getting some relief.    Do I think oils are a be all end all solution?  No.   Between my medical doctor, a bit of a homeopathy, exercising, eating fairly healthy, and trying the essential oils - it all ties together.

 

 

Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: judd stephens on June 22, 2009, 08:29:37 AM
Judd:
I think you will need to delete this post (maybe copy the text first), then get out of this thread, back to the Everything and Nothing level, then click on NEW TOPIC.  Give it a title and paste your text.

Thanks Andy, I think I was copying and pasting from the preview section of the post, rather than copying the text from the already-posted copy.  Okay, got it now.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: APK on June 22, 2009, 09:11:09 AM
You are welcome, Judd.
But I'll be Anthony, Tony, or APK ... but not Andy   ;)
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: mgriffin on June 22, 2009, 10:19:32 AM
Looks like we've found APK's new nickname!
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: APK on June 22, 2009, 12:41:43 PM
Any more of that and I'll start removing your posts !

 ;D
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: jkn on June 22, 2009, 01:00:51 PM
now calm down, Andy - you're being snippy...
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: petekelly on June 22, 2009, 01:02:49 PM

Can I presume that 'Tone' and 'Ant' would also be unacceptable ? :)
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: mgriffin on June 22, 2009, 01:09:27 PM
Maybe you'll like this better?

http://allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=11:dzfoxqqgldje (http://allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=11:dzfoxqqgldje)
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: jim brenholts on June 22, 2009, 02:58:14 PM
Maybe you'll like this better?

http://allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=11:dzfoxqqgldje (http://allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=11:dzfoxqqgldje)
i like it! tony, toni, tone, aka apk.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: APK on June 30, 2009, 11:57:26 AM
meanwhile ....

Just finished this sci-fi

- Alastair Reynolds: House of Suns

Think its his most recent. About 500 pages, and its excellent.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: Scott M2 on June 30, 2009, 01:06:26 PM
Ah yes - Al Reynolds!
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: mgriffin on June 30, 2009, 01:16:00 PM
Recently I really, really enjoyed a book called Born to Run which is mostly about a tribe called the Tarahumara in Mexico who live hidden in the canyons and whose culture involves extremely long-distance running, for hunting and for entertainment.

The author is an American magazine writer who keeps getting injuries while running relatively modest distances and he becomes curious about why so many modern, urban runners are hurt all the time, despite fancy, expensive running shoes, while relatively primitive runners running in the mountains in bare feet or hand-made sandals, can run 50 or 100 miles at a time without injuries.

So it's partly an exploration of the Tarahumara, with insight into the American running scene, particularly the niches of ultramarathoning and trail running, culminating in a "challenge" race between top American ultramarathoners like Scott Jurek and Jenn Shelton, against a handful of Tarahumara runners in their weird garb and sandals.

(http://www.randomhouse.com/images/dyn/cover/?source=9780307266309&height=300&maxwidth=170)

http://www.amazon.com/Born-Run-Hidden-Superathletes-Greatest/dp/0307266303 (http://www.amazon.com/Born-Run-Hidden-Superathletes-Greatest/dp/0307266303)

This really was one of the most interesting and inspiring books I've read in a long time, and made me question a lot of our assumptions about physical limitations.

Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: LNerell on July 01, 2009, 01:17:18 PM
Here's one I'm currently reading:

(http://www.ebookstore.tandf.co.uk/tandfbooks/2000F9C1/2000F9C1coverw01c.jpg)

A friend of mine gave this to me to return to the UCLA library, I thought it looked interesting. I better finish this one soon so I can get it back.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: jim brenholts on July 02, 2009, 03:17:27 PM
after watching band of brothers several times i bought the book and the memoirs of dick winters (beyond band of brothers) and buck comptom (call of duty) as well. they are all excellent and every bit as compelling as the movie. buck's story is particularly amazing including his prosecution of sirhan sirhan for the  assassination of robert kennedy.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: Hypnagogue on July 22, 2009, 06:18:04 AM
PJ O'Rourke's "Driving Like Crazy"--a collection of his car-magazine essays from over the years. I like how he's gone back to revisit what he wrote and made comments on it or brought in fresh remembrances.

Plus, it kicks off with the essay that I can pinpoint as being a piece of work that was formative in my own development as a writer: "How to Drive Fast on Drugs While Getting Your Wing-Wang Squeezed and Not Spill Your Drink."
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: IamBetaCloud on July 22, 2009, 08:59:07 AM
various Richard Matheson short stories, including 'mad house'.
if you're not familiar with him, he wrote 'what dreams may come', 'i am legend', and several twilight zone episodes.
brilliant descriptives.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: phi on July 26, 2009, 01:30:15 PM
Did you like that? Fred Dibnah  ;D
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: avec on July 31, 2009, 11:45:24 AM
(http://www.randomhouse.com/images/dyn/cover/?source=9780307266309&height=300&maxwidth=170)

http://www.amazon.com/Born-Run-Hidden-Superathletes-Greatest/dp/0307266303 (http://www.amazon.com/Born-Run-Hidden-Superathletes-Greatest/dp/0307266303)

This really was one of the most interesting and inspiring books I've read in a long time, and made me question a lot of our assumptions about physical limitations

This book looks really fascinating, I'll check it out, thanks!  I don't run any more, but I do walk all day long on my job (through rain and snow, etc). 

I went home for a visit and took a few children's books off the shelves.  Charlotte's Web, Wind in the Willows, and Jonathan Livingston Seagull.  Putting them by my bedside for night time reading. 

Also reading "The Four Noble Truths" by Geshe Tashi Tsering
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: Dave Michuda on July 31, 2009, 09:32:58 PM
I am starting "Heaven's Reach", the 6th & final book in David Brin's "uplift" series.  I read the first trilogy a long time ago & recently returned to the series to read #4 & 5.  I really enjoyed those & am looking forward to #6.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: mgriffin on September 14, 2009, 02:30:59 PM
I've seen the movie Silence of the Lambs many times, and the movie Manhunter once, but haven't previously read any work by Thomas Harris.  Manhunter is based on Harris's third novel Red Dragon which was more recently re-made into a film of the same name starring Ed Norton.

(http://www.hypnos.com/forumpix/reddragon.jpg)

I'm now listening to the audiobook of Red Dragon and I'm pretty impressed with it.  Harris's style is simple, kind of terse and unornamented, more of a gritty detective story than a horror story in terms of feel, but there are these incredibly hard-hitting and awful scenes of horror interspersed throughout.  The horror feels real, though, not supernatural or make-believe.  I haven't enjoyed a new fiction author discovery as much since Robert Charles Wilson a few years ago, and I look forward to reading Harris's later books, though I've heard Hannibal is not quite as good and Hannibal Rising is fairly questionable.   OK, let's just say I'm looking forward to finishing this one up, and then reading Silence of the Lambs.

(http://www.hypnos.com/forumpix/queenofangels.jpg)

Just recently finished Queen of Angels by Greg Bear and found it a challenging, thought-provoking piece of science fiction, quite different in style from the other Greg Bear works I've read.  Though definitely a science fiction story, this one feels more literary and sort of poetic than his other stuff, though maybe closest to Blood Music.  An interesting story focusing on distortions of the mind, and questions of consciousness and soul, both human and artificial.  I'll probably want to pick this up again in a year or two and go through it once more, as it's fairly thick with ideas.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: cromag on September 15, 2009, 12:33:31 AM
Recently I really, really enjoyed a book called Born to Run which is mostly about a tribe called the Tarahumara in Mexico who live hidden in the canyons and whose culture involves extremely long-distance running, for hunting and for entertainment.

The author is an American magazine writer who keeps getting injuries while running relatively modest distances and he becomes curious about why so many modern, urban runners are hurt all the time, despite fancy, expensive running shoes, while relatively primitive runners running in the mountains in bare feet or hand-made sandals, can run 50 or 100 miles at a time without injuries.

So it's partly an exploration of the Tarahumara, with insight into the American running scene, particularly the niches of ultramarathoning and trail running, culminating in a "challenge" race between top American ultramarathoners like Scott Jurek and Jenn Shelton, against a handful of Tarahumara runners in their weird garb and sandals.

(http://www.randomhouse.com/images/dyn/cover/?source=9780307266309&height=300&maxwidth=170)

http://www.amazon.com/Born-Run-Hidden-Superathletes-Greatest/dp/0307266303 (http://www.amazon.com/Born-Run-Hidden-Superathletes-Greatest/dp/0307266303)

This really was one of the most interesting and inspiring books I've read in a long time, and made me question a lot of our assumptions about physical limitations.



I didn't spot this at first, but the author was interviewed on one of my semi-local public radio stations.  You can hear the show, if you like, by downloading the MP3 from their archives, <HERE> (http://www.whyy.org/91FM/radiotimes.html).  Enter the author's name in the search box.  I was born with flat feet, and they've only gotten worse, so I was pretty interested in the show when I heard it.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: mgriffin on September 15, 2009, 08:31:26 AM
Thanks for the link, Cromag.

I found the book so interesting I've been reading every article or interview I've come across featuring McDougall and he seems to be giving the same interview over and over and over, in magazines and newspapers and blogs across the world.   I've downloaded the mp3 you linked to and I'll give it a listen now and see if he gives up anything other than the same anecdotes as before.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: mgriffin on December 21, 2009, 04:27:23 PM
Just finished "Just a Geek" by Wil Wheaton.

(http://wilwheaton.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8341c59aa53ef01053720ff50970b-800wi)

If you don't recognize him and don't know who Wil Wheaton is, he's the actor who became famous for starring in Stand by Me and then played Ensign Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation.

The book is a combination of reminiscences about his earlier acting career, and reflections from the 30 year old he's become, who struggles with being unable to get the kind of acting roles he figured he'd get when he quit Star Trek TNG.  The book is based a lot on his blog, wilwheaton.net which became notorious in the early days of the web for being maybe the first "celebrity" website actually designed and coded by the actual celebrity and not by some PR firm or publicist. 

He tells stories of dealing with how much everyone hated the Wesley Crusher character and took it out on him, as if the things they didn't like about the character were the fault of this teen-aged actor who had nothing to do with writing the words the character spoke.  He discovers other outlets for his need to express himself, first his blog, and then he gains enough confidence to start writing these books.

My description of this makes it sound pretty self-indulgent and at times it is, but it's also pretty funny, and the behind-the-scenes TNG stories and later interactions with Star Trek legends are worth it for sure.  I understand Wheaton ended up pretty angry at his publisher for marketing the book as a "Star Trek book," feeling it could stand on its own, I guess.  But even though I feel for the guy, he seems determined to fight a losing battle against the perception that the most interesting things he'll ever do in his life were done by the time he was old enough to vote.

I'd recommend this to Star Wars fans, particularly to TNG fans, whether or not you like the Wesley Crusher character.  It's also of interest if you've ever enjoyed reading wilwheaton.net over the years, as there's a bunch of information here about how he drifted into designing a web site, and saw his audience grow.  I imagine some will enjoy this from the "look at the washed-up child star" angle, but really this whole book is about Wheaton's fight against that perception.

Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: jkn on December 22, 2009, 06:44:30 AM
I've read about half of Just a Geek - and I love it.    But then - I've been following his blog for a long time.   

The latest twitter updates from him are his being a bit upset with O'Reilly for being out of print on "Just a Geek" yet again - and as usual - right before Christmas.   He's been doing Publish on Demand stuff - and looks like he might be doing that going forward. 

He generally cracks me up - that he can toss in a d&d reference for what he's making for breakfast - or the air elemental coming down his street cracks up the inner geek in me.   

Somewhere there's a great post on his blog (not sure if it's in his book) about ambient / chill in the 90's.  ... found it:

http://wilwheaton.typepad.com/wwdnbackup/2008/09/this-post-has-e.html

 
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: mgriffin on December 22, 2009, 10:33:11 AM
Pretty cool that Wil's an ambient music fan.  He even name-drops Robert Rich.  I oughtta send him a CD with a note saying, "Here you go, Wesley."   ;)
 
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: SunDummy on January 19, 2010, 10:47:37 AM
(http://www.rowanjacobsen.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2008/07/fruitlessfall-cover.jpg)

"Fruitless Fall", by Rowan Jacobsen.  Along with Michael Polan's "In Defense of Food" and "The Omnivore's Dilemna", this is the most interesting and disturbing book I've read in years.  It tells the story of the search for the cause of CCD (collony collapse disorder) in honeybees, and what it means for the long-term health of our entire agricultural system.  Highly recommended!


The Collapse of the Honey Bee and the Coming Agricultural Crisis

"Many people will remember that Rachel Carson predicted a silent spring, but she also warned of a fruitless fall, a time when “there was no pollination and there would be no fruit.” That fruitless fall has nearly arrived as beekeepers have watched a third of the honey bee population mysteriously die over the past two years. Rowan Jacobsen uses the mystery of Colony Collapse Disorder to tell the bigger story of bees and their essential connection to our daily lives. With their disappearance, we won’t just be losing honey. Industrial agriculture depends on honey bees to pollinate most fruits, nuts, and vegetables—more than a third of the food we eat. Yet this system is falling apart. The number of these professional pollinators has become so inadequate that they are now trucked across the country and flown around the world, pushing them ever closer to collapse. By exploring the causes of CCD and the even more chilling decline of wild pollinators, Fruitless Fall does more than just highlight this growing agricultural crisis. It emphasizes the miracle of flowering plants and their pollination partners, and urges readers not to take for granted the Edenic garden Homo sapiens has played in since birth. Our world could have been utterly different—and may be still."

“A spiritual successor to Rachel Carson’s seminal eco-polemic Silent Spring… You can’t finish this book unconvinced that our food supply is in serious danger.…Jacobsen’s concern for the fate of the honey bee population is easily contagious…The Verdict: Read.” —Time
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: mgriffin on January 19, 2010, 02:22:12 PM
That sounds interesting, Sundummy.  I know a guy who keeps bees as a hobby and he must have forwarded me two dozen articles over the past 18 months or so regarding this bizarre colony collapse thing.

I myself have been doing a ton of reading and (audiobook) listening lately.

I finished Arthur C. Clarke's Childhood's End a couple of weeks ago and loved it all the way through.  It also stood up incredibly well for science fiction over half a century old.  Great writing, a fascinating central "mystery" slowly revealed, pretty good characters (though this is tough with any story that unfolds over more than a century of story-time), and such a world-shifting turn of events toward the end.  Overall, just fantastic.  I wish there were more books containing this kind of simple, imaginative wonder.

(http://www.zone-sf.com/images/childhoodsend.jpg)

I know there are other Clarke fans out there -- would you say the next logical step in exploring this author would be Rendezvous With Rama?  I can't believe I've waited this long to start checking him out, especially given how much I liked the film of 2001: A Space Odyssey and even 2010.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: False Mirror on January 19, 2010, 02:34:46 PM
I'm currently reading Dan Simmons' "Endymion", the sequel to "Hyperion", which I enjoyed quite much.
Additionally I'm also reading a yet unfinished novel from a friend...
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: SunDummy on January 19, 2010, 02:49:10 PM
I keep bees as a hobby, so the topic of CCD is relevant to me; but what this book shows clearly is that EVERYONE, not just beekeepers, has a major interest in keeping the pollinators healthy.  The ripple effect of CCD is likely going to mean major shifts in our eating habits and the availability of foods.  This book gives the best explanation I've read yet on CCD, and how we're all in trouble if we don't find a solution. 
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: mgriffin on January 19, 2010, 03:08:55 PM
Previous read, The Terminal Experiment by Robert J. Sawyer

(http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/2/21/TheTerminalExperiment%281stEd%29.jpg/200px-TheTerminalExperiment%281stEd%29.jpg)

In this one, a scientist is able to do such a high-accuracy brain scan of an individual dying to determine that some kind of electrical energy leaves the human brain at the time of death.  Once this information becomes public, this energy phenomenon is called the "soul wave" and the story takes on all kinds of scientific, social and religious implications. The discovery leads very quickly (though I can't see how one is closely connected to the other) to an experiment in which digital simulations of a human mind are subjected to different effects and limitations in order to determine how they would react.  It's quite science-oriented, which might make a difference in some people enjoying it, or not, but there's also a bit of detective story mixed in as well.

It's a relatively early book for Sawyer, and won the Nebula award.  I'd recommend it to those who usually enjoy this author, or for people interested in the idea of the human mind reduced to a virtualization.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: einstein36 on January 19, 2010, 05:22:14 PM
quite curious if you have read his Flash Foward book(yes, same series based on his book)....
I personally haven't, but was intrigued...


Previous read, The Terminal Experiment by Robert J. Sawyer

(http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/2/21/TheTerminalExperiment%281stEd%29.jpg/200px-TheTerminalExperiment%281stEd%29.jpg)

In this one, a scientist is able to do such a high-accuracy brain scan of an individual dying to determine that some kind of electrical energy leaves the human brain at the time of death.  Once this information becomes public, this energy phenomenon is called the "soul wave" and the story takes on all kinds of scientific, social and religious implications. The discovery leads very quickly (though I can't see how one is closely connected to the other) to an experiment in which digital simulations of a human mind are subjected to different effects and limitations in order to determine how they would react.  It's quite science-oriented, which might make a difference in some people enjoying it, or not, but there's also a bit of detective story mixed in as well.

It's a relatively early book for Sawyer, and won the Nebula award.  I'd recommend it to those who usually enjoy this author, or for people interested in the idea of the human mind reduced to a virtualization.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: mgriffin on January 19, 2010, 05:26:50 PM
Yes, I read Flash Forward about a year ago.  I thought it was quite good, and though I haven't watched the show at all, I understand the premise is only superficially similar.  Of course, if they'd used the exact situation of the novel for the TV show, it wouldn't have made a good series.

Robert Sawyer is a writer of very interesting ideas, energetic storytelling, and a fairly direct, unornamented style.  He's one of my favorites now.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: Bebbo on January 20, 2010, 04:15:43 AM
That sounds interesting, Sundummy.  I know a guy who keeps bees as a hobby and he must have forwarded me two dozen articles over the past 18 months or so regarding this bizarre colony collapse thing.

I myself have been doing a ton of reading and (audiobook) listening lately.

I finished Arthur C. Clarke's Childhood's End a couple of weeks ago and loved it all the way through.  It also stood up incredibly well for science fiction over half a century old.  Great writing, a fascinating central "mystery" slowly revealed, pretty good characters (though this is tough with any story that unfolds over more than a century of story-time), and such a world-shifting turn of events toward the end.  Overall, just fantastic.  I wish there were more books containing this kind of simple, imaginative wonder.

(http://www.zone-sf.com/images/childhoodsend.jpg)

I know there are other Clarke fans out there -- would you say the next logical step in exploring this author would be Rendezvous With Rama?  I can't believe I've waited this long to start checking him out, especially given how much I liked the film of 2001: A Space Odyssey and even 2010.

Rama is pretty good, as are The Fountains of Paradise and The Songs of Distant Earth. Have you read The City and the Stars?
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: Bebbo on January 20, 2010, 04:19:02 AM
Just finished Magnificent Desolation by Buzz Aldrin. It's a revealing insight into his life after the moon landing, and the battles he's had to fight with his "demons".

Now reading the last volume of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. It's over a year since I read the second volume, which I found pretty boring so am hoping the last one will be better.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: einstein36 on January 20, 2010, 08:18:46 AM
thanks...he seemed like a good writer to read...


Yes, I read Flash Forward about a year ago.  I thought it was quite good, and though I haven't watched the show at all, I understand the premise is only superficially similar.  Of course, if they'd used the exact situation of the novel for the TV show, it wouldn't have made a good series.

Robert Sawyer is a writer of very interesting ideas, energetic storytelling, and a fairly direct, unornamented style.  He's one of my favorites now.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: Seren on January 24, 2010, 06:54:57 AM
Meeting numerous people with memory loss and/or dementia in work I thought it would be interesting to read 'The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat' by Oliver Sacks....illuminating and disturbing after just two chapters.

First a music teacher who taught in college, yet was not able to recognise a glove and thought his foot was his shoe. He could manage all his tasks as long as he sung himself through them, but if suddenly distracted or presented with a 'what is this?' type question was completely at a loss. The writer said he had no body image but had a music image.

Secondly a submariner whose memory stopped working in the 1970's and could remember nothing beyond 1945. Perfectly functioning in everyway but completely cut adrift or isolated from time. He could still type and work out equations etc (as long as the task was not too long, but quickly became bored and restless as the tasks were just mechanical). However he lived in constant involvement in aesthetics and act that gave his life expressive content that memory could not.

athird person mentioned in passing had a stroke that took away his sight and all memory and concept of sight - he did not know that he had been able to see before, was unable to describe anything visually and became bewildered at the concept of light. - also mentions people who no longer dream visually.......

as I said, illuminating and strangely disturbing.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: Antdude on January 24, 2010, 02:13:40 PM
The Real George Washington - Jay A. Perry  An excellent biography. A history of Washington is really a history of the founding of America. And good God, do we have it easy today. These men risked everything for freedom and we take it for granted now.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: hdibrell on January 31, 2010, 04:25:27 PM
Whale Music - Paul Quarrington . Entertaining book about a reclusive, eccentric, genius, former rock star (based loosely on Brian Wilson) who quits the music business and lives alone in his mansion by the sea working on his music for whales. He doesn't want any contact with the outside world , living on whiskey, drugs and jelly donuts. He gets an unexpected ,uninvited young female visitor from Toronto who believes in his music. It's a fun story to read. Not anything heavy, but entertaining. I know I want to get his main instrument, a seven keyboard emulator, the Yamaha 666 that makes sounds even when it is turned off 8) .
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: APK on January 31, 2010, 08:06:34 PM
Harry: the movie of Whale Music was very good.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: hdibrell on January 31, 2010, 10:01:29 PM
That's good to hear , Anthony. I ordered it used while ago. Look forward to seeing it.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: cromag on February 25, 2010, 11:41:42 PM
Recently I really, really enjoyed a book called Born to Run which is mostly about a tribe called the Tarahumara in Mexico who live hidden in the canyons and whose culture involves extremely long-distance running, for hunting and for entertainment.

The author is an American magazine writer who keeps getting injuries while running relatively modest distances and he becomes curious about why so many modern, urban runners are hurt all the time, despite fancy, expensive running shoes, while relatively primitive runners running in the mountains in bare feet or hand-made sandals, can run 50 or 100 miles at a time without injuries.

So it's partly an exploration of the Tarahumara, with insight into the American running scene, particularly the niches of ultramarathoning and trail running, culminating in a "challenge" race between top American ultramarathoners like Scott Jurek and Jenn Shelton, against a handful of Tarahumara runners in their weird garb and sandals.

(http://www.randomhouse.com/images/dyn/cover/?source=9780307266309&height=300&maxwidth=170)

http://www.amazon.com/Born-Run-Hidden-Superathletes-Greatest/dp/0307266303 (http://www.amazon.com/Born-Run-Hidden-Superathletes-Greatest/dp/0307266303)

This really was one of the most interesting and inspiring books I've read in a long time, and made me question a lot of our assumptions about physical limitations.



The current issue of Science News has an article on the subject of barefoot running.

http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/55708/title/Running_barefoot_blunts_foot%E2%80%99s_force


I'm more of a walker than a runner -- although I haven't been out for a decent walk since the sequential snows started hitting us up here in the mid-Atlantic -- and I'm not ready to give up my shoes yet, but it was an interesting read.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: mgriffin on February 26, 2010, 09:48:43 AM
Though I'm not as serious about running as I was last summer (I've been mixing in more stationary bike and more strength-focused exercises), I still follow the running community as a fan of track and field, and road racing.  This book has become a sensation in that world, and barefoot running has become a huge topic of debate.  Very few people go all the way toward barefoot running, but "minimalism" in the sense of running in very minimal footwear -- lightweight and barely protective, lacking most of the stability and cushioning of expensive running shoes -- has become quite popular.  Most of the major running shoe companies have started releasing minimal variations like the Nike Free series, which fulfill only the most basic functions of a shoe.  

I guess it remains to be seen if this is a genuine evolution of running footwear, or just a short-term trend.

Interestingly perhaps the best-known "minimalist" runner, ultramarathoner Anton Krupicka, has been injured frequently in recent years which to me sort of argues against the whole thing.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: Wayne Higgins on February 26, 2010, 09:57:52 AM
Lately I've been totally engrossed reading any thing about, as well as studying the artwork of Gustave Dore.  He was a French illustration artist in the 19th century.

(http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/3/3c/Mohammed_by_gustave_dore.jpg/477px-Mohammed_by_gustave_dore.jpg)
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: mgriffin on February 26, 2010, 10:07:47 AM
Dore is so great!  The illustrations for Dante's Inferno are the ones you see over and over, but the Paradise Lost images, and Gargantua and Pantagruel are cool.  I even like his paintings.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: Hypnagogue on February 26, 2010, 11:56:26 AM
Whale Music - Paul Quarrington . Entertaining book about a reclusive, eccentric, genius, former rock star (based loosely on Brian Wilson) who quits the music business and lives alone in his mansion by the sea working on his music for whales. He doesn't want any contact with the outside world , living on whiskey, drugs and jelly donuts. He gets an unexpected ,uninvited young female visitor from Toronto who believes in his music. It's a fun story to read. Not anything heavy, but entertaining. I know I want to get his main instrument, a seven keyboard emulator, the Yamaha 666 that makes sounds even when it is turned off 8) .

Your description made me want to read this, so I started Googling. Apparently Mr. Quarrington lost a battle with cancer just last month.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: cromag on February 26, 2010, 02:00:40 PM
...
Interestingly perhaps the best-known "minimalist" runner, ultramarathoner Anton Krupicka, has been injured frequently in recent years which to me sort of argues against the whole thing.

The study notes that barefoot runners strike the ground with their forefeet while "shod" runners strike with their heels.  What the study doesn't address, as far as I saw, is whether learned behavior carries through.  Would a person who has always run while wearing shoes, and thus strikes the ground with his/her heel, change styles when running barefoot.  I would guess that it takes a while (or longer) to relearn how to run, and I assume the runner would be much more susceptible to injury.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: mgriffin on February 26, 2010, 02:07:08 PM
Even advocates of minimalist or barefoot running say that people whose feet and ankles aren't accustomed to running that way should transition really slowly.

I tried running on the treadmill in some minimalist shoes a few times and after 5-10 minutes the soles of my feet, my ankles and especially my calves were extremely sore.  This was at a time when I was running 10-13 mile long runs every weekend and more moderate runs through the week.  Running on your forefoot basically uses the muscles of your lower leg and foot to cushion your landing, instead of just jamming your heel out there and striking full-force, and counting on your shoe to not only cushion but stabilize your foot and ankle.

Even if you've been running in cushioned shoes your whole life, if you try running in bare feet, your body immediately adjusts without any intentional change.  Try running down the sidewalk in bare feet and see.  You'll strike with your forefoot, not your heel, and your footstrike will happen directly under your center of gravity instead of way out in front.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: mgriffin on February 26, 2010, 02:43:00 PM
I've been reading a ton but haven't been posting my "now reading" stuff here in a while.

(http://www.hypnos.com/forumpix/splitimages.jpg)
Elmore Leonard - Split Images

Over the years I've heard various people praise Elmore Leonard, saying "don't dismiss him just because he writes bestsellers," and finally when Lena and I were at the beach a couple weekends ago I picked up this paperback.  The writing is ultra-simple, the characters are clever, knowing and cool, and the story is perfectly clear, with just the right mix of surprise, and logical progression.  It's not especially "deep" in the end, but it's an easy, fun read and I defininitely intend to check out more Elmore Leonard when I'm in the mood for something entertaining, with a bit of smart-ass humor.    It's a story about a wealthy businessman who kills somebody (maybe in self-defense) and finds he enjoys killing so much that he'd like to keep on doing it.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: mgriffin on February 26, 2010, 02:43:38 PM
(http://www.hypnos.com/forumpix/liseysstory.jpg)

Stephen King - Lisey's Story

I enjoyed King's Under the Dome quite a bit when it came out last year, and it convinced me to give some of his other more recent books a try.  This is a sort of flip side to Bag of Bones, in which a writer who resembled King tries to deal with his wife unexpectedly dying.  In this one, a wife tries to deal with her husband, a writer who slightly resembles King, unexpectedly dying.  That's not giving anything away -- Scott Landon is dead when the book starts.  As his wife Lisey finally digs through his office, which she's left alone for the two years since he died, she starts diving back into memories of things she went through with her husband, as well as increasingly strange recollections of things Scott told her about his early life.  It's not just recollection, though, as she gets entangled with a couple of people who start hassling her about getting access to her husband's unpublished papers.  The book relies very heavily on familiar catch-phrases shared by the couple, most of which are a sort of invented language from Scott's childhood.  The retelling is very stream-of-consciousness, and at times the flavor of the unusual language can become irritating, but mostly it's intimate and
engrossing.  The overt "horror" elements here are muted, and there's a bit of fantasy or supernatural element, but it mostly feels like real life.  I think a lot of people who don't normally enjoy King's work would like this one.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: mgriffin on February 26, 2010, 02:51:43 PM
(http://www.hypnos.com/forumpix/onintelligence.jpg)

Jeff Hawkins - On Intelligence

I read a lot of non-fiction but normally wouldn't post it here unless I think it might interest people who don't share my specific interests.  I know most people aren't going to want to read Wiley's PHP and MySQL bible...  But this one is a really interesting take on how human intelligence works, and why most attempts at creating artificial intelligence systems are going about it the wrong way.  The author is best-known as the inventor of the Palm Pilot, but he's also long had an interest in the human brain and artificial intelligence theory.  Here he does a great job explaining how the brain stores and accesses memories (which, he asserts, are a huge part of how we're able to do things like catch a ball, or tell a cat from a dog).  His theory is that most AI researchers, who assert we'll be able to easily put together an equivalent to the human brain as soon as computing power has expanded a bit further, are misguided and chasing in the wrong direction.  If you have any interest in either the nuts and bolts workings of the brain and mind, or especially the subject of artificial intelligence, this book is not to be missed.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: mgriffin on February 26, 2010, 03:04:20 PM
(http://www.hypnos.com/forumpix/tishomingo.jpg)

Elmore Leonard - Tishomingo Blues

I moved on directly from Split Images (above) to this one, because I read it was the author's favorite of his own books, and this one was even better.  It follows a traveling high diver who arrives at a Mississippi casino and convinces the manager to let him do a daily dive show outside to draw people to the casino all summer.  Right at the beginning he witnesses a murder from his perch at the top of the eighty-foot ladder, and that gets him involved in a bunch of complication.  The most interesting character is not the protagonist, Dennis, but this smooth guy he meets named Robert, from Detroit, whose own reasons for being in Mississippi emerge gradually.  A bunch of characters converge from the various story threads in a big Civil War reenactment, not a subject that would normally interest me, but by the time that event arrives the swirl of odd people and their alliances, grudges and conflicting agendas had me hooked.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: mgriffin on February 26, 2010, 03:26:53 PM
(http://www.hypnos.com/forumpix/considerphlebas.jpg)

Iain M. Banks - Consider Phlebas

The first novel in Banks's highly-regarded "Culture" series.  I've been meaning to jump into these books for a while but when you look at them all stacked up next to each other the book store, all those thousands of pages, it can be daunting.  Banks is known not only for his science fiction but for some edgy-but-mainstream books (which he differentiates by going as Iain Banks, without the middle initial), and the writing here is at a high level, but this is definitely not a case of a "literary" writer slumming in sci-fi and just throwing a few spaceships and alien planets into the mix.  The story has quite a bit of action and violence, and covers a very broad swath of space.  In the "Culture" series, at least at the beginning, there's a war between The Culture (a very advanced race, or collective of races, who rely on powerful artificial minds to make live in the Culture one of utopic leisure) and the Idirans, which are a strange race of very large, shell-covered, three-legged beings who don't age (but can be killed).  The war arose due to the Idirans expansion or empire-building (driven by religious fanatacism), which the Culture determined to stop.  Though the author makes clear which side he believes to be morally justified, and his dislike for religion comes through pretty clearly, the main character (a member of a shape-changing race) is actually working for the Idirans.

The novel has a few flat spots, and there were times I set it down and didn't pick it back up for several weeks.  Overall, though, the story's world is compelling and its scope is truly impressive.  I look forward to taking the next several steps in this series, especially as I understand the second book, The Use of Weapons, to be considered the best installment.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: Dave Michuda on February 26, 2010, 07:22:18 PM
Mike,

Thanks for all the recommendations.  I've picked up a few books from reviews in this thread over the years.

I am currently diving back into the "Polity" universe of Neal Asher.  Quoting from his wikipedia page..."most of his novels are all set within one future history, known as the "Polity" universe. The Polity encompasses many classic science fiction tropes including world-ruling artificial intelligences, androids, hive minds, aliens and time travel. His novels are characterized by fast paced action and violent encounters. While his work is frequently epic in scope and thus nominally space opera, its graphic and aggressive tone is more akin to cyberpunk."

I read 3 Polity books(Gridlinked, Line of Polity, Brass Man) a couple of years ago & just finished "The Skinner",(http://images.barnesandnoble.com/images/14940000/14942522.JPG) which is a unique mash-up of cyberpunk & pirate stories(they're not really pirates but it's tough guys on sailing ships on the high seas, close enough).  I have 4 or 5 more Polity novels to read & can't wait.

Mike, I know you're a fan of Robert Charles Wilson & was wondering if you've read his latest "Julian Comstock: A Story of 22nd-Century America"?  I enjoyed it but wouldn't go out of my way to recommend it.  It was a nice change of pace.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: mgriffin on February 26, 2010, 07:57:56 PM
Dave, I haven't read Julian Comstock yet, and I have to admit alternate history stuff doesn't really excite me.  But I did just pick up a copy of Wilson's earlier book, Blind Lake, and I plan to read that next.  I think this is a horrible, ugly cover but I plan to just ignore it and enjoy the words!

(http://www.coverbrowser.com/image/bestselling-sci-fi-fantasy-2006/2056-1.jpg)

Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: Dave Michuda on February 27, 2010, 07:28:14 AM
Blind Lake is good, I think you'll enjoy it.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: Brian Bieniowski on February 27, 2010, 12:31:49 PM
I've always liked Neal Asher's stuff, but I have to admit I didn't catch The Skinner—sounds like fun.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: Scott M2 on February 27, 2010, 03:21:13 PM
Whale Music - Paul Quarrington . Entertaining book about a reclusive, eccentric, genius, former rock star (based loosely on Brian Wilson) who quits the music business and lives alone in his mansion by the sea working on his music for whales. He doesn't want any contact with the outside world , living on whiskey, drugs and jelly donuts. He gets an unexpected ,uninvited young female visitor from Toronto who believes in his music. It's a fun story to read. Not anything heavy, but entertaining. I know I want to get his main instrument, a seven keyboard emulator, the Yamaha 666 that makes sounds even when it is turned off 8) .

I love this book! It's sad, funny, clod-hopping and transcendent.
It's an imperfect book about an imperfect character, derailed, prodded upright and now on a new track.
As creator of music striving for uncommon connections, the last page always makes me cry.
For many reasons, I think ambient musicians (who also appreciate pop) will find some oddball beauty and wry smiles.

The movie is good (and has music by Rheostatics, who had earlier named an (excellent) album Whale Music)
but can't match the finale in your imagination - or convey passages like this:

"The Yamaha 666 is so advanced that even Stevie wonder and I have problems with it. I call it the Beast.
Once I get it juiced up it screams, the Beast must be fed a handful of microchips and talked to softly."

RIP Paul Quarrington - So long and thanks for all the whales.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: uhurit on February 27, 2010, 09:05:56 PM
Nisargadatta Maharaj "I Am That", a great intro to indian Advaita Vedanta system...great for spiritual seekers who are tired of seeking and not finding
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: mgriffin on April 01, 2010, 04:56:41 PM
Just recently finished Chronoliths by Robert Charles Wilson, which I liked quite a bit.  It reminded me of Spin in a superficial way, as if drafted from the same rough outline, with different details.  You can always tell when an author has travelled in a certain part of the world because they start making all their characters visit that area so they have an excuse to sprinkle in details learned in their travels.  In Wilson's case, without knowing for sure, I'd wager he's visited SE Asia.

(http://www.hypnos.com/forumpix/chronoliths.jpg)

In this one, the protagonist is a sort of hippie slacker living in very poor conditions in Bangkok, when a giant artifact from the future materializes nearby.  This monument, the Chronolith of the title, announces a future victory by the conqueror Kuin, a name note yet known at the time of the story.  This sudden "visitation," constituting proof of a looming, threatening force, spreads fear throughout the world and causes societies to virtually all at once close up shop.  In other words, most people become so fearful of something bad happening in the future they essentially give up twenty years before any conquering has even happened.

Because this is a Robert Charles Wilson book, the relationships are all haunted and broken, and the parent-child relationships are especially tortured.  It's an engrossing story, though, as our protagonist gets caught up into an effort to understand the Chronoliths (because the one in Thailand is not the last to appear) and realizes his proximity to the first appearance gives him a sort of unavoidable connection to the entire drama of Kuin, attempts to prevent more monoliths, and those who worship Kuin (who doesn't even exist yet) as all-powerful.

My first experience with Wilson's Spin was probably his best book, and while the others I've read have also been quite good, they've been at least a notch below that high point.  I'd recommend this book if you've already read Spin and enjoyed it, but if you haven't, then just read that one!
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: jkn on April 05, 2010, 05:37:30 AM
My first book on my new Nook eReader is Lord of the Rings.   Why?   It's my favorite book.  This is the fourth copy I've owned and it's approx. the 15th time I've read it.   What better way to start off my eReading life than with LOTR?    It's also been a few years since I read it so much of it is 'new' again.  :-)

I first read it around 6th grade from the library.  Bought it later to reread - maybe 8th grade.   Bought it again in college when I took a "Tolkien" class (awesome class!) - and Heidi bought me the red leather bound edition that is just amazing - but definitely a put on your shelf and admire it than one you sit and read.   

I love the nook - see Mike's eReader thread for more info.

I also have joined a website called Good Reads.   It's been fun trying to remember the books I've read over the years.   There are so many I've forgotten.  When I was a kid I was reading 50-80 books a year and I still read like a fiend in my 20's.   Slowed down in my 30's for a lot of reasons and almost stopping when my hands couldn't take it anymore.   :-)


http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/3509775


Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: ambient789 on April 28, 2010, 08:13:12 PM
I had recently read Jaron Lanier -- "You are not a Gadget." He does have a few valid concerns that would provide good discussion material at least.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: Seren on April 30, 2010, 12:45:15 AM
Iain M Banks - The Algebraist. Really good sci-fi book. Vast reaches of civilisations and lots of plot twists too.

Got it form the library first and when given some book tokens bought it.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: APK on April 30, 2010, 06:23:50 AM
Banks is great.   8)
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: Dave Michuda on April 30, 2010, 11:37:42 AM
I haven't read any Banks yet but was looking to try some of his material.  Any recommendations for a good starting point?
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: mgriffin on May 03, 2010, 10:01:35 AM
Start with Consider Phlebas if you're interested in the sci fi of Iain M. Banks, rather than the mainstream-ish fiction of Iain Bank (same guy, different names for different styles of work).

I recommend that one because it's the first book in his Culture series, which is the great big epic giant buncha books he's best known for.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: mgriffin on May 03, 2010, 10:02:22 AM
Oh, and... there's a sort of mini-review of Consider Phlebas on the previous page of this topic.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: jkn on May 03, 2010, 10:07:40 AM
I'm still reading LOTR.  :-)   
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: mgriffin on May 03, 2010, 10:16:25 AM
I'm still reading LOTR.  :-)   

I remember the first time I read LOTR straight-through in junior high school and it took me the entire school year!  I wish I could re-experience that again, that first read-through.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: jkn on May 03, 2010, 10:37:28 AM
Absolutely!  I can't remember if I was in 6th or 7th grade - but I loved it.   I'm on about my 15th read through right now.   It's been long enough that I've semi-forgotten some little details which is nice!

I love being able to hold a book again!  Withough an eReader (I have a Nook) - I wouldn't be reading.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: APK on May 03, 2010, 10:44:39 AM
Start with Consider Phlebas if you're interested in the sci fi of Iain M. Banks, rather than the mainstream-ish fiction of Iain Bank (same guy, different names for different styles of work).

I recommend that one because it's the first book in his Culture series, which is the great big epic giant buncha books he's best known for.

I was going to say the exact same thing.
Begin at the beginning.

Here are the list of books:
http://www.iain-banks.net/books
Oddly the new one, Transition, which appears to not be sci-fi is released
in the US under the Iain M. Banks name. Which is kinda wrong.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: mgriffin on May 03, 2010, 10:52:08 AM
He wants to confuse people who read Iain M Banks books into buying his non-SF work and vice versa!  Sneaky.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: hdibrell on July 14, 2010, 04:33:46 PM
Backstage Passes and Backstabbing Bastards by Al Kooper. Interesting look back at Al's career in the music business. He covers it all fairly honestly from playing in cover bands, playing as a teenager with Paul Simon and his dad's big band ( Simon and Kooperfunkel? ), to cowriting "This Diamond Ring", working in the Brill building and others with the well known songwriters of the day, to sneaking onto Bob Dylan's " Like a Rolling Stone" session, playing Newport with Dylan and then going on the road with him, forming The Blues Project, forming Blood, Sweat and Tears, getting kicked out of B,S&T, being instrumental in getting the Zombies "Oddysey and Oracle" released in the US, working the Monterrey Pop festival , producing Lynard Skynard's first three albums, recording with the Rolling Stones and on and on. Very easy, entertaining, quick read. For those interested in that period of music this is a fun book.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: jkn on July 15, 2010, 06:01:17 AM
I've started rereading the R.A. Salvatore - Drizzt books.   I read "The Legacy" (book 7) last week - and am now reading "Starless Night" (book 8).
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: Sighthound on July 15, 2010, 07:16:25 AM
China Mieville - Kraken
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: Bebbo on August 20, 2010, 02:16:00 AM
I'm still reading LOTR.  :-)   

I remember the first time I read LOTR straight-through in junior high school and it took me the entire school year!  I wish I could re-experience that again, that first read-through.

I recently started the third LOTR book but gave up after less than 50 pages. The second book was hard going, and I didn't have the willpower to read about more meetings with people who'll join them in the quest. It seemed to me that there was maybe a 400-500 page novel that had been bloated to three volumes.

Just finished Replay by Ken Grimwood and loved it. Currently reading Mindscan by Robert J. Sawyer which is an interesting look at what makes us human.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: Kaarinen on August 20, 2010, 03:56:03 PM
A good autobiographical take on religion(s) from the experiental (in contrast to, say, theological/dogmatic) perspective:

Huston Smith: Tales of Wonder. Adventures Chasing the Divine, an Autobiography.

Good insights to a mystical mindset, yet written lightly, very personally and in an amusing, positive fashion from this lively 90 year old seeker.

Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: Ein Sophistry on August 20, 2010, 04:07:28 PM
Cormac McCarthy - The Road

Deliciously bleak. I want to eat these sentences. "Borrowed time and borrowed world and borrowed eyes with which to sorrow it."
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: mgriffin on August 23, 2010, 09:34:55 AM
I just finished The Road myself and I think it's the best thing I've read in years.  Cormac McCarthy is amazing.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: hdibrell on August 23, 2010, 12:31:55 PM
I have to agree, that is a great book! I need to look into reading some more of his stuff.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: coleio on August 24, 2010, 03:46:24 AM
Paths Beyond the Ego - The Transpersonal Vision A collection of essays on Transpersonal Psychology.

Georges Bataille - An Intellectual Biography A biography of French philosopher, Georges Bataille.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: APK on August 24, 2010, 06:57:48 AM
Paths Beyond the Ego - The Transpersonal Vision A collection of essays on Transpersonal Psychology.

Georges Bataille - An Intellectual Biography A biography of French philosopher, Georges Bataille.

Good to see someone doing a bit of light reading ;)

Not sure I'd call Bataille a philosopher, though he was certainly influential on a number of the postmoderns.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: APK on August 24, 2010, 07:01:17 AM

Speaking of philosophy, I've been re-reading some Heidegger essays recently. Always a treat.

And I'm always reading the poetry of Wallace Stevens ... the master.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: mgriffin on September 14, 2010, 01:30:28 PM
Recently read Pretty Monsters, a collection of short stories by Kelly Link.  She's one of the most interesting writers working in the fantasy, sf, horror, weird and slipstream/interstitial loose conglomeration of genres.  Speaking of which, if you think we have a hard time defining ambient music, genre fiction has the same border disputes. 

(http://www.hypnos.com/forumpix/link-prettymonsters.jpg)

This is Link's third story collection (she has not yet written a novel, though her stories are acclaimed), and her first geared toward a "young adult" audience.  It incorporates stories from her first two collections, in fact my favorite stories here were already familiar to me from her Magic for Beginners and Stranger Things Happen collections.

The stories here waver between a slightly disturbing dreamlike weirdness reminiscent of David Lynch's films, and a more whimsical, and at times humorous, fairy tale quality.  Link's stories consistently have a casual, friendly narrative voice, and that's a big part of their appeal.  It's a lot like having a funny friend tell you a really interesting, weird story by a campfire.  There is a great deal of imagination and invention on display in these stories, and if any of the above sounds appealing, I'd definitely give Kelly Link a try....

But I'd start with one of her first two books instead, unless you're a young reader.

(http://www.hypnos.com/forumpix/link-strangerthings.jpg)

(http://www.hypnos.com/forumpix/link-magicbeginners.jpg)
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: APK on September 14, 2010, 01:59:48 PM
Just finished

Alastair Reynolds: Terminal World

This is his most recent sci-fi. Its a tad different, for him. A new and
interesting setting. Very linear plot. An easy read. Enjoyable, but in
the end I found it a bit slow and predictable. Will probably turn into
a series.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terminal_World
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: LNerell on September 14, 2010, 02:35:33 PM
Just finished this one:

Senna Versus Prost: The Story of the Most Deadly Rivalry in Formula One
(http://www.pitstop.net.au/upload/products/21826.jpg)

Have now started this one:
Winning Is Not Enough: The Autobiography
(http://www.performanceonline.com.au/images/T/21501-01.jpg)

Next up will be this one:
Canyon of Dreams: The Magic and the Music of Laurel Canyon
(http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_MsupnQtT6Sg/Ss17yfQTwhI/AAAAAAAAAXU/nfkE5Gwxsrc/s400/canyonofdreams.JPG)
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: Seren on September 14, 2010, 03:10:44 PM
Frankie Boyle's autobiography - My Shit Life So Far.....

much much much much less censored than TV appearances - I find it hard to believe he has not been sued yet.....
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: mystified on September 14, 2010, 03:15:31 PM
Walter Kirn, "Lost In The Meritocracy". Funny send-up of the American education paradigm.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: mgriffin on September 14, 2010, 04:03:47 PM
Now that I'm done with the Kelly Link collection (above) I'm moving on to two things.

First, another short story collection: Occultation by Laird Barron.  It's a weird, creepy, brilliantly written set of stories with a modern horror flavor.  At times reminiscent of Lovecraft, though I think the similarity or imprint is overstated in the reviews I've read.  I'll have more to say about this when I finish, because the stories are so different from one another (well, most of them) that I won't really know how to sum it up until I'm finished.  I've been trying to think of the last time I read a stronger single-author story collection, and I'm having a hard time without reading for Big Names.

Also, a little more in the direction of "fun" is Old Man's War by John Scalzi.  I think it would be fair to refer to this as an update of Heinlein's Starship Troopers, in fact Scalzi thanks Heinlein in the front of the book.  The twist here is that in the future, an off-planet colonial group recruits Earthlings on their 75th birthday to undergo a physical "renewal" process and take part in an alien war.  The tone varies between straight-ahead and lighthearted, without ever veering too far into the serious.  Scalzi's a capable and proficient writer without really being a stylist at all, but that's OK.  He reminds me of Heinlein in that regard, with the breezy, confident, wisecracking narration.

I'm not too far into Old Man's War yet I can already see why it's so popular.

(http://www.hypnos.com/forumpix/scalzi-oldmanwar.jpg)
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: Dave Michuda on September 15, 2010, 08:06:34 PM
Mike,

I think you'll enjoy "Old Man's War", it's a lot of fun.  The sequels are pretty good too, just not as good as the first one.

I'm currently reading two books...

Line War by Neal Asher -  this is the fifth(and final?) book in the Ian Cormac series which is one of a number of series that Asher has written that take place in the "Polity" universe.  I've read just about everything he's done & they are all very good.  Whether it's super tough sea captains battling giant sea slugs or AI battle dreadnoughts at war or hand to hand combat with alien lobsters or entire civilizations wiped out by viral technology, it's all a fun ride.

The Guinea Pig Diaries : My Life as an Experiment by A.J. Jacobs - His first two books were year-long experiments. In the first he read the entire Encyclopedia Britannica & the second was about his year of following the bible as literally as possible.  For this book he does a series of month-long experiments, with each being a new chapter.  Jacobs is very funny as he goes from total obedience to his long-suffering wife and 'Radical Honesty', to living as a beautiful woman and outsourcing his personal life to India.  A fun & amusing read.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: mgriffin on November 04, 2010, 09:38:36 AM
Old Man's War was very good.

I just finished The Hunger Games, the first in a "young adult" series that seems to have Harry Potter-like popularity. It was a pretty engaging story, fun, and surprisingly dark for something so beloved by teens.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: cromag on November 05, 2010, 07:26:34 PM
My daughter loves the Hunger Games books.  She's re-reading them now.

I picked up a book for a dime in a thrift store, knowing just enough about it to make it worth the dime, and now I'm hooked.  It was one of the Stephanie Plum books -- a chic-lit bounty hunter series set in Trenton, NJ.  There are enough real neighborhoods and landmarks to make it fun, and they're quick, light reads.  So far I've read five or six, all from thrift stores or second hand book stores.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: mgriffin on November 06, 2010, 08:51:07 AM
Sometimes lightweight, popular reading is a lot of fun.  I was such a book snob in college and right afterward, I'd never let myself read stuff like this. Lately, though, I'd say every second or third book is something bestseller-ish.  I can admit it -- I enjoy reading Elmore Leonard, Stephen King, Lee Child, Tom Clancy, Ann Rice. I even enjoyed the Harry Potter books, and I'd give the first Hunger Games book a thumbs-up.

There, I said it!

I haven't read the Stephanie Plum books but Lena loves them. For that matter, every female I know loves them.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: mgriffin on November 06, 2010, 08:57:42 AM
I'm still finishing up The Forever War by Joe Haldeman, which is fantastic. I've been reading it very slowly, leaving it beside one chair in the house and only reading it once every week or two while I read other stuff.

Recently finished Occultation by Laird Barron, an absolutely top notch collection of horror or "dark/weird" stories. This guy is for real, and I can't wait to see what he does next. I never finished reading all of is first collection The Imago Sequence so I'll go back and finish that while I wait for his novel.

Next I think I'll read House of Leaves by Mark Danielewski (sp?) or maybe The Red Tree by Caitlin R. Kiernan.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: Brian Bieniowski on November 07, 2010, 04:35:44 PM
I have read a little Scalzi, but I failed to see what the excitement was about.  Personally, I like my fiction with a little more ... technical flair.  But then, I have never much cared for Heinlein either.  Some of Heinlein's characters and themes have such an arrogance to them; very off-putting to me, even as a teenager.  I do enjoy Joe Haldeman very much.  I loved his post-Vietnam reworking on Heinlein in Forever War.  I really need to read a few more of his works.  When I was in the sci-fi biz, I had dinner with him a few times and he was always calm, charming, and, above all, very wise.

I recently read two Robert B. Parker westerns (Appaloosa and Resolution) and then a book by Jack Vance called Eyes of the Overworld.  All were very entertaining.  I am now reading an old book from 1915 about a naughty highwayman called Dr. Syn by Russell Thorndyke.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: mgriffin on November 07, 2010, 07:13:41 PM
Scalzi is a popular favorite these days, but I've yet to see him do anything other than update Heinlein. I guess his next book is an H. Beam Piper update. The books are breezy and perfectly transparent, and they certainly prove that a masterful literary style is not a prerequisite to winning Hugos and Nebulas and being acclaimed by the SF community. I enjoyed the ones I've read so far, though.

Arrogance is a good word to apply to much of the Heinlein I've read, but it doesn't bother me too much. It reminds me a lot of Tom Clancy's "This is the way real men do things, not that most of you pansy-asses who call yourselves men would understand."

Everything I've read about Haldeman makes him seem like an incredibly cool, likable guy.  This article talks a bit about his unusual writing process: http://copperrobot.com/2010/09/science-fiction-writer-joe-haldeman-discusses-unplugging-to-create/ (http://copperrobot.com/2010/09/science-fiction-writer-joe-haldeman-discusses-unplugging-to-create/)

Nobody's surprised to see Cormac McCarthy write using old-fashioned tools, but SF writers are usually more high-tech in their approach. I love the idea of an SF writer with a fountain pen and a notebook, writing by the light of an oil lamp in a dark room.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: mgriffin on November 23, 2010, 10:02:39 AM
I keep starting books and setting them aside if they don't grab me.  I used to finish every book I started, 100% of the time, even if I hated it. But now my reading time is so limited, if it doesn't seem like what I want to read, I don't bother.

I just set aside Eon by Greg Bear, which I'm sure is perfectly fine, and I do plan to read it another time... but it didn't suit my mood at the moment. Too long and slow and confusing a build-up.  Bear's still one of my favorite SF writers, but he's written as many duds as winners.  Overall, I guess Blood Music makes up for Dead Lines, so I'll keep trying.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: APK on November 23, 2010, 10:31:04 AM
Just finished this enjoyable and informative read:

Long For This World: The Strange Science of Immortality
by Jonathan Weiner


Its about the biological nature of aging and scientific advances
relating to how our lifespan might extended. Important stuff
(unless you think dying is ok).
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: Dave Michuda on April 17, 2011, 01:58:10 PM
Just finished two books that I discovered via Boingboing (http://boingboing.net/).

(http://debp9ogtyvj11.cloudfront.net/978-0-7653-1515-1/180/)

Up Against It by M.J. Locke (http://www.amazon.com/Up-Against-M-J-Locke/dp/0765315157) - What's not to love about colonies on asteroids dealing with a nano-tech disaster, a rogue AI, kids on rocket bikes and the Martian mafia?  Good old fashioned, space-opera type of story.


(http://www.tor.com/images/stories/blogs/10_12/among-others-jo-walton.jpg)

Among Others by Jo Walton (http://www.amazon.com/Among-Others-Jo-Walton/dp/076532153X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1303072411&sr=1-1) - normally I don't like fantasy but I loved this book.  It's part fantasy, part SF & part coming of age tale.  A fifteen yr old girl, away at boarding school, deals with mean kids, magic, fairies & the death of her twin sister.  What gets her through all of it is her love of science fiction.  She reads a TON of books throughout this book(which is her journal).  It takes place in the late 70's so many of the books she reads are classics & works published in 40's, 50's & 60's.  She drops a lot of titles & names... Heinlein, Asimov, Silverberg, Brunner, Delany, Zelazny, CS Lewis, Tolkien, Anderson, Clarke, Renault, LeGuin and many, many more.

The main character mentions a lot of books and authors I've never read before so I can't wait to dive in & try some.  First up is Babel 17 by Samuel Delany.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: mgriffin on April 18, 2011, 01:39:19 PM
"Among Others" sounds interesting.

I've been reading Peter Straub's "A Dark Matter," an interesting and quietly-told horror novel. The story is told by a character who is a middle-aged writer who starts to become interested in a strange event (involving death, insanity and vanishing human beings) that his wife and friends experienced decades earlier. The event was something the writer himself managed to miss, and the others never told him the truth about what happened back then until he starts digging into it.

It started a bit too slowly for me, but as more of the central mystery has been revealed, I've started getting hooked. Straub's a great writer but if you're looking for full-on horror, this really isn't it. It's more weird and mysterious literary fiction.

(http://www.hypnos.com/forumpix/peterstraub-adarkmatter.jpg)
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: jkn on April 18, 2011, 02:06:41 PM
admittedly - I just haven't read much lately at all... I definitely go in phases now where I'll read a ton, then none at all as I do other things like play video games.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: Ein Sophistry on April 23, 2011, 01:40:00 AM
(http://images.betterworldbooks.com/074/An-Introduction-to-Contemporary-Metaethics-9780745623450.jpg)

/nerd
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: hdibrell on April 26, 2011, 01:33:43 PM
Autobiography of Mark Twain". This is a book I've been looking forward to reading since I first heard of it. It is a little tedious in the beginning as he sets the groundworks ( history, characters, etc.), but now past that it's starting to get really interesting with his opinions and stories that he did not wish to have published until after his death.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: APK on April 26, 2011, 05:19:38 PM
(http://images.betterworldbooks.com/074/An-Introduction-to-Contemporary-Metaethics-9780745623450.jpg)

/nerd

Always good to see someone reading philosophy (even if its metaethics).

I used to teach philosophy.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: Ein Sophistry on April 27, 2011, 03:03:51 PM
Nice. Did you have a particular area of emphasis? I'm starting a grad program in neurophilosophy in a few months.

I take it from your parenthetical comment that you're either a noncognitivist or an error theorist...?
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: APK on April 27, 2011, 04:21:09 PM
 :)

You are talking anglo-american analytical philosophy.
I'm phenomenology, existentialism, semiotics, hermeneutics,
and post modernism. So I'm more firmly in the contemporary
european camp.

I'm more hermeneutic than anything else. But my PhD thesis was on
narrative and the self. So I was into issues of identity and self, but not
quite how that is perceived in the more scientistic (and materialistic)
veins of contemporary philosophy.

I'm not sure "neurophilosophy" existed when I was in grad school,
but I can see where it is coming from.

What draws you to it?

Feel free to PM me.
Though this does fit in "Everything and Nothing"  ;)
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: mgriffin on April 27, 2011, 04:23:32 PM
I strongly encourage people to discuss subjects that make my head spin!

It's spinning now, BTW. I may have taken 2 or 3 classes of 100-level philosophy in college but that's it.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: jkn on April 28, 2011, 09:30:23 AM
I love discussions with lots of 5 and 6 syllable words mostly ending in "ology" bring it on!   

I love to read these types of discussions - but Yes - totally over my wee pea brain.
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: Ein Sophistry on April 29, 2011, 03:35:37 PM
Perhaps a new thread is in order...
Title: Re: Now reading
Post by: mgriffin on October 01, 2011, 09:37:13 AM
Yes, I'm going to start a new "now reading" thread. This is one category I'd love to see more active.