Author Topic: Now Reading, pt 2  (Read 15104 times)

mgriffin

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Re: Now Reading, pt 2
« Reply #20 on: December 05, 2011, 11:51:17 AM »
Blood and Other Cravings, Edited by Ellen Datlow

There are all kinds of reasons I might read a short fiction anthology. Maybe it’s the only place to find new work by some of my favorite writers. Some anthologies serve to introduce readers to unfamiliar writers, either total unknowns, or familiar names I’ve somehow not yet gotten around to reading. Many readers are motivated by an anthology’s theme — “Oh, I love zombies, and here’s another zombie anthology so of course I’ll buy it” — but I usually don’t. I didn’t buy this because it had to do with vampirism. In fact, I imagine any reader who purchased this hoping for a bunch of straightforward vampire stories would be disappointed. There’s not so much “blood” here as there are “other cravings.”



I’ve given some consideration to the overall shape of multi-author anthologies, a subject which interests me to the extent it’s similar to the way I’ve put together various-artists CD collections in the past. Generally it seems editors load the best stories end up at the beginning and the end, and this is no exception. Among the middle stories, the only one I found noteworthy was Melanie Tem’s very odd “Keeping Corky,” about an enigmatic female character, notable for her mental abnormalities including both strengths and deficiencies, misses the child she was forced to give up for adoption.

Of the early stories, Kaaron Warren’s lead-off “All You Can Do is Breathe” is wonderfully creepy and understated. Elizabeth Bear’s “Needles” is not so much a story as a well-drawn and entertaining “day in the (undead) life,” vividly written but maybe in need of fleshing-out. And Reggie Oliver’s amusing yet dark story of a theatrical hotel overrun by very small tenants convinced me to check out more of this writer’s work.

The best of this collection comes later. “First Breath” by a new-ish writer, Nicole J. LeBoeuf, is an interesting exploration of a sort of transference of life through breath. And I always love Kathe Koja and Carol Emshwiller, whose contributions here (Emshwiller’s is one of only two reprints) are good.

The final four stories alone justify the price of the anthology.

Michael Cisco’s “Bread and Water” tells of a captive vampire trying to cope with his appetites, as well as an incapacity to consume what he desires. The creature’s gradual transformation, told in Cisco’s uniquely intense prose, evokes in the reader an effect like delirium. More than anything else in the book, “Bread and Water” inspired me to seek out more by this writer. That’s not to say it was the best story overall, but the best by an author I’ve previously overlooked.

Margo Lanagan’s “The Mulberry Boys” is told like a fable or second-world fantasy more than a horror story, but what’s actually happening here has quite a nasty edge. Through some bizarre process of surgery and altered diet, humans or human-like creatures are transformed into passive silk factories. I love the way this story is told. Very effective.

“The Third Always Beside You” by John Langan reminds me a little of Peter Straub’s recent novel A Dark Matter in its exploration of a male character trying to piece together disturbing past events. Here a brother and sister discuss their long-held perception that their father might have been unfaithful to their mother, and whether any truth might lie behind this. The fantastic elements along the way are of the subtle “thought I heard a sound, and looked, but nobody was there” variety, yet the story conveys a mysterious and even dreadful sense of secrecy. I own two of Langan’s books which I haven’t read yet, but this story convinced me to nudge these upward in my “must read soon” list.

The last contribution is by Laird Barron, recently the most consistently excellent writer of horror and dark fantasy novellas and novelettes. “The Siphon” includes elements which may seem familiar to readers of Barron’s earlier stories, but this comes across not as repetition, but a fleshing-out of a fictional world which increasingly cross-connects between one story and another. None of the characters, so far as I can determine, appear in prior Barron tales, yet the template of bored, wealthy decadents tantalized by forbidden or occult knowledge is reminiscent of such stories as “Strappado” and “The Forest.” Such is Barron’s skill that even when he’s not trying something entirely new for him (as I believe he did in “The Men From Porlock” and “Blackwood’s Baby” which appear in other recent anthologies), the work nonetheless functions at such a high level as to stand clearly apart.

By the end of a relatively mixed collection, it’s tempting to think mostly of the more satisfying later stories, but the quality dropped off enough in places that I’d give the collection four rather than five stars. At the same time, I’d recommend the book as worthy of purchase for the better stories at the beginning and especially the end.
[ Mike Griffin, Hypnos Recordings ] email mg (at) hypnos.com | http://hypnos.com | http://twitter.com/mgsoundvisions

jkn

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Re: Now Reading, pt 2
« Reply #21 on: December 05, 2011, 02:43:32 PM »
ok - so I had an old barnes and noble gift card that I realized i'd never used and went on a little spending spree over the weekend on ebooks...  I'd lost the card once...  time to spend it...

I'm a fantasy junky - it's my escape and I love those books so that's what I buy. 

Catching up with the unwieldy and far too long Wheel of Time series.  Started a brilliantly standard boy's gonna save the world tale and then spread it's wings a bit - and then became the world building empire of 11 long, long books that were sometimes brilliant and sometimes just drudgery to read.   Jordan sadly passed away before finishing - and the final trilogy is in process being penned by Brandon Sanderson.

The Gathering Storm (Wheel of Time Series #12)
by Brandon Sanderson, Robert Jordan

Towers of Midnight (Wheel of Time Series #13)
by Brandon Sanderson, Robert Jordan

Anne McCaffrey's passing reminded me I hadn't read any of the Pern books since I'd checked them out of the library back in maybe grade school?  I figured it was time to dust these off and have another go.


Dragonflight (Dragonriders of Pern Series #1)
by Anne McCaffrey

Dragonquest (Dragonriders of Pern Series #2)
by Anne McCaffrey

The White Dragon (Dragonriders of Pern Series #3)
by Anne McCaffrey

Modesitt is one of my favorite modern authors... and I decided to pick up the first in the Recluce series and reread it.  It's been a while.  It is not my favorite of the series - but it certainly is the place to begin on a reread of his books.  :-)

The Magic of Recluce (Recluce Series #1)
by L. E. Modesitt Jr.



Oh!  I picked up the first Terry Pratchett book - it was on sale at bn.com - so hey - why not?  An author I've been told to read for 2 decades... finally going to have a go at his work.
John Koch-Northrup .: jkn [AT] johei.com .: owner / artist .: http://relaxedmachinery.com .: http://twitter.com/jkn .: http://flickr.com/johei

hdibrell

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Re: Now Reading, pt 2
« Reply #22 on: December 05, 2011, 03:32:44 PM »
I've been reading Thoreau's Walden on and off for a couple of months now. I can only seem to read it for a short time before I have to put it down. It is somewhat difficult for me due to the archaic language and his preachy tone at times but, oddly, I do enjoy it in small doses. As stated in another thread, I have an interest in alternative architecture, living simply, greener, etc. and I had never read this.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  My wife pulled out Genesis Of A Music by Harry Partch from a dusty bookshelf in the house yesterday and asked me about it. I had bought it years ago and started reading it only to discover that it was too deep for what I was wanting to read at the moment. I put it away and forgot about it. Today on the rM list , Greg M (Eyes Cast Down) mentioned he was rereading it. I figured with two mentions of it in two days that maybe it is time to try again. Interesting person and interesting ideas about just intonation. Hopefully I can finish it this time. Then I'm going to read something light.  ;)
Never regret money spent on old books, old dogs or old friends.

mgriffin

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Re: Now Reading, pt 2
« Reply #23 on: December 05, 2011, 04:29:27 PM »
Anne McCaffrey's passing reminded me I hadn't read any of the Pern books since I'd checked them out of the library back in maybe grade school?  I figured it was time to dust these off and have another go.

Dragonflight (Dragonriders of Pern Series #1)
by Anne McCaffrey

Dragonquest (Dragonriders of Pern Series #2)
by Anne McCaffrey

The White Dragon (Dragonriders of Pern Series #3)
by Anne McCaffrey


Like you, I've decided to take another visit to Pern, inspired by McCaffrey's passing. I think I only read the first of these when they came out, and I remember being less impressed than all my fantasy & science fiction buddies were. I'm not sure how this will have aged, but I'm about to give Dragonflight another try.
[ Mike Griffin, Hypnos Recordings ] email mg (at) hypnos.com | http://hypnos.com | http://twitter.com/mgsoundvisions

jkn

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Re: Now Reading, pt 2
« Reply #24 on: January 16, 2012, 08:36:00 AM »
I started rereading Dragonflight and set it aside for now after only a few pages.  it wasn't "grabbing me".

I'm totally engrossed in Book 12 of the Wheel of Time ... the first of the final trilogy written by Brandon Sanderson using Robert Jordan's extensive notes.   

It is utterly excellent.   The series had been dragging for me in maybe the 7th through 10th books with Jordan renewing himself a bit in book 11 before he passed away.

 

John Koch-Northrup .: jkn [AT] johei.com .: owner / artist .: http://relaxedmachinery.com .: http://twitter.com/jkn .: http://flickr.com/johei

jkn

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Re: Now Reading, pt 2
« Reply #25 on: January 25, 2012, 10:25:29 AM »
Finished books 12 and 13 of Wheel of Time... with the final volume - book 14 finished and undergoing what's predicted to be about 5 more months of rewrites with a fall release...  I've decided to start buying them up on ebook and reread the series (or most of them at least.)

John Koch-Northrup .: jkn [AT] johei.com .: owner / artist .: http://relaxedmachinery.com .: http://twitter.com/jkn .: http://flickr.com/johei

Dave Michuda

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Re: Now Reading, pt 2
« Reply #26 on: January 25, 2012, 09:01:52 PM »
Just finished a trilogy by Tony Ballantyne...1)Recursion, 2)Capacity & 3)Divergence  - meh.


About half way through "Speed of Dark" by Elizabeth Moon about high-functioning autistics set in the near future.  Science has developed a "cure" for adult autism but the main character, Lou, isn't sure he "wants the treatment.  What would it mean for him to be "normal"?  What is "normal"?  So far the book has completely sucked me into Lou's world.

Dave Michuda

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Re: Now Reading, pt 2
« Reply #27 on: March 12, 2012, 07:45:16 PM »
Based on a recommendation over at Boingboing, I picked up the Kindle version of Wool Omnibus Edition (Wool 1 - 5).  It's a great deal for a 550 page book at only $4.99.  Out of 176 reviews, 166 of them are five stars.

Originally begun as a short story(Wool 1), the book tells of a dystopian future where humankind lives in underground silos, where the outside is toxic & where even discussing the outside will get you sent to die outside.  You can buy the individual stories that make up the series separately or save a buck or two & buy the omnibus edition.

Before I was even halfway through with this book, I ordered a few more of author, Hugh Howey's books.  It helps that the Kindle editions are only $2.99 so there's not much risk in discovering a new author.

So far I am loving Wool and am looking forward to more of Howey's works.

Seren

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Re: Now Reading, pt 2
« Reply #28 on: March 13, 2012, 01:24:23 AM »
Lame Deer, Seeker of Visions.

great book, had it before and managed to get a new copy off amazon for £0.42.


yes that's 42 british pennies


(plus postage)


headonist

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Re: Now Reading, pt 2
« Reply #29 on: May 26, 2012, 08:05:35 PM »
I read a few books at the moment. Most of them has some kind of root in cosmology.
 
Jonathan Safran Foer - Äta Djur (Eating Animals): A critical view into the meat industry.
http://www.adlibris....isbn=9113029894

 
Leif Pettersson - Physics, Martinus Cosmolgy and The Theory about Everything: This guy claims to have the answer to the theory about everything which combines all four known natural laws.
http://www.varldsbil...px?ProdNo=81410

 
Sören Grind - Livet - Din Spegel (Life - Your Mirror): A new take on psychology with roots in cosmology.
http://www.varldsbil...px?ProdNo=75744

 
Per Bruus-Jensen - Livet och det slutna rummet (Life and the closed room): Per has described the cosmology after 10 years as student with Martinus.
http://www.varldsbil...px?ProdNo=75991

 
Ole Therkelsen - Martinus, Darwin and Intelligent Design: This book brings up three evolutionary teachings.
http://www.varldsbil...px?ProdNo=75935

 
different authors: The Pole Transformation in Everyday Life
http://www.varldsbil...px?ProdNo=75772

Dave Michuda

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Re: Now Reading, pt 2
« Reply #30 on: July 06, 2012, 08:27:25 AM »
Just bought three new books for my kindle.  Can't decide which one to read first.






Dave Michuda

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Re: Now Reading, pt 2
« Reply #31 on: October 07, 2012, 07:09:49 AM »
Just finished Caliban's War.  It's the second of a planned trilogy.  The first was Leviathan's Wake.  Both are excellent examples of good old fashioned science fiction.  I hesitate to say "old fashioned" because I don't want to give the impression that the books feel old or out of date.  They are old school in the sense that they take place in space, have lots of shooting & fighting, have some monsters, but above all have good characters.

Two fast paced books with a lot of action that have me excited for the third in the series.


jkn

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Re: Now Reading, pt 2
« Reply #32 on: October 08, 2012, 05:58:50 AM »
I've been reading Peter James book - Dead Simple - crime/mystery - enjoying it.   Starts off with a bachelor party where the groom - famous for his intense practical jokes...  gets it back good from his friends...  and the story takes off from there.    I heard about this author on NPR's Crime in the City series...  I liked how James talked about his characters and the city of Brighton, England.

http://www.peterjames.com/book/dead-simple

« Last Edit: October 08, 2012, 06:01:42 AM by jkn »
John Koch-Northrup .: jkn [AT] johei.com .: owner / artist .: http://relaxedmachinery.com .: http://twitter.com/jkn .: http://flickr.com/johei

headonist

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Re: Now Reading, pt 2
« Reply #33 on: December 10, 2012, 12:57:11 AM »
I'll be listening this audio-book when it arrives...

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talkingby Susan H. Cain


The idea of HSP (highly sensitive person) seems like an interesting state and something I can relate to.

chris23

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Re: Now Reading, pt 2
« Reply #34 on: December 10, 2012, 09:22:14 PM »
Just read The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver. This is an excellent book on forecasting by the guy behind the fivethirtyeight blog at the NYT. He draws on examples from weather, election, earthquake, and financial forecasting to discuss some of the conceptual and computational challenges involved in predicting and modeling events in a complex world. Great read.


chris23

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Re: Now Reading, pt 2
« Reply #35 on: January 06, 2013, 12:24:05 PM »
Just finished Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell.  A fantastic book on many levels. I won't say much about it since it got plenty of press via the film. (I haven't seen the movie, but I hope to see it on DVD in Feb.)

Dave Michuda

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Re: Now Reading, pt 2
« Reply #36 on: January 12, 2013, 10:06:09 AM »


Just finished the one.  The earth is about to be hit by a large asteroid in six months, industry is grinding to a halt, suicides are up, everyone is going to die.  So if you're police detective, why do you keep investigating a murder?  The lead character is this book just can't let it go despite everyone else not giving a shit about anything anymore.  Excellent, engaging book.

hjalmer

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Re: Now Reading, pt 2
« Reply #37 on: February 01, 2013, 10:38:17 AM »
the dog stars | peter heller

some of the best prose i have read in some time
i can usually tell how much i enjoy a book
by how many book darts i mark passages with

37 darts!

apocalyptic themes
with lyric musings of existence       
recommended

h


chris23

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Re: Now Reading, pt 2
« Reply #38 on: February 02, 2013, 06:43:26 AM »
Recently read two Lee Child (the Jack Reacher author) books after being prompted repeatedly by my mother-in-law: Killing Floor and The Affair. The first was a decent mystery/thriller; the second one was a bit trashy (characters making out at midnight so they could capitalize on the vibrations of the midnight train).

Mr. Penumbra's 24-hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan. This was fantastic. The story focuses on a young web designer who is out of work and ends up taking a non-tech, night job at a 24-hour bookstore. Lots of quirky characters, an intriguing mystery, and a few thought-provoking insights about the interface of analog and digital cultures.

Now reading: The Postmoral by Drew Magary. So far, so good. In the future a "cure" for aging has been invented. It is still possible, of course, for people to die, but not via growing old. This is a work of fiction, but I love the way the author explores the implications of this for the way society functions, how it impacts marriages, and the impact it may have on religion.

Dave Michuda

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Re: Now Reading, pt 2
« Reply #39 on: February 02, 2013, 09:01:43 AM »
Chris,

I just recently read Mr. Penumbra's 24-hour Bookstore as well & loved it.  And I have The Postmortal in my Kindle queue.  I think I found both books through Boingboing.  Is that where you found them as well?  I've discovered a lot excellent books through the good folks at Boingboing.

I'm about to start 2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson.