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Bugs: Recent Topics Paging, Uploading Images & Preview (11 Dec 2020)

Recent Topics paging, uploading images and preview bugs require a patch which has not yet been released.

What books are you reading?

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31 Mar 2024 23:01 #342027 by DarthJoJo
Babel by R.F. Kuang

Apparently colonialism and racism are bad. There’s an interesting premise in that magic comes from the distance between words in different languages when inscribed in silver and is almost entirely the domain of Oxford philology scholars, but mostly Babel is about the first thing.

It’s terrified of being anything less than entirely and indisputably on the right side. It’s not merely that characters are constantly explaining what’s wrong with empire and colonialism and how it feels to not be white in mid-nineteenth century Oxford, but the footnotes are there to explain how really racist every reference is. Feels very contemporary in that any ambiguity or shade must be avoided in preference for lectures as though it were an opinion piece in the Times.
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01 Apr 2024 10:25 #342028 by Shellhead
I've been a fan of cyberpunk ever since I first read William Gibson's short story "Johnny Mnemonic" in Omni magazine in 1981. Cyberpunk has somewhat fallen by the wayside in modern times, as our society caught up with and even passed some of the cyberpunk technology, but cyberpunk was never just about the tech. Cyberpunk is noir cinema translated to print, in a near future of cybernetics, biotech, and oddly specific cultural melange.

I am currently devouring a newish cyberpunk book, 36 Streets, by T.R. Napper. It is a classic cyberpunk style story set in Vietnam maybe the year 2080, featuring a fresh twist on the hardboiled detective story. Weirdly, it feels like this book was written directly for me. The protagonist is a smart, tough, half-Vietnamese woman with a drug addiction. More than 25 years ago, I was in a relationship with a smart, tough, half-Vietnamese woman with a drug addiction, on and off for a few years. The main character in 36 Streets comes across exactly like my ex, except that this fictional character also has extensive HTH training. The book just about jumped off the library shelf at me, because the color scheme of the cover (neon blue, neon pink, and black) matches a large piece of art on the wall in my computer room. And there was an enthusiastic cover blurb from Richard K. Morgan, author of Altered Carbon and just about the only other good modern cyberpunk writer. I'm about 20% into the book so far, and it's a real page turner. Action, dark humor, intrigue, good dialogue, and decent character development.
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22 Apr 2024 11:56 #342182 by Shellhead
You Suck, by Christopher Moore. Amusing book about foolish young vampires in love. Apparently this is the second book in a trilogy, as there are many references to recent events leading up to this story. Wacky characters, including my favorite, the homeless guy with the Huge Cat. Though published in 2007, there is only one direct nod to the popular World of Darkness games of the '90s: a minor character named Jared White Wolf. He's a young goth who feels completely humiliated at the goth club when someone points out that his black clothes have faded to dark gray. The protagonists are a 19 year-old guy from Incontinence, Indiana, who is an aspiring writer and new vampire, and his vampire girlfriend.
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22 Apr 2024 15:48 #342186 by Gary Sax
Lamb by Christopher Moore is pretty good, I didn't care for the vampire trilogy though.

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04 May 2024 12:29 - 14 Jun 2024 10:32 #342261 by Cranberries
I am slowly reading The Courage to be Disliked which is based on Adlerian psychology and is surprisingly is not written by Harlan Ellison. I also got our campus library to purchase Terry Bisson's short story collection Bears Discover Fire and have his posthumous book on order. I have a pretty big book collection but am thinking of lightening the mental burden of unread books and unwritten novels this summer, using the magic of Marie Kondo. :/

Last edit: 14 Jun 2024 10:32 by Cranberries.

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04 May 2024 18:23 - 04 May 2024 18:24 #342263 by jason10mm
My book reading hit a major stall trying to get through Andrzej Sapkowski's (yes, the Witcher guy) Tower of Fools Which a lightly magical take on 1500s Poland. The wall of polish names and somewhat obtuse narrative style made this hard to get into but once I was halfway through it was quite good.

Followed that with the infinitely more accessible Drawing of the Dark by Tim Powers which is also set in 1500s but not nearly so hung up on names and lists of events. Also quite magical/mythic and if you like beer, is about the only book making beer brewing a significant plot point. Powers is an odd duck, his stuff is always good and inventive but he seems very overlooked, maybe because he bounces around on different topics and never built an audience?

Now on to The Club Dumas by Arturo Perez-Fuerte which is what the Johnny Depp "The Ninth Gate" was based on. This is a deep dive into antique books and Dumas with lots of exposition, much like the authors The Flanders Panel dealt with chess and flemish painters. I know where it is going thanks to the movie but it is refreshing to read stuff written well before the internet made detective mysteries into extended Google searches and nonsense hacking segments
Last edit: 04 May 2024 18:24 by jason10mm.
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12 Jun 2024 14:51 #342469 by DarthJoJo
Ken Liu's The Grace of Kings is whiplash after Babel. Where the latter took three-quarters of its length to begin the plot, Grace is already on its second large-scale revolution against the emperor before the halfway point. Things keep happening and don't stop. Unfortunately, because there is no time for the characters to breath before moving onto the next thing, no betrayal, no victory, no loss hits the way it should. The lead's love interest is introduced early, and I figured his transformation from small-time criminal to a leader that was worthy of her love would be the emotional core of the story. Nope. They were married two chapters later. The catharsis is weak when the thing you're longing for arrives within minutes.

Bret Devereaux might have ruined this kind of fantasy for me, as well. The second revolution is replete with a smaller army winning advantages through clever tactics, inventing submarines and tunneling under an ocean channel. It's cute, but rings hollow. Rome reigned for as long as it did not because of spectacular tactics but because it had solid generals, well-fed armies and, most importantly, a huge population to draw soldiers from. Sneak attacks and technological innovation are great and all, but historically victory at this scale came from fielding and supplying the bigger army.
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