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OBollocks
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Books

Wed Mar 23, 2016 2:47 am

Well, I've finally found a writer I can't bear to read while eating. Having suffered through the gross-out zombiefest of Brian Keene, and usually having a famously imperturbable stomach, I thought there was nothing out there that could make me feel that queasy. I was wrong. Stephen Graham Jones' Three Miles Past managed it quite easily, not with extreme splatterpunk imagery, but quality writing and an uncomfortable level of mundane detail.

Three Moments of an Explosion, China Mieville. Short story collection, and doesn't lack any of his usual strangeness. The Condition of New Death in particular made me marvel at the absurdness of it, especially as someone currently aiming to haemorrhage as many Twitter followers as possible by screenshotting dead enemies (https://twitter.com/OBollocks/status/711714916634382336, https://twitter.com/OBollocks/status/672191884849102849, https://twitter.com/OBollocks/status/607685390959558656).

Re-reading Robin Fleming's Britain After Rome pokes some serious holes in the old school history of the Angles/Saxons/Jutes rocking up to Britain, which is a little irritating with Pendragon coming from GMT early next year, but I'll cope.
The beatings will continue until morale improves.

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Alex Connolly
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Re: Books

Wed Mar 23, 2016 6:08 am

I've tried to read Mieville - Perdito St Station and Embassytown - a number of times, and while I like the bloke's vision, I lack the patience to deal with his verbiage. Put me straight, OBollocks.

He's not nearly as well-known, nor does he stray from similar themes, but I've always loved Richard Calder. Highlights, his Dead Things trilogy and Malignos. Rococo as all buggery, dreary and possibly problematic in the modern context. That's my sticky jam.

Taking a turn for the easy, trudging back through my absolute guilty pleasure and favourite small-L literary trilogy, Wilbur Smith's original Courtney trilogy - Lion Feeds, Sound of Thunder, Sparrow Falls. Absolute sucker for the era and locale. Romantic popcorn business; ivory, guns, women, diamonds, Boers. Generally in that order.

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Kolbex
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Re: Books

Wed Mar 23, 2016 3:11 pm

Good luck getting past the verbiage with Mieville (I say as someone who enjoys him and has read most of what he's written). I liked Looking for Jake (Familiar in particular has stuck with me), so I'll check out Three Moments eventually. God, just so many books, ugh. Finished up Utopia of Rules by Graeber, just really thought-provoking stuff.

The time right after I finish a book I was intensively reading is always a turbulent one. I generally pick up several and put most down in favor of the one that grabs me most. This time will it be:

The Flooded Earth: Our Future In a World Without Ice Caps?

No Good Men Among the Living: America, the Taliban, and the War through Afghan Eyes?

I think I will leave It's Not Over: Learning From the Socialist Experiment for a time when I can concentrate on it entirely, as it is a dense beast of a book.

I am picking my way through The Book of Abramelin: A New Translation - Revised and Expanded, and I have a good feeling about finishing this one. I always wonder about these books of Renaissance magic. Did these guys believe what they were writing? Was this an early form of epistolary novel?

Also occasionally grabbing a story from The Night In Question: Stories. "The Other Miller" was particularly good.

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biffpow
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Location: The East Bay, California

Re: Books

Wed Mar 23, 2016 4:25 pm

Agreed that Meiville is often unnecessarily dense. As much as I enjoy his ideas and characters, it's sometimes a daunting slog. I have never finished Kraken, as much as I've wanted to.

Currently reading The Head of the Saint by Socorro Acioli, which was billed as YA, but isn't really that genre exactly. The main character is a teen boy, yes, but little else about it is YA really. Essentially homeless, he moves into the large stone head that's fallen away from a statue of St. Anthony, just outside of a small (cursed?) town. And he starts hearing the voices of people praying to said saint. And decides how to use that information.

Just finished Thanks for the Trouble by Tommy Wallach, which is YA and is the best book I've read in a while. Teen guy thief meets a 20-something girl with white hair who claims to be over 200 years old. And wants to kill herself. Fantastic writing throughout.

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Kolbex
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Re: Books

Wed Mar 23, 2016 4:45 pm

I also did not finish Kraken. Just didn't feel like it was going anywhere. I didn't finish Embassytown, either, but it just wasn't grabbing me and I don't have time these days for stuff that doesn't grab me. Iron Council I felt was weak, King Rat seems a little embarassing after all these years...

I'm a fan of Mieville, right?

Yes, I am. For me, fantasy rarely gets better than The Scar, and even when he's not great he's still better than most working in the genre. He is a little overfond of his pseudo-vocabulary, but that is probably about the least of the sins an imaginative writer can commit.

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whovian223
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Location: Vancouver, BC
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Re: Books

Wed Mar 23, 2016 6:33 pm

I highly recommend a book called God's War: A New History of the Crusades by Christopher Tyerman.

It's almost 1000 pages and I was reading it in small chunks, so it took me 6 weeks to get through. But it was still fascinating.

It doesn't just cover the basic crusades to the Middle East, but also the Northern Europe and Iberian crusades as well. It even talks about minor crusades and how crusades were seen in the subsequent hundreds of years.

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OBollocks
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Location: UK

Re: Somebody stop me before I kill again.

Wed Mar 23, 2016 9:22 pm

Well, that's uncanny. Kraken threw me off too. As much as I liked some of the comedic elements and loved being back in Mieville's London, it took me ages to finish.

I'd like to say he tones it down for some of his works, principally The City and The City, and Railsea (allegedly YA), he doesn't, not really. It's just one of the things he does, and I have learned to wait for him, or rather his prose, to come back to earth. Perdido Street Station swallowed me, and I've never been the same since.

Boss Fight Books are doing a volume on Spelunky (https://bossfightbooks.com/products/spe ... y-derek-yu) for the princely sum of $5. I don't know how much that is, but I preordered it anyway.

A wonderful argument with a friend made me go and re-examine the firebombing of Dresden, so I'm re-reading Dresden by Frederick Taylor, which is a barrel of laughs.

Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits, by David Wong was a lighthearted romp through a near-future world of brutal silliness, which was perfectly readable but lacked the heart of JDATE and TBIFOS (SDDTI). Perhaps I'm the problem.
The beatings will continue until morale improves.

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biffpow
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Location: The East Bay, California

Re: Books

Wed Mar 23, 2016 11:09 pm

Re: Meiville, I think The City and The City is probably his best, though I should go back and reread The Scar, as I read it rapidly and it felt sort of, hmmm, disposable is too harsh a word I think, but it didn't stick with me. They should print all future editions of King Rat under a pseudonym.

The Spelunky book is tempting. I bought and read Boss Fight's Baldur's Gate II book when it came out and was disappointed, honestly, so I've sort of been ignoring their releases. BG2 is one of my fave games evar, and I had high hopes for the book. But it was too much memoir and not enough on the game itself. The game was sort of a backdrop for scenes-from-the-author's-life, and that's not what I wanted from the book. Which is perhaps unfair. But there's so much a good writer could do to analyze that game from numerous angles, and there was almost none of that.

Assuming folks here are open to graphic novels as well, I can recommend the Coffin Hill collections, which I've been tearing through as soon as they come out.

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Kolbex
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Joined: Mon Mar 21, 2016 3:05 pm

Re: Books

Thu Mar 24, 2016 12:07 am

There used to be a thread for those kinds of "books". (I kid)

As far as disposable goes, I should reread the Fred Saberhagen "swords" books someday soon. You know, in between the giant mountains of other books I have waiting impatiently in the wings.

*sobs*

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OBollocks
Posts: 170
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Location: UK

Re: Books

Fri Mar 25, 2016 11:26 pm

Quite typically, no sooner do I start participating in the forum then you lot start costing me money. Alex Connolly's recommendation for the War College podcast caught my eye, and one episode featured an excellent writer, Timothy Snyder, who I know via his book Bloodlands (check it out, have fun reading about atrocities, including the lesser-known stuff like the Holodomor). The episode (http://blogs.reuters.com/great-debate/2 ... holocaust/) discusses the cause of the next genocide, and it is grim stuff, and has compelled me to buy his book covering it, Black Earth.
The beatings will continue until morale improves.

    

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