What are you reading?

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Re: What are you reading?

Postby SadisticCynic » 26 Mar 2018 14:27

Yes that's the one; I haven't read the vampire one yet.

I'm not sure exactly, but I was much more emotionally attached to the characters and their situations in the other novels. This one lacked the future evolution of humanity/exploration of non-hierarchical society aspect that really appealed to me in Xenogenesis and Earthseed. The Patternmaster novels had the really explicit master/slave dynamics going on as well, but it was a more interesting exploration than horrible people doing horrible things since the people involved basically couldn't help but be in a master/slave situation. It was directly in their nature.

That's not to say I didn't get a lot out of Kindred, I think I just enjoy more the themes of the other novels.


On a separate note, related to your comment in another thread regarding no good modern sci-fi writing, have you read anything by Jeff VanderMeer? I watched the recent Annihilation movie, based on one of his novels and really loved it. Then I found the novel was written in 2014, which is quite recent.
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Re: What are you reading?

Postby Omphalos » 27 Mar 2018 11:10

I haven't read any VanderMeer since his short story days, except for the Steam Punk Bible. As much as I dislike that particular aesthetic, I thought his non-fiction book on the movement was really well done. It went far beyond the literature that has been produced. It was more of a study of the cultural movement behind it. But steam punk as a literary movement turns me off.

You ever read any J.G. Ballard? Not really 100% sure what Annihilation is about, but from the ads I gather that its about some unexplainable weirdness that physically stretches across the world, and changes things as it advances. Ballard wrote about stuff like that a lot.

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Re: What are you reading?

Postby SadisticCynic » 27 Mar 2018 14:58

No I haven't read any Ballard actually. His bibliography seems quite extensive. Are there a particular few that stand out or are good to start with? They don't need to follow the characteristics we just mentioned either.
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Re: What are you reading?

Postby Cpt. Aramsham » 27 Mar 2018 18:41

SadisticCynic wrote:No I haven't read any Ballard actually. His bibliography seems quite extensive. Are there a particular few that stand out or are good to start with? They don't need to follow the characteristics we just mentioned either.


Ballard is hard to sum up, because although there are some very clear common motifs and thematic threads running through pretty much all his books, he wrote in some quite distinct modes. You have...

- stuff that is comparatively traditional science fiction – albeit with a dreamlike, surreal bent (e.g. The Drowned World, The Crystal World, a lot of his short stories)
- intensely strange fables about the breakdown of modern society or the individual (e.g. Crash, Concrete Island, High Rise)
- experimental avant garde work (e.g. The Atrocity Exhibition)
- some almost Stephen King-esque chillers (mostly shorts)
- a bunch of books about how alienation drives seemingly "normal people" to murder and terrorism (e.g. Running Wild, Kingdom Come)
- and another bunch that read vaguely like investigative thrillers in sexy locales (e.g. Cocaine Nights, Super-Cannes)
- ... and then there's his autobiographically inspired WWII novel Empire of the Sun, by far his most mainstream and best-selling novel

So different people have different favorites. I would personally pick The Drowned World, Crash and Empire of the Sun, but I could totally see someone naming High Rise or Cocaine Nights, for example. There are some definite duds in each period as well: steer well clear of The Wind from Nowhere, Hello America and The Kindness of Women. A lot of the experimental stuff (such as "Why I Want to Fuck Ronald Reagan") has lost most of its relevance, and retains mainly historical interest.

I'd actually recommend starting with some of his short stories. Of the various collections, Chronopolis is very good (and more consistently sci-fi than some of the others), but it's hard to really go wrong... though I probably wouldn't start with Low-Flying Aircraft.

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Re: What are you reading?

Postby Omphalos » 28 Mar 2018 09:14

He's considered dystopian, but he is on the periphery of that group. I also place him in the category of British "cozy catastrophe" writers, but again, way on the outside, far from center. I like to contrast him with Wyndham.

Empire of the Sun is a great book, and an even greater movie.

I really only recommend his "destroyed world" books, and to a lesser extent the books that came later that were about techno-paranoia.

the destroyed world books are the first four, The Wind from Nowhere, The Drowned World, The Crystal World, and The Burning World. The Drowned World is probably the most accessible of those books for someone from the UK. the Crystal World is IMHO the best.

The techno-paranoia stuff includes Crash, High-Rise, and a few others. They are weird.

Atrocity Exhibition is a decent collection. There was one in there about ass-fucking Ronald Reagan, IIRC. but again, weird.

I like Ballard, but I probably would not have picked anything up had it not been for that Spielberg movie of Empire of the Sun. Lots of people have different thoughts about his work, which I take to mean that its pretty opaque stuff. I think that the first set of books is about people evolving mentally to thrive in hostile worlds. The second set is about those worlds killing folks, but to be honest, most folks in his books wind up dead anyway. So I suppose he's all about dealing with cognitive dissonance.

Someone just made a movie of High-Rise a few years ago. it is truly bizarre.

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Re: What are you reading?

Postby georgiedenbro » 28 Mar 2018 09:49

Omphalos wrote:Someone just made a movie of High-Rise a few years ago. it is truly bizarre.


Did anyone see this, by any chance? I had been wanting to but then heard mixed things about it so I skipped it in the cinema.
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Re: What are you reading?

Postby Cpt. Aramsham » 29 Mar 2018 01:57

I disagree with quite a lot of that. I guess that should be no surprise, since there are a lot of different facets to Ballard, and ways to appreciate him. :)

Omphalos wrote:He's considered dystopian, but he is on the periphery of that group. I also place him in the category of British "cozy catastrophe" writers, but again, way on the outside, far from center. I like to contrast him with Wyndham.

Yeah, I'd definitely see him more as a contrast to that group than as a member. (Brian Aldiss, who coined it as a dismissive term, was closely associated with the same literary group as Ballard, as well as a close friend, though the two apparently had a falling-out.) What makes the catastrophe cozy is that it's an opportunity for heroically masculine figures to step forth and reaffirm traditional virtues. Ballard's characters do not as a rule do that – they usually don't even try.

Empire of the Sun is a great book, and an even greater movie.

See, I'd say that the movie is fine, but the book is a true classic.

I really only recommend his "destroyed world" books, and to a lesser extent the books that came later that were about techno-paranoia.

the destroyed world books are the first four, The Wind from Nowhere, The Drowned World, The Crystal World, and The Burning World. The Drowned World is probably the most accessible of those books for someone from the UK. the Crystal World is IMHO the best.

I agree that The Drowned World and perhaps particularly The Crystal World are the best, and I'd go further to say the other two are not very good. (Ballard outright disowned The Wind from Nowhere and refused to have it reprinted.)

The techno-paranoia stuff includes Crash, High-Rise, and a few others. They are weird.

They are, but then again all of Ballard's books are weird, to a greater or lesser extent. And I think they're not really about technology or even really paranoia: they are about society and what it does to us psychologically – alienation, if you will. Technology – motorways, tower blocks, cinema screens – stand as signifiers of the modern way of life more than as dangers in themselves (except in the acknowledgment that cars are in fact much more dangerous than we like to be reminded of). Plus, the books are not in any way impenetrable. In fact, they're pretty funny, in a sick way: Concrete Island is Robinson Crusoe set on a traffic island, High Rise is Lord of the Flies in an apartment building, and so on. Crash feels almost akin to Lolita in its narrative games and study of predatory erotic fascination.

I think that the first set of books is about people evolving mentally to thrive in hostile worlds. The second set is about those worlds killing folks, but to be honest, most folks in his books wind up dead anyway. So I suppose he's all about dealing with cognitive dissonance.

I think if Philip K Dick's main recurring theme is paranoia, Ballard's is accepting madness and embracing destruction.

In summary, I definitely wouldn't restrict my recommendation to his earlier books. Empire of the Sun is the obvious counter-example, and I also think his follow-up, The Day of Creation, is good and somewhat underrated (even though quite accessible; Ballard was aware of his new mainstream audience, and it's fun to see him apply his obsessions inside a realistic framework). But most importantly: his short stories.

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Re: What are you reading?

Postby Omphalos » 29 Mar 2018 11:36

Cpt. Aramsham wrote:
I think that the first set of books is about people evolving mentally to thrive in hostile worlds. The second set is about those worlds killing folks, but to be honest, most folks in his books wind up dead anyway. So I suppose he's all about dealing with cognitive dissonance.

I think if Philip K Dick's main recurring theme is paranoia, Ballard's is accepting madness and embracing destruction.


Really good point, and I agree with it. It's also why I in my own head put this guy into the "cozy-catastrophe" category. If you look at Wyndham's books, they were about serious (even if sometimes silly) existential threats, but the British people, individually and as an institution, still thrived. In particular, they all exercised opportunities for personal growth, and they stayed who they were. In my mind the apporach was a little naïve. Those folks, no matter what, remained British folks. they never descended into tribal existences. the stiff upper lip and wot, still survived.

Ballard's approach is very different because culture and society both died, but the individuals who were driven to accept the changing environment all thrived, even if that same changing environment ultimately meant their death. Ballard was so good at it that the internal inconsistency of that notion kind of disappears. anyway, maybe not "cozy," but conceivably crafted in the vein of.

Cpt. Aramsham wrote:
The techno-paranoia stuff includes Crash, High-Rise, and a few others. They are weird.

They are, but then again all of Ballard's books are weird, to a greater or lesser extent. And I think they're not really about technology or even really paranoia: they are about society and what it does to us psychologically – alienation, if you will. Technology – motorways, tower blocks, cinema screens – stand as signifiers of the modern way of life more than as dangers in themselves (except in the acknowledgment that cars are in fact much more dangerous than we like to be reminded of). Plus, the books are not in any way impenetrable. In fact, they're pretty funny, in a sick way: Concrete Island is Robinson Crusoe set on a traffic island, High Rise is Lord of the Flies in an apartment building, and so on. Crash feels almost akin to Lolita in its narrative games and study of predatory erotic fascination.


Along the same lines as above, but I agree, at least to some extent. The meaning certainly does not jump off of the page in Ballard's work, and they are about a LOT more than rewrites of classic books. Personally I never cared for these later books as much as the first four, so I never really put a lot of thought into them. That said, I took technology to be less a cause and more a symbol of the real cause of pain, which is I think degradation of our ability to connect with others. Not sure if I thought that as I was reading the books, or if it was something that occurred to me later. Once I got into this guy years ago I read a few critics, and quite a few of them seem to think that Ballard wrote every book with his dead wife in mind. I certainly can see that, and if its true the earlier books were maybe a rage-filled punch at the world, while the later ones were more contemplative of the consequences of being a widower.

Cars though? Mmmmm. Cars were a symbol too. The point was to highlight the death-sex thing. Which itself was a symbol for pain and relief. It coulda been trains, but cars were weirder.

Anyway, I dunno. Those later books were a lot to analyze.

Cpt. Aramsham wrote:
Empire of the Sun is a great book, and an even greater movie.

See, I'd say that the movie is fine, but the book is a true classic.


I can certainly see that, but the movie was Spielberg when Spielberg was young, and good. However, I will say this: that one scene at the end where the P-51 Mustang blows by the guard tower on the runway? I saw that in the theater. I can still remember how the sound of that plane blowing by felt in my guts and chest. Its motor was growling in the most incredible way! I had never seen (or heard!) a sound effect like that in my life. I remember it to this day, it moved me so much. So there may be quite a bit of both nostalgia and awe behind my feelings on the merits of this movie.

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Re: What are you reading?

Postby Cpt. Aramsham » 31 Mar 2018 07:46

Omphalos wrote:Really good point, and I agree with it. It's also why I in my own head put this guy into the "cozy-catastrophe" category. If you look at Wyndham's books, they were about serious (even if sometimes silly) existential threats, but the British people, individually and as an institution, still thrived. In particular, they all exercised opportunities for personal growth, and they stayed who they were. In my mind the apporach was a little naïve. Those folks, no matter what, remained British folks. they never descended into tribal existences. the stiff upper lip and wot, still survived.

Ballard's approach is very different because culture and society both died, but the individuals who were driven to accept the changing environment all thrived, even if that same changing environment ultimately meant their death. Ballard was so good at it that the internal inconsistency of that notion kind of disappears. anyway, maybe not "cozy," but conceivably crafted in the vein of.

I agree, though I wonder about the extent to which Ballard actually ever really accepts the new, irrational perspectives his characters and narrators inhabit. He explores states of mind that would conventionally be considered insane, with an eye to understanding them from within – and does so very successfully, to the point where it's easy to imagine that he himself sees the world that way, or at least sympathizes with the view. (And naming the main character in Crash after himself doesn't exactly dispel that impression.) But of course, he was not insane (at least not most of the time), and when discussing his work he usually seemed pretty clear-eyed about his characters being mentally ill and this being unhealthy – though he would also insist e.g. that The Drowned World has a happy ending because the protagonist finally does what he really wants.

Along the same lines as above, but I agree, at least to some extent. The meaning certainly does not jump off of the page in Ballard's work, and they are about a LOT more than rewrites of classic books.

Absolutely, although Concrete Island in particular very clearly riffs on Robinson Crusoe throughout.

I can certainly see that, but the movie was Spielberg when Spielberg was young, and good. However, I will say this: that one scene at the end where the P-51 Mustang blows by the guard tower on the runway? I saw that in the theater. I can still remember how the sound of that plane blowing by felt in my guts and chest. Its motor was growling in the most incredible way! I had never seen (or heard!) a sound effect like that in my life. I remember it to this day, it moved me so much. So there may be quite a bit of both nostalgia and awe behind my feelings on the merits of this movie.

Yes, so much of our response to art is personal and depends on being properly receptive. I read the book before I saw the movie, and felt the external depiction, though skillfully done, didn't convey the internal impression the novel achieved. Perhaps I couldn't appreciate it and the film is great. In any case, I can vouch for the book.

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Re: What are you reading?

Postby distrans » 11 Apr 2018 19:36

has anyone read Gordon r Dickson's necromancer?

ive always rather liked it but never found any of his other works until several of them showed up at the used book store.

neither of the two i grabbed is anywhere near as good...

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Re: What are you reading?

Postby SadisticCynic » 23 Jun 2018 12:27

Omph, did you see this? Butler was mentioned in a Google Doodle:

https://www.google.com/doodles/octavia-e-butlers-71st-birthday

Usually, I miss these because I'm never on Google's homepage but a news article mentioning it came up on my FB feed.
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Re: What are you reading?

Postby Naib » 24 Jun 2018 07:26

I saw it. Butler died far too soon.

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Re: What are you reading?

Postby Omphalos » 25 Jun 2018 09:47

SadisticCynic wrote:Omph, did you see this? Butler was mentioned in a Google Doodle:

https://www.google.com/doodles/octavia-e-butlers-71st-birthday

Usually, I miss these because I'm never on Google's homepage but a news article mentioning it came up on my FB feed.


No, I missed that. Thanks for sharing it man. She was a true genius.

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Re: What are you reading?

Postby SadisticCynic » 07 Jul 2018 06:53

If I don't write them here, did I even read them?

Inherent Vice by Thomas Pynchon. I didn't really get drawn into this one, despite really enjoying the 'Big Lebowski' kind of vibe. It won't put me off trying more Pynchon in the future though, and I liked PTA's recent Phantom Thread so much that I'll definitely try and watch his adaptation of this one.

Altered Carbon and Broken Angels by Richard K. Morgan. These were pretty great, brutally visceral on the sexual and violent content. I don't think I've read much in the way of military sic-fi, but these, especially the first, were advertised to me as cyberpunk novels. So I went in expecting something Gibson like. That was a mistake and I don't think Altered Carbon will be a classic the way Neuromancer is. That said I completely devoured these novels and I'm itching for the last one to arrive.

The Quantum Thief, The Fractal Prince and The Causal Angel by Hannu Rajaniemi. These are some amazing pieces of work. Rajaniemi has a background in maths and theoretical physics and it really shows. Most of the hard sci-fi concepts are phrased in terms of modern quantum information theory, with even an oblique reference to a small area of research I've been involved with in the first novel (optomechanics). They are really densely plotted and a lot of things only really come together by the end of the third novel. Nevertheless each volume functions as a mostly complete story on its own. He uses a lot of 'show, don't tell' and I guess one of my only criticisms is that this doesn't really extend to the apparent intelligence of some of the characters. On the other hand, this isn't really that much of an introspective novel so maybe that's fine.


In the non-fiction sphere,

A History of Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years by Diarmaid MacCulloch. Christopher Hitchens recommended this in a talk I watched on YouTube. Then, the cover says that the Archbishop of Canterbury recommended it. If a book on Christianity is suggested by such antipodal people I should probably take heed, and it was indeed superb. The history is so multifaceted, and so many traditions have arrived and left, that evangelical or fundamentalist types claiming a certain genre is the only way just seems so petty and small-minded... assuming that it didn't already seem so.

Why Evolution is True by Jerry Coyne. I think this will be my go to if I need to refer someone to a text outlining the basis for taking evolution as fact. It's an engaging and clear exposition of the many independent lines of evidence leading to the conclusion that evolution happened and happened almost totally via the mechanisms in the neo-Darwinian model.

The Spanish Civil War: A Very Short Introduction by Helen Graham. This is a nice overview of the progress of the war, but doesn't really have a chance to delve into meaty details, obviously due to its character as a short intro. It's interesting that she sort of disses Orwell's account in the only mention he gets, due to him not speaking Spanish or Catalan and having a narrow window into the war. She puts a lot of focus on the non-interventionist behaviour of France and Britain as to why the fascist uprising was ultimately successful. It's nice to get some understanding of the cultural reasons such things are possible: the battle between modernity and tradition. As an aside, that last is a helpful reminder that the Church is most definitely not a moral force in the world.

TL;DR I read some more books.
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Re: What are you reading?

Postby Naib » 07 Jul 2018 18:36

SadisticCynic wrote:If I don't write them here, did I even read them?

Inherent Vice by Thomas Pynchon. I didn't really get drawn into this one, despite really enjoying the 'Big Lebowski' kind of vibe. It won't put me off trying more Pynchon in the future though, and I liked PTA's recent Phantom Thread so much that I'll definitely try and watch his adaptation of this one.

Altered Carbon and Broken Angels by Richard K. Morgan. These were pretty great, brutally visceral on the sexual and violent content. I don't think I've read much in the way of military sic-fi, but these, especially the first, were advertised to me as cyberpunk novels. So I went in expecting something Gibson like. That was a mistake and I don't think Altered Carbon will be a classic the way Neuromancer is. That said I completely devoured these novels and I'm itching for the last one to arrive.

The Quantum Thief, The Fractal Prince and The Causal Angel by Hannu Rajaniemi. These are some amazing pieces of work. Rajaniemi has a background in maths and theoretical physics and it really shows. Most of the hard sci-fi concepts are phrased in terms of modern quantum information theory, with even an oblique reference to a small area of research I've been involved with in the first novel (optomechanics). They are really densely plotted and a lot of things only really come together by the end of the third novel. Nevertheless each volume functions as a mostly complete story on its own. He uses a lot of 'show, don't tell' and I guess one of my only criticisms is that this doesn't really extend to the apparent intelligence of some of the characters. On the other hand, this isn't really that much of an introspective novel so maybe that's fine.

Altered Carbon and Broken Angels are a couple of amazing post cyberpunk action novels. I agree they aren't the classic of Neuromancer, but what is.

Hannu Ranjaniemi's books are some of the best books I've read in the last decade. They combine so many ideas and theories into a wonderfully woven world. I was impressed by The Quantum Thief, but by The Causal Angel I was completely absorbed. It's a shame that his next book will be a fantasy.

I've been rereading Neuromancer for a cyberpunk bookclub. It's amazingly dense and creative. It takes me back to my teen years when I first read it. Absolutely wonderful.

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Re: What are you reading?

Postby distrans » 08 Jul 2018 09:36

read the sprawl trilogy again last year
I lament at the incident at the airports row of phonebooths losing its impact as an understanding of a world without personal com devices is lost

Spanish civil war - the downside of being prematurely antifascist

just finishing up book two of the reality disfunction
20 years since I last read it and its much more juvenile than I recall

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Re: What are you reading?

Postby SadisticCynic » 09 Jul 2018 08:02

Naib wrote:Altered Carbon and Broken Angels are a couple of amazing post cyberpunk action novels. I agree they aren't the classic of Neuromancer, but what is.

Hannu Ranjaniemi's books are some of the best books I've read in the last decade. They combine so many ideas and theories into a wonderfully woven world. I was impressed by The Quantum Thief, but by The Causal Angel I was completely absorbed. It's a shame that his next book will be a fantasy.

I've been rereading Neuromancer for a cyberpunk bookclub. It's amazingly dense and creative. It takes me back to my teen years when I first read it. Absolutely wonderful.


Maybe that is a shame, but if Rajaniemi writes a fantasy novel maybe it'll bring some quality to the genre. I know there are loads more, but often all I hear about are Brandon Sanderson or Riftwar Saga or Wheel of Time or Harry Potter, all of which don't deserve the ridiculous praise they get. (Except maybe Wheel of Time, since I haven't read any of that. :oops: )

It's made even worse by the same people usually voicing their hatred for Rothfuss or Martin who at least are doing something interesting with fantasy.

A cyberpunk bookclub sounds pretty awesome. Apparently Gibson's followup to The Peripheral should be out in the next year or so.
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Re: What are you reading?

Postby Naib » 09 Jul 2018 11:37

SadisticCynic wrote:
Naib wrote:Altered Carbon and Broken Angels are a couple of amazing post cyberpunk action novels. I agree they aren't the classic of Neuromancer, but what is.

Hannu Ranjaniemi's books are some of the best books I've read in the last decade. They combine so many ideas and theories into a wonderfully woven world. I was impressed by The Quantum Thief, but by The Causal Angel I was completely absorbed. It's a shame that his next book will be a fantasy.

I've been rereading Neuromancer for a cyberpunk bookclub. It's amazingly dense and creative. It takes me back to my teen years when I first read it. Absolutely wonderful.


Maybe that is a shame, but if Rajaniemi writes a fantasy novel maybe it'll bring some quality to the genre. I know there are loads more, but often all I hear about are Brandon Sanderson or Riftwar Saga or Wheel of Time or Harry Potter, all of which don't deserve the ridiculous praise they get. (Except maybe Wheel of Time, since I haven't read any of that. :oops: )

It's made even worse by the same people usually voicing their hatred for Rothfuss or Martin who at least are doing something interesting with fantasy.

A cyberpunk bookclub sounds pretty awesome. Apparently Gibson's followup to The Peripheral should be out in the next year or so.


You aren't wrong about the overpraise, especially for Wheel of Time. The quality of that series changes from chapter to chapter sometimes.

I'm very excited to get the sequel to The Peripheral. The last I heard it was due out in December.

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Re: What are you reading?

Postby Omphalos » 09 Jul 2018 11:50

Getting ready to have some time out of the office, so I picked up a book that I have turned back to in my mind countless times over the years, called Arslan, by M.J. Enge. It is a weird book about a dictator from central Asia who convinces the Soviets to turn their government over to him, then he dominates the United States. Haven't read it in years, but I keep remembering it, so I figure its time for a re-read.

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Re: What are you reading?

Postby distrans » 10 Jul 2018 22:20

pacifica radio archives has a 1976 recorded interview with Philip k dick that they played a few days ago,
it will be available as a free stream or download on their los angeles affiliate website for the next 60 or 90 days

site - https://archive.kpfk.org/index.php
program link - Something's Happening A, Tuesday, July 10, 2018 12:00 am

the interview begins 2 hour 36 minutes into this program and continues with the Something's Happening B link

amazing what a dirty business publishing was...


is still?


edit -
the interviewers still around!

mike hodel

Science Fiction Radio for Southern California since 1972
Now Available World Wide Over the Internet

http://www.hour25online.com/

https://archive.org/details/ATalkWithPh ... ur25In1976

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Re: What are you reading?

Postby georgiedenbro » 11 Jul 2018 10:50

I finished reading The Jesus Incident again last year and wanted to finish the series for the first time - I've never read the next two books. I knew I had them lying around somewhere and so I finally found the Ascension factor. I was startled to find that so much time had passed between the last book and this one, and that all of the characters I knew were long gone. Fair enough, I thought. If that's the narrative intent then I guess that's interesting, to fast forward so much and leave me feeling like I don't even know the world any more. So I got around 50 pages in, settling into the narrative without complaint, when for reasons I don't even know I decided to Google the series only to discover I had gotten the order wrong and jumped from the 2nd to the 4th book in the series. Great. So then I went and found The Lazarus Effect and I'll have to begin that one, while keeping the book mark in Ascension Factor at page 50 to resume that story in progress when I finish this one. The funny thing is that I actually considered finishing Ascension Factor first since I had already begun it and then going back to Lazarus, but finally I put Ascension down since who knows how important it may be later in the book to have read the previous one.

On a side note, my issues with the writing style in Jesus Incident were even more pronounced in Ascension Factor, and it seems to have been explained in a forward by Ransom where he mentions that Frank died after creating the outline and book structure with Bill but before the writing process began. So it seems that Ransom wrote Ascension entirely on his own in his style, and this makes me think that he probably did a lot of the actual writing for Jesus Incident because I found that one often lacked the punch that Frank's books normally have in their prose.
Last edited by georgiedenbro on 11 Jul 2018 12:26, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What are you reading?

Postby Freakzilla » 11 Jul 2018 12:12

I only liked D:V and TJI. The rest are practically unrelated.
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Re: What are you reading?

Postby SadisticCynic » 31 Aug 2018 17:51

I finally got around to reading Woken Furies, the last of the Altered Carbon novels. It lived up to the others and I think I powered through the last hundred or more pages in one sitting. If you're wondering Omph, the name Quellcrist Falconer gets some explanation in this one. The admixture of cynicism and revolutionary politics makes for a bitter tone but it feels hard to disagree. I guess I'll have to read more of Morgan's work, but I'm a little sad there's no more Takeshi Kovacs.

The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin. I knew she professed anarchism and I really wanted to see her commentary on it. This is a great vision of an anarchist society without the post-scarcity ease afforded by settings like Banks' Culture. I think one of the most interesting things was her description of the sheer presence of a person raised in such a society, when compared to the 'propertarians'.

Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov. Quite a change of pace. I'm sure most of what's supposed to make this one great went over my head, but the narrative structure Nabokov employs just seems crazy to pull off. As expected, the prose demonstrates a mastery of English I can only hope to achieve. I had to use a dictionary so many times...

In nonfiction,

Global Discontents: Conversations on the Rising Threats to Democracy by Noam Chomsky. This is a collection of interviews and there's a lot that goes over my head just because I'm not familiar with various political situations in the world. The analysis and commentary always feels insightful and the frame Chomsky is able to peer through upsets all the "conventional pieties". Since I feel guilty about never posting about Dune, I'll add a quote from this that I think is on topic with Herbert's work.

"Tell us how to do it." Nobody can tell you how to do it. Nobody has ever been able to tell you...Furthermore, nobody from outside can tell you what to do, because you're the one who knows the circumstances in which you live. You know what the options are. You know what can be done. You know who you are, what you're willing to undertake, how much commitment and engagement you're prepared to devote... You can't expect some saviour coming from the outside and telling you, "Here's what you ought to do." [Italics mine]


Distrust That Particular Flavour by William Gibson. A collection of his essays going way back to the early nineties, if not further. Some are good, some not so, and a few are pretty brilliant. However a lot of that judgment comes from being not really connected to a lot of things he describes, like old pieces of technology that I'm not old enough to really remember.
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Re: What are you reading?

Postby Omphalos » 04 Sep 2018 10:55

Thanks, SC. Doubt I will ever get to it, given my inclinations towards non-fiction these days, but I guess retirement may change my desires again.

I have two in the pile right now. One is called Wilderness: A Journal of Quiet Adventure in Alaska, by Rockwell Kent. Mr. Kent and his kid moved up to a place called Fox Island near Seward, AK, and lived there for a few years in the early twentieth century. This is his journal. It is illustrated with woodblock prints from negatives he whittled by hand while living in AK. I'm not too far into it yet, but its pretty cool so far.

The other is Midnight Furies: The Deadly Legacy of India's Partition, by Nisid Hajari. I have read a few books about partition in the past. Still struggling to understand India's culture, which is why I am reading another book on this topic.

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Re: What are you reading?

Postby SadisticCynic » 05 Sep 2018 03:35

Omphalos wrote:Thanks, SC. Doubt I will ever get to it, given my inclinations towards non-fiction these days, but I guess retirement may change my desires again.


You know, I've found the same inclination within myself recently. Even though it may not look like it here, because it always takes me a lot longer to get through non-fiction. But at the minute I have 3 non-fiction on the go and 1 fiction, for example.
Ah English, the language where pretty much any word can have any meaning! - A Thing of Eternity


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