Reading in May 2008

Discussion in 'Science Fiction' started by Hobbit, May 1, 2008.

  1. Hobbit

    Hobbit Now.. A Seriously Likeable Administrator Staff Member

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    This is where you tell us what you're reading in SF this month. Good or bad, please let us know what you thought.


    Over to the Book Clubs....

    The Fantasy Book Club discussion is on The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon. A new recent classic of the genre?

    The SF Book Club discussion is on River of Gods by Ian McDonald. An award nominee: is it deserved?

    Join in if you can!


    Mark / Hobbit
     
  2. bohbohb

    bohbohb New Member

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    Hello, friends.

    I am currently reading Revelation Space, just started it though. So no real opinion of it yet. Except, that it seems to be a lot more closely tied to Chasm City than I had first thought.
     
  3. suciul

    suciul Read interesting books

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    In SF I'am reading two books too, Death's Head 2 - Maximum Offense - by D. Gunn; if you liked the first one, you will love this one - mayhem and black humor galore, and Sven is still top form, killing or bedding whatever moves, depending on context...

    I've also started House of Suns by A. Reynolds, and while it is similar with the 2M AD novella - same main characters and universe, so everything except ftl - immortals, Dyson spheres, moving stars, thousands of years as moments since after all relativistic travel is slow as opposed to the size of the Galaxy - the action looks somewhat different, though I suspect the reasons for what happens are similar. It looks like the best Reynolds to date, will get to it also soon.
     
  4. Ropie

    Ropie Member of the Month™

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    Still reading Air, for me it's a slow read, a bit of a feel-good tale and far from the great book I anticipated from the reviews I read :( Still, 300 pages in it seems to be getting better rather than worse..
     
  5. Bliss

    Bliss New Member

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    Geoff Ryman's Air? I read that one not long ago. It wasn't anything like I was expecting either. But then, I hadn't read much about it except that it was given high praise. I liked it, though I think it was a slow beginning - stick with it!

    I'm about to start on Charles Stross' Halting State.
     
  6. Ropie

    Ropie Member of the Month™

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    Finished it this morning. You're right, it got a lot more momentum in the last quarter and in a nice way all the slower reading that came before makes sense once the whole book is digested. I can't say I really enjoyed Air as much as some others I've read this year but it is a wholesome book and the character of Mae is one of the most well-rounded I have come across in SF. In fact, the fine characterization generally kept the book going for me (even if at times it was difficult to accept some of their motives). The scenes where Mae is dealing with and contemplating the potential loss of her house to Mr Hasheem were particularly poignant I thought. The blurb on the back says it's a finely crafted novel - it certainly is that.
     
  7. Martian

    Martian New Member

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    I recently did a book exchange with a friend, we each gave the other 2 books to read that we may not have tried ourselves. One of the books given to me is called Stand on Zanzibar by John Brunner. I'm about 200 pages into it and it's a fairly difficult read. I think it was written during an acid trip but the story is starting to come together.
     
  8. Ropie

    Ropie Member of the Month™

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    I'm abut 50 pages into Neuromancer and have to say I am loving it.
     
  9. thrinidir

    thrinidir dw4rf

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    Stand on Zanzibar and Neuromancer are already on my ever-growing (not decreasing, mind you) pilo o' shame...sigh
     
  10. Ropie

    Ropie Member of the Month™

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    ..Must..stop..buying..books! I am pleased to report my to-read-pile is now down to about 7 or 8 books. I would like to get to the stage where every time I finish a book I have to buy or borrow a new one to read, just seems the right way round to me.

    Edit - just noticed that this is my 1000th post - do I get a medal? :)
     
    Last edited: May 6, 2008
  11. bio

    bio A man under the Oak Tree.

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    Yes - you won one very delicious ( smaczny, schmeckthaft, vkustnyj ) medal made from pasztetówka ! Bon Apetit !
    sorry for my grammar, correct me when necessary .
     
    Last edited: May 6, 2008
  12. Ropie

    Ropie Member of the Month™

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    Thanks - what is that, a kind of processed meat? (Who'd have thought my 1001st post on a SF forum would contain the word "meat", twice?!)
     
  13. Bliss

    Bliss New Member

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    I loved Mae but I found the pregnancy creepy and a bit disturbing. I wasn't sure if the ending with the child was supposed to be uplifting? (trying not to give too much away here). If you liked Ryman's style, you might like to try his Was. I remember liking that one a lot though it's completely different to Air.

    Oh, and I love Neuromancer!
     
  14. Ropie

    Ropie Member of the Month™

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    I quite like his style though Air was a bit wishy washy overall, or maybe vague is a better term. Still, he is probably amongst the better writers at the moment. And yes, Mae's pregnancy was on the strange side. I found the ending quite sad as I suppose anyone would; it didn't leave me with a sense that all would be right though I get the feeling we are purposefully left to make our own minds up as the author doesn't seem to be too preechy, thankfully.

    Thanks for the recommendation. Have you read The Child Garden? That one is quite highly regarded too and was in the SF Masterworks series recently.
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2008
  15. suciul

    suciul Read interesting books

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    I read about half of House of Suns By A. Reynolds - the Kingdom Beyond the Waves book entranced me so much I spent several days rereading it to fully enjoy it and could not get into another major sff book, just read from some books that I do over longer periods of time in between.

    As of now House of Suns seems to be that A. Reynolds book that I've been waiting for, an extraordinary mind-bending hard space opera that we glimpsed throughout all his other novels. I hope the book keeps being excellent to the end and does not squander its brilliance so far.
     
  16. pat5150

    pat5150 Staff

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    Just finished David Louis Edelman's Infoquake, and it has to be one of the very best scifi debuts I have ever read.

    Had I read it in 2006 when it came out, it would have trumped Scott Lynch's The Lies of Locke Lamora, Naomi Novik's His Majesty's Dragon, Brian Ruckley's Winterbirth, and Joe Abercrombie's The Blade Itself.

    Patrick
     
  17. Andols

    Andols I like stories

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    about 70 pages in to Ringworld. I can already see it's influence on other works.

    I don't really see what the fuss is about. Maybe 70 pages is too early to tell.
     
  18. Andols

    Andols I like stories

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    That's putting it on my list.
     
  19. bio

    bio A man under the Oak Tree.

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    Pasztetówka is a kind of pate sausage. I have found in dictionary such aproximations - liverwurst, liversausage. You can eat it by squeezing it, or on bread with horseradish. Ammmm ! Very fat !
     
  20. Luke_B

    Luke_B Diamond Dog Staff Member

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    Just finished Matter, which, although reasonably enjoyable, was ultimately a disappointing read, being far from his best work and showing some flaws which are becoming a worrying trend in his latest science fiction. The book had some patches of brilliant characterisation and world building, and Djian, Ferbin, Holse and Oramen are particularly well drawn characters. I really liked the development of Ferbin’s begrudging respect for Holse which made the climax even more touching (without giving too much away). I also liked the depiction of Sarl social mores which is responsible for a lot of the book's humour. Tyl Losep is an archetypical villain, and his knights were clichéd cronies, so these characters probably could have done with a few more shades of grey.

    You get the feeling that Banks’ ran out of steam and got lazy with some of his ideas: maybe because he had so many good ones? The shellwords are an interesting idea and Sursamen is a grand creation. I liked the idea of various civilisations at different stages of technological evolution, including a race that has developed non-matter-based societies. The relationships between these races and rules about mentoring the less sophisticated societies was all nicely handled. I think culture creation has always been one of Banks’ major strengths, along with beautiful prose, which again is present in Matter. He really has a knack for capturing a still, existential moment for a character which contrasts with the epic narrative he is weaving. For example, I really liked the scene in which Djan is playing a board game with her fellow Culture citizen on her back to Sursamen.

    However, Banks has been too clever and the book’s complexity is a weakness, as well as a strength, because it has resulted in a lot of flab, much like his last book, The Algebraist. I think the book would have benefited if it had chosen to focus more clearly on either Djan, Ferbin or Oramen. But instead, the three storylines compete with each other and its hard for the reader become really involved with any of the characters. I think the Ferbin storyline should have been the focus and the other two edited judiciously. One feels the Oramen strand could have been cut back significantly or almost altogether and very few of his parts are essential to the plot.

    Despite my comments about Banks’ capturing introspective moments above, there is far too much internal dialogue, exposition and naval gazing in the book. But whereas most of the book suffers from excess, the ending is far too rushed. So much happens in the last chapter I found it very confusing. There seems to be some descriptive lapses and some gaps in time and even though I found the ending reasonably affecting, I think the long set up was squandered by Banks.

    I have the feeling that many of the images and ideas in the book will stay with me for along time though and like all work by this writer it’s not a book you put down and forget about. Banks is always worth reading, but this is a lesser Culture effort which I would still hardily recommend. I do miss his more trim and taut and far more emotionally engaging efforts of yesteryear, like Consider Phlebas, Player of Games and the subliminal Use of Weapons, and I hope that Matter can attract a readership for these earlier books.