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  • boo 7 May 2021 07:19:34 13,845 posts
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    Yeah, I've seen a few reviews of RPT and I've decided to give it a miss. Plenty of good stuff out there to read.
  • Tonka 7 May 2021 11:46:27 31,860 posts
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    I got completely sucked in by Ready Player One. Swallowed that hook line and sinker, but I've no interest in reading any more of his books.

    Much like The Martian. Once I put that away I felt satisfied and also that I wouldn't want to read another book along those lines.

    It's funny how you can bounce off of some writers, or have your fill.

    I'm the polar opposite with Kim Stanley Robinson and Ursula K. Le Guin, I barely dare to read their books anymore because I don't want to break their streaks of consistently fantastic books. The two saddest days of my life as a reader was when Le Guin died and when KSR announced that Ministry for the Future would be his last piece of fiction.
  • Nazo 8 May 2021 09:51:47 1,835 posts
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    Agency - William Gibson

    Split between a dystopian future and an alternate present in which Trump lost in 2016 and Brexit didn't happen, though neither of these things seem particularly significant in the book. It effectively becomes a long chase book, though it's never really clear what the stakes are.

    I found this enjoyable but unforgiving, with very little of the background and technology ever explained though it's possible to piece together enough to more or less follow things.
    Events move along at a fair clip though there's not much of what you could call a plot. The characters are all pretty much swept along, the only character with any agency is the AI, though even she seems to be unaware of a lot of the things her subprocesses are doing on her behalf. The main character in the past timeline is constantly moved from one place to another, but that's kind of all that happens to her. The main character in the future doesn't really do much of anything except observe and report and seems largely superfluous.
    There are some wider events going on involving potential nuclear war but this all happens without any involvement of the characters.
    In the end it kind of just stops without ever building to anything.

    I did enjoy the writing but having gotten to the end I'm just not sure what the point was.


    Edited by Nazo at 10:14:08 08-05-2021
  • Tonka 8 May 2021 15:26:01 31,860 posts
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    That's a good summary of what I felt about Agency as well. I vastly preferred The Peripheral.
  • Malek86 8 May 2021 20:03:55 12,086 posts
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    Bouvard and Pecuchet

    Weird book, sometimes boring and sometimes engrossing, it references more authors and works than probably any other book ever written. Made me think of a realist version of Laurel and Hardy, but the constant superficial referencing of works that I haven't read makes it difficult to follow at times. I fear this free ebook edition was incomplete, since Wikipedia tells me there were supposed to be two more chapters, but anyway the book was unfinished before Flaubert's death.

  • Mola_Ram 17 May 2021 07:40:52 25,895 posts
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    Currently I'm reading Empire of Pain by Patrick Radden Keefe, about one family dynasty's contribution to the opioid crisis in the US.

    Like Say Nothing (Keefe's other book about the Troubles) it's pretty grim reading, but it's sooooo good. The guy really knows how to tell a story, without sacrificing accuracy or rigor. He's shaping up to be one of my favourite current non-fiction writers.
  • Tonka 17 May 2021 14:18:59 31,860 posts
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    Is it about the Sacklers?

    I thought Say Nothing was a tremendous achievement, so despite not being super interested in the opioid crisis I'll put this on my watch list.
  • Knighty 17 May 2021 18:42:40 1,291 posts
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    Civilisations by Laurent Binet.

    Really good alt- historical fiction. Never read one before so might be easily pleased. Last Ďsectioní (of 4)was also not great. But also really made me want to play civ 6, so job done.
  • JoelStinty 18 May 2021 15:28:03 9,471 posts
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    Fifth Elephant, Terry Pratchett

    Decent if unspectacular. I seemed to remember really liking this one, but there isn't too much to it, which as been a common thread through the books just prior to this, but instead just allows the wonderful cast to develop and grow. Which ain't a bad thing. It is maybe what as always been there and why I keep going back to him, it's just a very humane collection of work.


    Tombs of Atuan - Le Guin.

    Great. Really impressed how rich the Earthsea book are, and how Le Guin achieves it with so little, the book spans just 120 pages. She has a wonderful gift in keeping things simple, but building a rich book around inner struggles and external pressures to muse over bigger issues such as freedom and free will. This may not be true, but it feels tv and film intrude on fantasy, are in things become too complicated and convoluted. Here it is not so. Ties in wonderfully with the first book, which is something as the first half of the book seemed so far removed from the first. Really well brought together.

  • Nazo 21 May 2021 11:43:44 1,835 posts
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    The Stranger Times - C.K McDonnell

    Billed (by Amazon anyway) as "A dark and hilarious escapist read for fans of Terry Pratchett", this had a lot to live up to. With some Pratchettesque characterisation and observational humour it mostly delivers on this promise. While I wouldn't quite put it up there with the great Discworld series it made me chuckle enough that I'll definitely consider buying the follow-up when it comes out.

  • TechnoHippy 23 May 2021 10:15:14 19,118 posts
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    Working my way through the Horus Heresy at the moment - which is fun, but my word there's a lot to go through :-)

    As a palette cleanser and for nostalgia I've started going through the Asterix series and it's still a joy. 10/10
  • RichDC 26 May 2021 21:22:55 9,106 posts
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    Culture Warlords - Talia Lavin

    A really interesting book on white supremacists, looking at pretty much all areas from its origins and aims, it's rise in modern times and methods used both to recruit and to carry out terrorist acts. It's by a Jewish journalist who has been targeted by these groups and so it feels very personal at times which has both good and bad points.

    It's let down slightly by the last couple of chapters where she just goes on a massive rant heaping praise upon Antifa as the sole line of defence against the combined oppressive forces of the far right and the state which feels a bit outof place considering the more professional feel to the rest of the book.

    Still well worth a read though.

  • JoeBlade 26 May 2021 21:54:30 6,135 posts
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    I've been trying to get into Agency mentioned earlier on this page but kind of failing, despite being a Gibson fanboi. I picked it up a couple of times over the past year but always ended putting it down again before getting very far into it.

    I really like the concept of The Peripheral, which also features in Agency, but thought it was explored sufficiently in that previous Gibson novel, while the story and characters in Agency fail to draw me in.

    Generally I'm of the same mind as many Gibson fans: I think his novels get less interesting with each subsequent trilogy. Neuromancer was a masterpiece, Count Zero and Mona Lisa Overdrive were also fantastic but after that it gradually goes downhill IMO.
    The writing is still good and it's still good sci-fi but the stories and characters seem less interesting with each iteration.
  • Tonka 27 May 2021 10:04:16 31,860 posts
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    Yeah, having recently re-read the Sprawl trilogy, I agree that his early stuff was better. Although, I thought The Peripheral was a return to form after that Blu Ants stuff that was such a snorefest.

    I also think he's better the further into the future he sets his stories (although the far future of Agency was really crap tbh). My favourite piece of Gibson is Hinterlands which is a straight up sci-fi
  • egmater28 6 Jun 2021 23:56:46 3 posts
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    All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. I loved every bit of this book. It was heartbreaking and mysterious and honestly who doesnít love a good WW2 novel?
  • Your-Mother 7 Jun 2021 00:33:22 7,655 posts
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    You should check out Shell Collector, his short story collection. Not a bad story in there.
  • bighairybear65 10 Jun 2021 09:01:26 343 posts
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    Starve Acre by Andrew Michael Hurley

    Love a bit of folk horror, and this is great, the last page is chilling.
    Weird but fantastic 4/5

    Check out his other novel, The Loney also brilliant. He only has three novels, all similar themes, the occult mixed with folklore in rural Britain.
    All bit unnerving.
  • wuntyate 10 Jun 2021 09:29:56 17,204 posts
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    @bighairybear65 I love AMH's books. Starve Acre was excellent although I think my favourite so far is Devil's Day. I thought Starve Acre suffered a little from being a little less ambiguous and more forthright in it's supernatural leanings, but it's still a great book.
  • TechnoHippy 10 Jun 2021 10:11:13 19,118 posts
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    Soul Music

    Classic discworld take on music with rocks in it - as usual there's some wonderful characters and observations from the real world. Probably one of my favourites of the series.

  • bighairybear65 10 Jun 2021 16:23:38 343 posts
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    @wuntyate I havenít read Devils Day yet, good to hear itís tour favourite, looking forward to it. 👍
  • bighairybear65 10 Jun 2021 16:23:38 343 posts
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    Post deleted
  • Tonka 15 Jun 2021 14:42:25 31,860 posts
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    Downbelow Station by C. J. Cherryh

    Another books that show up on a lot of "Must read..." lists and I can see why. Classic Space Opera setting serves as a surprisingly relevant tale about war, deception, and unlikely alliances centred around Pell station and its on planet bases.

    One strand depicts the strife in a refugee camp, and it that is what makes the book feel so relevant and modern. Serves as a brilliant way into that heavy topic. If I had to say one negative thing it'd be that there are a few to many characters to keep track of, some of whom don't really do much anyway.

    But this is definitely a must read.
  • Your-Mother 15 Jun 2021 14:54:35 7,655 posts
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    Iím about halfway through Project Hail Mary andÖeh. Itís readable enough but it really is just The Martian Redux, now with even more cliche using amnesia as a narrative device. It also has the same issue I had with The Martian that the guy is so unflappably upbeat and cheery about everything it makes me think he has a severe mental illness. Also that heís apparently a super hero who can do astrophysics in his head in a split second. Itís quick and easy enough to read that Iíll probably finish it off tonight and throw it in the donation pile.
  • Nazo 16 Jun 2021 08:52:23 1,835 posts
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    The Book Thief - Markus Zusak

    Melancholy tale centred around a girl in Nazi Germany. It's narrated by Death, which gives it a poignant, detached feel. It's well written and the themes are quite powerful but I found it a bit meandering at times.

  • creepiest-lizard 16 Jun 2021 09:10:24 2,589 posts
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    So much for that - Lionel Shriver
    The best book I think I've ever read about illness.
    It has the authors typical erudite cynicism and humour but it's strangely beautiful and the ending made me cry which is unusual for me.

    Edited by creepiest-lizard at 09:10:58 16-06-2021
  • StixxUK 16 Jun 2021 09:22:11 8,674 posts
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    Finally finished the Commonwealth Saga by Peter F Hamilton

    Pros: imaginative, good story and will stick in the mind for a bit. Interesting and well-described aliens.

    Cons: Pacing was fucked, some very long boring sections. Embarrassingly shallow and over-sexualised female characters.

    Overall I think I enjoyed it but not enough to recommend giving as much time as it takes.
  • creepiest-lizard 16 Jun 2021 09:29:06 2,589 posts
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    Yeah, I tried one of Hamiltons books and have to say his writing of female characters really put me off reading anything else by him.
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