Books

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Thad
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Re: Books

Postby Thad » Thu Mar 17, 2016 3:03 pm

I picked up that Humble Classic SF Bundle the other week, and I'm glad I did. I finished The Stars My Destination and I've started Damnation Alley and they're both freakin' amazing, without even dipping into the rest of the catalog yet.

My one gripe: the epub conversions are decidedly half-assed. Like, there's no damn table of contents. I'm not using a reader that syncs across multiple devices (can anyone recommend one? I hear Moon+ is pretty good) so this made it a pretty huge pain in the ass to find my place when I switched from reading on my tablet to my phone, since I couldn't just, say, go to chapter 5, I had to skip around page numbers until I found it.

And speaking of switching from my tablet to my phone, there are a few bits in The Stars where Bester fucks around with the text placement on the page (particularly in the climax); they look great on a tablet but they're a fucking mess on a phone.

Also, they appear to have just run the print versions of the books through OCR, because there are occasional errors in the text that are consistent with OCR misreads (a lowercase "l" instead of an exclamation point here, a word split into two words there...).

It's still a hell of a lot of great books for the price I paid, but the presentation leaves a lot to be desired.

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Mongrel
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Re: Books

Postby Mongrel » Fri Jun 03, 2016 1:01 pm

A friend of mine just found this in a thrift shop:

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Mothra
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Re: Books

Postby Mothra » Fri Jun 03, 2016 2:03 pm

Holy shit that sounds good.

Finished reading Old Man's War on my phone a few weeks back, and it's good, but not great. I'm glad I finally go around to reading it.

The first half is really the strong point, going into the shocking nature of how competitive and diverse the galaxy really is, and how essential to survival humanity's aggressive expansion is. Alien races run the gamit between war-focused/tribal, and largely innocent/exploited. Diplomacy has little use when resources and planets are all that matter, and co-existence is not possible. It's cool and creepy how unsustainable it all is, how driven by fear every facet of humanity's expansion is.

I loved the exploration of old men getting new, younger, genetically-engineered bodies was like. Having a cast of crotchety old farts as a team in a future military never quite gets old, and once they get around to introducing the special ops forces, there's a really cool twist in how they're produced.

After the halfway point, though, it just gets bland. An alien race develops a new technology that unseats humanity's dominance of one the area's better colonies, and they have to re-take the planet to get the technology for research purposes. It plays out in a really straightforward, uninteresting, hollywood-movie-shlocky manner, ending right afterwards. There's a whole series of books after this, but I get the feeling the series has kept running with the purely military element of the story, rather than the far more interesting forced-evolution angle.

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Silversong
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Re: Books

Postby Silversong » Thu Jun 16, 2016 8:53 am

Shameless and super excited plug for my friend's book on cosplay that is finally available for preorder! https://www.amazon.com/Epic-Cosplay-Cos ... entries*=0

She is the most amazing cosplayer and comic artist I know, and you should buy her book for every nerd on your block. It would make a shy artsy girl super happy.

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pacobird
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Re: Books

Postby pacobird » Thu Jun 16, 2016 11:54 am

I also want to plug a college friend's new (second!) novel: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/stilett ... 1119678055

He's really good! Gaiman if Gaiman weren't way up his own ass!
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Mongrel
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Re: Books

Postby Mongrel » Sun Sep 11, 2016 8:00 pm

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Thad
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Re: Books

Postby Thad » Thu Sep 29, 2016 1:23 am

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child has three writer credits, and most of the scripting work seems to have been done by Jack Thorne. But it sure feels like Rowling's work, for good and bad.

The characters and their relationships are fantastic. The plot is kind of shit.

The best thing it does is finally give Slytherin a reason for existing. If you ever wondered why Hogwarts decided to invite, as an entire 1/4 of its student population, a bunch of evil, one-dimensional racists, this book finally gives us some Slytherins who are not one-dimensional racists and are actually pretty interesting characters. Rowling takes the question Harry's son asks at the end of the last book -- "What if I end up in Slytherin?" -- and realizes you know what, that's actually a pretty good hook. Albus Potter does indeed end up in Slytherin, where he becomes best friends with Scorpius Malfoy (the question of why Harry/Ginny, Ron/Hermione, and Draco all had kids the same year in their early thirties is not addressed), and Draco gets his moment in the sun too, as an objectively better father than Harry.

There is some time-travel stuff, some Voldemort stuff, and some butterfly-effect-alternate-reality stuff. It is cliche and forced and dumb and frankly pretty insulting to several established characters. Cedric would have become a Death Eater and killed Neville if he had lived? Hermione and Ron would never have gotten together if she hadn't gone to that dance with Krum? That's bullshit. I understand they needed to come up with a reason why trying to change the past was bad, but they could have come up with other, less dumb unintended consequences to illustarte that plot point. And as a play, there are several bits that I read and wondered "Okay, how the fuck do you actually stage that?" Bits of people's bodies changing, and one scene involving a Patronus; stuff like that. (In one scene, Albus is described as having become noticeably more sunken-eyed and sallow-faced since the previous scene. And look, even if you've got a makeup artist standing right offstage to give him a quick touchup during the scene change, there is no way you can convey facial changes that subtle to people sitting fifty feet away.)

But mainly it's a story about fathers and sons, and sons who aren't very much like their fathers, and how that feels to both the fathers and the sons. And when it sticks to that main theme, it's great stuff.

Plus you know you always wanted to hear Draco Malfoy talk about the power of friendship.

I wouldn't mind seeing more stories set after the main series, focusing on the younger generation. I just hope that if she writes any, she leaves Voldemort and all the Hero's Journey/Monomyth stuff out of it and spends more time on kids growing up while they go to school at Hogwarts. That was always the biggest strength of the series, and I'm not entirely sure she knows that.

Also, maybe in the next one we'll get to actually see Professor Longbottom. In possibly the script's cruelest tease, Professor McGonagall says at one point that she'll go get him, and then she never does.

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Brentai
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Re: Books

Postby Brentai » Thu Sep 29, 2016 3:41 am

I actually read the entire series like a couple months ago for the first time so it's kind of fresh in my mind that at the veeeeery first book Slytherin is given a cliched but convincing angle (they're not necessarily douchebags, just ambitious as a primary personality trait) but after you get into the Four Founders stuff in the second book it's just straight up Racism House.

(On the flipside, throughout the series there's an implication that Gryffindor's "bravery" thing tends to produce a bunch of obnoxious twats with no boundaries when there isn't an evil deathwizard around to occupy them.)

I agree that the core conflict was always the weakest part of the OH* but I think that's mainly because Rowling wrote herself into a corner with the first book, where Harry and his friends are just way too awesome off the bat, and the only way to have an escalation of trials throughout the series is for Harry to get into some pretty weird shit.

* heptalogy

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Büge
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Re: Books

Postby Büge » Thu Sep 29, 2016 8:59 am

Thad wrote:The best thing it does is finally give Slytherin a reason for existing. If you ever wondered why Hogwarts decided to invite, as an entire 1/4 of its student population, a bunch of evil, one-dimensional racists, this book finally gives us some Slytherins who are not one-dimensional racists and are actually pretty interesting characters.


People always seem to forget that Horace Slughorn was a Slytherin, and he was a decent fellow. Oh, and Snape, but of course, he never actually showed any warmth towards anyone.

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Thad
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Re: Books

Postby Thad » Fri Sep 30, 2016 11:43 am

Brentai wrote:I actually read the entire series like a couple months ago for the first time so it's kind of fresh in my mind that at the veeeeery first book Slytherin is given a cliched but convincing angle (they're not necessarily douchebags, just ambitious as a primary personality trait) but after you get into the Four Founders stuff in the second book it's just straight up Racism House.


Well, the very first time Slytherin is mentioned is when Hagrid tells Harry that absolutely every single one of Voldemort's followers came from there.

He is, of course, exaggerating, as he knows of at least one Gryffindor who became a Death Eater (Sirius, he thinks, though it's actually Wormtail -- a Gryffindor either way, though). Nevertheless, the new book's contention that sweet Hufflepuff Cedric would have become a Death Eater and killed Neville as a result of One Bad Day does not pass my suspension of disbelief.

(For the "well, could you have done it better?" test, here's one off the top of my head: If we're to accept the premise that Cedric living = Voldemort winning = Darkest Timeline, do it like this: if Cedric lives, Dumbledore never gives the "He was killed by Lord Voldemort" speech. The Ministry doesn't crack down on Dumbledore; Umbridge is never sent to Hogwarts to keep an eye on him; Harry never forms the DA. From there it's pretty easy to map a scenario where Voldemort wins.)

Büge wrote:People always seem to forget that Horace Slughorn was a Slytherin, and he was a decent fellow. Oh, and Snape, but of course, he never actually showed any warmth towards anyone.


Slughorn was a relatively minor character, though. And while Malfoy and Snape turn out to be wonderfully shaded characters with tragic pasts and redemption arcs, they're still assholes, and the vast majority of interactions with Slytherins in the book involve them being racist bullies who cheat at Quidditch.

(We also never learn much about RAB, though his arc sounds pretty similar to Malfoy's and Snape's.)

Cursed Child gives us two Slytherins who aren't anything like the ones we saw in the main series (and also lets Draco finally be a hero), which is pretty cool but I wish it had spent more time at the school, shown Albus and Scorpius interacting with their classmates, that sort of thing.

Still, more nuance is a good thing, and it's one of the places where Cursed Child really shines.

Ron's good too. I mean, he doesn't really do anything, but he gets all the best lines in the show.

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Thad
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Re: Books

Postby Thad » Mon Oct 03, 2016 11:58 am

Getting Way Ahead of Ourselves Dept:

I'd be interested in seeing the play adapted as a movie, but I'd prefer that they wait another 15 years or so until the original actors age into the roles.

If Maggie Smith has left us by then (or has retired; if she's still around she'll be in her mid-90's), I'd suggest that, rather than recasting the role of McGonagall, they rewrite the role and make somebody else the headmaster. I like the sound of Headmaster Flitwick, or even Headmaster Longbottom.

McGonagall's role in the play is mostly in opposition to Harry; Harry is a pretty bad father and makes some demands that she keep an eye on Albus in ways that are pretty intrusive and unreasonable, and she's clearly torn between respecting a father's wishes and realizing that they're a terrible idea. In one of the best scenes, Albus and Scorpius hide under the Invisibility Cloak and she pretends not to notice they're there. I kind of like seeing this side of Minerva, but I could see it working pretty well from Flitwick, and especially well if it were Neville in the role.

There's not really any way around recasting Snape, who appears in the Darkest Timeline. I suppose you could pull some CG Rickman shenanigans but it'd be better just to cast somebody who can convincingly pull off a 25-years-older Alan Rickman.

Dumbledore appears too, but only as a portrait, so if Gambon has passed on or retired, he's easy to recast. I mean, Gambon's already the second guy to play him in the movies anyway.

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Re: Books

Postby poojayak » Wed Oct 05, 2016 3:05 am

I always like assignment books.

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Friday
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Re: Books

Postby Friday » Wed Oct 05, 2016 3:07 am

TELL US MORE, MYSTERIOUS STRANGER WHO IS IN NO WAY A ROBOT
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Thad
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Re: Books

Postby Thad » Wed Jan 04, 2017 10:31 am

Don't remember if we've got any other Laundry Files fans here (and if we do they probably read Stross's blog and already know this), but he had to rewrite big swaths of the upcoming The Delirium Brief after Brexit (because Brexit proved that his political satire was nowhere near as absurd as reality).

He's posting some of the excised, no-longer-canonical material to a Laundry Files fanfic community over at Archive of Our Own. (You'll want to have read up through The Annihilation Score for the latest on Bob and Mo, but the most recent book, The Nightmare Stacks, is unnecessary since it's the first/so far only Laundry book that's not about them.)

Navigation's a little awkward, but note the "Next Chapter" button at the top of the page; there are four so far.

He's got some commentary going over in the comments section of the blog post where he linked to it.

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MarsDragon
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Re: Books

Postby MarsDragon » Wed Jan 04, 2017 11:33 pm

You can also click the 'Entire Work' button, or use this handy link.

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Re: Books

Postby zaratustra » Thu Jan 05, 2017 10:27 am

Just finished reading The City & The City, and I'm starting to note a trend in China Mieville books that they start super-strong and then begin losing steam about two-thirds of the way in, coincidentally just the moment that women start getting killed for motivation.

On the whole the motivations of everyone involved felt overly convoluted. You have enough shit with three factions there, you don't have to add a fourth faction that may be partially or completely non-existent.

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Thad
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Re: Books

Postby Thad » Thu Jan 05, 2017 10:17 pm

See, I didn't think Perdido Street Station gained steam until about two-thirds of the way in. Despite the women getting killed for motivation.

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Kayma
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Re: Books

Postby Kayma » Thu Mar 23, 2017 7:21 pm

Tor is giving a free ebook version of Brandon Sanderson's (Mistborn, Elantris) first book in the Stormlight Archive series, "The Way of Kings" through tomorrow: http://giveaway.tor.com/

It's really very good.

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Silversong
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Re: Books

Postby Silversong » Wed Jul 05, 2017 9:34 am

Sharing because it was difficult for me to find: There exists one (1) DRM-free audiobook site! https://www.downpour.com/
As someone who does not want to support DRM I found this exciting. I just signed up for a membership, might cancel if I don't go through one book a month, but it's cheaper per/book that way.

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Thad
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Re: Books

Postby Thad » Wed Jul 05, 2017 10:27 am

I think libro.fm is DRM-free as well. At least, that's what it says on their Cage-Free Audiobooks page.

So that's two good choices. If anybody has any more, feel free to share.

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