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Topic: Currently reading *AUGUST*

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Subject: Currently reading *AUGUST*
Date Posted: 8/1/2009 11:22 AM ET
Member Since: 1/2/2008
Posts: 174
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Almost done with Melko's Walls of the Universe ... will be releasing it soon :-)

Date Posted: 8/1/2009 1:05 PM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
Posts: 1,376
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Well, I didn't get to it last month, so this month I really do plan on reading Altered Carbon by Richard Morgan and Bright of the Sky by Kay Kenyon. Someday soon I also need to read Invader by C.J. Cherryh. I've been focusing more on fantasy and mystery lately, so that's probably it for SF.

Subject: August
Date Posted: 8/1/2009 8:17 PM ET
Member Since: 7/26/2006
Posts: 385
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so that's probably it for SF

_______________________________

I can say with confidence that I will never utter these words..........  : - }

Date Posted: 8/2/2009 1:53 AM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
Posts: 1,376
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Hehe, and then when I posted what I was reading this month on another board I thought of a couple other SF novels on my TBR stack: Carnival and Dust both by Elizabeth Bear, The Silver Metal Lover by Tanith Lee, and Storyteller by Amy Thomson. Clearly I should think a little harder before I say something as final as that. ;)

Date Posted: 8/3/2009 12:32 PM ET
Member Since: 5/12/2009
Posts: 27
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Barrayar by Lois McMaster Bujold

Subject: Tom's first August reads
Date Posted: 8/5/2009 10:37 PM ET
Member Since: 3/25/2006
Posts: 723
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ROLLBACK, by Robert J. Sawyer, 2007

This novel was a 2008 Hugo nominee. In it, the CETI astronomer who correctly interpreted the first message received from another intelligent species, is tapped when the answer to humanity's reply is received 38 years later. Only trouble is that she is now in her 80s, and her life expectancy is insufficient. When she is offered an 8-billion-dollar rejuvenation, she refuses to take it unless her aged husband also receives a treatment. But while works for him, it does not for her. This is a love story between two people whose lives suddenly become almost completely incompatible, as well as an alien contact story with some good conceptual twists. And Sawyer, being who he is, cannot resist throwing in a good helping of philosophical wondering.

The next two are not science fiction; feel free to skip over them.

INTRODUCING TIME, by Craig Callender, 2001

Time, on the face of it, is a simple phenomenon. And yet, if you go into it any deeper than our day-to-day experience, you'll find yourself in some of the more esoteric branches of physics and philosophy. This book attempts to explain all that by illustrations and one-line explanations. Impossible. The result is a smattering of gosh-wow concepts involving assumptions and consequences regrding time in modern (post relativity and quantum mechanics) science. The only real bone I have to pick is that the author seems to have missed the implications of inflationary cosmology, and is still thinking in terms of a low entropy big crunch at the end of the universe. Note that the author is a philosopher, not a physicist.

IDENTITY, by Milan Kundera, 1997

One of his first novels written in French rather than Czech, this is a very short novel. It starts with a simple misunderstanding between two lovers, that blossoms into full-blown perversity as the two continue to misinterpret each others' intonations, subtle gestures, and actions. Along the way Kundera spells out all those random little thoughts that people suppress as inappropriate while interacting. These two ego-maniac characters deserve each other, I think. But the point is that no one ever really sees others as they really are, but rather as projections of their own thoughts. After finishing the book, I re-skimmed almost the entire book looking for all the prior clues to the somewhat ambigious ending. A complicated book, but in the end maybe a little too pretentious.

-Tom Hl.



Last Edited on: 8/5/09 10:40 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Subject: August reading
Date Posted: 8/6/2009 9:46 PM ET
Member Since: 7/26/2006
Posts: 385
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Rollback just didn't cut it for me and I'm a big fan of Sawyer.  I guess I just kept expecting there to be something more, the philosophical wondering you mention was more like philosophical wandering.  And yet it was a Hugo nominee ???-  Hmmm.

Went to the library and took back Drood - just couldn't get into this, maybe in a few years.  While browsing I picked up January Dancer by Michael Flynn.  I had previously downloaded this as an audio e-book but wasn't able to follow the story.  Verbage is very dense and rich.  I find it's MUCH better (for me) if I can sit down and read the words.  Some books are like that....................

Hmmm, finished Dead and Gone by Harris but nothing else yet for August.



Last Edited on: 8/6/09 9:47 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Subject: Rollback
Date Posted: 8/7/2009 1:25 PM ET
Member Since: 3/25/2006
Posts: 723
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Rollback just didn't cut it for me and I'm a big fan of Sawyer.  I guess I just kept expecting there to be something more, the philosophical wondering you mention was more like philosophical wandering.  And yet it was a Hugo nominee ???-  Hmmm.

I can see what you're saying.  I did find it a little frustrating that Don and Sarah discuss all kinds of ethical dilemmas, except they remain silent on the one big one in their personal lives.  (Trying to avoid spoilers here; anyone who has read the book knows what I'm talking about.)

-Tom Hl.



Last Edited on: 8/7/09 1:26 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Subject: Strugatsky brothers
Date Posted: 8/10/2009 10:18 PM ET
Member Since: 3/25/2006
Posts: 723
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THE TIME WANDERERS, by Arkaday and Boris Strugatsky, 1985.

Being one of the later books set in the "Noon Universe", I had the suspicion that some of the characters, concepts, and bureaucratic agencies in The Time Wanderers had been introduced by the Strugatsky brothers before. But I've only read a few others by them and I'm not sure; it could have been all created just for this book.

In this book, agents of COMCON-2's bureau of Unexplained Events investigate patterns in mass phobias, strange creatures, and the transformations of a select few humans. Could it be the work of alien Wanderers meddling in human affairs in exactly the way COMCON-2 meddles in alien affairs? Could it be rival agents of COMCON-1? Could it be that COMCON-1 has been subverted by the Wanderers? Or something else completely? I enjoyed the mysterious puzzle of it all, and the trainload of original speculative concepts thrown in along the way.

But I was frustrated with some of what can only be translation errors from the original Russian. Women do not undergo "uterine constructions" before birth, and if one turns off the brakes on a hypothalamus, it is not "unbreaking the hypothalamus". The Strugatsky brothers use a style of world building that does not offer clear explanations to the reader, and this sort of thing makes it unnecessarily difficult. I have a colleague from Bulgaria who told me that in high school he studied Russian just so he could read the Strugatskys. Apparently, the translations to Bulgarian are no better.

-Tom Hl.

Date Posted: 8/13/2009 12:44 AM ET
Member Since: 8/3/2009
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Just finished Time Future by Maxine McArthur. Now I'm working on Triumph by Ben Bova. I just joined PBS so I want to work through a few Hugo award winners I've never read. Going to start with the original winner, The Demolished Man by Alfred Bester. It has already arrived and Ringworld by Larry Niven is in the mail.
Subject: Island in the Sea of Time
Date Posted: 8/13/2009 9:44 PM ET
Member Since: 4/30/2007
Posts: 17
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Currently I am reading Island in the Sea of Time by SM Stirling. I am half-way through and I am very pleased so far. What a great read!

Date Posted: 8/16/2009 3:32 AM ET
Member Since: 5/17/2009
Posts: 64
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Warrior's Apprentice
Date Posted: 8/17/2009 4:29 AM ET
Member Since: 1/19/2008
Posts: 14,757
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i read Orphan's Triumph (Jason Wander, Bk 5) by Robert Buettner the other day.  as a series finale, i kind of thought the end was ..lacking.  i don't know if now that it's done i'd recommend it, since at times i got seriously annoyed at Jason, but DH said he wanted to keep it for re-reading.  the first book in the series pulls heavily from Heinlein, who is one of DH's favorite authors.

Subject: slow Aug reading
Date Posted: 8/17/2009 11:34 AM ET
Member Since: 7/26/2006
Posts: 385
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Managed to finish Kethani by Eric Brown and New Tricks by John Levitt.  Both books were pretty good, I hope there's another Levitt book in the Dog Days series.

Date Posted: 8/17/2009 6:01 PM ET
Member Since: 7/29/2008
Posts: 108
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Have almost finished reading The Wizards of Odd which is an anthology by, you guessed it, a bunch of oddball writers. LOL Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett, Kurt Vonnegut,Jr., Fritz Leiber  etc. So far I have been enjoying it.

Next up, The Game-Players of Titan by Philip K. Dick.  I've been wanting to read it for a long time and I just got it in from the UK.

Date Posted: 8/17/2009 9:53 PM ET
Member Since: 4/4/2009
Posts: 9,450
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I disrupted my TBR line-up of some really heavy historical stuff like A History of Warfare and American Political Tradition when I just acquired Ilium and Olympus by Dan Simmons. Simmons reads slow, barely 25 pages an hour; so with 1500 pages of total enjoyment in front of me the rather depressing historians are going to have to stand aside for quite awhile. In fact, I also think I need to re-read A Canticle for Liebowitz. On a scale of ten I give that one about 12 1/2.

Subject: SPOILER WARNING; but I think a lot of you have read this already
Date Posted: 8/18/2009 7:59 AM ET
Member Since: 3/25/2006
Posts: 723
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SERPENT'S REACH, by C. J. Cherryh, 1980, DAW #396

Downbelow Station is my touchstone to Cherryh's universe. I think this book was written in stand-alone fashion, but because of some common elements was later able to be grafted into that same universe at a point several centuries later. In Serpent's Reach, Cherryh builds a complex culture in a remote sector of star systems quarantined from Alliance and Union, populated with three varieties of near-humans, and a hive-mind alien species.

The main character starts as a teenage girl whose entire family is wiped out in inter-family power struggle. She stages a long-term plot for revenge, the how of which is only revealed to the reader as the plot develops. As much as I liked the character at the beginning, I found her middle-aged self to be cold and unsympathetic, as she acquires a sex slave to relieve her boredom, and plots nihilism. It is worth noting that her people, the Kontrins, are the nearly immortal descendents of the original human settlers of the Reach, and are no longer precisely human. The Kontrins have bred the Betas from eggs stored on board their ship at the time of settlement, and these have been steered into lives of shallow-minded capitalism. Finally, the Betas have in turn bred the cloned Azi, intellectually incomplete humans with a short predetermined lifespan, dedicated to particular job functions - and sometimes sold to the aliens. Raen's slave Jim is an Azi, and his programming is challenged by the stress of events. His story, I think, gives the book an optimistic lift, which would otherwise be lacking.  He (and we) can rise above the predestination of our programming.

-Tom Hl.



Last Edited on: 8/23/09 2:15 PM ET - Total times edited: 3
Subject: A Canticle for Liebowitz
Date Posted: 8/18/2009 8:10 AM ET
Member Since: 3/25/2006
Posts: 723
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In fact, I also think I need to re-read A Canticle for Liebowitz. On a scale of ten I give that one about 12 1/2.

Well, I can see why a historian would like A Canticle for Liebowitz.  I've read it four times, and I'm not a frequent re-reader.  You might be interested to see the current state of my bookray for it:  http://tomhl.bookcrossing.com/journal/6550471

-Tom Hl.

Matt C. (mattc) - ,
Date Posted: 8/18/2009 3:31 PM ET
Member Since: 8/13/2008
Posts: 3,849
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I haven't been reading much SF lately, but today I finished Gate of Ivrel by C.J. Cherryh.  I eventually want to read all of her books, and this is the first.  It's more fantasy, but the gates and some of the technology implied is definitely futuristic.  It wasn't really my thing, but it had enough of a cliffhanger ending to interest me in reading the next in the series.

Date Posted: 8/18/2009 5:01 PM ET
Member Since: 8/10/2005
Posts: 4,599
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I'm not normally into sci-fi these days, (more of a fantasy person, although I did like sci-fi more in the days of my youth) but just started the Riverworld Saga by Philip Josè Farmer, the first book To Your Scattered Bodies Go, recommended by a co-worker. So far I'm really liking it!

Cheryl

Greg K. - ,
Date Posted: 8/21/2009 9:39 AM ET
Member Since: 3/15/2007
Posts: 871
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Tom,

That rollback novel sounds just like that twilight zone episode where they were old and made young again except one didn't take. Rollback sounds like the same except with an sci-fi/alien twist to it.

I'm currently reading the Starfist series.

Subject: Tom's reading fantasy ???
Date Posted: 8/21/2009 10:42 PM ET
Member Since: 3/25/2006
Posts: 723
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ELRIC OF MELNIBONE, by Michael Moorcock,  1972,  DAW #214

This is the first of a six book series that I've not read before, although I have read a bit of Moorcock's "new age" science fiction.  But 21yo daughter found three of them on a free bookshelf in Chicago and gave them to me.  Loving the Michael Whelan cover art of the 70s DAW paperbacks, I've PBS-traded to complete the set, and now started reading it.  I much prefer science fiction over fantasy, but I found myself liking this book more than I expected. I enjoyed the figure of the reluctant and ironic King Elric, the plot turned neither too saccharine nor too high and mighty. Also, the book is blessedly short.  I'll probably not review each one of them as I go, but just let you know what I think when I finish the whole series.

-Tom Hl.



Last Edited on: 8/21/09 10:48 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 8/21/2009 11:32 PM ET
Member Since: 4/4/2009
Posts: 9,450
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Cheryl, I always thought Farmer had the best scenario anyone in SF ever conceived. What I liked best was that his characters were fully developed and better yet, always behaved in accordance with their earthly prototypes.

And to all: Opinions, criticism, etc. about Ilium and Olympos by Dan Simmons are hereby solicited. These just came to me three days ago and wife wants to know why I don't come to bed before 0230. Fine, fat, 700 pagers. Maybe after Labor Day, sweetheart. :)

Date Posted: 8/25/2009 2:38 PM ET
Member Since: 7/29/2008
Posts: 108
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Well I finished The Game-Players of Titan by Philip K. Dick and have sent it on. It was okay, but not one of his better ones.

Just started reading Time's Eye(Book one of A Time Odyssey) by Arthur C. Clarke and Stephen Baxter. I have enjoyed books by both authors so am hopeful this will be a good collaboration.

I now have three more books to add to my WL since reading this thread again. LOL

Date Posted: 8/26/2009 9:00 PM ET
Member Since: 3/25/2006
Posts: 723
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FORTY THOUSAND IN GEHENNA, by C.J. Cherryh, 1983

This is another Union-Alliance universe novel, starting at about the same timeframe as Cherryh's Downbelow Station.  In this one, Union sends out a colony ship from Cyteen to a new world strategically located in Alliance space.  The ships bring about 450 citizens, and about 40,000 cloned workers (Azi) to Gehenna, a world already populated by lizard-like Calibans and Ariels.  Things gradually deterioriate (due to a turn of the balance of power), and then the follow-up supply ships never arrive.   The novel stretches over the next several hundred years in many of the twists and turns of history.  It's a really big concept, and Cherryh does a nice job of examining the cultural development and integration of this descended form of humanity with very alien species.  Unfortunately, the narrative is kind of choppy, as it skips forward many years intermittently, and too much of it is written in the form of memos and reports.  But I'd have to say this is a must-read for understanding the Union-Alliance universe.

By the way, I read MrsTomHl's hardcover first edition, which was signed by Carolyn for her at Archcon 8 twenty-five years ago.  Not for trade.  ;)

-Tom Hl 



Last Edited on: 8/26/09 9:02 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
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