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Topic: What are you reading? December 2011

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Brad -
Subject: What are you reading? December 2011
Date Posted: 12/7/2011 9:04 AM ET
Member Since: 1/27/2009
Posts: 200
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What with two challenges going on, I thought maybe try just a general discussion?  That way people who aren't necessarily working on Challenge books can post as well.

Currently reading John Varley's Steel Beach for my "night book" and Lois Bujold's A Civil Campaign for my "day book".  Enjoying both so far (roughly 30 pages into Steel Beach and 130 into A Civil Campaign).

I went through and penciled in my challenge list (Bob's Challenge).  Even with only penciling in books I really want to read, I discovered that I have to rework my list; even through I'm reading Steel Beach right now, it's not on the list.  cheeky  Last year my "total times edited" for my list was 2 short of 100, I'm expecting it to be that much for the 2012 challenge.

Subject: John Varley
Date Posted: 12/7/2011 6:28 PM ET
Member Since: 3/25/2006
Posts: 723
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I think it's a good idea to have a What Are You Reading thread that's separate from the challenges.  There are a lot of people on paperbackswap who aren't doing any challenge who might want to join in.  And funny you should mention John Varley.  I'm currently reading The Ophiuchi Hotline by him.  It's the Hard-SF book of the month from a different group, and it looks like I won't be counting it as anything in the 2011 challenge.

Humanity has been exiled from Earth by alien invasion, and people are living on the Moon with human cloning and upload/download of personalities.  But the book was written in the 1970s, so the technology sounds a lot like a magnetic head on mylar tape rather than digital.  Quaint, but not really a problem for the story.  Does Steel Beach seem like it could be the same universe?

-Tom Hl.



Last Edited on: 12/7/11 6:30 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Subject: currently reading
Date Posted: 12/7/2011 9:56 PM ET
Member Since: 7/26/2006
Posts: 385
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A YA novel -The Walls of the Universe by Paul Melko and

The Dervish House, by Ian McDonald

Both are pretty good.....

Brad -
Date Posted: 12/8/2011 7:48 AM ET
Member Since: 1/27/2009
Posts: 200
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Tom-

That's funny as well, I have The Ophiuchi Hotline sitting at home, waiting for me to read.  It's been there for a while, but I haven't gotten around to reading it.  Hearing it being referred to as Hard SF makes me a little leary, my experience with Hard SF so far has been I don't enjoy it because there's too hard to follow/too much terminology (Ex: Diaspora by Greg Egan).  Still, enjoying Steel Beach so far so maybe it isn't Hard SF that I don't enjoy but rather Greg Egan's style.

Edit:  Hmm..... Apparently The Ophiuchi Hotline and Steel Beach are both part of The Eight Worlds.  



Last Edited on: 12/8/11 1:09 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Brad -
Date Posted: 12/9/2011 12:51 AM ET
Member Since: 1/27/2009
Posts: 200
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Incredible...... in the last month I've gotten 3 Philip K. Dick books through Paperback Swap.  One was through Wish List (The PenUltimate Truth), but two of them were straight someone posted them and I was the first to request them; just put through my request for A Scanner Darkly and The Minority Report and other stories.  I figured there's not a whole lot of chance to get PKD books through PBS, except through waiting for a while, but I guess I've been on at the right time.

Date Posted: 12/11/2011 6:03 PM ET
Member Since: 3/25/2006
Posts: 723
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I finished The Ophiuchi Hotline.  I'm not sure if it's actually Hard-SF, probably more of a boundary case.  But it does attempt to be accurate in the amount of time and energy necessary to move people and things around the Solar System.  As for Diaspora, that was a pretty extreme example, of transhumanism to be specific.  Don't judge all Hard-SF on that.  I expect I will be reading Steel Beach at some point, but not sure when.  Let me know if anyone thinks I should priorize it higher.

Philip K. Dick just stays popular over the decades.  It might be because of the films that are still being made from his stories.  We just watched The Adjustment Bureau, and it was pretty intriguing.

Now reading To Ride Pegasus, by Anne McCaffrey.  It's going to be interesting categorizing this. 

-Tom Hl.

Subject: John Wyndham
Date Posted: 12/19/2011 7:25 PM ET
Member Since: 3/25/2006
Posts: 723
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Well, I've already finished the expanded version of the 2011 challenge, and haven't started the 1Q 2012 challenge yet.  So the books I read now don't actually count in anything formal.   But I did enjoy, and recommend, the following book that came to me from the UK through a bookray on bookcrossing.com.

THE SEEDS OF TIME, by John Wyndham (1956) ****

This small collection of John Wyndham's short stories was published in 1956. I can't find any info about where and when they were first published, but the style seems post-war 1940s and 1950s to me. That was a period during which concepts came to be emphasized over adventure in US science fiction, and judging from these stories the same was true in the UK. There is nothing really radical or innovative about the concepts Wyndham explores here, but I found his writing style relaxed and descriptive. Overall, I enjoyed reading this very much and would rank it among the best examples of that era. I've not read John Wyndham before, and will be watching for his novels now.  I now suspect that The Day of the Triffids may be a better book than the cheesy movie that was made from it.

-Tom Hl. 



Last Edited on: 12/19/11 7:27 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 12/20/2011 7:05 PM ET
Member Since: 5/10/2009
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Tom, I read Day of the Triffids earlier this year.  I can't compare the book to the movie since I've never seen it, but it was pretty good.  I can't think of any other apocalyptic book where the destruction of civilization was so gentle.  I was kind of surprised how little violence was actually shown.  Most apocalyptic books of that era involve nuclear or biological warfare. 

The most interesting component, in my mind, was all the different experimental governments they deal with while trying to set up their own homestead - communism, military dictatorship, religious rule, etc.  Like the book you read, nothing radical, nothing really innovative, but interesting. 

I'm in the middle of two SciFi books right now - odd for me since I normally only read a small handful of SciFi a year. 

I'm half done with Connie Willis's All Clear.  I'm loving this set.  All about a set of historians using time travel to study aspects of World War II in England, and getting stuck there. 

The other one is Alan Dean Foster's Flinx Transcendent, which I'm mostly reading out of a sense of nostalgia and obligation.  I've been reading this series on and off since I was twelve, and  I figure I might as well see how it ends now that he's finished writing it.  It seems like Foster fell into the trap of having let his main character become so overpowered that he's doing nonsensical and nearly suicidal things in his spare time, just to supply the plot with some tension.  I apparently didn't have the best taste in books when I was a teenager. 

Date Posted: 12/22/2011 2:21 AM ET
Member Since: 12/14/2005
Posts: 95
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Okay, so last night I grabbed CJ Cherryh's Cuckoo's Egg, which I couldn't work into my 2011 challenge...but...most of the stuff remaining on my challenge has been packed away in anticipation of a move that didn't happen and won't until next spring. *sigh* It kept me up until the wee hours. I've read enough Cherryh now that I can't help but wonder who the inspriation for her cold-yet-caring-warrior character is. Some of her best stuff seems to revolve around this archetype. 



Last Edited on: 12/22/11 2:22 AM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 12/23/2011 7:41 AM ET
Member Since: 1/6/2010
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I like this thread!  I had started the challenge for this year, but then had a big unexpected move along with other life stuff and kind of crapped out.  Maybe I'll manage the '12 one, since hopefully this coming year will be calmer.

Anyway, getting back to the thread, I just started Nobody Gets The Girl, by James Maxey.  I am really enjoying it, since his sense of humor and appreciation for absurd situations seems to match mine.  I picked it up at a con he was at a while back. 

I'm also reading The Other Log of Phileas Fogg, by Philip Jose Farmer.  I'm not enjoying it as much as I did his Riverworld books, but it's still good enough to finish.  I might like it more if I'd read Around the World in 80 Days, which I haven't.

I get really excited when I get a PKD book on here!  I've still got a few wishlisted. Even though they move slowly I've gotten two or three since I've been on here.

Brad -
Date Posted: 12/23/2011 1:18 PM ET
Member Since: 1/27/2009
Posts: 200
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Still around 100 pages to go in Steel Beach by John Varley.  Still even with that to go I went out and ordered it through PBS.

It just may be my favorite all-time book. Wonderful read all the way through. Earth gets attacked by aliens so humans go and populate the rest of the planets in our solar system (at least that's what I'm assuming what the "Eight Worlds" are). The book talks about what is happening on the moon.

Note to Tom: There is quite a bit of "hard SF" in there, which I skip over since I don't come close to understanding it. Still I'd really recommend it. Varley talks about making body adaptions and other adaptions to having to deal with living on the moon.

With my early Christmas with my family I received The Sheep Look Up.

Subject: another non-challenge read for me
Date Posted: 12/26/2011 11:12 PM ET
Member Since: 3/25/2006
Posts: 723
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GYPSIES, by Robert Charles Wilson, 1989 *****

This science fantasy is just a little more in the direction of "magic" than most of Robert Charles Wilson's writing, but still has a science fiction feel in most ways. There's some reference to many-worlds quantum theory to explain the alternate universes, but the basis is not so important. What there is, though, are well-imagined and described cross-travel between parallel histories, such as the world of Novus Ordo. Without reveling in gore or death, there is also a level of dread that builds the plot tension in the direction of horror. Beyond that, I enjoy the style and characterizations of early RCW immensely, and his themes on the meaning of home, belonging, family. I give this book one of my top ratings.

-Tom Hl.

PS - Brad, ok then, Steel Beach is now on my bookhunt list.  A lot of the concepts you mention are also in The Ophiuchi Hotline.

PPS - Melanti, The Day of the Triffids is also now on my bookhunt list.

PPPS - Bookhunting is SO much more fun than instantly downloading an ebook!



Last Edited on: 12/26/11 11:14 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Brad -
Date Posted: 12/27/2011 9:16 AM ET
Member Since: 1/27/2009
Posts: 200
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Got some wonderful books to read for Christmas:
Chasm City - Alastair Reynolds
The City of Ember - Jeanne Duprau
The Eleventh Plague - Jeff Hirsh
Gone - Michael Grant
Stardust - Neil Gaiman
Life as We Knew It - Susan Beth Pfeffer
The Eyre Affair - Jasper Fforde

 



Last Edited on: 12/27/11 9:17 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 12/27/2011 12:01 PM ET
Member Since: 5/10/2009
Posts: 826
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Gypsies sounds good!  My problem with RCW, though, is that I keep thinking that, keep buying his books, then never read them.  I'm not sure why not.

And book hunting is more fun than ordering a book here.  Unless it's wish listed, it's just so anticlimactic.  (Bargain hunting on ebooks does bring back some of the challenge!)



Last Edited on: 12/27/11 12:02 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Subject: right................................
Date Posted: 12/27/2011 11:43 PM ET
Member Since: 7/26/2006
Posts: 385
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Bookhunting is SO much more fun than instantly downloading an ebook!

 _________________________________

Pfffft!  No way man  laughlaughlaugh