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Thread: What Are You Reading?

  1. #281
    TheEconomist's Avatar Lord of Economics
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    Default Re: What Are You Reading?

    Ahhhh yes, the crucial "inbetween" books to read when you still want to read but can't yet stomach a large investment in time or brain power for another book. I am very familiar with those. Necessary in my reading diet. I'm working on some of those right now. I think the best direct comparison to yours would be my current simultaneous reads of the Icewind Dale trilogy and the Dark Elf trilogy of the Forgotten Realms. Starting book two of each right now.

    Can't remember if you ever said whether or not you'd read these. If not, I highly recommend them. It serves that "inbetween" niche.

    I also can recommend some short story anthologies if you're interested in those. I've been getting into those recently and they help keep me refreshed for larger books if I take an hour or two detour into another short story. At the moment, I alternate between Conan anthologies, H.P. Lovecraft anthologies, and some George R.R. Martin edited anthologies (by various fantasy authors).

    Anyways, I'm reading about twenty other books simultaneously right now. Don't really want to mention them right now until I finish them. As I said before, this is part of my new method I'm trying out of reading many books at once instead of pushing through with one or two. So far, good results, keeps things always entertaining.

    I will say though that I did finish 'Snow Crash' and loved it, and was going to go more in-depth with my comments on it but since Hawki is the only one posting here right now, I think it'd be a bit of waste until the others get back.
    Last edited by TheEconomist; 02-08-2015 at 10:53 AM.



    Rest In Peace, Old Friend.

  2. #282

    Default Re: What Are You Reading?

    I just finished The Man who was Thursday, about a guy trying to infiltrate a collection of anarchists. It started out as a great political thriller, but then just went flying off the rails towards the middle. To be fair, it did say "a nightmare" as the tagline, and did have dreamy imagery. It's the sort of story I'd love to see in a movie, but it could never be successful at anything besides random indie level. It's worth reading for literary purposes alone, but the story itself is questionable.

    Basically, it's like a good poem or good song lyrics. You're not quite sure what it means, but you're pretty sure it means something cool.

  3. #283
    TheEconomist's Avatar Lord of Economics
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    Default Re: What Are You Reading?

    You're not quite sure what it means, but you're pretty sure it means something cool.
    Oh wow, not to hijack your convo, but that's the perfect way to explain a lot of what's discussed in Snow Crash.

    - - - Updated - - -

    You're not quite sure what it means, but you're pretty sure it means something cool.
    Oh wow, not to hijack your convo, but that's the perfect way to explain a lot of what's discussed in Snow Crash.



    Rest In Peace, Old Friend.

  4. #284

    Default Re: What Are You Reading?

    Lol, it's cool. Some of the best stories are like that, anyway.

  5. #285

    Default Re: What Are You Reading?

    General

    Quote Originally Posted by The Economist
    I also can recommend some short story anthologies if you're interested in those. I've been getting into those recently and they help keep me refreshed for larger books if I take an hour or two detour into another short story. At the moment, I alternate between Conan anthologies, H.P. Lovecraft anthologies, and some George R.R. Martin edited anthologies (by various fantasy authors).
    I'm rarely into anthologies of sci-fi/fantasy works, at least those not in established settings. Main issue is that a short story not only has to establish its characters in a short time, but also its setting. Often, I find that short stories don't really cut it for me in such circumstances (again, unless it's in a pre-established setting, at which point that's half of the issue sorted by default).

    I've actually read some short story stuff recently, but don't have time to elaborate right now.

    Forgotten Realms

    Quote Originally Posted by The Economist
    I think the best direct comparison to yours would be my current simultaneous reads of the Icewind Dale trilogy and the Dark Elf trilogy of the Forgotten Realms. Starting book two of each right now.

    Can't remember if you ever said whether or not you'd read these. If not, I highly recommend them. It serves that "inbetween" niche.
    Don't think I've said it, but I don't see myself getting into them. Mainly because by its nature, anything from Dungeons and Dragons takes place in a setting that's absolutely huge, and I'd have to be familiar with said setting to enjoy the books. That, and there's a guy in my writing group who can't go by a single meeting without mentioning R.A. Salvatore. It's the kind of thing that turns you off when you keep hearing how great it is.

    Snow Crash

    Quote Originally Posted by TheEconomist
    I will say though that I did finish 'Snow Crash' and loved it, and was going to go more in-depth with my comments on it but since Hawki is the only one posting here right now, I think it'd be a bit of waste until the others get back.
    You may as well post, as anyone coming back to the thread will presumably read the prior posts. I'm all for reading what you have to say on it - granted, you know what I feel about the novel, but if you loved it, I'm not complaining.

  6. #286

    Default Re: What Are You Reading?

    I just picked up The Witcher: The Last Wish, Elantris by Brandon Sanderson, and James Rollins' The 6th Extinction.
    Aaand sold.


    Be it through hallowed grounds or lands of sorrow
    The Forger's wake is bereft and fallow

    Is the residuum worth the cost of destruction and maiming;
    Or is the shaping a culling and exercise in taming?

    The road's goal is the Origin of Being
    But be wary through what thickets it winds.

  7. #287
    TheEconomist's Avatar Lord of Economics
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    Default Re: What Are You Reading?

    I'd have to be familiar with said setting to enjoy the books.
    You may be right when it comes to some of the others series, but not this one. The Drizzt books basically started the Forgotten Realms novel lines so they're where to get in. I'm not well versed in the Forgotten Realms, so I don't know about the rest, but I'm sure it's the same as Dragonlance where they have a set of core books which almost everyone assumes you've read, and once you have you can go to just about any part and understand relatively well. Besides, it's not like WarCraft or anything where if you don't play games or MMOs, you miss such a large chunk of the story that you can't really keep going. Also, the Forgotten Realms books tend to be far more hero and adventure focused than others so even if they did require knowledge to know everything that's going on, it's not needed to actually enjoy the story.

    I'm rarely into anthologies of sci-fi/fantasy works, at least those not in established settings.
    I have the same problem, even with single-volume novels. If it's not a trilogy or more, I tend to feel like it was more of a waste of time in the end. I still enjoy it, but not as much.

    That being said, it's hard to think of a more established setting than the Conan series or the H.P. Lovecraft series. The George R.R. Martin ones I can understand (even though some of them are in established settings) but short stories don't tend to be character-driven anyways like single-volume novels. They're usually conceptually driven (often times even larger in scope than massive trilogies) so the character issue, I think, it's really there. I think you're just projecting the problems with single-volue, shorter series onto short stories, like I did for years, before I actually tried them.

    Elantris by Brandon Sanderson
    Pretty good book, I think you'll enjoy it.

    You may as well post, as anyone coming back to the thread will presumably read the prior posts.
    Not saying they won't know what's going on, I'm saying that no one else will respond because they don't come here anymore and that's a lot of work for nothing.
    Last edited by TheEconomist; 02-12-2015 at 08:29 AM.



    Rest In Peace, Old Friend.

  8. #288

    Default Re: What Are You Reading?

    Quote Originally Posted by The Economist
    That being said, it's hard to think of a more established setting than the Conan series or the H.P. Lovecraft series. The George R.R. Martin ones I can understand (even though some of them are in established settings) but short stories don't tend to be character-driven anyways like single-volume novels. They're usually conceptually driven (often times even larger in scope than massive trilogies) so the character issue, I think, it's really there. I think you're just projecting the problems with single-volue, shorter series onto short stories, like I did for years, before I actually tried them.
    I've read a few short stories from one of the Martin anthologies (Legends II). I've read plenty of other anthologies as well, and the same trend remains the same. With a few exceptions, pre-established universes tend to work better for me. There's been a few exceptions that I can recall, but even with Legends II, of the three short stories I've read in it, Martin's own ranks the highest for me. Probably because it's the longest and also I'm familiar with said setting as opposed to the other two, but even then, it was character focused.

    Basically, I think themes work better when they're in the background, rather than the be all and end all. Probably a cliche example, but there's 2001: A Space Odyssey, one of the most conceptually-driven works of film out there. No surprises that while I certainly respect the film, I don't enjoy it very much on a personal level, even if I can still appreciate the ideas behind it. Or, more recently, Interstellar

    Anyway, some other stuff:

    Wow, I’m A Genieous!!!! – The Stupidest Things Ever Said Online

    Short read, bought it on a whim alongside Grumpy Cat's Guide to Life as Christmas presents (I was in New Zealand, couldn't take much large stuff for family members with me), so came back and read it after they were done with it. Nice bit of fun. Fun, as in, "damn, how can people be this thick?"

    And yes, that's how the title is punctuated/spelt.

    Dragonriders of Pern: Beyond Between

    This was one of the two stories in Legends II I read recently. And to be honest, I gave it a stamp of "bad." But also to be honest, I think a lot of that has to do with personal opinion. Because being honest a third time, going entirely by what the book tells me about the setting, it...well, seems weird.

    I say this because Pern seems to be an example of science fantasy, but I'm left to ask, "why?" The Thread might as well be magic, I don't need a stellar exploration as to how and why it occurs because of orbital periods. I don't see why this has to be in the same setting as Earth, given that nothing seems to come from it (could be wrong there). I don't know why everyone speaks in "ye olde English" when you'd think that language centuries from now would be anything but "ye olde English." At the end of the day, I'm just not sure why this is a 'thing.' Maybe to make it more original, but as far as I can tell, those elements aren't relevant. The only thing relevant to the actual story is the existence of modular housing and vaccinations, but again, the existence of these things doesn't make or break the setting.

    So, story itself...dragonrider gets stuck in some kind of time thing, gets out. Yay.

    Deltora Quest: The Lake of Tears

    I've been watching bits and pieces of the Deltora Quest anime on YouTube - light, 20 minute flicks I can watch in one sitting while working. Overall, the anime's gotten better, in as much as voice acting goes, and more importantly, dialogue. Far less "we must do this" or "Grey Guards are chasing/shooting at us!" and far more dialogue as actual humans talk. I have a feeling this might have been due to translation gaffs, in that it's a case of a book being written in English, translated into Japanese, then subbed back into English. But whatever the reason, it's got better. So in the spirit of that, I went back and re-read book 2, having re-read book 1 awhile back.

    Book 2...is a children's book. Not that's a bad thing, but it does show, and while I enjoyed DQ when growing up (Emily Rodda was kind of my bread and butter in those days), I did, and still do, regard the Rowan of Rin series more highly. Apart from that, not much to say. As far as the anime/book divide goes, while I think book 1 beats the anime, I'm giving this prize to the anime beating book 2, if only because I have the visuals, and the fight with Thegan requires actual tactics rather than Kree entering the instant win cheat.

    So, not bad. Calling it "okay," but very much written for a distinct age group in mind.

    Shannara: Indomitable

    The other Legends II story I read recently. It's more like a "books ends" for one of the characters of the original trilogy, a trilogy that I haven't read (or anything from Shannara). Worldwise, far as I can tell, not much to say, standard fare of elves, dwarves, and other stuff. But the story itself, I'm calling "okay," if only because it's written decently. I don't doubt I'd have got far more out of it had I read the original trilogy first, but, well, stuff happens. Not bad I guess.

    The Present

    Out of time, but currently jointly reading Arkanae and The Dragon Reborn, the former just to get it over with, the latter because for once, a Wheel of Time novel might actually be "good" rather than just "okay." Go figure.
    Last edited by Hawki; 02-13-2015 at 10:31 PM.

  9. #289
    TheEconomist's Avatar Lord of Economics
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    Default Re: What Are You Reading?

    I once passed on book one of Dragonriders of Pern in an Audible sale. I wonder if that was a mistake. Thoughts? What do you think about the universe? I passed on it because it seemed to be pretty childish, typical 80s fantasy that feels like a novelization of a Saturday Morning Cartoon, but I could'e' been wrong. The reviews tended to seem that way but Dragonlance is also pretty similiar in that regard but I love the series very much.

    Basically, I think themes work better when they're in the background, rather than the be all and end all. Probably a cliche example, but there's 2001: A Space Odyssey, one of the most conceptually-driven works of film out there. No surprises that while I certainly respect the film, I don't enjoy it very much on a personal level, even if I can still appreciate the ideas behind it. Or, more recently, Interstellar
    Pretty much what I've been trying to say in previous posts. I like concepts more than most things. I like characters too, especially when I'm in the mood as I have been recently, but, usually, the internal thoughts of people tend to seem pretty pointless to me (not always, and the books I read I read because that's not the case, but for the vast majority of literature). I love concepts though, which is why I like complex sci fi so much despite the authors almost almost having some of the most bland characters (so I hear).

    As for the short story things, I understand what you're saying and I was right there with you for the longest time, but I've since changed my preferences. I still don't think it applies to H.P. Lovecraft or Conan which can be thought of more as short book in a long, long series instead of short stories set in a one-off universe.

    FYI, only read the 'Warriors' and 'Rogues' anthologies of George R.R. Martin so I can't comment on how those compare, but I do know that a lot of the short stories I've been reading tie-in with larger series that I've read or want to read.

    And I still highly recommend the Forgotten Realm series mentioned before. They're the equivalent of getting in on the WarCraft universe with the first game so you're not missing anything. Really good "inbetween" books.
    Last edited by TheEconomist; 02-14-2015 at 09:37 AM.



    Rest In Peace, Old Friend.

  10. #290

    Default Re: What Are You Reading?

    Dragonriders of Pern

    Quote Originally Posted by The Economist
    I once passed on book one of Dragonriders of Pern in an Audible sale. I wonder if that was a mistake. Thoughts? What do you think about the universe? I passed on it because it seemed to be pretty childish, typical 80s fantasy that feels like a novelization of a Saturday Morning Cartoon, but I could'e' been wrong. The reviews tended to seem that way but Dragonlance is also pretty similiar in that regard but I love the series very much.
    Pretty much everything about my thoughts of the universe can be summed up in the last post I did, but again, coming from a short story, so it's not that much of a gauge. In terms of writing style, I wouldn't call it childish. Bland, and overly formal perhaps, but not childish. At the end of the day, based on that story by itself, I don't find the setting that interesting.

    Forgotten Realms

    Quote Originally Posted by The Economist
    And I still highly recommend the Forgotten Realm series mentioned before. They're the equivalent of getting in on the WarCraft universe with the first game so you're not missing anything. Really good "inbetween" books.
    I'll keep that in mind, but I don't expect to pick up anything from the setting anytime soon. And as the first Warcraft game is easily the weakest for me...well, yeah.

    (My Warcraft game exposure went WC3-1-2 actually - go figure.)

    The Medoran Chronicles: Akarnae

    I picked this up for free at TAFE. Not sure why it was for free, as it was amongst a heap of old books that dated back at least as far as the 1960s, and among them, had a guidebook to the election between Keating and Howard in the early 1990s. This, however, was published this year. To be honest, I doubt it's even available outside Australia yet. But, anyway, what did I think of it?

    Not much. I'm giving it a stamp of "bad."

    Now, to be fair, this is a young adult book. But to list other YA material off my head (e.g. Hunger Games, Divergent, arguably Harry Potter), that material has managed to at least be "okay," or in the case of the third HG book and second HG film, "good." This, however, doesn't live up to it. And while I've never been that fond of YA material (and I probably shouldn't be - different age group and all that), here's the problems I have with it:

    -Special Little Snowflake. This isn't uncommon for YA, as YA can be boiled down to two core tenants - empowerment, and awareness. Empowerment in that the protagonist grows as a character, achieves things, etc. For instance, Katniss is empowered through the role she takes on. Awareness is the other example, as in, to become more aware of the realities of life, or even taking on the metaphor of sexual awakening. Pris is an example of that, becoming aware of the complexities of the world beyond her faction. YA was a genre I studied a bit of at CCE, and one of the students who joined the writing group I'm part of (who's also a teacher) also helped. So why does this book not do as well? Well, it's got the empowerment, but the difference is, it's empowerment through arbitrary ability. The protagonist is a Chosen. Automatically good at things, or automatically has the ability to be good. To contrast, Katniss is good with a bow, but it's an ability she's honed, and is balanced by flaws. Harry may be the Chosen One, but by mere chance, and his abilities in magic are average. Here, the protagonist is Chosen, and can do stuff...just because. Yay.

    -Hunky Boys: I've read a bit of Twilight (yes, some of the first book, bite me) and something I noticed is that Jacob and Edward aside, there's plenty of boys who seem attracted to Bella. And in a cynical sort of way, I have to admit...it's kind of good writing. In as much that it's written from the first person, and Bella's a blank slate. From the standpoint of writing style, I actually have to cynically praise the book in that I can see why girls would like it. It isn't so much Bella the character that's being fawned over, it's a blank slate that any girl can project herself into, and be fawned over (hence the use of the first person). Now that isn't my thing, for obvious reasons (mainly because of having balls), but I have to admit, I kind of admire the psychology at work...in a twisted sort of way.

    Why do I bring this up? Because the protagonist is immediately greeted and befriended by two hunky boys at the start of the story, reminding me of Twilight. And why, from a pure writing style, Twilight manages to succeed through its use of first person. Here, it's a use of third person, so it's even more noticable. Oh, and while there isn't romance per se, there's certainly the reflection of its possibility. To which I say, "ugh." No, I'm not against romance. I like romance when it's done well. But this ISN'T DONE WELL. And it doesn't help that the antagonist is fawning over her even before we get into "hunky boy territory."

    Oh, and the antagonist's an elf. Yep. Going there. Elfxhuman. Gah!

    -Getting to the Good Stuff: Listening to Archengeia on YouTube is always insightful, and there's a phrase he introduced me to in regards to writing - "getting to the good stuff." It refers to authors who want to get to a certain point in a story without having sufficient buildup to that point. I bring this up because this book is an example of it - certain material is skimmed over to what feels like the detriment of the story.

    First, the character enters the parallel world in the end of the first chapter, ending up in the equivalent of what's basically "wizard school" (as in the trope). Contrast this to Harry Potter, where we don't even learn about Hogwarts until about a quarter of the way through, or even The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, where there's at least plenty of time spent at Kirke's house before Lucy enters, followed by Edmund a chapter or two later, before finally we enter Narnia for the rest of the story. Like Lucy, the protagonist enters the world through a door. Unlike Lucy, there's no buildup.

    Why the protagonist even takes lessons is iffy at all, but again, I recall how HP work. For almost every subject, we were introduced to it. Charms, potions, transfiguration, etc. Sure, some subjects are skimmed over (e.g. astronomy), but it made the world feel more real. Here, the lessons are skimmed over. We get token moments for them (e.g. learning about magical creatures), but again, HP made Defence against the Dark Arts part of the plot. Here, the lessons are academic.

    So yeah. There's other quips (e.g. too much author's voice), but there's a lot of downfalls. It's the author's first book, so maybe she'll improve, but, well, this is me getting it off my chest. And at least now I can focus on The Dragon Reborn.

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