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Thread: What Are You Reading?

  1. #11

  2. #12

    Default Re: What Are You Reading?

    Quote Originally Posted by Hawki View Post
    The Excellent

    Halo: The Kilo-Five Trilogy: The Thursday War
    Now that I've cleaned spit and Diet Coke from my keyboard, I have to hear read your thoughts on the book.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hawki View Post
    Homeworld Manual
    As in the /game/ Homeworld? I LOVED that manual. And the game!

    Quote Originally Posted by Hawki View Post
    Dune: Got all of the Brian Herbert books and a few Frank Herbert/Anderson ones in the house. However, I admit to have never read them. Certainly Dune is a book I'd like to read someday, but what's put me off so far is its length and that it's an unknown quantity (e.g. if a short book is bad, I don't have to bear it for long). I will say that its influence on other medias is something I've noticed to an extent (Star Wars, Warhammer 40,000 and arguably Homeworld off the top of my head), but not to the extent that it's detrimental ala Wheel of Time.
    I'd say that it's probably worth picking up.

    Anyhow, what do you mean about "Wheel of Time"? Is WoT too influential, or too derivative? It's been so long since I read the first book, I can't remember which it is, though I'm leaning towards the latter.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hawki View Post
    Ender's Game: Another book I'd like to read, preferably before the movie comes out. However, while there's a copy of Ender's Shadow and [I]Xenocide[/I in the house, Ender's Game itself is unfortunately missing. Still, more a question for TE, if you've read it, is it possible to get a full experience from Ender's Shadow without reading Ender's Game? I know they occur in the same timeframe and all that, but obviously EG came first, so...
    I dunno. I've only read Ender's Game, Speaker for the Dead, and Xenocide (Good, okay, crap, in that order). From what I remember of the Ender/Bean relationship, you should probably hold out for the original.

    So, I guess it's my turn to list books I've read recently.

    The Excellent

    Small Favor
    Hey, trust Jim Butcher to deliver a good read.
    So, yeah, it's more conspiracies and intrigue between the Summer and Winter Fey, with the Denarians* getting involved. All of them.
    Which is kind of crap, because that means that the Conservation of Ninjitsu is in full effect. A few books ago, Dresden got his head handed to him when he went up against one. The Knights of the Cross prefer to outnumber the Denarians they fight. The attrition rates among the Denarians in this book? Terrible. The first encounter alone has them losing eleven members to Dresden and Kinkaid.

    I guess not all Denarians are built equal, because Snakeboy went down easily. Small Favor makes it clear that the Denarians all have their specialties. Some are deceivers, some have actual magical talent, others are just dumb muscle.

    Other than that minor speedbump, it's one hell of a ride.

    *Fallen angels with a human host, for those who ain't in the know.

    The Last Centurion by John Ringo.
    OK, I'll admit it: I'm starved for good military science fiction. Sitting through Halo 4 and Spartan Ops was a chore. Hearing that Sarah Palmer, the worst fictional representation of an officer in recent memory, is getting her own comic and game nearly sent me over the edge.
    The Last Centurion was a breath of fresh air because Bandit Six wasn't just a great character with balls of depletalloy, but he was also a believable leader. Because the book is written in a journal style, you get inside his head and learn the rationale for the decisions he makes.

    A fair warning: if you have a charitable view of government, you ain't going to like this book. If you hate infodumps, you are going to hate it. It takes place during a worldwide disaster, sort of a repeat of the Spanish Flu combined with a miniature ice age brought about by solar activity. It's a tough time, and it's only tougher because the President of the United States in 2020 is a leftist control freak.

    Most of the first quarter of the book is infodump, but it's very GOOD infodump*. Bandit Six explains a lot of things, like how tough farming actually is, why some states collapse and some survive when 30-60% of the population is wiped out, why nationalizing industries and forcing farms to grow organic is a stupid idea. And it's still entertaining.

    And kudos to John Ringo for managing to take a Bird Flu epidemic and make it sphincter-clenchingly terrifying. Not only that, but the book was written in 2008. In five years since, it's rather disquieting to see the parallels between the politics in the book and real life.

    *Please note that this is me saying this. Your mileage may vary, and probably will be lower.

    Honor of the Queen
    David Weber is great and all, and this book is definitely an improvement over the first one. There's still a lot of parts that make me think of Honor as a Mary Sue, and that Treecat ain't helping matters.

    Anyhow, political intrigue, space combat, and promise of an all-out war in future novels. Count me in.

    Monster Hunter International
    Take a world where monsters are real and a clear and present danger, but the Enlightenment has pushed them from the public consciousness. Outside that world is a parallel universe filled with eldritch abominations and uncountable armies of bug-eyed soldiers.
    Monsters are tough, fast and mean. Humans are crunchy and probably taste like french fries.

    Standing between the armies of darkness and the unsuspecting humans are Monster Hunters. This is the story of one monster hunter, who has joined up with the fantasy counterpart to Blackwater... only with more guns.

    "Evil Looms. Cowboy up. Kill it. Get paid."

    Guards! Guards!

    It's Terry Pratchett. Need I say more?

    Silentium

    OK, let's get something straight: Halo 4 is still a steaming pile of crap. But Silentium makes it somewhat better. Now we understand why the Didact was a drooling moron.

    Overall, the Forerunner Trilogy did a good job at fleshing out the Terminals from Halo 3, while pushing back the mysteries of the Forerunner. Silentium was probably the best-written, with Cryptum coming a close second.

    And that's it for the "Excellent". Will have to post more tomorrow. For now, sleep!

  3. #13

    Default Re: What Are You Reading?

    Quote Originally Posted by Quirel View Post
    As in the /game/ Homeworld? I LOVED that manual. And the game!
    *Sniff* I still remember how heart-breaking the loss of Kharak was.

    Probably the best example of how to write a manual for a game. In hindsight most of it seems likes filler since most of it wasn't essential reading/irrelevant to play or understand the game's story until you realise that it's whole purpose was nothing more but to give you a true sense/weight of the loss that is to come. Remarkable.
    Yes, that's right! That is indeed ME on the right.


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  4. #14
    TheEconomist's Avatar Lord of Economics
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    Default Re: What Are You Reading?

    @Quirel: I've been reading Hard Magic, first book in the Grimnoir series which is written by the same guy that did Monster Hunter International. I bought it as my "silly fun" book and was not disappointed. Lots of fun. Lots of action. Was going to do a type up on it in my next batch of "recently read". I'll probably dig into MHI whenever I get in the mood again for that silly fun instead of moving on to the next book in Grimnoir. The setting of MHI seems to appeal to me more but I chose to read Hard Magic since I had just gotten off of a Zombie/Vampire binge.



    Rest In Peace, Old Friend.

  5. #15

    Default Re: What Are You Reading?

    Quote Originally Posted by Quirel
    Now that I've cleaned spit and Diet Coke from my keyboard, I have to hear read your thoughts on the book.
    Silly Quirel. If you drink coke of all things, it's inevitable the taste will catch up with you.

    Luckily for us gentlemen of more discerning taste, The Thursday War is more like a lemon, lime and bitters. Not the best beverage that's avaliable in the cabinet of liquors of a certain brand (which is still FoR), but still tasting good nonetheless. So, while I can't remember every taste of said beverage, I can recall some key factors:

    *The lemon: No, not like that, you fanfic, M-rated wanabees! No, the lemon is the first thing I'll give it for is writing style/flow/pacing. This may seem petty, and maybe it is, but structure-wise, the book is very sound. The plot moves forward and never bogs down, the writing manages to avoid entering "Drearsville" which practically every other Traviss novel has done to one degree or another. Basically, the writing begins good, and stays good.

    *The lime: Not as impactful as the lemon, but still a taste of its own, and that's the characters. Characters that made far more of an impact on me than in Glasslands. Osman's still Osman, but I'm fine with that, she's the "straight woman," the "ordinary character who's distinguished by being ordinary around characters who aren't." There's Black-Box, who's still snarky and the equivalent of Durandal for the setting (Cortana being Leela, I suppose Mendicant Bias would be Tycho or Traxus IV, I suppose Guilty Spark could fill in), Parangosky's a "magnificant bastard," not Admiral "I hate Halsey because Halsey's no worse than myself, but I want to harp on her because nevermind that arc should have closed in Ghosts of Onyx and while Traviss is leaving things open a bit it's clear she wants us to agree with me" Parangosky, the other Kilo-Five members are okay, Naomi's at least somewhat sympathetic, and the Covenant characters feel more like Covenant (especially Jul, who I liked) rather than aliens who can't utter a single sentence without the words "as the humans say." Which brings me onto the bitters.

    *The bitters: Glasslands did this too, but its moral ambiguity was focussed on the Halsey debate. A debate I didn't mind as much as others, but still felt like a rehash of what had gone before. The Thursday War however, does things a bit different, where humans are no better than sangheili, and it's up to the reader to realize that. Gone are the moralizing speaches that have plagued Traviss's previous works, works that often had such ambiguity, but never made it a secret on where her own side was. Here we have a sangheili civil war that takes up most of the novel, interweaving with the context of said novel, and feeling natural to what might happen to their society post-Halo 3 (and does). And here we have humanity. This isn't Halo 4 humanity, the "we're so special because the Mantle says so, and we're really good at rebuilding over four years," this is a humanity who's willing to play dirty, let the sangheili kill themselves, use the Infinity only when it suits them (being constructed during the war, Infinity kinda gets a free pass), and are quite happy to plan to wipe the species out through their own food supply. Not because they're evil, but because it's a grim setting, and it's a practicality. It's perhaps the setting's only case of grey morality - true, it's been touched on (e.g. UEG/Insurrection), but I've always felt that it was clear who I should be siding with. I'm not 'meant' to feel sorry for the Innies executed at the beginning of Contact Harvest. I'm not 'meant' to mourn the loss of High Charity, even if millions of alien non-combatants are being killed and/or infested. Here however, I felt I was truly given a choice. Is Jul's choice to seek vengeance for Raia and reform the Covenant a moment to mourn, to curse another split-lip and go "you damn dirty alien!" Or should I cheer, that maybe, justice can be achieved?

    That's what seals the deal for me. Moral ambiguity across the entire board. Dropped by Halo 4 of course, but on its own, I appreciate it. It's all the good elements of Traviss's writing I've gotten used to, with none of the bad.

    Quote Originally Posted by Quirel
    As in the /game/ Homeworld? I LOVED that manual. And the game!
    Yeah, read the manuals. Unfortunately they got shorter with each installment, but the first one was a good read, an example of the 'good ol days' when manuals were actually manuals. Quite good, except I felt a bit letdown when it tells me everything about the Hilgarans/Kharak, then gives me nothing on the Taidaan bar their unit listing. I guess it's to let those things be uncovered in the game, but...well, you know...

    Quote Originally Posted by Quirel
    Anyhow, what do you mean about "Wheel of Time"? Is WoT too influential, or too derivative? It's been so long since I read the first book, I can't remember which it is, though I'm leaning towards the latter.
    A definate case of the latter.

    I'm fine with Tolkein tropes. I can still enjoy elves, dwarves, orcs, etc. But the thing is, WoT (or at least the first book) doesn't do anything with them, functioning identically. And there's the fact that book 1 is basically copied plotwise, the protagonists starting off in the equivalent of the Shire and ending in the equivalent of Mordor.

    Still, book 2's off to a more promising start.

    Quote Originally Posted by Quirel
    Guards! Guards!

    It's Terry Pratchett. Need I say more?
    Not for that book at least. It was the first Discworld novel I brought, courtesy of taking on the role of Carrot in a school play.

    Good times...

    Quote Originally Posted by Quirel
    Silentium

    OK, let's get something straight: Halo 4 is still a steaming pile of crap. But Silentium makes it somewhat better. Now we understand why the Didact was a drooling moron.

    Overall, the Forerunner Trilogy did a good job at fleshing out the Terminals from Halo 3, while pushing back the mysteries of the Forerunner. Silentium was probably the best-written, with Cryptum coming a close second.
    I agree that's the best of the trilogy, but for me, only by virtue of being "okay," the others being "bad."

    Unfortunately, I can't share the enthusiasm. So, to reverse my analogy:

    *The Diet: Too much being covered in too little a time. Or rather...well, I'll put it this way - it's like reading two different stories in one book. We spend the first half with the Librarian and Path Kethona stuff, then the second with 'war stuff.' Not enough time for either to really flesh it out, and it makes me wonder why we couldn't just, say, replace Primordium with Path Kethona stuff as opposed to aimlessly walking around for 200 pages.

    *The Coke: The 'war stuff.' This is very subjective, but I can't help but be disheartened. It's clear the Forerunner-Flood conflict isn't such a conflict, but rather "Forerunners vs. Precursors with the Flood just being a weapon like any other." True, kinda simplifying it, but going by, say, Origins, I never felt the need for orbital arches being used against the Forerunners. I never felt the need for Graveminds/Key Minds to just be Precursors in all but name. I never asked for the Flood to be gimped just so the Precursors could be bolstered as a threat.

    Like I said, subjective, but IMO, the Flood's been gimped, turned from this mysterious, unstoppable parasite to just the tool of a race of beings who aren't mysterious, and if they're unstoppable...well, we stopped the unstoppable back in H3, I'm not exactly quaking in my boots.

    *The Pepsi: I don't hold pepsi or coke to be superior, since they taste the same. But going by the analogy, pepsi tastes better because there's some stuff I like, especially the IsoDidact. Maybe I'm just glad he's no longer Bornstellar Makes Eternal Whining and contrasts nicely with the Ur-Didact, their conversations/debates/question of who was the 'true' Didact being what I liked most. But then I realize pepsi does taste like coke and learn that the Ur-Didact is as he is because of Flood/Precursor/Gravemind exposure stuff.

    I suppose I can't complain. It's at least an explanation as to why he acts as he does in H4. But again, it reinforces my notion that Faber would have been a better antagonist because Silentium aside, he has means, and motive. By the same logic, the Ur-Didact should be lashing out against the Forerunners and Flood rather than just humanity. It's just...well, that thing you know is coming. It's like an inoculation that'll solve an illness that passed its most painful stage long ago, but all you actually feel is a painful prick.

    So yeah. "Okay" in the end.

    Quote Originally Posted by TheEconomist
    The setting of MHI seems to appeal to me more but I chose to read Hard Magic since I had just gotten off of a Zombie/Vampire binge.
    Huh. Have you tried werewolves?
    Last edited by Hawki; 06-10-2013 at 03:46 AM.

  6. #16
    TheEconomist's Avatar Lord of Economics
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    Default Re: What Are You Reading?

    Werewolves are for ugly gothic chicks.

    TEAM VAMPIRE!



    Rest In Peace, Old Friend.

  7. #17

    Default Re: What Are You Reading?

    Goth chicks huh? Well, I suppose that explains why Bella chose Edward over Jacob then.

    Anyway, keeping it rolling, read more of The Great Hunt, my reaction having gone from "hey, this is kinda interesting" to "Light dammit, get on with it already!" To be fair, they have, but I would have preferred to plot to actually start moving before the end of the first 150 pages.

  8. #18
    TheEconomist's Avatar Lord of Economics
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    Epic fantasy is the antithesis of a fast moving plot.



    Rest In Peace, Old Friend.

  9. #19

    Default Re: What Are You Reading?

    Yeah, but even by epic fantasy standards it was dragging.

    Key word being "was" though, because I'm since up to page 285, and by the Wheel, the plot's actually moving! Or, rather, the characters are moving. Or, rather, Egwene and Nyvanae are at Tar Valon and I've got the feeling they'll be staying there for awhile, while Rand and co. keep searching for the Horn of Valere...for...some reason. Um...McGuffin!

    It's no wonder the series lasted fifteen books.

  10. #20
    TheEconomist's Avatar Lord of Economics
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    Meanwhile, I'm reading 'Under the Dome' which has about fifteen grade A Stephen King characters moving a mile a minute. It's an 1,100+ page monster, and, from what I can tell, no slow parts.

    Come to the dark side my friend. It's much more fun.

    In all seriousness, The Malazan Book of the Fallen might be a better choice. The general opinion I've come across is that its what the Wheel of Time should ahve been, epic multivolume storyline with a plethora of characters that actually go places. Or, perhaps, you should get the audiobook editions. I can "read" 1000 page monsters and feel like I've done nothing but sit through a season of television. Just load up the audiobook, pick a nice visualizer, and space out, all of the effort is taken out of reading. Atleast that's what I get. I can read about 15x more in audiobook form that physical form. It's probably not for everyone, but maybe you should try it sometime. Eye of the World flew by for me.
    Last edited by TheEconomist; 06-11-2013 at 07:42 PM.



    Rest In Peace, Old Friend.

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