I just got volume 5 of Mark Z Danielewski’s The Familiar along with Haruki Murakami’s IQ84. Haven’t decided which I will tackle first, but I’m pretty excited about starting one of these soon.
I got a lot of books for Christmas which I’ve mostly already finished. But I saved the biggest for last, and The Tale of Genji is gonna take me awhile.
over winter break i read brandon sanderson’s stormlight archive series
and then read it again
and then a third time
and then read almost all his other books
so that’s where my life is at!!!
another book i read is provenance by ann leckie, which is a nice one-off novel set in the same universe as the imperial radch trilogy (which i loved). it’s kind of a murder mystery with some interplanetary poltics mixed in. i really enjoyed it! ann leckie’s worlds are exactly the sort of stuff i’ve always wanted to see from sci-fi. i’ve run out of books to read (that’s a lie. i’m still putting off reading the song of achilles because it sounds sad) so i might go back and give ancillary justice and its sequels a re-read.
I love a historical thriller. I would call it a guilty pleasure, but I’m not at all guilty about it.
I just finished the most recent Giordano Bruno novel: Conspiracy by S. J. Parris. Set in Paris in the late 16th century amid violent tensions between followers of the Catholic church and Protestants.
As always, a well paced story that kept my attention to the end, and enhanced by my only recently discovering that Giordano Buno was a real person - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giordano_Bruno
We All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler
I bought this a year or two ago, and can’t remember what it was that prompted me to buy it. I therefore picked it up to start reading a couple of days ago with no expectations, and it really surprised me. I’m gripped.
A Visit from the Goon Squad , Jennifer Egan
Enjoyed this quite a bit, though it was challenging because every chapter is from the point of view of a different character, in a different place and time, and the relationship to previous characters sometimes tenuous.
As you proceed through the story, though, the whole picture starts to form, resolving in a fairly satisfying pay off at the end.
Lightless Trilogy, C.A. Higgins
Sci fi trilogy about an experimental ship, two rogues, a ruthless agent pursuing them, and an AI that is accidentally created in the process.
I found the last two books disappointing, because they spend most of the time world building and fleshing out the characters, normally a great thing!, but the part of the story I was most interested in, the monstrous AI, is pushed into the background.
Also the AI in the story is very much a creature out of a horror novel, not her fault, it’s because of the circumstances of her creation, but that’s what you’re getting in this book, as opposed to a more nuanced approach.
Just some light reading.
The Looming Tower by Lawrence Wright
and The Civil War: A Narrative by Shelby Foote
I’m giving Steven Erikson’s Malazan series a shot as I’ve been in the mood for epic fantasy. I actually read a hundred pages of Gardens of the Moon a ways back and put the book down for something else. I’m further along now on my reread and having some of the same problems as before - that is, this first book feels like a third book in a series, where all the characters and their motivations have been established.
And now I’m to the point where a whole new set of characters are being introduced in pulling together the threads of some elaborate conspiracy. But I don’t care a jot about any of these people. Some of the world building is neat, but I’m getting impatient with how dry and bland the whole affair is thus far. Makes me want to read GRRM/Abercrombie and writers of that ilk, who know how to construct compelling characters and dialogue rather than copy/paste fantasy archetypes.
Gardens is the weakest and the common advice is if you don’t like it skip to Deadhouse Gates which takes place on a different continent with an entirely different cast and is considered a better written book. If you don’t like Deadhouse then drop the series.
Your problem with it being a third book in the series with all the characters established will continue, it a central part of the series to drop the reader in media res, particularly for the first half of the series.
This character intro for the Deadhouse gates might help with that
After trying out a few books that didn’t click with me (like four in a row now, so frustrating) I decided to dive into one of the fantasy fundamentals I hadn’t heard of until a month or so ago (thanks Matthew Colville):
As a D&D geek it’s so much fun to see the origin of a couple of fundamental ideas of D&D. It reads like a true mythos, very good fun. After this I think I’m going to try 1Q84.
I’m sticking with it for now and will likely try Deadhouse Gates as well. There’s something comforting in the tropes Erikson’s laying out there - I mean this is some fantasy-ass Epic Fantasy - and at least he’s finished with the series, unlike good ole GRRM.
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, by Junior Diaz.
Recommended by @BenJovi in this thread: Any Books Like Night In The Woods Or Kentucky Route 0?
(trying to get better about crediting people for reccomends)
Great book! I can definately empathize with Oscar and his love for “the Genres”. It was also amusing (but sad!) getting a history lesson of the Dominican Republic through the eyes and metaphors of a genre dork.
Running the classics back again. This is like one of my favorite books, and for some reason I had a really strong urge to go back and reread it. It’s even more melancholy and existentially depressing this time than when I read it a few years ago, which is an accomplishment. Maybe after this I’ll find the motivation to continue reading Catch-22, but it’s tough to actually read novels recreationally in college, although I’d love to do it more.
Just finished volume 5 of The Familiar. It continues to be a curious piece, although no moment so far has managed to hit the same sense of shock and discovery as “Here seems a good place to pause” in vol. 1. The volume ends with the actual stakes of the whole series finally explained, and Xanther (the closest thing the series has to a protagonist) has been clued in on what the hell is going on. Everyone else is just trying to avoid the fallout, with varying degrees of success. The illustrated interlude in this volume is also the moment where you understand the point of the illustrated interludes.
A pity that volume 6 has apparently been delayed, but volume 5 is meant to be the end of “season one” anyway so at least it ends without a cliffhanger - more of a statement of what the new situation is. I’m impressed with how it has ramped up the horror of what’s happening the further into the series it’s gone. Like I said, this volume ends with you knowing what the stakes are, and the stakes are… everything.
Turns out there was a website dedicated to the philosophy of science fiction that is no longer publishing but this essay on Ian M Banks Culture is interesting.
Finished Ruby Rucker’s Postsingular . I read it cause someone somewhere said it was one of the better predictors of the present state (came out in 2007) of the internet and it effect on culture in terms of advertising, the struggle of distinguishing fact from fiction and the access to information about others. That part of it was interesting both for what matches today and what doesn’t the plot not so much particularly towards the end when it got more action focused. It reminded of the HBO series the comeback that came out in 2005 which was pretty prescient on celebrity culture and coverage.
I also finished Chernyshevskii: The Man and the Journalist by William F. Woehrlin. Chernyshevskii was an influential figure in Russian revolutionary circles particularly with his novel What is to be done. Lenin used the title for his pamphlet which expressed his belief in the need for a vanguard, similar to a character in that novel.
I have been reading about Russian history for the last year on and off and this was a decent look into the arguments happening in Russia in the mid to late 1800’s over the future of the country and its form of government. Joseph Frank biography of Dostoyevsky was pretty good as well since Dostoyevsky wrote against the radical change that Chernyshevskii wrote in favour of.
The Arrival or Stories of Your Life and Others, Ted Chiang.
Picked this up because I liked the movie The Arrival, and like a dummy assumed the whole book was what the movie was based on! It’s actually collection of short stories, the first one being about a miner who is working on the tower of babel in ancient times. As I was reading I was like OK, this is pretty random but maybe this connects to aliens making contact somehow…
In my defense the book is now actually titled The Arrival, to entice new readers (hey, worked on me).
Anyway, it’s a great sci fi short story collection. I enjoyed one of the last stories which involves a technology that alters the brain so we aren’t affected by perceptions of human attractiveness. There’s a liberal college that is trying to make it mandatory for students to have this alteration, and the controversy that follows is written in a documentary format.
Black Against Empire. Incredibly compelling account of the Black Panther Party-- I’m not coming into it totally ignorant but it’s such a relief to read after growing up hearing that the BPP was just some sort of reverse-KKK.
This sounds super interesting, I’m adding it to my reading pile!
I haven’t had a lot of time to read recently, so I only just got around to finishing All The Birds In The Sky by Charlie Jane Anders. I overall enjoyed it a lot, the characters felt so fleshed out and real and the way the book follows them through childhood to let you feel like you better understand why they became the adults that they did is great. The ending is pretty rubbish though, it felt very much like the author just ran out of ideas and was like “Okay, book over now.”
Now I’m reading City of Stairs by Robert Jackson, which has completely hooked me. I’ve been skipping hanging out with friends at work at lunch to read it, i’ve been reading on my commute, i’ve been sneaking a page or two here and there at my desk when nobody is looking. Damn good book so far.
If people are interested in reading more SF by women this website focuses on those written in the 20th century. It went quite last year but is back and their newest review was of Joanna Russ short story collection the hidden side of the moon
Someone in the Resetera monthly book club thread (continuing the lost Neogaf book threads) reccomended Warcross by Marie Lu. Did not enjoy it very much, way too YA for my tastes but wanted to give it a try. Barely explained technology, teenage protagonist becomes the champion VR esports player while solving a mystery, soap opera level plot twists, that’s the general idea.
Besides that, re read the two sci fi novels of Becky Chambers. Still great, deserve all the praise they’ve gotten.
Some Ursula Le Guin books coming, more reccomends from the Resetera thread.