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#526

I finished The Stand a few weeks ago. It was fine. 1200 pages of fine. Now I’m reading a shorter detective novel, as I am wont to do: Walter Mosley’s Black Betty. The book I read prior to The Stand was Mosley’s White Butterfly (I’m reading them in published order), and it’s telling how prescient his work still is - or, more realistically, how little has changed.

These aren’t super old books (earliest is 1990), but the issues that protagonist Easy Rawlins deals with as a black man in post-war LA feel like they’ve been plucked from the headlines. Black Betty has a subplot about sexual consent, and of course every interaction Easy has in each book is framed by race. Rawlins is a detective who is turned to by white men when they need information that can only be found in black neighborhoods, so often a shared blackness is the pretext of his interactions. Alternatively, he reluctantly code-switches (or tries to) when necessary, and his success and failures in doing so are painful either way.

The books are narrated by Rawlins, and there is a downbeat acceptance of racial dynamics that says more in three or four words than any exposition otherwise would. For example, a tense interaction with a white man who calls him the n-word and pulls a gun on him ends with the insight, “That’s how it is in America,” and basically broke my heart. It speaks to Mosley’s skill that he is able to say so much, so succinctly, and hearkens back to (and often improves upon) the clipped language of crime novelists Chandler, Cain, and Hammett of decades prior. His prose has significantly more heart than theirs, and as such I prefer his work, which is saying a fucking lot.

If you’re curious about Mosley’s work but don’t want to commit to a book (brief though they are!), absolUTELY watch Devil in a Blue Dress, which is a stellar adaptation of the first Easy Rawlins mystery of the same name, starring Denzel Washington. It’s a fantastic detective film in its own right, and absolutely nails the tone and character of his books.


#527

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I’ve had Pride and Prejudice and Zombies forever, but it was lost on me since I’d never read OG Pride and Prejudice. Figured I’d finally do my homework. Will immediately follow up with my wife’s six-tape VHS P&P series. Just have to locate her DaeWoo VCR to watch them.


#528

How did you find Record of a Spaceborn Few compared to the first two? I just picked it up and it’ll be my read after Spinning Silver because I loved the first two, so interested to hear your thoughts on it.

I personally liked a Closed and Common orbit more than The Long Way To An Angry Planet, which shocked me because TLWTAAP is one of those books that after reading it I was like “Alright, you can’t do a satisfying sequel to that. It’s too good.” But the whole focus of the sequel being on feeling uncomfortable in your own body is something I (and I’m sure most people really) can pretty personally relate to so it struck closer to home.


#529

Record of a Spaceborn Few is shorter, and spends much more time divided between different characters. I found the story of the Exodan fleet compelling because its about a unique culture that finds itself at a crossroads. The question of if a truely communal society can survive if it’s not in isolation.

If pressed I’d say I’d prefer the other book in the trilogy because I like the Aliens she’s created in this universe and want to know more about them, and this is a book about humans. With the exception of learning about one of the more interesting species, the Harmagians -it does dive into their culture and origins.


#530

Oh it’s exciting to see there is a new Becky Chambers book! I enjoyed her first two - didn’t realize a new one was here already :smile:


#531


Winter Tide by Ruthann’s Emrys. I enjoyed this book, the author takes ideas and concepts from some of Lovecraft’s stories and combines them in a more modern setting. Focus of the book is the villagers of Innsmouth, who instead of monstrous abmoninations are more of an illustration of the treatment of the alienated and different.
Quick summary is: the strange fish people of Innsmouth are rounded up and put into camps by the US government in the 1920s. Cut to the end of WW2, one of the only survivors is recruited to go back to Massachusetts and investigate rumors of body swapping.


#532

I’m reading Snow Crash for the first (and probably only time). I have some thoughts about Snow Crash.

The way YT is written about is gross. I’ve counted three ableist slurs across the first half of the book. For every paragraph of excellent writing that reminds me of the best parts of later Stephenson works like Cryptonomicon or Seveneves there is like a sentence that is just so out of place bad that I have to put the book down for a moment. I feel like it kind of fails at being satire of cyberpunk… this largely because it shares very specific tropes with Ready Player One and as a result rests in a similar space in my mind as RPO.

Maybe I’m not enjoying Snow Crash because it reminds me of RPO, which was way way worse?

Anyway, Snow Crash is RPO-tier cyberpunk and I can’t recommend it. Lol


#533

I’m reading Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz. It’s a novel within a novel. It starts with an editor reading the latest book in a detective series. The editor (and the reader) reads the whole thing before the rest of the plot happens. I won’t spoil anything, but it’s interesting so far. I hope the ending doesn’t fall flat because I’m really intrigued.


#534

More summer reading, this time its The Girl From Rawblood by Catriona Ward, a Gothic Horror novel that came highly recommended.
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The book jumps back and forth through time, following several generations of a family suffering from a vague curse. I found the story to be slow paced at times, very much what I’d expect from a romance era style of book. The ending was extremely satisfying, and I enjoyed everything about the ghost herself when she is finally revealed. Reminded me of the main character of the recent movie A Ghost Story, how she exists in all times at once.


#535

I just finished All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. It is beautiful, gripping, and heartbreaking.


#536

I binged Zoje Stage’s debut novel, called Baby Teeth, in two days. Highly recommended for folks who like slowly creeping psychological horror .


#537

Recently read both of Nagata Kabi’s autobiographical mangas, My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness and My Solo Exchange Diary, both unbelievably poignant and crushingly real. My Solo Exchange Diary is more of a collection of personal essays than an overarching work like MLEwL is, but I still enjoyed it immensely.


#538

Just started Blood of Elves. Going to have a 18+ hour drive this upcoming weekend for a move so gonna read that, check out the latest Palahniuk novel cause I am compelled to, maybe finish Underground Railroad.


#539

i was inspired by Animes to go read through a collection of some of the Arsene Lupin novels (and a few short stories) by Maurice Leblanc. The early ones were very good (The Hollow Needle in particular is one of the best adventure stories i’ve ever read) but the later ones (written and set during WW1) were weirdly over-patriotic and Lupin seemed very out of character (in particular his willingness to straight up kill people, as long as they’re German or working for Germans) and they weren’t good. i’ll probably try to find some of the post-war stories to see if they got better afterwards.


#540

Oh thank god, it’s not just me. I remember hearing so much praise heaped on Snow Crash and when I finally got around to reading it I basically just felt gross reading it. The YT stuff in particular is just… beyond grody in a way that only the ridiculous fascination with pubic hair in Pillars of the Earth and basically any time George RR Martin talks about doin’ it in Game of Thrones have since matched. That all these books are written by old white dudes who just seem real into discussing teenage girls banging older dudes is…

Man, I got on a tangent there. My point is that even if you removed all the gross YT bits from it, Snow Crash would still be… kind of a lousy book? It has cool ideas (the idea of a linguistic crash screen is pretty rad, for example), but man. Man. There’s just too much bad in that book to make it worth the trip.


#541

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Obscura, Sci Fi thriller by Joe Hart. Was a fun read, goes in some interesting directions and takes some creepy turns. The protagonist is a Neurologist who is recruited by NASA to investigate some problems with a new form of transportation.

I love Stephenson’s work but Snow Crash is not one I’d generally reccomend to people. The guy has been absurdly prolific so there is a lot to choose from. Lately I’ve been leaning towards the Baroque Cycle trilogy as my favorite, but it’s a big investment to ask in terms of reading time.


#542

I keep listening to N.K. Jemisins acceptance speech after she made history on sunday by becoming the first author to win three Hugo Awards for Best Novel in a row. It’s soooo good, inspiring and just what we need at this point in time:


#543

The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell, was a horror book reccomended in the resetera book thread. The setting is gothic horror: recently windowed victorian woman moves into a haunted manor deep in the English countryside. Is written in a more contemporary style than the last gothic horror book I read, The Girl From Rawblood. The main conceit is scary but I kept thinking of that part from Tales From the Hood with the haunted painting and the tiny killer dolls.

We are Where the Nightmares Go and other stories by C. Robert Cargill, I picked up at the library because the cover grabbed me, then I realized it was the same author as Sea of Rust. Like any short story collection there’s highs and lows, but overall I’d reccomend it. My favorite was a story that takes place in the world of Clive Barker’s Nightbreed, from the point of view of a creature that eats the sins of others.


#544

I recently bought Sunvault: Stories Of Solarpunk And Eco-Speculation. I’ve been looking at it for a while and I am excited to check it out.


#545


Still on my geek arse Star Trek kick, and god damn is this series cheesy. It’s also pretty sexist (though the misogyny champion of Star Trek books as far as I can tell remains Christopher L. Bennett, who combines his sexism with a healthy does of racial fetishisation), with literally every woman so far having romance/sex be an overwhelming obsession at some point or other, but a lot of the men seemingly escaping that. Still, it expands the Star Trek universe and gives another corner of the quadrant to explore, which is nice. But mainly I’m reading it to understand all the future crossovers better.