What'cha reading?

You might like Colton Whitehead’s Zone One. It has been a while since I read it, so I can’t reflect on it in really particular ways, but it was a pretty good zombie story, specifically in the post-apocalypse “how do we stabilize society while remaining non-zombies” sort of period.

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I’m halfway through The Sudden Appearance Of Hope by Claire North.
Hope Arden is a woman who nobody remembers. Her family and friends forgot her at age 16, instead merely seeing a stranger met for the first time each time they see her. Anyone new she meets forgets her within minutes of being out of range of sight or hearing.

In the book she is in her twenties, living a lonely existence. Stealing to live, or for excitement, stealing items value of from the elite to have some kind of impact on the world.

When a woman she knew commits suicide, seemingly driven by feelings of inadequacy caused by an enormously popular and incredibly invasive “Life Improvement” app called Perfection, she dedicates herself to trying to take it and the company responsible for it down.

I’m enjoying it a hell of a lot so far.

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I don’t know how well they cover societal collapse, but I’ve heard great things about Charlie Higson’s The Enemy series.

I read All Systems Red, a sci-fi novella by Martha Wells on Friday, and I guess I liked it so much I read through most of the other three novellas over the weekend, and finished up the series just now.

They’re all part of a small series called The Murderbot Diaries, lol. They’re about a security robot who has hacked its governance unit (a chip or st that makes it follow commands), and has to pretend it’s still a robot robot so the company it “works for” doesn’t realize it’s not under their control anymore, and narrates through it’s thinking as it grapples with its feelings, and trying to understand the humans it is contracted to protect. I picked the first one up because it seemed like a cool, short read (~150 pages on my phone), and came away from it thinking it a really interesting reflection on bodies, autonomy, and human behaviour. It was also funny and weirdly sweet sometimes.

The other books in the series continue to explore these themes and also explores labour, gender, and socio-economics sometimes. Reminded me why I like science fiction and progressive work by Ursula K Le Guin. Packaged in small, well-contained adventures - really recommend if you like sci-fi.


Currently reading Black Leopard, Red Wolf, which is fascinating, but challenging to my 2019 attention span. I can tell that 15 year old me would’ve loved this book, but 30 year old me might struggle to finish it.

But speaking of finished books, I just got to the end of Karen Thompson Walker’s The Dreamers, which is prescient and beautiful and sad. As a book about an epidemic of a new disease which causes those with it to fall into an endless deep sleep, it serves as an interesting companion to Mossfegh’s My Year of Rest and Relaxation. Both books are deeply involved with feelings of post-millennial malaise, and the ambivalent idea that the cruel society we’ve built around ourselves is somehow preferable to what would come from its dissolution.

Also, I’m near the end of Hanif Abdurraqib’s Go Ahead in the Rain (his memoir/band biography/ longform CNF about a Tribe Called Quest) and it’s even better than his last book, which was one of my faves from the past few years. Highly recommended for anyone who appreciates maximalist criticism which centers the personal connections to the art/artists being deconstructed. Abdurraqib is one of the finest, smartest music critics around, and you should definitely not sleep on his books.

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I just finished Stephen King’s Elevation (it’s a nice, short little book). And with the new Pet Semetary trailer I’m finally getting around to reading that. I’m familiar with the story but it doesn’t kill the enjoyment of the book, which is great so far. I became a King fan years ago, and have read most of his oldest stuff (The Dark Tower made me a fan), but I hadn’t read Pet Semetary yet. And with him usually releasing 2 new books every year, I figured I should catch up on some of his classics that I haven’t read yet before the next one The Institute comes out in September. He really cranks em out!

Connect by Julian Gough. Sci-fi/Thriller that starts out very slow then rapidly escalates into an action movie pace. A few subplots that intertwine: rapid increase of intelligence via technology, AI sentience, father-son-mother dynamics, and seeing reality as a vast interconnected living thing vs. a cold unfeeling universe of random chance.
Was a decent read, I definately had to struggle to keep going at the beginning and I probably wouldn’t have if a friend hadn’t reccomended this and wanted to talk about it.


So, I’m half-way through Mona Lisa Overdrive, and while it’s slow to start, I like it a lot better than Count Zero. At times, it feels a bit fan servicey with well-known characters calling back to previous characters. While I loved Molly’s visit to the Finn shrine, it definitely felt like a exposition dump as Gibson is moving his pieces in place. I’m still not sure what’s going on with all these characters overlapping, but it feels like things are ramping up to second confrontation with Lady3Jane, which is exciting!

It have this weird feeling with Count Zero and Mona Lisa Overdrive though… I feel like Gibson took a lot of the critique of “Neuromancer is almost impenetrable with it’s plot being completely surrounded in this language of dream-like description encased in worn plastic and styrofoam.” And it affected the two novels proceeding it. It just doesn’t have that UMPH that Neuromancer had, in both positive and negative ways. I’ll admit, I would get lost in what’s going on in Neuromancer with how he describes his world, and I’d have to reflect on synopsis from time to time to get a grip on what is actually going on. I don’t feel that way with the other two Sprawl books, but then it doesn’t FEEL like Neuromancer. That ‘getting lost’ feeling was part of what makes Neuromancer feel special.

Am I alone in feeling like this? I hear Pattern Recognition is him returning to form.

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I just finished in more or less one 5 hour sitting Christopher Priest’s The Islanders and like. Whoof. I am gonna be thinking about this book for A While.

Short pitch: it’s positioned as a gazetteer of a planet whose middle latitudes are a vast ocean dotted with islands, referred to collectively as the “Dream Archipelago” while a northern continent holds two alliances who fight a seemingly endless war on a mostly barren southern continent, necessitating the constant movement of troops and materiel across the islands. Also there’s a “temporal vortex” above the equator makes air travel across the islands and any large scale mapping difficult-to-impossible. I don’t entirely understand the vortex bit, but it seems like most people in-universe don’t either.

It’s divided into entries for various islands or island groups, and a lot of them are fairly straightforward explanations of island history, industries, travel expectations, etc., but some of them (generally the more interesting ones) are journal entries, epistolaries, a coerced confession of murder, things of that nature.
It does a wonderful job of throwing you into a world and letting you piece together, using terms without giving a definition and letting you pick up the meaning through context (or just never giving you the meaning. I still don’t know what erotomane laws are!)

The thing I really love is that in a pop culture landscape of exhaustive wikis and fan theories built on frame-by-frame hunting explaining how every minute aspect fits together, this book is just delightfully unsolvable. The stories fit together and you’ll understand more as you read, story arcs and recurring characters fit together, but there’s so much that’s unanswered questions and details that can’t possibly all fit together, and I will never fully understand this world and I love it so, so much.


I’m sure you’re familiar with YouTuber Trae Crowder; think he dubs himself the redneck liberal. He’s from a deep red state; might even be Alabama. My state, Colorado, is blueing up quite nicely, despite having the conservative Mecca. The toughest part for me is being a liberal Christian; many church goers are drinking some sort of Kool Aid. I attend one of the few good ones.

There is another book using that setting called the Gradual. It is about a muscian from one of the countries at war who visits the islands, in part because there was a musican from one of them that influenced him. He gets involved with the people who make use of the variable nature of time across the islands for their own ends.

And earlier books I have not read called The Affirmation and the Dream Archipelago


I just finished Memoir of an Infantry Officer, a partially fictional mostly autobiographical telling of Siegfried Sassoon time in the British army in France of WWI. Was really interesting to see his thoughts on the war turn as it progresses ending with him protesting the war and nearly being court marshaled for it.

Reading the ‘Making of Star Wars’ series by JW Rinzler, currently on Empire Strikes Back.

Awfully fascinating and it did give me a ton of respect for Lucas who seemed to have experienced the worst possible circumstances while making the first film. I can’t imagine how much his physical and mental health was destroyed making the first film.

That said, the books seem to downplay if not erase his wife’s crucial role in the production of the series when I think it’s safe to say she was instrumental in making Star Wars have heart and character, and of course, editing important sections in the film like the final battle on the Death Star and she got an Academy Award in Editing for that.

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I’m still slowly reading Record of a Spaceborn few. As expected it’s pretty fantastic, Becky Chambers is really one of the best authors going right now.

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After seeing Sherlock Holmes dramatised, parodied and referenced so frequently, I decided I needed to finally familiarise myself with the source material!

I’m reading the first Bakemonogatari LN by Nisioisin.

I kind of hate it.


I was surprised to see a translated LN in my Barnes and Noble, and it was this series.

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I’ve seen a few here and there. I’m interested in the light novel format and grabbed this because the series and author are popular. But reading this… I’m confused as to why?

And I’m confused as to why I mostly find universal praise. I’m having trouble finding critical examinations of the work.

Also, watching the anime super reinforced my dislike of the parts I dislike here!

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It’s wierd and offbeat and I loved how they turned missing animation into a killer animation style. I think visually the anime is incredible in a lot of ways that are really really my thing.

Howeverrrrrr, the series is gross, really really gross. It’s the type of gross that “wierd and offbeat” tends provide a plausible smoke screen too (though tbh it does a terrible job) it’s pretty fake deep too, and that’s probably why it’s beloved. A great visual style, plus the appearance of deep topics, leads to the praise.

Katanagatari is Nisio’s much better, less gross (from what I remember) work anyways.


Yeah this is how I’m feeling about it. I like parts of it… but I don’t know if I’m willing to wade through the garbage to get it.