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What'cha Reading?

Octopus Prime

Jingle Device
(He/Him)
Finished off John Schwartzwelders The Exploding Detective, which was a lot more focused than the rest of the Frank Burly stories, to its detriment. Normally, they’re detective stories in only the loosest sense, and more stream of consciousness stories about a loudmouth asshole who stumbles onto a series of completely unrelated set pieces that, if you’re lucky, kinda resolve each other; which honestly is what I love about them. It’s like someone transcribed a fever dream and added jokes. This one has elements of that, but it’s largely about Frank accidentally becoming a superhero when a publicity stunt is misinterpreted and then trying to get out of it.

It doesn’t really work as a detective story, since there isn’t any, and it doesn’t work as a superhero pastiche, and I’m not sure if John was really invested or completely disinterested in the story he was telling since there wasn’t any of The sense that he got bored and shifted to a completely unrelated story in the middle.

Ah well, can’t win em all.

Next up is The City and the Dungeon, which I don’t remember buying, because the One Button Checkout option on Kindle is a double edged sword.
 

Octopus Prime

Jingle Device
(He/Him)
Read the first chapter and this book... is a video game. It is specifically a dungeon crawler, but it is 100% a video game.

One of the first things the protagonists does is have a spell cast on him that lets him see his stats, and the stats of others, then goes off to a Quest Board to find a side quest suitable for his experience level.
 

Lokii

It's always time for burgers
(He/Him)
Staff member
Moderator
I've always been curious about LitRPGs, but I've never had the guts to take the plunge.
 

Lokii

It's always time for burgers
(He/Him)
Staff member
Moderator
Nope, it's a thriving genre in the self-published world.
 
I thought Thinner was decent. First half was more exciting than the second half though, and I wish he wrote a better conclusion. I wanted to know what exactly happened after. Similar to The Long Walk, it just seemed to end.

Moving on to Home Before Dark by Riley Sager
 

Mightyblue

aggro table, shmaggro table
(He/Him/His)
Like isekai stuff, litRPG is pretty hit and miss. It's where most of the pulp fantasy moved in the last couple years, but there are some good ones floating around.
 
Highly approved Home Before Dark, better than Lock Every Door. I had a feeling who did it and I enjoyed the red herrings

Now reading Blackwater by Michael McDowell
 

Mightyblue

aggro table, shmaggro table
(He/Him/His)
Tao Wong's System Apocalpyse is one of the better series, I'll have to dig through my reads to see what I'd actually recommend to others.
 

Mightyblue

aggro table, shmaggro table
(He/Him/His)
So, LitRPG started a decade and change ago in Russia (more or less, there are precursors all over the place but the formalized beginning of the genre is recognized to be Russia), then trickled into Japan via translations--if you've ever heard of Sword Art Online that's probably the first famous litRPG series both in Japan and America (in localized form). Once SAO trickled into domestic anime circles, people starting trying to hunt down simliar things and found the Russian novels. A few outfits started licensing and translating those early novel series, and as domestic authors started to become more familiar with the trappings of the genre we started to get native english LitRPG and gamelit (basically a softer version with no stat sheets and hard numbers).

Aleron Kong was basically the first EN native author to hit it relatively big on the ebook market via Kindle Unlimited, and more authors have trickled into writing in the genre(s) as the years have gone on. As far as recommendations go, I wouldn't actually recommend Kong (he's got a lot of the same issues with women that a lot of the translated Russian authors do), but to wit:

The Good:
Tao Wong - System Apocalypse series - An ongoing set of novels detailing what would happen if the real world was suddenly included in a MMO-ish RPG system including random monster spawns, dungeon formations, etc. It follows the viewpoint of a single main character as he goes from burned-out and mildly suicidal to gradually healing and pulling his head out of his ass as the series goes on.

EA Hooper - World-Tree Online - A finished trilogy of novels about a bunch of people stuck in a time-dilated virtual reality MMO after a world update gone wrong; it's a very meditative set of books that deals with the cast dealing with their traumas and issues outside of the game as they gradually work towards clearing the game and forcing it to reboot and log everyone out.

Seth Ring - Terra Nova series - Ongoing series about a young man with physical developmental disabilities who enters a medical VR immersion tank to gradually correct his medical issues, only to gain a very unexpected series of buffs to his characters due to those disabilities that punt him off the game's traditional progression path.

Those are probably the three series I'd recommend for a new reader to the genre as they do try to ease you into the flow of things and related gaming terminology without expecting the reader to know all of this stuff already.
 

Positronic Brain

Out Of Warranty
(He/him)
Cat Valente's Space Opera has a killer premise - what if in the Galactic Community, in an effort to keep wars from breaking out, participation in Galactic Eurovision was mandatory for all first contacts? And, no pressure, but last place gets completely annihilated. Ah, hello Earth! Welcome to the galaxy - hope you have a strong representative. We're partial to the guy who wrote the theme of the He-Man TV Show, but I guess this washed up British glam rocker with a space motif will do.

The prose is dense, but good. Feels like a more verbose Douglas Adams with long run-off sentences, which totally works for the tone.

Anyway, it's not just about a good beat, it's what you do with it. Showmanship. Theater. Flash. The Trillion Kingdoms of Yuz won three cycles ago with an upbeat little earworm called "Love Means Forgiving the Sins of our Colonial Expansion Phase," and when the bass dropped, their entire proletariat became a comet.

Great fun so far.
 
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Issun

Could be a fren
The Priory of the Orange Tree starts off verrryy sloowwlly. Once it gets going though, it's some whiz-bang doorstopper fantasy. Plus all 4 POV characters are queer and/or PoC, which is neat.

Ead/Eadaz is Vin but cooler and much more complex.
 
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shivam

commander damage
(he/hiim)
Sid Meier's Memoir was *hella good*, and not just from a fan perspective. it was insightful, humble, talked about design lessons and expectations and just a lovely read overall.
 
Reading something a bit out of my zone with some alternate history, Once There Was a Way: What if The Beatles Stayed Together? by Bryce Zabel
 
That Beatles book was fantastic, so far my favorite of the month

Anyway, now reading The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow
 
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1. OFW was fair, a bit too long though
2. Ended up finally reading This is How You Lose the Time War. really enjoyed it
3. Currently rereading The Final Empire. I read it more than 5 years ago, but I didn't immediately go to WOA because a lot of the Goodreads ratings seemed so divisive. Well, I finally decide to go through with it
 

Adrenaline

Post Reader
(He/Him)
I read The Trouble with Peace, the second part of the new First Law trilogy by Joe Abercrombie. It is bruuuutal.

It's one of those stories where things would basically be fine if at least some of the characters spoke openly and honestly, but all of them fail to do so out of self interest. It's really good.
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
Ended up finally reading This is How You Lose the Time War. really enjoyed it

I also just finished this! Quite good. Moving onto The Haunting of Tram Car 015 tonight, since I'm apparently just following the Talking Time Reading List now.
 

Matchstick

(He/Him)
I also just finished this! Quite good. Moving onto The Haunting of Tram Car 015 tonight, since I'm apparently just following the Talking Time Reading List now.

I've totally dug pretty much everything I've read from P. Djeli Clark. The Cairo stories are getting a novel next year, and I'm super excited for it.
 

Nich

stuck in baby prison
(he/him)
I remembered Battle Ground came out and got to reading it. First half of the book was a little heavy on setpieces that boiled down to "a lot of incredibly powerful supernatural entities fought each other while I watched" but I do admire Butcher's ability to find new ways to upend Dresden's status quo.
 
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