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  #10441  
Old 11-07-2015, 12:34 AM
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Originally Posted by Octopus Prime View Post
Incidentally, I love that The Deadlights, the awful, profane light that is the antithesis of all life, a force so horrifying that to even look at is would shatter the mind is... orange.

Yeah. You'd think that a mind-defying, ancient Lovecraftian evil would manifest itself into our minds as a made-up imaginary color, like fuchsia or mauve.
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  #10442  
Old 11-07-2015, 10:04 AM
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Yeah. You'd think that a mind-defying, ancient Lovecraftian evil would manifest itself into our minds as a made-up imaginary color, like fuchsia or mauve.
Octarine is RIGHT there!
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  #10443  
Old 11-08-2015, 11:07 AM
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It had been a while since I read any of the Vorkosigan saga, so I rectified that by running through all of Miles Errant, which means I read "Borders of Infinity", Brothers in Arms, and Mirror Dance. Holy shit. The first one was an enjoyable novella similar to the previous Miles stuff I'd read. Brothers in Arms brought in a huge new element midway through the first book that made me wonder so much how the hell it was going to change things going forward that I had to dive right into Mirror Dance. That one ranks up there with the best of the books so far for me not least for mixing things up as well as bringing Aral and Cordelia back into the story (at least for a bit).
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  #10444  
Old 11-08-2015, 12:35 PM
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A Borrowed Man by Gene Wolfe. I'm only a few chapters in, but I like it better than his last few novels. It doesn't have the depth that his old work does, though. Unfortunately, I think his age and other factors (long-time wife died of Alzheimer's recently, and he's now in an assisted living facility) are affecting the quality of his work. It reminds me of Arthur C. Clarke's later work, like 3001. Makes me sad, so I hope he's still writing because he loves doing it, and not for financial/contract reasons.
I get the impression it's because he loves doing it. And he seems to be doing relatively well for a man of his age: He was at the World Fantasy Con in Saratoga Springs this weekend.

I'm reading this as well; not sure yet how I rank it. The last of his books I was really taken with was The Sorcerer's House, but we'll see how this goes.
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  #10445  
Old 11-10-2015, 08:10 AM
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Back to some lighter, albeit longer, fare with The Sot-Weed Factor by John Barth
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  #10446  
Old 11-10-2015, 09:59 AM
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I've just about finished Old Man's War. Its fine, but it takes a long time to get moving. I appreciate the need for the introduction stuff and the training scenes, but why take the time to introduce characters if all but one of them are going to be dropped almost immediately. It just feel like book is going to end just as it gets to the good stuff.
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  #10447  
Old 11-10-2015, 08:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Falselogic View Post
Octarine is RIGHT there!
I don't see it.
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  #10448  
Old 11-11-2015, 08:45 AM
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I just finished reading 'The Analects of Confucius' (Chichung Huang's translation...I have no frame of reference for comparing it to others, but this one is apparently a very literal one, which has both advantages and disadvantages)

I went into it as part of my ongoing attempted deep-dive into Chinese culture/history, figuring that since Confucian philosophy is such a significant part of that, this would be a good primer. And while it was, it actually ended up making more of an impression on me not as a PHILOSOPHY BOOK, but as...well, the way it's written is, it's literally a collection of short, rapid-fire conversations with, and anecdotes about, Confucius, transcribed by his disciples, and the moments recorded in it are mostly non-chronological and from a variety of viewpoints and situations and across a span of decades, and along with sharing his most insightful and honorable and high-minded moments, it also captures lots of mundane, day-to-day smaller moments.

AND, also less flattering moments, when he gave in to despair and disappointment, moments when he was a jerky father, moments when he was a hypocrite, moments when he was reduced to a punchline by others...and the whole thing ends up being an in-depth but indirect real-life character-study of an impressive but complex and flawed person who lived two and a half millennia ago, and died old and miserable(when Socrates, half-a-world-away, was less than ten years old) thinking he was a failure, only to end up becoming revered as a demigod generations later, and remembered to this day.

THE WORLD.
IS UNPREDICTABLE.
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  #10449  
Old 11-16-2015, 10:07 AM
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So holy crap, Finch. Jeff VanderMeer continues to be a fantastic author. The previous book in the Ambergris Cycle, Shriek: An Afterword, turns out to be an in-universe book, that Finch ends up reading over the course of his investigation. The book was off to a somewhat slow yet still interesting noir start, and then became batshit crazy with alternate worlds and timelines and spiraling in on itself. I'm saddened by the fact this is the last book in this universe (for now at least). Each is standalone, but having read the others just adds so much to it.
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  #10450  
Old 11-17-2015, 04:32 PM
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Finished The Aeronauts Windlass, as with all of Jim Butchers books, it felt like a mash-up of things that shouldn't fit together, and hoping for the best that they would (in this case, Final Fantasy 13 and Firefly. With a bit of Skies of Arcadia for flavor).

And, fortunately, like with most Jim Butcher books, all the characters were likable and the plot moved along briskly and was entertaining, so his gamble paid off.
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  #10451  
Old 11-17-2015, 06:22 PM
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Just finished Walter Miller's "A Canticle for Leibowitz." I wish I could write half as well as that ;_;
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  #10452  
Old 11-18-2015, 07:17 AM
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That book is aces.
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  #10453  
Old 11-18-2015, 07:22 AM
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Yes, it's fantastic. Is it just me, or do the best Catholic authors--guys like Miller, or perhaps more well-known, G.K. Chesterton--usually have a wry sense of humor about their religion and religious culture? Some of the best parts of Canticle, at least for me, were the interactions between the various abbots and the younger, more naive monks.
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  #10454  
Old 11-18-2015, 09:17 AM
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I suppose it's hard not to get a wry sense of humor when you're a Catholic in a society of Protestants. See also: Flannery O'Connor. It'd be an interesting study: not just these authors' sense of humor, but also Graham Greene, Gene Wolfe, etc.

Speaking of which, I have an edition of the Divine Comedy with a footnote speculating about a difference between Catholic and Protestant cultures:
Quote:
Originally Posted by John Ciardi, "A General Note on Dante's Treatment of the Grafters and Their Guards (Cantos XXI and XXII)," The Divine Comedy, p. 170
Dante has been called "The Master of the Disgusting" with the stress at times on the mastery at at times on the disgust. The occasional coarseness of details in other Cantos (especially in Cantos XVIII and XXVIII) has offended certain delicate readers. It is worth pointing out that the mention of bodily function is likely to be more shocking in a Protestant than in a Catholic culture. It has often seemed to me that the offensive language of Protestantism is obscenity; the offensive language of Catholicism is profanity or blasphemy: one offends on a scale of unmentionable words for bodily function, the other on a scale of disrespect for the sacred. Dante places the Blasphemous in Hell as the worst of the Violent against God and His Works, but he has no category for punishing those who use four-letter words.

The difference is not, I think, national, but religious. Chaucer, as a man of Catholic England, took exactly Dante's view in the matter of what was and what was not shocking language. In "The Pardoner's Tale," Chaucer sermonized with great feeling against the rioters for their profanity and blasphemy (for the way they rend Christ's body with their oaths) but he is quite free himself with "obscenity." Modern English readers tend to find nothing whatever startling in his profanity, but the schoolboys faithfully continue to underline the marvels of his Anglo-Saxon monosyllables and to make marginal notes on them.
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  #10455  
Old 11-18-2015, 09:29 AM
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Started reading Ancillary Justice.

I... Have no idea is this book is passing the Bechdel Test or not.
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  #10456  
Old 11-18-2015, 09:42 AM
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I finished An Impartial Witness, a murder mystery set during WWI by Charles Todd. It wasn't bead, though it certainly wasn't great. The suspects tend to talk to the amateur detective protagonist despite having no reason or desire to speak with her. Still, it is a setting I love, so that was enough to get me reading. Also, it is the second book in a series. I read the third first, because I got it on a Kindle sale. I liked that book, so when I saw the first two on a similar sale I picked them up. Somehow, despite checking several times before I started reading, I ended up reading book two instead of book one.

Now I'm going back to to Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. I hope it stops being so oblique soon. It is the only book I am currently reading that isn't on my kindle, which is probably why it is taking me so long to read it
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  #10457  
Old 11-18-2015, 03:49 PM
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My chronological journey through Dennis Lehane's oeuvre continues with Mystic River. The movie was my first exposure to Lehane, and I remember it being good, but it's been as long a time since I saw it as it has since I read Shutter Island (over a decade), so I only remember a bit, but from what I do remember, it seems like that movie was perfectly cast. It's also weird reading a Lehane novel without Pat or Angie, but I'm glad he gave them a break. Prayers for Rain was decent, but the series was definitely getting stale, and he probably was never going to top Gone, Baby, Gone anyway.

I'm kind of scared to read Moonlight Mile, though. Is it any good?
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  #10458  
Old 11-18-2015, 04:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alex Scott View Post
Speaking of which, I have an edition of the Divine Comedy with a footnote speculating about a difference between Catholic and Protestant cultures:
My medieval history professor was a big fan of Ciardi's translation of the Inferno, because among other things it preserved the original fart jokes.

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I'm kind of scared to read Moonlight Mile, though. Is it any good?
It is the least of the entries in the series that are still worth your time (the even-numbered ones). But it's worth your time. It puts the lead characters in a situation that freshens them up a lot. Also continues the story of certain characters from Gone, Baby, Gone in a way that's pretty effective.

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Now I'm going back to to Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. I hope it stops being so oblique soon.
ahahahahahahaha
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  #10459  
Old 11-18-2015, 05:53 PM
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My medieval history professor was a big fan of Ciardi's translation of the Inferno, because among other things it preserved the original fart jokes.
And here I was a fan because it preserved the stanza structure.

I was thinking about this footnote even before today--in particular, wondering how much of this difference comes down to respective styles of theology and worship. Protestantism always struck me as more abstract and intellectual, so it makes sense to be "above" bodily functions. Catholicism tends more toward the tangible, what with all the imagery and aromas and physical gestures; so here, the body does what the body does.

But that's just me speculating.

I also wonder whether this religious distinction has anything to do with how different nationalities are stereotyped.

On that note, I was always a fan of the bit in the pre-Reformation poem Piers Plowman, in which, as part of the religious allegory, a drunk personification of Gluttony pisses in the corner in the time it takes to say an Our Father.
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  #10460  
Old 11-23-2015, 09:44 AM
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Originally Posted by Octopus Prime View Post
Started reading Ancillary Justice.

I... Have no idea is this book is passing the Bechdel Test or not.
It took about half the book before I stopped fretting about that (i.e. got used to the pronouns). But after that, and through both of the next two books, it was no big thing.
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  #10461  
Old 11-23-2015, 10:55 AM
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Getting used to exclusively using female pronouns is one thing, it's when other characters aren't that it gets confusing. Or when Eska is holding multiple conversations in different places simultaneously.
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  #10462  
Old 11-23-2015, 12:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Rascally Badger View Post
Now I'm going back to to Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. I hope it stops being so oblique soon. It is the only book I am currently reading that isn't on my kindle, which is probably why it is taking me so long to read it
Not going to happen. Le Carre's greatest skill is in keeping information that his protagonist knows just out of reach from the reader.
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  #10463  
Old 11-27-2015, 10:56 AM
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Reading a bio on Vivien Leigh by Anne Edwards
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  #10464  
Old 11-28-2015, 10:09 AM
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Finished The Golem and the Jinni, which was excellent,
I just finished this myself. I really liked it! One of my favorite books I've read this year.
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  #10465  
Old 11-28-2015, 11:13 AM
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Finished Ancillary Justice, which I would give a pretty strong Conditional Recommendation to. Everything about the setting is super-interesting and I'm invested strongly enough in the story to want to read the rest of the series (which, hopefully, Santa will be delivering).

But, owing to the fact that most of the main characters are of a race whose language has no concept of gender, and that two of the main characters are on conscious mind shared among multiple bodies (some of whom are antagonistic to others) a lot of conversations can be pretty difficult to follow.

Anyway, now it's December (or near enough to pass convincingly for being December) and that means reading Hogfather!
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  #10466  
Old 11-30-2015, 02:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Octopus Prime View Post
Anyway, now it's December (or near enough to pass convincingly for being December) and that means reading Hogfather!
I did that last year. Good plan!

My own Christmas-themed reading for this year will be Joe Hill's NOS4A2 (first time).
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  #10467  
Old 11-30-2015, 02:50 PM
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Not going to happen. Le Carre's greatest skill is in keeping information that his protagonist knows just out of reach from the reader.
I could definitely feel that as I went along. I spent the better part of Thanksgiving afternoon finishing this up. I got to the end and it felt like there were several things that I missed along the way. That might also have something to do with putting it down after the first hundred pages and reading something three books before picking it back up. Nothing ever really becomes clear, only somewhat less opaque. I guess I need to reread it, or just watch the movie.
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  #10468  
Old 11-30-2015, 03:16 PM
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I did that last year. Good plan!

My own Christmas-themed reading for this year will be Joe Hill's NOS4A2 (first time).
I have not read said book, but judging from the title, I think you may have gotten your holidays a teensy-bit confused.
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  #10469  
Old 11-30-2015, 03:46 PM
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I get the impression it's because he loves doing it. And he seems to be doing relatively well for a man of his age: He was at the World Fantasy Con in Saratoga Springs this weekend.

I'm reading this as well; not sure yet how I rank it. The last of his books I was really taken with was The Sorcerer's House, but we'll see how this goes.
I finished up A Borrowed Man over the holiday. I liked it much better than some of his other recent work, probably on par with Pirate Freedom, but not as good as The Sorcerer's House. It had a good bit of Wolfe's characteristic casual setting reveal, but the dialog was not very natural. He tries to explain this by the fact that the protagonist is a "reclone" of a writer who died a hundred years ago, and the people who made him tinkered with his code to make his spoken language more "professor-like", while his internal thoughts remain less formal. Neither especially came across as real, but maybe the reclone process isn't supposed to be perfect?

Unfortunately, his portrayals of women in his stories are still pretty bad. In this book, there are two women in total. One is a mute, and the other plays the damsel in distress role for most of the book. The latter has some good growth, but she does say "I don't know, I'm just a girl" in response to a question.

Those issues aside, I still enjoyed the mystery, and the setting. There are a couple little things that may get me to re-read it at some point, which is much more than I can say about Home Fires or The Land Across.
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  #10470  
Old 11-30-2015, 04:33 PM
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I've been reading some Hemingway and Faulkner recently. I greatly enjoyed The Old Man and the Sea, rather liked A Farewell to Arms, didn't much care for The Sun Also Rises, and haven't gotten started on For Whom The Bell Tolls yet. Faulkner...I read a few pages of him in a collection I got recently, and just couldn't get into it. His paragraphs are so long ;-;
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