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  #12511  
Old 08-25-2018, 02:06 PM
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the other day Anne Rice came up in the RPG thread as the prime influence on the old World of Darkness, and it occurred to me that I could not really articulate the Anne Rice Deal very well, so I went back and buzzed through The Vampire Lestat and Queen of the Damned again.

these remain hell of weird bestsellers, rambling yarns full of philosophical talking heads and massively sublimated homoerotic sexuality. scene after scene where the dramatic tension derives from two dudes in a room where we're not sure if they're going to fuck or kill each other or both. Vampire Lestat is a fuckin Freudian sledgehammer: there are exactly two women in it of any consequence at all and they're both mother figures who Lestat has some kind of metaphorical sex with.

dead certain I'm not the first or even the millionth to have this idea, but you can apply a queer reading to the whole thing with vampirism as a grim metaphor for the closet. you're defined by an unnatural appetite; you have to keep it a secret from all but your closest friends, and even them you can't entirely trust; you can only be yourself at night; you'll never procreate; any attempt at intimacy either kills or spreads your disease (these books date to the peak of AIDS paranoia). The end of Vampire Lestat even features vampires hanging out in underground bars specific to their subculture.

Lestat's initial project fits in there pretty neatly: he wants to break open the closet door and force the real world to reckon with his existence, even if that amounts to mass suicide. not sure how you keep that reading going through Queen of the Damned, though, which finishes up with 99 percent of the world's vampires dead and the rest back in hiding again, and this is somehow supposed to be sort of a happy ending.
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  #12512  
Old 08-25-2018, 04:16 PM
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RIP Aaliyah
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  #12513  
Old 08-25-2018, 04:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Büge View Post
RIP Aaliyah
you know, I never did see that movie. although I did always think it was funny that they had to skip to that point in the story because Vampire Lestat is 5000% unfilmable.
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  #12514  
Old 08-27-2018, 07:29 AM
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Pynchon was a bust (no surprise there), but I did manage to finish Of Human Bondage, so that was a win. Anyway, going to give Underworld by Don DeLillo a try
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  #12515  
Old 08-27-2018, 09:56 AM
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So I stumbled on some John MacDonald paperbacks at a library sale a few months ago and I've finally had time to read them.

The Dreadful Lemon Sky is one of his later Travis McGee books (of which I acquired several). For the most part it is a pretty solid mystery. Shocking as it sounds, I suspect that this pulp mystery writer working in the 60's has some problems when it comes to women. Like when he is McGee is paying to dock his boat at this marina, the manager's drunk husband shows up, accuses her of cheating with on him with McGee (who has just met her), then punches her in the head and knocks her out. Our hero's reaction is "I need to get out of here because I don't want to start a fight." This is not the only time in this pretty short novel that he witnesses a man beat a woman, and he does the same thing every time. This is the only time that the woman is so grateful for his complete inaction that she falls in love with him. But hey, the mystery is good.

I also read MacDonald's On the Run, about a man on the run from the mob. It is basically the first act of any Bond movie, the protagonist meets a girl, the girl dies, now its personal. Except the mobsters were already trying to kill him, so it was already pretty personal. Like above, the protagonist actually does nothing, the killer is caught by unrelated characters.
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  #12516  
Old 08-28-2018, 07:21 PM
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Taking a break from Underworld right now (it's written well, but I feel it's not really going anywhere yet) and instead reading some new fantasy with Kill the Farm Boy by Delilah S. Dawson and Kevin Hearne
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  #12517  
Old 08-28-2018, 08:19 PM
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I started my next Travis McGee book and it immediately confirmed that the sexism is part of the formula, as A Deadly Shade of Gold opens with the protagonist comparing that seasons "crop" of bikini clad women that he and his friend have accumulated on his houseboat to that of previous years. Apparently they call them all Junior because they can't be bothered to learn their names. For all that this book apparently revolves around a stolen, possibly cursed, golden Aztec idol, I'm not sure I want to continue.
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  #12518  
Old 08-30-2018, 01:41 PM
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The Hobbit is still great.

Overall, I didn't really like Thrawn. I know Star Wars nerds really love the character but reading about someone who is magically 10 steps ahead of his opponents gets tiring. For me, the interesting characters in Star Wars are the underdogs who get out of situations with scrapes and bruises. Not to mention the Arihnda side plot which is completely uninteresting.

Shopgirl by Steve Martin has some really interesting writing in it but there was a bad aftertaste left behind from the author's self-insert character and the author's excessive explanations of each female characters' anatomy.
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  #12519  
Old 08-30-2018, 01:46 PM
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The Hobbit is still great.
I just listened to the 1968 radio version and it’s so good. It’s just a pleasant and fun story, and it’s responsible for most things I’m currently interested in.
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  #12520  
Old 08-30-2018, 02:29 PM
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Quote:
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Overall, I didn't really like Thrawn.
I felt the same way. While I really enjoyed Thrawn as a character in Timothy Zahn's Heir to the Empire series he doesn't seem to work as the protagonist of a novel. Thrawn is a character who combines the tropes of a Machiavellian manipulator, the superhuman deductive powers of a Sherlock Holmes', and still manages to largely come off as a honorable villain. In terms of storytelling having a character who is so incredibly powerful works when that character is an adversary for your heroes to overcome but is far less effective when he's the guy that you're supposed to rooting for and following on his heroic adventures.
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  #12521  
Old 08-30-2018, 08:02 PM
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I thoroughly enjoyed that last book. Read almost like a fractured Dungeons and Dragons adventure. Will definitely read the next one.

Anyway, getting my Sherlock on for the first time with A Study in Scarlet
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  #12522  
Old 08-30-2018, 08:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Meditative_Zebra View Post
I felt the same way. While I really enjoyed Thrawn as a character in Timothy Zahn's Heir to the Empire series he doesn't seem to work as the protagonist of a novel. Thrawn is a character who combines the tropes of a Machiavellian manipulator, the superhuman deductive powers of a Sherlock Holmes', and still manages to largely come off as a honorable villain. In terms of storytelling having a character who is so incredibly powerful works when that character is an adversary for your heroes to overcome but is far less effective when he's the guy that you're supposed to rooting for and following on his heroic adventures.
Exactly.
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  #12523  
Old 08-31-2018, 08:52 PM
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I read Ken MacLeod's The Star Fraction and am approaching the end of the follow up The Stone Canal. I decided to try them out because of this mention by Austin Walker at Waypoint.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Austin Walker
So much of what I love about Ken MacLeod's The Star Fraction (one of my favorite cyberpunk stories) is the way he renders the feeling of being in different places--from the dorms of anarchist mercenary outfits, to the clean biolabs of corporate-sponsored universities, to the sacrosanct salesroom of the setting's Mormon Church Turned World's Super Store. (No, really, read The Star Fraction, it's great).
After reading MacLeod myself, I absolutely agree with that praise for the world building and sense of place, but for me the plotting too often feels excessively focused on poorly developed romance and relationship drama in those settings.

The Star Fraction was his first novel though, and The Stone Canal does feel like a significant improvement. Has anyone else read the subsequent two books in The Fall Revolution sequence? How do they compare? I'm on the fence about whether I should read all four of these or just stop now that I've got a sense of his work.
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  #12524  
Old 09-01-2018, 11:41 AM
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Towing Jehovah by James Marrow
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  #12525  
Old 09-01-2018, 01:35 PM
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Quote:
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I thoroughly enjoyed that last book. Read almost like a fractured Dungeons and Dragons adventure. Will definitely read the next one.
And into the backlog she goes!
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  #12526  
Old 09-03-2018, 06:45 AM
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Falstaff by Robert Nye. I read his book The Late Mr. Shakespeare many years ago and enjoyed it. I heard this book is better
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  #12527  
Old 09-04-2018, 06:13 PM
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Originally Posted by masterthes View Post
Falstaff by Robert Nye. I read his book The Late Mr. Shakespeare many years ago and enjoyed it. I heard this book is better
He also wrote a very, very strange book called Merlin that I wrote about at the end of 2016. I'd hesitate to recommend it, but it's really interesting and unusual. But if you like camp in your Camelot, it might be worth a look.
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  #12528  
Old 09-06-2018, 07:04 AM
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Yeah, I was looking it up. Seemed it might be worth a look. Speaking of which, I couldn't get through the Falstaff.

Anyway, going to read Memoirs by Neil Simon. He's one of my favorite playwrights, so I should be able to eat it up
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  #12529  
Old 09-06-2018, 07:18 AM
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The Left Hand of Darkness was real good and not at a all what I was expecting. Any time it talks about women is pretty dated and funny (there are no women present in the narrative really) because how much has changed about gender presentation and roles in just the last few decades. I think the feminine trait that is most frequently fixed upon is an inability to stop talking.

But anyway the cultures the book centers around is explored to a really satisfying degree, which is an achievement I haven't seen often in a single book. Wish I had time to muse about it more!
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  #12530  
Old 09-07-2018, 06:21 AM
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Hey, Prime Meridian is on sale at Amazon. I really liked this novella because this is a great work in a underpopulated genre - Mexican sci-fi. Like 100% mexican sci-fi - the protagonist is a young mexican woman in the near-future Mexico City who dreams of moving to the Mars colonies.

The story is nice, but the characterization is top-notch. The author, Silvia Moreno Garcia, is mexican born, and it shows, because reading this novella was like stepping into my living room back form school and smelling my mom's cooking back when I were a child. It was like coming home - every detail is so authentic that it moves me back to Mexico. If anything the book's greatest fault is that it might be too mexican - I'm sure a joke about martians doing the cha-cha might go over most people's heads, but I don't think it detracts that much from the experience.

I've also read one other book from Silvia Moreno Garcia - Signal To Noise, a novel which is about three teenagers in Mexico City in the 80s who discover they can cast spells by playing old vinyl records, and it is also a wonderful read.
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  #12531  
Old 09-07-2018, 12:41 PM
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Finished off Kin Newman’s The Man from the Diogenes Club, which, honestly, I wasn’t really feeling. But I plugged away at it regardless. It was a series of connected short stories involving Richard Jepersoj, Most Valued Member of England’s special Weird Stuff spy agency. Whole thing reads kind of like Chris Claremont alternating between locked-room mystery’s and spy stories, starring The Doctor.

It’s not directly connected to the Anno Dracula series (Drac is never even referenced), but some of the same characters pop in for cameos. A character who can see alternate timelines kind of implies it’s a different continuity.

A few of the stories were pretty fun, and at one point it’s mentioned that “There are witches on every continent, except Antarctica. The Sphinx won’t allow it.” Which is just... beautiful. But I still mainly kept plugging away due to a sense of obligation rather than enjoyment.

ON TO BLOODY ROSE!
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  #12532  
Old 09-08-2018, 10:22 PM
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Okay, I think I am just about done with MacDonald's A Deadly Shade of Gold. You can't have a character spend a paragraph complaining about how racist a politician is while using slurs. Unless it is supposed to be ironic, but I think I am supposed to nodding along with how enlightened the protagonist is.
But yes, I am sure he is right that the "the coons" will not appreciate this politician's segregationist policies.


He also rambles on about how he doesn't like casual sex with the hot women in bikini's that hang around the beach and his boat, because his great weakness is that once he as sex with a woman, he sees her as a person and not an object and he doesn't like that. That is almost a direct quote. I think this is a series best left back in the 60's when it was written.
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  #12533  
Old 09-10-2018, 04:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Traumadore View Post
The Left Hand of Darkness was real good and not at a all what I was expecting. Any time it talks about women is pretty dated and funny (there are no women present in the narrative really) because how much has changed about gender presentation and roles in just the last few decades. I think the feminine trait that is most frequently fixed upon is an inability to stop talking.

But anyway the cultures the book centers around is explored to a really satisfying degree, which is an achievement I haven't seen often in a single book. Wish I had time to muse about it more!
The comment about there being no women present in the narrative is interesting, because really there's also only one man present either. I think the biggest way in which the book dates itself is using a universal "he/him" pronoun for the population of Gethen. Were the book written today, the narrator would almost certainly use "they/them" or some pronoun native to the planet, because the idea of "not women or men" was clearly something Le Guin was going for, but is kind of bungled in the choice of language. Having their be two Envoys, a woman and a man, would also have probably helped that situation.

Anyway, I've been reading The Fifth Season by NK Jemisin and it's really great.
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  #12534  
Old 09-10-2018, 02:28 PM
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Pope Joan by Donna Woolfolk Cross
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  #12535  
Old 09-10-2018, 08:20 PM
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A Safe Girl to Love by Casey Plett. Recommended.
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  #12536  
Old 09-12-2018, 04:30 PM
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For a change of pace, The League of Regrettable Superheroes by Jon Morris
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  #12537  
Old 09-14-2018, 06:31 AM
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80 books read so far. Going back to Sherlock with The Sign of The Four
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  #12538  
Old 09-15-2018, 07:51 AM
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The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt
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  #12539  
Old 09-16-2018, 06:52 PM
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Was not the biggest fan of that one. Just didn't connect with me. Anyway, before watching the movie on Netflix, wanted to read L.A. Confidential first
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  #12540  
Old Yesterday, 04:54 AM
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Finished Bloody Rose, sequel to Book of the Year contender Kings Of the Wyld. It was also very, very enjoyable all the way through, but the first one set the bar high enough that I was just a teeny bit disappointed with the follow-up.

Mainly since this one didn’t do nearly as much with the central (incredibly fun) premise of “What if Adventuring Party and Rock Band we’re the same job?”, and focused more on the world building (particularly the ethical problems of playing for sold out stadiums, when that basically amounts to bear-baiting with sentient beings, and monster-racism) and why you shouldn’t meet your heroes (Fable is well above the average Band in general, but every single one of them is also pretty severely traumatized).

It’s still relentlessly paced adventure full of monsters and rock, it’s just not as enthusiastic about those things as the first one.
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