The Book Thread

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Re: The Book Thread

Postby AndrewGPaul on Wed Nov 02, 2016 9:23 pm

I finished off the last three Flashman novels, and then read all seven (so far) of Charles Stross' Laundry Files series - the Cthulhu mythos, as seen through the eyes of the British Civil Service department in charge of hunting demons, sorcerors and other nasty things in the night.

The basic idea is that magic is just a sub-set of mathematics, and the rise of computers has made doing the appropriate algorithms much easier. The protagonist of most of the books was recruited when, as a grad student, he accidentally nearly summoned a Great Old One in Wolverhampton while doing his PhD research in fractals. And his iPhone has apps for magical wards and summoning pentagrams.

The books also riff on previous genres and authors; the first book is a Len Deighton pastiche, the second is somewhat of a Bond parody, and a later book deals with superheroes. A major theme, though, is that it explores just how bad things would need to be for various issues in modern society (the pervasive surveillance culture, primarily) to be actually justified.

A Colder War and Missile Gap are a couple of his short stories online.

There's also a few Laundry Files short stories online:
Equoid
"Like some other stories published on Tor.com, “Equoid” contains scenes and situations some readers will find upsetting and/or repellent. [—The Editors]"

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00 ... s_rw_dp_sw

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B01 ... s_rw_dp_sw
Last edited by AndrewGPaul on Wed Nov 02, 2016 9:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Book Thread

Postby ashmie on Wed Nov 02, 2016 9:46 pm

Just finished the Tony Robinson autobiography which is a cracking read for anyone like myself looking for high morale rolls and a bit of a laugh. Brilliant bloke. A good one for Christmas.
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Re: The Book Thread

Postby Konrad on Thu Dec 01, 2016 3:27 am

Been reading some Philip K. Dick. I read a collection of short stories, including "Minority Report", which (probably no surprise) bears the slightest resemblance to the story. A lot of other good short stories in there. A lot of his work has a recurrent theme of "this man is not what he seems", but most often the man in question doesn't know that he's not what he seems either. Identity and reality get blended.
I followed that with, "The Man in the High Castle". Very, very good. Wonderful, complex characters. I have not seen the TV show, but I've heard it's good. It would have to be about as different from the novel as "Blade Runner" was from "Do Robots Dream of Electric Sheep" to work, but that did not stop "Blade Runner" from being a classic in it's own right. The Nazis/Japanese won WW2 setting would make for some great espionage thriller action. The novel has a good dose of that, but is more about ordinary people facing evil and how they find a way to deal with it.
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Re: The Book Thread

Postby YellowStreak on Thu Dec 01, 2016 3:44 am

Konrad wrote:Been reading some Philip K. Dick. I read a collection of short stories, including "Minority Report", which (probably no surprise) bears the slightest resemblance to the story. A lot of other good short stories in there. A lot of his work has a recurrent theme of "this man is not what he seems", but most often the man in question doesn't know that he's not what he seems either. Identity and reality get blended.
I followed that with, "The Man in the High Castle". Very, very good. Wonderful, complex characters. I have not seen the TV show, but I've heard it's good. It would have to be about as different from the novel as "Blade Runner" was from "Do Robots Dream of Electric Sheep" to work, but that did not stop "Blade Runner" from being a classic in it's own right. The Nazis/Japanese won WW2 setting would make for some great espionage thriller action. The novel has a good dose of that, but is more about ordinary people facing evil and how they find a way to deal with it.

The show is very different, but it's worth watching. I've enjoyed it so far. If you like alternate WW2 history, Fatherland by Robert Harris is a favourite of mine (and was also made into a not-too-bad TV film starring Rutger Hauer)
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Re: The Book Thread

Postby ashmie on Mon Dec 12, 2016 9:19 am

Image

Reading Sharpe at a Napoleonic hill fort on a blustery winter Sunday.
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Re: The Book Thread

Postby ashmie on Thu Dec 15, 2016 1:49 pm

Geeking out so you don't have to #47

The original Superman comics hold many warnings from back then to where we are now. Just read this one about The Emperor Of America from 1942. It's a warning to future America about having a demigod in power. Lois, The Daily Planet and most of America get swept along with the notion of having a great leader while Clark Kent is the only guy in town that says "Hang on a minute, this isn't good". Superman is the only one who can put a stop to the mania of course.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/106 ... cles-vol-9

Also pleased to see villain characters like The Puzzler and The Prankster who could be early versions of Joker and Riddler.

- Star Wars is out today.
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Re: The Book Thread

Postby ashmie on Wed Jul 19, 2017 7:26 am

So according to this thread no one has read a book since December last year.
To get the ball rolling again, what are you guys reading? Please add links to anything you think worthy of recommending.

My Summer best read.
Rubicon is really interesting and easy to read. Life in the republic of Rome through the eyes of the Plebeians.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Rubicon-Triump ... ds=rubicon
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Re: The Book Thread

Postby Primarch on Wed Jul 19, 2017 8:40 am

ashmie wrote:So according to this thread no one has read a book since December last year.
To get the ball rolling again, what are you guys reading? Please add links to anything you think worthy of recommending.

My Summer best read.
Rubicon is really interesting and easy to read. Life in the republic of Rome through the eyes of the Plebeians.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Rubicon-Triump ... ds=rubicon


That's currently sitting on my bookshelf.
I'm currently most of the way through a book about the history of the East India Company.
https://www.amazon.com/Honourable-Compa ... 0006380727
It's interesting, but it's trying to cram a LOT of history into a few hundred pages.

The other things I have read lately were Unremembered Empire and Vulkan Lives from Black Library, which were OK (Empire) and forgettable (Vulkan).
I also read The Scramble for Africa, another book covering a vast amount of information in a shortish amount of space, actually about 700 pages, but still not enough. Honestly, I read about 2/3rds of it and kind of stalled. I plan to go back to it once I'm done with my current title.
Konrad lent me The Ascent of Money, which I honestly understood about half of. It explains how banks and finance made the modern world possible (and nearly destroyed it a few times as well).
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Re: The Book Thread

Postby The Other Dave on Wed Jul 19, 2017 9:14 am

I recently read The City & The City by China Mieville. I'm not actually such a huge fan of Mieville - "urban fantasy" doesn't do much for me, and I found the Bas-Lag books more than a tad overwrought. The thing about The City & The City, though, is that Mieville having written it is sort of a red herring. In the end, it's not really a fantasy novel at all, and everything is explicable without relying on magic (well, aside from the magic of psychology and social conditioning, I guess). Rather than urban fantasy, it's instead a really good post-Soviet Eastern European police procedural with a neat psycho-political twist. Good stuff!
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Re: The Book Thread

Postby me_in_japan on Wed Jul 19, 2017 10:48 am

I'm a big fan of Mieville, even allowing for his transparent political leanings. It's nice to have some non-standard fantasy, and his fits the bill nicely. Kraken and Embassytown are both good.

As for what I've been reading since December, I have 4 words:

The Wheel of Time

Currently, fabulously, about to start the final book. Having read the previous 13 once through years ago and once again over the past few months, I feel I should really see it through to the end this time. Looking forward to a proper conclusion.
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