Book Thread 2018^H9


It was quite enjoyable, and far better than “What will that rascal Lex Luthor do with KRRRRRRRYPTONITE this time”. I think my favorite Superman stories are Red Son and All-Star Superman. I’ve heard good things about Kim Newman’s Übermensch story, but I’ve not picked up the short-story collection it is in yet.


I have read the following over the last few weeks…

A Tan and Sandy Silence by John D. McDonald I found this a little slow and perhaps o date my least liked Travis McGee novel. He goes thru a mid-life crises in the book that just seems unnecessary in a book of this genre. In the end he discovers it wasn’t him, but people die and he gets even. Maybe 2 stars out of 5.

Medusa by Clive Cussler A Kurt Austin NUMA adventure. I think I like the Austin books better than the Dirk Pitt ones. These are light Bondish type adventures where some evil greedy bastard wants something and it is up to Austin and Zavala to save the day. I would give this a 3 out of 5.

Assassin’s Quest by Robin Hobb This is the final book in the Farseer Trilogy. A little wordy but a very good book to finish the series. FitzChivalry journeys to save his King and on the way has adventure after adventure. The author does a great job, even if she sometimes just “talks” to much. But the characters are good and the story is wrapped up in a satisfying way. 3.5 out of 5


That is not remotely the end of the series, but yes, it’s a good end to the trilogy.


I wonder what her plans are for the future? Was the last book a good stopping point? Should she continue with the new POV character? I can’t think of a lot of plot threads that weren’t wrapped up (maybe too abruptly and maybe not so satisfyingly) in the last book.


I haven’t read the latest trilogy (or finished the Rain Wilds quadrilogy) so I can’t comment knowledgeably, but I think I recall hearing that it was meant to be the end of Fitz’s story, at the very least.


Trilogy yes, not series. I have already bought books for two other trilogies within the series. I guess it is on to the Liveship Traders books.


If you are familiar with the FitzChivalry series, you know there are these portals/stones that take you to distant places, potentially at your own peril. I wish Hobb would explore more the interstitial space that people enter between the stones. What is it exactly? Who lives there? Can you stay there without going insane? Etc.


I picked up Children of Time the other week when it was a Daily Deal from Audible. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

It’s a really good science fiction (as opposed to sci-fi) book with a genuinely alien (sorta) race depicted with great non-human views, attitudes, and technology.


I think I mentioned this upthread but I also liked Children of Time a lot and it surprised me b/c the I had a view of the author as mostly a fantasy writer, but this science fiction books was very strong.


Good to hear. I got it for Christmas last year, but since it is a paper copy I haven’t gotten around to it yet. Damn, the convenience of an ebook reader is scary. I’ll bump this up on my list!


Killing Commendatore by Murakami. This is pretty much the archetype of a Murakami novel. If fuddy-duddy male perspective annoys you, give it a pass, but if you’ve liked his other works, this one is for you. It’s IMO significantly better than 1Q84 and also better than Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage.


It took me eight years, but I finally got around to reading The Quantum Thief. I did not heed the above advice and was certainly often confused, especially in the first third or so. But by the time some of the guts of the system were finally explained…like when the public key infrastructure behind guevlot and exomemory was finally stated explicitly…I’d pretty much pieced together what was happening. More entertaining than the traditional mystery aspect of the story, in a lot of ways. Not that it’s really a competition, I think the world building and plotline were interwoven nicely.


Finished Provenance by Ann Leckie. It is a standalone novel set in the same universe as the Imperial Radch trilogy. I liked it, and I think it did a good job of expanding the universe and showing what goes on outside of the parts of the setting shown in the previous books. I think the second half was a bit slower than the excellent first part, and the ending was quite predictable. Despite that it is still a fine book, and I’d say a must-read for anyone who liked the original trilogy.

I want to know what happens next! By showing more of the non-radch humanity and introducing the Geck, Leckie has added more depth to the setting. I guess I’ll have to go check if she’s announced any more books.


Oooh, didn’t realize there was another book in the setting.

This could easily become a Culture substitute for me! Thanks for the heads up.


I have mixed feelings about When Titans Clashed: How the Red Army Stopped Hitler. I picked it up because I saw a couple people recommend the author’s Stalingrad series, but I figured it would be better to have a better grasp of the big picture context beforehand.

This book did deliver on that, but mostly in the introductions and conclusions of various sections. Those were readable and informative, and I do feel much better informed about the progress of the eastern front as a whole, and various factors that I wasn’t previously aware of. However, those contras with the body of the text largely consisting of very dry and turgid recitations of names of commanders, unit designations, and their respective movements. I imagine in a more constrained scope like the Stalingrad series, this might work to eventually develop a sense of the strengths of different units or their commanders, and the tactical decisions they faced, but here they are just an endless stream of undifferentiated proper nouns. 3/5


Just finished a reread of 1984, prompted by it becoming available on the Amazon Prime library. It’s been 20 years or so since my last reading, and in that time it’s easy to forget just how bleak that book is. Fortunately I think Orwell’s version of human nature isn’t as selfish as the real thing, so we’re not too likely to end up with a Party full of individuals uncaring of their own fates and thus immune to overthrow. But man, all that stuff about monitoring via telescreens and taking control of information…cell phones and government censorship ala China, anyone? And of course the cult of personality aspect of Big Brother can be seen all over today’s world at varying levels of implementation. 1984 is a classic for a reason, worth breaking out again every once in a while.


Eeeh, no, that’s Glantz. Dry as hell, but hard to contest.

The Stalingrad series is similar, going down to day by day accounts of the movements for 4 volumes. Pretty hard to get a sense of a single unit or commander, given the extreme detail. Pretty good for realizing how unrelenting attrition set in and how small the numbers of attackers and defenders where at the very end in the city (in the hundreds), though. I found them fascinating, but I do read quickly the procedural parts and pay more attention to introductions and conclusions indeed.

He does abridged stuff that is probably better if you don’t want to have the reference work at home (I like setting up wargames and reading through an operation blow by blow sometimes). You also miss some amazing stuff you get when reading the whole thing (small actions here and there, or stuff like details of the amazing defense of group Rokossovsky at Smolensk, when contrasted with the performance of the rest of the Soviets there).

This is the Stalingrad tetralogy abridged into a more readable volume:

Also, get an operational atlas. Maps in the books are a disaster.


I think 1984 omits a lot of religious stuff you see in the US and abroad. I don’t see the book as being a plausible depiction of a future US or other parts of the world due to all the religious nonsense IRL. The Handmaid’s Tale (published a year later in 1985 LOL) touches on a lot of these points better.

Even in China ancestors are very important, which touches on history and religion and superstition a bit. 1984 on the other hand seems to make a clean break with history, and invents something new and quasi secular.

Some (Billy Graham, John Paul II, Reagan) would call this a victory I guess.

I’ll shut up now.


Yep, I agree that religion isn’t really accounted for by Orwell. Though I suspect it was left out more for simplicity than as an oversight. All the Hate stuff could have easily been framed as religious fevor against the infidels, if he’d so chosen. But I think he preferred to toss it all out to show how terrible man could be all on his own, no higher power required.


Finished The Annihilation Score by Charles Stross, #6 in the Laundry files. I liked it, and the change of POV-character worked well. The plot point of the Laundry using the superhero craze to explain the rise in occult activities is the sort of meta that makes Stross so fun. The structure therefore reminded me of the main conceit in Jennifer Morgue, which is my favorite in the series. Doesn’t hurt that Stross also managed to put in some good takes on surveillance issues. It didn’t bother me that the fallout of the ending of the previous book (which I think was the weakest since the first in the series, except for the final part) is dealt with mostly in the background as the book felt like it advanced the overall plot of the series.