Book Thread 2018^H9


The old adage for taking exams: If you don’t KNOW the answer take your first guess.

It also reminds me of playing an old pinball machine called “Aztec” at a 7-Eleven in Goldsboro, North Carolina some decades ago: I let my mind drift and … I never missed a ball. I played for 30 minutes.

There is a lot we don’t understand there, a “subconscious” that we THINK is very sub but is actually alert and affecting us. This author touched on that.


Hey, guess what, Harry Turtledove wrote another alternate history book! I mean, that only happens…every few months. That man is the very definition of prolific. Anyway, this one is a little different.

It’s stand-alone, for one thing, not part of one of the many series he’s written. But most notably, this one is awfully similar to our own world. No lizard aliens or erupting calderas or magic. All he changes is which culture was the seat of scientific enlightenment…instead of Europe, it’s the Middle East. The result is a mirror-image world where Europeans and Christianity are the extremist radicals causing problems for a largely secular civilization with roots in Islam and the Middle East.

I think Turtledove’s books are always entertaining to read and this one is no exception, but the real draw is the not-very-subtle message that “Islamic/Middle East extremism” could very easily be “Christian/European extremism”. It’s not the culture or religion driving the unrest but societal forces stemming from technological and economic advancement.


Sounds thematically similar to this novel, which supposes an alternate history where 99% of Europe was wiped out by the Black Death in the mid 1300’s instead of 40%.


This is a thing



I finished Red Rising by Pierce Brown. It wasn’t terribly bad, but I found it tedious and mediocre. Pretty predictable, so it felt like a slog. Deals with some good sci-fi ideas, but nothing I’ve not seen before. The characters were annoying, and there was something in the writing style that rubbed me the wrong way. In some ways it felt like The Magicians meets Battle Royale, only not as good as either of them.


I tried reading Children of Time but it was too dry and I couldn’t focus on it.


That Stephenson novel sounds interesting.


I like Stephenson a lot, but the last book which he co-wrote wasn’t that great. When they started pimping (literally!) government agents and essentially laughing about it – the book is a comedy – I had to call it quits. I guess it depends on your attitude about government-run prostitution rings, and whether you think they are funny.


They are a time honored part of espionage work.


Yeah, but given how incompetent the agency is and fouls everything up (at the point I stopped reading), you have to ask yourself if everything they ask their agents to do is worth the cost.


The Rise and Fall of DODO definitely wasn’t great. I wasn’t squicked out by the stuff you’re talking about, but maybe only because the whole thing was so ridiculous.


Also, their boss(es) in government were creepy and stubborn, I did not enjoy reading about them.


Just finished getting around to reading Kieran Gillen’s The Wicked and the Divine (first trade paperback, issues #1 to #5) and it did in fact live up to the hype. Very strong work, reminiscent of Gaiman’s Sandman and Carey’s Lucifer or Hellblazer. I’ll have to track down the rest of the trade paperbacks.


So you folks probably remember that I really liked Angie Thomas’ first book:

I’ve now read her second, and can confirm that the first one was no fluke. On the Come Up is every bit as good as The Hate U Give was. It may seem similar, because of the setting and social commentary, but it’s almost entirely new characters that have their own story to tell. Recommended as highly as the first one. Longer form thoughts:


Gee Thraeg tell us how you really mean. I finished Blindsight after a long audible campaign. I don’t disagree with Thraeg so much as I think he underestimates the authors ability to make us wonder what the heck we are doing in our conscious self day to day? My thought is that aside from being what I am professionally… this author actually made me re think what I was as a person.

Now every time I dodge traffic I think “well crap, my subconscious is in charge so let that damn brain hold this wheel”

(lol “I’d be less effusive in my praise” that’s not how we talk in east Tennessee --I had to look it up)


Read Don’t Panic: Douglas Adams & The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Neil Gaiman. The most recent edition, I think. Great portrait of DA and the process of making the various parts of the HHGTTG complex. I laughed out loud at several points.


Has anybody here read the Traitor Son Cycle?

I’m in the 3rd book, The Dread Wyrm, and I just ran into what might be the worst continuity error I’ve ever seen in print. Which is a shame, because I’ve been enjoying the series.

Not just in the middle of the series, but in the middle of the book, the protagonist’s mother, switches from being the Queen’s sister to being the King’s sister. Which is quite the switch for a reason I won’t get into to avoid spoilers.

It’s bad enough the author missed this, but to not have an editor catch it is ridiculous.

I’m hoping against hope I can enjoy the rest of the book, let alone the rest of the series.


I won’t absolutely swear to it because it’s been a while since I read the books but I am 99% sure his mother was always the King’s sister and you’ve misinterpreted something somewhere.


I will double check. Hopefully I didn’t waste a rant, LOL.


Heh. Something similar happened to me with Littlefinger in Game of Thrones. In the initial description, there were other people in the room, one of them being a really fat man, and I got the descriptions confused and thought the fat man was Littlefinger, and so every single time Littlefinger was in a scene in the books, I’d imagine this really fat man, and there was nothing to disabuse me of this notion, since GRRM doesn’t really describe him again. But I think it was either in Book 2 or Book 3, he does mention him being skinny, and I did a double take. What what?