Book Thread 2024

You’re both right, Fred dies in the book during the hard burn back to the wormhole base thingy, but Alex got killed off in the show in the same manner because he had some sex stuff pop up IRL.

Even the first 25%. But it turns horrible when the female lead is kidnapped and fridged and made to follow a murderer subserviently for the rest of the book. The male protagonist is a soulless caricature and so for me the rest of the book is a repugnant failure after that great opening.

Almost sounds like we could be discussing Sword Art Online.

Yeah, I remember that now, but I guess compared to the death in the TV series, it didn’t strike me when you referenced a major character…

Just finished reading Becky Chambers’ A Psalm for the Wild-Built and I’m sorry to say I just found it very meh. This was really disappointing for me because I’ve generally loved everything she has written, but there’s just not very much going on in this story. It was well enough written I guess but it was mostly just a philosophical discourse between a robot and a tea monk. Just didn’t do it for me unfortunately.

Seth Dickinson’s Exordia starts out great, but really lost me in a long, meandering middle section, and then ends with a whole lot of unresolved threads. Anna has trouble fitting into the normal world after some serious childhood trauma, then meets an alien and “normal” isn’t on the cards any more. I loved this part, Anna is great and what we learn about her alien pal Ssrin is intriguing. But it’s only about the first quarter of the book, then we get much less entertaining characters Clayton and Erik and a whole lot of poking around an alien artifact trying to figure out what’s happening. That takes about half the book, and while there’s some interesting ideas about powerful generative forces attempting to emulate intelligent actions (sounds familiar), mostly it’s a lot of confusion and infighting, with the occasional horrible death. It’s supposed to be tense, but the author gives us a long countdown that makes it obvious nothing important will happen for a while, undermining any tension. I might not have cared if the characters had been as interesting as Anna, but Clayton and Erik are both jerks (in different ways) and the others in this section don’t have enough depth. Eventually Dickinson gets around to the endgame, which has some good action and wraps up the story, but by then I was mostly interested in finally getting to the end. Which does wrap up the crisis that the book has been about, but leaves the characters in a very open-ended situation with the galaxy ahead of them. So if you’re looking for a tidy resolution that ties up all the questions, or if (like me) long periods of jerks sniping at one another in the midst of confusion over alien tech isn’t your thing, this isn’t the book for you.

Same, you can’t start with such a breakneck pace and then slog for hundreds of pages.

Talking about Snow Crash?

I finished Moon Cops on the Moon:

The title basically tells you everything you need to know. ; )

It is basically a SciFi Romp (reminds me a bit of Yahtzee Croshaw’s writing style). I enjoyed the story except for the last chapter that went a little too long in a personal conversation between the MC and another character. Not that it would stop me from recommending the book but the last chapter dragged just a teensy bit for me especially for a romp.

Create a new thread please.

I just read a newer book by the author of Cabin at the End of the World, Paul Tremblay, and it’s excellent. Survivor Song is a story about two women trying to get across town in the middle of an intense outbreak that’s ended civil order, and it’s also about the relationship between two best friends and what it means when one may survive the other, and carry on her important work.

The characters are both superbly drawn and unique. Both have their own tone and are probably some of the best women I’ve seen written by a man. The epidemic is appropriately scary and real-world-based. He does a simply beautiful job of sketching side characters quickly and with so much pathos. Each of them feels like they act appropriately and with a lot of humanity. Tremblay does not shy from intense consequences or frustrating his leads’ ambitions, so it truly feels like a book by adults for adults. This isn’t wish fulfillment, it’s exploring what happens when the shit goes down and real people have to make horrible decisions.

And finally the action is all believable and has an eye to the happenstance that makes a massive difference in high pressure situations. When a truck careens around a corner and for no story reason clips to two people and the situation goes even more FUBAR, your hands go to your mouth at how horrible and believable it is.

It all happens at a pace that’s undeniable. If you want to stay up late reading an awful story of what happens to two best friends, that’s also deeply humane and wonderfully written, have I got a book for you!

Tremblay and his BFF Stephen Graham Jones are at the top of current dark fiction/horror.

So I went back and finished Leviathan Falls last night. There are 2 stories that I don’t believe I’ve read yet - Drive, and Sins of our Fathers. Drive apparently was in an anthology originally, and Sins was a new story in the story collection that came out at the end.

I kind of got some Neal Stephenson vibes with how quickly it was all brought to a close, and then the epilogue on top of it. Overall though I enjoyed it, and the series.

I finished Half a King. It is a YA title apparently but I think the story is enjoyable for adults as well. The first book in the series can be a Stand Alone if you do not care to continue the series.

I wanted to try Joe Abercrombie one more time. I believe I read the first book in his First Law series but Grim Dark is not my thing usually. I thought I could get a feel for his writing style as this story is less dark.

I would try Best Served Cold after that. It is a standalone, and while it has characters from the first series but they were more like npcs. It is dark but it also has a very good story.

Scott Lynch is writing again!

It’s a short story about dungeon crawlin’ fools and the dungeons they crawl through.

Extinction, by Douglas Preston. You may read him or have certainly read or seen the Preston and Child thrillers, occasionally the authors put out individual books. As their genre goes, this is fairly typical with one really notable exception, which I’ll get to. It’s a modern Jurassic Park setup that goes different places, and it was enjoyable and competent like most of his books. Not literature, but also not complete Summer BestSeller schlock.

Anyway, the notable thing: the main character is a female cop, and the amazing thing is she is utterly competent through the entire book. What I mean by that is you know how mainstream thrillers and even a lot of more complex books require there to be dumb actions at some point to make the situation escalate? None of that. But, she’s also not a Mary Sue, just a regular old competent human being with reasonable foresight. So instead of constantly being the foil or being pushed by the foil to, “Dammit, we don’t have time, we need to get in there right now!” type stuff, she never does. Bad guys probably in the house? “Call for backup, let’s wait for them to get here, and we’ll send in SWAT first.” That sort of thing. The stuff that when you’re reading the setup you start thinking, "Yeah, but if you do that then you really need to do this thing first, otherwise that could happen . . . and then she’s right there, making the same decision.

Sure, there’s an occasional bit of bravado that gets her in trouble, but it was such an odd little thing that stuck out to me through the whole book, I thought I’d mention it. Refreshing, and it was a fun yarn, too.

Kyla Scanlon has become something of an economic populizer in the last few years, making videos explaining economic concepts and trends in the language of the social media generation. Now she’s written a book, In This Economy? How Money and Markets Really Work that puts all the fundamental econ topics in one place. Mostly she’s explaining how things work, but there’s a good number of digressions into policy commentary, all of which are pretty solidly on the progressive end of the policy spectrum. Scanlon is a fine writer with a penchant for breaking concepts down into understandable parts, so I think this book accomplishes the goal of giving a curious, progressive-leaning reader a good grounding in what’s happening in the economic world. However, I’m not sure how many of those people there are who aren’t already watching Scanlon’s videos to get the same result…maybe enough to make the book a success, maybe not.