The Book Thread - July 2014

So I started reading my first fan fiction. God help me. I only started Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality because several programming blogs I was reading recommended it. I am definitely in the Science! camp so I was intrigued about a melding of Harry Potter, the scientific method, and rationality.

The first 5 chapters sucked me right in, in spite of the lead fisted attempts at humor. Actually the humor wasn’t bad so much as the completely unrealistic and intolerable reaction of the characters to the humor. It was basically a laugh track for books and yes, it was as painful as it sounds. Thankfully the author started backing away from the crude enforced laughter shortly after.

Really, really enjoying it to be honest. I feel dirty just writing that but there it is. It’s not finished yet but what is there is really quite long, and he is hoping to have it finished by the end of this year.

I tend to steer well clear of fan-fic normally, but frankly, if one were to read one fan-fiction, that’d be the one. It sounds like a one note parody riff but it’s actually really well done and surprisingly thoroughly thought out.

I started that last year before he took a long hiatus. It was very good.

I’ve read a lot this month, so I guess it is a good a time as any to jump into this thread.

Fatherland by Robert Harris. It is a police thriller set in Berlin 1964 in a world where Germany won WW2, dominates Europe and is in a state of cold war with the US. I really enjoyed it; I think it worked well as a thriller as well as dealing with the unpleasant ramifications in an interesting way. Completely different from The Man in the High Castle by PKD, another alternate history novel I enjoy.

Caliban’s War by James S.A. Corey. Book 2 of The Expanse. I liked Leviathan’s Wake well enough (it was no Ancillary Justice, but quite cool), and I think the follow-up was better. Interesting plot, interesting (new) characters and it fleshed out the setting more. Looking forward to the TV show; some new information has been revealed (such as the casting of Miller):

Abaddon’s Gate, Book 3 of The Expanse. I’m only halfway through so far, but meh. Less interesting. Both the plot and especially the new characters. I hope it’ll improve.

A Study in Scarlet and The Sign of the Four by Arthur Conan Doyle. The first two Sherlock Holmes novels. I think they hold up fairly well. Plus, we can enjoy stuff like this now:

The Thousand Dollar Tan Line by Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham. The first Veronica Mars novel, set after the movie. It felt like reading the first quarter of a season of the TV-show. Made me wish they get to make another movie, or rather a full season.

Eleven Doctors, Eleven Stories by various authors. A collection of short stories, one for each Doctor. I think the stories are (or were) available online as part of the 50th anniversary. Fun read, probably total nonsense for people who aren’t familiar with Doctor Who.

Loving Monster Hunter Nemesis, #5, in the series. Series really began to grow after #2.

I think that may have been the book that convinced me I didn’t want to read any more Monster Hunter books. It’s hard to say, they all blur together.

Emily Carroll’s Through the Woods is an utterly brilliant illustrated short fiction collection. Just finished it, and it’s easily the best thing I’ve read so far this year.

#2 was doing that for me and #3 turned me around when they abruptly broke away from what seemed to be the core characters/team.

LOVE this series. Consumed this book in a day. I’ve discovered im a huge fan of modern day settings with sci-fi/supernatural themes. I seem to also really enjoy military leaning stories. Im that same veign I loved the polseen wars, looking glass series and the zombies series by Ringo. I also consumed Peter Clines Ex Series (super heroes meets zombies).

For any fans that enjoyed these, any reccomendations on where I should look next?

Have you read the Dresden Files? Some get down on them, but for modern magic noir it’s pretty darned good. Give it two books at least, there’s a massive metaplot that keeps it interesting.

Love the TV show, so this is very tempting. Adding to wish list

I just finished binge reading the entire series except for the graphic novels. I really enjoyed them, they didn’t degenerate like some other urban fantasy series, but rather got better. Even when dresden gets more powerful, you know that there is a price.

Have you tried Jonathan Maberry’s Joe Ledger series? Basically, Ledger’s a former spec ops asset who joined up with Baltimore PD, was making a bid to join the FBI, and then gets pulled into a clandestine government agency that’s monitoring…unusual threats. Like terrorists with a zombie virus. Or a Moreau-esque bioengineering facility. Or…

I would also heartily recommend the Iron Druid series.

If you like Dresden definitely check out the Alex Verus series. I liked it more, certainly a better writer, though I enjoy Dresden too with a certain bit of embarrassment.

I finished what’s been written of Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality. In some ways it reminded of Ayn Rand in how it preaches rationality but not nearly as blatant (or offensive). Definitely recommended. I would love to hear from somebody who didn’t like it - as long as they got past the first 10 or so chapters.

After that rewarding dip into fan fiction I started reading the web serial novel Worm by Wildbow, which is often mentioned in the same breath as Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality. I am 60% through, which is apparently equivalent to 6 big novels, and I am completely engrossed. Completely! This is great stuff. It’s a world filled with capes/super heroes/parahumans and specifically centers on a young girl and her coming to grips with her new found power. I can’t put it down.

Finished Monster Hunter Nemesis (#5, in the series) on Friday and Monster Hunter Legion (#4) today, after realizing I’d accidentally skipped it. So far, only books #3 (Alpha) and #5 (Nemesis) have stood out. Those are gems. The series is fun overall but the main narrative is mostly meh and sometimes tedious.

Now reading London Falling based on a recommendation in one of these threads. Took me a chapter or two to warm up to it and get my berrings, but now it’s really clicking. This guy is all over the map with his books, too bad there isn’t more like this one to look forward to (or is there?).

Just finished Die A Stranger and started Let It Burn, the two latest Alex McKnight novels.

There’s one follow-up book written to London Falling. Severed Streets.

I read Horns (audiobook version), by Joe Hill. I have yet to read something by Joe Hill that I haven’t enjoyed, and this novel was no exception. It’s basically a high-concept character piece based on the following premise: What if you had a power where people always told you the truth of their innermost desires, no matter how bad it was?

Overall it’s pretty cool. Joe Hill has a talent for writing a good yarn while turning standard horror tropes on their head and making heroes or villains of unlikely candidates. That said, of Hill’s books that I’ve read, this is weaker than N0S4R2 or (especially) Locke & Key, but if you enjoyed those you’ll probably like this one as well.

Audiobook-wise, the narrator here does a great job.

I read Monster Hunter Nemesis recently. The series is what it is, but I’m ok with that.

I’m 90% of the way through Lost Fleet: Fearless (that’s book 2 right?), having previously read Dauntless. These are decent page turners. It’s a little hard to buy one of the central premises (namely that anything approaching actual tactical or strategic thinking has been lost to a century of hard space warfare), but I’m enjoying it so far.