The Book Thread - June 2013

Finishing off The Night of the Swarm, last in a pretty good fantasy series.

I’m about halfway through a re-read of Dune. Really loving this the second time through.

Reading The Thousand Emperors by Gary Gibson, sequel to The Final Days. Enjoying it a lot but its more a detective story in the future than a hardcore sci-fi novel.

I just started Enders Game. What a wonderful, wonderful book so far. I don’t care if the author is a dick.

Had Abaddon’s Gate downloaded to the Kindle this morning.

Read more of the Dresden series up to #9 White Knight. These are pretty good, but the Dresden character is still written in a somewhat juvenile way. If someone took the books and went through rewriting all these parts, I’d like them even more. I’ve got a few more before I can move onto my “summer reading list”.

Finished The Night of the Swarm, good series but a bit surprised to have it end with some loose ends. I don’t know if the author forgot, or intends other novels set in the world ala Erickson.

Started Spencerville, a stand alone Nelson DeMille, quite different from his other stuff so far.

Columbus: The Four Voyages by Lawrence Bergreen

I stumbled upon this at B&N and having read Bergreen’s book about Magellan decided to give it a try. The book tells the story of Columbus and his four voyages of discovery. It is not a biography but does give you a good deal of background on Columbus. You learn that while being a great sailor he could never master the use of what was then new technology, such as quadrant. Columbus did his sailing by dead reckoning.

The book also hammers home the point that Columbus always believed that China was just over the horizon on all his voyages and that on the third voyage Columbus found what he thought was the entrance to “paradise”. Columbus continually looked for gold and it was that search that led to his mistreatment of the natives and the deaths of thousands, many by their own hands.

Reading the book one is left with the feeling that as disorganized as the Spanish were that it is amazing they were able to later defeat the Inca’s and Aztec’s on the mainland.

Next…I am now reading Helter Skelter.

I couldn’t take The Six-Gun Tarot anymore, and just stopped. About 70% of the way through the book, and I just stopped. Don’t care if the whole town is sucked under by the ancient sleeping evil, or if the anti-hero(es) saves the day. I think I read the last 10% of the book out of pure stubbornness to try to finish it, but couldn’t find the motivation to go the rest of the way.

Since then, picked up The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter. It is not typical Pratchett (maybe a line or two of dry humor sprinkled in) but it is amazingly well written. I haven’t read anything by Baxter yet, so I don’t know if this is more typical of his type of work or not. Regardless, it seems like what I’ve been looking to read for a few months now. I’m about 25% of the way through, and it definitely has the ‘just-one-more’ chapter pull for me. The novel starts with the idea of parallel earths, and the ability for ordinary people to step through them. One of the main criticisms that I’ve read on the book is that it feels like there was a lot of interesting stuff that was covered at a minimum, and that it reads like an unfinished work (or first part of a multi-book series). And according to Amazon, a sequel will be released at the end of this month, and I’m already looking forward to that.

As I recall Cortes was the beneficiary first of Aztec internal imperial disputes that were on the verge of civil war, and second of a great deal of pure luck.

As I mentioned in last month’s thread, I have been reading Daniel Abraham’s “The Dagger and the Coin” series, beginning with The Dragons’ Path, and now The King’s Blood, which I just finished. I liked the second book better than the first, but they are both pretty good, although not as good as his “The Expanse” series as James Corey. The series has a nice fantasy setting, with a bunch of different fantasy tropes (trolls, beastmen, mermen, etc.) all explained away as different races of humans genetically or magically modified by the now-semi-extinct dragons who once ruled the planet and enslaved mankind.

The setting now is a Renaissance-era technology with lots of political intrigue with a dash or two of magical, world-threatening doom.

I was disappointed to learn that the second book was published earlier this year… I had hoped to finish the series up this summer.

The best thing about the series is that Butcher keeps the metaplot moving over the entire course, so stick with it. Harry does a lot of growing up.

I just finished American Savage and loved it. It’s not entirely about sexual morality & LGBT issues; there are quite a few other political & ethical essays.

At first thought, you wouldn’t expect Dan Savage to remind you more of Russell & Hitchens than an advice columnist. But then you think about it a little bit more and realize who better to write polemical essays against deeply traditional beliefs & misconceptions than our most controversial sex advice columnist? He’s already got all the enemies he’ll ever have & he’s been talking publicly about taboo subjects for decades. To top it off, he’s also a great writer with impressively well-researched arguments.

Austin: We’re taking a road trip in a week or so and I’ve considered picking up the audiobook version of American Savage to listen to on the way. The issue is that my (pretty smart for her age) 12-year-old would be listening in from time to time as my wife and I play the audiobook over the car speakers. In your opinion, are the subjects he covers too “salty” to expose a pre-teen to?

To be clear here: I have no issues exposing my kids to pro-LGBT viewpoints, and actually go out of my way to do so… but I don’t want to have to explain what a “Dirty Sanchez” entails. And to be honest, I don’t’ know what that entails myself. I’ve read some of his columns before; maybe I should just listen to one of his podcasts.

You won’t be explaining a dirty sanchez (which, to be honest, I dont know exactly what it is), but there are descriptions of things like leather conventions in a chapter on Peter LaBarbara and other amusing haters.

You’d also hear a lot of frank discussion about the issues surrounding cheating and how/when we need to rethink them.

My advice? Keep this one to yourself, if not because you don’t think your daughter is ready for it then because she has a right not to hear it with you in the room.

I shall take that advice, thanks.

Starting an urban fantasy series with The Devil You Know.

Specifically, Mike Carey’s fantastic Felix Castor series. I really want to know when we’re going to get more of that because the implications of the most recent one were pretty killer, but that’s the last I’ve heard on that front.

I’m about 3/4 the way in, and it has not really grabbed me yet, but then again, Dresden also started a bit slow until the secondary cast was better developed…

I recall big chunks of the first book being a pretty slow-building mystery more than anything else. It worked better for me on reread because there’s some pretty cool worldbuilding stuff, but you sound about ready to hit the point where the book really kicks into high gear.