The Book Thread - March 2008

Wow, over 24 hours and no new thread??:)

Finishing up Obsession tonight.

Really enjoyed the first Harry Dresden, so I ran out to get 2 more. Moved them up to the top of the TBR pile…

I am rereading the Dirk Gently books.

God I miss Douglas Adams.

Just started James Watt’s Blindsight. Singularity-imminent humanity runs into first contact. ‘Humans’ are creepier than the aliens.

I just finished Idoru. I think I don’t like William Gibson. A bunch of annoyingly stupid characters do a bunch of inane crap and nothing really happens and then it ends.

Just started Deathnote: Another Note: The Los Angeles BB Murder Cases by “NisiOisin”. Seems fun so far. I haven’t watched the anime or read the manga, so I have no reason to bored by repetition of older storylines, or disappointed by deviation from the canon.

I’m goin’ shallow with Koontz’s Brother Odd. I just love the Odd Thomas books for light, brain melting, relaxing, non-taxing reading.

I’m beginning The Great Bridge by David McCullough. I’m tired of reading about politics (depressing) or the Civil War (always ends on a downer, no matter how many books about it I read).

So far it’s fantastic.

Been reading Century Rain. I think I tend to prefer Reynolds when he is writing standalone books, because I’m really liking it and I enjoyed Chasm City but I still haven’t been able to summon any enthusiasm for actually starting Absolution Gap.

I do recall Pushing Ice not meeting with much enthusiasm on here, though…

Just finished Lucifer’s Hammer today on the recommendation of some people here. Pretty good, quite the page turner once the comet hits.

Working on “Fulgrim”, the fifth book of the Warhammer 40K Horus Heresy series. Books 1-3 of the series were kind of a trilogy, starting with the peak of Horus’s glory as spreader of the Imperial Truth, and following his slow, doomed slide into treachery and corruption until the climactic moment when he murders an entire planet full of Imperial troops serving under him - the ones still loyal to the Emperor, rather than him. Book four told the story of the handful of loyalist troops that got out to warn the Emperor of Horus’ treachery, which wound up being mostly overlapping with the timeline presented in 1-3. Book five is about the fall of Fulgrim, Primarch of the Emperor’s Children legion, and sounds like it’s going to conclude with the aforementioned planetary murder. I am really starting to wish they’d get on with it and present, y’know, the actual civil war between the loyalists and the Traitor Legions. Aka the Horus Heresy. Which this series is supposedly about.

Not that I didn’t really enjoy the fall from grace and the foreshadowings of doom presented in the first three books, and even if book four is a bit of a sidestory, it’s still gripping…and has some interesting things to say about the formation of the Emperor cult and the Inquisition, key elements of the regular 40K setting. But this is starting to push it. Still, it’s decent reading.

(And if this pushes it, well…book six, which I have sitting nearby, appears to have no direct connection to the main storyline so far whatsoever, merely exploring the history of another Space Marine legion of that time. I hope I’m wrong about that.)

After taking a month off to get some stuff caught around the house I finally got back into reading with, The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire. Pretty enjoyable so far.

I’ve got Jonathan Lethems, Gun, With Occasional Music and Dean Koontzs Brother Odd up next. And I’m planning to get a copy of Last Argument of Kings by Joe Abercrombie to finish off the month.

I just started on The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt’s Darkest Journey a book on his expedition into the Amazon jungle in 1913-14 after his failed 1912 Presidential run with the Bull Moose Party. So far its been rip-roaring good and i’ve only got to the equipping of the expedition. Candice Millard has also managed to jar some of the facts i’d somewhat forgotten about Roosevelt since I last read the Edmund Morris books.

Roosevelt sure was one hell of a fellow.

You forgot vampires. Oh, and the paperback finally comes out on the 4th, if the free version made available by Watts isn’t enough for you.

I had the hardcover laying around. I glanced at the blurbs on the back and somehow thought it was part of a trilogy. Just the other day I found out it wasn’t.

Yeah, vampires. Interesting take. He actually made vampires kinda work in a hard SF setting.

Update: Finished Blindsight: It went into some very odd territory, and some serious questions about how we deal with information, how the world isn’t what we thought, and the value of self-awareness. The appendix is a trove of ideas. It’s available for free? Can’t not recommend a decent book for free.

Now moving on to Abercrombie’s Before They Are Hanged.

Just discovered “To The Limit: An Air Cav Huey Pilot In Vietnam” by Tom Johnson - so far (~50 pages) it’s completely gripping, well worth getting if you read and “enjoyed” Chickenhawk by Robert Mason.

Just finished Charlie Huston’s Six Bad Things and am immediately plowing forward into A Dangerous Man. Man, I love this writer. He’s my new crush.

Re: Charles’ post—I can’t believe I never read the Dirk Gently books. I need to fix that.

Michael Burleigh’s Sacred Causes.

It’s been ages since I read a book by a serious historian that goes quite as seriously bonkers as this one does. Three hundred and fifty pages of reasonably sober (if astringent and v. pro-Catholic) analysis of the interactions between politics and religion in the 20th century (and attempts to generate secular religions) suddenly, and without much warning, has a twenty-page rant against the Irish of quite startling intensity.

Picked up the Mass Effect prequel novel on a whim at a used book store where I had credit. Not awful, but reading it after playing through the game deprived it of any impact. The author had a fairly literal style, full of tech details that made it read a bit like an excerpt from the IP bible.

And what did I find on page 38? A reference to a 10-minute elevator ride.

Finished The Final Empire. One of the better fantasy books I’ve read in the past couple of years.

Started Book II of The Stand. I’m enjoying it more than Book I so far. Actually, the end of Book I was great, especially when the survivors of the virus began to die due to their own stupidity.

I did something stupid the other day. I went to a bookstore. I haven’t even made it halfway through my backlog that I listed in the 52 week book challenge thread and I’m already buying more books. I picked up Foucault’s Pendulum by Umberto Eco, Making Money by Terry Pratchett, and Horus Rising by Dan Abnett.

I started on Horus Rising expecting it to be horrible crap and the book did not disappoint. I haven’t read any Wh40k books before, but I’ve spent enough time on 4chan’s /tg/ board to know most of the general background and history of the 40k universe. A lot of people on /tg/ say Dan Abnett is one of the better 40k authors, and if that’s the case I really don’t think I’ll be reading many more of these books.