Our reads in November 2020

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Our reads in November 2020

Out 31, 2020, 8:03 pm

Well,we survived the Elder Gods once again,here goes with another month's pile of books. What are your plans for this month?

Editado: Nov 27, 2020, 5:49 am

Dusty's TBR for November
SF/F reads
Robert Silverberg - Dying Inside
John Varley - The Persistence of Vision
Thomas Watson - Seth'aim Prosh
Eric Frank Russell - Men, Martians and Machines
Larry Niven - Flight of the Horse
E E Doc Smith - Skylark Three
Clifford D Simak - The Big Front Yard
from other genres
Kate DiCamillo - Because of Winn-Dixie
Cyril Hare - With a Bare Bodkin
Iris Johansen - Blind Alley
Kay Hooper - Fear the Dark
Patricia Cornwell - Postmortem

We are almost certainly going into national lockdown again this week. Just when the library was trying its best to normalize things,possibly reopening 1st December,we are back to square one. Oh well,I have always moaned about never having a chance to reread old favourites,now I am doing so! :0)
But I would never have believed that I hadnt entered a library for 9 months!

Nov 1, 2020, 9:16 am

All my "Jack Vance" again and ALL the iaian Banks AI stories from book 1 :-)

I suspect this might take me a little while.


Nov 1, 2020, 10:16 am

Yes I was thinking of re-reading Iaiaiaiaian Banks too. I miss him.

Nov 1, 2020, 11:56 am

I'm re-reading The Book of the New Sun (just a few days in and more than halfway through The Shadow of the Torturer). I'd like to read the new Laundry book Dead Lies Dreaming. I've placed a hold on it at the local public library, but they haven't yet cataloged the three copies they have on order. I may tackle KSR's Aurora this month or next.

Nov 1, 2020, 4:53 pm

Still reading The Devil You Know by Mike Carey. More F than SF.

Nov 1, 2020, 7:00 pm

Nov 1, 2020, 7:12 pm

Not exactly sf, but certainly related: The Art of Chesley Bonestell.

Nov 1, 2020, 8:34 pm

Reading And the Rest Is History by Jodi Taylor - which is a little darker than I needed just now but still enjoyable.

Nov 2, 2020, 11:53 am

Been reading the short story collection Eye by Frank Herbert, pretty good if you're mindful of the copyright date for each of them. No idea where that title comes from, there's no story by that name and his intro is entirely dedicated to his opinion of David Lynch's take on the Dune movie.

Nov 2, 2020, 4:25 pm

I've been rereading Rendezvous with Rama in the very nice Folio Society edition.

Nov 3, 2020, 2:16 am

>11 Cecrow: I have the signed limited edition of that book. Took me ages to find a copy.

Finished The Hour of the Thin Ox, a literate fantasy which would probably annoy some of today's fantasy fans as one of the cultures in the story is a bit too obviously Far Eastern. Now reading All I Ever Dreamed, a collection by one of my favourite writers, who died last year.

Nov 3, 2020, 10:53 am

Added DEV1AT3 by Jay Kristoff to my rotation.

Nov 3, 2020, 1:39 pm

I learned a long time ago that even if a book doesn't grab me immediately it's still often worth persisting rather than tossing it aside and that turned out to be the case with A Time of Changes by Robert Silverberg. The rather stilted narrative style is entirely intentional and works well in the context of the novel. If the prose is less than sparkling the story still draws one in. In the end I found it very satisfying although I wasn't quite convinced by the ending, which I naturally won't be spoiling here.

Next up more Silverberg in the shape of Son of Man.

Nov 3, 2020, 1:42 pm

>12 jhicks62: A long time favourite of mine. Did not think much of Rama III and sequels. Found Rama II to be a rerun of Rendezvous.

Nov 3, 2020, 4:21 pm

>16 pgmcc: I read it and the sequels back in the 90s, and the original is the only one that stuck in my mind. I do not think I will bother with rereading the others.

Nov 3, 2020, 4:42 pm

>17 jhicks62:
A decision I consider wise. :-)

Nov 3, 2020, 6:10 pm

>5 justifiedsinner: Oh, a few days at least! Good, though.

>9 RobertDay: Timely, considering that another round of Chesley awards was just given out recently.

Me, I'm enjoying the new Jasper Fforde, The constant rabbit. Chock full of allusions; I hope someone has built a wiki, because I'm sure I'm not catching them all.

Mr Fforde takes his satire very seriously.

Nov 5, 2020, 11:19 am

Got the new Laundry Files Dead Lies Dreaming today - something to cheer me up as we once again go into lockdown.

Nov 5, 2020, 12:41 pm

>20 SChant:

Cool! I'm second on the waiting list for it at my public library, where three copies are on order. Maybe they've got it and just need to catalog it!

Nov 5, 2020, 8:28 pm

I'm currently reading Otaku by Chris Kluwe who is a completely new author for me and I am quite impressed at the half-way point.

My library has closed again after being open for about 2 months, first just for hold pick-ups and for a few weeks for browsing. At least this time around the system is letting me place holds although when I'll get them is questionable. Our positives and deaths just seem to keep increasing.

Nov 5, 2020, 9:52 pm

>22 gypsysmom: I had no idea he wrote a book! He was best known for being a (American) football player for 8 years. Definitely went against the stereotype! (Although he was a punter - punters are known to be...eccentric). Very popular on twitter as well.

Nov 5, 2020, 11:40 pm

Neuromancer and Red Rising deserve a second read, my two all time favs

Nov 6, 2020, 12:22 am

My re-read of The Book of the New Sun is going much faster than I had anticipated. I've already finished The Shadow of the Torturer and started The Claw of the Conciliator.

Nov 6, 2020, 7:31 am

Knocked off The Descent of Monsters yesterday evening and found it to be a good read.

Editado: Nov 7, 2020, 6:55 pm

Relieved to have finished Silverberg's Dying Inside Lots of vivid scenes and great writing, but the unlikable protagonist meant I didnt connect with him and so had little sympathy with his problems. I find the whole subgenre of middle aged men with midlife crises one of my least favourite genres,so this one was a bit of a chore.
Hey,but it appears on at least 7 of my WWEnd lists,so its nice to tick it off so many boxes at once. lol.
Much more to my taste was Clifford D Simak's Hugo winner novelette The Big Front Yard Its tolerant humane protagonist had lots in common with the hero of Way Station,and I really enjoyed it.Definitely time for another full length Simak!

Nov 7, 2020, 3:35 pm

>23 drmamm: I continued to be impressed right to the end. Well written, tightly plotted, and great characters. The lead character is a female person of colour who leads a group of three other women in ascending the tiers of a virtual reality game called just The Game. It is set in a future when the ocean levels have risen and Miami exists only as connected highrises sticking out of the ocean.
The tagline on the front cover sums up the plot quite well:
She's used to saving the world. Now she just has to do it for real.

I'm completely clueless about American football so I would never have recognized his name. But I saw the piece he did on John Scalzi's blog (https://whatever.scalzi.com/2020/03/06/the-big-idea-chris-kluwe-2/) and I knew I had to read it.

Nov 7, 2020, 3:56 pm

>27 dustydigger: The highlight for me in Dying Inside was the review of Kafka's The Trial. I loved the idea of the main character actual producing a sample of what he was supposed to be doing. Apart from that I found the main character a bit of a pain. While I like having read the book, it is not a story I would recommend.

Nov 8, 2020, 6:27 am

Finished Dead Lies Dreaming by Charles Stross. Set in the Laundry Files universe, but with a bunch of petty criminals as main characters instead of Bob, Mo and the rest. It's a pacey and entertaining read as expected, but Stross has really let his love of old spy novels get the better of him with a bit too much double-cross, triple-cross, and heavily armed cannon-fodder goons in this one. I enjoyed it, but hope for the Laundry bods in the next one.

Nov 8, 2020, 8:19 am

Still reading Deadhouse Gates by Steven Erikson....

Nov 9, 2020, 7:04 am

In a late change to our published programme I'm reading In the Kingdom of the Beasts by Brian M. Stableford.

Nov 9, 2020, 7:49 am

In the Kingdom of the Beasts failed the sensible character names test. On the other hand the Quartet paperback has some sweet cover art!

Oh well, back to Silverberg.

Nov 9, 2020, 4:03 pm

I've made a start on Norman Spinrad's Russian Spring, which he acknowledged was out of date before he finished writing it. (Though I see from the list of touchstones that he actually wrote a sequel.)

Nov 10, 2020, 6:56 am

>27 dustydigger: Speaking as a man who's really past middle-age, if I found my own mid-life crisis boring why should I care about some other dude's mid-life crisis?

Editado: Nov 10, 2020, 7:03 am

>30 SChant: We'll see how that one goes for me, as I'm about to have it in my grubby little hands. I think I know how Stross is going to wrap this all up but I suspect that he's been marking time until Brexit finishes playing out.

Nov 10, 2020, 7:05 am

Finished The House of Shattered Wings and wound up liking it quite a lot, with the caveat that it's more about atmosphere than world-building.

Nov 10, 2020, 9:21 am

>37 Shrike58: Yeah, I got stuck on that one and put it to one side for a while. I found the atmosphere claustrophobic but with not enough story to keep me going. Will probably pick it up again later.

Nov 10, 2020, 2:31 pm

>38 SChant: The story really kicks into high-gear about half-way in.

Nov 11, 2020, 6:26 am

>37 Shrike58:, >38 SChant: I found the sequels much more satisfying than the first book.

Nov 11, 2020, 6:34 pm

Finished Thunderbird, taking a non-SF break with an oldie from my humor stack, A Guest at the Ludlow.

Nov 12, 2020, 6:55 am

I've started Architects of memory.

Editado: Nov 13, 2020, 6:00 am

Son of Man was, er, different. A number of reviewers have speculated that the author may have been under the influence of illicit substances. I don't have the experience to confirm how likely that is but Clay's adventures in a distant future where man has evolved into a band of transexual hippies is certainly a psychedelic trip.

Next up some comfort reading with Dumarest No. 8 Veruchia by E.C. Tubb.

Nov 15, 2020, 6:28 am

Sorry but I just didnt take to John Varley's Hugo and Nebula novella winner for 1979 Persistence of Vision Lots of sex and would be deep and portentous hippie themes. I found suspension of disbelief almost impossible.Almost every page I would be asking myself ''But surely...?'' of gaping plot problems And too often scenes that were supposed to be solemn and important just made me giggle. Or shudder, as when the 47 yr old protagonist is sleeping with a 13 year old girl.
No wonder the next generation were so into cyberpunk etc! lol.They were jut glad to get away from this nonsense.
Still plodding through Skylark Three.
I vowed this month I would get back to Boneshaker which I tossed aside 6 months ago in irritation and boredom,and have to finish this year for my challenges,but keep avoiding.Still 250 pages to go.......sigh.......

Nov 15, 2020, 10:09 am

Finished DEV1AT3 by Jay Kristoff. Liked this second book a bit better than the first. Added the last book, TRUEL1F3, to my rotation.

Nov 15, 2020, 2:30 pm

Finished The Seep this afternoon. The elevator pitch might be Becky Chambers does Slipstream and I liked it rather more than I thought I might.

Nov 15, 2020, 4:39 pm

I took a flyer and downloaded Norstrilia, one of the few novel-length works by Cordwainer Smith. It's pretty good, if a bit dated. "Man buys earth" is a pretty cool plot summary too.

Nov 15, 2020, 10:31 pm

Reading Memories of Ice by Steven Erikson...

Nov 16, 2020, 7:39 am

>46 Shrike58: That's on my Wishlist. Glad you enjoyed it.

Architects of memory is a great read so far.

Nov 16, 2020, 8:24 am

>49 Sakerfalcon: As I noted in my comments I came for the weird and stayed for the catharsis. Architects of Memory looks interesting to me too.

Nov 16, 2020, 10:46 am

>44 dustydigger: "Still plodding through Skylark Three."

I can totally relate. Despite being a Smith fan I've never been able to finish the book in two attempts. In fact that finished the "Skylark" series for me. But damn, when Smith was good he was great!

Editado: Nov 16, 2020, 10:57 am

Finished Veruchia (Vol. 8 in the Earl Dumarest series). If I had to sum up the series in three words I'd say: "Really, really good!"

Now I'm left with nothing to read until one of the posties who hasn't been struck down by Covid-19 delivers my mail.

Nov 17, 2020, 5:10 am

Started Afterland by Lauren Beukes. Love her work!

Nov 17, 2020, 7:51 am

>51 SFF1928-1973: Its such an odd mix of hard(if quaint) hard science and the wildest space opera.I have taken to just skipping the pages and pages of descriptions of tech.
It was such a nostalgia feeling going back to a book where the ether is a major scientific force!
I am quite used to the males making huge strides in technology while the wives knit and eat chocolates,par for the course at that time,it is what it is,but I am really disturbed by the cavalier attitude to genocide in this book,as our hero steadily exterminates a whole race.starting with the crews of 900 plus space ships and then obliterating the home worldand obsessively pursuing a space ship full of the aliens who are escaping from the galaxy far across the universe to destroy themthough they are not expected to be a threat for at least 1000 years!
.This was 1930,and we know Hitler was already quietly planning genocide,but seeing an American being so remorselessly bloodthirsty with barely a qualm was very unsettling to say the least.This of course was only 12 years after WWI,people had become hardened,but in a book aimed (I assume) at a young audience the morals should be a little dodgy to say the least,but no-one in the book or among the readers of the tale seemed to have turned a hair! :0(

Nov 17, 2020, 8:25 am

>54 dustydigger: Speaking as an American, if you really want to be blunt about it the United States was based on genocide...just ask the First Nations. Not to mention that the Nazis took notes from the United States vis-a-vis applied eugenics.

Editado: Nov 26, 2020, 5:32 pm

Just finished Spinrad's Russian Spring. A sprawling mess of a book, though strangely prescient in many ways. Ends in sentimentality, which is not what I expect from Norman.

Next SF on the pile will be Ada Palmer's Too like the lightning.

Editado: Nov 18, 2020, 3:50 pm

>54 dustydigger: It's fair to say that in Smith's work "us and them" is taken to mean "good and evil", which I presume was the prevailing sentiment in America at the time. But with Skylark Three my main focus was on getting through the book rather than what it all meant. Smith did pick up his game for the Lensman novels although genocide remains a thing.

Nov 21, 2020, 12:18 am

Just received (had to order it) Lexicon Urthus (2nd edition), a dictionary for Gene Wolfe's Urth books. Initial explorations are very promising; I expect much pleasure from it.

Editado: Nov 21, 2020, 12:26 pm

>58 rshart3:

Nice. I'm midway through a re-read of The Book of the New Sun, with plans to tackle the entire Solar Cycle. Would you recommend Lexicon Urthus as a companion while reading, or is it spoilery?

Nov 21, 2020, 12:55 pm

I found an anthology of Locus Award short fiction winners in a little free library a few months ago and have started dipping into it. The Locus Awards: Thirty Years has an amazing list of authors including Octavia Butler, Harlan Ellison, Connie Willis, Ursula K. Leguin etc. The first story is The Death of Doctor Island by Gene Wolfe, a writer that I have not read much.

Nov 21, 2020, 3:14 pm

>60 gypsysmom: I haven't read Wolfe much either, and remember not liking his story in that collection, but that is a great collection, with some true classics in it!

Nov 21, 2020, 6:15 pm

Finished The Clock of Dreams, next up Genus Homo.

Nov 21, 2020, 11:16 pm

>59 paradoxosalpha: It would be good as a companion -- most of it is explanations of words & phrases, or the worldbuilding. I guess there are spoilers in there, but for me the pleasure of the Urth cycle isn't plot (a pot-boiler it is not), but the style, the atmosphere, and the world building. Others might disagree. There *is* an arc of gradually realizing the big picture.

Nov 24, 2020, 2:55 am

Finished World Engines: Creator, the second part of the duology begun with World Engines: Destroyer. Some good world-building and cosmic speculation, but the story pretty much has a god-like being explain the plot to the cast at the end. And it all felt a bit hand-wavey, tbh. Baxter has never been good with landings - most of his series start off well, then sort of run out of steam after a book or two - although they've always been easy reads. The last few have a little juvenile, however.

Nov 25, 2020, 10:55 am

Eric Frank Russell's Men, Martians and Machines was a bright and breezy fun romp. The Marathon space vessel(,almost two decades before Star Trek), is sent out to explore a bunch of planets which initially seem empty and innocuous,but soon prove to be extremely dangerous.Amusing.
Now I have about 100 pages left of Thomas Watson's Seth'aim Prosh
, Larry Niven's Flight of the Horse,Cherie Priest's Boneshaker ,and Paul Melko's Singularity's Ring left on my TBR for 2020,so I will just about manage to scrape through before year's end

Nov 25, 2020, 2:30 pm

Finished Genus Homo, started Vaneglory.

Nov 26, 2020, 3:55 am

I'm reading Transit to Scorpio by Alan Burt Akers (AKA the Artist formerly known as Kenneth Bulmer). It's the first book in his long-running Dray Prescot series.

Nov 26, 2020, 8:08 am

Finished The Future of Another Timeline (B-) yesterday evening; not bad, not great. On the whole this novel probably needed at least one more editorial pass; possibly a case of sophomore jinx.

Nov 27, 2020, 5:59 am

Finished our own ThomasWatson's final episode of his 5 volume War of the Second Iteration.,Seth'aim Prosh.A satisfying rather bittersweet ending,after an awful lot of fighting and death. :0(
Now on with Larry Niven's Flight of the Horse

Nov 27, 2020, 11:13 am

Finished TRUEL1F3 by Jay Kristoff. Liked the series overall.

Next ups is The Tinderbox: Soldier of Indira by Lou Diamond Phillips.

Nov 27, 2020, 12:01 pm

I finished Transit to Scorpio, which exceeded my (very modest) expectations. It's a pure pastiche of the Edgar Rice Burroughs Mars/Venus novels of course but it is exceedingly well done. The series could easily become a comfort read for me if I can continue to find the books.

Next up: Major Operation by James White, another set of medical stories from Sector General.

Dez 5, 2020, 4:21 pm

>61 igorken: Yes, I'm not sure this story would convince me to read more of Wolfe. I certainly didn't like the idea that killing another person would show that a patient was on the road to a cure.

The next story is by Ursula K. Leguin so I have higher hopes for it and I'm glad to hear that you enjoyed the anthology.

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