Our reads in February 2021

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Our reads in February 2021

Jan 31, 2021, 4:06 pm

Another month,another pile of books.Tell us your plans for February

Editado: Fev 26, 2021, 4:11 pm

Dusty's TBR for February
Jack Vance - The Face
Edgar Rice Burroughs - Synthetic Men of Mars
Michael G Coney - Brontomek
Cordwainer Smith -Game of Rat and Dragon
Jack Williamson - Seetee Ship

other genres
John Steinbeck - The Red Pony
Bruce Carter - Target Island

Jan 31, 2021, 7:09 pm

Apparently, I'm on a British author kick. Just finished War Lord by Bernard Cornwell, historical fiction, and have V2 by Robert Harris from the library. Looks like it has an SF feel to go with the historical fiction.

Jan 31, 2021, 9:28 pm

This month's lot is probably going to be Gamechanger, The Relentless Moon, The Falls, and The Ascent to Godhood.

Jan 31, 2021, 10:42 pm

Really enjoyed A Song For a New Day by Sarah Pinsker. Very prescient as everyone is under 'stay-at-home' orders due to terrorist attacks followed by a pandemic. Published in 2019. The two main characters are easy to follow along with and the story is an interesting one; it's more of an anti-corporate statement than end-of-the-world pastiche. Definitely open to reading more from this author.

Also embarking on a read of CJ Cherry's Foreigner series. Just finished book #2, Invader last night and am about to start on Inheritor next.

In e-book, I am continuing my explorations of New Crobuzon tonight with The Scar.

Fev 1, 2021, 1:08 am

I'm still working on Litany of the Long Sun and I've ordered a copy of Epiphany of the Long Sun (which will complete my collection of the Solar Cycle). I've recently picked up MacLeod's Descent and I'm keen to read it.

Fev 1, 2021, 1:09 am

I'm still working on Litany of the Long Sun and I've ordered a copy of Epiphany of the Long Sun (which will complete my collection of the Solar Cycle). I've recently picked up MacLeod's Descent and I'm keen to read it.

Fev 1, 2021, 10:40 am

Just finished Shaman by Kim Stanley Robinson. KSR is one of the few writers who gets to own as much of my shelf space as they're willing to fill. Next SF title TBD, but I see that Slant is sliding to the leftward edge of the to-be-read shelf, so that might be it.

Fev 1, 2021, 11:26 am

Still reading and enjoying Unconquerable Sun by Kate Elliott. Also still reading Nexus by Ramez Naam. Added The Mask Falling by Samantha Shannon to my rotation.

Fev 1, 2021, 12:07 pm

>2 dustydigger: What brought you to put Synthetic Men of Mars on the list? First time read or a re-read?

Fev 1, 2021, 1:51 pm

Today I'm planning to start Strange Labour.

Editado: Fev 1, 2021, 2:59 pm

I started The Soldier by Neal Asher. I have read Gridlinked and the Transformation trilogy (Dark Intelligence, War Factory, Infinity Engine) and when I read those three, I thought perhaps I should go back and read the earlier Polity books. I am thinking the same thing as I read The Soldier.

Editado: Fev 1, 2021, 3:05 pm

>2 dustydigger: I read The Red Pony and the Anne of Green Gables books as a kid and loved them. You are making me a bit nostalgic and ready to go back and reread some favorites.

Fev 2, 2021, 1:49 am

Currently reading On by Adam Roberts, and trying to work out what it is he's writing about.

Fev 2, 2021, 4:11 am

>14 iansales: Haha - I've had that feeling with every one of his books I've tried. guess he's not for me.

Fev 2, 2021, 7:06 am

>14 iansales: I've not been able to figure out Adam Roberts' fiction. I loved Salt and Yellow Blue Tibia but some of his others - Stone, Polystom, The Snow and On itself, just didn't gel with me.

Editado: Fev 2, 2021, 10:58 am

>14 iansales: I've not been able to figure out Adam Roberts' fiction. I loved Salt and Yellow Blue Tibia but some of his others - Stone, Polystom, The Snow and On itself, just didn't gel with me. I did eventually get a handle on what 'On' was telling me, but it was hard work.

I have more of Roberts' novels on the TBR pile. If I hadn't read YBT out of my usual reading sequence, I might not have persevered with his novels. This would have been a bad thing, because he is undoubtedly talented.

Editado: Fev 2, 2021, 10:55 am

Finished Nexus by Ramez Naam. Many words. Many, many words.

Editado: Fev 2, 2021, 11:16 am

I'm reading Heads, a novella by Greg Bear published as a standalone book. I'm reading it because I'm thinking of teaching it in a class about life extension technologies, and it's about someone who comes into a collection of cryogenically preserved heads they don't know what to do with, but unfortunately the book seems to be much more about politics in a lunar colony.

Fev 2, 2021, 2:12 pm

Semiosis by Sue Burke was terrific, but hard to categorize as either SciFi or Fantasy. It takes place on a new planet where humans have traveled to escape deteriorating conditions on earth. They form a colony and learn to survive in new surroundings, and a great deal of the settings details are about flora and fauna and weather.

There is a second book which I hope to get to soon.

Fev 3, 2021, 2:06 am

>15 SChant: >16 RobertDay: I find his books very hit and miss. Didn't like Salt or Stone, both Yellow Blue Tibia and Jack Glass were half-good, half-bad. The Thing Itself I did think very good, and The Real-Town Murders wasn't bad. He's written some good short fiction, tho.

Fev 3, 2021, 3:47 am

>21 iansales: He's the type of author who always is trying something new, instead of learning a new technique and adding it to his toolbox, isn't he? He prefers risking an interesting failure to writing something he comfortably knows how to pull off.

Fev 3, 2021, 3:55 am

>20 Darth-Heather: I also really enjoyed Semiosis but found Interference a little disappointing, though still worth the read.

Fev 3, 2021, 8:46 am

>22 anglemark: Yes, that was the conclusion I came to. Which means that any individual reader's reaction to his books is going to vary according to the reader's own likes and dislikes as well as Roberts' own achievements with each type of novel. So to take Ian's first example, Salt worked for me because of the sense I had of the pov character's almost visceral reaction of love towards the awful majesty of the harsh terrain of the colonised world. Not everyone will share an appreciation of that sort of quite personal reaction.

And of course, this means that because every novel he writes tries something new, Roberts is an author worth persisting with.

Fev 3, 2021, 9:46 am

>21 iansales: >22 anglemark: >24 RobertDay: I enjoyed Jack Glass and Yellow Blue Tibia but threw Gradisil against the wall. So like you said hit or miss.

Editado: Fev 4, 2021, 2:03 am

>22 anglemark: >24 RobertDay: I'm not sure it's that. I think his ideas often run away with him, or sometimes he's so focused on his central idea other parts don't get the same care and attention. The Thing Itself was riddled with continuity errors. The opening mystery in The Real-Town Murders, the selling-point of the book, in other words, was easy to solve and a complete red herring. And now in On, we've gone from abject poverty to slavery, cannibalism and repeated rape.

Fev 3, 2021, 12:54 pm

Finished Elizabethan Noir Trilogy Boxed Set last week. A historical crime trilogy with some distinctly fantastic elements (but not thankfully urban fantasy). Strange, and a bit heavy going. Reminiscent of Serpent's Egg in the imagery and the fantastic elements (although the latter was true fantasy).

I would say the motivations and language were very true to period (Finney has been active in the re-enactment community). However, so are the attitudes to sex, violence, the status of women, ethnic minorities, and religion, so it's not a series for the easily offended or those who find reading a Shakespeare play difficult.

Fev 3, 2021, 7:13 pm

Reading the Long Way to a Small Angry Planet . Just started, but enjoying it so far.

Fev 3, 2021, 10:46 pm

>28 Helenoel: Welcome to the group!

Fev 4, 2021, 7:11 am

Editado: Fev 4, 2021, 10:54 am

I've started reading Mississippi blues, in honour of the late Kathleen Ann Goonan.

Fev 4, 2021, 12:53 pm

>31 Sakerfalcon: Looks interesting!

Editado: Fev 4, 2021, 2:28 pm

>28 Helenoel: I just finished the second book in this series, A closed and common orbit. I had enjoyed The long way to a Small, Angry Planet but thought it was a bit bland. I liked the second book much more.

Fev 7, 2021, 3:34 am

I've finished Down among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire (technically fantasy rather than SF but I don't like to split the genres, hope it's OK).

It's the second novella in the Wayward children series started with Every Heart a Doorway which I liked but I enjoyed this second book more, I thought it was better written and the characters more developed.

Editado: Fev 7, 2021, 9:54 am

Finished N K Jemisin's The City We Became, a rollercoaster-ride of action and adventure as the avatars of the city of New York battle a Lovecraftian tentacled horror. Great fun.
Now reading Terra Nullius by Clare G Coleman, a different take on the colonisation of Australia.

Fev 7, 2021, 12:01 pm

I finished The Consuming Fire, I thought it was better than book one, I'll definitely be moving on to book 3.

Fev 7, 2021, 12:55 pm

Time for a reread of LotR, I have just started The fellowship of the Ring. This time I am reading the first edition, which I haven't done since 1979 (after a fashion, the old Swedish translation from 1959 was - of course - a translation of the first edition).

Fev 7, 2021, 5:03 pm

I burned my was through Richard Christian Matheson's Created By in a few days. Now started to read (and pore over) Hardware, the big portfolio of Chris Foss artwork which I picked up at the London Worldcon in 2014 (when Foss was, of course, a Guest of Honour).

Fev 7, 2021, 6:28 pm

Finished Zendegi, started Daybreak Zero.

Editado: Fev 8, 2021, 7:29 am

Finished with Gamechanger yesterday evening and, while there was a lot I liked about the novel, it really needed to lose about 150 pages. Still, better to be too ambitious than not enough. I liked enough of what I read that I'm interested in continuing with the story. I have A Pale Light in the Black in hand and that'll probably be the next novel; this will be my first encounter with K.B. Wagers.

Fev 8, 2021, 12:59 pm

>40 Shrike58: Great username!

Fev 8, 2021, 4:37 pm

Finished Unconquerable Sun by Kate Elliott. Enjoyed it immensely.

Fev 8, 2021, 4:52 pm

I finished Nightside the Long Sun, and it didn't feel like much was resolved. So I thought, ok, I'll look at the start of the next book and see if there's a gap in the narrative, then I'll give it a rest for a little before continuing. But--Lake of the Long Sun picks up without a breath of space in the narrative. So I ended up reading the first two chapters of the second book in the same sitting as the last one of the first book!

Fev 8, 2021, 7:26 pm

>43 paradoxosalpha: Quite a different experience than, say, the first two volumes of the Book of the New Sun!

Editado: Fev 8, 2021, 8:50 pm

And nothing like Severian's formula: "OK, so that's a big piece of my story, and this is a good place to stop if you need to." But Silk is a more sympathetic protagonist on the whole.

Fev 8, 2021, 11:13 pm

Finished The Book of Koli over the weekend which had some very nice moments and wonderful world-building (and once you get used to the language, that also gives you a lot of clues about the world) but is so obviously an opening book of a trilogy that it felt incomplete and more of a prologue than a complete novel...

Fev 9, 2021, 1:10 pm

I found the Long Sun set to be far less interesting than the New Sun. The first were brilliant & engrossing. In fact, that's been my experience with Wolfe generally: when he's good, he's *very* good; when he's off, he's flat and cardboardy. Definitely one of those on again, off again authors.

Fev 10, 2021, 12:13 pm

>47 rshart3: Speaking of on again, off again. Just finished V2. I've really liked some of Harris' books and I've actively disliked two of them. V2 I would say was good but not great.

Fev 11, 2021, 4:09 am

Currently reading By Force Alone, which is sort of the Matter of Britain meets the Sopranos, with a bit of Mythago Wood thrown in. Good so far.

Fev 12, 2021, 10:52 am

>49 iansales: With any luck I'll be reading that in March. Tidhar is one of those authors I'm really coming to esteem.

Fev 12, 2021, 1:08 pm

Finished Inheritor, book #3 in Cherryh's Foreigner series. Really enjoying it so far - and only 18 books to go! ;)

With that out of the way, I can focus more on The Scar. Another looonng book set on the world of Bas-Lag. Very imaginative and compelling story so far, at around the 3/4 mark.

After the Miéville, next up will be The Memory Police, and Precursor.

Fev 12, 2021, 3:19 pm

>33Just finished The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet - it does seem to be mostly "Oh, Look! Here are non-human species and culture and a political setting" without much development- but there are sequels, and it was fun to explore the community.

Fev 12, 2021, 4:33 pm

Just started Brian Stableford's Invaders from the Centre.

>51 ScoLgo: As for The Scar, I enjoyed it, as this (hopefully spoiler-free) extract from my review might suggest:

"Pirates! Airships! Vampires! Sea monsters! McGuffins! Cactus men! Mermaids! (I’m sure there was a mermaid somewhere in there.) Sea battles with ironclads! Grumpy dolphins! Lost books! Steampunkery! Spies! Mosquito women! Galleons and galleys and paddle steamers!"

Fev 12, 2021, 5:01 pm

>53 RobertDay: Haha! All of that is spot on - and none are spoilers at this point in my reading.

Fev 13, 2021, 4:02 am

>50 Shrike58: I thought Unholy Land was very good indeed, and while By Force Alone is closer to The Violent Century than that, it's a much better book than The Violent Century.

>53 RobertDay: I've read the first book in that series twice and I really must get around to reading the two sequels...

Editado: Fev 13, 2021, 6:48 am

Brontomek! was a pretty standard tale of a plucky community being oppressed by a huge corporation with a murky agenda. They are relentlessly taken over and stripped of everything and have to fight back. The only difference is that this takes place on a colonial planet,we have monster machines,creatures that can morph into whatever person is your personal ideal,and some nasty local creatures.Was a bit put off by the protagonist but it was an enjoyable enough read on a snowy day But award winning material? Not so sure

Fev 13, 2021, 7:19 am

Someone requested my loan copy of Last and First Men and I was glad to relinquish it only 30 pages in. So dry and stodgy,almost unreadable. Exactly like the history textbooks inflicted on me in the early 60s! lol
Star Maker at least had a narrator who had a pretty cool time flying across galaxies and through aeons of time,but this book was just so BORING. Maybe it will improve,but I'm not holding my breath.But its on a lot of WWEnd lists and I want to tick it off sometime this year. Probably in December after struggling through numerous 5 page sections taken like medicine........

Fev 14, 2021, 8:28 am

>52 Helenoel: I share your feeling about The long way to a small angry planet and liked the second book much more because it's more character centered and much much less a species catalogue.
I just started Record of a spaceborn few, the third book in the series.

Fev 14, 2021, 8:34 am

>51 ScoLgo: >53 RobertDay: I enjoyed Perdido Street Station immensely and The scar a bit less.
I liked the third book, The iron council, but was really disappointed because there's a Council at the end of Perdido Street Station and I thought book three would be about it. For some reason I got the names of these two councils mixed up and thought the one in the first book was also called the Iron Council, but glancing in the book I can see it's not the case.

Fev 14, 2021, 8:37 am

>59 chlorine: I read and enjoyed Perdido Street Station back in the day but somehow have never gotten back to that milieu.

Fev 14, 2021, 9:15 am

>60 Shrike58: Love China Mieville. Such an astonishing imagination.

Fev 14, 2021, 10:53 am

>61 SChant:. Agreed. The Scar blew me away.

I finally am about to start The Southern Reach Trilogy.

Fev 14, 2021, 10:55 am

Rendevous with Rama, by Arthur C Clarke. Part of today's Daily Deal on Amazon.co.uk.

I recall reading this years ago; I can't remember whether it was a library loan or a paperback I'd acquired. Given the original publication date (1973), I suspect the former. Sort of a first contact story - but not with aliens, just with a mysterious artefact that enters the Solar System. A ship and it's crew are despatched to investigate.

I found it rather ponderous, from the initial info dump all the the way through. It badly needed more lightness - it was pure engineering SF in style, Rama (the artefact) was the enigmatic focus of the story, although ostensibly the crew that was investigating was the focus. I'm told the others in the series are worse.


Editado: Fev 14, 2021, 2:43 pm

I have had mixed experiences with Mieville. Perdido Street Station passed through my collection unread. I thought The City and the City was awesome. The premise of The Last Days of New Paris was great, but the execution left me unimpressed. I definitely plan to read Kraken at some point.

>62 vwinsloe: Enjoy the Southern Reach. It's a wonderful piece of work.

I've just finished Litany of the Long Sun and posted my review. Although the story doesn't pause between volumes, I will. My reading agenda needs to slip in some old occult fantasy, in the form of Hartmann's With the Adepts. (It's part of a larger research project.)

Fev 14, 2021, 2:33 pm

I am slowly working my way through The Raven Tower. The slowness is not the book's fault; I mostly pick it up when I end up in situations where I can't work on the other book I'm reading now, the 1,300-page comc Legion of Super-Heroes: Five Years Later Omnibus. Hard to take that one to the doctor's office! Once I finish the comic, I'll devote myself more fully to Raven Tower.

Fev 15, 2021, 1:08 am

>65 Stevil2001: Oooh The Raven Tower seems really interesting!

Fev 15, 2021, 1:10 am

>63 Maddz: I read Rendez-vous with Rama back when I was a student, as well as most of the books of the series. A friend of mine read the series more or less at the same time as me and we would talk a lot about it, we really loved it. We were completely engrossed with the mystery of Rama.
Thinking back on it and reading your opinion makes me think I wouldn't love it as much now. Reading tastes change...

Fev 15, 2021, 1:17 am

>64 paradoxosalpha: The City & the City was completely something else and I was blown away! That ending of the first chapter, when he sees an old lady in the distance, and then realises that she's actually not on the boulevard and he shouldn't be seeing her had me floored and is my selling point when I try to get other people to read this book.

I read Railsea which was alright but left me a bit cold. Kraken is also on my radar but the book that I really want to get to is Un Lun Dun.

Fev 15, 2021, 8:00 am

And now, for something completely different, I knocked off A Pale Light in the Black over the weekend. A perfectly acceptable military procedural set in space by an author I had yet to make an acquaintance with. If I was going to be picky, and let's not kid ourselves, I'm going to pick, I could have used a little more world building; this is as compared to Gamechanger were the main virtue was the world building.

Fev 15, 2021, 8:20 am

There was a 13 year hiatus in Jack Vance's series about a man seeking revenge on the death of his parents by 5 maurauding space pirates who lately disbanded and became anonymous people scattered across the galaxy,still doing nefarious things but hiding their past.Now we were on the trail of #4 in The Face and the avenger has a very difficult task finding his foe. We only find out who it was in the last few pages,and just what the title means.
There is a lot of subtle and not so subtle satire in this book,particularly about the fantasy genre itself.And there is a pricelessly funny scene about the Darsh,a very ugly race,dancing a very noisy clumsy dance while singing a ridiculous song which irresistably reminded me of the sweet homely songs in the inns or The Prancing Pony in Fellowship of the Ring. Hilarious.And Vance has a nice touch in depicting different planets,peoples and societies
Now I will locate the final book of the Demon Princes,The Book of Dreams.
I have several Vance books on my TBR,including the Dying Earth and Lyonesse sequences,but I keep putting off because of my rather unenthusiastic response to the fantasy genre as a whole. We'll see..

Fev 15, 2021, 11:10 am

>70 dustydigger: I thought that the Lyonesse books were more a comedy of manners than fantasy. I'm currently reading Araminta Station which is more comedy of manners than science fiction. He is like James Branch Cabell with less elegance but more humor.

Fev 15, 2021, 4:49 pm

Fond though I am of Vance and his comedies of manner, my favorite of his writing is the first half of Lyonesse because it was so much not that.

Fev 16, 2021, 2:22 pm

I just picked up the Robot Uprisings anthology for this month's SSFKit theme from Category Challenge. This sounds like fun.

Fev 16, 2021, 10:58 pm

Currently about halfway done with Eifelheim. I enjoyed the first 2 books in the Lyonesse series.

Fev 16, 2021, 11:21 pm

>70 dustydigger: the Dying Earth is one of the examplars of what's sometimes called Science Fantasy: fiction with the feeling and some of the trappings of fantasy, but it turns out to be SF. Gene Wolfe's New Sun sequence is another great example. I like that subgenre. SF & fantasy are so close in some ways, anyway -- so what the hell, why not merge them? :-)
I like Vance, generally, and the Dying Earth tales are among my favorites.

Fev 17, 2021, 4:37 am

So I'm starting my long-awaited re-read of An Alien Heat by Michael Moorcock. I remembered it as being rather whimsical and more lighthearted than the usual Moorcock. Indeed it turns out to be an odd mixture of Alice in Wonderland and The Dying Earth, with a pinch of The Time Machine for good measure.

Fev 17, 2021, 9:01 am

Finished Mississippi blues and enjoyed it. A good follow-up to Queen City Jazz. Now I need to find wherever I put the two sequels ...

Also I read Trafalgar by Angelica Gorodischer, which was excellent. Linked short stories narrated by the titular merchant who travels to some very strange places and has unlikely adventures.

Fev 17, 2021, 10:22 am

>75 rshart3:

I'm a big fan of the dying earth subgenere. One of the earliest examples is the Zothique stories by Clark Ashton Smith. And Viriconium by M. John Harrison is another touchstone. I was surprised to find that The City and the Stars by Arthur C. Clarke ticks many of the boxes as well.

Fev 17, 2021, 11:35 am

>77 Sakerfalcon: I loved Trafalgar when I read it :)

Reading Road Out of Winter at the moment (which as far as I know is not Stine's first novel as the cover claims...) which so far is readable.

Fev 17, 2021, 12:30 pm

>78 paradoxosalpha: I haven't thought of The City & the Stars in that mode, but it makes sense. The remnant of humanity living in an unimaginably far future; the somewhat melancholy tone; science so powerful it seems like magic. Maybe this is why that's my favorite Arthur Clarke novel (I knew it first in the Against the Fall of Night version.)

Fev 17, 2021, 1:04 pm

>59 chlorine: Finished The Scar last week and really enjoyed it, although the ending left me feeling vaguely disappointed. Nevertheless, like >61 SChant: says, Miéville is astonishingly imaginative so the flesh of the story, as it were, was no disappointment to me at all. I'll be moving on to The Iron Council soon-ish. I too had made that mental jump based on the word 'council' but my recent re-read of Perdido Street Station reminded me that it was a Construct Council in that book so I had already tumbled to the third book likely being about something else.

>62 vwinsloe: I enjoyed The Southern Reach trilogy probably more than I should have... ;-)   I hope you like it.

>64 paradoxosalpha: >68 chlorine: I liked Kraken quite a bit. Haven't read Un Lun Dun or The Last Days of New Paris yet. My favorite Miéville to date remains Embassytown, which was the first of his titles I picked up. My preference for Embassytown is likely due to its being more firmly entrenched in science-fiction as opposed to The Weird or the fantastical, which is where I would position most of Miéville's other books I have read, with the possible exception of The City & The City, which struck me as more contemporary - or even (gasp!) urban - fantasy with a weird twist.

>74 Karlstar: Glad you are enjoying Eifelheim. I rather liked that book too.

>70 dustydigger: >71 justifiedsinner: >72 ChrisRiesbeck: >75 rshart3: >78 paradoxosalpha: I'm remiss in not yet having read Vance. Big fan of Wolfe's Solar Cycle though so I'm aware of the influence Vance had on Wolfe's work. I have recently purchased a copy of Tales of the Dying Earth and have plans to remedy my 'Vance Situation' this year.

Now reading The Memory Police, which is quietly mysterious and tense at around 1/3 of the way in.

I also began Nick Harkaway's first book. The Gone-Away World has me laughing aloud. I'm just under 100 pages into it and loving it so far.

Fev 17, 2021, 3:22 pm

>81 ScoLgo: All this Vance talk made me go back and look at my review of Demon Princes, the omnibus of all 5 novels and I really did not care for them.

Fev 17, 2021, 4:55 pm

I picked up and burnt my way through Invaders from the Centre pretty quickly. 7/8ths of this was fairly standard sf adventure stuff, then right at the end we get into strange, uploaded-consciousness weirdness.

Now having a bittersweet moment away from sf, starting Iain Banks' last book, The Quarry, just a day after what would have been his 67th birthday.

Fev 18, 2021, 2:55 am

Just started The Sword of Shannara (it was on offer, okay?), and read the first couple of pages and thought, "this is a lot better written than Wheel of Time", then hit a half a dozen pages of infodump and thought, "okay, maybe not..."

Fev 18, 2021, 7:16 am

>79 AnnieMod: After I finished Trafalgar I read your review on the work page. You expressed what I felt about the book perfectly.

Re: Mievile - I still have to read Kraken and The last days of New Paris, they've been on Mount TBR for ages waiting for the right moment. I loved PSS and The Scar, but was disappointed by Iron Council. I keep thinking I should reread it. I wasn't impressed with Railsea, somehow the world building just didn't work for me. I also read his history of the Russian Revolution, October and found it very dry. I'm interested to see where he goes next in his writing.

I'm currently reading Andre Norton's Moonsinger books and enjoying them quite a bit.

Fev 18, 2021, 8:12 am

Knocked off The Ascent to Godhood, which wraps this quartet very nicely, while dealing with my main issue; the question of whether the story's evil empress was just distant, or merely cardboard.

Fev 18, 2021, 8:22 am

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Fev 18, 2021, 8:38 am

>81 ScoLgo: and >85 Sakerfalcon: Consider reading Looking for Jake as well. There is only one story in the collection that takes place in the fictional New Crobuzon, but it concerns one of my favorite characters from that location, Jack-Half-A-Prayer.

Fev 18, 2021, 11:39 am

I've been very impressed by Mieville's capabilities as a writer and his willingness to jump off in new stylistic directions, but his recent work (Last Days, Census Taker, for example) have left me a little baffled. Perhaps I'm missing something, but I think I'm missing something.

That said, works like Perdido Street Station and The City and the City have certainly made me willing to take a chance on his stuff.

Currently on the stack: Robinson's The Ministry For the Future, and I want to finish Stross' Merchant Princes series.

Fev 18, 2021, 12:29 pm

>89 kiparsky: Stross was recently writing on his blog that the last book will be coming out this year...David Hartwell's death could have apparently aborted that project.

Fev 19, 2021, 1:40 am

>84 iansales: Aha as someone who gave up in exasperation on The wheel of time, your comment made me smile. :)

Fev 19, 2021, 1:41 am

>83 RobertDay: I love Iain Banks' books. This one seems interesting, with a missing mother just like The Wasp factory...

Fev 19, 2021, 1:44 am

Regarding the discussion on Miéville, I would have characterised The City & The City as fantastical, but maybe the words have different meanings in French (my language) and English?
I mean fantastical in the same sense as Edgar Allan Poe's writing. I thought there were strong similarities in the styles and was very impressed by that, because I was not aware of modern works like this.

Editado: Fev 19, 2021, 2:12 am

>91 chlorine: I'm also (slowly) rereading Wheel of Time because I never finished the series - I gave up around book 10 - and I have a free ebook copy of the entire series. It's proving hard work...

Fev 19, 2021, 1:55 pm

Fev 19, 2021, 2:32 pm

Just listened to a book talk by Robert Darnton about his new book on book piracy and publishing in Enlightenment France. Realized that I desperately want him to co-author a novel on this subject with Neal Stephenson so I could bump that right to the top of my to-read stack. Working title, of course, would be "Book-aneers".

(Thanks, I'll see myself out...)

Fev 19, 2021, 3:47 pm

Today I plan to start Ready Player Two.

Fev 19, 2021, 4:45 pm

I haven't read much Mieville, but thought Kraken was excellent, really neat book chockful of ideas. This Census-Taker was kind of inscrutable but I enjoyed it; Last Days of New Paris is one of those books that sounds more interesting when you explain it than when you read it, I think. I have some of the Bas-Lags, but haven't got round to them yet.

Fev 19, 2021, 4:49 pm

>96 kiparsky:

I remember reading some of Darnton's work in grad school and liking it very much. Looking at his author page on LT, I see that I should really read Mesmerism and the End of the Enlightenment in France.

Fev 19, 2021, 5:11 pm

>83 RobertDay: I thought The Quarry was a manifesto of his views. He touched many of us deeply.

Fev 19, 2021, 5:29 pm

>96 kiparsky:
>99 paradoxosalpha:

I've been meaning to re-read Darnton's The Great Cat Massacre for awhile now, based on my enjoyment in college. The mesmerism book sounds to be right in his wheelhouse.

Fev 19, 2021, 9:06 pm

>70 dustydigger:
The Face is one of my favourite Vance novels. That payoff is just *chef's kiss*. I don't care all that much for the first two Demon Princes books, but those final three are up there in his oeuvre.

Fev 19, 2021, 9:09 pm

>94 iansales:
Book ten is where I left off, too. I promised myself I'd finish the damn thing, but somehow the thought of even one tome separating me from the Sanderson volumes (which by all accounts are very readable) is daunting.

Editado: Fev 19, 2021, 10:00 pm

>103 Petroglyph: >94 iansales:

I think that a lot of people gave up around there - books 9 and 10 are a bit less interesting than watching paint dry... and with a bit less action if I remember correctly. I dropped off after them as well - although that series have a special part in my heart (it got me through some dark times) so I had been meaning to go back, reread and finish it...

Fev 19, 2021, 9:31 pm

Finished and enjoyed Network Effect, the Murderbot novel. Found it slightly more exhausting to read than the novellas, as Wells started this book at the same sort of breakneck pack. Looking forward to the next Murderbot book, due out later this year.

My favorite book of Mieville's was Un Lun Dun, which is the least Mieville-like book of his. I was in it mostly for the rebel librarians.

In the queue: Interference by Sue Burke, the sequel to Semiosis. The book group loved that first book, so the second one is a natural follow-up.

Fev 19, 2021, 9:57 pm

>104 AnnieMod:
We should start a support group!

Fev 20, 2021, 3:18 am

>94 iansales: I gave up at book three I think so I admire your persistance! :)

Editado: Fev 20, 2021, 9:28 am

>103 Petroglyph: >104 AnnieMod: if memory serves, it's either book 9 or 10 that covers about three days of inaction in 700+ pages. I've so far reread the first six books.

The Sword of Shannara is not getting any better. Great wodges of cack-handed exposition in a world the feels like it was built by an eleven-year-old. Brooks at his worst is better than Jordan at his worst, but neither of them are even close to good writers.

Fev 20, 2021, 8:55 am

I have had book ONE sitting on my shelf eyeing me sternly for a couple of years! :0)
I am not all that keen on fantasy at the best of times,and the mixed sentiments and reviews towards the series dont help. I WILL be reading Eye of the World this year simply because it is on so many lists etc,and it niggles me to be the only ignoramus in the group.But I very much doubt I'll go any further than that.
I have several monster size tomes on this year's TBR,including Dhalgren,Name of the Wind,Little Big.and Cryptonomicon Aarrgghh!!!! Will try to counter with lots of short pulpy stuff from the 50s and 60s to relax my nerves :0)

Fev 20, 2021, 9:43 am

>105 karenb: Un Dun Lun is on my TBR pile. I'm moving it up. Thanks.

Fev 20, 2021, 11:46 am

I have read all of Jordan's Conan pastiches with a very mixed measure of satisfaction, and I have always found Eye of the World and its sequels eminently resistible.

My big series reads for this year are shaping up to be the last two of the Roumania books by Paul Park, the entirety of Gene Wolfe's Solar Cycle, and possibly a start on The Culture.

Fev 20, 2021, 12:49 pm

>109 dustydigger: I have Dhalgren on my TBR list too. Easier now that I acquired another copy. It could totally happen in 2021!

Fev 20, 2021, 1:03 pm

All the comments about The Wheel of Time are making me not want to read this series, even though I have the entire series. I got burned out on fantasy when I read all the books in The Belgariad in a short time span in college. I got talked into reading A Game of Thrones and loved it. I am enjoying Brandon Sanderson's Stormlight Archive books so far. But, I prefer science fiction to fantasy and have been reading what I really like vs trying some new types of books like I was a few years ago. (Too many new types that I didn't like - poor writing, lack of plot, slow pace, disjointed plot, characters that you could not like or even dislike.)

I read the Dying Earth books - meh. I had a hard time getting into them. It didn't help that my omnibus edition was missing 50 pages in the middle. (Brand new copy - they just weren't there.)

I just finished Otaku by Chris Kluwe, which was recommended by someone in this forum. Also read The Soldier by Neal Asher, Postmarked the Stars by Andre Norton, Clade by James Bradley, Fauna by Christiane Vadnais. I liked them all, especially The Soldier. Fauna was very interesting - well written and a little weird.

Editado: Fev 21, 2021, 3:00 pm

Finished the slightly bonkers Synthetic Men of Mars. the last 3 books have had totally boneheaded young swordsmen for narrators,totally cardboard characters. And he and various companions were captured at least half a dozen times and incarcerated by enemies! lol.
Just LLana of Gathol and John Carter of Mars to finish the series! :0)
Halfway through Andre Norton's Star Guard and Jack Williamson See Tee Ship,cant bring myself to read anything heavy at the moment. 7 weeks of total lockdown is not sitting well.........

Fev 20, 2021, 9:29 pm

Started The Ministry For the Future. Gosh, that's grim.

Fev 21, 2021, 2:21 am

>109 dustydigger: If you start this series don't get tricked by the change of pace. I thought book one was interesting at the beginning, _very_ long in the middle, and then at the end some interesting things happened at a quick pace. This made me want to read book two to see what happened, and it was the same pattern of nothing happening for hundreds of pages in the middle of the book and then interesting things happening fast at the end. I don't understand the need for writing so many pages with so little happening.
Much shorter books would have been much more interesting IMO.

Fev 21, 2021, 3:58 am

>109 dustydigger: >112 karenb: Dhalgren is one of my favourite novels, but it's a difficult read.

>111 paradoxosalpha: The Roumania books are excellent. I'm a big fan of Park's writing.

Fev 21, 2021, 5:08 am

>116 chlorine: One of the occasions where I'd have preferred to read the Reader's Digest version instead. I wish authors didn't believe in homeopathic literature.

Fev 21, 2021, 11:15 pm

Road Out of Winter turned out better than I expected - and despite it being somewhat open ended and allowing (and almost demanding) a sequel, it stands just fine on its own. Although it is very bleak - not just the future part but in what it also shows for the nowadays Appalachian Ohio while exploring the backstories.

And apparently I either had never read or had read only an abridged version of or had forgotten most of The Time Machine - I was planning to reread it and ended up realizing that it reads like a new book to me. Admittedly, if I had read it, it had been almost 30 years ago and in translation. And it still works despite some places where one can raise an eyebrow.

Editado: Fev 22, 2021, 6:23 am

>113 daxxh: I'm very curious about Fauna, having seen it recommended on another site. Adding it to my Wishlist.

Add me to those who bailed on The wheel of time and won't be coming back to it I got as far as book 9 and couldn't stand any more of the repetitive writing, characters defined by their habits rather than personalities, and endless pages in which nothing happens. I read something years ago which suggested that the series was originally meant to be 4 books and indeed reading book 3 you can see that some of the threads seem to be drawing together. But book 4 starts ramming new stories and characters in, and the books explode out of control from then onwards.

I'm still reading Andre Norton - finished the Moonsinger omnibus and now started Witch World. Technically WW is a reread but I read it so long ago that I barely remember any of it.

Fev 22, 2021, 6:24 am

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Fev 22, 2021, 7:29 am

Finished The Relentless Moon over the weekend; if you've enjoyed the first two books of the series you have every reason to pick up this one. Now we wait to see what the Library Hold Fairy comes up with for next month.

Fev 22, 2021, 10:11 pm

Just finished Eifelheim, which I enjoyed, mostly for the view into 14th century time. Good stuff.

I have read all of the Wheel of Time, more than once and enjoyed them all. Some of the books do get a little bogged down, but Jordan always writes himself out of it. I'm really looking forward to the TV show.

Terry Brooks to me is more YA, but I don't mind that. Elfstones and Wishsong are the best, then the next 6 or so are decent, then he just keeps repeating the same plot with the same type of characters over and over. I actually prefer the Knight of the Word original trilogy.

Fev 23, 2021, 1:54 am

>120 Sakerfalcon: I call that Characterisation by Quirks, and it's something high fantasy does a lot. It's really bad writing.

As far as I understand it, Jordan proposed a trilogy but was asked to pull it back to a single book, but then the publisher went for the original trilogy. Jordan then said it was looking like ten books, and since the books were selling so well he got ten books... but then couldn't finish it in ten books. If Jordan hadn't died and Sanderson taken it over, who knows long it would have been...

The Sword of Shannara is getting worse and worse. There's now a Thoggism on every other page. One that amused me was, ".. sat absolutely still like some immobile rock..."

Fev 23, 2021, 2:09 am

When I interviewed Jordan in 1995 he said that the books were becoming numerous because the story required that many books to be told, and that that's true for almost all good stories. The only reason most authors only write singletons or trilogies is because they are lazy.

He could have been pulling my leg, but he didn't sound as if he were joking.

Fev 23, 2021, 5:07 am

Just started Liquid Crystal Nightingale by Eeleen Lee for my SF&F book group. It's quite engaging but feels very much like a first novel so far, stuffed with every idea the author has had without thinking some of them through. I'll be interested to see where it goes.

Fev 23, 2021, 10:06 pm

>124 iansales: Sword of Shannara wasn't his best, I always enjoyed it for the characters.

>120 Sakerfalcon: You and pilgrim are making me want to read the Witch World series again.

Fev 24, 2021, 1:44 am

>124 iansales: What's a Thoggism?

Fev 24, 2021, 1:45 am

>122 Shrike58: Thanks for the recommendation! I still haven't started that series but it's rising closer to the top of my priorities so I guess I'll pick the first book in not too long.

Editado: Fev 24, 2021, 2:45 am

>127 Karlstar: What characters? Every single one is ripped off from LotR. And by my calculations, the Four Lands can't be more than 500 miles from side to side, so about the size of an average mid-west state.

>128 chlorine: see http://thog.org/

Fev 24, 2021, 3:00 am

Fev 24, 2021, 8:58 am

>130 iansales: So a fantasy version of Bulwer-Lytton. It was a dark and stormy blood-axe.

Fev 24, 2021, 9:44 am

>125 anglemark: the books were becoming numerous because the story mortgage required that many books to be told

Fixed that for you.

Fev 24, 2021, 3:38 pm

Thanks for introducing me to Thoggisms!

Fev 24, 2021, 5:43 pm

Started The Doors of Eden last night and so far I like it a lot.

Fev 24, 2021, 11:45 pm

>130 iansales: The Four Lands are small because they are supposed to be, it gets explained in later books. Despite the obvious parallels with LoTR, I enjoyed Balinor and Hendel and Allanon, of course. Garet Jax, Walker Boh, Cogline, Stee Jans, all decent and by the time you get to those books, he's developed his own style.

Fev 25, 2021, 2:44 am

>136 Karlstar: Fair enough. The chances of me getting to the later books are zero. That's one thing I've never understood about fantasy fans - they'll happily admit the first few books in a series are shit but "it gets better around book four or five". Why would I want to read three or four shit books to get to one that may be slightly better?

Fev 25, 2021, 2:48 am

>132 justifiedsinner: Not really. Bulwer-Lytton was a writer of his time, a lot of whose turns of phrase have become cliché. Thog just collects instances of bad writing from genre writing - science fiction, fantasy and horror.

Fev 25, 2021, 9:41 am

>138 iansales: I should has been more specific and stated the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Award. This is the 2020 winner

"Her Dear John missive flapped unambiguously in the windy breeze, hanging like a pizza menu on the doorknob of my mind."

Fev 25, 2021, 10:38 am

>139 justifiedsinner: Aha! Yes, exactly.

Fev 25, 2021, 10:56 am

The Bulwer-Lytton award is for concocted bad prose, rather than found "Thoggisms," though. I think that difference is more salient than the genre limitation. That collection linked by >131 bnielsen: is pretty spectacular.

Fev 25, 2021, 12:23 pm

>137 iansales: Sometimes it is just the writer developing the world or the characters, so later books are better, I much prefer those series to the ones where the author has one idea, beats it to death in book one, then has nothing left for 2, 3, 4 and the quality drops way off.

Another example of this for me is The Collapsing Empire. I thought it was missing way too much to make a good SF novel, but he fixed all that, likely deliberately, in book two.

Fev 25, 2021, 4:44 pm

After I finished Banks' last novel, The Quarry, I picked up the last of the Pratchett/Baxter 'Long Earth' books, The Long Cosmos, to round the series off. Mostly Baxter, this one; Pratchett's contributions are few and stick out. Not impressed. Now reading a book which would have been sf if written in the 1930s or 1940s: The Right Stuff.

Fev 26, 2021, 1:33 am

>130 iansales: >131 bnielsen: Thanks for the explanation of Thoggisms. There's a Thog character in Order of the Stick who also doesn't express himself very well. :)

Fev 26, 2021, 9:44 am

>141 paradoxosalpha: Perhaps the 'Bad Sex in Fiction Award' would be more relevant, then. Sadly cancelled for this year, though.

Fev 26, 2021, 11:11 am

>145 justifiedsinner: Apropos of the continuing emergency, would bad sex include not getting any?

Fev 26, 2021, 5:45 pm

The writing in Jack Williamson's Seetee Ship was pretty bad,but we did go in space,had a time travel loop,and an empty but awesome ancient alien vessel,which I am a sucker for,so I quite enjoyed it. It was one of the Defining Books of the 1950s over on WWEnd.I have now read 79/125 of the titles,with about a dozen more on my TBR for 2021

Fev 27, 2021, 5:09 am

The Left-Handed Booksellers of London, by Garth Nix.

A stand-alone urban fantasy/alternate history by the author of the Old Kingdom series.

It's the summer of 1983, and Susan Arkshaw has just turned 18 and been accepted by the Slade. Raised by her mother, she has never known her father, and knows very little about him. She decides to come to London for the summer to try and track him down; her best lead is to meet her 'Uncle' Frank... Except 'Uncle' Frank turns out to be a Sipper, and a crime lord and gets assassinated by one of the Left-Handed Booksellers the first evening she is there.

It was an uneven read - the first part of the book felt like vaguely connected episodes rather than a coherent story, but it started flowing better further on as more of the world-building fell into place. It was interesting for me because I lived in London a couple of years earlier and recognised the description of a certain bookshop.

As to why it's an alternate history? Because it's Raelene not Ray that drives a Ford Capri, and has a boss called Georgina. The bubble perm is presumably the same though ;)

Amusing and light.

Editado: Fev 28, 2021, 6:33 am

>142 Karlstar: Except that doesn't need to be the case. Unless the writer clearly hasn't a clue what they're doing. Which, to be fair, was the case with Jordan and Brookes. Still, expecting good writing from high fantasy is bit like expecting haute cuisine from KFC...

Editado: Fev 28, 2021, 6:33 am

Finally got through to the end of The Sword of Shannara. I can now put it to one side - figuratively speaking, as it's an ebook - and never go near it ever again.

Now reading Settling the World. While there's no denying Harrison's writing chops, I've always been ambivalent about his fiction. Obtuseness often doesn't appeal to me. I like clarity in my reading material.

Fev 27, 2021, 10:42 am

>151 Karlstar: I know you were disappointed in Sword of Shannara, consider giving Elfstones of Shannara a try, it is much better.

Fev 27, 2021, 3:50 pm

Difficult to believe there was nothing better than The Calculating Stars to nominate for awards in 2019. Three major wins went to, what was for me, a real piece of mediocrity.

By contrast, I am now about 3/4 of the way through The Gone-Away World and it is a rollicking, laugh-out-loud, cry-out-loud, roller-coaster of a ride. Part The Road Warrior, part day-glo daydream in the style of Gravity's Rainbow - but all original - this is one heck of a debut novel from Nick Harkaway.

Fev 27, 2021, 5:21 pm

>152 ScoLgo:

I haven't read any Harkaway yet, but all my secondhand info says I should.

Fev 27, 2021, 6:11 pm

>152 ScoLgo: The Calculating Stars was a book I had a lot of sympathy for, but it completely lacked narrative tension. It was just a long ticking off boxes.

Editado: Fev 27, 2021, 7:41 pm

The Doors of Eden ended up being as good as it started. It does require some patience but it never drags.

Fev 27, 2021, 10:01 pm

I really liked Calculating Stars, but thought it was very good whereas Spinning Silver was superb. Bit of a rum Hugo ballot, though; the other four didn't hold a candle to those two.

Fev 28, 2021, 2:22 am

>156 Stevil2001: Whereas I was of the reverse opinion.

I much preferred The Calculating Stars to Spinning Silver, even though I usually prefer the other way round. However, in all justice, this may have been the problems I encountered with the PDF files we got given for both; both were an unpleasant read, but Spinning Silver was significantly worse in that Preview kept loosing my place, whereas Calculating Stars I didn't. I usually read in ePub.

That year I very much enjoyed Trail of Lightning and Record of a Spaceborn Few, I thought Revenant Gun was a poor choice because you really needed to read the others first, and Space Opera was frankly dire.

Fev 28, 2021, 6:33 am

>151 Karlstar:. Sorry. Not going to happen. There was zero in the world-building or plot in The Sword of Shannara that appealed to me, or even remotely impressed me, and no matter how much Brookes's writing improves it seems unlikely it will ever be good. I read the book because a) it was on offer, and b) it was the first high fantasy best-seller and so a seminal work in the genre. True, I've been burned like that before - I read Pawn of Prophecy a few years ago because it too had been a massive best-seller, and I thought it was terrible.

157> my ebook copy of Spinning Silver was a PDF, too which made it uncomfortable to read. But it was much the better-written novel. Trail of Lightning was just ordinary, and Roanhorse's meteoric rise is unwarranted either by the quantity or quality of her works. Space Opera was dreadful, not to mention a profound misunderstanding of Eurovision. I can't stand Becky Chambers's fiction, and I hated Ninefox Gambit so there was no way I was going to read Revenant Gun. Fortunately, the Hugo Awards are not aimed people with my taste in genre fiction...

Fev 28, 2021, 7:12 am

>158 iansales: I owned the first 2 or 3 of the Shannara books back when Forbidden Planet imported the paperbacks, but they got culled from my library as being mediocre at best and something of a Tolkein rip-off. It seemed to be very much of a fashion at the time. I have no real desire to revisit them either.

I reread Pawn of Prophecy fairly recently (year before last?) and found it irritating. Quite apart from the Cook's Tour of the world, I thought Garion was a whining brat. I used to own both series, but the only Eddings I still retain are the The Elenium and The Tamuli. Still rather Cook's Tour, but far less irritating characters.

I tried the first Riftwar Saga last year; that was a rare DNF for me. I was never a fan of LitRPG even when it was Andre Norton writing it, and I recall thinking at the time they were originally published I wasn't particularly interested in reading about somebody's D&D campaign. (Also I recall they were on the expensive side for a paperback.) As it happens, I'm currently playing an EPT game and picked up on the references fairly quickly (yes, I do own M A R Barker's novels (Man of Gold and Flamesong - I'm waiting for the others to come out in Kindle).

When I actually started reading that first book, I kept wondering why on earth somebody would name a character after a breed of dog when the other characters had far more plausible names... It came across as really creepy and dehumanising. As a nickname it might be plausible, but as a name, no way.

Fev 28, 2021, 9:23 am

>159 Maddz: There are only a handle of high fantasy series/trilogies I rate (of those I've read). RA MacAvoy's Lens of the World, King of the Dead and Winter of the Wolf. Carolyn Ives Gilman's The Forsaken Isles and Ison of the Isles. Earthsea, of course. Viriconium. PC Hodgell's God Stalk series. I'm tempted to mention Rosemary Kirstein's Steerswoman series, but that's actually science fiction disguised as fantasy.

Fev 28, 2021, 6:04 pm

>153 paradoxosalpha: Harkaway is well worth checking out in my opinion. I sort of wish I hadn't begun with Gnomon. It's a complicated book and I was not fully prepared for it. A re-read is planned after I get through his other three novels.

>154 anglemark: Nicely put. That was my experience with it as well.

>156 Stevil2001: >157 Maddz: >158 iansales: I haven't read any of the other 2019 Hugo nominees yet. I did like Uprooted pretty well so may give Spinning Silver a go at some point - but not this year. I didn't like The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet at all, and my one experience with Valente, (Radiance), did not go too well either.

As far as the other Nebula nominees, I have only read Witchmark, which I also thought was merely ok. The Poppy War is on my TBR for this year. The 2019 winner, A Song For a New Day, I thought was very, very good. I haven't read any of the titles it was up against yet but I'm most interested in the Moreno-Garcia. I have her Mexican Gothic on hold with Overdrive now and I liked Signal to Noise, which I read last year.

Reading a book from PDF is painful. I have done it once and hope to avoid repeating the mistake.

Mar 1, 2021, 6:28 am

>155 AnnieMod: I'm adding this to my wishlist. It sounded good from the cover blurb, but your praise has given me more incentive to acquire it.

Mar 2, 2021, 7:41 am

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