Books.

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Re: Books.

Post by Don Alexander » Fri Aug 29, 2014 1:23 pm

And here's my next ~monthly (?) update! :-bd

So, back in early August, at the Party-San Open Air, there were not a terrible amount of bands I wanted to see (and most in the evening), so I had quite some reading material with me. I finished up one, then read another complete Scientific American (actually allowing me to complete them, if but for a short time), and then went on to finish Virtual Light, which had remained unread for several weeks, read Idoru completely, and began All Tomorrow's Parties.
All Tomorrow's Parties then lay around for another while, but I brought it with me to my little home vacation and finished it yesterday evening.

All in all, I liked the Sprawl trilogy better than the Bridge trilogy (on Goodreads, I rate Sprawl [5,3,4]/5, and Bridge [3,4,3]/5). Still these are fun, quite quick-paced books. They feel like they are almost perfect for movie adaptation, or maybe a TV mini-series. Gibson is often eloquent in his descriptions (“The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.” is probably one of the more famous opening lines of a book), and the books are all in the 300 - 400 page range, which is the typical length of "adapted from the movie" books anyway.

One thing that - again - disappointed me was the end of the trilogy. So everything is working toward "It's the end of the world as we know it!" and then... Well, it's wrong to say nothing happens, but what does happen is pretty unclear and just described from the vantage point of a minor character who has no idea what's going on...

Anyway, I thought I was finished with books for a while (newspaper stacks are growing and I still have close to 10 Astronomy magazines unread) but then I discovered a rather battered copy of Stephen King's Doctor Sleep in one one of my mom's bookshelves and grabbed it immediately! MINEMINEMINE!! I also packed the three Hunger Games books for later perusal.

EDIT: Yeah, and just to make everything worse, I also ordered four books off Amazon: The last three volumes of Wheel of Time, and Stephen King's Duma Key!! That's like 4000 pages for 29 Euros, I can get behind that. :)

EDIT: They came yesterday, was not home, picked them up at the post office today. WEEEEE!!!! :) Also, it's more like 4350 pages. :|
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Re: Books.

Post by Tenjen » Fri Oct 10, 2014 8:02 am

http://moviepilot.com/posts/2014/10/07/ ... er-2323790

Harry potter might be back. J K Rowling seems to be feeling an itch to do more harry potter. MAYBE.
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Re: Books.

Post by Don Alexander » Mon Nov 03, 2014 5:18 pm

Well, time for another update!!

I started reading Doctor Sleep right after I grabbed it, even before returning home. Very cool novel, while not exactly a "grand masterpiece", it was a thrilling ride.

I finished on the 7th of September and moved right on to Duma Key... and am still not finished. :| Now, don't get me wrong, the novel is great, the protagonist is very well relatable, his daughter Ilse is an absolute darling :x and I also generally like the very slow pace and build-up. I'm now about 200 pages away from finishing the ~750 page book, even read about 100 pages last Saturday but was so conked out I slept around 4 hours in the evening...

But that's not the main point here!

THE BOOK PROJECT OR: 20 BOOKS IN SEVEN DAYS!

The title says it all! :P

I fondly remember some of my reading sprees in the past. I once managed to read seven books in a single week, the only one of those I actually remember belonging to that batch was a treatise on The Lord Of The Rings... The other splurge I remember better was more than a decade ago, I read something like the last 60 pages of Cocoon II, followed by the short Die Neuen Leiden des Jungen W. (A German book, actually from the GDR, which is loosely based on Goethe's "Werther" - it was astonishingly good!), that was about 180 pages, then The Songs of Distant Earth, about 320 pages, and finally, at like 5 in the morning, the first 30 pages of Hannibal - which I then completed the following day, another 550 pages or so. #:-s

Now, as I have also mentioned a long time ago, I have these huge columns of books on and below a radiator - my "book wall", containing roughly 360 volumes (I haven't actually counted in a long time...). Which recently partially came crashing down on me right when I was thinking of a crazy plan I had conjured some months ago: To read (at least!) 20 books in a week!! Now, originally I had envisioned taking a week off to do this, but it soon became clear that this would be nigh impossible to pull through. Not only would I have to take vacation, I'd need to somehow decouple myself from pretty much everything (including this forum :P ) for a week! :-o So instead, I decided to parcel it into one day chunks. And yesterday was DAY 1!!

When my books came toppling down, I used the clean-up to separate out short books of which I should be able to read several a day - if I could keep up the pace of 3 a day, that would do it. I decided to get out pretty much everything of 200 pages and less. Of course, the actual word number depends strongly on the type size, and I've noticed most of these short books also have small type. My general reading speed is 30 pages per hour, but this seems to be for a small type size, for larger ones, it can go up to twice that. In the end, I ended up with a ridiculous 46 books!! And that from only four authors!!! 4 books by Ben Bova (including one later addition, "Star Watchman", after I figured out that the book "The Watchmen" contains two novels including one I had already picked out as a single volume, "The Dueling Machine"), 5 by Frank Herbert (after I found out that "Whipping Star" is linked to the long "The Dosadi Experiment", I added the latter as well though it has 300 pages), and the complete rest distributed among Isaac Asimov and Robert Silverberg. I have an incredible amount of books by the latter, and that's FAR from a complete biography (which is likely impossible to collect, considering he wrote a lot of soft porn in the late 50s to make money which has never seen the light of day again since then...). Just the short books made up exactly half my contingent (and there's another 42 books in my wall...).

On Saturday morning, I sat down and tabulated all the books, writing out the page number and estimating how long it would take to read them. Assuming 12-hour days... over 19 days!!! :-s This will be a challenge! :ymsmug: I also read a few book intros (with Roman numeral page numbers, so they did not count :P ), especially for some Robert Silverberg books, seems he reissued a bunch of his early works in 1976.

So on Sunday, I woke up at 11 in the morning, and, after a short stint at the computer, started my project!!! Warning: Some Spoilers follow!

Frank Herbert - Direct Descent: I decided to start with this one since it had quite large print and was filled with black-and-white illustrations. It turned out to be a ridiculously fast read, just 100 minutes!!! :-o (That's 112 pages per hour...)The book is set in some far future, Earth has been transformed into a gigantic Galactic Library, whose Prime Directive is: Obey the Government! But what if the government is out to destroy the library because their maxim is that only ignorance is bliss? :-? It consists of basically two novellas, one set another several thousand years after the first (and the name of the book gets resolved in the very last sentence...). It reminded me a lot of Asimov's original Foundation series, where Hari Seldon also has to use his brains against the crazed, decadent and decaying Galactic Empire to preserve Mankind's future. The thing was a quick, fun read, interestingly from 1980, so among the later volumes in Herbert's career (he died in '86). According to Wikipedia, it's more of a Young Adult novel.

Frank Herbert - The Eyes Of Heisenberg: This one goes much further back, to 1966, a year after the first part of Dune was published. Despite being just 158 pages long, it is a dense, highly engrossing tale of a far, far future in which humans have been split into the "Folk" and the "Optimen" (which do include women :P ). The Folk are basically worker drones, most of the them are "Sterries" (sterile), sex is completely decoupled from reproduction, reproduction is very rare and completely in vitro. The Optimen, genetically perfected humans who are essentially immortal, reign from a huge fortress located in the heart of the North American Continent (spanning the former border). Of course, this rigid dictatorship foments revolution, in the deep shadows, the Cyborgs coldly plan the downfall of the Optimen, while the Parents Underground try to get mankind back to what it used to be. Quite a few of the passages reminded me of Children of Men - fleeing across a wild landscape in a van pursued by hostiles, trying to protect the only pregnant woman on Earth?? - as well as the Matrix (many of the humans are just clones of clones who do not know that they have lived many lifetimes before in service of their eternal masters). The background of a war between genetically perfected humans and artificial intelligence also is reminiscent to the Dune Universe's Butlerian Jyhad. Really recommended! Despite the small print, I managed to read it in just over four hours (39 pages per hour).

Frank Herbert - The Green Brain: Another one from 1966, and in this case, it looks very much like I actually have the first, original paperback from that year!! Hah! Nearly 40 years old. The name of the book - and the pretty horrible title picture - just screams "B Movie"!! :D And the plot is not far off. In a not-too-distant future, the most powerful non-western nations, especially the BRIC ones, have decided that they need more living space, more farmland, better yields, and less disease. The solution? Wipe out the insects. ALL OF THEM!! Of course, they aren't quite THAT stupid, and plan to fill the ecological roles of the beneficial insects with mutated bees. After a 22-year war, China is declared "all green", and the director of operations there has come to Brazil and look into their efforts. The main character of the book is the boss of a Brazilian pest control team (this group really reminded me of the guys from John Carpenter's Vampires...), and of course, there's a beautiful, red-headed Irish entomologist thrown into the mix. And while rumors of giant man-eating bugs spread, deep in the heart of the Amazon, the self-aware insectile hive-entity that just knows it self as The Brain plots to stop the human efforts to turn the Red into the Green... :ymdevil: If all of this sounds like the plot of a movie from The Asylum... Well, it pretty much is! ;)) But this is Frank Herbert, after all, so the rather limited plot is very nicely packaged up, it was quite thrilling and just downright enjoyable in a kind of "so bad it's good" way. Well, maybe not really, more like a small action movie gem, low budget but just cool. Yeah, the John Carpenter comparison makes some sense. At 160 pages, it took me just over 4.5 hours to read. And about half-way through, like ten in the evening, I started to get really tired! Lying in bed all day might not be the best idea for this... I finished it somewhat after midnight and it was becoming work! For the next one, something shorter, please. My eyes were getting bleary... Whipping Star was too long, not to mention I want to read that back-to-back with The Dosadi Experiment. But of course, I have a bunch of Robert Silverberg Books to choose from, and I got...

C. L. Moore - Vintage Season / Robert Silverberg - In Another Country: This is an interesting double effort. Admittedly, C(atherine) L. Moore is otherwise an unknown to me, but it seems her novella Vintage Season is an absolute SF classic. In an otherwise unnamed American city set roughly in the "now", a young man rents out one of his houses (in which he also lives himself) to a group of elegant foreigners who speak perfectly enunciated English, clothe themselves fabulously and just generally have a very peculiar manner. They wish to live in this house during this beautiful May, eschewing the comfort of a grand hotel down the road. Soon, more of these elegant humans, who almost walk as if they were gods, show up. Are they waiting for something? And why have they gathered here, at this time? The story (about 80 pages long, quite large print) is superbly written, and feels astonishingly modern. While a telephone is mentioned, and a "transcontinental airplane", it is otherwise devoid of things that might date it, and thus bridges the time span easily. Silberberg's book then (about 120 pages making for a total of exactly 200, I took 3.5 hours to read the two) was written as a deliberate companion piece to Vintage Season, now from the perspective of one of the visiting foreigners (one never mentioned in VS, part of another group). While it is more specified that it is the late 20th Century (Silverberg's book is from 1989 and thus also plays in the "now"), the city is still unnamed. "Twin Towers" are mentioned, but also that it is neither the largest nor the most important city in what seems to be the USA, and it lies in a deep valley surrounded by hills, I don't think that's the case with NYC (also, no mention of a nearby ocean). This story was not quite as good as the original, especially since much of the suspense concerning the strangers' origin and goal was completely gone. But it was fun when this tale again and again crossed paths with the characters and occurrences of the original. I spent the last 80 pages in my computer chair so as to keep awake, and shortly before 5 in the morning, I had made it!!

I actually read four books in a single day! Wowzers!!! The books for Day 2 are already on top of my column, again, I should be able to do four.

I'm curious as to how much I read! The crazy thing is, I actually used a stop watch to time my pure reading time. Up at the computer or fixing some food? The timer stops. In total, I was up about 18 hours and spent 13.9 of those reading. NOT GOOD ENOUGH!! I'd rather have it 15/16 or so... I'm roughly guessing I read between 150,000 and 200,000 words, likely closer to the latter, or about a 600 page novel in normal type.

No exact idea when I can continue this. I'll shoot for this Sunday, of course, and try to keep it up weekly, but I'll not always have the time. also, for the most part, I'll only be able to read three books a day, as most of them are 180 - 200 pages in small print, and I'll likely take about 5 hours to read each of them.
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Re: Books.

Post by Dirty n Evil » Tue Nov 04, 2014 12:14 am

Wow, DA, that's a massive amount of reading! I actually have consciously slowed down my reading speed... when I was younger I would read books too fast, anticipation to devour more fuel for my imagination making me zip through every book I got a hold of. It left me with either long spans of no good books, or re-reading what I already had. I've since eased back on how quickly I read - until I encounter a book that is very gripping and enthralling. Then it kicks back in.

I'm so happy, because I got from my library the novella The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss. :x While it's a small bit of writing to tide me over until he finished his Kingkiller trilogy, it's a story told about my favorite side character... Auri.

Because I keep forgetting to review books that I've read, I will mention a book that was nearly forced onto me by a friend, Tim. He's a huge fan of Michael A Stackpole, and lent me his copy of Talion Revenant. I am actually happy I was able to return them at a time he wasn't home, so I didn't have to face the typical, "So, how did you like it?" It was horrible, predictable, and sophmorish at best. I mean, perhaps if I had read it when I was a tween, I might have thought it was cool. But now, all I can see are the flaws in the writing.

First problem, the hero is never wrong. Ever. He never makes a mistake throughout the novel, despite almost always insisting on doing things his way. If he's hurt in a fight it's such that he ignores it within a paragraph. Secondly, with a singular exception, every single female character introduced is there to be a romantic interest. It seems their primary role within the story. Either an interest for the hero or one of the well liked side characters. There are so many other flaws about this book, but... augh. It wasn't a challenging book, but I definitely still had to plod along to finish it. He also lent me a second book by the same author, which I wisely declined to read.
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Re: Books.

Post by Don Alexander » Tue Nov 04, 2014 12:43 am

Huh.

I was just sucked in a bit by some "Best of Fantasy & SF" lists on Goodreads and just an hour ago heard, for the first time in my life, of the Kingkiller books (they popped out because they had very high ratings - the first one has a ridiculous 4.55/5, that's like LOTR territory...).

And now it seems you are reading them. Such coincidences...

Speaking of absolutely ridiculously high ratings:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/232 ... chronicles

This book seems to be a few months old, and only exists on Kindle? It has dozens of (*) (*) (*) (*) (*) ratings... One wonders. I mean, it has by far the highest rating of ANYTHING I've seen on Goodreads...
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Re: Books.

Post by Dirty n Evil » Tue Nov 04, 2014 4:26 am

DA, I am a HUGE fan of the Kingkiller Books. I read them for the first time a little over two years ago, and since then I managed to get from my local library the audiobooks - which I promptly downloaded onto iTunes. Now, any time I feel like it, I can just listen to both books. Without spoiling anything, I will tell you that it's a pair of books that not only stands up to multiple readings, it improves on multiple readings. Rothfuss has created a hero who's entertaining, fallible, and just the right combination of smart but cocky to get in trouble but continue to remain alive despite himself.

The Slow Regard of Silent Things is his second side-project writing involving the secondary characters. In the compilation Rogues, edited by George R. R. Martin, there is another short story he contributes called The Lightning Tree. This story features his character Bast, friend to the hero in the Kingkiller books and without question an unrepentant rogue.

Rothfuss has said that definitively the Kingkiller Chronicles will only have three books, but even once he's done with them he's going to continue writing in the same world he's created... and once you read them, it's easy to see why. He's created a fully realized world, filled with various cultures and ethnicities. Each with their own habits and beliefs, but related to the audience in a way that slowly introduces them to the world rather than preaching to them. Needless to say, I highly recommend them. Just keep in mind that he's only gotten two of the books written, and I'm waiting on the edge of my seat for the third to come out.
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Re: Books.

Post by TellusEidolon » Tue Nov 04, 2014 10:14 am

Don Alexander wrote:Frank Herbert - Direct Descent: I decided to start with this one since it had quite large print and was filled with black-and-white illustrations. It turned out to be a ridiculously fast read, just 100 minutes!!! :-o (That's 112 pages per hour...)The book is set in some far future, Earth has been transformed into a gigantic Galactic Library, whose Prime Directive is: Obey the Government! But what if the government is out to destroy the library because their maxim is that only ignorance is bliss? :-? It consists of basically two novellas, one set another several thousand years after the first (and the name of the book gets resolved in the very last sentence...). It reminded me a lot of Asimov's original Foundation series, where Hari Seldon also has to use his brains against the crazed, decadent and decaying Galactic Empire to preserve Mankind's future. The thing was a quick, fun read, interestingly from 1980, so among the later volumes in Herbert's career (he died in '86). According to Wikipedia, it's more of a Young Adult novel.
Huh.

That description sounds vaguely familliar. I think i read that as a kid.
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Re: Books.

Post by Don Alexander » Sun Nov 16, 2014 2:36 am

DAY 2

So, last week, some bad shit went down in my life, starting on Thursday morning and culminating on Sunday morning. This rattled my soul so much I needed to distract myself for quite a while, until I finally come up with a solution to my issue... Sorry for being so mysterious here... The main point is that this prevented me from starting to read until about 6 in the early evening, and led me to failing at my goal of yet again reading four books. :(

I now continued on with Robert Silverberg. I had picked out the low-hanging fruit, four further novels with large type.

Nick Baron - Robert Silverberg's Time Tours #2 - Glory's End: Actually not written by Silverberg, but by some guy I have never heard of. It seems when famous authors get older, they rely more and more on collaborations, to the point that they give general ideas and let others flesh them out. Tom Clancy was a master of this, with at least five series (Op-Center, Power Plays, Net Force, Net Force Explorers, Splinter Cell)... This one has at least 3 books, but I guess they are quite independent of each other, except for the general setting. In the not too distant future, mankind has invented time travel (into the past only), and uses it for... tourism!! In this volume, the tour is the "Glory Road" through the American civil war. The tourists and their guide don period clothing and do their best to pop out of thin air in back alleys and other places where no one can witness them. They then go along mapped-out routes where there should be no danger (even in the middle of the Gettysburg battlefield). Interestingly, they do not travel spatially, so to get from A to B, they, for example, "shunt up the line" to 1890, take a more modern train to their new destination, then shunt back. Of course, all kinds of stuff goes wrong, the protagonist is hunted by a mysterious stranger who seems to hate him for unknown reasons, and paradox is always just around the corner. The book had quite a few fun concepts and was a satisfying light read, even though the characterization of people kind of stunk. With an exact 3.00, it is actually the worst book among the nearly two dozen I have placed on Goodreads so far. I gave it the same rating. It was just 140 pages and I took 130 minutes.

Robert Silverberg - Stepsons Of Terra: One of his first novels in the 1976 reissue. In the far future (beyond 3000), mankind has spread across quite a lot of the Galaxy, to the point that colony worlds become self-sufficient and contact with Earth breaks off. When a huge alien invasion arrives from the Andromeda galaxy, one brave man from such a distant colony travels to legendary Earth to mobilize help - only to find the entire planet has become a decadent pleasuredome with no more war, but also no more military, nations, or really government of any kind. Without spoiling too much, the novel then turns into an exercise of time travel with some pretty weird rules, a strange split between closed time loops and alternate universes. All in all, quite fun, but not excellent. 3/5, 174 pages and 2 hours, 40 minutes actual read time.

Robert Silverberg - The Seed Of Earth: This book really intrigued me after reading the 1976 rerelease introduction. It had evolved out of a short story and had a quite troubled publication history. One publishing house demanded that Silverberg add some (allegedly quite hard) sex scenes to spice it up since it seems that was en vogue in that time. Then they slashed a bunch from the novel, but left the smut in before finally publishing it. Here now, was the book, finally, as it should be. Well, guess what? NO SEX SCENES!! BOO! :P I was waiting for them until the end, but except for some romance and mild kissing, there was nothing. That was one of the two reasons I gave it a 3, not 4/5. Because the first 120 or so pages of the 174 page book were really quite awesome! In the late 21st century, mankind develops the Einstein Drive - FTL opens the galaxy. Robotic missions discover dozens of life-bearing worlds (no "aliens" per se, i.e., intelligent races - just plant and animal life), and mankind begins to colonize these worlds. Problem is, no one wants to go. So they implement a draft. Once you turn 19, you register with the Colonization Authority. From then on, until you turn 40, a computer system may select you at random, unless special circumstances apply (health issues, pregnant women and recent mothers, etc.). The crazy thing is that just being married, or even having a family (assuming the youngest child is already several years old) is NOT a reason for not being selected, so each day, hundreds of families and couples get torn apart. One interesting effect that actually works much more as population control than the ~2 million people they send into the stars each year is that many couples refrain from having children at all just because they are afraid that one will get taken. The first part of the book describes four people who have been selected to go to a planet in the Vega system (very unrealistic, Vega is too young to have life-bearing worlds...). A young college student who wanted to become a doctor, a young woman (mid-20s) who was a world-famous dancer and entertainer but is now in a downward spiral since her trainer/manager/lover was selected two years earlier (and she fritzed up and did not choose to go with him), a 30-years old dude with the physique of a pro wrestler who actually volunteers because he feels there is nothing on Earth for him anymore, and another very young woman who is a bit, well, simple and just kind of drifting through life, still living with her parents, weak-willed and shy. The novel is quite superb until they arrive on the alien planet and start their colony. I'll not spoil how it continues, but this is basically the point where the original short story starts, and it suddenly becomes a very different story, kind of like a sharp left turn into another type of book entirely. Really quite a pity, because I can easily imagine extending the colonization story into a quite long book which follows the protagonists for the next decades until the last of the original cast passes away, looking out onto a world of thousands of inhabitants...

By the time I finished this book (print must have been smaller because it took me a bit over three hours), it was late at night again, not to mention I was on observing shift and kept getting interrupted. All in all, I had read only for about 8 hours, having already started like 6 hours later than I wanted... I sincerely hope tomorrow will be better!!
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Re: Books.

Post by Don Alexander » Mon Nov 17, 2014 7:50 pm

DAY 3!

After having failed to read four books on day 2, I decided to be even bolder and now shoot for FIVE! I had one quite short Robert Silverberg left, and was thinking of going for the "David Starr, Space Ranger" series of juveniles from Isaac Asimov (once penned under the pseudonym of Paul French). Problem is, this is a series of seemingly six books, and I have volumes 1, and 4-6. So I went looking on Amazon, and found a used book seller in the UK who had both missing volumes for just 1 Euro each (+ 3 Euros S&H). I started browsing and found quite a few other cheap books I'd like to have. All in all, I came up with 14 books, the most expensive, for 3.44 Euros, being a Stephen King short novel I did not have yet (Joyland). But when I went to the checkout, something happened which I had already dreaded! EACH book added 3 Euros S&H, making for 42 Euros just for that, whereas the actual value of the books was just around 29 Euros... :(( :(( :(( I was obviously not ready to pay that, especially for mostly short, and used books, so I struck out everything that didn't cost 1 (4...) Euros. Leaving me with six books: The two Asimovs I really needed, then Burning Chrome, the short story collection by William Gibson which preceeds Neuromancer, and three further old Robert Silverberg books. Admittedly, I probably should not have ordered the last three either. But I did, what the hell.

Anyway, I decided to skip the Asimovs for now until I can read all six in a row, and choose four more Robert Silverberg books. Two of these with large type, and two generally very short, but with small type.

Robert Silverberg - Collision Course: Another really old one from Silverberg, late '50s. A novel of first contact. It reminded me a bit of the modern Orion's Arm verse. Mankind has developed efficient, but sublight deep space travel, as well as "transmats", which allow almost instantaneous teleportation over near infinite distances - it's just that you need sender and receiver booths, so the colonization wave, which has been going on for four centuries, spreads at sublight. As soon as a new planet has been reached, the transporter booths are set up, and then everything goes quickly. But now, after several centuries of work, finally the FTL drive has been developed. The very first experimental manned vehicle is sent out, jumps 10k lys, and... comes upon a planet which is being colonized by an alien spacefairing race!! They jump to another few "nearby" systems - colonies everywhere! These aliens do not seem to possess FTL, but are otherwise expanding like Mankind (they later find out they have transporters too). The ship returns, and the Technarch, one of the 13 Archons, rulers of the Empire of Man, convenes a team of experts and sends the ship right out to establish first contact. The protagonist of the book is a sociologist, who has had a bitter dispute with a linguist who is a "Neopuritan" (a very ascetic branch of Christianity). They spend most of the journey arguing with each other. :)) When they reach the aliens (the "Norglans"), they spend some days to get the aliens to learn rudimentary English, then two high ambassadors are sent for. The Norglans exhibit a caste system based on true genetic differences, in a sense, there really are several races among them (kind of like Niven's Moties). Workers, supervisors, and politicians (at least). The Ambassadors listen to the human proposal that the two races should split "the Universe" 50/50 - and immediately reject it. "You can keep your colonies, but the rest of the Universe belongs to Great Norgla!" b-( Yeah, they had something Klingon about them... I'll not spoil what happens after that, though it felt like a minor letdown. One rather hilarious aspect of the novel was the complete lack of women!! There is this hilarious bit - likely unintentional - where the sociologist muses that the Norglans are truly divided along the lines of skin color, and what would they say if they learned that amongst the 13 Archons ruling mankind, there were two of black skin color, and one of yellow?? I guess 1958, having only TEN of 13 rulers being old white men was progressive as could be. :P But 0 women! Spaceship crew? 0 women! Experts for first contact? 0 women!! Anyway, despite these anachronisms, the book was for the most part a very fun and enjoyable read, the characters were quite well fleshed out, and there was a lot of humor. The 180 pages took me a bit over 3 hours to read. Alas, I had set my alarm wrong, and overslept two hours, then spent too much time at the computer and didn't start until around 4 in the afternoon, finishing the first book shortly after 7...

Robert Silverberg - Time of the Great Freeze: Back when Global Warming was Global Cooling! This Young Adult book is from the early 60s, and describes the world of 2650. Several centuries earlier, Earth, on its way through the galaxy, moved into a cosmic dust cloud, which is so dense that it dims the Sun enough to plunge the world into a new Ice Age. The mighty technological civilizations of the Northern Hemisphere fall, be they the US, the European nations, Russia or China. The tropics, meanwhile, prosper. In the glacier-covered countries, men dig underground cities that henceforth exist autonomously. Centuries pass, and contact is lost to the outside world. Dictatorships rise, enforcing iron rule in their little worlds. A group of renegades in New York City builds a radio, establishes contact with London, gets caught, and as punishment they get to do exactly what they were planning anyway. Go to the surface, onto a mile thick ice sheet, and try to travel 3000 miles to London... While the "juvenile fiction" aspect comes across quite strongly, I was rather astonished how gory the book was. People get trampled by wildlife and die in other pretty painful way. But of course, no women, no romance, no sex!! :P Okay, in this book, women at least show up every once in a while, as background objects of the wild tribes... The New Yorkers, who were essentially cavemen, are technologically advanced, whereas the survivors on the ice pack have devolved into medieval people, or even Pleistocene hunter-gatherers... Similar to Collision Course, this was a really fun and adventurous romp, a bit like Herbert's The Green Brain except not quite so trashy. Again, a bit over three hours.

Robert Silverberg - Conquerors from the Darkness: Vikings of the future!!! By page number the longest of my selection (213) but with large print and large margins as well - I managed to devour it in under three hours!! In some far future, mankind has been subjugated by an alien race, the "Star Beasts" (Duchay'y), who almost wiped out our race, then dumped a shitload of H2O on our planet, submerging everything except the highest mountain peaks, and creating floating, specialized islands for the remaining humans to serve as serfs. And then they just upped and disappeared. Hundreds of years later, mankind is ruled by the Sea-Lords, "modern"-day vikings/pirates who ply the oceans in great ships, exacting tributes from the cowardly city states. Dovrill, a young, adventurous man from one of these cities, aims to become a Sea-Lord, which he not only manages, he soon rises through the ranks toward the rank of Thalassarch, one of the rulers of the Nine Oceans. And he prepares for the inevitable return of the Star Beasts, vowing to crush them with fist and sword!! I know I'm repeating myself, but this fun romp Nr. 3, and the best of them. Oh, no women. :P I'm not sure if this was also meant as a YA novel, but it kind of feels that way, though it would make a seriously R-rated movie adaption, as it is pretty violent. The ending was rather predictable and a bit unbelievable, though. I generally have the feeling from all of these Silverberg books that he comes up with cool scenarios, then fills these more, sometimes less well, with life, but then kind of runs out of ideas at the conclusion. By the time I had finished this one, it was deep at night again...

Robert Silverberg - Invaders from Earth: From two times early '60s back to late '50s again. Ok, this book had a pretty bizarre plot. It's 2044, mankind is expanding into the Solar System, and on the Jovian moon Ganymede, they have discovered a primitive, but clearly sentient civilization of humanoid creatures!!! The problem is, the discoverers are a mining corporation, and Ganymede is rich in needed minerals. So, to make the coming Blut-und-Boden genocide palpable, they hire a New York advertising company to paint the "Gannys" as terrible alien monsters who threaten mankind!! =)) The protagonist is one of the higher-ups in this form, who initially goes along with it, creating a gigantic hoax by inventing a non-existent human colony. Of course, soon something called ethics kicks him in the nuts, especially after traveling to Ganymede and meeting the natives. As generally interesting this concept was, the book was a bit drier than the others, and also felt quite a lot like I was being talked down to from a big moral soapbox. So I give this one only a 3/5. Despite being only 136 pages long, it took me longer than any of the others. I actually only got to page 85 or so before I gave up. =(( It was effin six in the morning!! Of course, I immediately finished it after getting up today, but it feels a bit like cheating...

So, more like 3.5 books, not 4. Next time, I really need to do my utmost to start at the latest at noon!! I think I still have the chance at one, maybe 2 4-book days before I've exhausted everything really short and move into the realm of 5-6 hour reads.

Addendum: On Goodreads, you can pick an edition for the book you are reading. My version of Invaders from earth is SO old (1968) that this edition does not even exist in Goodreads!!

Another Addendum: I just counted my books!

369 :D

My general number of 360 is quite good, therefore. Of course, this year, I've "read away" 22 books already, but four of these were entirely new (three Stephen King books and the fifth Song of Ice and Fire). On the other hand, I've six additional new books over there (the last three Wheel of Time books and the Hunger Games trilogy). And I have six more new ones arriving. ;)

The main contribution in recent years, though, are Magic: The Gathering novels which I got in Fat Packs (and two as bonus gifts in large orders), 20 overall. So, yeah, that sums up quite nicely: approximately 360 + 30 - 25 since 2012!

Let's see if I manage to get down to, say, 350 by the end of the year... No, too hard, I daresay. Let's be realistic and say 360 again!
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Re: Books.

Post by Don Alexander » Thu Nov 27, 2014 5:01 pm

DAY 4!

Since my books had not yet arrived from the UK, I resorted to further Robert Silverberg books - and something of a cheat. :P

Stephen King - Blockade Billy: Ok, here's my cheat! The Week before Day 4, I had updated my "Booklist" file, a two-column list of which books I have and which I definitely do not have, with updates from the last four years for a bunch of my favorite authors. I found Blockade Billy in the Stephen King list, and did not even recall what it was. Ah, yes. A novella which had seen physical printing in some very limited hardcover formats. Since it's unlikely I'll ever get it in physical form, I resorted to Teh Internetz and got it as an eBook. The hardcover is just supposed to be 112 pages long. It's a tale about a promising young baseball player they call Blockade Billy, purportedly told by an old man in a nursing home to "Mr. King" himself. It was quite fun, but I confess I did not get the whole baseball stuff at all. :P I read it in just over an hour, so I assume those 112 pages have really large print... There are also B&W illustrations. Anyway, this time around I actually managed to start early, and the day looked promising.

Brian W. Aldiss - The Saliva Tree/Robert Silverberg - Born With The Dead: Another double novel somewhat similar to the Vintage Season/In Another Country double. Except this one contains two ~90 page novellas which both won Nebula awards. I started with The Saliva Tree, which was a fun tale taking place in Victorian-era England (it was written in the early 60s, won the Nebula in 1964). An alien spaceship lands in a pond on a farm in the country. The aliens are perfectly invisible and initially do not do much. Then a "strange dew" falls and this seems to be some kind of superfertilizer, it makes everything grow to enormous proportions and become fecund beyond belief. And soon, dinner is served for the aliens!! It was written for the 100th birthday of H. G. Wells, and said gentleman indeed shows up as a background character, as a pen pal of the protagonist, a learned young man who fancies the farmers daughter. The writing style itself harkens back to things like Jules Verne. Weirdly enough, this story got quite bad reviews on Goodreads. My opinion differs, still, I was unable to finish it before becoming very tired and sleeping for several hours (I had come home at six in the morning from a party and had only gotten like 5 hours of sleep)... By the time I got up again, it was seven in the evening and I had once more wasted so much time... :-s
Born With The Dead, on the other hand, is lauded as one of Silverberg's best works. and to be honest, I didn't really like it that much. :P Definitely less than The Saliva Tree. In some near future, in a process undescribed, it is possible to reanimate - they call it "rekindle" - the dead! THE DEAD WALK! But in a twist on the zombie myth, they are not mindless brainphages, but more like emotionally cold versions of their former human selves. Things that mattered when they were alive are of no import anymore. The dead, for the most part, live in their own cities, among themselves, though recently, some have begun to venture into the world of the living again, as tourists. at least some of them have the power to invoke the spirits of the former inhabitants of places and pretty much travel back in time, at least mentally. Another favorite occupation is hunting formerly extinct (and now resurrected thanks to genetic engineering) animals in a Serengeti safari park. Get your Dodo steak here. The main plot of the story pertains to the travails of a living man whose wife died an early death. Now he is trying to get her back. To me, the story was somewhat disjointed, it jumped around in time and between characters, and it all just felt pretty futile...

Robert Silverberg - Born With The Dead: So let's do the insane thing and read it again! :P I had added this book to my list only recently after looking through my Silverberg stack again, having found it on Goodreads. Indeed it turns out I have BWTD twice! The double novel mentioned above is from the late 80s, I think, essentially "new" when compared with much of the stuff I'm reading (see below!). BWTD was originally published together with two other of Silverberg's novellas (also from the early 70s) in the mid-70s, and this is the book. It was originally a bit too long to make my original cut for the project, but since I had now already read the first 86 pages, the rest amounted to only about 160!
First story is Thomas the Proclaimer. It was initially published in an anthology called The Day the Sun stood still, and this was the "task" given by the editor to the writers. Write a story around such an event. Silverberg created a freaky dystopian near-future vision. It is 1999, shortly (and incorrectly) before the millennium. Extrapolating from the early 70s, the world just got a lot worse. Amid global conflict rises Thomas, an ex-con who is basically a modern-day Jesus. While he speaks of a monotheistic God, he is not directly a Christian, Jew, Muslim, or anything similar, so he appeals to the worldwide masses hoping for salvation. He claims God has spoken to him, and if enough people pray, then God will send a sign of His existence. They do - and lo, for 24 hours, the rotation period of the Earth becomes 365 days, so it becomes tidally locked and indeed the Sun stands still in the sky. And then, from one second to the next, normal rotation resumes. No earthquakes, no tidal waves. A miracle! God exists! How this exactly happened is never explained, but of course, it mindfucks all the atheist scientists, hundreds of cults develop, and generally, the world goes down the tube even faster than before... b-( Much of the story was promising, but I felt it kind of bowed out in the end without any real resolution...
The second story is called Going. It's 2100, and modern medicine has solved everything. Excepting unfortunate accidents, people simply don't die anymore. So the "Going" is created, to allow old people who feel that they are no longer contributing anymore to society to Go in dignity. They move to a luxurious version of a nursing home (maybe it should be called the "departure lounge" :P ) where they are able to stay, without pressure, paid for be the government, and do whatever they wish to still do in life... Have relatives over to say goodbye, etc. Finally, in a big ceremony, they are bid goodbye, and then they euthanize themselves. Protagonist of the story (and written from his perspective) is a world-famous classical composer who was celebrated at the end of the 20th century and for much of the 21st but is now 136. Still healthy and mentally sound, he still experiences ennui and world-weariness, and decides to Go. The story was quite good but also pretty depressing. All in all, the book was not really my taste. I guess Silverberg is not quite mine when he tries to be high-falutin' :P

Robert Silverberg - Recalled to Life: Thematically, this somewhat links to BWTD. It was my fifth book for Day 3 but of course I did not get around to it. Something very special about this volume per se is it's age. The book is from 1958, and the actual printing is from 1962, and it looks even more ancient and trashy than Herbert's The Green Brain. Panther Science Fiction, 75 Cents... :D The tale revolves around a laboratory which has developed a technique to reanimate the dead. Now, this is kept a scientifically as possible (from the 1958 perspective), it involves no magic and miracles. Bodies must be freshly dead (the maximum they achieved with animals is 39 hours, in case of humans, they don't want to exceed one day), and they must be repairable. People with terminal cancer or with severe brain trauma need not apply. All in all, it really does only apply to a rather small portion of dead people - but, for example, the idea is advanced that certain surgeries can be performed if you are able to let the patient die for a period of time... The protagonist is a lawyer (and former governor of New York) who is tasked with preparing the world for the revelation of this lab's discovery. And as you can imagine, things don't go as planned... In contrast to the three other books, I really dug this one! It seemed overall quite realistic - well, in terms of the world's reaction, the reanimation procedure seems pretty impossible, considering how rapidly cell death and brain decay sets in after blood flow to the brain ceases... Despite the small type size, I managed to read it in under four hours. Though not non-stop. :( About 30 pages before the end, at about 4 in the morning, I just conked out and slept, finishing it off first thing Monday. Just like on Day 3. Annoying. :-Q

Yesterday, then, my books from the UK arrived! :) Turns out all six of them are in the range that I'll add them to this project! Burning Chrome has 220 pages, but what the hell, that's a must-read now. The longest at expected reading speed is likely Silverberg's Capricorn Games, small type and 190 pages. Also, I found out I was incorrect when I stated I already owned books #1 and 4-6 of the Lucky Starr series - though through no fault of my own. My copy of Oceans of Venus says it's Nr. 4 in the series, and now I get Big Sun of Mercury and it say the same thing! Turns out Venus was wrong, though, it's #3 actually. Anyway, I now have all six of them so they are ready to be read! :) So, right now, the big number is 372 books!

EDIT: I also finally finished my "main book", King's Duma Key, tonight. Forced myself to sit down, and then devoured the last 100 pages. The climax of the book is totally awesome. BUT... Mr. King, oouuh, you nasty man, you, you had to go and kill Ilse!!! :/ I'll never forgive you for that. As protest, I only rated it 4/5, would likely have given 5/5 otherwise.
Now I'm really wondering what I should read... Not really in the mood for newspapers or magazines - that seems more like "sitting on the pot reading" to me. I don't really dare to start with the Wheel of Time books, or The Hunger Games... Those are likely to just suck me in. :-s Ahhh, I found a solution - need to read it anyway before beginning with the last three volumes of Wheel of Time: This book!! It's even a hardcover (original price 40$! I think I got it for less than half that...) which I bought back in 2006 when I spent a month in the US. It has since marked the very bottom of my "high priority reads" column (which now have the three WoT volumes in top), but of course, now it needs to surface... :D
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Re: Books.

Post by Don Alexander » Tue Dec 02, 2014 2:35 am

DAY 5

It seems I have taken over this thread. The art of reading is dead. :P

So, yesterday, I managed to read another 4, erm, 3.something books and had to finish the last one today. :-Q

William Gibson - Burning Chrome: Of course, I had to start with this, after my Gibson binge earlier this year. And it was TOTALLY worth it!!! This short story collection mostly predates Neuromancer but as a whole was published several years later. It contains three stories from The Sprawl: Johnny Mnemonic, which is likely the most well-known because of the Keanu Reeves movie (which I personally kind of liked). It introduces Molly Millions, and it was fucking brilliant. The idea of the Killing Floor, an arena high above the streets where random metal surfaces are linked to a sound system and each move the combatants make creates the soundtrack to the battle... Mind-blowing! New Rose Hotel was decent but nothing special. I'm highly shocked this has also been made into a movie!! :-o 1998. And not just some totally obscure production. Christopher Walken, Willem Dafoe, Asia Argento, Gretchen Mol... But it made basically no money, and seems to be almost unknown... Finally, the title story, Burning Chrome, is most intimately linked to the Sprawl Trilogy. Bobby Quine, the Finn, the Gentleman Loser bar... So many characters and locations that show up again later. Great story but not as good as Johhny Mnemonic. I won't mention all of the stories here, but three further ones were absolutely fantastic. The Gernsback Continuum was by far the least SF-y of the stories. It takes place in a normal 1980s America. A photographer gets the task of traveling all across the US and documenting the "Raygun Gothic" style from the 30s and 40s (think Flash Gordon). He becomes so immersed that he stars seeing weird... hallucinations. Or are they? Stylistically, as someone on Goodreads pointed out, it could be a Stephen King short story. It also had some very funny humor. Hinterlands, for me, was THE highlight of the book. A quite standard SF story that simply BEGS to be expanded into a full-length novel. Mankind is colonizing the Solar System when a lone Cosmonaut woman by chance discovers what is later called The Highway - a kind of... wormhole or something, completely undetectable, but if you are close to it and send out radio pulses on the 1.42 GHz hyper fine structure transition of Hydrogen... You may (not all are taken) just wink out of... existence? Go... somewhere else. A place that fucks up your sensors and totally wipes any data you may have accumulated. Then, days to years later, you pop up again around Sol. Dead, or stark raving mad, soon to commit suicide. But it is possible that ... something ... on the other side gave, or traded away, an object. The Soviet cosmonaut brings back nothing more than an alien seashell, but immediately astrobiology becomes an applicable science. One "dead Frenchman" brings back some artifact ring that unlocks the cure for cancer... And so people continue to use the Highway, despite it being a sure death sentence. Earth institutes a space station nearby which takes in the returnees, be they still alive, and introduces them to "Heaven", a peaceful nature reserve, with "surrogates", people who try to keep them alive and extract any information about the other side... The story itself consists only of this background and some further musing of one of these surrogates (and dialog with his lover, another surrogate)... It could be soooo much more. Finally, Red Star, Winter Orbit plays in the not too distant future, again one where the Soviet Union still exists. Space exploration has been mostly given up. In an orbital industrial station, a Colonel, the First Man on Mars, lives out his existence, since he can't return to Earth after a horrible blowout. When the government decides to abandon the station, and the KGB political officer on board tries to suppress dissent, a revolution breaks out... A very fun story! It reminded me a weeee bit of the movie Gravity. Anyway, anyone who has liked Gibson absolutely needs this book! Oh, it was, at least for one of my project books, pretty long, 220 pages, and I took five hours to read it. Started at 2 in the afternoon, and it was already deep night when I had just finished one book!

Robert Silverberg - Next Stop the Stars: This book is distinguished by being the worst-rated book I have in my Goodreads list so far. 2.76/5 it was. It also distinguishes itself by not existing, at least not in my edition, which is weird, since it is one of those mid-70s re-releases with a new introduction. Instead, the single-volume edition that Goodreads knows is so obscure that my 3/5 rating managed to lift the mean to 2.78/5! :)) This is also a short story collection, it seems Silverberg's first. It contains one, well, novella, Slaves of the Star Giants, which is as trashy as the title suggests. A man from 1957 suddenly finds himself many centuries in the future. Earth has been conquered by giant walking trees (Ents? :P ), the Star Giants, who have reduced mankind to primitive tribes, amused to watch them squabble. Our protagonist, I don't seem to recall ever really finding out what he did back in the "real" world, turns out to be - of course - highly resourceful, and quickly ends up becoming the leader of mankind, getting the girl, and crushing the alien invaders. The beginning of the story was quite fun, but it soon turned quite boring because it seemed nothing was able to stop Hero Protagonist. The Songs of Summer had exactly the same initial setup - resourceful man from the 1950s - when the story was written, so simply the present - pops up on far future Earth where everything is very very different. Except this story ends completely differently. :)) This one was really fun, especially since the perspective kept switching between people. Hopper later turned into an entire book, The Time Hoppers (indeed in my project list), which I sincerely hope is a lot better. This was quite crappy, I must say, very condensed, and the ending totally made no sense. The other two stories were ok. Took less than 2.5 hours to read.

And now, with the series completed, let us switch to one of science fictions TRUE greats...

Isaac Asimov - [David Starr,] Space Ranger: Under the pen name Paul French, Asimov penned six Young Adult tales of the far future back in the 1950s, the first from 1952. Since it seems one of his goals was to introduce the young readers to different locations of the Solar System, you can call this the "Mars" novel. Our hero - and this is his almost superheroesque origin story - is young David Starr, member of the powerful Council of Sciences, which seems to be what you get when you allow the nerds to build an army. :D The story is definitely not for children, think more along the line of Hunger Games (hard?) PG-13. It immediately starts with a gruesome death scene. A man has been poisoned after eating Martian food. Starr travels to Mars and gets himself hired incognito on one of the farms to seek out the cause of these poisonings, which have already killed hundreds on Earth. He also meets J. Bigman J., a not very big man. Despite not really being a dwarf, I kept imagining Tyrion Lannister waddling around. Starr himself... Paul Walker or someone similar maybe. Chris Pratt as Starkiller might be perfect. The young hero is maybe a bit too perfect for my taste, of course he is handsome (though so far, women seem to play essentially NO role in the stories...), extremely athletic (at least he is not a martial artist, but good in brawls nonetheless), and with a mind that would make Sherlock Holmes hire him as an apprentice. Still, the story is well-written (the basic writing style is way better than young Silverberg), fast-paced, plain fun, and the moment when David Starr becomes the Space Ranger (with the help of some very cool alien supertechnology) is quite epic. Of course, the Mars in this book is not really in accordance with what we know today - or even what was known by 1970... All my books are re-releases, and most contain introduction by Asimov telling us how the knowledge of the worlds Starr visits has changed in the intervening ~ 15 years. Mars is not too bad, though, it's still a dessicated red desert planet with an unbreathable atmopshere. Interestingly enough, these stories are dated something like two millenia in the future, there are allusions to mankind having conquered the entire Galaxy - but they were unable to terraform one lousy little planet at the outer edge of the habitable zone...

Isaac Asimov - [Lucky Starr and the] Pirates of the Asteroids: 25 years ago, pirate scum dwelling in the asteroid belt killed David "Lucky" Starr's parents. Now, renewed pirate activity leads him into a one-man mission into the asteroid belt to dig out the secrets of the villainous pirates and stop them once and for all. This one did not have a "my planetary geology was all wrong" intro and actually still does not need one. Asimov explains things like forbidden zones, where resonance orbits with Jupiter kick out anything, and in general the descriptions still hold today (except for some weird predisposition, also seen in the first book, to scale down Solar luminosity way too quickly - at the distance of the asteroids, sure, the Sun is smaller in the sky than from Earth, but it is anything but "dim"). My one complaint with this book was that it was way too predictable, I had almost the whole ending puzzled out half-way through (not the case for the first volume). This book also had some cool characters. The suave pirate captain Anton (a dude who wears a taylor-made suit under his spacesuit!!) immediately was played by Christoph Waltz in my headtheater, while his scummy sidekick was Peter Stormare! =)) Both books were quick reads, around 3 hours each. still, it was 5 in the morning again and I was just one hour in into this one, so I had to finish the rest today.

Speaking of today, I also procrastinated and finished The World of Robert Jordan's The Wheel Of Time (also, it seems, known as the Big white Book of Bad Art ;)) which is kind of true...). This book is pretty much a roleplaying sourcebook! It contains LOADS of history (way more than I remember from the books) geography, and politics. It's written as if some historian compiled it, though I feel the guy knows way more than any single scholar outside the White Tower should be able to compile - it's quite hilarious how openly anti-Aes Sedai the writer is, often sending barbs their way that his work would be much improved if he could just access their top secret library... The beginning was pure awesome, describing the Age of Legends, the Sealing of the Bore, detailed info on all the Forsaken. The last 100 pages dragged a bit, though, describing the different nations of "the land". All in all, 4/5, and I'm reaaaally looking forward to the last three tomes now. But, yeah, that art. Bad.
Don Alexander wrote:Edit: James Oliver Rigney, Jr. :-o :-o :-o ROBERT JORDAN IS A PEN NAME?????????? :-o :-o :-o *faints dead away*
Let's stay with Mr. Rigney, who, hilariously, has written several books under aliases of his alias. Cheyenne Raiders, written as Jackson O'Reilly, is one of his earlier efforts (1982) and actually a Western! Let's see how it turns out, it actually has a quite high rating, nearly 4/5, on Goodreads. This book, also a hardcover, is another one of my 2006 Missouri buys from the bottom of my high priority stack. So I'm mixing up the order a bit, but actually reducing this stack! :-bd
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Re: Books.

Post by TellusEidolon » Tue Dec 02, 2014 1:21 pm

Don Alexander wrote:DAY 5

It seems I have taken over this thread. The art of writing is dead. :P
Fixed that for you. Because clearly we are all busy reading and don't have time for writing about the books that we have read. :P
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Re: Books.

Post by Don Alexander » Tue Dec 02, 2014 1:27 pm

:))

You are much wiser than I am. :P

I have two more little stories concerning books.

As you will have seen, I recently counted them and arrived at the impressive (and somehow depressing) number of 369.

I then used my Goodreads entries as well as forum posts to reconstruct my book numbers over the last five years. I also managed to add another seven books to my Goodreads list, you may vaguely remember I read several Dean Koontz books in Spring of 2010. These I had logged exactly on the forum. Before that, the "Science in the Capital" series by Kim Stanley Robinson, which took half a year to read... Alas, the next earlier post concerns finishing GRRM's The Armageddon Rag, and makes a statement about starting to read a Larry Niven book - but I am quite sure that following that Niven book and before reading SitC, I read another four or so KSR books, but without reasonably exact dates, and without really remembering them well and how much I liked them, I refrained from entering them...

Anyway, my book number reconstruction reveals that, unsurprisingly, my books reached a maximum this year, and actually did so twice: 381 books, each after an Amazon order, once in April, then in September.
The status in April 2012, after the "spree" of reading three Larry Niven books following nearly two years of NOTHING, had been 360 - or thereabouts, I should say. The main book influx 2011 - April 2014 has actually been Magic: The Gathering novels from the "Fat Packs", little collector boxes for each edition which include booster packs, dice, a little guide book to the edition (which I do not count as books) and USED TO also contain the associated novels. Anyway, I'm way too lazy to try to reconstruct when I got which Fat Pack (partially hard to do since I ordered some older ones off Amazon and am not even sure I could rustle up the order again...), so that's a +19 I just placed at the time point of April this year. I then added one final Fat Pack, definitely, in April, my mom had brought me it from the US. So that was already 380 at that time, but I started reading some (Sprawl trilogy) and adding some, reading some, adding some...

And of course more recently, reading a LOT but also adding another six - three of which I already read two days ago.

The number right now is 366, already a good improvement!! My "easy goal" is to be at 360 by the end of the year. I know that my mom bought Stephen King's "Joyland", so I'll add but immediately read that, and I am planning to get her one of King's newest, Mr. Mercedes, as a Christmas present (used), and I'll likely read it beforehand too. :P Oooookay, I just ordered it. Hardcover still, of course, not exactly cheap, but 1.5 Euros less than new and looking nearly like new. So for the easy goal, I'd have to read another 8 books in total. Which should be easy, I already expect to get another 4 done this Sunday. The "Stretch Goal", though, is 350 (and finally lower than at any time since roughly Spring 2009, the last time I received a big book bag from the US that my mom sent me)!! And those additional 10, those will not be so easy. I've had a good run with 5 Book Project Sundays in a row but I'm guessing I'll not be able to keep this up indefinitely.

The second story concerns buying books... A few books, but also many, many books!!

One of the stacks near my balcony, so far untouched, is the "Omnibus Stack". It contains two series of collector volumes. The top six books are R. A. Salvatore Omnibus volumes, six fat tomes of roughly 1000 pages each, each collecting three to five books, for a total of 19 true books. Looking through Amazon, it seems I am missing three further omnibus volumes (each containing three books).

The lower part consists of White Wolf's Eternal Champion omnibus volumes, by Michael Moorcock. This series consists of a whooping 17 books, each volume usually collects at least three single books (Michael Moorcock would have been ideal for my book project, much of what he has written is like 120 pages each...), some even five, I think, or loads of short stories. 15 are totally Moorcock, the last two volumes are short story collections, each containing a new short story of Elric of Melniboné by Moorcock himself, as well as loads by other authors, "inspired by"... Of these 17, I have 10. I bought most of them wayyyy back in 2003 at the Spielemesse Essen, for ridiculous prices, nothing more than 5 Euros, and most of them new. I also found two missing volumes in Missouri in summer 2006, and I think I got another two a year later, ordering them off Amazon and having my mom ship them to me. But still, 7 missing!! And the problem is, they are partially VERY expensive. It seems the edition was limited, and for unknown reasons, some of these cost much more than the others. With probably one exception, all of those I have can still be gotten quite cheaply today. The missing ones are the ones that cost an arm and a leg. :(

Now! I have an audacious plan. Order as many of these as possible off Amazon.com (where, even considering the weak dollar, they are all still a lot cheaper than at Amazon.de), have them shipped to my aunt and uncle (so $3.99 shipping each, "only" - these are from the "Amazon marketplace" and not strictly Amazon itself), then have my mom, as a birthday present, ship them to me somehow, as cheaply as possible, next year when she visits her family again. So it's more of a long-term project.

At the moment, I have ordered all three missing Salvatore omnibus volumes. One of these actually started at ONE CENT (well, $4, of course)!! But I was ready to pay an incredible 41 times as much to get it in very good condition. :P The next one cost $1.78 (always without the shipping costs), and just now, while writing this, I stumbled across a third omnibus (The Sellswords), which was somewhat more expensive ($6.64).

I also got four of the seven missing Moorcock books. One was luckily still cheap ($5.76), the other three already slammed me in the range of $18 to $23... :/ Damn, you well be worth it!!! What especially pisses me off is Elric: Stealer of Souls. I had found this book back at Spielemesse Essen, but could not find a price tag, AND did not ask. :| Later on, I passed the seller again, and saw a price tag on the side of the bin, and it was just EUR5. But the book was gone! Now, someone had offered it (though seemingly somewhat battered) for $8 some days ago. But I first wanted to confirm with my aunt and uncle that I could have the books shipped to them. By the time I ordered two days ago... Gone again. Cheapest was a hardcover for $23 (I think one of the others also had a hardcover cheaper than the trade paperback...). :((( But I got it!

The last three missing volumes present a problem. One is $29 at the cheapest. One $43.... o_O And one seems to be entirely missing, at least in the edition I want. Hmph.

Sooo, that is at least another seven huge books coming to me sometime in the future. :D

Hm, so much for "little". :P
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Re: Books.

Post by Don Alexander » Fri Dec 19, 2014 11:21 am

I am slacking. In multiple ways. :P

So, on December 4th, I finished up Cheyenne Raiders. Fun book, I must say, fast-paced and well-written (dare I say written better than the Wheel of Time later on?). One problem I had with the book was that it was full of clichés/tropes, and was just extremely predictable. I think there were just two tropes that were slightly averted (the Woman The Protagonist Desires was not intended for his archrival, but the archrival's brother - who then becomes the actual archrival anyway; and the former friend friend of the archrival who becomes the protagonist's friend does not actually die, instead the first Indian friend of the protagonist actually does). But other than that, it came across as a typical Hollywood movie script. Could probably even be made into a pretty decent movie.

Thereafter, I continued tearing down my "high priority stack" and began The Dean Koontz Companion - a book I had meant to read back in Spring 2010 following the four other DK novels, but then I had decided to switch to that Anne Rice book instead, with disastrous consequences... This book consists of a long interview, several pieces on Koontz, a bunch of short stories and writing, and a bibliography. It's a real pity it's from 1994, it could really use a big update.

Later on the same day, Mr Mercedes arrived, and I immediately switched! :D To skip in time a bit, I got along rather slowly, but then finished it up (nearly the entire second half) last Sunday and Monday in a "must finish" spree. This is a rather untypical book for King, as it is straightforward crime fiction (and the first part of a trilogy). Now, this is normally not my genre, but this was a great book. It was far from a "who-dunnit" at least for the readers, since almost from the start, we also land in the mind of the eponymous killer, who once stole a big Mercedes and drove it into a crowd of people, killing eight and injuring countless more - and who gets away with it. The detective who followed up his case is now retired and feels utterly useless, is contemplating suicide - until Mr Mercedes writes him a taunting letter...

But back in time, nearly two weeks ago...

DAY 6

Or, where I utterly failed and just broke all my rules...

Isaac Asimov - (Lucky Starr and the) Oceans of Venus: Well, this boo--- ALL GLORY TO THE HYPNOTOAD!!! :D ........ Okay, okay. So, this book suffers much more from being written about a decade too early, before many of the facts concerning our Solar System became known or rectified. So, in the first book, Mars is already a dessicated desert, in the second, one can't really complain concerning the descriptions of the asteroids. And in later books, it's also mostly small details. There are way more moons of Jupiter and Saturn than described in the books, there is no mention of volcanism on Io, Mercury is not actually tidally locked to the Sun... But really, just details. But in this book... Not only does Venus have a 36 hour day (and not a 243 retrograde "day"!), no, while the perpetual cloud cover is correct, under it lies not a hellish lead-melting inferno, but a thick, global ocean teeming with life! :-o Man, people had it SO wrong back then. Talk about wishful thinking. Other than that, fun book as always, but perhaps the weakest in the series, also.

Isaac Asimov - (Lucky Starr and the) Big Sun of Mercury: Inward we go, and it gets better! I'm... not really sure what to further say. :P I liked it better than the last one, though it was somewhat predictable (It was quite quickly clear to me that the being running around on the sunlit side of Mercury had to be a robot). As always, the first few pages wax a bit didactically on the astronomical knowledge of the new world we will now get to know, this is one of the clearest indications that these books are meant for young readers. Oh, and by the way, women?? What's that? :P I certainly miss my Heinlein...

Isaac Asimov - (Lucky Starr and the) Moons of Jupiter: We now finally leave the rocky crumbs of the inner Solar System, and travel to the most majestic of planets! Ah, the vistas!! A secret research base on the Moon Jupiter IX (interestingly, only named Sinope in 1975!) is developing a new spaceship drive which is kind of intertialess - it transforms gravitational potential energy directly into propulsion, allowing easy travel into and out of deep gravity wells (like Jupiter's). Lucky Starr and Bigman Jones are sent to investigate a possible infiltration into the project which could be a Sirian spy. The maiden voyage of the ship takes them to Io and beyond, and the traitor must be on board! Again, some of the plot twists were rather transparent (like the dog being the robot - that was clear to me at the moment it dived into the snow stream on Io to save Bigman... A normal dog would have no idea what to do, but the Three Laws forced it to act.).

Isaac Asimov - (Lucky Starr and the) Rings of Saturn: In the final book of the series, the ever-present but also distant threat of the Sirians (a human colony around Sirius which has long since become independent from Earth, and are now their arch-enemies) finally comes to the fore! They have established a military base on Titan (which the rest of mankind seems to have mostly ignored), a foothold right in the Solar System itself! Lucky, Bigman and another council member pursue a Sirian spy into the Saturnian system, where they are challenged by Sirian ships. Lucky and Bigman actually let themselves be captured to get deeper into the heart of the enemies fortress... This was definitely my favorite book in the series, since it plays around a lot with the Three Laws and also has a well-executed political component. And I have to admit the twist at the end did come as a complete surprise to me! :D

Anyway, my failure was that I only managed the first two books and one third of the third before conking out. I finished the third one on Monday and then decided to finish the series there and then...

Last Sunday, I did not get back until 6:30 P.M. from the concert trip to Munich, and I decided that was too late to "make it another Day"... Instead I continued with Mr Mercedes - see above.
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Re: Books.

Post by Don Alexander » Thu Jan 08, 2015 12:07 pm

TellusEidolon wrote:
Don Alexander wrote:It seems I have taken over this thread. The art of writing is dead. :P
Fixed that for you. Because clearly we are all busy reading and don't have time for writing about the books that we have read. :P
Well, that was actually true for me in the last weeks... :P

DAY 7

After missing a week, I got the final "Day" done on the 21st/22nd of December.

Isaac Asimov - Through A Glass, Clearly: This short story collection from the early '50s is one of the shortest books I have, just 120 pages. Small type, though, so it took me 3.5 hours to read. It contains four stories: It's a Beautiful Day: In a future where everyone uses teleporters (the Doors) to travel, a young boy is forced to go outside (through the lower-case door - for emergencies only!) when the house Door breaks down. Instead of just going to the next-door neighbors to use their Door, he walks to school, arriving hours late and dirty. Henceforth, he eschews using the Door (unless it is raining), leading his mother to enlist a psychologist's help... Belief: A man dreams of flying, and awakes levitating high above his bed. He is a physicist and tries to research the phenomenon, but soon finds out his colleagues strictly refuse to believe their eyes... How to convince them? This was my favorite story in the book. Breeds there a Man...?: A physicist involved in the US nuclear program, a total genius, comes up with the idea that Earth is just an experiment run by vastly powerful aliens. He must have struck pay dirt because he soon feels the urge to commit suicide. The C-Chute: The one "hard SF" story. Mankind is engaged with the "Kloros" in interstellar warfare. Kloros board a cargo ship, kill all military personnel, but just lock up the civilians. Now, a group of wildly different personalities needs to learn how to cooperate so that they can free themselves. All in all, decent fun, but nothing really noteworthy.

Isaac Asimov - Realm of Numbers: A non-fiction book on, well, numbers! Starting with finger-counting, it goes all the way to imaginary and cardinal numbers. I knew almost all the content but learned some things about the etymology of words involved with numbers. Likely interesting for the mathematical layperson, very well written with easy-to-grok explanations. Another 3.5 hour read.

Ursula K. Le Guin - The Word For World Is Forest: This was a very late addition to my project book stack. My UKLG books are buried deeply in one of my highest stacks on the radiator, and it was not so easy to get at them. As so often, I conked out after about half the book and had to finish it the next morning. The book is part of the loose "Hainish Cycle", a joint-universe in which humanoids (I guess one could call them "true humans" from the planet Hain-Davenant seeded the surrounding habitable worlds about a million years ago, leading to a number of sentient humanoid species on these worlds which are all somewhat different, of course, since each one then had a million years to evolve and adapt to their home planet. Some of UKLG's greatest classics (The Left Hand of Darkness, The Dispossessed) are part of this cycle, and I read those ages ago (others I have read are Rocannon's World and Planet of Exile, I also took out City of Illusions for my Book Project, and also own Four Ways To Forgiveness, but that one is longer. Finally, I don't think I have The Telling at all. There are also two short story collections I own which include some stories that take place in the Hainish Cycle.) Anyway, this short book (took just over three hours) is a very classic story... Reminded me a lot of James Cameron's Avatar (to note a SF pendant), and generally, it's every tale of a "more civilized" race trying to take over a land/planet from an "uncivilized" race. The humanoids of this planet are furry and small and still pretty much Stone Age, so it seems it will be an easy task... But of course they have powers that Mankind did not anticipate. The book is written from three perspectives, the first one being that of this story's "Col. Quaritch", a guy who is a total non-magnificent bastard... Then there's a scientist who tries to actually get along with the natives. and the native who then leads the war against the humans. Decent book, but the storyline felt too clichéd for me.

So!

Done!

GREAT SUCCESS!

I read a total of 26 (!!) books in the seven days, having only two instances where I only read three instead of four.

Following it's completion, I started packing to drive home for Christmas vacation. I got my winter tires in, but was running so late I decided to go the following day, hoping that the ten o'clock feature of John Wick in Luxembourg was not the last one (it turned out not to be, luckily!). I'd have to be up early the next day since I needed to be home by 3 in the afternoon to pick up my mom from the train station.

So I decided to use the time I now had to finish up some more, and read the rest of the Dean Koontz Companion. Turns out the interview in the beginning was the best part. The "Koontzrambles" (introductions to the books of other authors) seemed a bit displaced since there was no data on the actual books they introduced, and the weird humor pieces from a self-invented newspaper were... Well, I guess I don't quite share that form of humor. So all in all a bit of a middling experience, there. Would be nice to have a new version, though, especially with a biography covering the last 20 years.

It was pretty late at night when I finished it, but instead of trying to go to sleep, I started my first Christmas project: The Hunger Games trilogy: The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, Mockingjay!! \:d/ This is the first "Young Adult books turned into movies" series I have now read which I started after seeing (most) of the movies (in contrast to Harry Potter or, say, The Hobbit). I recently rewatched the first movie, and of course also the third, only the 2nd is over a year ago. I totally devoured all three books, finishing the first on Christmas Day early in the morning, reading the second in the following 24h period, and the third in the 24h after that! I could write a lot about this, but I'll keep it reasonably short... I really liked the first two (4/5), and totally gasmed over the final volume (5/5, best book since Burning Chrome). I'm seriously wondering how they will be able to make Mockingjay Pt. 2 without making it R-rated, the finale of the trilogy is really harsh and brutal, especially emotionally. It's so fucking dark I was wondering how this still counts as "YA"... On the other hand, as good as the books were, I actually DO prefer the movies. The first-person perspective of the books kind of turned me off, since it limits the amount of action we are able to see. The movies broaden the horizon, still focusing mostly on Katniss but giving us select "invented" scenes which make the story more cohesive (the manner of Seneca Crane's death, or, especially, the mission to rescue Peetah and the others in Mockingjay - in the book, they just leave, and return, with hardly a word on what actually happened). At the same time, the movies ARE very close to the books and don't water down the marvelous story. So, yes, I understand why these books have sold phenomenally. (Now I just need to get my hands on His Dark Materials!)

Following the completion of Hunger Games, I started with that one book from my mom I knew I'd be reading: Stephen King - Joyland! More on that, then, later...
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