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What are you Reading? Froody February 2019 edition

Though perhaps that should be Frozen February...

Finished reading Abraham Merritt’s The Moon Pool. It’s a weird tale, almost two separate ones. It opens with some bone-chilling cosmic horror, but then moves to an underground fantasy that assuredly was an influence on the Underdark, with its cruel societies, bioluminescent fungi, and dread monsters.

Then I re-read R.E. Howard’s Red Nails. Man, R.E. Howard used to be one of my favorites. But reading his work is like talking to that sexist, racist uncle at the holidays – all’s going well until he says something awful. Repeatedly. Which is a shame, because Red Nails is a wonderful story, tense and full of action and vivid descriptions…and a whole lot of racist, sexist attitudes.

Now I’m reading Nnedi Orokafor’s Binti.
 

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I'm now halfway through Hybrids, the third and final novel in Robert J. Sawyer's "Neanderthal Parallax" trilogy. As might be expected from the title, the two main characters - a human woman from our universe and a Neanderthal man from the parallel universe where Neanderthals became the dominant strain of humanity - are trying to have a baby. Which will require some gene therapy, given that the two strains of humanity have a different number of chromosomes.

Johnathan
 

carrot

Explorer
In the middle of "Cast in Oblivion" the latest entry in the Elantris series by Michelle Sagara.
So far, so unbelievably tedious... This seems to be a common problem with the recent entries in the series - when the books finally get to the plot they are normally quite interesting, but it seems to be taking longer and longer to get there...


Just finished Dark Forge (and Cold Iron) by Miles Cameron. That was a much more gripping novel. I struggled to put it down (might have been cos it was cold outside though), even if some of the description left me a little puzzled as to what was actually happening (needs a little bit more careful editing methinks). The plot was entertaining, and the characters are compelling, even if the main one is starting to get a bit uber. I quite like that though! Now have to wait for the last book in the trilogy...
 

Finished Binti today. A lovely piece of Sci-Fi literature, and while it's just as tense at times, it's less harrowing than Who Fears Death. At under 100 pages, it's tight and fast-moving.

Next up is Sean Grigsby’s Smoke Eaters. The premise, a 60-year old about-to-retire firefighter becomes a dragonslayer, got my interest, but the opening scene involving a wraith hooked me. Apparently, those slain by dragonfire rise again as undead spirits. Now that sparks some adventure ideas!
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Last week, I was on vacation. I read...

Diplomatic Immunity, by Lois McMaster Bujold

"Winterfair Gifts," by Lois McMaster Bujold

Nightingale's Lament, by Simon R. Green

Collapsing Empire, by John Scalzi.
 

Kramodlog

Naked and living in a barrel
I'm at 62% of Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Harari. It started out great, even if the premise* of Harari is a hypothesis that is not backed by science, but then it moves away from history, anthropology or even philosophy. It mostly becomes Harari's opinions and some anecdotes. I hope it goes somewhere.


*Homo sapiens was no better at life than Neanderthal, Homo erectus or Denisovian until 70,000 BC. They than started to make better tools, have culture and spread over the all continents (except Antartica). Harari postulates it is because Homo sapiens managed to think about abstractions (myths like religion) and because of that he could organize more efficiently. There are no material proof of this. He might be right, but it is just an hypothesis and his whole essay rests on it.
 

carrot

Explorer
Ok I was wrong, "Cast in Oblivion" didn't get any better... Total Yawn fest. Another series bites the dustbin...

Onwards to the latest in The Brackenford Cycle - Grindhelms Key by Nick Mosely. I enjoyed the first few books in this series, so hoping this will be good too.
 

Just finished Grigsby’s Smoke Eaters. A good read, though there was stuff in the middle I thought a little heavy-handed. Definitely had a cinematic feel – I could totally see it making its way to the big screen.

Now I’m reading Charles Saunders’ Imaro: Book 1. Been meaning to read it for ages.
 

I'm now reading (just starting, actually) James Alan Gardner's second superhero novel, They Promised Me the Gun Wasn't Loaded. This one stars Jools, the female hockey fan college student who gained pinnacle human strength, dexterity, and intelligence - she can learn any facts as needed, at will. It should be interesting.

Johnathan
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
I'm now reading (just starting, actually) James Alan Gardner's second superhero novel, They Promised Me the Gun Wasn't Loaded. This one stars Jools, the female hockey fan college student who gained pinnacle human strength, dexterity, and intelligence - she can learn any facts as needed, at will. It should be interesting.

If you can, I'd be interested in how it came out. There were parts of the first book I enjoyed but I never picked up the second.

I think I might have a bias against mixing vampires and superheroes.
 

Will do. My free time for reading will be diminishing somewhat (projects filling up my nights and weekends), but I still usually read for a half hour or so in bed before turning off the lights.

Johnathan
 

Finished reading Imaro (Book 1). It was an awesome, fast-paced, muscular read. Yet, for all the action, there’s a melancholy brooding to it. A sense of failure and lonesomeness that gives the story a more downbeat cast. Even as Imaro triumphs, there’s a cost, or a sense that something bad will come of it.

Next up, I'm finally getting to Neil Gaiman's Norse Mythology.
 

Janx

Hero
I am now reading The Sword of Shannara which I haven't read in a few decades. Got my original copy signed by Terry last summer.
 

vpuigdoller

Adventurer
I just finished reading "Child of a Mad God" by RA Salvatore, was a nice suprise and enjoy it more than I expected. I had read long ago the Demon Wars Saga so I was intrigued when it was announced and happy when got it as a gift for Xmas.
 
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Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
Wow, I finally finished Seveneves by Neal Stephenson. I really like Neal, but this was a slog for me. Details in the spoiler block. The short versions is that none of the point of view characters made me care about them, adn the plot's impact on characters was often a backdrop and not immediate.

Lots o' spoilers:
[sblock]
The first 2/3 of the book leading up to the landing on the Cleft felt like most of the story was backdrop. There were so many characters that I didn't really put myself in any of their shoes. It almost felt as if everything with the moon was a backdrop, and it wasn't until a good chunk of the way through "book 1" that the characters were actually involved in a plot.

Then we get to the last couple pages, and it turns out that it was all set-up, almost just a prelude, for the rest of the book. And while some of the characters involved int he Seven Eves we've had plenty of time to get to know, that's not true for all so now it almost feels like the 2/3 of a book was an overly long prelude that didn't even introduce everyone, for the upcoming novella.

The last 1/3, "book 2" in my mind, again had a fantastic world building backdrop, but for a good chunk of it seemed just like a travelogue to show it off. Not even the PoV characters know what they are trying to accomplish so there's no tension though most of it. Again, hard to put myself in any character's shoes plsu the character they spend the most time on - Kath Two - becomes Kathree. Kathree seemed like a genuinely interesting character, but we are given little chance to know her, outside "well, I'm someone who can shoot someone with a gun". She was discovering herself, it would have been a great opportunity. Ty was the other interesting character, who ends the book with no history, and very little of his present and the shadowy owners of his "bar".
[/sblock]

All in all, too many characters I couldn't get into, and insufficient time/detail on the ones I could left me at a remove. Lack of tension and late reveal of character-driven plot left me with little urge to read further.

Amazing travelogue of the environments, superior world-building. Felt technically accurate and hard-science-y.
 

On a snowy day, I finished reading Neil Gaiman's Norse Mythology. Absolutely loved it. These tales have been with me since I was a kid, and I've read countless versions. But Neil Gaiman brings new life to them, and really makes them shine.

His fondness for Loki definitely colors the book, though Loki still deserves his fate.

Now I'm going from Gaiman to Pratchett with Thud! Night Watch Discworld tales are my favorite.
 

If you can, I'd be interested in how it came out. There were parts of the first book I enjoyed but I never picked up the second.

I think I might have a bias against mixing vampires and superheroes.

Well, I finished They Promised Me the Gun Wasn't Loaded Tuesday, flying on a business trip. I enjoyed it. I can say this to you, #Blue: if your main problem with the first book was mixing superheroes and the supernatural (vampires, werebeasts, ghosts, demons, etc.), then this book will disappoint you, because they're there in the mix. Of course, given the way the author's designed this universe (multiverse, really), that's going to be a factor in any book in this series.

However, that said, I think you'd enjoy this one a bit more than All Those Explosions Were Someone Else's Fault for the simple reason that supernatural creatures, while present, play a much smaller role in this book. Ninety-Nine is the main character this time around (in fact, the other three superheroines on her new team are not in the vast majority of the book), and it deals primarily with her interactions with a different superhero group led by a guy calling himself Robin Hood. It turns out that just because superheroes are powered by the Light (as opposed to the supernatural being powered by the Dark), gaining Light-infused powers doesn't necessarily mean that you'll be a goody two shoes fighting for truth, justice, and the Canadian way. (The book takes place in Canada - it's a Canadian author and in his books, anything of any consequence always takes place in Canada.) Robin Hood and his Merry Men are a good example: while they purport to steal from the rich (which in this universe means invariably Darklings) and give to the poor, nobody knows for sure what he actually does with the money he steals, and he's got some rather questionable people working for him.

Anyway, an interesting plot (everybody's trying to get hold of a super-weapon very possibly created by Diamond, the supervillain Mad Genius from the first novel), some interesting takes on superheroes, and typically good characters, including a shakeup of the Ninety-Nine character. I wouldn't necessarily recommend you go out and pick this up, but if it's ever made available (like a library copy) and you feel like giving it a shot, I think you'll get some enjoyment out of it.

Johnathan
 

And now I'm reading The Lies of Locke Lamora, by Scott Lynch. Holy cow - I haven't read a book this good in a long while. I started it Tuesday (two days ago), and I'm 400+ pages in - the book hooks you and is nearly impossible to put down. (Of course, it helps that I spent all day today in airports and on planes.) It's the story of an orphan who becomes a master thief in a fantasy city very much like Venice - but this is on another world, with three moons and a mysterious alien culture who left behind structures made of "Elderglass" that the humans living there have repurposed to their own needs. The novel weaves back and forth between the present and the past, dealing with Locke's current problems interwoven with the story of how he was raised as a thief, working for different masters. It's a fantastic novel (and it was the author's first!) with some truly excellent worldbuilding - I could easily see a fantasy RPG based on this world (although at this point it looks like humans are the only intelligent race on the planet). Best of all: there are at least two more books in the series, which I'll be hunting up without fail. This is easily the best book I've read in the past year.

Johnathan
 

Jeanne Marie

First Post
I've just started reading Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand (yes, I haven't read it yet) and it's a really fascinating book. I'm so excited!

“If you don't know, the thing to do is not to get scared, but to learn.”




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