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What are you reading this year 2020?

dragoner

Dying in Chargen
I read Triton probably in early 80's as a teenager. Didn't really grok it. Maybe time for a re-read. Was it as disjointed as I remember?
Yeah, kinda. It's fairly couched in the 70's, and he has a calculus of metalogic thing going on, which I'm good with calculus, the metalogic thing sort of lost me, it's more of a language deal than math, and I'm sort of meh on language. Otherwise, it's interesting, solid sci-fi.
 

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I really need to do more exploring of Delany's work. I have Babel-17 on my Kindle, but I've only read one of the Neveryon books so far. Unfortunately, I think that wasn't a great choice for an introduction, because I found it a little too talky.
 

dragoner

Dying in Chargen
Delany's Nova and Dhalgren stand out in my memory, though I should probably read them again to give a solid recommendation.
 


Finished Leiber's Swords and Ice Magic. It was good, but not as good as prior installations. It was weirder, which I could appreciate, but the Piers Anthony-ish elements are definitely creeping in at this point in the series.

Now I'm onto Saberhagen's The Black Mountains.
 

Kaodi

Adventurer
I read an actual fiction book this month: Lisa Foiles' Ash Ridley and the Phoenix. Though we are not really the target audience Lisa is a huge dork like all of us and it is her first book.
 


I just started a novel by Jeffery Deaver - one of his earlier ones, actually - called The Lesson of Her Death. I was starting to get to the dregs of my pile of unread books and decided to order some Deaver novels I haven't read yet and the first two showed up in the mail today. I'll probably now be reading Deaver books through the end of June!

Johnathan
 

cbwjm

I can add a custom title.
Just about to start reading the first of the Elminster series. Read some of this series when they first came out and was thinking about the forgotten realms and felt like reading them again. Times like this I really love kindle.
 

Lem23

Adventurer
Almost finished Rebecca Roanhorse's Black Sun (out later this year) which is excellent, set in a meso-American style fantasy setting.

I just finished MR Carey's Book of Koli, which was ok but a little disappointing if I'm being honest. I'll pick up the second in the series when it's out, but it's not at the top of my must-read list. The "would of" / "could of" stylistic choice really rankles (and if you're going to use a linguistic style of a book set in post-apocalyptic West Yorkshire, put in some actual Yorkshire dialect or idiom and way of speaking, not something like that), but I felt the plot was a little meh at times too, and the ending really fizzled for me - it was more like a chapter ending than a book ending, even for a book in a series.
 

Nellisir

Adventurer
I read The Day of Atonement, by David Liss (part of his Benjamin Weaver series, though not featuring Benjamin Weaver as the protagonist). Good book.

And I read The Broken Sword, by Poul Anderson.

I feel like Poul Anderson might not get enough credit for his influence on D&D. He's certainly cited, particularly for Three Hearts and Three Lions, but reading this book was about as close as reading a direct transcription of a D&D setting into a novel as I've ever seen. It's often hard to point exact fingers, of course, and particularly in cases where one author (Anderson) might filter or refract a concept from another author (Tolkien), and Gygax read both, but....
The Broken Sword, btw, was first published in 1954, and republished in 1971 with some revisions by Anderson.

Here are a few of the things I noticed.
- Gnomes. I feel like I read a few blog posts recently talking about gnomes and D&D and laying them out as half-dwarves, or variant dwarves, and how they didn't have a good precedent in fiction. So here's Anderson on gnomes in The Broken Sword: "Often he would be out in the forest to speak with the little folk who lived in it, humble gnomes with gray and brown clothes and long stocking caps and the men's beards hanging to their waists. They dwelt in gnarly comfort beneath the largest trees, and were glad to see the elf children." That's pretty much D&D gnomes right there. And they're very distinct from dwarves.

-Elves. Of human height and mostly human habit. A variety of elves. The ocean-going northern elves; the Pictish wild elves, who are shorter, stronger, and darker than other elves; the noble southern elves with their forgotten glories; green haired, white skinned sea elves; elves with dwarf blood (master smiths of the elves); and the high elves of Elfheugh.

- Other races. There are other races of fey from around the world mentioned that I'm not going to list. Trolls are not D&D trolls, but squatter, shorter, and green skinned. Goblins are midway between trolls and elves, being small and green, but not wholly unattractive. Leprechauns, sprites, fauns. The Sidhe of Ireland are similar to, but distinct from, the elves, being half-gods. Skafloc, who is stolen by the elves and raised by them, is easily half-elven. Valgard, who was the changeling left for Skafloc and the offspring of an elf and troll, could be a half-orc.

- Elves live longer than humans, but humans learn faster because of it.

- Dwarves are dwarves.
 

Reading Shadows Linger, book 2 of the Black Company. I had completely forgotten how much of this book was not about the Black Company. As someone that would like to be published someday, I'm fascinated by it, actually.
 

Totally agree. So much of D&D's world-building can be found in Anderson's books.

And I read The Broken Sword, by Poul Anderson.

I feel like Poul Anderson might not get enough credit for his influence on D&D. He's certainly cited, particularly for Three Hearts and Three Lions, but reading this book was about as close as reading a direct transcription of a D&D setting into a novel as I've ever seen. It's often hard to point exact fingers, of course, and particularly in cases where one author (Anderson) might filter or refract a concept from another author (Tolkien), and Gygax read both, but....
The Broken Sword, btw, was first published in 1954, and republished in 1971 with some revisions by Anderson.
 

Well, I plowed through The Lesson of Her Death at warp speed. I was less than halfway done with it at 8 PM last night and decided I'd go to bed early and read for an hour or so. At 11:25 PM I finished it, saw the time, realized I was going to be one tired puppy today (and I was right: I am!), and went immediately to bed. It wasn't one of Deaver's absolute best books, but he kept ending paragraphs on cliffhangers and then picking up previous dangling plot lines with other characters at the beginning of the next chapter, so I kept wanting to read just one more chapter - until I ran out of chapters by hitting the end of the book. And he kept up with the surprises all the way through, which kept me guessing. (He's a good one for misdirection: several times I thought I'd figured out a minor mystery and found out I'd been led by the nose once again.)

Tonight (ironically) I'll start Jeffery Deaver's Praying for Sleep, a thriller about an escaped paranoid schizophrenic man who's going after the woman responsible for getting him committed. It apparently takes place over the course of 24 hours, so it's likely to be a page-turner. (I may purposefully wait until tomorrow night to even start it; I'll see how tired I am at bedtime tonight.)

Johnathan
 

Nellisir

Adventurer
For comparison purposes. I dug out Three Hearts and Three Lions. Overall, I preferred The Broken Sword. It's more original, and there's more world-building. Aside from trolls, 3H3L is a good book but not very outstanding or distinctive, and has the annoying conceit of the protagonist trying to "rationalize" magic and find "scientific" rules for it, which was very vogue for a while. And frankly, it's a conceit that doesn't really go anywhere or get used. Just there to annoy me, I guess.

It's a weird thought that this was first written as a novella in 1953, which makes it almost 70 years old.
 

KahlessNestor

Explorer
Finished reading Eric Larsen's new book The Splendid and the Vile. Excellent to read how the Brits kept up normal life while bombs were dropping on their heads while we hunker down in fear of a virus.

Still reading Terry Pratchett's Unseen Academicals.

Still reading Brandon Sanderson's Oathbringer.

Still reading 5e's Explorer's Guide to Wildmount.

Started reading Amity Schlaes' history on the Great Depression The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression.
 

Finished up The Black Mountains. Good stuff. I had thought that I didn't like Saberhagen's writing, but I guess either my tastes change or I was wrong.

Now I'm putting my money where my mouth is, so to speak, and am finally reading Delany's Babel-17.
 



Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
I finished Ada Palmer's Too Like the Lightning. An engrossing book. Fantastic and fresh world building (much like the Yoon Ha Lee Machinations of the Empire I read a few months back in being very fresh and expecting the reader to be able to pick it up).

Too Like the Lightning is told by a somewhat-reliable narrator writing an account of the earlier days, with a very Victorian England feel to the writing and dialog. It's in the future, and the culture and the implications of it are very well explored. The plot is of interest, but almost take a side seat to the boldly imagined characters you meet. There are a number of philosophical diversions, but they support the story, not derail it. There's a tonal shift after a particular set of big mysteries are revealed, very intentional but a bit jarring to me.

When I got to the end and found it wasn't a stand-alone book (happily - the ending would have been horribly rushed as we got deeper and things got more convoluted), I immediately ordered the second and third ones. (It's a quartet.) Take that as proof that I liked it, but a portion of that is I must know where they are going.

While waiting for that to arrive I'm reading two other books. I'm reading The Sword of Summer, the first of Rick Riordan's Magnus Chase series. Same author as Percy Jackson, but this one is Norse. It's ... decent. It has the same type of earnest, snarky and likable but somewhat clueless protagonist thrown into a tense, imminent, and world-alerting event they (explicitly they) need to resolve with plucky, competent, quirky companions. I enjoyed the Percy Jackson first series. This feels ... like popcorn. It's a fun read but isn't catching me the same way. I'm more interested in one of the companions then Magnus Chase -- though that may have been true for the Percy Jackson books as well as I really enjoyed Annabeth. Who happens to be the cousin of this book's protagonist. I'm a bit more than halfway through, we'll see how it ends up.

Then I have my "kindle" book for reading while my wife is asleep. Unfortunately my kindle was lost for a while, so I'm jumping back into a story with a big gap. Redshirts by John Scalzi has that unfairness going against it, but everything is writ so large (and the characters were such tropes) that it's easy to pick back up and get into it again. Only a few chapters last night, I don't want to rate on that.
 

Mythological Figures & Maleficent Monsters

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