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Azmodes
Ultranaut

Joined: Fri Nov 02, 2007 10:44 am
Posts: 5905
Location: Gradec, Austria
PostPosted: Sat May 25, 2013 6:48 am 
 

Has anyone here read Stephen R. Donaldson's The Gap series? Any thoughts? I'm currently tackling the third book and I'm liking it, in a fashion. Thoughtful yet accessible writing, sometimes overly self-indulgent, but it keeps you interested.

I'll probably start with Use of Weapons by Banks soon, it seems to be hailed as his masterpiece [citation needed]. I really liked Consider Phlebas and especially The Player of Games, need to check out more Culture stuff.
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failsafeman
Digital Dictator

Joined: Wed Sep 01, 2004 8:45 am
Posts: 9637
Location: United States
PostPosted: Sat May 25, 2013 2:55 pm 
 

darkeningday wrote:
I really liked The Concentration City (haven't read the other two), but I thought Ballard's much later novel, High Rise, did a far better job of showing the inner workings of society through a microcosm. Have you read that one?

I haven't, so far I've only read Ballard's short fiction. I like a lot of it but honestly I find him really insufferably pretentious sometimes. There was a lot of very self-conscious experimentation in New Wave that was mixed up with the whole post-modern thing, and sometimes it really spiraled out of control (and up its own ass). In general I prefer Moorcock and M John Harrison to Ballard, as they seemed to have a much better rein on their experimentation.

Azmodes wrote:
Has anyone here read Stephen R. Donaldson's The Gap series? Any thoughts? I'm currently tackling the third book and I'm liking it, in a fashion. Thoughtful yet accessible writing, sometimes overly self-indulgent, but it keeps you interested.

I'm only familiar with the first two Thomas Covenant trilogies, and while I really liked the first one (especially the incredibly satisfying ending), the second one was a big step down. I have to admire him for basically taking the whole epic-fantasy-with-a-dark-lord cliche and making something that doesn't feel anything like the other examples, but I wouldn't really call him a great writer. Too many times in the second trilogy it just felt like he didn't know what to do with the plot and was just sending the characters on wild goose chases. Also, while the angst in the first trilogy made total sense, it was much, MUCH more forced in the second one. I'd be open to trying something else by him too, but I'd want to choose very carefully. Based on the six books of his I've read, he strikes me as a merely decent writer who displays occasional flashes of brilliance.
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Disinterested Handjob
Metal newbie

Joined: Mon Sep 12, 2011 8:18 am
Posts: 50
Location: Australia
PostPosted: Sun May 26, 2013 8:38 am 
 

[quote=espinafri]Am I a dummy or The Black Company is a HARD book?

I often have to read passages twice. And some I don´t understand at all. Crazyness[/quote]

What is there to understand? I found it very straight forward.
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caspian
Wanderer of the Wastes

Joined: Tue Dec 07, 2004 11:29 pm
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Location: Australia
PostPosted: Sun May 26, 2013 9:04 am 
 

FSM, from what I can tell I'd rather agree with your 'Occaisonally awesome but mostly just decent' review of Donaldson. His Mordant's need series (a short two part) is overall really good but has the same problem with that ol' forced angst thing. It's still a cracking read and I wouldn't have stolen it from my parents if I didn't enjoy reading it :) Might actually pick it up post exams :)
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Azmodes
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Joined: Fri Nov 02, 2007 10:44 am
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PostPosted: Sun May 26, 2013 9:50 am 
 

caspian wrote:
but has the same problem with that ol' forced angst thing.

Yeah, I've noticed that with the Gap novels. That's primarily what I meant with "overly self-indulgent". The novels devote huge parts to the characters' own musings about their fate, how-I-got-here and general state of being. He often pulls it off interestingly, or at least decently, but sometimes it gets too much and hampers the flow of the story.

The novels are also pretty damn dark and brutal. I've seen them criticised for gratuitous violence, gore, rape and generally disturbing imagery, but personally I don't think it's quite that masturbatory. Although I freely admit that it's rather strong stuff more often than not (especially the Morn/Angus parts in the first book), it has a point, illustrating the harshness of the setting as well as showcasing and shaping characters. As with the angst thing, believability as to the motivations and mental moulding is another matter, but I'm willing to let it slide for the sake of a good story. The series is very bleak, morally grey (duh) and there's actually very few characters you'd really root for because you think of them as good people that have become victims of the world they inhabit. I'm a bit of a gleefully cruel bastard in that regard, so I can enjoy that kind of approach. It isn't too novel (anymore), but who cares.

About Donaldson being a great writer... well, maybe not great in whatever context, but as I said I do enjoy his prose and narrative structuring. Neither is really that exceptional, but still pretty good with "occasional flashes of brilliance", as fsm said.
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failsafeman
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PostPosted: Sun May 26, 2013 2:44 pm 
 

Honestly I think part of Donaldson's love problem with angst is that, in my opinion, it worked really really well with Thomas Covenant. First of all, he's a leper whose wife left him and took the kid - an understandable reaction on her part, given it's contagious an incurable, but still something that would assuredly make him angry and bitter. So, because of leprosy, he develops a very specific routine to ensure his physical safety that he can't deviate from or he'll start permanently losing fingers, toes, facial features, etc. Also, it's important to remember, his dick don't work. It's numb, so he can't even have a good wank. He lives that way for years.

Then he gets transported into a fantasy world where suddenly all that is cured instantly, he suddenly gets a huge boner, and he KNOWS leprosy is incurable, he's had to viciously exterminate any hope that it's curable because false hope can lead to lax discipline which can lead to losing fingers, toes, etc. So of course it must be some sort of awesome vivid dream. And hey look, here's a hot young 16 year old who's being nice to him and for the first time in years he's got a big boner, better take advantage of the situation, right? It's not like she's an actual live person. But then the sex seems unpleasantly like a real rape and the dream keeps going on, and on, and on, but if he admits that it's a real place he not only runs the risk of losing the leper's discipline he needs to survive and possibly giving in to some sort of insanity, he'd have to admit that he straight-up raped at 16-year-old girl. And as you see in later books, she had a huge mental breakdown because of it; the opposing forces of "getting raped is awful" and "he's the Messiah so it couldn't possibly be wrong, plus you bore his rape-child who has all these awesome magical powers," were just too much for her.

So, yeah, his angst makes a LOT of sense.

Unfortunately, with the success of that first Thomas Covenant trilogy, angsty protagonists became a bit of a trademark of Donaldson's, and I think he decided that now he basically had to do that every damn time. That chick in the second TC trilogy wasn't nearly as interesting, her angst wasn't nearly as built-up or believable, and basically came down to "my parents were dicks and ruined my self-esteem and for some reason that means I have to have a whole bunch of huge breakdowns now and cry a lot." It just wasn't sympathetic at all.
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caspian
Wanderer of the Wastes

Joined: Tue Dec 07, 2004 11:29 pm
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PostPosted: Mon May 27, 2013 11:08 pm 
 

Tried reading any of the third trilogy, FSM? It's basically one long breakdown on that girl's behalf. "She saw it was beautiful and wept bitter, eternal tears" is a pretty good summation of the first two books of it. Won't be bothered reading the rest!
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Scorntyrant
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Joined: Mon Nov 15, 2004 5:55 am
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PostPosted: Tue May 28, 2013 12:09 am 
 

I started reading "The shadow of the wind" by Carlos Ruiz Zafón the other day. What a great read, really enjoying it.
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failsafeman
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PostPosted: Tue May 28, 2013 2:15 am 
 

caspian wrote:
Tried reading any of the third trilogy, FSM? It's basically one long breakdown on that girl's behalf. "She saw it was beautiful and wept bitter, eternal tears" is a pretty good summation of the first two books of it. Won't be bothered reading the rest!

Not since you told me it was a big piece of shit the last time we talked about it, haha. Honestly I'm pretty happy just sticking to the first trilogy; the second one had some really cool ideas (i really enjoyed the whole color-changing sun which made every day horrible and different) but I don't think I'd ever re-read it. The first trilogy had some ups and downs but the ending to the third book is one of the most satisfying happy endings to a fantasy series I've ever read. It tied up every loose end I could think of and promised a new golden age that wouldn't repeat the mistakes of the past. I especially liked how SPOILERS: it was revealed that the reason they were having so much trouble understanding the ancient magic was because they had categorically rejected destructive magic, which their ancestors had used as much as constructive magic. Rather than using that knowledge to better understand the ancient magic, they instead recognized that for all the power their ancestors had possessed, they hadn't managed to defeat Lord Foul, so they decided to reject their magic and follow their own path using just the constructive magic.

Also, to contribute something other than more rambling about Donaldson, I've recently been devouring a lot of R A Lafferty. Caspian take note: he's one of the few overtly Christian authors I actually like! His style is unique and utterly insane; try to imagine Looney Tunes as high literature. The nonsense and goofiness is used as a vehicle to deal with genuinely complex and deep issues, so you'll get silliness like this:
Spoiler: show
The dread visitors burst the front door open and came up the stairs with a clatter. They burst the door of our room open and came in.

"All is lost," the sawdusty Loretta Sheen moaned. "It's Paracelsus."

"Destruction and damnation!" Mary Mondo howled. "It's Morgana."

"Fate worse than death." Austro cringed. "It's the Unnameable One."

Well, the three visitors did look a little bit gaudy. One of them, the one Austro called the Unnameable, poured a bowl of clotted kiboko blood over the head of the victim, Austro. It was like pouring a bowl of death over him. And Austro fainted dead away and fell over on the floor.

He turned blue. He quivered a little bit, and then he stopped quivering. He stopped breathing too. Doctor George Drakos gave him a poke in the solar plexus and he started to breathe again.

"Happy birthday, Austro!" the three fearsome visitors called. And Austro regained himself and sat up on the floor.

"I knew you all the time," he said. "I wasn't fooled." But he had been.


Followed by something pithy like this:
Spoiler: show
Things are set up as contraries that are not even in the same category. Listen to me: the opposite of radical is superficial, the opposite of liberal is stingy; the opposite of conservative is destructive. Thus I will describe myself as a radical conservative liberal; but certain of the tainted red fish will swear that there can be no such fish as that. Beware of those who use words to mean their opposites. At the same time have pity on them, for usually this trick is their only stock in trade.


There's really nobody like him.
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Abominatrix
Harbinger of Metal

Joined: Fri Oct 24, 2003 12:15 pm
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PostPosted: Tue May 28, 2013 4:58 am 
 

there sure is noone like Lafferty. Failsafe, I think it's cool that you've somewhat warmed to him as I seem to recall you saying his innate conservatism and catholic instincts stood in the way of you enjoying his work. But there really is a lot to appreciate therein. I like how when I began reading his stuff there seemed so much random strangeness, but as I seemed to become more familiar with the man many of his themes became apparent and I thought I sort of understood how his mind worked. Not really sure about that, but still, I have come to recognise what lies behind the whimsical wildness, I think, and despite the fact that I feel I might disagree with him on many points I admire him hugely and laugh out loud during many of his tales, as well as fall into deep cogitations. The short work is often terrific and The Devil is Dead novel was also a gripping read.

donaldson's Gap series is terrible and I wouldn't recommend it at all, though the first book is certainly intriguing but everything falls down fast after that. It's been a long time for me but I remember a lot of angst and endless hand-wringing and at least three really annoying central protagonists.
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Azmodes
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PostPosted: Tue May 28, 2013 5:08 am 
 

Haha, I was expecting someone to write something along the lines of "stop after the first book". I can get behind that, actually. The first installment works well on its own (it is kind of separate too, and I think it was in fact first written without any intention of sequels, but not sure) and is a cool exercise in Rashomon effect-style narration. I think the subsequent books pick up the story well enough, though, and as previously mentioned I'm willing to overlook other shortcomings mainly because I like the writing (mostly), the merciless, dark atmosphere and, well, the story.

Started with Use of Weapons yesterday and I'm already digging it a lot. :)
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failsafeman
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PostPosted: Tue May 28, 2013 2:01 pm 
 

Abominatrix wrote:
there sure is noone like Lafferty. Failsafe, I think it's cool that you've somewhat warmed to him as I seem to recall you saying his innate conservatism and catholic instincts stood in the way of you enjoying his work. But there really is a lot to appreciate therein.

Yeah, I think I posted that after reading something particularly preachy. He's kind of like Gene Wolfe in that most of what he's written is very enjoyable and pretty secular, but then one in a while some really preachy short story comes along and just pisses me right the hell off. In novels they mostly handle any messages there might be with great care, but due to the brief nature of short stories (and the relative ease of writing one meaning the authors can afford to be a bit bolder/more experimental) they occasionally really hit you over the head with their message, and as I am not a Christian, it's usually really irritating. The thing is it's pretty easy to generally agree with Christian morality - compassion, humility, non-violence, love thy neighbor, bla bla are all pretty basic virtues, so when they're just talking about moral issues it's usually fine. But when they get into specific theology and/or hint that a big problem with the world is irreligiousness, that's when I get mad.

As for Lafferty, it seems like he had a rather equivocal view, assuming this represents it:

"There are only two possible statements that can be made about the worlds," the Black Pope of the Carlist Hills had lectured one day. "Alpha: There is a God. Omega: there is not a God. To adhere to either of these two statements strongly is to be logical at least. Not to do so is to be in the snivelling wasteland between and to have no point of contact with logic or reason."
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Panflute
Metalhead

Joined: Sun Mar 15, 2009 11:11 am
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PostPosted: Tue May 28, 2013 6:32 pm 
 

During my stay in Barcelona, I picked up two books:

El Fascismo by Stanley G. Payne; a handbook on Fascism in Europe by one of the most brilliant historians specialised in the topic. I could not have written either of my theses without his work. The books by him that I already owned, though, all concerned the case of Spain in particular (the rise of Falangism and the Franco dictatorship), so I was still looking for this particular work for its more general approach. And to my great surprise, I found it in a giant book store on Barcelona's main shopping avenue.

Un antídot contra l'extrema dreta (An antidote against the extreme right) by Toni Cruanyes. I basically bought this because I needed something to read in Catalan as a form of practice and because it is mildly related to themes I have explored academically (see above). Literature of this kind can be cringeworthy due to its painstaking naivety, but so far, the book has positively surprised me by admitting that the problems that the extreme right tends to address really are problems, instead of pretending that we are living in a 'global village' where everyone loves each other and where life is peachy every day. I'm not even halfway in, so I have to see how this develops, but for a random purchase I am now very happy that I picked it up.
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Morrigan
Crone of War

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PostPosted: Wed May 29, 2013 2:16 am 
 

Started Red Country in the plane to MDF. So far so good, about 1/4th into it and Abercrombie hasn't lost it. The western/fantasy hybrid is a setting I hadn't read in before, so it's refreshing.
[First Law/Red Country spoilers]
Spoiler: show
I knew right away Lamb was Logen, but it didn't stop me from grinning from ear to ear when it was confirmed by drawing attention to his missing finger early on. :headbang: I don't think Abercrombie was really intending it as a surprise anyway, just a bit of a tease really. He couldn't have kept the "secret" for that long anyway. You have to be realistic about these things. :nods:

Shy is badass, and I'm strangely fond of Temple so far. He's like a snivelling whiny coward, yet he's also brave in his own way by deserting Cosca's company. Funny that.

Can't wait to see the inevitable Caul Shivers/Bloodynine confrontation. Shit will hit the fan if that ever happens... and it surely will. :(
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RedMisanthrope
Poet Laureate of the Old Ones

Joined: Sat May 19, 2007 1:53 pm
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PostPosted: Wed May 29, 2013 5:22 pm 
 

I really hate to be the bearer of bad news, but unfortunately we lost Jack Vance over the weekend :(

http://www.locusmag.com/News/2013/05/ja ... 1916-2013/
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failsafeman
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PostPosted: Wed May 29, 2013 9:11 pm 
 

Morrigan wrote:
Started Red Country in the plane to MDF. So far so good, about 1/4th into it and Abercrombie hasn't lost it. The western/fantasy hybrid is a setting I hadn't read in before, so it's refreshing.

Yeah, it sounds good in principle, unfortunately I think it's kind of inextricably associated with Stephen King's Dark Tower series. I'd love to see someone do a good job with it though. Abercrombie is one of the better "grimdark" fantasy authors, and as the wild west is definitely a setting that lends itself to grittiness, he could probably make something of it. I might pick up Red Country, unless something you read later on sends you running.

RedMisanthrope wrote:
I really hate to be the bearer of bad news, but unfortunately we lost Jack Vance over the weekend :(

http://www.locusmag.com/News/2013/05/ja ... 1916-2013/

Yeah, I heard. Sad, but then it was a long time coming; he was nearly blind, had retired from writing, and was 96 (!) years old. I'm sure he will always be one of my favorite sci-fi/fantasy authors. RIP
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Necroticism174
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PostPosted: Thu May 30, 2013 7:21 pm 
 

Just finished reading Siren Promised by Jeremy Robert Johnson and Alan Clarke. A short novel, it's nevertheless a brilliant character study and the prose is incredibly evocative, metaphor laden and dark. It follows a mother as she tries to escape her addictions and abusive man to be with her daughter. Along the way she finds insanity, bad acid trips, and redemption. Writers to watch.
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Empyreal
The Final Frontier

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PostPosted: Fri May 31, 2013 12:21 am 
 

Still forging through 2666. This is one of the more hypnotic and engrossing things I've read in a long time...it's just drenched in the seedy Mexican atmosphere and the story just sucks me in and keeps me reading.

Got to say though, I really don't like when books have non-stop huge paragraphs with no breaks. It's not a deal breaker but I prefer a little more spatial arrangement if I could have a choice.
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The SHM
Metal newbie

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PostPosted: Fri May 31, 2013 11:36 am 
 

In the very, very earliest stages myself of writing a series. Would anyone like to hear its premise or read a short prompt I wrote?
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Lord Nordhausen
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PostPosted: Fri May 31, 2013 12:35 pm 
 

The SHM wrote:
In the very, very earliest stages myself of writing a series. Would anyone like to hear its premise or read a short prompt I wrote?

Holy shit your writing a book?

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The SHM
Metal newbie

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 08, 2013 7:45 pm 
 

Lord Nordhausen wrote:
The SHM wrote:
In the very, very earliest stages myself of writing a series. Would anyone like to hear its premise or read a short prompt I wrote?

Holy shit your writing a book?


It's on several sites, but the best version is this one
http://www.fictionpress.com/s/3130510/1 ... nd-Excerpt
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Nahsil
Clerical Sturmgeschütz

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 08, 2013 8:33 pm 
 

Still working my way through Erich Fromm's psychosocial treatise "Escape from Freedom" and loving it. He's kind of brilliant.
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Morrigan
Crone of War

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 09, 2013 3:20 am 
 

So I finally finished Red Country. I think I cried just a little bit. Any fans of Abercrombie must pick this up, it's awesome, one of his best, no doubt.

[major Red Country spoilers]
Spoiler: show
Nooooo Cosca :( What a fitting end for the utterly wretched, yet strangely sympathetic mercenary captain. I thought he was immortal and would recur in every single Abercrombie adventure, but I guess not. At least Friendly still lives.

And that "confrontation" between Caul Shivers and Logen Lamb was... not what I expected. Not sure if it's just underwhelming or maybe a clever twist on it.

Glad to see Carlot dan Eider return as Al Swearengen the Mayor. That poor woman can't catch a break. :lol:

Is it just me or is there like... no magic in that story? Except the Bloody-Nine's powers, obviously.
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Markeri, in 2013 wrote:
you can debate the actual date that metal began, but a fairly agreed upon date is 1969. Metal is almost 25 years old
Extreme_violence wrote:
Why Iron maiden is there? It's very far to be metal than a lot of some metal band.

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Azmodes
Ultranaut

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 09, 2013 11:02 am 
 

Morrigan wrote:
Spoiler: show
Glad to see Carlot dan Eider return as Al Swearengen the Mayor.

:lol:
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Azmodes
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 09, 2013 1:29 pm 
 

Iain (M.) Banks died. :(
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failsafeman
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 09, 2013 9:55 pm 
 

Aw shit. I haven't actually read anything by him yet, but I've been meaning to for ages. Any recs?
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Azmodes
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 10, 2013 11:51 am 
 

I've read three of his novels so far, Consider Phlebas and The Player of Games from his Culture books, and only one his non-sci fi novels, The Wasp Factory. I'm currently in the middle of the fourth, Use of Weapons, another Culture novel (complex structuring with multiple narratives dealt with non-chronologically). So if you're looking for someone to get you into his regular fiction stuff, I'm the wrong guy for that.

Anyway, out of those I'd definitely recommend TPoG the most. It's been mentioned as a good start for the Culture series (which to my knowledge isn't really a series as such, since there's no continuous narrative and characters, only the shared setting, some major events and said post-singular, post-scarcity society; although maybe some later novels reference and re-use specific things, I don't know). It's an exceedingly fun, self-contained political action adventure that just gets right to the point and never bores or experiences pacing inconsistencies. At the same time it serves as a concise and vibrant introduction into life in the Culture, how it influences the setting and just how it operates in general. I pretty much devoured it during two train trips. Very satisfying and well-rounded read.

Consider Phlebas was the first I read, it's a good book, but I wouldn't rank it quite as high as TPoG. I consider it less coherent and more of a spastic, sometimes even zany space opera carnival, though it certainly is a lot of kaleidoscopic fun. Just... in a hurry and packed full with crazy shit that may put off some people from reading other Culture novels, I imagine. Banks can be a rather sick fuck sometimes, with a nearly constant proverbial smirk on his face. Not that I mind, though, I think he is a very clever and witty writer, usually capable of balancing and fusing the silly/light-hearted and the profound/serious just about perfectly.

As for The Wasp Factory, I already mentioned in this thread that I did like it while it lasted, but that it didn't leave much of an impression on me afterwards. I didn't think it was quite as "heavy" and disturbing as advertised, nor as... dunno, thought-provoking? All seemed rather mundane in the end. Possibly a book that benefits from a re-read, but alas I didn't have time for that. Or feel like it.
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TheMizwaOfMuzzyTah
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 10, 2013 1:24 pm 
 

I've read so little lately it is pathetic. Currently reading the Archetypes of the Zodiac by Kathleen Burt. About to start Twilight of the Idols by Fred Nietzsche. Constantly referring to Eden Grey's Tarot book. Also referring to Lectures in Yoga by Swami Rama a lot lately, too. Not to mention the bundles of literature I have to read for my massage classes.
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andersbang
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Joined: Fri Apr 03, 2009 9:28 am
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 11, 2013 1:59 pm 
 

Instead of reading for my exam tomorrow, I went through the 984 pages of Littel's The Kindly Ones in record time. I read it a few years back in Danish, now I read the English version (since that's the one I have). Still as awesomely mad as the first time around, a tour de force (sorry) in insanity, and very human too. For fans of 2666 and American Psycho alike. I think we have discussed it before too.

Now I'm looking forward to some books by John Brandon and Craig Davidson which are in the mail.
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failsafeman
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Joined: Wed Sep 01, 2004 8:45 am
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 11, 2013 2:42 pm 
 

Azmodes wrote:
Anyway, out of those I'd definitely recommend TPoG the most. It's been mentioned as a good start for the Culture series (which to my knowledge isn't really a series as such, since there's no continuous narrative and characters, only the shared setting, some major events and said post-singular, post-scarcity society; although maybe some later novels reference and re-use specific things, I don't know). It's an exceedingly fun, self-contained political action adventure that just gets right to the point and never bores or experiences pacing inconsistencies. At the same time it serves as a concise and vibrant introduction into life in the Culture, how it influences the setting and just how it operates in general. I pretty much devoured it during two train trips. Very satisfying and well-rounded read.

Cool, I was thinking of starting with the Culture series anyway. Thanks for the recs.
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Morrigan
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 12, 2013 2:17 am 
 

Azmodes wrote:
Morrigan wrote:
Spoiler: show
Glad to see Carlot dan Eider return as Al Swearengen the Mayor.

:lol:

Hah, I know Abercrombie actually said he was inspired by Deadwood. [Red Country, very minor spoilers]
Spoiler: show
My guess is either Papa Ring, or the Mayor, or both, were inspired by Al Swearengen. Crease is totally Deadwood, though. I even imagined Majud's house that Temple builds as looking like Seth Bullock's hardware store. :lol:
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lurkist
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 12, 2013 1:41 pm 
 

Picked up Sartre's The Age Of Reason on a whim, second-hand from a stall at a fair. Logic being, I'm trying to educate myself on the classics (modern classics, you can keep your Shakespeare, Bronte, Dickens, etc.). I'd not heard too much about him really, just a name thrown around as someone big in literature and philosophy. I half expected to be either bored or baffled. I was neither, it was a superb read that I couldn't put down, I can't recall ever reading someone with such a knack for internal dialogue. Thoughts, feelings, the slightest sight or sound triggering subtle or significant changes in mood, he nails it like no other. My copy was an English translation of course, and I daresay it suffers for that somewhat, but with no basis for comparison it was a fine read. I look forward to the remaining two books of the trilogy (Roads to Freedom) which are winging their way to me as we speak.
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The SHM
Metal newbie

Joined: Fri Feb 17, 2012 4:54 pm
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Location: United Kingdom
PostPosted: Thu Jun 13, 2013 5:42 pm 
 

I figured I might as well post this here since I haven't anything better to do
http://www.fictionpress.com/s/3130510/1 ... nd-Excerpt
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darkeningday
Metalhead

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 1:20 pm
Posts: 2011
Location: United States
PostPosted: Mon Jun 17, 2013 8:32 pm 
 

I just picked up the Demon Princes series and The Book of the New Sun anthology from my (surprisingly diverse) library. It's been a looooong time since I've read non-non-fic for fun, so this should be interesting. Starting with the Demon Princes series first, since it totally has the better name. So far, Vance's famous ear for dialog doesn't seem as well-tuned as I was lead to believe, but that could just be because I haven't acclimatized to the style yet (which seems to be of the mid-1900's monthly sci-fi lit mag variety). Not sure how I feel about all the "flavor" text; I'm a big proponent of writing from theme and I've yet to find a common thread that unites all of the fragments. But don't get me wrong: I'm certainly enjoying myself, at least as of about 2/3rd's through the first "prince."
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MazeofTorment
Metalhead

Joined: Mon Feb 07, 2005 11:06 pm
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 17, 2013 10:36 pm 
 

lurkist wrote:
Picked up Sartre's The Age Of Reason on a whim, second-hand from a stall at a fair. Logic being, I'm trying to educate myself on the classics (modern classics, you can keep your Shakespeare, Bronte, Dickens, etc.). I'd not heard too much about him really, just a name thrown around as someone big in literature and philosophy. I half expected to be either bored or baffled. I was neither, it was a superb read that I couldn't put down, I can't recall ever reading someone with such a knack for internal dialogue. Thoughts, feelings, the slightest sight or sound triggering subtle or significant changes in mood, he nails it like no other. My copy was an English translation of course, and I daresay it suffers for that somewhat, but with no basis for comparison it was a fine read. I look forward to the remaining two books of the trilogy (Roads to Freedom) which are winging their way to me as we speak.

Fine choice, my friend! And good observation as well; Sartre excels in portraying the complex, ever changing, apparatus that is human consciousness. Unfortunately, I've yet to read the trilogy a second time, but can tell you that its definitely worth finishing. A moving read from start to finish.

Anyway, I've been re-reading Thus Spoke Zarathustra by Nietzsche again and not surprisingly, am getting more out of it than ever. It's also been a fine compliment to my recent infatuation with Ihsahn's latest album Eremita, which is more or less based off it.

Also started The Master and Margarita by Bulgakov. About 110 pages in so far and I'm loving it. Feels every bit as Russian as anything else I've read but I'm really liking the supernatural, dark elements of it. It feels familiar, yet different. Can't wait to see how it progresses and what kind of greater meaning I might derive from it.
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Necroticism174
Kite String Popper

Joined: Mon Mar 30, 2009 6:46 pm
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 17, 2013 11:03 pm 
 

Got Thomas Ligotti's Teatro Grotesco in the mail a few days back and read the first few stories. This is my first experience with the man's work and I have to say that I'm in awe. His restrained, brilliantly vivid, subtle prose is immediately profoundly distinctive. The stories all deal in quietly disqueting worlds and unnameable, impossibly dark concepts. One of the most fascinating and distinct voices I've come upon in a long time.
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Abominatrix
Harbinger of Metal

Joined: Fri Oct 24, 2003 12:15 pm
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 20, 2013 9:57 am 
 

darkeningday wrote:
I just picked up the Demon Princes series and The Book of the New Sun anthology from my (surprisingly diverse) library. It's been a looooong time since I've read non-non-fic for fun, so this should be interesting. Starting with the Demon Princes series first, since it totally has the better name. So far, Vance's famous ear for dialog doesn't seem as well-tuned as I was lead to believe, but that could just be because I haven't acclimatized to the style yet (which seems to be of the mid-1900's monthly sci-fi lit mag variety). Not sure how I feel about all the "flavor" text; I'm a big proponent of writing from theme and I've yet to find a common thread that unites all of the fragments. But don't get me wrong: I'm certainly enjoying myself, at least as of about 2/3rd's through the first "prince."



Aha...well, I do hope you continue to enjoy the series! I think book 4, THe Face is my favourite of the lot, but you really must read them all in the correct sequence to receive the full effect. THe exerpts start to make sense as the world Vance creates is more fleshed out, too, and you get more of a context for them. Some of them simply add colour or tell amusing anecdotes, while others help to explain things about the universe at large you may have been wondering about.

Bulgakov's Master and Margarita is absolutely one of my favourite novels. The dark, supernatural elements are not unprecedented in Russian literature, either....read Gogol, whom I'm almost sure Bulgakov must have felt a great kinship toward...and not just because they're both Ukrainian expatriates....Anyway, Master is joyous, romantic, subversive in about half a dozen different ways...goddamn, I love it so.
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failsafeman
Digital Dictator

Joined: Wed Sep 01, 2004 8:45 am
Posts: 9637
Location: United States
PostPosted: Thu Jun 20, 2013 4:30 pm 
 

darkeningday wrote:
I just picked up the Demon Princes series and The Book of the New Sun anthology from my (surprisingly diverse) library. It's been a looooong time since I've read non-non-fic for fun, so this should be interesting. Starting with the Demon Princes series first, since it totally has the better name. So far, Vance's famous ear for dialog doesn't seem as well-tuned as I was lead to believe, but that could just be because I haven't acclimatized to the style yet (which seems to be of the mid-1900's monthly sci-fi lit mag variety). Not sure how I feel about all the "flavor" text; I'm a big proponent of writing from theme and I've yet to find a common thread that unites all of the fragments. But don't get me wrong: I'm certainly enjoying myself, at least as of about 2/3rd's through the first "prince."

You have to keep in mind that the series wasn't written all at once, and spanned across a huge portion of Vance's career. Frankly, the first Demon Princes book is a fun adventure and not a whole lot more, but it's necessary in order to set up the rest. The second one is also just a fun adventure, but starting with book 3, things really kick into overdrive. That's when the Princes stop just being scary villains and really become fascinating and even tragic characters; not that they're not evil anymore, but you see how and why they went bad, and what a tragedy it is that these extraordinary people ended up turning to crime and murder. The "flavor text" bits stop just being about random worldbuilding stuff and start to revolve around each Prince, snippets of rumors or excerpts of their published work, serving to illustrate the publicly known aspects of their character, which Gersen has undoubtedly uncovered during his extensive research. Just stick with it and you'll see what all the hype is about.
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Nahsil
Clerical Sturmgeschütz

Joined: Sun Jan 08, 2006 2:06 pm
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 21, 2013 1:18 am 
 

I'm glad I took a class on Nietzsche and we read Zarathustra in it, because I would have missed a LOT of its content without someone who'd actually studied Nietzsche as a guide.

Gene Wolfe is amazing, darkening.
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MARSDUDE
Metalhead

Joined: Fri Apr 29, 2005 8:17 pm
Posts: 1698
Location: Canardia
PostPosted: Fri Jun 21, 2013 1:51 pm 
 

Figured I might as well take a cue from The SHM and post what I've completed of my first novel/novella (who knows where the story goes-- I have a fairly good idea, as the ending is already written-- but still, a lot can happen). Finished part one (of three) last night, and in my word processor it claims to be 191 pages so far.

It's a weird-comedy called Cyber-Terrorizer.

And the descripto-blurb:
Kevin Edenberg, a self-described 'wannabe-writer' from the small Canadian town of Weird Place, finds his life suddenly turned upside down-- as an e-mail hacker turns into a full-fledged reality-stalker.
Comedy for crazy people.

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