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Under_Starmere
Abhorrent Fish-Man

Joined: Tue Apr 24, 2007 5:00 pm
Posts: 4079
Location: United States of America
PostPosted: Wed Jan 30, 2013 1:38 am 
 

'Zackly. Dhalgren is incredibly immersive, I couldn't put it down, really. It carries a heavy sense of what I would imagine the darker dreams of the '60s/'70s were like...where the temporary autonomous zone has lost its happy face, freedom and indolence have given rise to panic and desperation has emerged, utopia begins to spoil, the sleeper can't wake from the dream. I love the way Delany mixes an atmosphere of the prosaic with that of the surreal, it's fucking rad. As well as his more difficult, though usually relatively brief, asides into philosophical/intellectual discourse as played out by the characters. You find a lot of the same sorts of themes and feelings in the Nevèrÿon books (I've only read the first two so far), though the setting and aesthetic are much different. I love the way it always feels like he's challenging the reader in subtle ways...perceptually, intellectually, yet he always keeps the experience colorful. Triton and Nova are really good too.
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failsafeman
Digital Dictator

Joined: Wed Sep 01, 2004 8:45 am
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 30, 2013 1:46 am 
 

Oh sorry, I just kind of assumed you hadn't read it since it's one of those books that frequently pops up on lists but nobody seems to have actually read. Yeah, I agree totally, it reminds me in a way of Stranger in a Strange Land in that it has similar weird hippie communal living and sex and a Lot To Say About The Modern World, except it's actually well-written and not horribly, horribly dated. I really liked how the central mysteries of Bellona were basically never explained at all, as they were just being experienced by normal people and we weren't reading from the perspective of scientists studying the phenomena or anything. That's another Roadside Picnic similarity right there. It was funny how some things Kid took to be terrifying hallucinations ended up actually being real and mundane, like the whole 'red eye' business. Yet some others definitely weren't, like the weird giant sun thing later on...I agree with you that the book seemed to make its best points through its feel and atmosphere rather than anything explicit; the whole Bellona community seemed to be some kind of rotting corpse of a hippie commune as viewed through a bad trip, and that stuck with me far more than whatever explicit philosophical discourse he included. It's interesting too how the whole world is basically aware of the situation in Bellona, but except for a few nutballs (and a few people like that astronaut) everyone couldn't care less. Again that sort of mirrors the evolution of the world's attitude toward hippie communes and flower children and such, from serious counterculture to uninteresting, distasteful ephemera.
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John_Sunlight
President Satan

Joined: Tue Apr 20, 2010 4:41 am
Posts: 4636
PostPosted: Wed Jan 30, 2013 7:22 pm 
 

Reposting my last post because it's on the bottom of the last page where nobody reads when the next page has come up.

Any of you guys know any good war memoirs or good books about less cliche wars like the iraq/iran war or the ethiopia/eritrea war? African bushwars? Maoists in asia? Comedy skits in south america? etc etc etc. Been interested in reading about cool wars lately (IE: not the world wars or the civil war).
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Under_Starmere
Abhorrent Fish-Man

Joined: Tue Apr 24, 2007 5:00 pm
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 04, 2013 12:54 am 
 

Anyone here have experience with Bernard Cornwell? I've never read any of his work but I'd be keen to delve into his historical fiction if it's actually worth exploring. The Warlord Chronicles sounds pretty neat.

Just finished my first reading of The Litany of the Long Sun. Wonderful stuff...now moving onto the second half of The Book of the Long Sun. Just as with the Book of the New Sun, I can't tell where the hell this is ultimately going but I can't wait to find out. :D I wish I hadn't left such a big gap of time between reading the first two books in the series, though, as it fragmented my memory of the story's details, but eh, it's not the worst thing in the world. I'm going to want to read this again at some point anyway.

After finishing this series I'll probably (after temporarily forcing down the urge to re-read The Book of the New Sun) open Umberto Eco's Baudolino. I sense awesome book vibes coming from its direction.
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caspian
Wanderer of the Wastes

Joined: Tue Dec 07, 2004 11:29 pm
Posts: 6075
Location: Australia
PostPosted: Mon Feb 04, 2013 1:16 am 
 

hey john, eastern front in both world wars is pretty fascinating reading! If you're interested in that let me know, I can recommend you a few million books.

Spent siberia trying War and Peace again (boring as hell), and a surprisingly readable collection of tolstoy short stories. How much land does a man need, Prisoner of the Caucasus, Master and Man, etc etc. I didn't expect it to be as readable- as entertaining- as it was! Read the whole thing through quite a few times over. Will probs go for some more tolstoy shorts when I have enough money to afford a book, ha ha ha ha
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Scorntyrant
Metalhead

Joined: Mon Nov 15, 2004 5:55 am
Posts: 1050
PostPosted: Mon Feb 04, 2013 7:14 am 
 

Under_Starmere wrote:
Anyone here have experience with Bernard Cornwell? I've never read any of his work but I'd be keen to delve into his historical fiction if it's actually worth exploring. The Warlord Chronicles sounds pretty neat.


I've read a good 2 thirds of his many books - one of my favourite authors in fact. Well researched, vivid and entertaining stories. The Warlord books are great, as are the Saxon books (Uthred is a really well fleshed out character and not at all a "mary sue" cardboard cut-out). The Sharpe books are great too.

If you want to try one of his books that isnt part of a longer series, get hold of "Stonehenge - a novel of 2000 BC".
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TheMizwaOfMuzzyTah
Metalhead

Joined: Tue Feb 09, 2010 2:18 pm
Posts: 1129
PostPosted: Tue Feb 05, 2013 9:56 pm 
 

I just started The Number of the Beast by Robert Heinlein. Anyone have any parting words of wisdom/advice/warning, etc.? This book, so far as I can tell, has been called a confounding masterpiece of solipsistic absurdity. I approach it now with trepidation. Forty pages in and I can dig it so far.

But so many seem to hate this book, so fervently so. And others love it.

Please, someone, edify me.

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Empyreal
The Final Frontier

Joined: Thu Nov 30, 2006 6:58 pm
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Location: Where the dead rule the night
PostPosted: Tue Feb 05, 2013 11:12 pm 
 

So I'm digging Ken Follett's The Man From St. Petersburg. About halfway in and it is just really, really well done - a great, suspenseful story with a ton of page-turning suspense and hooks. The characters are great and I really love how he transitions seamlessly between the political story of the older men in the story and the almost romantic, rebellious coming of age of the young daughter. Just everywhere I turn in this, there's something really awesome, and it's getting better and better as it goes on. Loving it and will definitely check out more of Follett's stuff - ashamed I didn't do so way earlier!
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Grave_Wyrm
Metalhead

Joined: Sun Mar 04, 2012 5:55 pm
Posts: 2001
Location: In the Open Sea
PostPosted: Wed Feb 06, 2013 1:29 am 
 

I'm reading Margaret Mead's never-ever-going-out-of-print Coming of Age in Somoa. Anyone read it? It's an interesting read thus far. I'm about a third of the way in. Anyone know of any other good works from anthropologists in the field that are .. you know .. sober, interesting reading, and not necessarily anti-western biased? .. if that's possible.

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GTog
Metalhead

Joined: Sun Dec 03, 2006 8:35 pm
Posts: 408
Location: United States
PostPosted: Wed Feb 06, 2013 5:50 pm 
 

I always liked The Number of the Beast. Since you're only 40 pages in I won't wreck anything, but it's more fun if you're familiar with certain other works of popular fiction and pulp sci-fi, including other Heinlein novels.

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TheMizwaOfMuzzyTah
Metalhead

Joined: Tue Feb 09, 2010 2:18 pm
Posts: 1129
PostPosted: Sat Feb 09, 2013 8:13 am 
 

Yeah, I just gave up on it because of that. That, and the fact that Heinlein's characters are fucking cardboard. Seriously, every single character is the same: a super-witty, super-attractive, super-rich mega-genius. How in the hell am I supposed to give a shit about any of the characters? All they have done so far as flee some hostile alien forces, make stupid jokes at each other and run around naked in a beach house. It's actually pretty pitiful, especially considering how much I liked other books by him. The Cat Who Walks Through Walls, etc.

I cracked open a volume of Philip K. Dick's short stories, however. Science fiction done properly. That man's prose is absolutely unnerving! One of the few writers whose short fiction is on par with their novels - except for perhaps those last few that he did (A Maze of Death, Valis, etc.), which are transcendent.

Also picked up a cheap copy of Gray's Anatomy, and a book called 'An Anthropologist on Mars' by Oliver Sacks, which is basically seven different case studies on creative peoples with neurological disorders that actually help their creativity, etc. Sounds fascinating. Also picked up a biography of the Virgin Mary, a book on Occidental mythology by Joseph Campbell (part of the Masks of God series), and another book about the Virgin Mother called 'Alone of All Her Sex: The Myth and Cult of the Virgin Mary'.

About half-way through a collection of Jung's essays on dreams. More intriguing stuff. I've been (trying) to keep a dream journal since I started it, but the hardest part is working up the energy in the middle of the night to turn on a light and jot the dream down legibly.

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in_human_form
Metalhead

Joined: Sun Apr 12, 2009 2:08 pm
Posts: 639
Location: Canada
PostPosted: Sat Feb 09, 2013 4:19 pm 
 

Empyreal wrote:
So I'm digging Ken Follett's The Man From St. Petersburg. About halfway in and it is just really, really well done - a great, suspenseful story with a ton of page-turning suspense and hooks. The characters are great and I really love how he transitions seamlessly between the political story of the older men in the story and the almost romantic, rebellious coming of age of the young daughter. Just everywhere I turn in this, there's something really awesome, and it's getting better and better as it goes on. Loving it and will definitely check out more of Follett's stuff - ashamed I didn't do so way earlier!


I haven't read that one, but Follet's other books are excellent. If you want massive, sprawling, and downright fantastic historical reads, check out The Pillars of the Earth and World Without End. I've also read Triple and Eye of the Needle and highly recommend both. Once I'm finished Atonement and A Dance with Dragons I'm going to read Follet's Fall of Giants, which looks to be just as massive and great as Pillars and its sequel.

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Necroticism174
Kite String Popper

Joined: Mon Mar 30, 2009 6:46 pm
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Location: Canada
PostPosted: Sun Feb 10, 2013 2:41 am 
 

I've begun reading Arthur Nersesian's The Fuck-Up and so far it's pretty great. His style is very to the point and relatable, like an Irish Bukowski.
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Scorntyrant
Metalhead

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 10, 2013 5:13 am 
 

Just finished Ernst Junger's "Storm of steel". that was pretty interesting, been meaning to read that for years. Currently reading "The tribes of Britain", which is a socio-anthropological analysis of the origins of the British people. Also slowly slogging through "revolt against the modern world" by Julius Evola. That's pretty heavy going.
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RedMisanthrope
Poet Laureate of the Old Ones

Joined: Sat May 19, 2007 1:53 pm
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2013 7:43 pm 
 

Any fans of the "Night's Dawn" trilogy by Peter Hamilton here? I'm interested in picking it up, but with every book over a thousand pages long I don't want to commit to something like that if it's sub par. I'm not a huge reader of sci-fi or space opera either.
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Xlxlx
May contain traces of nuts

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Location: Argentina
PostPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2013 1:37 pm 
 

Just finished reading that famous short story, "I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream", and damn..... It's fucking depressing. And disturbing. But mostly depressing. Have you guys read it?
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Nahsil
Clerical Sturmgeschütz

Joined: Sun Jan 08, 2006 2:06 pm
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2013 1:55 pm 
 

I read it in a community college scifi lit class, heh. I really liked it, made a big impression.
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MARSDUDE
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Joined: Fri Apr 29, 2005 8:17 pm
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2013 7:44 pm 
 

I've only played the game that was based off the story. The game's a point n click adventure, and it owns. Highly recommended.

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norcalslayings
Metal newbie

Joined: Tue Oct 30, 2012 1:11 pm
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 15, 2013 2:31 pm 
 

Anyone here a Stephen King fan and read The Dark Half?
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AblackanatioN
Metal newbie

Joined: Fri Mar 09, 2007 9:36 am
Posts: 151
Location: United States
PostPosted: Fri Feb 15, 2013 5:32 pm 
 

norcalslayings wrote:
Anyone here a Stephen King fan and read The Dark Half?


I would consider myself a King fan, but haven't read that one yet. I remember seeing the movie years ago, and just like many of his other books didn't seem very well translated to the screen. My favorites are The Stand, It and probably The Shining. Probably pretty typical for most fans of his work...

I just finished Bram Stoker's Dracula this morning. I can see why it's a classic of the horror genre, really enjoyed it. I've got some catching up to do though, haven't read many of the horror classics. Plan on reading Frankenstein next, that is after I finish A Dance With Dragons. I've read the first 4 books in the series obviously, had to take a break after that last one. Game of Thrones Season 2 on Blu Ray should be in my possession next week so my interest has been renewed.

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Empyreal
The Final Frontier

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 15, 2013 11:47 pm 
 

His best book is probably 11/22/63, but then, I haven't read any of the Dark Tower stuff or his collaborations with Peter Straub yet. The Dark Half was alright I guess, fun enough, but not one of his better ones.
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CorpseFister
Metalhead

Joined: Mon Apr 21, 2008 2:07 pm
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Location: Canada
PostPosted: Fri Feb 15, 2013 11:55 pm 
 

Xlxlx wrote:
Just finished reading that famous short story, "I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream", and damn..... It's fucking depressing. And disturbing. But mostly depressing. Have you guys read it?

When I was twelve I was visiting an uncle and had some free time so I looked through his book shelf. I found a collection that lead with that story and the cover looked really cool so I read it. And yeah... it definitely disturbed me. I'm pretty sure after that last line I just sat on the floor and stared at the wall for a while.

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Xlxlx
May contain traces of nuts

Joined: Sat Dec 24, 2011 2:16 pm
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Location: Argentina
PostPosted: Sat Feb 16, 2013 12:04 am 
 

CorpseFister wrote:
Xlxlx wrote:
Just finished reading that famous short story, "I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream", and damn..... It's fucking depressing. And disturbing. But mostly depressing. Have you guys read it?

When I was twelve I was visiting an uncle and had some free time so I looked through his book shelf. I found a collection that lead with that story and the cover looked really cool so I read it. And yeah... it definitely disturbed me. I'm pretty sure after that last line I just sat on the floor and stared at the wall for a while.

Well, to be fair, I Have No Mouth isn't exactly reading material for 12 year olds :-P

But yes, it's a pretty unnerving story, if only because of how horribly dystopian it is. There's no goodness, nor sanity, nor a happy ending. Only horror; an eternal, silent cry for death.
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Necroticism174
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Joined: Mon Mar 30, 2009 6:46 pm
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 16, 2013 6:12 am 
 

Empyreal wrote:
His best book is probably 11/22/63, but then, I haven't read any of the Dark Tower stuff or his collaborations with Peter Straub yet. The Dark Half was alright I guess, fun enough, but not one of his better ones.

No, his best book is IT. The characters are ridiculously developed, relatable, and the story is insanely great. I've read it about 7 times.
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Xlxlx
May contain traces of nuts

Joined: Sat Dec 24, 2011 2:16 pm
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Location: Argentina
PostPosted: Sat Feb 16, 2013 12:38 pm 
 

Necro speaks the truth. IT is seriously fucking awesome. Anyone who's into horror should give it a try, to say the least.
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AblackanatioN
Metal newbie

Joined: Fri Mar 09, 2007 9:36 am
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Location: United States
PostPosted: Sat Feb 16, 2013 5:18 pm 
 

I actually forgot about the Dark Tower series, still haven't read those but have been meaning to. I'm gonna have to borrow 11/22/63 from my mom one of these days, I bought it for her last birthday and she liked it, but her all time favorite is The Stand.

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katatonia47
Metal newbie

Joined: Tue Jun 21, 2011 6:54 am
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Location: Australia
PostPosted: Sun Feb 17, 2013 6:56 am 
 

I'm reading Nineteen Eighty Four right now, about 2 thirds of the way through and I'm enjoying it. I should be reading The French Lieutenant's Woman for my Lit class, but I can't stand romance books. I just kind of pretend to have read it and go with the flow.
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MARSDUDE
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 18, 2013 5:34 pm 
 

Tapping into some 'Salem's Lot.

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mcmufffins
Metal newbie

Joined: Fri Jan 01, 2010 1:30 am
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 19, 2013 12:40 am 
 

I finished reading The Kite Runner today. I thought I would hate it, and I did for maybe the first ~100 pages (mostly because I hate being forced to read), but after that, damn it was awesome. I found a new role model in the protagonist's father, Baba, even though politically we're completely different. Dude was a a total bad ass, even if he kind of sucked as a parent.

I'm nearly finished the first Lord of the Rings. I don't know if I'll finish the trilogy. I love the story, but Tolkein's writing can get really dry sometimes, even the action scenes are really slow and unexciting. I have 45 pages left and I have force myself to keep reading.
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caspian
Wanderer of the Wastes

Joined: Tue Dec 07, 2004 11:29 pm
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Location: Australia
PostPosted: Tue Feb 19, 2013 2:21 am 
 

RedMisanthrope wrote:
Any fans of the "Night's Dawn" trilogy by Peter Hamilton here? I'm interested in picking it up, but with every book over a thousand pages long I don't want to commit to something like that if it's sub par. I'm not a huge reader of sci-fi or space opera either.


wouldn't recommend it, but then again I've read a fair bit of Hamilton and disliked pretty much all of it. If you like poorly written, overlong space opera, go for it, otherwise I wouldn't really bother...
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MacMoney
Man of the Cloth

Joined: Sun Nov 03, 2002 10:17 pm
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 19, 2013 5:10 am 
 

caspian wrote:
wouldn't recommend it, but then again I've read a fair bit of Hamilton and disliked pretty much all of it. If you like poorly written, overlong space opera, go for it, otherwise I wouldn't really bother...


A question: Why have you read a fair bit of it if you've disliked pretty much all of it?

Just finished a collection of short stories, Nebraska, by Ron Hansen. Anyone familiar with the man and this work or others he has written? Because, well, I'm not terribly familiar with literary fiction or Hansen's other work, but this kind of quirky writing that disjointedly combines different things without drawing any kind of lines between them is kinda... Well, just seems a bit amateurish. Some of them were cleverly written pieces that I found interesting: A diary of a retired golf pro, a collection of people's stories during a severe blizzard in Nebraska and others. But some just went on and on and didn't have much to them. Except perhaps the dreariness of people's lives, I suppose, but then you'd suddenly have a creature of the Black Lagoon being a culprit so it all kind of felt... dumb.

I've read some Finnish authors' stuff like that, but in those cases it's usually been the faux artistic type of people, young and aspiring writers. More modern than I would imagine someone like Hansen to be and definitely younger. Though I suppose things like that could be landing in these backwoods much later than in the States.

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norcalslayings
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 19, 2013 2:55 pm 
 

Empyreal wrote:
His best book is probably 11/22/63, but then, I haven't read any of the Dark Tower stuff or his collaborations with Peter Straub yet. The Dark Half was alright I guess, fun enough, but not one of his better ones.


When I read 11/22/63 last year I was pretty fucking impressed.
I finished The Dark Half yesterday and all in all it was decent.
I would definitely read both The Talisman and Black House(both with Peter Straub) and also The Stand if I were you.
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norcalslayings
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2013 1:45 pm 
 

Necroticism174 wrote:
Empyreal wrote:
His best book is probably 11/22/63, but then, I haven't read any of the Dark Tower stuff or his collaborations with Peter Straub yet. The Dark Half was alright I guess, fun enough, but not one of his better ones.

No, his best book is IT. The characters are ridiculously developed, relatable, and the story is insanely great. I've read it about 7 times.


I would put Pet Sematary & 11/22/63 right up there with IT
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Empyreal
The Final Frontier

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2013 1:48 pm 
 

He has a lot of old classics like IT, The Stand, Pet Sematary, The Shining, Salem's Lot and Christine, but man, 11/22/63 just goes so far beyond his horror stories. It's the romance element and the science fiction that really does it. Unique blend and an incredibly emotional journey.
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Azmodes
Ultranaut

Joined: Fri Nov 02, 2007 10:44 am
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2013 8:10 am 
 

RedMisanthrope wrote:
Any fans of the "Night's Dawn" trilogy by Peter Hamilton here? I'm interested in picking it up, but with every book over a thousand pages long I don't want to commit to something like that if it's sub par. I'm not a huge reader of sci-fi or space opera either.

I certainly won't recommend him for his prose, it's serviceable to okay at best (not bad, though, just does the job), but the man has imagination and knows how to create a story. I've read the Night's Dawn series, as well as the Commonwealth and some of the Void books (the latter being the weakest out of the three, by a rather large margin). He only writes doorstoppers, yes, but despite the shortcomings (mainly the sometimes bloated structuring) I found myself finishing the books rather quickly because there's always stuff going on and the narrative threads come together nicely. Far from being my favourite sci-fi writer, but he creates entertaining stuff and comes up with some really cool ideas that he incorporates fluidly and rather believably into the story. If you don't like space opera (or sci-fi in general), I'm not sure why you're interested in checking his stuff out, though. It's pretty much the genre (as I know it) blown up to eleven.

Here's an old post of mine for more thoughts on the matter: viewtopic.php?p=1991730#p1991730
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RedMisanthrope
Poet Laureate of the Old Ones

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2013 6:48 pm 
 

Thanks for the info Az. My wording may have been a bit off, but it's not that I don't like sci-fi, it's just that I haven't read much of anything when it comes to the genre in general. I just happened to hear of the story in passing and thought it sounded interesting; plus it's been a while since I've tackled a thousand pager, so might as well make up for lost time.
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Azmodes
Ultranaut

Joined: Fri Nov 02, 2007 10:44 am
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2013 7:00 am 
 

Well, you can do much worse than Hamilton when it comes to getting into the genre, good allround entry. Night's Dawn is certainly based on a cool (if a tad bit trashy) concept that makes for good storytelling meat and Hamilton went all the way with it. Some other authors/novels you might want to check out are Alastair Reynolds (his Revelation Space books, Pushing Ice (!!), House of Suns, Blue Remembered Earth, ...), Dan Simmons (the first two Hyperion novels, Ilium/Olympus for some bizarre fun), Ian M. Banks (Consider Phlebas, The Player of Games) and Robert Charles Wilson (Spin). Maybe also some Stephen Baxter, haven't read the Xeelee series for which he seems to be best known for, but the Manifold books are intriguing.

I'm mostly into hard(ish), imaginative, mindblowing, preferably dark science fiction, and Reynolds in particular is a fantastic writer in that regard.

I've got some serious gaps when it comes to the "classics" (I've yet to read any [novel-length material of] Asimov, Dick, Herbert or Heinlein), but what I can recommend in that department is:
Greg Bear - Blood Music / Eon
Joe Haldeman - The Forever War
Walter M. Miller Jr. - A Canticle for Leibowitz
Robert L. Forward - Dragon's Egg
David Zindell - Neverness (not sure about the classic status here, but it's a stellar masterpiece in any case)

I know you didn't ask for recs directly, but I thought I might just throw these out there. :)
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RedMisanthrope
Poet Laureate of the Old Ones

Joined: Sat May 19, 2007 1:53 pm
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Location: United States of America
PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2013 7:48 pm 
 

Thanks for all the recommendations. I've read the first Hyperion novel, and enjoyed it, but never got around to the second one because of one reason or another. I've read Banks' controversial novel "The Wasp Factory" (not science fiction, pretty sure he sticks the M. between his names when he publishes sci-fi). But yeah, I'll definitely scope some of those out for summer reading.
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Bezerko, on Vader's 'Freezing Moon' cover wrote:
FREEZING MOON DOES NOT HAVE CHUGS VADER. DO NOT CHUG IN FREEZING MOON.
rexxz wrote:
Death metal is eternal.

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failsafeman
Digital Dictator

Joined: Wed Sep 01, 2004 8:45 am
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2013 9:12 pm 
 

The second Hyperion novel isn't nearly as good as the first. I didn't care for it much.
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Azmodes
Ultranaut

Joined: Fri Nov 02, 2007 10:44 am
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Location: Gradec, Austria
PostPosted: Sat Feb 23, 2013 11:04 am 
 

Yeah, fsm is correct. If you've read the first one there's much better stuff out there to read instead of finishing the series. The next two books aren't that good either. Hyperion works perfectly well on its own too.

Yeah, Banks drops the M. for his non-sci-fi work (or rather adds it for sci-fi). I've read The Wasp Factory, it was very decent. I didn't find it as shocking or "heavy" as it seems to be advertised sometimes, but a dark and nasty little book regardless.
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