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Razakel
Nekroprince

Joined: Wed Dec 06, 2006 8:36 pm
Posts: 5444
Location: Canada
PostPosted: Thu Jan 18, 2018 1:53 pm 
 

Yeah, not hard to see why House of Leaves would be divisive but I'd be willing to give it a crack.

I've jumped on the Jeremy Robert Johnson bandwagon with Entropy in Bloom. Seems cool so far. I'm five stories in and my jaw hasn't dropped but they're definitely entertaining and I'll probably have it finished by the end of the weekend.

Has anyone else read The Southern Reach trilogy by Jeff Vandermeer? I haven't been able to stop thinking about it since I finished it at the end of December. I think it's something people around here would be totally into, very original Weird/sci-fi. The first book in the trilogy, Annihilation, could easily be read as a stand-alone novel and it's like less than 200 pages long, so I'd highly recommend checking it out to anyone vaguely interested.

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Azmodes
Ultranaut

Joined: Fri Nov 02, 2007 10:44 am
Posts: 9669
Location: Gradec, Austria
PostPosted: Thu Jan 18, 2018 2:36 pm 
 

Done with Dune. Despite my initial criticisms earlier in this thread, for some reason things improved after Paul got his Fremen on. I guess I got sort of used to Herbert's style, not that it'd win any prizes regardless. Creatively it's of course a gargantuan achievement. It's interesting as well to look at Lynch's film again after finally having read the book. Say what you want about the adaptation, but they did get the feel right.

Currently reading: Two Serpents Rise by Max Gladstone, second of his Craft Sequence books (though only publication-wise, not chronologically speaking). As with the first one, really cool magitek setting, smart, tight writing, nice character work. Gladstone is being clever about the fantasy + technology/science thing, it's not some kind of blatant Flintstones-tech like dragons heating houses or whatever. A lot of intriguing concepts. I mean, this is basically what if modern-day humans were handling and exploiting magic and actual deities.

Razakel wrote:
I've jumped on the Jeremy Robert Johnson bandwagon with Entropy in Bloom. Seems cool so far. I'm five stories in and my jaw hasn't dropped but they're definitely entertaining and I'll probably have it finished by the end of the weekend.

hah, I literally just ordered my copy before seeing your post. Skullcrack City was an insane, amazing ride, so I'm really looking forward to reading more from him.

Razakel wrote:
Has anyone else read The Southern Reach trilogy by Jeff Vandermeer? I haven't been able to stop thinking about it since I finished it at the end of December. I think it's something people around here would be totally into, very original Weird/sci-fi. The first book in the trilogy, Annihilation, could easily be read as a stand-alone novel and it's like less than 200 pages long, so I'd highly recommend checking it out to anyone vaguely interested.

I read the first one. It was fine, definitely interestingly bizarre, but it felt somewhat unsatisfying and finishing the entire trilogy wasn't a priority for me. That being said, there's a movie adaptation with Natalie Portman coming up and the trailer looked pretty great.
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Razakel
Nekroprince

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 18, 2018 3:03 pm 
 

Well, if you didn't love Annihilation I wouldn't force the remaining two books on you, but it does go in some pretty crazy, unexpected directions. And yeah, totally looking forward to the Alex Garland movie next month.

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TheStormIRide
Jesuscop

Joined: Fri Jan 20, 2006 6:45 pm
Posts: 1951
Location: Brazildonesia
PostPosted: Thu Jan 18, 2018 5:35 pm 
 

Azmodes wrote:
Done with Dune. Despite my initial criticisms earlier in this thread, for some reason things improved after Paul got his Fremen on. I guess I got sort of used to Herbert's style, not that it'd win any prizes regardless. Creatively it's of course a gargantuan achievement. It's interesting as well to look at Lynch's film again after finally having read the book. Say what you want about the adaptation, but they did get the feel right.


I felt exactly the same about it completely dragging until he met up with the Fremen. After that, I feel like I was able to read at a much faster pace and found myself enjoying it a lot more. I'm really unsure about starting any of the other books in the series, even though I have them sitting on shelf.

I'm currently working my way through Seveneves by Neal Stephenson. Like most of his books, it's a bit slow going starting out, but I have high hopes. I just finished The Diamond Age, which was utterly fantastic, aside from the abrupt ending. I guess his writing is a bit "love it or hate it" but I really find his world building quite remarkable.
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CHAIRTHROWER
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Joined: Sun Dec 20, 2015 7:10 pm
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 18, 2018 5:55 pm 
 

Allow me to recommend Adam Nevill's Under A Watchful Eye, as my latest horror plat_du_jour.

What's great about Nevill is how he thoroughly documents his chthonian subject matter to the fullest before wholesomely crafting his literary dirges.

This last is about astral projection pitfalls and sordid, underworld entities...
Reviews/zines often characterize him as "Britain's answer to Stephen King, but really, King's got nothing on him. While the latter, in my mind, falls in the "literary fast food" camp, Nevill is a modern day master in the same vein as Matheson, Lovecraft, Jacobs and Macken.

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Azmodes
Ultranaut

Joined: Fri Nov 02, 2007 10:44 am
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 19, 2018 9:00 am 
 

TheStormIRide wrote:
Azmodes wrote:
Done with Dune. Despite my initial criticisms earlier in this thread, for some reason things improved after Paul got his Fremen on. I guess I got sort of used to Herbert's style, not that it'd win any prizes regardless. Creatively it's of course a gargantuan achievement. It's interesting as well to look at Lynch's film again after finally having read the book. Say what you want about the adaptation, but they did get the feel right.


I felt exactly the same about it completely dragging until he met up with the Fremen. After that, I feel like I was able to read at a much faster pace and found myself enjoying it a lot more. I'm really unsure about starting any of the other books in the series, even though I have them sitting on shelf.

I have heard mixed things about the other books, even from those who loved the first one. So yeah... but on the other hand I'm really interested in more from the setting. Ugh. I'll stay away from his son's novels, though, as everyone seems to hate them.

TheStormIRide wrote:
I'm currently working my way through Seveneves by Neal Stephenson. Like most of his books, it's a bit slow going starting out, but I have high hopes. I just finished The Diamond Age, which was utterly fantastic, aside from the abrupt ending. I guess his writing is a bit "love it or hate it" but I really find his world building quite remarkable.

Seveneves was quite good! His writing can be uneven and confusing, but damn if he doesn't know how to awe and entertain. Have you read Anathem? I liked that one even more. Incredibly smart and imaginative guy.
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TheStormIRide
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 19, 2018 1:49 pm 
 

Azmodes wrote:
Seveneves was quite good! His writing can be uneven and confusing, but damn if he doesn't know how to awe and entertain. Have you read Anathem? I liked that one even more. Incredibly smart and imaginative guy.


Anathem was fantastic. One of my favorite books, actually. I also loved Cryptonomicon and Snow Crash. I slogged my way through The Baroque Cycle which took forever and drug on for the first two volumes, but that last book was amazing, when everything finally comes together. I also really liked Zodiac; really short and fast paced throughout. I have REAMDE and The Mongoliad series to tackle next. He's one of those authors that I find extremely hard to get into a new book, but once all the elements come together the pace picks up fast and I can't put it down until it's over.

Have you ever read any of the Fred Saberhagen Swords books? If not, I'd recommend starting with it's offshoot, prequel Empire of the East, which remains my favorite book (and one of only a small handful I've ever re-read after completing).
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failsafeman
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 19, 2018 7:05 pm 
 

TheStormIRide wrote:
Have you ever read any of the Fred Saberhagen Swords books? If not, I'd recommend starting with it's offshoot, prequel Empire of the East, which remains my favorite book (and one of only a small handful I've ever re-read after completing).

That's good to know, I've had it sitting on my shelf for a few years now but haven't gotten around to reading it.

Recently I've been reading R A Lafferty's Apocalypses, which contains two thematically linked novellas. Both are about the apocalypse, or more generally catastrophe; in "Where Have You Been, Sandaliotis?", a new peninsula appears between Spain and Italy, bigger than either, and its inhabitants claim to have been there all along. Constantine Quiche, the greatest detective in the world, is sent there by Interpol on reports that a 300 mile long bomb is hovering somewhere over this mysterious new peninsula and is poised to blow the entire planet to smithereens. It's ridiculous nonsense of the best caliber, and in fact has some of Lafferty's most memorable and phantasmagorical scenes - at one point Quiche is captured and imprisoned in a 13-sided room (corresponding to the 13-sided clock of Sandaliotis's capital). On each of the 13 sides, a prisoner has been bound, with rats on the floor below constantly tormenting their feet (although Quiche suspects some of the rats may be robots). Each of the 12 other prisoners declaims some philosophy, though they seem to be reading off of teleprompters and all of them seem to be shooting a scene in a movie. However, some of the prisoners refuse to cooperate and go off-script, possibly resulting in their actual execution. Which may or may not be intentional, or perhaps intentionally accidental, as the reckless risk of real death heightens the fictional tension of the movie scene being shot. There's lots of this stuff, but it's not for no reason - Lafferty was incredibly well-read and self-educated, and deep themes abound.

"Consistently mind-blowing nonsense" is how I would characterize Lafferty in general, and perhaps nowhere more so than here.
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Necroticism174
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Joined: Mon Mar 30, 2009 6:46 pm
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 20, 2018 1:05 am 
 

Keep at it with Jeremy Robert Johnson, Razakel. His writing is so varied and insane that if one story doesn't do it for you, another certainly will. The novella at the end of that collection, The Sleep of Judges, is particularly choice. I'm really glad he's been getting more recognition since Skullcrack City blew minds everywhere.

Also, I seem to read a lot of the same books as you do. I was never able to really get into House of Leaves. Tried to pick it up a handful of times but always ended up just finding it pretentious as fuck.

Love Tenth of December, read that one a few months back. I don't think every story in it is a winner, though. I think it opens really strong with Victory Lap, but then Puppy and Sticks were both kind of bad. Thankfully it picks right up after that. Escape From Spiderhead is justification alone for that collection's existence. I like how despite being an "intellectual" writer, there's quite a bit of bleak humour alleviating the darkness. Exhortation is a hoot.

As for the Southern Reach trilogy, Annihilation was definitely my favourite, and I can see why Alex Garland would feel it was perfectly alright just adapting that one and leaving the rest. You do get some oblique answers, but it's mostly a series about the impossible frustrations of never getting answers. It definitely gets less plot driven as it goes along. The one thing that bothered me about it was just HOW MUCH descriptions of landscapes there are in those books. Look, I get that it's inherently linked to the ideas the novels are exploring but holy shit. If they had been cut by half, the books would have been more enjoyable.
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Azmodes
Ultranaut

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 20, 2018 4:41 am 
 

TheStormIRide wrote:
Anathem was fantastic. One of my favorite books, actually. I also loved Cryptonomicon and Snow Crash. I slogged my way through The Baroque Cycle which took forever and drug on for the first two volumes, but that last book was amazing, when everything finally comes together. I also really liked Zodiac; really short and fast paced throughout. I have REAMDE and The Mongoliad series to tackle next. He's one of those authors that I find extremely hard to get into a new book, but once all the elements come together the pace picks up fast and I can't put it down until it's over.

Anathem and Seveneves are the only two by him I've read, but Snow Crash has been on my vague to-read list for a while now.

TheStormIRide wrote:
Have you ever read any of the Fred Saberhagen Swords books? If not, I'd recommend starting with it's offshoot, prequel Empire of the East, which remains my favorite book (and one of only a small handful I've ever re-read after completing).

I have not. Will definitely check it out, thanks.

Lafferty also sounds intriguing.
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Razakel
Nekroprince

Joined: Wed Dec 06, 2006 8:36 pm
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 22, 2018 4:04 pm 
 

Necroticism174 wrote:
Keep at it with Jeremy Robert Johnson, Razakel. His writing is so varied and insane that if one story doesn't do it for you, another certainly will. The novella at the end of that collection, The Sleep of Judges, is particularly choice. I'm really glad he's been getting more recognition since Skullcrack City blew minds everywhere.


Ended up being a little bit mixed for me, but I'm glad I read it and definitely enjoyed a bunch of it. I liked stories like "Snowfall," "The Oarsman," and "When Susurrus Stirs," but others I just found okay and then there were a few like "The Gravity of Benham Falls," "Dissociative Skills," and "A Flood of Harriers" which I didn't like. The ending novella was pretty awesome as well. I'll still definitely check out Skullcrack City sooner rather than later since I've heard a bunch of good things.

Necroticism174 wrote:
As for the Southern Reach trilogy, Annihilation was definitely my favourite, and I can see why Alex Garland would feel it was perfectly alright just adapting that one and leaving the rest. You do get some oblique answers, but it's mostly a series about the impossible frustrations of never getting answers. It definitely gets less plot driven as it goes along. The one thing that bothered me about it was just HOW MUCH descriptions of landscapes there are in those books. Look, I get that it's inherently linked to the ideas the novels are exploring but holy shit. If they had been cut by half, the books would have been more enjoyable.


That's a fair criticism but it didn't bother me that much for whatever reason, I guess I just really liked his prose. I do remember thinking that I'd read basically the same landscape descriptions over and over again when I was deep into the series. Sorta makes me wonder if the second two books were edited properly, especially since the whole trilogy came out in the same year.

I also blasted through a collection of Roald Dahl short stories, most of which were good. His adult-oriented stuff is definitely worth checking out. A lot of it is suspenseful and some even borderline horror, like my favourite of his stories, "Pig," which is full-on nightmarish.

Flipping through one of my horror anthologies I finally read my first Robert Aickman tale, one called "Ringing in the Changes." I've been meaning to get around to Aickman for a while and I'm wondering if I should get one of his collections. failsafeman, weren't you singing his praises a while ago? Is there a particular collection I should start with or are they all pretty much the same?

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failsafeman
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 22, 2018 6:37 pm 
 

Razakel wrote:
Flipping through one of my horror anthologies I finally read my first Robert Aickman tale, one called "Ringing in the Changes." I've been meaning to get around to Aickman for a while and I'm wondering if I should get one of his collections. failsafeman, weren't you singing his praises a while ago? Is there a particular collection I should start with or are they all pretty much the same?

They're all excellent, just pick whatever collection you can find most easily. FYI, "Ringing in the Changes" is decent but nowhere close to his best, yet oddly enough it's the one that seems to show up randomly most often. At this point, I think Aickman will always be my absolute favorite horror author of all time. I've read enough that the likelihood of there being some undiscovered titan out there is pretty small, and while there are plenty of good new horror and weird fiction authors, none of them have the same mixture of class and nightmarish imagination that Aickman has. His stories read as if Rudyard Kipling for some reason decided to write surreal phantasmagorical stories in the exact same style he uses for his adult fiction, all without knowing that any such thing as "horror" existed. It just doesn't feel like he's TRYING to be scary, he writes in a typically British "drama of manners" style about middle class people who have middle class sensibilities and then oh wait the old dollhouse has a hidden inner room and sometimes dolls disappear from the dollhouse only to reappear later and they must be going into the room itself WHAT IS GOING ON
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Razakel
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Joined: Wed Dec 06, 2006 8:36 pm
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 22, 2018 7:23 pm 
 

That's great and exciting to hear. I liked that story but it's good to know he has better ones since it didn't really leave my mind reeling, just a pretty standard well-written ghost story. I'll probably go with one of his collections as my next read.

Even though short horror fiction is my current obsession I'm still relatively new to it, so I'm always looking for classic and contemporary authors I haven't yet read.

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Amber Gray
Metalhead

Joined: Sat Jan 21, 2012 12:30 am
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 23, 2018 7:43 pm 
 

still have 500 more pages in Jerusalem but it's already like the best book I've read, hands down. The prose is so nice it's almost offensive
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Razakel
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 23, 2018 10:02 pm 
 

Amber Gray wrote:
still have 500 more pages in Jerusalem but it's already like the best book I've read, hands down. The prose is so nice it's almost offensive


Nice, I read that right when it came out. I might as well share my little personal anecdote related to that book.

So it obviously took me ages to get through, and when I was on book 3 I happened to be visiting my brother in London for his birthday. I was only there for like four days but while I was there I noticed on my Facebook that Alan Moore was giving a lecture at Northhampton University the day before I flew out of London as part of an event about Brexit. I couldn't believe it. I didn't even know how far away Northhampton was from London but when I realized it was only about an hour train ride I said, 'fuck it, I need to try to hit this up'. And so the morning before I flew out, I said my goodbyes to my brother (who was conveniently leaving that day anyway, so it wasn't like I was ditching him) and trained up to Northhampton by myself. I arrived at like 2PM at that horrible bus station which is described in Jerusalem and didn''t have a clue where to go. After asking directions from some locals, I figured out where to get a bus to the university and got there just before 3PM, knowing the event ended at 5PM. I walked into the lecture room and it was pitch dark as someone was giving a powerpoint presentation, so I shuffled in and took a seat in the middle of the room. When the lights came on, I saw that Alan Moore was sitting directly in front of me beside his wife/collaborator Melinda Gebbie, sipping a cup of tea. I was also surprised that there were only about 15 people in attendance, since I thought it was going to be a much bigger thing. As luck would have it, he was the very next speaker, so my timing couldn't have been more weirdly perfect. He rambled for about 40 minutes about the current state of the world, somehow going on tangents about prehistoric shamanism and 20th century occultism (naturally) and then after his talk I managed to go up and have a few personal words with him.

I know Moore has the reputation of being a reclusive curmugeon, so I'm so happy to be able to say that he was the nicest, kindest, most genuine person to me. We chatted for a bit off to the side while he was refilling his tea. I didn't want to come across as a raving, stalking fanboy, so I simply went up and said I enjoyed his talk and was also currently reading his new book, Jerusalem. He thanked me warmly, noticed the copy of the book I was holding in my hand, took it from me, whisked a pen out of his chest pocket, and wrote a really nice personal message for me. I thanked him again, and we talked a bit more about specifics of the book. I said I was on the Lucia Joyce chapter, and he told me to persevere through it, that even his brother who doesn't read books managed to get through it. Then I told him I couldn't wait for the final issue of Providence and he said I hoped I'd enjoy it. That was pretty much it, I obviously wanted to talk to him for another 4 hours, and he might have been game as well, but I also wanted to respect his space.

I've never been one to idolize celebreties or musicians or artists etc. but for quite a few years Alan Moore has been my favourite writer, living or dead, so to be able to shake his hand and look him in the eye and tell him how much his work means to me was honestly very special.

Okay, personal BS over, lol.

As for Jerusalem itself, I loved it but I didn't love all of it. Mainly I thought book 2 was vastly inferior to books 1 and 3. I just never got into the Dead Dead Gang stuff so when I realized that was the entirety of book 2, I was so disappointed, since I adored the experimental insanity of book 1, and was relieved that that continued into book 3. If you do happen to love the Dead Dead Gang stuff though, then I could totally understand Jerusalem being your favourite book ever. Certainly chapters like "Atlantis", "Round the Bend", "Clouds Unfold", "X Marks the Spot", and others are among the best stuff Moore has ever written. But since one third of the book was just kind of a slog for me, I can't really gush about the book as a whole.

Have you read his first novel, Voice of the Fire, Amber? It's also excellent, pretty much all as good as the best parts of Jerusalem.

Unrelated, but a massive RIP to the wonderful Ursula K. Le Guin.

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Nahsil
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 24, 2018 2:10 am 
 

RIP Le Guin :( I'm almost done with The Word for World is Forest. Gonna start keeping a dream journal in her honor.
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Amber Gray
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Joined: Sat Jan 21, 2012 12:30 am
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 24, 2018 5:22 pm 
 

Razakel wrote:
Amber Gray wrote:
still have 500 more pages in Jerusalem but it's already like the best book I've read, hands down. The prose is so nice it's almost offensive


Nice, I read that right when it came out. I might as well share my little personal anecdote related to that book.

So it obviously took me ages to get through, and when I was on book 3 I happened to be visiting my brother in London for his birthday. I was only there for like four days but while I was there I noticed on my Facebook that Alan Moore was giving a lecture at Northhampton University the day before I flew out of London as part of an event about Brexit. I couldn't believe it. I didn't even know how far away Northhampton was from London but when I realized it was only about an hour train ride I said, 'fuck it, I need to try to hit this up'. And so the morning before I flew out, I said my goodbyes to my brother (who was conveniently leaving that day anyway, so it wasn't like I was ditching him) and trained up to Northhampton by myself. I arrived at like 2PM at that horrible bus station which is described in Jerusalem and didn''t have a clue where to go. After asking directions from some locals, I figured out where to get a bus to the university and got there just before 3PM, knowing the event ended at 5PM. I walked into the lecture room and it was pitch dark as someone was giving a powerpoint presentation, so I shuffled in and took a seat in the middle of the room. When the lights came on, I saw that Alan Moore was sitting directly in front of me beside his wife/collaborator Melinda Gebbie, sipping a cup of tea. I was also surprised that there were only about 15 people in attendance, since I thought it was going to be a much bigger thing. As luck would have it, he was the very next speaker, so my timing couldn't have been more weirdly perfect. He rambled for about 40 minutes about the current state of the world, somehow going on tangents about prehistoric shamanism and 20th century occultism (naturally) and then after his talk I managed to go up and have a few personal words with him.

I know Moore has the reputation of being a reclusive curmugeon, so I'm so happy to be able to say that he was the nicest, kindest, most genuine person to me. We chatted for a bit off to the side while he was refilling his tea. I didn't want to come across as a raving, stalking fanboy, so I simply went up and said I enjoyed his talk and was also currently reading his new book, Jerusalem. He thanked me warmly, noticed the copy of the book I was holding in my hand, took it from me, whisked a pen out of his chest pocket, and wrote a really nice personal message for me. I thanked him again, and we talked a bit more about specifics of the book. I said I was on the Lucia Joyce chapter, and he told me to persevere through it, that even his brother who doesn't read books managed to get through it. Then I told him I couldn't wait for the final issue of Providence and he said I hoped I'd enjoy it. That was pretty much it, I obviously wanted to talk to him for another 4 hours, and he might have been game as well, but I also wanted to respect his space.

I've never been one to idolize celebreties or musicians or artists etc. but for quite a few years Alan Moore has been my favourite writer, living or dead, so to be able to shake his hand and look him in the eye and tell him how much his work means to me was honestly very special.

Okay, personal BS over, lol.

As for Jerusalem itself, I loved it but I didn't love all of it. Mainly I thought book 2 was vastly inferior to books 1 and 3. I just never got into the Dead Dead Gang stuff so when I realized that was the entirety of book 2, I was so disappointed, since I adored the experimental insanity of book 1, and was relieved that that continued into book 3. If you do happen to love the Dead Dead Gang stuff though, then I could totally understand Jerusalem being your favourite book ever. Certainly chapters like "Atlantis", "Round the Bend", "Clouds Unfold", "X Marks the Spot", and others are among the best stuff Moore has ever written. But since one third of the book was just kind of a slog for me, I can't really gush about the book as a whole.

Have you read his first novel, Voice of the Fire, Amber? It's also excellent, pretty much all as good as the best parts of Jerusalem.

Unrelated, but a massive RIP to the wonderful Ursula K. Le Guin.

I haven't read that.

I finished book 2 last night and I liked it well enough but I thought it was still pretty experimental during a lot of it. It's pretty fantastical though definitely, but some, nah, all of the descriptions of various things are generally jaw dropping. Sensory overload without being overloaded by senses.
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failsafeman
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 24, 2018 7:03 pm 
 

Le Guin has grown to become one of my favorite sci-fi authors in the 10ish years since I first read A Wizard of Earthsea. Every book I've read since has only added to my esteem. I have a few yet to read on my shelf, I'll have to pick one of them to read next in her honor.
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Nahsil
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 26, 2018 12:21 am 
 

failsafeman wrote:
Le Guin has grown to become one of my favorite sci-fi authors in the 10ish years since I first read A Wizard of Earthsea. Every book I've read since has only added to my esteem. I have a few yet to read on my shelf, I'll have to pick one of them to read next in her honor.


I actually cried when I first heard, not sure I've ever cried over a "celebrity" death before. I've been reading her for ~10 years as well, started with Left Hand.
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TheConqueror1
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 26, 2018 8:18 pm 
 

I just finished Fyodor Dostoyevsky's Demons. However, I think Crime and Punisment was a better novel compared to Demons. Crime and Punishment kept me wanting more in a certain way.
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TheConqueror1
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 26, 2018 11:27 pm 
 

Has anyone ever read Fathers and Sons? Turgenev did an excellent job at writing this novella. It's Russian literature at its best.
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Azmodes
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 28, 2018 1:20 pm 
 

I finished Dennis E. Taylor's We Are Legion (We Are Bob), devoured it within two days. Super, super fun book, I can highly recommend it to anyone looking for a diverting, yet still complex sci-fi page-turner. So much stuff going on and everything's fascinating and incredibly fun.
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Razakel
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 29, 2018 4:54 pm 
 

Razakel wrote:
Flipping through one of my horror anthologies I finally read my first Robert Aickman tale, one called "Ringing in the Changes." I've been meaning to get around to Aickman for a while and I'm wondering if I should get one of his collections. failsafeman, weren't you singing his praises a while ago? Is there a particular collection I should start with or are they all pretty much the same?


failsafeman wrote:
They're all excellent, just pick whatever collection you can find most easily.


So I went with Cold Hand in Mine and totally loved it. Also not at all what I was expecting after only having read "Ringing the Changes" which is way more of a conventional horror story than any of the ones in the collection I read. Most of them had seemingly ordinary premises with just a touch of weirdness lurking in the background until that weirdness slowly starts to permeate the whole story and it just becomes unbearably creepy.

The first story, "The Swords", for example, was one of my favourites. At first it reads like a dismal tale about a social outsider trying to scrape by, but then such unexpected things begin to happen and by the third act
Spoiler: show
it becomes completely shocking and transgressive that you can hardly believe what you're reading.


"The Hospice" has to be my favourite though. Wow, simply a top-tier horror/weird story. Again, begins almost blandly with a pretty conventional premise, but the tension and strangeness just builds so perfectly and steadily that eventually you can hardly bare to read on, but you do. It's not often I'm genuinely scared or disturbed by a story, but this one did it for me. Aickman's masterful at creating eerie atmosphere without really telling the reader what they should be afraid of, or why. The terror in his stories just kind of sits in the background and watches you as you read. Truly 'nightmarish' in a literal sense.

I also loved his use of humour, especially in "The Hospice", but in all of the stories. I could almost see "The Hospice" being acted by Monty Python - totally absurd and borderline surreal, except Aickman's humour is never really for the sake of laughs (although a lot of it is actually funny, unlike a lot of other horror writers (Stephen King) who just frequently crack jokes for the sake of it), it just seems like it's there to paint the darkness darker, to heighten that sense of unease he does so well. Pretty similar to Kafka's humour in that way, or Flann O'Brien's in The Third Policeman.

Needless to say I'll be reading more Aickman soon!

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TheConqueror1
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 30, 2018 4:20 pm 
 

I'm currently reading War and Peace. I found this excellent edition by Wordsworth Classics that is really simple to read.
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miskatonic79
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 30, 2018 7:16 pm 
 

CHAIRTHROWER wrote:
Allow me to recommend Adam Nevill's Under A Watchful Eye, as my latest horror plat_du_jour.

What's great about Nevill is how he thoroughly documents his chthonian subject matter to the fullest before wholesomely crafting his literary dirges.

This last is about astral projection pitfalls and sordid, underworld entities...
Reviews/zines often characterize him as "Britain's answer to Stephen King, but really, King's got nothing on him. While the latter, in my mind, falls in the "literary fast food" camp, Nevill is a modern day master in the same vein as Matheson, Lovecraft, Jacobs and Macken.


Thanks for the recommendation!
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StainedClass95
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 30, 2018 10:02 pm 
 

TheConqueror1 wrote:
I'm currently reading War and Peace. I found this excellent edition by Wordsworth Classics that is really simple to read.


I started this awhile back, and I need to go ahead and finish it when I have a little more free-time, but I've found the first few chapters less engrossing than in Anna Karenina. AK had its slow or uninteresting spots, but the beginning was good, and it helped get me to push through. I fear War and Peace is going to take some legitimate effort on my part.

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AboveTheThrone
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 02, 2018 5:01 pm 
 

Does anyone have rec's for good non-fiction?

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failsafeman
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 02, 2018 5:11 pm 
 

Razakel wrote:
Truly 'nightmarish' in a literal sense.

Yeah, that's the most concise way to describe him. There's a slow disconnect between the typically humdrum middle class setups and the gradual descent into horrifying unreality, and there is rarely, if ever, an in-world "explanation" for it. In line with the nightmare aspect, however, there are always loads of fascinating psychological and metaphorical explanations, but these are obscured enough that Aickman never seems preachy or allegorical.

Razakel wrote:
Needless to say I'll be reading more Aickman soon!

Great! The Unsettled Dust is an excellent collection, as is The Wine-Dark Sea. "The Unsettled Dust", "No Stronger than a Flower", "Bind Your Hair", "Ravissante", "The Trains", "Growing Boys", and "The Inner Room" are all some of my top favorites by Aickman. But like I said, read anything you can get your hands on. There are excellent audiobook versions of some of his works as well.
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TheStormIRide
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 03, 2018 11:04 am 
 

I'm really enjoying Sevenes so far, but since it's my fourth or fifth Stephenson novel in a row, I'm going to go for something a little less involved next go around. Perhaps I'll dig back into some old fantasy stuff that I've had laying around for years but never got to. I've been debating on starting Sanderson or Janny Wurts, but I'm still not sure. I still have four hundred pages left on this one before I decide, I guess.
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Earthcubed
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 03, 2018 12:04 pm 
 

Last and First Men is much denser than I was expecting, and I'm having to spend more time with it than I thought I would. It's very fascinating though, so I'm not complaining.

AboveTheThrone wrote:
Does anyone have rec's for good non-fiction?


What are you interested in?
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AboveTheThrone
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 03, 2018 3:13 pm 
 

Earthcubed wrote:
AboveTheThrone wrote:
Does anyone have rec's for good non-fiction?


What are you interested in?

Mostly true crime and political science.

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Earthcubed
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 05, 2018 7:56 am 
 

AboveTheThrone wrote:
Mostly true crime and political science.


Why not try both in the same book ;) ? With a hint of history maybe.


Dark Invasion, Howard Blum. About German espionage/sabotage/bio-warfare operations against the US during World War 1.
In the Garden of Beasts, Erik Larson. About the first US ambassador to Nazi Germany.
Operation Shakespeare, John Shiffman. About how we learned Iran was arming Al-Qaida in Iraq (now known as ISIS).
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failsafeman
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 05, 2018 11:13 am 
 

After Last and First Men, are you going to read Star Maker? It's a sort of spiritual sequel, but on an infinitely larger scale. Definitely worth reading if you liked LaFM.
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AboveTheThrone
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 05, 2018 11:51 am 
 

Earthcubed wrote:
AboveTheThrone wrote:
Mostly true crime and political science.


Why not try both in the same book ;) ? With a hint of history maybe.


Dark Invasion, Howard Blum. About German espionage/sabotage/bio-warfare operations against the US during World War 1.
In the Garden of Beasts, Erik Larson. About the first US ambassador to Nazi Germany.
Operation Shakespeare, John Shiffman. About how we learned Iran was arming Al-Qaida in Iraq (now known as ISIS).

I will check these out. Thank you, good sir.

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Earthcubed
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 05, 2018 11:09 pm 
 

:thumbsup:

failsafeman wrote:
After Last and First Men, are you going to read Star Maker? It's a sort of spiritual sequel, but on an infinitely larger scale. Definitely worth reading if you liked LaFM.


I own it. If it isn't the next book I read it will be the one following. I'm considering reading Annihilation before the film comes out.
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Razakel
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 06, 2018 2:25 am 
 

Earthcubed wrote:
I'm considering reading Annihilation before the film comes out.


I would recommend you do!

I just bought the complete works of Arthur Machen for 99 cents on my ereader and read through what I understand are his two most well known stories: "The White People" and "The Great God Pan". I think as far as proto-Weird writers go I already like Machen more than Algernon Blackwood, who, try as I might, I just can't seem to fall in love with. Machen's prose is full-on decadent and his stories are frickin' evil. "The White People" was especially gripping. I almost rolled my eyes at first when I realized the bulk of the story was written as entries from a young girl's diary but it actually worked brilliantly. Where do I go from here, though? I might take a bit of a break from him but I'll definitely come back and read more soon.

@failsafeman: Thanks for more Aickmen recommendations :wink: I might actually get another of his books soon since I enjoyed the first one so much and kind of just want to read all of his shit right now.

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Azmodes
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 06, 2018 1:22 pm 
 

After having had it two-thirds-unread on my shelf for about 4 years, I decided to give Barlowe's God's Demon another try. The verdict remains the same; Barlowe should stick to his craft. It's uncanny how much this reminds me of the Diablo Eternal Conflict fan fiction I was trying to do when I was 16. ... okay, I guess it's a little better... But what we have here is sadly a very tepid attempt at storytelling, with thin, largely interchangeable characters, cringey dialogue and very, very amateur writing in general. I've started to skip a lot of stuff because there's just so much filler in this. A real shame, because the world Barlowe created in his Inferno is awesome; for all intents and purposes this story should work at some level and yet... it's an exercise in patience. It's ironic, because for all his amazing creativity, Barlowe appears to have a problem with actually conjuring up images through words. Or maybe not so ironic, considering his main profession. There's a lot of scenes where you're really hungry for getting the hellish otherwordliness assembled in your head, but it just doesn't work. It's not that he's not describing stuff enough (more like too much, actually), but the way he does it rarely suceeds for me. It lacks life. I don't say this often or lightly, but this guy is just not a good writer. For short texts captioning one of his superb paintings, he's fine, but on the scale of a novel, no.
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Thiestru
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 06, 2018 9:04 pm 
 

Razakel wrote:
Earthcubed wrote:
I'm considering reading Annihilation before the film comes out.


I would recommend you do!

I just bought the complete works of Arthur Machen for 99 cents on my ereader and read through what I understand are his two most well known stories: "The White People" and "The Great God Pan". I think as far as proto-Weird writers go I already like Machen more than Algernon Blackwood, who, try as I might, I just can't seem to fall in love with. Machen's prose is full-on decadent and his stories are frickin' evil. "The White People" was especially gripping. I almost rolled my eyes at first when I realized the bulk of the story was written as entries from a young girl's diary but it actually worked brilliantly. Where do I go from here, though? I might take a bit of a break from him but I'll definitely come back and read more soon.

@failsafeman: Thanks for more Aickmen recommendations :wink: I might actually get another of his books soon since I enjoyed the first one so much and kind of just want to read all of his shit right now.


Have you read 'The Man Whom the Trees Loved', by Blackwood? That's my favorite story of his. It's so sad and strange. It's about this guy who has this uncanny connection with and affinity for woods and trees, and... it's hard to sum up without ruining it. But I was bewitched by it. Try it, if you haven't already. :)
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Razakel
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 06, 2018 9:15 pm 
 

Yup, that one was my favourite in the collection I read, even more than "The Willows", which seems to be his most well known but didn't impact me that much. It's not that I disliked any of the stories, really, it's just that I didn't love any of them either. I'll still read more Blackwood in the future, though. The man himself was a complete badass.

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failsafeman
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 07, 2018 6:02 am 
 

For me, "The Wendigo" is by far his best. "The Willows" was influential, but I agree that it's not super good. It was just a very early example of cosmic horror.
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