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 Post subject: What are you reading?
PostPosted: Mon Mar 05, 2007 3:26 pm 
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Obvious starter-topic for this blank-page section...

What new (or new-ish) books can you recommend?
Read anything you hated, or disliked?

I was greatly disappointed by Tom Holt's werewolves-as-lawyers 'satire' Barking (Orbit). It has none of the author's usual wit, and I didn't find any of the main characters very interesting.

Mat Coward's collection So Far, So Near (Elastic Press) gets a thumbs up from me, though. Lots of clever weirdness and several laugh-out-loud bits to treasure.

Currently skimming through Star Wars On Trial edited by David Brin and Matthew Woodring Stover (BenBella), which puts the Lucas empire's flawed space opera series in the dock facing serious charges.

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 06, 2007 1:47 pm 
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I'm currently enjoying M John Harrison's contemporary future retro noir thriller Nova Swing.


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 06, 2007 2:17 pm 
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Against The Day by Thomas Pynchon.

This SF novel, like Proust's, is a lifetime's achievement to read!

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 06, 2007 2:39 pm 
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I'm reading Against the Day, too. It is excellent in so many ways, but it is a long haul.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 07, 2007 10:41 am 
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GLP wrote:
I'm currently enjoying M John Harrison's contemporary future retro noir thriller Nova Swing.


And an excellent book it is too; I finished it a week or so ago, having read it with the intention of reviewing it, but the more I think about it the more I'm convinced that I have no hope of doing it justice. The only way to really explain how deeply complex and beautiful it is is to get someone to read it for themselves.

Currently reading the Glorifying Terrorism anthology as a review job for Vector. It's an interesting collection with some fine writing, and a worthy cause, but it's hard going to read story after story with such heavy themes - it would be more enjoyable to dip in and out of over a longer period, I think.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Mar 07, 2007 9:33 pm 
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I'm currently reading MR FOX AND OTHER FERAL TALES by Norman Partridge. The stories are good, but the bits inbetween regarding his experiences of writing are more interesting.


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 Post subject: What are you reading now
PostPosted: Fri Mar 09, 2007 4:23 pm 
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I'm reading Gridlinked at work and Blue Mars at home


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 10, 2007 11:54 am 
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Oooh, liked GRIDLINKED, and indeed most Asher stories to be honest.

Just finished END OF THE WORLD BLUES - Jon Courtenay Grimwood, COMMAND DECISION by Elizabeth Moon and Tad Williams' SHADOWPLAY - all of which I'd recommend.

Next up is GOTHIC FANTASIES - Anne Sudworth's new art book, there's a new Richard Morgan and Alastair Reynolds due, there's David Gunn's DEATH'S HEAD (the blurb says: The violence is extreme, the death toll monumental, the sex dirty, the action non-stop and the entertainment outrageous!), and a raft of others.

Looks like some late nights ahead....

:shock:

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 10, 2007 12:03 pm 
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In the last few days I've finished Martin's A Game of Thrones, Ellis's Transmet: Tales of Human Waste, and Vonnegut's God Bless You, Mr Rosewater. At the moment I'm not sure what to follow these up with...

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 10, 2007 1:44 pm 
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Sandy wrote:
Next up is GOTHIC FANTASIES - Anne Sudworth's new art book


I started a thread for that one Sandy.
http://www.ttapress.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=52

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Mar 10, 2007 3:18 pm 
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I am so far behind in my reading that it's not funny anymore.

In any case, I cannot recommend Blindsight by Peter Watts high enough. A novel that takes a new look on consciousness through a First Contact scenario: dark, terrifying, and relentless. It takes this scenario to the ultimate conclusion, and drives it home with so much force that I'm still shaking.

Warning: Watts assumes his readers are intelligent and interested in science, meaning on the one side some passages full of tech- and geekspeak, while on the other side he doesn't speak down on his readers. The novel is dense, intense and extremely involving: don't pay attention during one scene and you have missed some vital info. It does pay off its dividend, in spades.

I'm making my way through Vellum in a cubist manner: read a part, skip forward about a hunderd pages, read the next part, go back one hundred pages, and so on. That'll teach Al Duncan to write like that... :wink:

Reeading short stories in both The Solaris Book of New Science Fiction and Fast Forward: so far, the former has had more misses than hits for me, while the latter provided mostly hits so far.

Then I should get on to Infoquake, The Demon and the City, and Ink, probably Nova Swing, and a couple of hundred more.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Mar 11, 2007 12:45 pm 
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I read and enjoyed 'Blindsight' but I had a review copy and right at the beginning it states that vampires can see both views of a Neckar cube at once. Then later vampires can't look at right angles. Ok a minor and slightly annoying fault but it stuck with me right through the book. Was it sorted for the first edition?

I read Baxter's 'Exultant' and McDonald's 'River of Gods' before. Both were good and 'Exultant' is my kind of SF. Some really brilliant stuff but the WW2 bombing run and dogfights at close to light speed didn't ring true.

'River of Gods' seemed to finish with a few loose ends leaving me wondering what happened to some characters, which is good in some senses, and worried that it might have sequelitus.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Mar 11, 2007 3:06 pm 
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Jetse wrote:
I am so far behind in my reading that it's not funny anymore.


:lol: Iknow the feeling!

Jetse wrote:
I cannot recommend Blindsight by Peter Watts high enough.

Roy wrote:
I read and enjoyed 'Blindsight'


Duncan's review for The ZONE
http://www.zone-sf.com/wordworks/petewats1.html
gives this full marks as 'book of the year'.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Mar 11, 2007 10:28 pm 
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Quote:
I read and enjoyed 'Blindsight' but I had a review copy and right at the beginning it states that vampires can see both views of a Neckar cube at once. Then later vampires can't look at right angles. Ok a minor and slightly annoying fault but it stuck with me right through the book. Was it sorted for the first edition?
Good catch, Roy!

Indeed, that passage about the Necker cube is still there in the hardcover on page 66. Actually, I wrote a whole essay about Blindsight, and one of the nitpicks I had was that I suspected that vampires that will get epileptic when looking at right angles will have a very low survival chance in areas with trees where both the intersection of the vertical tree trunk with the horizontal far horizon gives a near-perfect right angle, and where in the Autumn and Winter the intersecting branches also give close to right angle crosses. I don't think they would have been very happy in the forests of Transylvania... :twisted:

I sent that essay to David Hartwell for the New York Review of SF way back in December, and if he still wants to use it I'll include your remark, Roy (with acknowledgement, of course), if you don't mind.

I'm not following Baxter anymore: I loved his 'old' Xeelee sequence (Vacuum Diagrams, Timelike Infinity, Ring), but did not feel compelled to follow his second dip into the same Universe (Coalescent, Transcendent, Exultant, Resplendent). This on the basis of his stories in Asimov's that handled the same theme, which gave me the impression -- that might be wrong, mind you -- that he was retreading old ground without really expanding on it.

Also, the whole overarching plot struck me, after I was trying to figure out why I didn't want to return to a Universe that I enjoyed so much before, as a bit of an idiot plot. Quite possibly I'm wrong here, as I haven't read Coalescent, Transcendent, Exultant, and Resplendent, so do feel free to correct me.

But -- SPOILER WARNING FOR ALL THOSE WHO HAVEN'T READ ANY STEPHEN BAXTER AND INTEND TO DO SO -- it's simply this:

As far as I can recall, in the original sequence, the photino birds -- supersymmetrical beings -- purposefully accelerated the lifetime sequences of suns, because suns were their habitats, and the unexpected novas (and supernovas) disrupted their lives. So far, so good.

The Xeelee know this, but cannot fight the photino birds, because the only force that 'our' Universe has in common with its supersymmetrical counterpart is gravity. And the Xeelee need suns to live. So, since the Xeelee can't confront the photino birds directly, they devise a plan to make an escape hatch from this Universe (the humoungous 'Ring' made of cosmic string in the same-titled novel), and eventually succeed in this, leaving this Universe to the photino birds.

Humans are like ants: they don't know what's going on, and the moment they've evolved far enough to become a nuisance, the Xeelee swat them away like humans do with flies (excuses for the mixed metaphor, but this is in style with Baxter's writing :) ), and near the end of 'Ring' are even nice enough to send a group of humans to a different Universe.

So far, so good: mind-expanding stuff. Loved it.

However, since Baxter returned to it, I was thinking about it again. In this second Xeelee sequence, humans evolve over nearly a million years (or so), and develop new weapons. Weapons dangerous enough to threaten the Xeelee (all other competing alien races have been beaten by then).

Now comes my question (and again: I haven't read the second Xeelee sequence, only the stories of it that were published in Asimov's and Analog): how come that the humans can develop incredibly intricate weapons, make great scientific breakthroughs, over hundreds of thousands of years, and *still* do not see that the something is screwing up the normal life sequence of stars? After all this time humanity is still too stupid to see that the photino birds are their real threat, and not the Xeelee?

If Baxter addressed this in his second Xeelee sequence, then my profound apologies. But from the reviews I read, I just don't get the impression he did, so I decided not to waste my time on it.

If I'm dead wrong here, please let me know.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Mar 11, 2007 11:01 pm 
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My memory for all those Xeelee stories is less than perfect so I'm not sure he does answer those questions but Coalescent didn't seem to be part of the Xeelee 'universe' when I read it but in 'Exultant' it's clear it is. Exultant is set well before humanity find the Ring but after the defeat of the Qax. The Photino Birds return at the end when the Xeelee leave the galaxy.

I'm not sure the human 'know about' Photino Birds until the end and much of human technology is pinched from the various races they encountered in the various wars over those thousands of years.

'Exultant' does seem to be based on many of his Interzone stories "Cadre Siblings" being one example. It's a pity IZ gets no credits in the novel.


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