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Books you've read in 2011

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by DaveF, Jan 9, 2011.

  1. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    "One Second After" by William Forstchen A relentlessly depressing, frightening and realistic story about the collapse of our nation. A "future history", meant to be a warning cry against a possible threat--that we are both defenseless against and very susceptible to -- it is also very human. It focuses on a single family, and follows them. They are normal, believable. And well written. I felt, deeply, and was viscerally moved several times by their difficulties and losses. This was a tough book; I listened to the audiobook this week and felt it dragging me down. I've been vague. Skip the foreword (by Newt Gingrich!) and straight to the story. The attack is revealed in the early, but the foreword gives it away too soon. A terrible tale, and a must read.
     
  2. Jim Mcc

    Jim Mcc Well-Known Member

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    Deliverance


    In Cold Blood


    Zodiac


    Zodiac Unmasked
     
  3. mattCR

    mattCR Well-Known Member
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    I am struggling hard with "Old Man's War". Let me say this: The beginning and first 14 chapters are brilliant. The writing is fantastic, the concept is fantastic, the storyline is fantastic. And then we hit a conversation in Chapter 14, and my entire interest plummetted to the floor...



    When Harry explains "The Skip Drive" by saying "We're in a different universe; we couldn't go back to the one we were in even if we wanted to; even after 1 second that universe would be different and we'd be different" and then the whole infinite universe theory. Now, on one hand this isn't bad; but on the other, it makes the entire story fruitless. If as he says, a whole different version of them pops back into the universe they left, then you'd have infinite you, etc. and there would be no way to tell who was where and what was what. So everytime in the past in the book and now going forward htey say "we're going back to planet Coral" etc. it's meaningless; they have never BEEN to that planet Coral, they've been to a planet coral in another universe/timespace... they then go back to a "meeting" held in the universe they left... blah!


    That entire conversation has really wrecked the way I feel about the book. I'm hoping it's a writers flub or that f intentional it is later "taken back" and revised.. because right now, it's turned what was a great read into an absolute slog because I can't get over the fact that it makes absolutely no sense
     
  4. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    Matt It's been about three years since I read OMW and I'd forgotten that detail about the skip drive. That they can do FTL travel is important, but I think that specific detail is inconsequential. But I won't say for sure, as it's been a while and Scalzi is good about not having pointless details. More important to the stories are the characters, politics, and greater themes. I suggest staying with it. While i like the travelogue aspect of OMW a lot, the next books arguably have stronger narratives. And Zoe's Tale is a clever retelling of one of the books. But I understand where you're coming from. Crichton's "Timeline" had a similar element that kept the entire book from working for me. I'm a Crichton fan; but that book was a loss to me. "Girl on Fire". #2 of Hunger Games. Every bit as thrilling as the first. Now we're reading the third.
     
  5. mattCR

    mattCR Well-Known Member
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    Dave (I will spoilerize the rest for those that haven't read the book, but it's a question I can't get over...)




    adsf


    I would be OK if it was FTL. That was the problem, when they have the long speech of "No, no one can go faster then light.. the whole point of skip drive is that you skip into different universes at different points, there are infinite numbers of them.." And then all I could think of was: this make NO sense. If you can't go back and tell people behind you, then nothing you do matters at all because no one will ever enter into the universes you have to begin with; they even kind of acknowledge this, and it gets so damn baffling that all I can think of is: there should be infinite Harrys and Infinite Maggies and Infinite X, and if they are in different universes everytime they skip, there is no way for communication to be viable... anyway, I am going to struggle to finish this. I love the writing style, the dialog, and I normally don't get caught up in the science. I am OK with it if you don't go into huge details or if it all exists within the same plane of reality.. but the moment they start mixing in multi-verses and infinite realities, my mind just glazes over and I think: infinite = nothing; there isn't a way any of this works.

    But I do love the language and the core story. I just wished they had explained skip differently
     
  6. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    Matt, I skimmed chapters 14 & 15 and couldn't find the specific passage you mention, though 14 had some passing comments on skip drive. Reading that section, it doesn't bother me. The important thing, to me, is they have FTL ships. And because it uses Roddenberries for a fuel source as a byproduct it creates Subspace Plot Devices :)

    But if it really bugs you, here are a few more fictional science fiction thoughts on the matter:




    Multiverses, in scifi, are commonly attributed to the quantum uncertainty effect. Everytime a "decision" is to be made, the universe splits so that both outcomes occur. But it happens at the subatomic level: everytime there's an atomic event, the universe splits. The implication, is that the vast number of these universes, especially the ones that are "nearby", are in all meaningful ways identical. (I'll ignore Stargate and ST:TNG episodes here, where the splits only occur so as to give everyone different hats, uniforms, and battle-results ;) )


    So when John Perry (A) "skips" from Universe (A) into (B), exactly as he's leaving his universe (A), John Perry (B) is skipping out of (B) and into universe (C). And these universes are so very identical that their histories are the same, the inhabitants are the same, etc. It's a zero-sum transfer. John Perry's (A) and (B) never occupy the same universe at the same time. There is never an accumulation of John Perrys in a universe nor an absence of them.


    Or perhaps they briefly, in some aspect of their imaginary portion of their wave functions do overlap, thus giving rise to those pesky Tachyons. :)


    To be really science fictionally science fiction about it: The very act of skipping necessitates the creation of a universe that can facilitate the skip: leaving (A) into (B) requires (B) to be in all ways meaningful the same as (A). Including a John Perry who is simultaneously leaving (B) and into (C) (which is just like (B)). Or perhaps, (B) is skipping into (A), so we really only need two. Like in Futurama, there's just the two universes. Only in the other one, everyone wears cowboy hats and sports mustaches. :D


    I hope you can extricate yourself from being too hung-up on this detail, because Scalzi is too much fun to be lost over this plot device. And the next two and half OMW sequels are very fun. So here's a spoiler: you see a bit more of the Consu in later books! (love those crazy guys!)


    I've read all his sci-fi now, except the newest The God Engine, which is still in hardback. :)
     
  7. Scott Merryfield

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    Currently about 75% through You Can't Stop Me, a crime story by Max Allen Collins. This was a freebie at the Amazon Kindle store. It's a pretty fast read, and has surprisingly held my interest.
     
  8. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    If you like conventional fantasy, Jim Butcher's Codex Alera six-book series is fantastic! It follows the tropes of a swords and sorcery hero quest (young man, different from everyone else, comes into his own). But he beings his twists to the form. Reminded me of David Eddings.
     
  9. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    A Canticle for Leibowitz, by Walter M. Miller, Jr.

    Finished "A Canticle for Leibowitz" this week, a 1959 sci-fi classic. Drawing from the cold warm, fear of nuclear armageddon, and a Catholic tradition, it was weirdly alien and kindred to me. The author assumes you know Latin Mass; but I know sci-fi from a Christian perspective. Recommended if you like classic sci-fi, or post-apocalyptic warning calls, or stories drawing intelligently from religious perspectives.


    Some quick references on it:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Canticle_for_Leibowitz

    http://www.wsu.edu/~brians/science_fiction/canticle.html

    http://io9.com/#!5449841/a-canticle-for-leibowitz-is-divine-but-its-the-opposite-of-science-fiction
     
  10. Richard--W

    Richard--W Banned

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    I recently read several western novels by Luke Short that were adapted into classic westerns.


    Blood On the Moon (1941 / film 1948)

    Ride the Man Down (1942 / film 1943)

    Ramrod (1943 / film 1947)

    Coroner Creek (1945 / film 1948)

    Station West (1947 / film 1948)

    Vengeance Valley (1949 / film 1951)

    Ambush (1950 / film 1950)


    Short was more discerning than your average pulp writer, and he understood the western. His stories are hardboiled morality tales. He moved stoic characters through plots more complex than your average western, and he gave them dialogue written in a regional, period syntax that the films sometimes observe, and sometimes don't. The importance of intelligent writing to a successful western should not be underestimated.
     
  11. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    "Red Moon Rising" by Matthew Brzezinski, a history of the rise of the space race, and the political intrigues that drove it, is a great read. Fast, concise, filled with intriguing bits going from the end of WWII to the US's first orbital launch. Also a complement to "Skunkworks". "The Adjustment Team" by Philip K Dick. The recent Matt Damon movie The Adjustment Bureau is inspired by this short story. A quick read (under an hour), it's an interesting sketch and of some interest to compare to the more expansive and detailed movie.
     
  12. DavidJ

    DavidJ Premium
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    Dave, who is the author of Red Moon Rising?


    Thanks.
     
  13. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    Matthew Brzezinski
     
  14. mattCR

    mattCR Well-Known Member
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    Just finished "Game of Thrones" Liked the first episode, grabbed the book, and went straight through. I'll have to listen through the audiobook version of it next (unabridged, of course, thanks to audible). After that, I'll pick up the next in the series.
     
  15. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    Good to know. I've been wondering if I should read it; added to my wishlist :)
     
  16. Stan

    Stan Premium
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    Vector by Robin Cook and the latest Frankenstein story from Dean Koontz
     
  17. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said by Philip K. Dick (1974) (listened to the Audiobook, by Blackstone Audio)


    Excellent audio performance. I'm sure I've heard this reader before and I like him a lot.


    Jason Taverner, TV star and fan of 30 million viewers, awakes to find himself an unperson. His ID is gone. He is no longer in any of the global identity databases. His show is unheard of. His attorney, manager, secretary -- none know who he is. He's now roaming the streets with only his $5000 dollars - mean for a night of gambling -- secreted on his person, and trying desperately to not get swept up in a Pol check and sent to a Forced Labor Camp. But soon he's gotten the Pols' attention, and once they've taken an interest in you, they never become uninterested.


    For 7/8ths of the story, it's riveting, puzzling, dystopic sci-fi as you're borne along with Jason and his inexplicably deleted presence in the world. There is no explanation; only consequences. And it's marvelous.


    Until the end, when the explanation comes, followed by epilogues, and the whole thing feels Deus Ex Machina. Great story. Unsatisfying ending.


    It was the talk of the town in 1974, so perhaps I'm missing some essential grooviness of mindset to fully appreciate it.


    Recommended with reservations.
     
  18. RodC

    RodC Well-Known Member

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    I used to be a fairly regular reader, and then life seemed to get in the way, and reading became more of a chore just to find the time, or when I did, to keep my eyes open long enough to read more than just a paragraph at a time. I'm pleased to say, that thanks to iPad/iPod availability and a commute via train, I am back in the game. Here are most of the books that I've read so far this year.

    Read:
    Death: A Life - George Pendle
    Odd Thomas - Dean Koontz
    Forever Odd - Dean Koontz
    Brother Odd - Dean Koontz
    Odd Hours - Dean Koontz
    The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo - Steig Larsson
    The Girl Who Playd With Fire - Steig Larsson
    The Girl Who Kicked The HOrnets Nest - Steig Larsson
    The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
    Married WIth Zombies - Jesse Petersen
    World War Z - Max Brooks
    Darkly Dreaming Dexter - Jeff Lindsay
    Dexter In The Dark - Jeff Lindsay
    Dearly Devoted Dexter - Jeff Lindsay
    Dexter By Design - Jeff Lindsay
    Dexter Is Delicious - Jeff Lindsay
    Day By Day Armageddon - J.L. Bourne
    Day By Day Armageddon: Beyond Exile - Jeff Lindsay
    Sh*t My Dad Says - Justin Halpern
    Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? - Philip K. Dick
    Packing For Mars: The Curious Science Of Life In The Void - Mary Roach
    Stiff: The Curious Life Of Human Cadavers - Mary Roach

    Currently reading:
    Spook: Science Tackles The Afterlife - Mary Roach
    The Walking Dead Vol. 1-84 - Robert Kirkman

    With many more lined up. :)

    Phwew!
     
  19. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    A little story-telling humor :)


    http://computersherpa.deviantart.com/art/Periodic-Table-of-Storytelling-203548951
     
  20. Richard Travale

    Richard Travale Well-Known Member

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    I've been reading the Riftwar Saga by Raymond E. Feist. It is a really fun read so far. It's in the Fantasy genre if that's your thing.
    I bought an ipad and have a load of books ready to read. After this I have 'Carter Beats the Devil' queued up.
     

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