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Current reading
Currently listening to Tom Sweterlitsch’s ‘The Gone World’ and goddamn, HBO, this is your third season of True Detective right here.
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Maori education continues. Why We Sleep made me terrified to have less than 8 hours a day.

The Hidden Family (Merchant Princes 2) by Charles Stross was good and expanded that whole universe in a very satisfying way. Was reading his bibliography and that is one prolific writer.

Started The Three Body Problem by Liu Cixin. It's good, and I am enjoying it, but I'm finding it a little ... well, I'm not sure if it's the translation but it seems a little flat. The writing is very declarative and I'm not sure if that's him and his style, or not. It feels like watching a dubbed Chinese movie and I can't shake the feeling the translation is losing something.

Good enough to keep going and it will be interesting reading book 2, which has a different translator.
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'Paris in the Present Tense' is Mark Helprin's best novel since 'Soldier of the Great War.' I laughed. I cried. I hugged my wife.
I've seen so many good people in my life that I've almost lost my faith in the wickedness of humankind.

--Will Durant

 

http://netflixjunkie.blogspot.com/
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Working my way through the second book (Fool's Quest, I think) of the Robin Hobb Farseer/Liveship saga. She's devolving as a writer, IMHO, and this finale series has been a tedious, epic slog. If I hadn't already invested 11 (far superior) novels in this same setting I would have given up.

On the other hand, I'm tearing through the now-forgotten classic Horn of the Hunter by Ruark. The vibe is pure Hemingway. Horn of the Hunter and Death in the Long Grass are glimpses into a lost (maybe for the best) way of life that feels incredibly alien today, even though the professional hunter featured in the novel only passed away a few months ago.

There are some all-time great quotes about becoming fed up with the trappings of civilization.
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The Three Body problem had some genuinely fantastic ideas later on in the piece. So I purchased the second book.

Also got Babylon's Ashes (Expanse:6) and Firefall by Peter Watts to keep that "first contact" thing going.

Got All Systems Red (Murderbot Diaries 1) by Martha Wells out of the library and ripped through it on the plane today. Tremendous read with a very engaging protagonist.  Looking forward to the next 2.

As an aside I've been listening to the Philosophise This podcast rather than music on Spotify lately, and this overview of the historical progress of philosophy has really enhanced my enjoyment of all this speculative scifi.
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'Horn of the Hunter' sounds intriguing. On my list it goes.
I've seen so many good people in my life that I've almost lost my faith in the wickedness of humankind.

--Will Durant

 

http://netflixjunkie.blogspot.com/
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(04-24-2018, 05:44 AM)frankcobretti Wrote: 'Horn of the Hunter' sounds intriguing.  On my list it goes.


I think you'll like it!  

I find it pretty interesting that the author specifically tried to go on a safari with some of the guides who worked with Hemingway.  Adds some interesting backstory.
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Just finished Galveston's Maceo Family Empire: Bootlegging & the Balinese Room by T. Nicole Boatman, Scott H. Belshaw, and Richard B. McCaslin. It was a good, fast, read, but very repetitive. You can tell the author(s) didn't have alot of source material to draw from, but none the less it was an informative and important book that needed to be written.

Right now, I picked up the "Godfather" of Mafia revisionist history, Joseph L. Albini's, Deconstructing Organized Crime: An Historical and Theoretical Study. I also usually read a fiction/history book at the same time, so I also picked up James Ellroy's White Jazz.
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I finished Sarah Pinborough's Behind Her Eyes recently and...wow.

I purchased it partly because it was on sale but also because it had glowing reviews that claimed the ending was this huge game changer (and two of those reviews were from Stephen King and Joe Hill).

Well, I can say those reviews aren't lying but holy shit. It is a memorable ending but only because of how it absurd it is. It REALLY tests your suspension of disbelief and it's also one of those plots that require the protagonist to be an idiot for the entirety of the book.

I can't say I cared for it but props to the author for just going for it. I'm sure it'll be a movie in a few years.
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James Ellroy's White Jazz is hard-boiled, apocalyptic noir at its very best. I may have messed up starting with the last of Ellroy's "L.A. Quartet", because this seems to be the hard hitting crescendo of his noir writing (the only other book of Ellroy's I read was American Tabloid back in 2008, which, to my shame, I didn't finish). After finishing White Jazz last week, I immediately started The Big Nowhere, which I like so far, but I gather that White Jazz is the only of his books told strictly from a staccato, slang ridden, first person perspective. I've been reading that Ellroy, Nick Nolte (after ripping off a ton of Ellroy for Mulholland Falls), and Joe Carnahan have, unsuccessfully, been trying to get White Jazz adapted for the screen. Carnahan churned out a script in 2007, which will probably never see production. The script is available online, and I hope to eventually read it to see how they could have adapted it.
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If anyone has Prime, you can get A Scanner Darkly for free with Prime Reading.
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(06-01-2018, 12:34 PM)Gangland Wrote:
[Image: White_Jazz.jpg]

James Ellroy's White Jazz is hard-boiled, apocalyptic noir at its very best. I may have messed up starting with the last of Ellroy's "L.A. Quartet", because this seems to be the hard hitting crescendo of his noir writing (the only other book of Ellroy's I read was American Tabloid back in 2008, which, to my shame, I didn't finish). After finishing White Jazz last week, I immediately started The Big Nowhere, which I like so far, but I gather that White Jazz is the only of his books told strictly from a staccato, slang ridden, first person perspective. I've been reading that Ellroy, Nick Nolte (after ripping off a ton of Ellroy for Mulholland Falls), and Joe Carnahan have, unsuccessfully, been trying to get White Jazz adapted for the screen. Carnahan churned out a script in 2007, which will probably never see production. The script is available online, and I hope to eventually read it to see how they could have adapted it.

Oh shit. I read through this like three times. It might be the darkest of Ellroy's books, which is saying something because James Ellroy's novels are pretty bleak to begin with. 

They'll never get a film adaptation because it'd virtually impossible. L.A. Confidential is a great movie, but it's a completely changed work of art, going for a more romanticized version of the 1950s L.A. setting. It still works because the film still manages to capture the essence of Ellroy's book, but so much had to be changed in order to get their.  I honestly don't think you can do that with White Jazz, largely because the protagonist might be Ellroy's most despicable character to date: a crooked cop that moonlights as a hitman whose pretty much sole concern is to keep his crimes from going public; and the only sympathetic thing about him is the quasi-incestual relationship he has with his own sister. Yeah, it's that kind of book.

Still, it's a really good book and definitely one of my favorites.
 I think all Marvel films are okay. This is my design.

Except for Thor 2: the literal worst.
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Damn I haven't kept up with this.  White Jazz is all kinds of brilliant.  The whole quartet is superb.  I do still prefer the Underworld USA trilogy though.

Babylon's Ashes was typical Expanse.  Rip roaring through it, can barely remember what it was about now.  Space battles?  I kid, it was good and felt like a capper, although I note there is another one.

Burnt through all 6 books of CHarles Stross Merchant Princes Series 1, which were great, and had quite the shock and awe ending I have to say.  Loved the sci-fi/fantasy/alternate history mix conceit as well.

Firefall was a-mazing.  Two books in one (Blindsight and Echopraxia) which quite frankly blew my mind from the style (unreliable narrator), to the contents (first contact space fare, but with vampires), to the underlying exploration (the use or not of the concept of self and self awareness).

Re-read Dune Messiah and currently half way through Children of Dune, simply because I hadn't read them since I was 12.  I'm finding them much more interesting and engaging now.

On the "to read" pile:

The Dark Forest - Liu Cixin
Empire Games - Charles Stross (Merchant Princes series 2 book 1)
God Emperor of DUne - Frank Herbert
Churchill's Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare - Giles Milton (I've gone on a bit of a WW2 doco tip lately, so wanted to read something related to but not rehashing)
The Freeze Frame Revolution - Peter Watts which I am really looking forward to after Firefall AND hearty recommendations from Warren Ellis and Richard Morgan
Embers of War - Gareth L Powell
The Outsider - Stephen King
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Recently finished Christopher Buehlman's latest, The Suicide Motor Club, and loved it. Vampires and avenging nuns do battle in muscle cars on the lonely southwestern highways in the late 1960s. Buehlman is quickly becoming one of my favorite new horror authors.
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I just finished the latest (and last) book of Secret Histories by Simon Green--the Drood novels that are named after James Bond movies & books (Night Fall, The Man with the Golden Torc, Moonbreaker, etc.). He closed up a bunch of storylines from some other series of his (NightSide, Ghost Hunters) in this book. I also just completed the latest Ishmael Jones mystery book, also by Simon Green--those books are shorter than his normal works, but I don't think I particularly like them. This latest one, I knew "whodunnit" like 25% of the way into the book, just not the "why" until the very end.

I'm starting the latest Steve Alten book, "Undisclosed" now.

New Jack Reacher should be out in November--I also recently completed re-reading all of those books a few weeks ago.
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Just finished Space Odyssey: Stanley Kubrick, Arthur C. Clarke, and the Making of a Masterpiece by Michael Benson. I guarantee that even the most obsessive 2001 fan will learn something new.
"I'd rather wake up in the middle of nowhere than in any city on Earth."--Steve McQueen
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Picked up a Judge Dredd anthology, vol 1 of the complete case files. As an infrequent 2000AD reader - Eagle and Roy of the Rovers were my jam, followed by MAD - it's been fun revisiting the character from his beginnings. I guess he evolved into a more satirical caricature in the 80s because the early iterations are pretty straight, power fantasy stuff, although the mockery of certain tropes is pretty evident in the Walter character. As vaguely neolithic as some of the tone can be, there is a lot to be said for the "everything's fucked so let's embrace it" wit of Britain in the 70s.

9 year old ate it up as well so vols 2 and 3 are ordered. Also discovered that Rebellion Press have bought pretty much the whole of the British comic back catalogue and are reissuing them as anthologies like the Dredd ones. 

Next up for me are Rogue Trooper, Strontium Dog and One Eyed Jack. Have a partocular fondness for the latter - Wagner's plain and simple rip off of Dirty Harry that was his dry run for Dredd in a lot of ways. It was reprinted in the Eagle run I read in the 80s so the nostalgia is strong with this one.
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I finished the Lynch biography/memoir Room to Dream whilst on vacay and it was a great read, moving, illuminating and inspiring stuff whilst still refusing to discuss what anything means from any of his work.

Also finished Riley Sagar's Final Girls which was a real page turner I managed to finish in a day. More twists and turns than a rollercoaster whilst also being a pretty accurate depiction of living with PTSD.

A book i'm curious about which I would like to hear opinions on is The Lies of Locke Lamora, it sounds interesting and I want to know if its a slog or worthwhile.
PSN ID: Numbix2017
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Anybody know of any good books on particle physics, astrophysics, etc. for a layman? Science for a person that usually sticks with science fiction? I guess I could start with some Carl Sagan or something.
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(07-23-2018, 10:36 PM)kyle reese 2 Wrote: Anybody know of any good books on particle physics, astrophysics, etc. for a layman? Science for a person that usually sticks with science fiction? I guess I could start with some Carl Sagan or something.

Bill Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything isn't just about physics, but among other things it's a super readable science guide for non-scientists so the physics sections in it are a splendid place to start.
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A Brief History of Time by Eddie Redmayne is also good.
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Thanks gents. Good to know that Redmayne has other achievements besides Jupiter Ascending.
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Definitely check out the Feynman lectures:

http://www.feynmanlectures.caltech.edu/


And for the real layman's approach you can't beat Larry Gonick:

http://www.larrygonick.com/titles/scienc...o-physics/
"I'd rather wake up in the middle of nowhere than in any city on Earth."--Steve McQueen
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Just finished Steve Alten's "Undisclosed". Interesting book--he uses names and people of "right now" in the book to talk about UFO's, Zero Point Energy, and the secret cabal that is controlling the US. It's a weird sort of factual fiction (I think that's what Alten calls it) because he's using actual people's names and the role that they play today (including Trump, Dick Cheney, Steve Bannon, Kelly Conaway, etc.) so you sort of drift from "I'm reading a book about UFOs" into "Oh wait, is this true?"

Think I'm moving to a Dean Koontz collection next, as recommended by my wife.
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Just finished Vermilion Sands by J. G. Ballard.  It's basically a bunch of short stories that all revolve around a "futuristic" resort in the middle of the desert, mainly having to do with different aspects of art.  I have only read one other Ballard book, High-Rise, so not sure how reflective this is of his other work, but it was pretty interesting.

The main thing that I kept thinking about is how much the new Arctic Monkeys album (Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino) reminds me of it, in that, the album is about luxury resort on the moon.  When I heard that was the concept of their album, I was skeptical, but it is probably my favorite album of the year so far, and maybe my favorite Arctic Monkeys album.  Seriously, the lyrics are some of the funniest I have ever heard and for fans of science fiction, there are plenty of references including Blade Runner, 1984, and their is even a song called "Science Fiction". 

I am not a scholar in sci-fi literature(I've read a bit though), so I am not sure how novel this idea is, but it was interesting to compare how both the book and the album dealt with the concept.








...
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Embers of War was great!  Rip roaring space opera, engaging characters, great ideas, nice style.  Ripped through it in two days.

The Dark Forest was a SLOG.  Some very interesting ideas (including an insanely dark take on the Fermi Paradox) but by god the man's prose is turgid and overly, overly expositionary.  I'm not in a massive rush to read the trilogy capper.

Onto Churchill's Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare, which one chapter in is top quality.  Has a wry British humour over everything, bu really it's the stuff they came up with and how they did it (inventing limpet mines in a shed, testing it in a bathroom and then a swimming pool (minus explosive)) and then using an ANISEED BALL gobstopper as the underwater timer because it had a consistent decay rate.  Just top quality home spun, lethal boffinery.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cecil_Vandepeer_Clarke <- genius
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Finally got around to finishing Nemesis Games. Probably my favourite book in The Expanse so far. Because it takes the relationships you've spent the last 4 books getting invested in and puts them through the ringer in interesting ways I wasn't expecting but greatly enjoyed. And the big plot shake-ups were certainly quite shocking to me and was surprised that they went there.

Now it's on to Babylon's Ashes. Hope to finish the series out in time for the 8th book to drop.
"I mean don't get me wrong fucking the wolf man is impressive but ugh." - Waaaaaaaalt
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I'm almost done re-reading Anne Rice's Queen of the Damned for what may be the tenth time; its still a wildly entertaining novel. One thing that is interesting about reading  this in 2018 is how Rice voices her optimism about the progress of the human race with her characters. A quick check of the Trump thread shows that optimism was misplaced.
I've got good news and I've got bad news. The bad news is that I have lost my way. The good news is that I'm way ahead of schedule.
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