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I liked Lost Horizon a bit more than you, although not to the point I'd defend it much. I remember thinking it was barely a narrative, and more like a sociological idea, like reading Thomas More's Utopia. Or like someone sitting you down and explaining how cool their Sim City expansion was.
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(05-05-2021, 08:13 PM)arjen rudd Wrote: I remember thinking it was barely a narrative, and more like a sociological idea, like reading Thomas More's Utopia.

This is a good observation.

Once I reached the unending didactic nonsense at the lamasery I was completely done.

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If nothing else, Lost Horizon has one of the greatest opening lines in English literature.
"I'd rather wake up in the middle of nowhere than in any city on Earth."--Steve McQueen
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(05-07-2021, 01:52 AM)hammerhead Wrote: If nothing else, Lost Horizon has one of the greatest opening lines in English literature.

Is that the one about old friends not having much in common anymore?

I reread it like five times.  Amazing.

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(05-07-2021, 02:05 AM)Overlord Wrote:
(05-07-2021, 01:52 AM)hammerhead Wrote: If nothing else, Lost Horizon has one of the greatest opening lines in English literature.

Is that the one about old friends not having much in common anymore?

I reread it like five times.  Amazing.


“Cigars had burned low, and we were beginning to sample the disillusionment that usually afflicts old school friends who have met again as men and found themselves with less in common than they had believed they had.”

I just quoted it in conversation the other day.
"I'd rather wake up in the middle of nowhere than in any city on Earth."--Steve McQueen
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Now THAT is prose.

Meanwhile, I hadn't read any non-Pratchett fantasy for at least a decade so I put the feelers out and after taking advice from a few folks and checking out a few GoodReads and BookTube reviews I decided it was going to come down to one of three authors I hadn't tried yet - Sanderson, Butcher and Jordan. I ended up cracking The Final Empire a few days ago.
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Chuck Klosterman's Raised in Captivity. It's a collection of short stories where the theme of all the stories is absurdity. A few of them are good, but for the most part I thought the stories where weird just for the sake of being weird. He could have made them longer fleshing out either the characters or the plots.
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Been blazing through THE DESTROYER books like crazy the last few months and it's been a blast so far.
Originally Posted by ImmortanNick 

Saw Batman v Superman.
Now I know what it's like to see Nickelback in concert.

That's my review.
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Bucho, what're your thoughts on The Final Empire?

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(05-20-2021, 05:01 PM)doc happenin Wrote: Bucho, what're your thoughts on The Final Empire?

Careful what you ask for Doc, this could get real TLDR real fast. I'll blurt out a bunch of stuff but right here at the top I'll say I'm curious to hear your take (and others) on Sanderson too - especially comparing his characterization and prose in this trilogy to his work in Stormlight.

I found this one didn't really start to come to life for me until I clicked that stylistically it works best for me as kind of a prose anime. Whatever that is. I don't know why it took me so long for the light bulb to come on, but about 3/4 of the way through, as I tried to visualize a particular action scene (Kell's climactic battle with an Inquisitor) I was squinting pretty hard until somehow it jumped to anime form in my mind, at which point I was all, "Oh yeah, this is what it is!" Then it dawned on me, thinking back on the story so far, that the whole vibe all along - characters, setting, action, lore - was anime AF (or at least how I think of anime in my mostly unschooled way). So I liked the last 1/4 or so more than the first 3/4, but that may be because I was slow to mesh with the style.

I also felt like I was maybe reading the book too late. As an old bastard I don't do so well with anything that leans YA - anything too power-fantasyish and/or teen angsty that doesn't have a strong, wry vein of humour through it doesn't tend to have any power for me anymore (I quit watching Shadow and Bone after one episode). I've been known to dig book romances (my previous book, Venus in Copper, is half love story/half detective story) and teen romances on screen (I liked Booksmart) but the teen romance in this book was just too earnest for me to fall for it.

And that last point comes back to the actual crux of the matter - Sanderson's prose (at this stage of his career at least) is very pedestrian. I liked the pacing of the story for the most part and it’s not that there aren’t any inspired phrasings to be found, but that those which do spark to life are adrift in a sea of very uninspired, if not outright clunky, ones. “She felt a feeling of dread”. “Vin followed, following him”. The mists “were slightly wet”. Frequent needless reminders (Vin thinks to herself at one point, long after both Vin and we the readers have gotten to know a bunch about Kell and Marsh, “Or, maybe Dockson had finally gotten a communication from Marsh – Kelsier’s brother”).

So while I did have a good time with those last 180 pages or so, and found the basic hard magic system pretty fun overall, it wasn't enough to drive me on to the second in the trilogy, so a couple of days ago I moved on to The Dresden Files. Tempted as I was by the recent Wheel of Time TV show news to pick up some Robert Jordan, after the mostly po-faced grimness of The Final Empire I wanted something with a glint in its eye, and word on the street is Butcher's series has more of that than Jordan's does.
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Finished Ready Player Two.

Structurally, it gets almost everything wrong about what I think about novel-writing. Deus ex machinas, the protagonist is a passive schlub whose development happens offscreen, extraordinarily juvenile and shallow characterizations and plot points, half the novel (actually, more than half) is an exposition laden flashback ... I could go on and on.

Neverthless, I found it charming enough and the ending fairly thought-provoking. Of course, I'm a complete sucker for what the themes turned out to be (as shown by my rave reviews of certain Black Mirror episodes). Don't get me wrong, it's a bad book, but somehow I got a kick out of it in spite of myself.


**It disturbs me how many of the dorky pop culture references I immediately recognize whilst reading.

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(04-13-2021, 07:45 PM)kyle reese 2 Wrote: Finished I Am Legend and Stir Of Echoes, now continuing the Richard Matheson streak with Hell House. Feels like it's going to be another good one.

I just wrapped up Stir of Echoes.

I liked it! I have to think some of it may be considered ... *sigh* ... "problematic" by today's standards, but I kind of appreciated the authentic old-fashionedness of it all! I'm not sure I totally buy the "twist" at the end (I kind of think the movie came up with a more shocking revelation), and I certainly didn't find it creepy or frightening, but it's always interesting to visit the earnest source for umpteen copycats.

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Glad you liked Stir of Echoes.

Just read through Kingdom Come by J.G. Ballard. I think it was his last novel, there was an autobiography after that. It's not the sharpest writing of his career, but it's pretty damn readable. I got sucked in and finished it in a week.

Ballard is still primarily an ideas guy, so I wouldn't go in expecting plausible situations or recognizably human characters. He gets the concepts across very effectively, though.

The main hook is a cross between consumerism gone mad and populist fascism. It takes place in a British "motorway town" off the M-25, somewhere near Heathrow. This is alternate reality England in 2006, but the townspeople are essentially Trumper insurrectionists. Among the heightened pulp mystery thriller plot points, there are a few eerily accurate moments that I could have imagined seeing on US cable news in 2020-2021.
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I can't hear "Kingdom Come" and not think of the seminal graphic novel.

After waiting what feels like my entire adult life, Anne Rice (and her kid ...) published a sequel to what I recall being by FAR my favorite work of hers, The Mummy (I never got around to reading those Sleeping Beauty books Anne Rice published under the pseudonym 'A.N. Roquelaure' that MichaelM is always raving about). Unfortunately, Mummy 2 is simply a snoozefest. I tried to enjoy the pulpiness of it, but by the halfway point when the plot was going nowhere and characters keep rethinking/retreading the exact same shit I gave up. Immensely disappointing after all this time, especially when the original novel teased us that the "Adventures of Ramses the Damned will continue." Unless it happened later in the novel, which I doubt, I also find it pretty irritating that they didn't follow up notion that Rice's Mummyverse and Vampireverse were the same reality. This is hinted at in Queen of the Damned (I think that was the one) when one of the older vamps talk about another race of supernatural immortals that they keep their distance from. What a missed opportunity.

I just started Ubik. Phillip K. Dick has always been mostly hit or miss for me. I love, love, love his ideas, but I also feel like plot summarizations of his works end up being far more riveting than the actual prose he creates. I did like Flow My Tears the Policeman Said, but I didn't really care for High Castle and there's a bunch of his stuff I either couldn't finish or I found forgettable.

Ubik seems like it may buck that trend. Some of the world-building feels like a precursor to Altered Carbon, and I'm really curious to see if the mystery that's central to the plot holds up. The novel immediately hooked me with one of the greatest lines in the history of sci fi on, like, the first page: "I'll consult my dead wife."

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Hell House by Richard Matheson was absolutely brilliant. Reading it in installments before bedtime gave me legitimate heebie jeebies, even as desensitized as I am.

All the tropes of haunted houses and paranormal phenomena are there, executed with precision, and taken to the next level of intensity. Some scenes are very NC-17, and some are spookablasts of sheer psychic terror. I don't know how Matheson could have come up with half of this stuff without researching "real" paranormal phenomena.

A miniseries or 3 hour movie with some of today's prestige actors could be amazing. (Just don't shoot it through the digital Netflix Filter). I'll have to check out the 1973 film, but there's no way they got more than 30% of the good stuff in.
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You seem to be on a Matheson kick!

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His old school style tight pulpy prose combined with big ideas is really speaking to me right now. Might do Bid Time Return/Somewhere In Time next. Out of the ones I've read so far, Hell House might be the most impressive.

I tend to blaze through a few books in a row by a given author when I find out they match up with my current moods. Did the same thing with Christopher Priest and Moorcock's Elric books in the last couple years.

I went through a lot of Philip K Dick stuff 15+ years ago, since I knew his name from the movies. A Scanner Darkly is one of the better ones alongside Flow My Tears. Strangely, I waited many years to get around to Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, and it ended up being great, a unique entity separate from the movie.

I didn't get much out of his post-religious hallucination stuff like Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch. It was still well written and readable, but as someone who has never had a Jesus Fish historical vision awakening, I can't identify with it.
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Hell House is the Internet's top pick for the third season of Mike Flanagan's Haunting series on Netflix, I have noted.

Never gotten around to it myself, but it's always been on the list. Maybe this moved it up.
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Picked up a coffee table book, The Making of Lonesome Dove. Terrific pictures and a lot of inside baseball scoop, of absolutely no interest to anyone but Lonesome Dove devotees, including:

-Charles Bronson was the first choice for Blue Duck. Passed on it for A Family of Cops or something. (actually he wanted top billing)
-Tommy Lee Jones was not a given for a role of Call, given his youth.
-Robert Duvall's model for Augustus McRae: Redskins QB Sammy Baugh.
-DB Sweeney said he was an expert rider when he got the part of Dish, lying through his teeth. He went to the set of Young Guns and learned to ride there.
-Brad Pitt tried out for the role of Dish.
-Lorena's scar was inspired by Cybill Shepard's similar scar.
-The inscription on Deets' tombstone was inspired by the note on that of an African-American scout in the 1880s, and was nearly identical.
-Frederic Forrest wanted an elaborate backstory for Blue Duck and wrote it out. Some of it was filmed and thrown into the trash.
-Rick Schroeder was highly allergic to horses and wore a medical mask whenever not on camera.
-Robert Urich was not held in high regard by the other actors - until his first scene, the 'dropped him dead' scene.
-Angelica Huston was not the first choice for Clara; she thinks it was another top actress at the time, maybe Peter Bogdonovich's gf Cybill Shepard.
-the name Lonesome Dove came from a name on the side of a church bus which Larry McMurtry saw in rural Texas.
-Robert Duvall really doesn't like Australians. Guess that's why he's never made a film with the Hemsworths.
"Whose advice are you going to take in show business, Judd Apatow or me?" - Norm Macdonald
 


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Bloodsucking Fiends: It's a fun story about love and vampires. The witty dialogue was my favorite part. I'm looking forward to reading the sequels You Suck and Bite Me.

My Best Friends's Exorcism: I immediately got sucked into this book. It reminded me a little bit of Jennifer's Body because the plot is a high school girl dealing with her friend who has been possessed by a demon. Since this is a novel, there is more backstory on how the main characters Abby and Gretchen became friends and all the fun they had before Gretchen became possessed.  There isn't that much horror in it, but there is a scene that is as disgusting as it is imaginative. 

  It's set in the 80's, so there are a lot of pop culture references, but the book doesn't go overboard with them. I was impressed that one chapter is titled Union of the Snake; it's rad Duran Duran tune.

   Finally this book has a sentence that may be the most touching and or heartfelt thing I have ever read. I don't want to give it away, but you know once you read it.
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The only "classic" King story that I missed in my teenage years was 'Salems Lot ... somehow.

Well, I'm 125ish pages or so in. Classic King in terms of the evocative, flowery prose, and also classic King in that I'm 125ish pages in and I think the first concrete plot event related to the actual story of the novel has finally happened.

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IMO Salem's Lot is top tier King.
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I don’t recall that one being slow to start at all. But I’m also a sucker for small town King stuff.
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(08-19-2021, 04:54 PM)arjen rudd Wrote: I don’t recall that one being slow to start at all. But I’m also a sucker for small town King stuff.

YMMV, of course, but introducing the putative antagonist and having the first concrete "bad thing" related to the central conflict happen 20-25% of the way into a 675 page novel, in my opinion, is definitely "taking your time."

But, the set-up with the small town, the characters, and the ambiance is sufficiently gripping that I don't mind.  I will, however, note that there came a point in King's career when he lost the ability to set an evocative stage and his works became bloated messes, IMHO.  That was right around 1990 ... I don't think I've enjoyed anything he's written after the 80s.

**Coincidentally, he stopped drinking and cocaine'ing in 1990, I believe.

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I'm a couple hundred pages into 'Salems Lot and the book feels like a time machine it's so 70s/80s in tone. You couldn't write something like this and have it published by a mainstream shop today. It's too earnest, the author self-insertion is too obnoxiously blatant and transparent (holy crap would a modern author get absolutely fucking torn to shreds if he tried to write an uber-competent author protagonist who's smarter than everyone, fucks the hottest high school girl on the grass in the park, and dumps key exposition at crucial moments), it's got too much homophobic slang, and the women actually have sexual agency (several throwaway femmes in this exhibit more sexual agency in any singular page than every female character in the MCU, combined).

I love it.

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The MCU is my go-to comparator for the extent to which any given character has sexual agency too.

Because why wouldn't it be?
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(08-19-2021, 06:21 PM)Overlord Wrote:
(08-19-2021, 04:54 PM)arjen rudd Wrote: I don’t recall that one being slow to start at all. But I’m also a sucker for small town King stuff.

YMMV, of course, but introducing the putative antagonist and having the first concrete "bad thing" related to the central conflict happen 20-25% of the way into a 675 page novel, in my opinion, is definitely "taking your time."  

But, the set-up with the small town, the characters, and the ambiance is sufficiently gripping that I don't mind.  I will, however, note that there came a point in King's career when he lost the ability to set an evocative stage  and his works became bloated messes, IMHO.  That was right around 1990 ... I don't think I've enjoyed anything he's written after the 80s.

**Coincidentally, he stopped drinking and cocaine'ing in 1990, I believe.
11.22.63 is post 1990 and then some, and it's my favorite King novel. The plot about going back in time to stop the Kennedy assassination is good, but my favorite thing about the book is how the main character Jake reacts to living in the past.
I've got good news and I've got bad news. The bad news is I've lost my way. The good news is I'm way ahead of schedule!
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(08-20-2021, 11:14 PM)Bucho Wrote: The MCU is my go-to comparator for the extent to which any given character has sexual agency too.

Because why wouldn't it be?

Hurm.

(08-20-2021, 11:52 PM)Chaz Rock City Wrote:
(08-19-2021, 06:21 PM)Overlord Wrote:
(08-19-2021, 04:54 PM)arjen rudd Wrote: I don’t recall that one being slow to start at all. But I’m also a sucker for small town King stuff.

YMMV, of course, but introducing the putative antagonist and having the first concrete "bad thing" related to the central conflict happen 20-25% of the way into a 675 page novel, in my opinion, is definitely "taking your time."  

But, the set-up with the small town, the characters, and the ambiance is sufficiently gripping that I don't mind.  I will, however, note that there came a point in King's career when he lost the ability to set an evocative stage  and his works became bloated messes, IMHO.  That was right around 1990 ... I don't think I've enjoyed anything he's written after the 80s.

**Coincidentally, he stopped drinking and cocaine'ing in 1990, I believe.
11.22.63 is post 1990 and then some, and it's my favorite King novel. The plot about going back in time to stop the Kennedy assassination is good, but my favorite thing about the book is how the main character Jake reacts to living in the past.

You would love Replay by Ken Grimwood.

As a matter of fact, if you listen to me and go read it right now, it may be your new fave novel.

**I just ordered 11/22/63.

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I finished The Blade Itself and it was SO DANG FUN it made me (temporarily?) ditch my mission to read a series of first books by various fantasy authors, because there's NO EFFIN' WAY I can wait to read the rest of that story.
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(08-21-2021, 04:01 AM)Bucho Wrote: I finished The Blade Itself and it was SO DANG FUN it made me (temporarily?) ditch my mission to read a series of first books by various fantasy authors, because there's NO EFFIN' WAY I can wait to read the rest of that story.

Have you checked out Glotka's First Law Law Blog?

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Finished 'Salem's lot. Not sure how I missed it during my "I'm a big fan of Stephen King," days, but it's definitely one of his best efforts (at least among those I've read, I gave up on him right around the time Needful Things was published ... though I'm going to check out that time-travel Kennedy assassination one at some point).

I will say this, though:

As I finally crept through the fairly action-packed, for King, resolution, I really remembered what had begun to drive me mad about King even back in his heyday; the guy could really use some editing/pruning. Even a really good read, like 'Salem's Lot, would benefit from somewhere between 75-150 pages being shaved off. We built to this pretty amazing crescendo, and then I swear there are 50 pages of random townfolk tales.

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Those random townsfolk tales really stuck with me as a kid. The mean old bus driver getting his comeuppance is like the first thing I think of when I think of Salem's Lot.
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(09-03-2021, 02:58 AM)arjen rudd Wrote: Those random townsfolk tales really stuck with me as a kid. The mean old bus driver getting his comeuppance is like the first thing I think of when I think of Salem's Lot.

Oh yeah, the kids in the bus devouring that guy was fucking great.  

Of course, King has made a trillion dollars and sold a billion bucks so who am I to say, but a lot of that stuff (while memorable) I think could have worked better if had taken place before the feels-like-it-was-split-in-two finale.

**At the end of the book, I had to go see if King had written a sequel with the Obviously-Leading-Into-A-Sequel Father Callahan story ... yup.

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(08-21-2021, 06:11 AM)Overlord Wrote:
(08-21-2021, 04:01 AM)Bucho Wrote: I finished The Blade Itself and it was SO DANG FUN it made me (temporarily?) ditch my mission to read a series of first books by various fantasy authors, because there's NO EFFIN' WAY I can wait to read the rest of that story.

Have you checked out Glotka's First Law Law Blog?

Is that a real thing?
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I forgot where or when I read this, but when King wrote Salem's Lot he was so disillusioned by Nixon's presidency, he thought that the vampires deserved to take over a small American town. That is why the book goes into detail about Salem's Lot's dark side.

  The Final Girls Support Group: The plot is a world where all the legendary slasher movies where based on real life incidents. Final Girls aren't just a movie trope, but a fact of life. A group of Final Girls meet in a support group in LA and someone starts hunting them down. Its more thriller than horror, but I enjoyed it. 

  The author is Grady Hendrix and after reading this and My Best Friend's Exorcism he is my new favorite author.
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