Doing any recreational reading? v.5.8

Page: 1 ... 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
Online now: gd, Google [Bot], mmaverick
Post Reply
jkahless Custom Title
User avatar
I've read the entire series twice. If you have any questions let me know. The sailing jargon is reasonably accurate, and by the end of the series, has been explained fairly thoroughly. The navies were very mercenary. Captains lucky with prize money were hugely popular.
jkahless posted:
I've read the entire series twice. If you have any questions let me know. The sailing jargon is reasonably accurate, and by the end of the series, has been explained fairly thoroughly. The navies were very mercenary. Captains lucky with prize money were hugely popular.

I've finished "Post Captain" and have just begun "H.M.S. Surprise".

Understand that my level of things nautical is such that I must recall that port == left EVERY time, so the complexities of the various sails and their settings is utter jibberish to me. Since the author O'Brian spends absolutely no time explaining anything I DO expect that if I get to the end of the series that I'll have added no practical knowledge to sailing (but that's OK). I'll take your word that all the jargon is correct.

What was more interesting to me was how English society handled debt. At the start of "Post Captain" Captain Jack Aubrey learns that his financial agent who had been handling his money back in London had absconded to Paris with the funds of Aubrey and several others. Worse yet, a judge had ruled against his favor in the case of a ship he had captured and turned over to the Admiralty, basically saying that Aubrey had done this illegally and owed £11 K to that ship's owner (this calculator converts £1 of 1801 as equivalent to about $100 currently, so that translates as over $1.1 M).

From the description debts had become something of a formalized "game" though with deadly consequences. There are bailiffs wandering around SOME districts of Britain (while others are off-limits to these bailiffs). If a bailiff touches a debtor with his staff of office, then the debtor is obliged to go with that bailiff to the nearest debtors prison. With £11 K of debt hanging over him, Aubrey has no practical chance of paying it off while sitting in debtors prison, so he does what he can to get a new ship. This is complicated by the problem of the current temporary peace which had broken out between the UK and France, which not only put practically all shipping off-limits to the British Navy but means that Aubrey and hundreds of other captains were basically out of work.

Through machinations I won't explain Aubrey manages to get command of an odd experimental ship that is being prepared for launch from the docks of Portsmouth. Aubrey gets to the ship without any problems AND the ship's crew automatically turns away any bailiffs who might come by, but as part of his arrangement to take command Aubrey had persuaded the Admiralty to promote one of the Sophie's former crew to a lieutenant aboard this ship. Naturally Aubrey feels obligated to attend the party that the family and crew are holding to celebrate. Some bailiffs hear about this so in the middle of that party one attempts to break into the public house where the celebration is being held in order to touch Aubrey with his staff. Aubrey manages to jump out of a window, and outside he gathers members of his crew who were also celebrating. They all are aware of what is going on, so they form a scrum around Aubrey so that he is well beyond the reach of any bailiff with a staff. Aubrey's crew get him back to his ship (along with a couple of the bailiffs who--having lost their staffs--are basically "shanghaied" into the crew).

The reason why the second book is titled "Post Captain" has to do with the structure of the British Navy. In the first book Aubrey was promoted to the rank of captain in order to serve as "master and commander" of a ship, but there is some period at the start of every captain's career when he is merely a captain. Usually after some time and perhaps following some notable actions, a captain is "graduated" to the titled post captain. At this point a post captain is added to a British Navy list where he can expect to be raised in rank more-or-less automatically such that--if he survives and barring any misfortunes or bad judgments--he should expect to retire as an admiral.
gd Team Magma Admin Courtney
User avatar
Most of the stuff I've been reading is YA lit.

Just finished The Chocolate War by Cormier.

Recently I've read the I Am Number Four series, Dangerous Lies, and Papertowns.

Soon I'll be Reading Johnathan Livingston Seagull, The House on Mango Street, Going Bovine, and The Outsiders.

I plan on reading The Shipbreaker by Paolo Bacigalupi and maybe then The Windup Girl as well.
user Stupid cockwomble
User avatar
gd posted:
Johnathan Livingston Seagull

That'll be a good 20 min.
gd Team Magma Admin Courtney
User avatar
user posted:
gd posted:
Johnathan Livingston Seagull

That'll be a good 20 min.


It was. :lol:
A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms by George R.R. Martin (2015).

This is something of a prequel to the full "A Song of Fire and Ice" of which "A Game of Thrones" is the first book, though it dates from about a century before "Thrones". There are some passing references to Maester Aemon Targaryen (who readers of the other books and watchers of the HBO series know of as the elder maester of Castle Black at the Wall), though at the start of "Knight" he is still training at Old Town to become a maester.

But HE is pretty much IT as far as what "Knight" shares with the rest of "Song". Of course there are a plethora of family and place names that both share but every other character in "Song" is several decades yet to born when "Knight" takes place. No worries of any spoilers as far as the HBO series is concerned.

Westeros is in a troubled time. It has been 16 winters from the last civil war between the factions being led by collections of different half-brothers Targaryen who contended for the Iron Throne after their father died. There is still resentment between the supporters of the "red dragon" who won and the survivors of the "black dragon" who lost and were largely pardoned (though not without losses of lands, titles and hostage relatives sent to King's Landing), AND there are constantly rumors of conspiracies of how so-and-so is gathering people to support this or that potential heir to the Iron Throne. Being more of a bookish man, King Aerys is not well-respected by the lords of Westeros--he retained his throne through the actions of his more heroic half-brother who died while winning that civil war. He is assisted by another half-brother who serves as his Hand who is rumored to have thousands of spies reporting back to him every hint of treason.

Young Duncan--who always refers to himself as "Dunk" throughout the book--had been serving for a decade as a squire to Ser Arlan of Pennytree, a hedge knight who had been picking up odd jobs here and there from this lord or that who had need. Dunk considers himself to have been very fortunate in being picked out of Flea Bottom in King's Landing by Ser Arlan due to his unusual size for his age of about 5--Dunk himself is uncertain as to precisely how old he is--and which continued into his young adulthood because Dunk is only a inch short of seven feet tall with a breadth to match.

HAD been serving, because the book opens with Dunk laying Ser Arlan to rest, digging a grave after the knight had suffered a severe chill while they were on their way to a tourney where Ser Arlan had hoped to find some lord requiring the services of a hedge knight. Having no heirs to worry about--Dunk doesn't even know where Pennytree is and Ser Arlan was reluctant to talk about that--Dunk collects what he can use from Ser Arlan, and what he cannot due to Dunk's size he hopes to sell or trade for armor he can wear. Fortunately Ser Arlan also left Dunk with a knighthood because in Westeros only a knight can create another knight, so shortly before his death Ser Arlan still had the strength to carry through with the ceremony to create Ser Duncan.

The book is a collection of three novellas covering the first part of the career of Ser Duncan as a hedge knight and his somewhat complex relationship with House Targaryen (I'll leave the whys of that to the book). In an afterword Martin promises that there will be further stories.

So: is it necessary to read "Knight" to further your understanding of Game of Thrones, either the novels or HBO series? No.

BUT it is a pleasant read. If you have liked "Song" or the HBO series then add "Knight" to your reading list.
The Guns of August.
gd Team Magma Admin Courtney
User avatar
Going Bovine by Libba Bray

Finished it this morning and it is absolutely one of my all-time favorite books thus far.
Wuthering Heights

Saw the films, heard the song, and now it's time for the book.
TOS
User avatar
adam goldsworthy... why rome fell
jkahless posted:
I've read the entire series twice. If you have any questions let me know. The sailing jargon is reasonably accurate, and by the end of the series, has been explained fairly thoroughly. The navies were very mercenary. Captains lucky with prize money were hugely popular.

OK, not a sailing jargon question but one about the series and its relationship with the movie.

The full title of the movie is Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World. I have finally spotted it among my cable listings and have it saved on my DVR.

But book 10 of the series is titled "The Far Side of the World".

So far I have read the first 5 books and am taking a break to read other stuff in part because my local Barnes & Noble does not have the entire series on its shelves. I do have book 6 waiting on my to-be-read bookshelf.

So...based on the thumbnail sketch of the movie given at IMDB, is the movie something of an amalgam of the novels up to and including book 10? Or should I just watch the movie as a somewhat separate entity which drew elements from the entire book series? Or perhaps just bypass the movie which is over 3 hours long (with added commercial breaks)?

My personal preference is to watch a movie based on a novel AFTER reading it.
The Line Between by Peter S. Beagle.

Previous to this I had never read ANYTHING by Beagle. No particular reason for this; after reading this collection of short stories and novellas I can see that he is a particularly fine writer of fantasy and while hard science fiction is more my preference I have no problems with fantasy as a genre.

With a recent re-issue of several of his books, I decided to start with this anthology although this might have been a bit of a mistake on my part (more on this below).

The opening story, "Gordon, the Self-Made Cat", can only be read with a grin. It is about Gordon who is a...well, it is a short story and really any explanation would spoil the fun.

I did have a problem with "Two Hearts" which appears to be something of a coda for the novel "The Last Unicorn". As I have not read that novel I can only surmise that it takes place a long time--a couple of decades?--following "Unicorn" and features several of its main characters being re-spurred into action by Sooz, a young girl from an unnamed village being plagued by a griffin which had been picking off cattle and sheep but now was also eating children including several of Sooz's friends. While entreaties had been made to the King, so far a couple of parties--first, a single knight, then a small patrol of such--had been sent out which only disappeared while the attacks upon the villagers continued. Sooz decides to go on her own to the capital to beg that something else be done, and on her way she encounters 2 of the main characters from "Unicorn" who escort her to the King.

This is a somewhat wistful tale and I think that it might be more significant to me AFTER reading "Unicorn", my lack of which I shall remedy soon, having that novel sitting on my to-be-read shelf.

The other stories are well-written but lack anything of particular note until the last: "A Dance for Emilia". This begins as one member--Jake--of a pair of lifelong friends (having known each other since being neighboring pals from before even starting grade school in NYC) recounts their life together then apart after the other--Sam--had died at home alone having suffered a heart attack (cigarettes got him). Through interactions with mutual friends and acquaintances and lovers Jake tells about their successes and disappointments until he encounters Emily at graveside during Sam's funeral. Up to this point Jake had known about Emily through his nearly weekly phone calls with Sam but had never met her even though Sam and Emily had an on-going relationship for several years and Jake had visited Sam in NYC a few times during that time.

Emilia (as Sam called her) had been something of a stray that he had picked up after he saved her from a battering husband/lover. About half his age at that time, she had become his lover in an on-again, off-again relationship that was close enough that she was taking care of "their" cat at the time of Sam's death. Since Jake had just finished a stage production--him being a stage actor of some note, mostly along the US west coast--he could bond with Emilia for a couple of weeks, telling her about his and Sam's childhood through the backdrop of NYC. He returns home to the west but remains in contact with Emilia redirecting his habit of weekly calls to her when...

Well, read it for yourself. Highly recommended with the caution that one should read "The Last Unicorn" first.

Last edited by DEyncourt on Tue May 17, 2016 4:20 pm.

Work Done for Hire by Joe Haldeman.

This is a mostly amusing novel that unfortunately at the very end does not quite click into place cleanly for me. Still worth your time reading.

The novel takes place perhaps over a decade into the future. There are some technologies that currently do not exist like a special lane on SOME highways where SOME late-model cars can enter to be driven automatically until a proximity alert will warn the occupants that their destination is approaching. There also has been an up(?)grade to the surveillance society where it is taken for granted that many activities today have become severely limited because of that additional observation.

About a decade before "Work" takes place Christian "Jack" Daley had been drafted into the US Army for Operation Desert Freeze (AFAIK not ever a real US military operation). He discovered during boot camp that he had something of knack at sharpshooting that the Army trained him as sniper. While overseas Jack figures that he might have killed about 20 people at long range (though he was certain of about only 3 of these--after all, would you just sit there after hearing a ricochet immediately behind you?) when an in-camp attack left him wounded in such a way that he lost his left pinkie.

Having returned to Iowa City on 80% disability, Jack had been kicking around in various odd jobs and disability pay until the writing bug bit him and he wrote a memoir about his time as an Army sniper that was "good enough" to earn his book a bad review from the NY Times. The book gave Jack enough of a writer's credit that Hollywood director Ronald Duquest (I suppose think of him as a low-rent version of Michael Bay) contacted Jack's literary agent with a work-for-hire deal: Jack would write a novelization of the script for a horror movie that Duquest is currently working on. While Jack would get no writing credit, he would get $10 K as an advance, another $40 K upon completion of the novel with perhaps up to another $500 K after the movie is completed and sales for the movie and book are successful enough.

"Work" is interspersed with chapters from Jack's novel. Its point-of-view switches between Hunter (the name given by the news media to the monster that had been leaving behind the skins of his victims, and who through his inner monologue clearly believes that he is an alien for whom the Earth is his personal hunting ground) and Steve Spencer, a vet turned private detective whom a millionaire hires to track down Hunter. Y'know, as gruesome as some of the details from this in-book novel were, I would read it.

For a while things seems to be working well for Jack and his girlfriend, Catherine "Kit" Majors. He uses some of his advance money to buy a pair of bicycles like the one Spencer would be using in his novelization to get some personal knowledge on how to handle situations on bicycles. Jack and Kit go on a bike tour for a weekend (which an unexpected change in weather cuts short).

Then something odd happens: shortly after Kit leaves for work at her usual time early in one morning, Jack is brought fully awake by his doorbell ringing. He opens the door to hear a car squealing from a jack-rabbit start and to find a large, heavy oblong box on his doorstep. Bringing it inside, Jack find that box holds a civilian version of the rifle he had used as a sniper in the Army plus a box of ammo and ten $1,000 bills (the implication here being that such are becoming commonplace in this inflated society). A note says that he would be paid $100,000 for doing the thing he did in the Army while also warning him not to contact the authorities with an additional hint that if Jack does not cooperate that he would be putting Kit in danger.

In a few minutes Jack gets a phone call. A woman tells him to take the rifle and ammo to a junk yard where there is an open informal gun range. Jack is to "zero" this rifle, clean up his spent shells, then await further instructions.

Jack follows his instructions while all the time wondering what is actually going on. He decides to drive to Kit's office on the nearby college campus to discuss this while deciding to avoid using the phone on the assumption that it has been bugged. Through a series of (misinterpreted? mis)adventures, both he and Kit decide they must bug out with what money they have available.

In general flavor this novel shares a lot with "The Forever War", Haldeman's most famous novel.
gd Team Magma Admin Courtney
User avatar
The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
juice Inadvertently correct
User avatar
Stay gold, Ponyboy
jkahless Custom Title
User avatar
DEyncourt posted:
jkahless posted:
I've read the entire series twice. If you have any questions let me know. The sailing jargon is reasonably accurate, and by the end of the series, has been explained fairly thoroughly. The navies were very mercenary. Captains lucky with prize money were hugely popular.

OK, not a sailing jargon question but one about the series and its relationship with the movie.

The full title of the movie is Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World. I have finally spotted it among my cable listings and have it saved on my DVR.

But book 10 of the series is titled "The Far Side of the World".

So far I have read the first 5 books and am taking a break to read other stuff in part because my local Barnes & Noble does not have the entire series on its shelves. I do have book 6 waiting on my to-be-read bookshelf.

So...based on the thumbnail sketch of the movie given at IMDB, is the movie something of an amalgam of the novels up to and including book 10? Or should I just watch the movie as a somewhat separate entity which drew elements from the entire book series? Or perhaps just bypass the movie which is over 3 hours long (with added commercial breaks)?

My personal preference is to watch a movie based on a novel AFTER reading it.



Sorry, I didn't see this till now. Absolutely go ahead and watch the film. It's drawn from a combination of books, with a few tweaks to make it more palatable to an American film audience. With despite or perhaps because of the changes, it really helps bring the books to life in my opinion.
Thanks! I've already watched the movie and posted a review here. My assessment was pretty much the same though I did recommend reading at least "Master and Commander" before watching the movie if only to acquaint the modern viewer with the unfamiliar world of ship-to-ship warfare of that era.
gd Team Magma Admin Courtney
User avatar
juice posted:
Stay gold, Ponyboy



Now I understand why Johnny said that to me.
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (2011) by Rebecca Skloot.

I do have to warn you: much of this biography of Henrietta Lacks AND her family plus the reasearch involving her cells is rather depressing. There is much to her story that is reminiscent of that awful Tuskegee syphilis experiment in the degree that doctors of that era took advantage of the inherent trust that ALL people had placed with MDs. It should be clear that nearly everything could have been done to Henrietta's cancer that was already being done for similar victims of cervical cancer at that time including very primitive radiotherapy of that time AND that she apparently had a particularly virulent form of cancer that somewhat ironically might have been untreatable even today despite medical advances made possible by her cells.

Still Skloot manages to interweave the various erroneous family tales concerning HeLa (the name given to the culture of cancerous cells taken from Henrietta which proved to be "immortal") with a lot of science explanations. To be sure, a lot of those tales were misunderstood outgrowths from popular fiction like the clones from "The Boys from Brazil", but there is a real truth to the poignant understanding throughout the Lacks family that while many people have profited from therapies and drugs and treatments that were made possible only by the mere existence of HeLa, there are RIGHT NOW many in the family who simply cannot afford basic medical treatment much less more advanced therapies that some older members require.

Part of the reason Skloot had to tell the history of the family was how, time and again, they had been mistreated by at least some parts of the medical community. This was such that when in 1999 she first decided to dedicate some time (which eventually spread out over the next decade) to finding out the background of Henrietta Lacks, Skloot had to spend years simply overcoming the suspicion that the entire Lacks family had towards ANY white people asking about Henrietta. There are a lot of passive voice "explanations" of how in 1990 Henrietta's medical records got released even though her husband was still alive and never gave permission for that release; how around 1985 there were blood tests taken from her husband and surviving children that were given the explanation of detecting and possibly preventing cancer among them when the actual reason--which was never fully explained to the family until this book was being written--was that scientists needed DNA samples (yes, red blood cells lack a nucleus which would contain DNA, but there would be plenty of white blood cells) from these people to determine genetic markers to quickly identify HeLa cells because the ubiquity of these cultured cells was such that they could overwhelm any attempts to culture other human cells. This problem was such that a LOT of medical research done with human cells from about the mid-1960's to the present have been called into question because what researchers had thought were, say, the cells from someone's spleen actually were replaced by HeLa.

Highly recommended as the Lacks family story is extraordinarily well-told.
Kingfisher (2016) by Patricia A. McKillip.

I know that the reason why I was avoiding McKillip was simply because I was confusing her with another fantasy writer, Patricia Kennealy-Morrison--whose "The Copper Crown" I disliked so much that "Patricia M..." was enough to turn me away--but a friend recommended McKillip so when I spied "Kingfisher" I took a chance.

This is a curious fantasy novel. It takes place in a world where there are lots of OUR world's modern conveniences such as cars and motorcycles and cell phones, but there are hints and more that at least up to recently--perhaps just before or during the childhoods of most of the main characters, so around 2-4 decades ago?--that magic was more prevalent as an everyday occurence. It still can happen, but most of the time it is because someone gets overwhelmed by something happening to him/her.

In the opening section Pierce Oliver decides that he must break away from his mother about whom he has heard tales that she was once a powerful sorceress before she left the capital city, Severluna, for the more remote Cape Desolation where they both run a cafe. During his trip to the capital which takes several days, his car suffers a serious flat tire during which Pierce nearly loses control of his car before he winds up in a ditch next to the road. Before he is fully recovered from this, his cell phone rings and he answers it knowing that it is his mother calling him. He glances up into the sky and spots a hawk flying far overhead, so he waves to it because he knows that his mother is magically but mentally "riding" on that hawk. He also gets to complain to her that she should stop watching him like a very literal hawk because he wants to make his own way through their world.

The rest of the novel carries on with this mixture of the modern with the magical (some of the latter being religious magic). It is well-written but I feel that the end is significantly incomplete with several major storylines unresolved. My friend (who has also read Kingfisher) speculates that this may be the first novel of a new series, although she noted that McKillip isn't in the habit of writing series since she has only one of them in her writing history, The Riddle-Master Trilogy. Kingfisher also has no explicit notes ("Look for the sequel in October 2016!") or afterword saying such.
Aurora (2015) by Kim Stanley Robinson.

I know that I should put more effort into reading more Robinson. His writing is often very thought-provoking, making the reader consider a lot of questions.

"Aurora" begins with 13-year-old Freya going through a boating accident with her father, Badim, while they are out on the Long Pond. Seems innocent enough, but eventually the scope pulls back to reveal that they are on a generation ship that is in its 165th year of its 169-year voyage to Tau Ceti, having spent much of that time coasting after being accelerated to 10% light-speed during the first part of its journey by lasers stationed in orbit around Saturn. The ship (which curiously is given no name throughout the book) consists of a pair of rings mounted to a central spine. Each of the rings has 12 "biomes" with one ring consisting of Old World settings and the other, New World. Each of the biomes are named for the ecology it resembles so Freya and Badim live in "Nova Scotia". Each biome is 4 km long and 1 wide set longways along each of the rings, so with the passageways that connect each pair of adjacent biomes those rings are about 50 km in circumference. Every other biome is attached to that spine by another passageway about 8 km long. The whole ship is rotating to give the biomes a simulated 0.83 g's, that being the calculated gravity of the larger moon of one of the planets in the Tau Ceti system which was snap-surveyed by one of dozens of scouting probes sent out about 2 centuries earlier in the 2300's. On the average each biome has around 100 people each, but there are some which are more popular than others like "Costa Rica".

There are mounting ship problems which is the pressure upon Freya's mother, Devi, who is essentially the chief engineer aboard the ship. For several years now (and for another 4 years into the future) the ship has been undergoing a slow deceleration by essentially detonating a series of small hydrogen bombs in front of the blast shield at the front end of the ship in order to match the galactic rotational speed of the Tau Ceti system, and this has put stresses upon the various biomes. On top of being very smart, Devi has a knack of being able to step back from problems to see a wholer view which enables her to figure out the root of the problem rather than just fixing the symptoms. This particular insight means that EVERYONE turns to her whenever anything goes wrong.

For assistance, Devi turns to the ship's computer, whose central unit consists of a couple of hundred quantum-bits (the implication being that even this far into the future quantum-bits are still horrendously expensive or perhaps simply that hard to create). When she was a child Devi had given a name to the computer, but now they--through mutual consent--just refer to the computer as "Ship" which does play a significant role throughout the novel.

Devi is also worried about Freya in particular. Devi somewhat despairs that she sees that Freya seems not as brilliant as Devi but actually is somewhat slow learning at school, especially in math. Nevertheless, both Devi and Badim allow that in the next year Freya will do the circuit of the biomes, which is the usual custom for families aboard the ship. Sometimes a teen might visit a couple of biomes over then decide to settle in that last one; most teens spend about a year doing a full circuit visiting each of the biomes in both rings for a couple of weeks each before deciding to return "home"; but Freya will spend several years in her circuit, sometimes spending months in a particular biome trying to talk to all of the people aboard the ship (and being mostly successful as the Ship notes that Freya does get to know about 80% aboard). There being strict population control on the ship, everyone has anti-conception drugs being part of their diets so there is no chance for Freya to become pregnant during her circuit (those being allowed to have children being given alternate diets).

OK, sorry. I see that I have spent a lot of time already and this is just for the OPENING section of Aurora. It is a very dense book but ultimately I think ONE of the key questions is what exactly would we be doing launching such a generation ship (even ignoring the possibility of developing faster-than-light drive which is never mentioned in this book). While it may seem similar to what the colonization ships from the Old World to the New one, the question is actually much more complicated: we are asking people not yet born to take on the task of colonizing a COMPLETELY different world with unknown biologies. How might those colonizers react to the people who sent them (yes, this does get answered but you'll have to read the book to learn how this was possible)?

A very complex but satisfying read.
user Stupid cockwomble
User avatar
Quote:
anti-conception drugs


Let me guess....lots of free love on the ship?
maurvir Perfectly balanced - mostly
User avatar
DEyncourt posted:
While it may seem similar to what the colonization ships from the Old World to the New one, the question is actually much more complicated: we are asking people not yet born to take on the task of colonizing a COMPLETELY different world with unknown biologies. How might those colonizers react to the people who sent them (yes, this does get answered but you'll have to read the book to learn how this was possible)?


I've always thought questions like this were extremely interesting, and even attempted writing about something similar once. I might have to check this out. :up:
user posted:
Quote:
anti-conception drugs


Let me guess....lots of free love on the ship?

Um, sure, but perhaps being so commonplace Robinson spent only a small section about it concerning Freya.
user Stupid cockwomble
User avatar
DEyncourt posted:
user posted:
Quote:
anti-conception drugs


Let me guess....lots of free love on the ship?

Um, sure, but perhaps being so commonplace Robinson spent only a small section about it concerning Freya.

Just thinking about how the 70s scifi writers would indulge in descriptions of lots of unfettered sex.
jkahless posted:
I've read the entire series twice. If you have any questions let me know.
[snip]

Perhaps not quite a nautical question but more one on terminology of the time.

There have been several times in the O'Brian books when a term will be repeated in the form of "X and X" for unclear reasons to me.

For example: near the end of book 6: The Fortunes of War, the HMS Shannon is getting ready to battle with the USS Chesapeake during the War of 1812 (though this particular fight was in June of 1813 and from his opening note for the book O'Brian took advantage of an actual historic fight and through circumstances arranged for Aubrey and Maturin to be on board), but as it happens the Shannon has a woman noncombatant on board so Captain Philip Broke had prepared a part of his ship for her protection:
Quote:
'Mr. Watt [his first lieutenant], let it be so--but Lord, I am forgetting. How does the forepeak come along?'

'It is as trim and trim as we could make it, sir.'
[bold added for emphasis]

So is this just a bit of period speech or a pattern that British sailors of that time used? As far as I can tell this form is being used as emphasis of various types, in this particular case being that the crew had made a "double" effort to prepare the forepeak to be as accommodating as possible for a lady.

There was also earlier in this book (which I cannot find at the moment) when Aubrey was talking to Maturin about his days as a younger sailor aboard one ship with a strict captain who placed considerable stress on his crew being properly dressed when being called to attention. Any slightest violation of dress would mean that Aubrey had to take on "watch and watch". If I have interpreted this correctly nowadays instead we would say "a double watch" but perhaps I am completely off? And is this form that (some?) sailors even nowadays would use for this type of emphasis?

Sorry, but this isn't a question that might be easily looked up elsewhere.
jkahless Custom Title
User avatar
DEyncourt posted:
jkahless posted:
I've read the entire series twice. If you have any questions let me know.
[snip]

Perhaps not quite a nautical question but more one on terminology of the time.

There have been several times in the O'Brian books when a term will be repeated in the form of "X and X" for unclear reasons to me.

For example: near the end of book 6: The Fortunes of War, the HMS Shannon is getting ready to battle with the USS Chesapeake during the War of 1812 (though this particular fight was in June of 1813 and from his opening note for the book O'Brian took advantage of an actual historic fight and through circumstances arranged for Aubrey and Maturin to be on board), but as it happens the Shannon has a woman noncombatant on board so Captain Philip Broke had prepared a part of his ship for her protection:
Quote:
'Mr. Watt [his first lieutenant], let it be so--but Lord, I am forgetting. How does the forepeak come along?'

'It is as trim and trim as we could make it, sir.'
[bold added for emphasis]

So is this just a bit of period speech or a pattern that British sailors of that time used? As far as I can tell this form is being used as emphasis of various types, in this particular case being that the crew had made a "double" effort to prepare the forepeak to be as accommodating as possible for a lady.

There was also earlier in this book (which I cannot find at the moment) when Aubrey was talking to Maturin about his days as a younger sailor aboard one ship with a strict captain who placed considerable stress on his crew being properly dressed when being called to attention. Any slightest violation of dress would mean that Aubrey had to take on "watch and watch". If I have interpreted this correctly nowadays instead we would say "a double watch" but perhaps I am completely off? And is this form that (some?) sailors even nowadays would use for this type of emphasis?

Sorry, but this isn't a question that might be easily looked up elsewhere.


The first usage I'm not familiar with, and I take it to be a method of emphasis, as you do.

Watch on watch on the other hand is a nautical term. In the same way that shift can mean a period of work or the group that work that period of work, watch can mean period of work or the group of sailors assigned to that period of work. Watch on watch is when there are two watches, so you have a watch on, then a watch off. It was the prevailing system until if I recall correctly, Captain Bligh first introduced the three watch system.
The Annihilation Score (2015) by Charles Stross.

This is the SIXTH book in Stross' Laundry Files Novel series, though unlike the previous novels the narrator is NOT Bob Howard but his (now-estranged--see "The Rhesus Chart") wife, Dr. Dominique "Mo" O'Brien. Stross manages to alter the narrative voice in small ways (since both Bob and Mo inhabit the same Lovecraft-based world with its overlay of modern computers). Bob is a rather typical laissez-faire computer nerd who puts considerable effort into fighting against the formidable bureaucracy of the British Civil Service in which he is entangled, but instead Mo is above all a bureaucrat who uses her skills to TRY to shape that bureaucracy at least more towards her liking.

Mo is also a multi-purpose weapon or rather her violin is. In the earlier books the reader has seen SOME of the capabilities of the bone-white violin, but in "The Annihilation Score" the reader gets a more intimate look of the instrument and more of its capabilities in Mo's hands. The violin is an occult instrument created by Nazi necromancers during WWII in that part of that war that most civilians never hear about. It is specifically BONE-white because it is made up from the artfully sculpted bones of torture victims of the Nazi regime, and it holds...an entity? A soul? Something which--when the violin is played--is controlled by the violinist and has considerable occult powers. Captured during the fighting between the Allied and Axis necromancers, the violin had been part of the Laundry's special weapons. Mo has given it a name: Lecter, for the obvious reason.

Amidst the sturm und drang of the crisis in her married life, Mo also finds herself dropped into the civil service's answer to a growing "superpower" crisis: while the ultimate source of those powers is from Lovecraftian parallel worlds, it is manifesting itself in our world in some people--1 in 100,000 or 1,000? The extent is unknown at the start--as superpowers. While at the lowest end it might be rendered as the ability to stand at exactly where the doors for the Underground trains will be when those trains stop, there are a few who can fly and do other things. The agency that Mo has been placed as director is given the responsibility to harness the vast majority of people whose inclination is to do good with such powers while also tamping down on Batman-like vigilante justice (and badly screwing with correct arrest and evidence-gathering procedures).

An illustration of Mo's personal insight (and Stross' humor): Mo is beginning to put together the staff for her agency, so she tells a new prospect:
Quote:
"Let's get you going then. Hmm. As you can see, we've barely begun moving in. You can start by drawing up a wish list for equipment and I'll forward that to Facilities--anything you expect you'll need to get an analysis and reporting office for four up and running within the next month. You can also answer the door and send anyone new who shows up through to me. That's just for today, mind. Tomorrow, we'll hold an all-hands at two o'clock sharp. Clear?"

"Absolutely." His head bobs: he looks at me with an expression that makes me feel very strange for a few seconds until I realize what it signifies. I've mostly seen it in research students up 'til now. It's the look you give to your new and terrifyingly efficient and impressive boss on your way out their office door the first time you meet them, when you realize that you've survived the encounter and don't even need a change of underwear.

Am I that kind of office dragon?

It'll be fun finding out.

DukeofNuke FREE RADICAL
User avatar
user posted:
DEyncourt posted:
user posted:
Quote:
anti-conception drugs


Let me guess....lots of free love on the ship?

Um, sure, but perhaps being so commonplace Robinson spent only a small section about it concerning Freya.

Just thinking about how the 70s scifi writers would indulge in descriptions of lots of unfettered sex.


Image
user Stupid cockwomble
User avatar
have to read that one - may already have and don't remember
dv
User avatar
gd Team Magma Admin Courtney
User avatar
I'm reading The Shipbreaker by Paolo Bacigalupi
The Last Unicorn (1968) by Peter S. Beagle.

This was in part due to my reading of The Line Between and the story within which is a coda to "The Last Unicorn". There isn't any particular reason why I had not read any Beagle (not even any shorter stories in multi-author anthologies that I can recall) up until recently.

"Unicorn" is a different kind of fantasy story. At its heart it is a quest story specifically for that "last" unicorn, but there are other portions where the story interweaves the tales of two more characters--Schmendrick the Magician and Molly--so they become part of that quest too.

All along my reading of "Unicorn" I kept on coming across elements and plot lines where my immediate thought was "Well, that's derivative of, um, something" only to catch myself: what I had read or seen in movies/TV "stole" that from Beagle. Homages to the master and originator, if you will.

So...very well written and a pleasant story, and a more optimistic story than "Two Hearts" in "The Line Between". I think I gained no additional insight after reading "Unicorn" but my recommendation stands: read "Unicorn" before "The Line Between".
gd Team Magma Admin Courtney
User avatar
Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson
TOS
User avatar
re-reading stephen king's "it"

friend of mine is working on the movie so i wanted to revisit it
jkahless Custom Title
User avatar
Rereading the Enders Game novels. Finished Enders Game a couple days ago and I'm in the middle of Speaker for the Dead. Pretty enjoyable sci fi.
The House of Daniel (2016) by Harry Turtledove.

Turtledove is most famous for his alternative history writing, in particular "The Guns of the South" in which a modern Confederate-American uses a time machine to send back current guns and ammo to General Lee and the Grand Army of the Confederacy to tip the balance of the War Between the States into the South's favor (and a look at the aftermath resulting from that).

"The House of Daniel" is an altogether different setting. The time is the early Depression America of 1933 (so just after Prohibition had been repealed). THIS world differs from ours in that there are lot of mystical beasties running around: local stuff like sasquatches and wood nymphs in the Northwestern forests plus general things like werewolves (stay inside during the full moon!) and vampires (who brought a different meaning to the Red Menace as they were the prime motivators behind overturning the Czar's government in Russia during the War to End All Wars).

There are also zombies though using a different construction than usual. Here instead there are "conjurors" (as Jack calls them) who will arrange to release your soul to whatever afterlife you deserve, but your body will remain here doing the simple brain-dead work that no one likes such as moving stuff by hand from/on to trucks. Apparently things had gotten so depressed after the Big Bubble burst in 1929 (though Turtledove never goes into the exact details of what had happened then) that people were willing to be paid some small sum (presumably to next-of-kin) to be so released from this world. The conjurers would arrange the zombies to show up for simple repetitious work and to have the zombies fed with a minimal nutritional slop that would keep their bodies going.

Jack Spivey is a semipro baseball player for the Enid, OK, Eagles. That job doesn't pay anywhere close to well enough, so Jack also does "odd jobs" for Big Stu, the kind of guy who has his fingers in a lot of pies around town and that region of Oklahoma.

As it happens the Eagles have an away game to play against the Ponca City Oilers the next day, so Big Stu calls in Jack for one such job: there is a local businessman in Enid giving Big Stu some problems, but instead of taking it out directly upon that businessman Big Stu tells Jack that he will pay him fifty, no, a hundred bucks to get into town early to beat up that businessman's kid brother who is said to be in Ponca City.

Jack is reluctant but he knows that if he is to survive in Enid he has to work with Big Stu so he takes the job.

Getting in town on day before (and giving a vague excuse to his teammates that he won't be riding with them in their collection of cars to get to Ponca City which some take to mean that Jack is meeting a girl there), Jack gets set to do his business and goes to the boardinghouse room where the brother is supposed to be. He sees that the light is on in the room from the crack at the bottom of the door so he knows that someone is in there, so he knocks but is surprised to find a girl about his age answering the door.

Confused, Jack asks: "Is this Mitch's room?"

The girl answers: "Uh, no, but I'm Mich" (as a shortened version for Michelle).

Putting things together, Jack figures that somewhere the name (and thus the gender) got confused. While Jack was more than willing to throw a few punches at a guy who could at least fight back (if Jack didn't get an unexpected jump on him), Jack wasn't going to do THAT to a girl. Jack tells Mich that her brother back in Enid is having some local troubles, but if she were wise then she should get out of town as quickly as she can.

While Jack puts in the game with the Eagles as scheduled, he tells his teammates that he won't be returning to Enid with them because Jack knows that he needs to run too. As it happens, the Ponca City Oilers were playing the next day against the House of Daniel, a travelling semipro team that wandered around the US, and Jack decides he can afford to watch them play.

Now, the House of Daniel really was such a semipro baseball team in our world. During these days before radio broadcasts were even common, they did barnstorm across the US up until the early 1950's playing against local semipro teams. They had the practice of wearing full beards and long hair which is followed in this book.

During the game the next day while Jack was watching, the right and center fielders had an awful crash as they were chasing down a fly ball that landed in between them. They both suffered terrible injuries that would take both out for the rest of the year, so Harv--the player-manager for the House of Daniel--put out a call at the end of the game for any outfielders and Jack jumped up at the opportunity. After showing that he can field pretty well though he was a bit weak as a batter, Harv agrees to sign up Jack on a weekly basis.

What follows is a mostly nostalgic look at Depression Era America through Jack's eyes. The team follows a big, backwards "S" through the country heading across Texas to El Paso (where Jack sees a chupacabra that had crossed the border from Mexico being shot by the police), then north to Denver with its Great Zombie Riots, then a westward jog across to Utah then further north into Idaho, then west into Washington and down south through the inland parts of Oregon and California before ending up in Los Angeles where the House of Daniel planned to winter (along with a number of other semipro teams from across the US). All along the way Turtledove names actual local semipro teams and ballparks that were in use at that time though he avoids actual players' names (with a couple of exceptions which he points out in his afterword).

So more if you are a baseball fan (though Turtledove does point out a number of the racial problems in baseball and in society in general of that era). I'm a little disappointed that the Great Zombie Riots which was hinted at throughout the first half of the novel turned out to be a BIT disappointing (mostly in that it really didn't deserve that pluralizing "s"), but I ended the novel with a literal big grin on my face.
The Nightmare Stacks (2016) by Charles Stross.

This is the seventh and latest novel of Stross' Laundry Files series--my reviews of the previous two books here and here.

Another change in main characters.

The story begins with Dr. Alex Schwartz, PhD in mathematics and recent graduate from Oxford and unfortunately a person who has contracted PHANG as described in "The Rhesus Chart". In a footnote "written" by Alex, PHANG is "Photogolic Hemophagic Atypical Neuroectodermal Gangene, aka Vampirism. The G is, strictly speaking, misleading, but some acronyms are too good not to use." In Stross' neo-Lovecraftian multiverse, on Earth higher-level mathematicians become involved with magic although at a considerable cost: as they continue to develop their magic such mathematicians eventually attract fortunately little beasties from other branes of the multiverse which find the brains of such people quite tasty such that later in life if they do not restrict themselves to simple math will find themselves with more holes than brains.

Stross' version of vampirism has this variation upon that theme: vampires are...compelled(?) by those beasties to seek out blood for the specific purpose of establishing a psychic link between the vampire and his victims. Those beasties will then eat the brains of his victims, though if a vampire doesn't satisfy his bloodlust the beasties will begin to eat the brain of the vampire. Fortunately for Alex and around a dozen PHANGs now working at the Laundry, the need for blood is more for that mental link than nutrition (they otherwise must eat normally), so being government workers the Laundry has set up this system: a list of terminally ill patients has been developed such that while several vials of blood are taken with the explanation that they are being used for tests, they are sent in 10 cc vials to each of the vampires which Alex justifies to himself with "a couple of days of shorter life for them in exchange for a couple of weeks of life for all of us." Because of that brain consumption, that blood victim must be living so a vampire cannot store blood since any blood from now-dead people will have no such link.

Unlike with usual vampires, Stross' vampires cannot transform themselves into other forms like a bat or a fog nor have any problems with garlic, but otherwise they have high strength, the ability to move fast, hyper-sensitivity to UV light (even that generated by UV lamps) such that they can burst into flames upon sufficient exposure, and a compulsion to count things (because of the math). No, you cannot become a vampire if you get bitten by one BUT if you can understand higher levels of math then a vampire can show you the appropriate math to turn you.

Alex also has a family problem. The Laundry has decided to send him along with some other member to Leeds in northern England, perhaps with the idea that since he was born and raised in that city he could add some personal insights for the emergency outside-of-London center for the Laundry. Unfortunately his parents are still living there and Alex is at the point that his parents are beginning to ask the questions towards grandchildren: "Do you have a girlfriend? What is she like? When can we meet her?" To avoid that confrontation, while Alex was based in London he could slough off most of them by just lying, but now being based in Leeds he skulks around town with a certain level of fear that at some point he will be confronted by family (Alex has a sister who is still attending the University of Leeds).

-----

The other lead character is Agent First of Spies and Liars of the Morningstar Empire. She live(d) on a parallel Earth in another brane of our multiverse where her species had been described by Earth scientists who came across a mummified body that died circa AD 950 in Ireland as "[a]nother species of gracile hominids, only with hypertrophied pinnae" aka elves. Apparently some 1100 years ago the People or the Host as they described themselves sent an expedition to our Earth but upon finding the urük (aka us) there to be insufficiently numerous to be worth enslaving, gave up (fortunately for us not extending their expedition to Rome or Constantinople of that time).

The Morningstar Empire is a super-stratified society making old India laughably simple and loosely structured in comparison. They live in a strict system where to know one's identity is to be able to control him, so they only refer to each other by their titles, hence "Agent First of Spies and Liars". Agent First is the daughter of the All-Highest, the leader of the Morningstar Empire.

It is also a world filled with magic (or, at least, Stross' form of it) such that about 200 years ago some BIGGER beasties were attracted by that magic from somewhere else to the Morningstar Empire. In the ensuing war for the planet, the Enemy shattered their Moon and directed a big chunk to land upon the capital of the Morningstar Empire near the middle of what we call mainland Europe, killing almost all of the Host except for an installation that was dug into the mountain ranges of the far northwestern peninsula (the ocean levels on their planet being a few hundred feet lower than on our planet). Agent First's father had only been a relatively insignificant functionary in charge of that installation when after that destruction found himself having to take on the title of All-Highest.

Having decided that the Enemy would always remain too numerous for the Host to regain control of their planet, the All-Highest decides that the Host must again travel those off-world roads to establish themselves there (aka here). In preparation, he sends Agent First fully expecting her to find perhaps more numerous though primitive urük to enslave. Agent First is appropriately geared with various magical device that the Host had developed for other expeditions such as a device that will read the mind of an urük giving Agent First that person's memory and another which through the use of glamor will give her the appearance of that person to other urük. After wandering a bit trying to comprehend an unexpectedly complex world, Agent First selects Cassie Brewer, student at university. After she absorbs Cassie's memories and appearance, Cassie is commanded through a geas to go to Agent First's landing point and to go with Agent Second to the Morningstar Empire world for further interrogation (and to prevent the problem of there being TWO Cassie Brewers).

As it happens all of the urük Agent First encounters have practically no mana emanating from them because the urük use no magic UNTIL she comes across Alex. HERE is a person she can understand: a mage serving the rival queen (or is he?).

Now, much of the detail I've outlined above is described later in the novel, but what Stross does very well is adapt his narrative to "get into the minds" of the warriors of the Morningstar Empire trying to comprehend our world. All of the urük vehicles are "carts" that are somehow self-propelled (having no concept for internal combustion engines). When they spot the contrails overhead, they figure out they are being made by "flying carts". Being a society that has always been on a war footing, EVERYTHING is (mis)interpreted as of-/defensive actions by the urük. Even Agent First's interview with Alex is seen through this filter with funny results.

This is a funny book, though it does contain the first full war in the Laundry Files series so there are thousands of deaths happening throughout the last third. I was a tiny bit disappointed that Stross did not continue Mo's story from the previous novel (she does make a minor appearance in a Cabinet meeting), but overall I was happy with this and look forward to the next book.
I didn't read that, but it seems you copy/pasted the whole book
ukimalefu posted:
I didn't read that, but it seems you copy/pasted the whole book

See. There is this problem: Stross' Laundry Files series are complex books with the latter books being built upon the earlier ones. A lot of the details I laid out for the PHANGs are more from "The Rhesus Chart", book 5 of the series. While Stross gives the reader some reminders of those previous descriptions, the amount of detail I had given will not be found in "The Nightmare Stacks".

Previously I had described the Laundry's basilisk gun. Throughout the series there had been mentions of a project called SCORPION STARE (all such Laundry projects/programs are written out in all-caps). What SCORPION STARE will do is take advantage of the relative "wealth" of surveillance cameras around the nation by incorporating the basilisk gun software into the software of those cameras. Of course this is only to be implemented in cases of dire emergencies, but invasion by a hostile elven army is considered such so SCORPION STARE is invoked. The SCORPION STARE software is set up to identify and target non-humans so even if there are SOME humans running around that targetting should relieve most of that problem BUT unexpectedly there was a big furries convention being held at one of the larger hotels in Leeds which had the results of "friendly fire": a horrifying and yet humorous event in "The Nightmare Stacks"
Subsequent topic  /  Preceding topic
Post Reply

Doing any recreational reading? v.5.8

Page: 1 ... 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12