Author Topic: The All-New Books Thread  (Read 37092 times)

Re: The All-New Books Thread
« Reply #630 on: September 15, 2017, 12:23:48 AM »
Fear & Loathing In Las Vegas had much I enjoyed and admired. It also fitted well with my current theme of the "Anti-American Dream" novels. If I were to have one complaint, it would be the copy / pastes of relevant news items he finds in the news paper. Still gets my 5* review on my goodreads account.

I recommend. ...Campaign Trail ' 72. Incredibly relevent in today's political climate.

BritishHobo

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Re: The All-New Books Thread
« Reply #631 on: September 17, 2017, 07:04:28 PM »
Well I finished Elmet. It shouldn't have taken me so long because it's SUCH a quick read. It feels really slight, almost like a summary. Also I remember reading a neat thing awhile ago about how newer authors tend to interpret 'show not tell' as meaning 'describe EVERYTHING the characters see' rather than 'don't over-explain how characters feel', and I think this fell victim to that a lot. I didn't dislike it, but I feel it's an overlong short story - if it was in a collection, I'd have thought it was pretty good. But the Man Booker shortlist?

Serge would love it, though - lots and lots of chapters entirely in italics. A bit like History of Wolves, frustratingly foreshadowing the event it ought to just get to. These books need to be compelling from the off instead of promising mysterious drama to come at the end. I'm hating that literary conceit at the moment. I want to care about what's happening because it's happening, not because at a vague point in the future the narrator keeps telling me they promise something proper mad is gonna happen.

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Re: The All-New Books Thread
« Reply #632 on: September 17, 2017, 09:52:41 PM »
Yeah the entire romance plot was tedious. I the only bit that really gripped me was Pilar's story about the fascists being executed. That bit was really great and I thought we were getting started, but then it was back to the cave for another couple hundred pages... I liked some of the stuff with Pablo, the actual bridge attack was ok and liked the very end.  Could have cut a lot out and I would have enjoyed it more. Felt like a bit of a chore to read it for most of it.

I did the same this year and felt it a slog as well. It was recommended to me after I said I was reading Homage to Catalonia. I was glad to have finished it tbh.

After that I read Wells' The Time Machine for the first time, god knows how I'd let that slip me by.

I'm about to read 2023 by the Justified Ancients of Mu Mu.

I also noticed someone was reading Breakfast of Champions; great book. Vonnegut is so easy to read.

Serge

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Re: The All-New Books Thread
« Reply #633 on: September 17, 2017, 10:18:52 PM »
Serge would love it, though - lots and lots of chapters entirely in italics. A bit like History of Wolves, frustratingly foreshadowing the event it ought to just get to. These books need to be compelling from the off instead of promising mysterious drama to come at the end. I'm hating that literary conceit at the moment. I want to care about what's happening because it's happening, not because at a vague point in the future the narrator keeps telling me they promise something proper mad is gonna happen.

Yeah, that's something I've noticed in a few books in the last few years, though I can't think of any examples at the minute. So it has chapters in italics, the big build up to a (usually) overblown event.....did it have passages which were merely lists of things to complete the Serge Bad Writing Bingo?

Twit 2

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Re: The All-New Books Thread
« Reply #634 on: September 18, 2017, 08:49:19 PM »
Wow, The North Water is amazing. Get on it if you haven't read it.

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Re: The All-New Books Thread
« Reply #635 on: September 19, 2017, 10:29:41 AM »
Finished the Mars Trilogy finally.

So so good. Such great descriptions of a potential future world, and all the ethical, philosophical, political and social implications of terraforming and over-population on earth. I've never read much sci-fi before and I think this trilogy is a good introduction to the genre, particularly as it's not "hard" sci-fi like say, the Culture series. There's no aliens in the Mars trilogy, and everything described is within the realms of possibility; there's a lot of actual science discussed - some speculative of course - but it's clear Kim Stanley Robinson did his research on Martian geology and aspects of biology, atmospheric science and physics.

Such a great adventure following the future history of Martian society and the people involved in it.

The first book starts in 2027 when the first human colonisers land on Mars (in the book, the first human on Mars landed in 2020), and the final book ends in the year 2212.

What happens in the two centuries in between is bloody well good and interesting. Would recommend!

I don't think it's dated that badly either. It was written in the early to mid 90s, and really, the only thing that shows "oh yeah, this is an old sci-fi" is that in the book people are still using fax machines in the 2060s (just one sentence mentioning a fax coming through from one of the characters' colleagues), which I did find a bit odd considering the characters also have wristpads that for all intents and purposes seem to be very similar in concept to a smart phone, so I find it odd the author didn't anticipate written/typed messages going completely digital as well. I mean, although it would have been in its infancy, surely email existed in the mid 90s?

But other than that minor detail the rest of the future tech and science is pretty cool and plausible.

For those interested the books in order are:

Red Mars
Green Mars
Blue Mars

MojoJojo

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Re: The All-New Books Thread
« Reply #636 on: September 19, 2017, 11:33:02 AM »
Finished the Mars Trilogy finally.

So so good. Such great descriptions of a potential future world, and all the ethical, philosophical, political and social implications of terraforming and over-population on earth. I've never read much sci-fi before and I think this trilogy is a good introduction to the genre, particularly as it's not "hard" sci-fi like say, the Culture series. There's no aliens in the Mars trilogy, and everything described is within the realms of possibility; there's a lot of actual science discussed - some speculative of course - but it's clear Kim Stanley Robinson did his research on Martian geology and aspects of biology, atmospheric science and physics.

Hmmm, you seem to be using a very different definition of "hard" sci-fi than I've ever heard before. It normally means scientific realism, or a focus on technical aspects of setting (e.g. how the engines work), and the Mars trilogy is considered pretty hard while the Culture novels are very soft.

MoonDust

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Re: The All-New Books Thread
« Reply #637 on: September 19, 2017, 12:39:25 PM »
Okay maybe I meant the opposite. You know what I mean though. The Culture series is perhaps more "hardcore". Like the difference between Star Wars and Ex Machina. Star Wars obviously being the more "hardcore" one, whereas Ex Machina being more "hard" with regards to the science but soft-core with regards to the realisticness of it.

billtheburger

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Re: The All-New Books Thread
« Reply #638 on: September 20, 2017, 07:50:15 PM »
I recommend. ...Campaign Trail ' 72. Incredibly relevent in today's political climate.
Do you know what?
If it was in my private library, right now, I probably would.
Instead I'm reading The Man Who Laughs (graphic Novel)

Re: The All-New Books Thread
« Reply #639 on: September 21, 2017, 02:14:52 PM »
Just finished reading the William Mcilvanney's Laidlaw trilogy. Absolutely loved them (I don't read much fiction, and I don't think I've ever read any detective novels before, so it's maybe difficult for me to offer too in depth an opinion).

I'd read Laidlaw at school, as I used for my higher English report. But I've only just reread the first, along with The Papers of Tony Veitch and Strange Loyalties.

I found the plots very interesting, definitely kept up suspense well and offered a few unexpected twists. The second book feels like a follow on from the first, with some characters in both. The third is more reflective, switching to first person. Mcilvanney uses metaphors in nearly every sentence. He has a great way of wording things, and I love the philosophical tone to the books.

What I love about them is the fact they really capture the feeling of Glasgow and Scotland in the time they were set (late 70's through to early 90's). That unique character Glaswegians had, which is rapidly dying away. Stick the nut on you then buy you a pint type of thing. Worldly wise guy at the end of the bar. Glasgow is really just another bland city now. I don't think it's a bad thing as such, I'm not sure how well I'd have fit in with the Glasgow of this time. Probably wouldn't have enjoyed it much myself. But it's interesting to get the sense of it, and for those living at the time it must have been fun, albeit with a few hangovers and a limited life expectancy.

It's left me wanting more, I really think he could have managed another book in the series. But I guess there's a trilogy and it's probably better to leave it on top.

Serge

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Re: The All-New Books Thread
« Reply #640 on: September 21, 2017, 08:37:28 PM »
On the recommendation of two Verbwhores, I read Kamila Shamsie's Home Fire, which I mostly enjoyed, although it was hugely flawed, and I'm not too upset about it not making the Booker Shortlist. Obviously, with all of the Parson's Green stuff going on over the last few days, it was the perfect time to read a book which is effectively about a young Muslim man becoming radicalised, and the fallout from that event. Without getting too spoilery, the book is split into five parts, each told from the point of view of a different character involved in the story. Up until the end of part three, it's gripping, moving, powerful and extremely well written. Unfortunately, part four falls apart quite badly, with much of the subtlety of the previous three parts being jettisoned in order to make some sledgehammer points. And then part five finds the biggest arsehole in the book taking centre stage, and proceeding to behave in an ever-more unrealistic fashion in order to ramp up the arseholery. There is still plenty to like about the book, but it's just a shame that it takes such a profound nosedive.

And then I've just finished Samuel Bjork's I'm Travelling Alone, a rather good Scandi-Noir thriller which I can only describe as 'post-Nesbø'. Partly this is down to its Oslo setting, but it also has a lot of similarities with the Harry Hole books, but without ever reaching the mad heights of Nesbø's imagination. There is a rather large subplot concerning the activities of a church/cult which could pretty much be excised without harming the main narrative, and really exists merely to throw some red herrings into the mix. Though there are already plenty of them - if it has a fault, it's that Bjork does get carried away with introducing more and more new characters as the book progresses, so sometimes your head spins when trying to keep up with them. But it's a cracking read all the same, and I pretty much read the last 300 pages in one sitting, as I wanted to find out how it all turned out.

BritishHobo

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Re: The All-New Books Thread
« Reply #641 on: September 24, 2017, 04:43:15 PM »
Finished Lincoln in the Bardo. Astonished and reeling. There's my winner.

Serge

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Re: The All-New Books Thread
« Reply #642 on: September 25, 2017, 01:33:41 PM »
Interesting....of the six from the longlist I've read, I'd put them in this order.

4 3 2 1 > The Ministry Of Utmost Happiness > The Underground Railroad > Lincoln In The Bardo > Home Fire > Autumn.

I'm about to read John Connolly's 'He' on the recommendation of a friend, though having had a quick flick through it, it does look like he uses the dreaded 'list' format of writing quite a lot. Hoping I'm wrong with that, and I won't find it too much of a hinderance to my enjoyment of the book.

Glebe

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Re: The All-New Books Thread
« Reply #643 on: September 25, 2017, 02:49:50 PM »
Saw a bus shelter ad for a new Lisbeth Salander book t'other day, Serge. Although I imagine you're already aware of it.

Serge

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Re: The All-New Books Thread
« Reply #644 on: September 25, 2017, 04:31:47 PM »
Yeah, though I'm going to wait for the paperback. Jo Nesbø is about the only crime writer whose novels I buy in hardback, though if the next one turns out to be as half-hearted as 'The Thirst', I might go back to waiting for the paperback with him! There are at at least three other crime series where I'm waiting for the next installment to turn up in paperback, so 2018 already has some goodies in store!

Serge

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Re: The All-New Books Thread
« Reply #645 on: October 02, 2017, 04:36:15 PM »
I read John Connolly's new book He, which I wrote about in the Laurel & Hardy thread, as it seemed appropriate!

And I've just finished Nathan Hill's The Nix, which is absolutely bloody fantastic. It's one of yer Great American Novel-type books, a real doorstopper at 620 pages, and taking in everything from the 1968 Chicago riots, the Iraq War, the rise of Trump-like figures* and the modern media to over-entitled teenagers, online gaming addiction and Norwegian folk-tales, with appearances by Allen Ginsberg and Walter Cronkite, among others. He managed to pull all of this off with a plot that seems to sprawl crazily out of control at times, but is all tied up very neatly by the end without leaving you with a sense of frustration at loose ends and unresolved business.

It's obvious that he's a fan of Jonathan Franzen (and some reviews have mentioned similarities to David Foster Wallace, but I've never read him, so can't comment), but as I am as well, that wasn't a problem for me. I was wrong-footed on the dual identity of one particular character, and although it might have been nice to see a couple of the more horrific characters get some sort of comeuppance, Hill realises that this isn't that kind of World, and their fates are more realistic for that. It also gets slightly meta towards the end, with one gag that is practically delivered with a wink. Oh yeah, and it is very funny in places. Apparently it took him twelve years to write - let's hope we don't have to wait that long for his next book.

*Though he finished the book before The Donald made his presidential bid.