Book Recommendations?

mortalgroove wrote:
grobstein wrote:

I just posted some SF recommendations on my blog, books from 7 to 83 years old. They'll be old news to a lot of you but it seemed like it might be worth mentioning. I really like the austere, Stapledonian strand in SF and here I recommend Stapledon and a couple similar guys.

Thank you for the recommendations!

I just recently finished A Fire Upon The Deep (for the second time). It had been almost 20 years since I read it and it is a fantastic book. There can be a lot of fun found in forgetting. :)

Yeah, for sure! I assume you've read Deepness in the Sky but if you haven't it's a no-brainer. (And if you haven't re-read recently, well, that might be pretty great too.) Unfortunately, I thought the recent sequel, Children of the Sky, was a real disappointment.

Robear wrote:

Kazooka, is it eventually going to be bundled into a novel?

I seem to remember reading that it was on the cards. The problem is that people like me aren't going to buy a part work, on that assumption. I don't want to read a chapter a month or whatever. I won't even do that with comics. It may have worked for Charles Dickens, but I think it's a fairly daft idea, to be honest.

spider_j wrote:
Robear wrote:

Kazooka, is it eventually going to be bundled into a novel?

I seem to remember reading that it was on the cards. The problem is that people like me aren't going to buy a part work, on that assumption. I don't want to read a chapter a month or whatever. I won't even do that with comics. It may have worked for Charles Dickens, but I think it's a fairly daft idea, to be honest.

I'm pretty sure it's eventually going to be bundled.

I think there are a few authors that could pull it off. George Martin could do it, assuming he kept to a regular schedule. Authors who have complex and detailed worlds, things that you would want to see on HBO, that sort of thing. And the first chapter of the Human Division worked pretty well as a self-contained short story. But the next two were just...chapters. And the second chapter was super short.

I'm glad he's experimenting, but really, his strength is that he's kind of an old-school sci-fi writer, a guy who writes very much like Heinlein when Heinlein wasn't trying to do social commentary. Experimental really doesn't play to his strengths.

grobstein wrote:

Yeah, for sure! I assume you've read Deepness in the Sky but if you haven't it's a no-brainer. (And if you haven't re-read recently, well, that might be pretty great too.) Unfortunately, I thought the recent sequel, Children of the Sky, was a real disappointment.

I re-read them both back to back.

I didn't like Children Of The Sky either. Like you say, it was just a disappointment. A real shame.

I just saw this topic and wanted to throw Stanley Bing's work. If you like Dilbert, you might like Stanley Bing, who also has a back page feature in Fortune magazine.

His book "The Big Bing" can be found for less than $10 on Amazon:
http://www.amazon.com/The-Big-Bing-M...

Need recommendations. First, I'd like some educational books. I haven't kept up with the latest and greatest scientific discoveries (ex: found out about our new dwarf planets a year ago) so I feel pretty dumb.

Looking for up-to-date books in the following categories:

Astronomy
Evolution
Photography (how to use a DSLR camera)
Women's history

Or, I could subscribe to a service that puts all this information together and feeds it directly into my brain.

grobstein wrote:

I just posted some SF recommendations on my blog, books from 7 to 83 years old. They'll be old news to a lot of you but it seemed like it might be worth mentioning. I really like the austere, Stapledonian strand in SF and here I recommend Stapledon and a couple similar guys.

Very negative; finishing the story is a relief from its bleak worldview.

Sold. Compelling summary. Greg Bear once suggested Stapledon during an AOL OMNI chat room. Read A Fire Upon the Deep years ago. You make me want to reread it.

Mystic Violet wrote:

Need recommendations. First, I'd like some educational books. I haven't kept up with the latest and greatest scientific discoveries (ex: found out about our new dwarf planets a year ago) so I feel pretty dumb.

Looking for up-to-date books in the following categories:

Astronomy
Evolution
Photography (how to use a DSLR camera)
Women's history

Or, I could subscribe to a service that puts all this information together and feeds it directly into my brain. :D

I have not read this yet, but I have been following Sean Carroll's blog for awhile. Very smart fella.

The Particle At The End Of The Universe

I just watched the National Geographic documentary on Stress, featuring Robert Sapolsky.

He's written several books.
The part of the documentary I'm interested in is, one troop of baboons he studied had the majority of their alpha male population killed off by TB, and their culture changed to be intolerant of social stress and bullying.

Does anybody know if he's written specifically about this? Most of his books seem to be a collection of essays.

Now, it sounds rather dark that I'm particularly intrigued by this topic. I can only assure you that, rather than thinking that this is a cure for Western Society's shortcoming, I'd rather look at it as, if I have to choose somewhere else in the world to live, how will I find the place that has undergone or otherwise discovered this revolution.

I've seen mention of countries that are starting to measure National Happiness as a sort of gross national product.

The documentary Happy, discusses the industrial revolution of Japan after the war, and contrasted it to Okinawa.

One day I may have a health crisis and decide to change my life. I would probably start by moving to Happy central, with the least importance placed on the things which stress me the most. I have to be able to find that place, then justify moving my wife and kids there. ...now it sounds like I'm planning a health crisis.

I've just had this feeling lately like, this North American Society is F'd up and it's priorities aren't what make me happy. I either need to find a niche within it or a new it.

mortalgroove wrote:
Mystic Violet wrote:

Need recommendations. First, I'd like some educational books. I haven't kept up with the latest and greatest scientific discoveries (ex: found out about our new dwarf planets a year ago) so I feel pretty dumb.

Looking for up-to-date books in the following categories:

Astronomy
Evolution
Photography (how to use a DSLR camera)
Women's history

Or, I could subscribe to a service that puts all this information together and feeds it directly into my brain. :D

I have not read this yet, but I have been following Sean Carroll's blog for awhile. Very smart fella.

The Particle At The End Of The Universe

It always gets me that there's two famous Sean Carroll scientists out there. Since I'm a biologist who went to the same grad school as the other one, I can heartily recommend his book on evolution Endless Forms Most Beautiful. So good!

Just finished Soldiers Live, the final book of the Black Company series. Ended up taking me about 2 years total, and man, what a great ride it was. The tone and overall quality do shift significantly after the first few books, but by then I was too hooked on the individual characters to care. I was actually turned on to the series by this very thread, so let me put out a hearty thank you for that!

The last two books I finished were China Miéville's Iron Council and John Scalzi's Red Shirts.

The difference in writing style between Perdido Street Station (first of the trilogy) and Iron Council (last of the trilogy) were striking. It seems Miéville abandoned his thesaurus and instead focused on his talent for imagery, story, and character motivation. I must confess though, I liked the writing in Perdido Street Station, including his synonym-overload. If that turned you off of Perdido though, you might be relieved to hear Iron Council is different. And like his other Bas-Lag books, there is no happily-ever-after.

After the rich imagery Iron Council, Red Shirts felt almost... flat? Here we have a clever story, smart and funny dialog, but Scalzi spends too much time writing about what happened and not enough time describing it. For instance Ensign Duvall, one of the main characters, is described only as "a young woman wearing an ensign's uniform". That's all. You have a hard time picturing most characters in your head because you have no idea what they look like. Too many conversations follow this format:

"Words words word," he said.
"Words words word," she said.
"Words words word," he said.
"Words words word," she said.

Come on, a little variety! I'm not asking for GRRM levels of describing every minute detail of the food people eat for each meal, just somewhere in between. The book is almost completely redeemed fortunately by the funny story and characters. If you're a fan of old Trek and Galaxy Quest, this book is for you.

Spoiler:

But... Red Shirts is spoofing scripts, in part. That kind of dialog and character description is supposed to be part of the gag.

Red Shirts-

Robear wrote:
Spoiler:

But... Red Shirts is spoofing scripts, in part. That kind of dialog and character description is supposed to be part of the gag.

Spoiler:

The average TV watcher has no experience with scripts though. So whatever the intention, it still feels flat. The Codas in the back did a much better job of playing with scripts.

I'm with stone on this one, it fell a little flat for me. It doesn't matter what the author's intent is. It matters what the author's writings led me think his intent is.

Overall I think that Red Shirts gets too much of a pass for its admittedly awesome premise.

It was one of the little details I noticed, so I thought it was really cool and started looking for other oddities, but I guess mileage varies.

Quintin_Stone wrote:

The last two books I finished were China Miéville's Iron Council and John Scalzi's Red Shirts.

The difference in writing style between Perdido Street Station (first of the trilogy) and Iron Council (last of the trilogy) were striking. It seems Miéville abandoned his thesaurus and instead focused on his talent for imagery, story, and character motivation. I must confess though, I liked the writing in Perdido Street Station, including his synonym-overload. If that turned you off of Perdido though, you might be relieved to hear Iron Council is different. And like his other Bas-Lag books, there is no happily-ever-after.

After the rich imagery Iron Council, Red Shirts felt almost... flat? Here we have a clever story, smart and funny dialog, but Scalzi spends too much time writing about what happened and not enough time describing it. For instance Ensign Duvall, one of the main characters, is described only as "a young woman wearing an ensign's uniform". That's all. You have a hard time picturing most characters in your head because you have no idea what they look like. Too many conversations follow this format:

"Words words word," he said.
"Words words word," she said.
"Words words word," he said.
"Words words word," she said.

Come on, a little variety! I'm not asking for GRRM levels of describing every minute detail of the food people eat for each meal, just somewhere in between. The book is almost completely redeemed fortunately by the funny story and characters. If you're a fan of old Trek and Galaxy Quest, this book is for you.

Yes, I read Redshirts and 14 by Peter Clines back to back and 14 was so much better I just can't think about ever reading redshirts again.

My 1st response to Redshirts was similar: too gimmicky and the quality came too late. Thinking about it and reading it again changed my mind. There is more going on than appears and it grows on me.

I'm a Scalzi fan admittedly. I'm also enjoying the hell out of the Human Division.

I finished Olympos by Dan Simmons last night. It was a fun read. He throws a lot of things at you and wraps everything up nicely. Not everything makes sense but he has so much going on in this world I'm not surprised a few things don't grock.

If you liked Ilium, you'll like this one, just don't analyze it too much. If you didn't like the combination of gods, spacemen, little green men, gollums, sentient robots, dune like monsters, dinosaurs, space travel, time travel, hi tech, low tech, sex, and literature in Ilium, you should stay away from Olympos.

I started reading Hyperion by Dan Simmons once and got distracted, can anybody vouch for that book? Is it worth my time?

Tim

infromsea wrote:

I started reading Hyperion by Dan Simmons once and got distracted, can anybody vouch for that book? Is it worth my time?

Yeah, I think so. That series is, to me, his strongest. There's some masturbatory things in there just like in Olympos, but the overall story is creative and enjoyable.

Hyperion is amazing. Sadly, IMO, the quality drops off notably in each subsequent book.

Quintin_Stone wrote:

Hyperion is amazing. Sadly, IMO, the quality drops off notably in each subsequent book.

Hyperion is amazing, and well worth it. I don't quite agree that the quality drops off, but the books do change in scope.

Hyperion is an intensely personal story. It's a sci-fi Canterbury Tale, and each story hits plenty of high points. The weakest story in my opinion was Brawne's, which is unfortunately the story that gets fleshed out more in Fall of Hyperion.

The two Endymion books switch up the setting a bit, and I really liked those two books. He gets a bit deeper in to his philosophical nonsense, but I'm good at skimming by those sections, so it doesn't bother me too much.

Overall, Hyperion is great, Fall of Hyperion less so. Endymion and Rise of Endymion are also great, but enjoying Hyperion is not a garuntee that you will like the Endymion books, because they are not the same. That said, if you liked Illium and Olympos, you will likely enjoy all four Hyperion books.

Squee9 wrote:

The two Endymion books switch up the setting a bit, and I really liked those two books. He gets a bit deeper in to his philosophical nonsense, but I'm good at skimming by those sections, so it doesn't bother me too much.

This makes me glad that I've yet to buy those two on Audible. I don't mind doing some skimming, but that's not really an option with an audio book, and I found myself starting to get bored with Fall of Hyperion.

On another note, I'm about 2/3 done with Theft of Swords by Michael J. Sullivan. It's not the greatest fantasy I've read, but I'm enjoying it quite a bit. I think the main characters are interesting if a bit too Han Solo with swords. I stayed in a hotel this Monday and spent the night listening to my book rather than watching Netflix or HBO Go.

Theft of Swords! I read the first 50 or so pages of that galley, then left the book on the train. Plot twist: I was glad I left it on the train, because I could not handle another word of that novel. Too much ridiculousness, saved at the last minute type events, and some other nonsense.

If you want a fantasy heist book go for Lies of Lock Lamorra instead.

I need a good sci-fi or post apocalyptic book. Suggestions?

Dies the Fire by S.M. Stirling.
The Old Man and The Wasteland by Nick Cole if you want a short story.

Gumbie wrote:

I need a good sci-fi or post apocalyptic book. Suggestions?

Ever read Richard Morgan? Takeshi Kovacs's stuff is interesting.

Gist of the universe is that people's personalities are able to be stored in implantable cortical stacks. So bodies are basically sleeves to hold consciousnesses. So conciousnesses can be stored, transferred across the universe to be downloaded on different worlds, back up in case of death, etc.

Kind of a cyberpunk noir series of books. Graphic violence and sex, just in case that might bother you. Starts with Altered Carbon. Main character is an ex-special forces guy that gets sleeved to solve a mystery of a wealthy man's death. The man hires Takeshi due to the fact that his stack is destroyed in his apparent suicide, and he doesn't remember what led up to the death since he had to be restored from a couple day old backup. He suspected he was murdered.

Morgan I think did the story work on Crysis 2.

Squee9 wrote:

If you want a fantasy heist book go for Lies of Locke Lamorra instead.

I've added it to my wish list. I have 3 credits, and will likely pick it up when I'm ready for my next book.

I started listening to the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes a few weeks ago. I really liked the first few stories, but I've been enjoying them less and less. To the point where I stopped listening. At first, it was fun to watch Holmes deduce these crazy chains of events, but it's become so formulaic. I oftentimes know roughly what's going to happen within the first chapter. I think part of the problem is the fact that it's a short story, and any character that gets anything beyond a brief mention is immediately a suspect.
The other issue I have is that I feel cheated. The stories are from Watson's perspective, and he tries to puzzle things out, but you don't get the same data that Holmes gets. You get Watson's description of the scene, but Watson misses all of the things Holmes notices which cause him to come to his conclusions. I, as a reader, don't get a chance to deduce alongside Holmes. I get to have Holmes piece it all together and tell me his process that I don't get to be a part of, but that I guessed at a long time ago because we only know 3 characters, so it has to be one of them and 2 of them don't come close to fitting.

Gumbie wrote:

I need a good sci-fi or post apocalyptic book. Suggestions?

A Canticle for Liebowitz, by Walter M. Miller.

Tales of the Dying Earth, by Jack Vance, probably isn't exactly what you're looking for, thematically—it's so far past the apocalypse that things have reverted to fantasy medieval—but it technically fits the bill and is worth reading anyway.

Gravey wrote:
Gumbie wrote:

I need a good sci-fi or post apocalyptic book. Suggestions?

A Canticle for Liebowitz, by Walter M. Miller.

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