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    • CommentTimeOct 29th 2011
    I just received my copy of the new Van Gogh biography. The authors came up with a new theory that calls into question as to whether or not Van Gogh committed suicide, or was "accidently" killed.

    Besides, who doesn't like reading a biography about a genius who hated the world?

    I'm looking forward to reading it and wondering how many parallels I can draw between Van Gogh's life and Warren's.

    Anyone checked lately to see if Warren still has both his ears?
  1.  (9362.602)
    I've just finished The Black Book by Orhan Pamuk. Next book will be Nemesis, a short novel by Philip Roth... and my first book in english, I need to learn more english. Last month I was looking Sturegon´s More Than Human (my fav sci-fi novel) for some references... and last week I find some pages by Alex Niño comic book adaptation (published by Heavy Metal) and now I want to read it again!
  2.  (9362.603)
    Recently finished the Penguin Plays Rough anthology. PPR is a monthly short story reading night here in Sydney, and the anthology is a collection of shorts by people who've read there. One or two misses but overall very high quality. I'm merely disappointed that the audiobook is only available on itunes, because I ahven't got one and having heard some of the stories read aloud at the launch, I really want it. A highlight was Zoe Norton-Lodge's A Sto Dialo, a second-person hymn of Greek Nana contempt that had me cackling with mirth.
    • CommentTimeNov 1st 2011
    Will be starting Houellebecq's THE MAP AND THE TERRITORY today. Looking forward to it.
    • CommentAuthorKosmopolit
    • CommentTimeNov 2nd 2011 edited
    Reading Embassytown, which is as much an exploraton of the capacity of the Kindle App on my Android tablet as it is a reading of the book.

    I may be jaundiced because of the adjustment to the new delivery mechanism but I find this a much weaker work than The City and the City.
    • CommentTimeNov 2nd 2011
    Started Ready Player One. I like the cute adventure story it's turning out to be, but I hate the explanations of everything. Stop explaining slangs and referencing trends. We all know the 80s, okay? Your target audience is just as geeky as you are. And stop using the word "poseur," as well.
    Can't help contrasting it to Machine Man, which was, I reiterate, SO GOOD. Other than the first 20 pages about the narrator's cellphone being his everything, it didn't talk down to you and it didn't assume you were an idiot just because you weren't an engineer. The author of RPO seems to be writing for his grandmother.
    • CommentTimeNov 2nd 2011
    My big issue with Ready Player One was the same one I had with Little Brother - cardboard villains. They're unrepentantly evil, and they don't care. They're bad guys in that shallow, mustache-twirling way that makes the hero's victory not only assured but kinda hollow, and that's really not very interesting. Write a villain that the reader can relate to, and you have a much more interesting experience.
    • CommentTimeNov 2nd 2011
    Well, both are quite Disneyfied and innocuous, but, at least, I found RP1 kinda fun and entertaining, as opposed to LITTLE BROTHER. Otherwise, both were equally big piles of steaming manure, I thought.
  3.  (9362.609)
    Finally started, Penny Red: Notes from the New Age of Dissent by Laurie Penny. It arrived at the end of last week but I wanted to wait until I could sit down and dig in to it properly. No matter what your opinion of her writing (I'm an unashamed fan) the book is, at the very least, an interesting snapshot of the current political climate over here in the grey and grimy UK. Definitely worth checking out.

    Also started on, A Story As Sharp As A Knife, by the Canadian literary legend Robert Bringhurst. The book is a new edition of his transcription and own translations of John Swanton's written records of the Haida oral literary tradition. His exploration and contextualisation of individual stories and poems is rather astounding in depth and this is one book that will definitely take a few re-reads to fully absorb.

    I'm currently looking for something a little less serious for those days when my brain just refuses to wake up. Any and all suggestions are welcome!
    • CommentTimeNov 3rd 2011
    RPO was good. It was a fun ride, I cared about the characters, and the final battle was actually pretty rousing.

    Did it deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as Neuromancer? Absolutely not.
    • CommentTimeNov 6th 2011
    @allana I loved Machine Man! I picked it up on a whim because I liked Jennifer Government and oh man was it the best decision :-D

    Novels Read

    Doomsday Book by Connie Willis - This was an excellent read. A student at a university that runs time travel drops as research trips is sent back to a period in medieval England to observe but as her time in the past progresses, events begin to indicate that she is not in fact in the year she is supposed to be in and may be in a much more perilous period. Back in the present a virulent illness sweeping the city prevents her professor at the university from being able to ascertain what has gone wrong or help her. They never explain the development of this technology and just launch into the story which serves the story well, it makes it feel more organic.

    Heartless by Gail Carriger - I continue to be unashamed of my enjoyment of this alternate history Victorian supernatural romance. More werewolves, vampires, ghosts, steampunk weirdness and people who regularly have to worry about being menaced by werewolves, vampires, ghosts and steampunk madness being more worried about someone wearing immodest styles or showing bad manners please :-D

    A Year Of Slow Food by David and Gerda Foster - I picked this up thinking it was going to be a matter of fact account of what it's like growing your own food, keeping your own animals and all the associated activities and it did cover a lot of that but unfortunately one of the writers was super preachy about how the rest of us are sheeple (he never uses the term but you feel his disdain) and his wife clearly resents him for some aspects of the lifestyle he demanded they keep for the last 20 years. I don't know if they realise how much of themselves they revealed in this book but wow are they both jackasses. The bit where he casually mentions that preparing slow food meant having to keep several of his primary school age children up past midnight every night to do all of the dishes didn't really win him any points in the rational father column.

    John Dies At The End by David Wong - This book was mental. Completely and wonderfully mental. Two friends come into contact with a strange drug that allows them to see and interact with a level of reality that could either drive them crazy or kill them. The way the characters are introduced and then

    Machine Man by Max Barry - An engineer who loses a limb in a lab accident turns his considerable skill towards creating a more functional prosthetic. As he begins designing other prosthetics and enhancements for the human body, the questions of humanity and organic functionality are left by the wayside as corporate motives drive events forward. Nicely paced and not too heavy handed with the message it was bandying about. Lots of fun.

    Ricochet by Sandra Brown - A conspiracy police/procedural book I picked up at a library sale because of the title. The plot would have been OK if all the characters hadn't kept stating how awesome the lead cop was, even if they were his adversaries, and if the author hadn't played the 'it isn't sexual assault if the man is overwhelmed with a primal lust he's never felt before and the woman is willing to sleep with him because she needs his help and is also drawn to his overpowering masculinity' card. Simply put, it was not a subtle novel.

    The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt - A wonderfully weird western tale of two gun-for-hire brothers travelling to the Californian goldfields on assignment. The way the events of the novel unfold and the characters' personalities are put forward and analysed is engaging and felt very noir-ish.
    • CommentTimeNov 7th 2011
    So I should read Jennifer Government, you say?

    My final verdict on Ready Player One is that it would make a great YA novel provided that young adult had absolutely no interest in contemporary popular culture, which is a lot of them these days I think.

    I'm halfway through Pornografia by Witold Gombrowicz, which is pretty alright so far, meaning I'm pretty much in love with anything he does, so even though this one isn't resonating particularly strongly, it's still a level-up from the last few books.

    Then onto Dune. No joke. I am finally going to read this fucking gargantuan horrific book.
    • CommentTimeNov 7th 2011
    Allana, YES to Jennifer Government. I adored it.

    Currently on the ereader I am reading Beer School by Steve Hindy and Tom Potter (founders of the Brooklyn Brewery) and it goes on to tell the story of how a war correspondent for AP and a banker went on to create the well-known brewery. Lots of fun tales and valuable lessons.

    And I'm also reading the hardcover of SNUFF by Terry Pratchett because...well...VIMES.
    • CommentTimeNov 7th 2011
    I'm intrigued by this Machine Man that you speak of, and will be putting it on my list. I can remember enjoying Jennifer Government when I read it but it has been so long since I read it that I cannot recall any of it, will have to dig it from the recesses of the shelves and give it another look .
    I've been re reading some more Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next series but life, and the x-box seem to be taking up lots of valuable reading time of late. I've got a long list waiting on my kindle to be read and I haven't been to pick up my comic order for a good couple of months now. Thankfully my comic shop guy is pretty cool about my erratic visits and I always try to get a few extra things whenever I'm feeling flush enough to pay a visit.
    • CommentTimeNov 7th 2011 edited

    I recently re-read DUNE (took me 2 days) and it really made everything else I tried to read after that seem boring and pointless. Despite its shortcomings, it's a supremely readable, profound and endearingly ambitious novel.

    Also, I'm close to finishing Houellebecq's THE MAP AND THE TERRITORY, which I'm rather enjoying.
    • CommentAuthorStefanJ
    • CommentTimeNov 7th 2011
    Almost done with The City and the City.

    Reading a Keith Knight comic strip collection, and a photo-heavy book about convenience food.
    • CommentTimeNov 7th 2011
    re: Dune - don't just stop at the end of Dune. Read Dune Messiah and Children of Dune right after. Those three form one complete novelized argument about the perils of the messianic instinct in humanity. If you stop at the end of Dune you'll have a completely different idea of what Frank Herbert was about than if you finish the other two. He saw those three books as one giant book.

    You don't need to continue after that though. God Emperor, Heretics and Chapterhouse go way afield and just aren't as well executed.

    I've read all of them twice now, though. The first three are really something else - they absolutely deserve their place as foundational classics of modern science fiction, and the world built up in them is so strange and at an angle to expectation that they manage the trick of not feeling dated even reading them decades after they were written. I don't think any other science fiction author I can think of managed to pull off that trick.

    I finished Reamde, which was a lot of fun. Lighter Stephenson, which I guess is odd to say about a book in which so many people are killed, and their deaths aren't trivialized, but still, compared to something like the Baroque Cycle or Anathem, was a read that was stimulation without being rigorously demanding of your intellect.

    Been dipping in and out of a nonfiction book called The Red Market, a journalistic overview of the global market in human tissue ("adopted" children, skeletons, blood, organs, rented wombs, purchased reproductive material, etc.). It's really fascinating, sometimes horrifying. The author's idea is that all of the incredible abuses that suround the market in human tissue everywhere are enabled by the anonymity we enforce around the origins of these tissues. If you were to remove that anonymity, it would become much harder to, say, kidnap people in rural India and imprison them on blood farms where they have a pint drained every few days while lying exhasted and nearly comatose in stalls next to cattle (this happened - and not very long ago.) Good book!

    Based on all the above, I picked up Machine Man and Jennifer Government. May start one of those tonight.
    • CommentTimeNov 7th 2011
    I agree with OddBill, do not read Dune alone.
    • CommentAuthorDavie
    • CommentTimeNov 8th 2011
    I read The City and the City a few months back. As an introduction to China Mieville it was excellent. There's so little cliche in his works, it's wonderful.

    Currently (finally) getting my ASoIaF on, reading A Clash of Kings. Good stuff. Also reading The House on the Borderland by William Hope Hodgeson, a hundred and three years old now, and still a remarkably good example of horror in the Lovecraft vein.
  4.  (9362.620)
    Currently trying to figure out how to get Baen Free Library stuff onto my tablet.

    I'd like to see if Eric Flint is any good. (So y'all could save me some trouble by telling me if he sucks.)