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Sai
 RE: Eagle Time Reading List
Post: #26
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My impression of Stephenson is that he really, really likes nerd stuff and then has to write a book about it and by the way here's a plot and stuff to go with it. Anyways, the nerd stuff that Seveneves is about is orbital mechanics. It has a very optimistic view of the end of how people can organize when facing the end of the world and then, y'know, space stuff.

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12-02-2015 09:59 AM
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Akumu
 RE: Eagle Time Reading List
Post: #27
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I was talking on IRC about books I have read and enjoyed so I thought maybe I should post some of that here:

Passage by Connie Willis is about medical researchers studying the neurological process of death, by artificially inducing near-death experiences. For some reason, the main character experiences near-death as being on the Titanic as it sinks. A meditation on death and the integrity of the self, if you are anything like me you will probably be crying the entire second half of the book.

Wolf in White Van by John Darnielle, yes that John Darnielle, the one from The Mountain Goats, follows a man on permanent medical disability who runs a play-by-post adventure game. It is distinctly John Darnielle, so if you like his music you will probably like this book. It deals heavily with constructed worlds and escapism, depression and finding a way to construct meaning or at least to continue on. I should probably read this again because I don't think I fully absorbed it the first time.

A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki is a multilayered narrative, narrated by author Ruth who finds Japanese teenage girl Nao's diary washed up on the shore of a British Columbian island. Largely a story of Nao's isolation and alienation from Japan and her discovery of a Japanese identity through interaction with her grandmother, a Buddhist nun. Nao seeks to discover her family history and Ruth seeks to discover the ultimate fate of Nao.
04-07-2016 11:00 PM
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Coldblooded
 RE: Eagle Time Reading List
Post: #28
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I don't read nearly as much as I used to, but I did read Wolf in White Van a few months back and I can vouch for Akumu that it's definitely worth picking up.

One thing I was really impressed by was John Darnielle's writing style. The protagonist frequently misremembers the events in the story, or just zooms in on super minor details in his memory that couldn't have possibly ever mattered to anybody else. I realize that that doesn't sound super great out of context, but it really sells the idea that we're listening to the winding, internal monologue of somebody trying to piece together the memories of something that happened to them decades ago. I really felt like I was inside the head of the protagonist for awhile, and it just made some of the darker parts of the story that much more heartbreaking than if they had been written in a more traditional writing style.

Anyways, Wolf in White Van is a very good book and The Mountain Goats are a very good band, thanks for listening.

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04-08-2016 12:19 AM
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btp
 RE: Eagle Time Reading List
Post: #29
like a wild, sexy Dick Cheney

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In nonfiction news: Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman is an excellent read if you don't mind some psychology gibberish now and again. It does a great job of revealing just how fundamentally bad we are at intuitively thinking about statistics, and also reveals how subtle changes in your environment can affect how you behave, or even treat other people.

Also, fun fact: When remembering an experience, people tend to rate the experience as an average of the best (or worst) point and how it ends! I wonder if that has any impact on what books make our reading lists?
04-08-2016 12:30 AM
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AgentBlue
 RE: Eagle Time Reading List
Post: #30
that escalated quickly

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I would definitely recommend Patrick Rothfuss' The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man's Fear. Both excellent fantasy books, of which the third book in the trilogy is frustratingly and martinesquely slow in appearing.

While upon first read I felt it was a little bit of a self-indulgent Mary Sue fest (Kvothe, the protagonist, is a multi-talented musician, artificer and mage), but upon rereading it (his magic system is pretty damn good) I found that Rothfuss is actually mocking Mary Sues: Kvothe has flaws, serious ones that make his character much more believable (it's much more apparent in the Wise Man's Fear). His temper and his arrogance do end up costing him and setting him back.

Pros:
- Decent characters
- Great magic system
- Stuff that takes lots of rereads before you go 'oh you magnificent bastard, i understand foreshadowing now'

Cons:
- Very thick books, not portable
- Third book isn't out yet
- Bit hard to digest the first time round

Let me out Stay safe inside | You're not kind | Ethics are overrated | What is life | Men are pigs | I'm so drunk | EAT ME NOW | Click clack fuck | Is this right Only money matters | Change my clothes | Little sun rising | One cat's future | Wax and wane | Dark times ahead
----
So very British / But then again | People are machines Machines are people | Oh hai there | There's no time
----
Superhero 1920s noir | Multigenre Half-Life | Changing the future | Command line interface
Tu ventire felix? | Clockwork for eternity | Explosions in spacetime
04-08-2016 01:52 AM
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Mamylon
 RE: Eagle Time Reading List
Post: #31
 

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I'm gonna put in a vote in favor of Stephenson, based on the five books I've read (Reamde, Seveneves, and the Baroque trilogy). The only one that had an egregiously bad ending was Reamde (everything ends in a super overblown shootout and then there's an epilogue where everyone is married). The second part of Seveneves isn't as good as the first, and System of the World is probably the least rad of the Baroque books, but neither is disappointing enough to undercut what came before.

The Baroque Cycle is his big historical fiction thing, set in early Enlightenment times, and it's one of the most purely entertaining genre prose things I've ever read.

Name of the Wind is up there too--I tend to roll my eyes at "system of magic" stuff, but this is good fantasy even if that's not your thing--with the caveat that it's very romance focused. It sometimes piss off Rothfuss fans when I describe it as a harem anime, but it totally is. Roughly three-quarters of the notable characters other than the main guy are hot, somewhat-older-than-him women (when I met Rothfuss I asked him how he went about striking a balance with depicting the sex lives of teenagers, and I swear to God he said "all those characters are eighteen") with at least a hint or a shadow of romantic/erotic attraction to him. Most of them are well-written characters, but they're shaped in some way by that framework.

Ender's Game is pretty good, but Orson Scott Card's writing seems a little flat to me now. When it comes to big-name 20th century sci-fi dudes, give me Dick or Herbert.

I'm currently rereading The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, which is still dope, and then I might take a shot at Cryptonomicon, while I have Stephenson on the brain.
04-29-2017 03:42 PM
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Mirdini
 RE: Eagle Time Reading List
Post: #32
 

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Cryptonomicon is a good ride for sure, though if you haven't read Snow Crash why haven't you read Snow Crash go read it (and then read The Diamond Age which is A Trip).

They're also both shorter reads than Cryptonomicon which while very interesting is the longest Neil Stephenson novel by a wide margin (Anathem (which drags on a bit more than Cryptonomicon, to be fair) is only 333,000 words, System of the World 387,000, Cryptonomicon clocks in at 412,000 apparently).

Diamond Age even won a Hugo apparently, but I'd definitely recommend reading Snow Crash first if only so you can recognize a neat callback to the earlier novel.
(This post was last modified: 04-30-2017 05:08 AM by Mirdini.)
04-30-2017 05:03 AM
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Sai
 RE: Eagle Time Reading List
Post: #33
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Seconding Snow Crash as required reading that predicts the Internet and is full of great Stephenson quotables.

Since I haven't posted here since reading it, my recommended series is the Malazan Book of the Fallen - an epic fantasy series with an interesting magic system and smart characters applying it to military problems. Its weaknesses are that it has a lot of semi-random philosophical thinking thrown in, occasionally from the wrong characters' perspectives for it and that in the later parts it's just sprawled far enough to have just an inordinately large cast of ancient undead and/or demigods that all need screen time. Overall, though, it's pretty great.

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04-30-2017 07:09 AM
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Mamylon
 RE: Eagle Time Reading List
Post: #34
 

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I already own a copy of Cryptonomicon, so I'll probably get to that first.
04-30-2017 05:38 PM
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Our Lady of Lampreys
 RE: Eagle Time Reading List
Post: #35
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I recently finished what is apparently the last Octavia Butler novel (I didn't even know she was dead). It's called Fledgling and it's an attempt to make vampires science-fictional, with an interesting vampire society which has always lived in symbiosis with humanity - but the symbiosis can be anything between parasitism and mutualism, and it's not always clear which it is. I really liked the book for the first three quarters or so, but I felt that it kinda ran out of steam for the last section. It just didn't keep me gripped and I felt like some of the conflicts almost got brushed under the rug. I was glued to the book for the first three quarters, though.

The story is describing Upper and Lower forests. Several kids are exploring the forest. Anyone who looked up from lower forest grew dizzy. When the children found something in the forest it was an amazing sight. Most parents got worried when the kids went to the forest because they thought it was dangerous.
Yesterday 07:09 PM
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