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Sai
 RE: Eagle Time Reading List
#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
#27
Strawberry Fields Forever

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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
#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.
04-08-2016, 12:19 AM
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btp
 RE: Eagle Time Reading List
#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
#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
04-08-2016, 01:52 AM
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Mamylon
 RE: Eagle Time Reading List
#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
#32
You're Alright

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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
#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
#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
#35
Rebeliot

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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.
07-20-2017, 07:09 PM
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Schazer
 RE: Eagle Time Reading List
#36
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I'm back on my book bullshit again, thanks being-back-in-walking-distance-of-a-library

Since the last time I frequented Either of the Book Threads I read The Lathe of Heaven on Seedy's recommendation and it was The Beans. Someone let me know if Le Guin's Earthsea series would be my cup of tea because that's all the library seems to have available?

Good Omens was fun I guess but did not live up to the (considerable) hype accrued from my half-decade of internet community-ing

I've also got Vonnegut's Timequake and Mother Night to chew through at some point. Possibly this weekend while I'm down south visiting family and having next to no internet?

I've also been grabbing whatever non-fiction catches my eye, including:

Radical Gardening: Politics, Idealism and Rebellion in the Garden was an academic stroll through the politicization of land use and green spaces through history. Did you know the organic movement's origins were tied up in nationalist political movements including Nazi Germany? Cuz I didn't!

Next on my nonfiction to-read list is The Optimistic Environmentalist. I saw it at the Good Bookstore in town but couldn't justify 35 bucks on a book so got the library to order it in.
10-20-2017, 01:42 AM
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ICan'tGiveCredit
 RE: Eagle Time Reading List
#37
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schaz, earthsea is... not for everybody. and by everybody i mean anybody.

I've read pretty much all of Michael J. Ward's cyoa books except Eye of Winter's Fury, which i plan to get for myself for Christmas. They feature heavy usage of dice. Some would say they belong in the Interactive Fiction thread!

they were a lot of fun, i read them three times each.

"A day without a laugh is a day wasted."
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(This post was last modified: 10-20-2017, 03:50 PM by ICan'tGiveCredit.)
10-20-2017, 03:41 PM
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Akumu
 RE: Eagle Time Reading List
#38
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what are you talking about earthsea is great leguin is great
10-20-2017, 06:11 PM
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ICan'tGiveCredit
 RE: Eagle Time Reading List
#39
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i read bones of the earth. did not like it at all. *shrug*

"A day without a laugh is a day wasted."
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(This post was last modified: 10-20-2017, 10:13 PM by ICan'tGiveCredit.)
10-20-2017, 10:13 PM
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Mamylon
 RE: Eagle Time Reading List
#40
 

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Goodreads suggests that sometime around the last time I posted in this thread, the average book I read got like 1 star worse. Coincidence?

I'm currently reading the third volume of My Struggle and the Southern Reach trilogy, both of which are probably gonna land as three-star books. Forthcoming attempts to find something I really like will probably include at least a few of:

Elena Ferrante - Those Who Leave And Those Who Stay
Jesmyn Ward - Sing, Unburied, Sing
Philip Pullman - The Book of Dust
Gillian Flynn - Dark Places
George Saunders - Lincoln in the Bardo
Madeleine l'Engle - A Wrinkle In Time

All books I'm likely to really love. And Schazer is always here to remind me that I should read more Vonnegut. And Leguin. Lathe of Heaven is awesome.
10-24-2017, 03:48 PM
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a52
 RE: Eagle Time Reading List
#41
the one who patented nonsense

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(04-29-2017, 03:42 PM)Mamylon Wrote: 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.

I've been thinking about this since you posted it and I think I figured out why it bothers me. It's not that it doesn't have some of those elements, but it is very reductionist to describe it like that. There's so much more to the message of the series that gets lost if you say it's just a "harem anime", and while romance plays a big part in the story, it's not the main point. I think rather the multiple affairs he has is more of a homage to ancient myths and legends, just like the word choice, plot, and magic systems are.
10-25-2017, 12:19 AM
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Mamylon
 RE: Eagle Time Reading List
#42
 

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(10-25-2017, 12:19 AM)a52 Wrote: I've been thinking about this since you posted it and I think I figured out why it bothers me. It's not that it doesn't have some of those elements, but it is very reductionist to describe it like that. There's so much more to the message of the series that gets lost if you say it's just a "harem anime", and while romance plays a big part in the story, it's not the main point. I think rather the multiple affairs he has is more of a homage to ancient myths and legends, just like the word choice, plot, and magic systems are.

I like that Name of the Wind is horny--I just think that it's something people should know about before going into the book. I don't think "an homage to ancient myths and legends" is any less reductionist. All fantasy novels are that.

I've noticed that Name of the Wind is a book that people take away different "main points" from. I have friends who like the book just as much as I do, but who spend all their energy, like, theorizing about minor lore elements. I don't care much about that. I just want to know what girls Kvothe is going to kiss!
10-25-2017, 01:30 PM
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Schazer
 RE: Eagle Time Reading List
#43
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Mother Night postmortem: hwoof
10-26-2017, 02:56 AM
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Plaid
 RE: Eagle Time Reading List
#44
super gay

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I'm currently reading The Less You Know The Sounder You Sleep and i'm not sure how i feel about it. It was written by a journalist who previously wrote a biography of the twins its about except... Its written in the first person with one of the twins narrating? Except written after their deaths. Its to better illustrate how their lives were and how one twin was apparently a sociopath who abused the 'narrating' twin but it comes off as kind of insincere? Especially because i'm still in their childhood and its an adult writing kind of poorly from a child's perspective.

I'm super interested in their lives though so i will persevere

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10-26-2017, 03:36 AM
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Our Lady of Lampreys
 RE: Eagle Time Reading List
#45
Rebeliot

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I finished In a Dark, Dark Wood, by Ruth Ware, the other day. The back cover compares it to Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train, so I picked it up for a psychological thriller fix. I was somewhat underwhelmed. It kept me hooked enough, which was good, but I didn't actually believe in any of the characters, and something seemed forced or off about the writing.

In ecology books, I'm currently reading The Mushroom at the End of the World by Anna Tsing. It's pretty philosophically heady at some points, which could be a turn-off for some people; the subtitle is "On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins." I love it though! The title mushroom is the Matsutake, and she follows its supply chain from the Pacific Northwest to Japan, taking a lot of interest in Indochinese refugees who become matsutake foragers. The next section of the book is more about ecology and the mushroom itself.

I've got an Ursula K. Le Guin book that I really like, called Malafrena. It's about a fictional European country in the 1820's or 30's. The main character is a young radical who is passionate about revolution, nationalism, representative government, all those things that Romantics dedicated their lives to with a lack of irony that's unthinkable today. I imagine Le Guin had a lot of fun writing it. It's taking me a while to read cause of how slow it goes - it seems only fit for savoring.

I'm on the side of "Earthsea is great." Le Guin writes fantasy and sci-fi where the world and characters are everything and it never seems like events were shoehorned to fit some preconceived plot. I don't think I've ever read anything by her that I actively disliked. My personal favorite is the short story "A Fisherman of the Inland Sea." It's the title story of its collection, which is kind of a grab bag of random stuff until you reach the last three stories.


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.
10-30-2017, 05:54 AM
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